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Our souls should bow before the temple that enshrines the divinity of duty. These superb characters are the rarest fruit of earth, and their surviving countrymen may well cherish the fine vintage of their example for their perpetual refreshment.
The Vice-President, whom we mourn, was stricken in the midst of his usefulness from the highest public place save one in the gift of the people. a position which, despite its elevation, he honored more than it could honor him. The character and relative eminence of the office of VicePresident has been the subject of diverse comment for a hundred years, many people regarding it as quite subordinate in consequence and rank. The original constitutional mode of selecting the President and VicePresident denoted the estimation in which the framers of the Constitution held the Vice-Presidential office, and yet some of them and their contemporaries spoke slightingly of that office. John Adams said:
“My country has in its wisdom contrived for us the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."
Thomas Jefferson said:
“It is the only office in the world about which I am unable to decide whether I had rather have it or not have it."
Whatever rank may have been assigned to it at different periods of our history, it is the glory of its last incumbent that he restored the VicePresidency to its true rank, redeemed it from any obscurity into which it may have fallen, rescued it from the insignificance in which it came to be regarded by some, and established its title to the dignity and elevation appropriate to the second office in the gift of the American people.
It is thus seen what a beautiful and instructive career has closed on earth. He did not live man's appointed time. The mysterious clock to which Dr. Holmes so beautifully refers, which the angel of life wound up to run three score years and ten, ran down before the lapse of the allotted time. But the bounds which are fixed to the duration of life do not always measure its worth. His career, though cut off in the midst of its usefulness, has been a sweet and wholesome example in right living, high thinking, and unselfish service in private and public walks of life, and his fragrant memory will ever remain an inspiration to those who loved him living and mourn him dead.
There is a tradition that among the Seneca Indians a singularly beautiful belief prevailed that when a loved one died, if they caught a singing bird and, binding it with messages of love and affection, released it over the grave of the departed, it would not fold its wings nor close its eyes until it reached the spirit land and delivered the messages to the loved and lost. So may the friends who mourn to-day bind with messages of love the birds that are singing in their hearts songs of homage and affection, and, releasing them at the grave of the departed, may enjoy the solace of believing that they will not fold their wings until they reach the spirit land and deliver the messages to the loved and lost.
MEMORIAL ADDRESS TO JOHN H. HOFFECKER, OF DELAWARE.
Mr. BROSIUS. Mr. Speaker, when Tell's arrow pierced the breast of the tyrant Gessler, and he lay bleeding and dying in the mountain pass, he was surrounded by a company of Friars of Mercy who happened to be passing, who sang these lines:
" With noiseless tread death comes on man;
No plea, no prayer delivers him;
With sudden hand it severs him.
I crave a brief indulgence on this occasion to mingle my voice with the swelling anthem of affectionate eulogy because I respected and honored our departed friend while living, and I feel a sincere and reverential regard for his memory. The duration of his life, the usefulness of his labors, the benevolence of his feelings, the elevation of his sentiments, and the nobility of his character united to form an attractive and interesting personality and a career instructive and admirable in a high degree.
His brief service in this House afforded no opportunity for the exhibition of any marked aptitude for the higher ranges of statesmanship, but his attention to the wants of his constituents and his tireless devotion to duty accentuated that fidelity which marks the successful Representative on this floor and furnished an example quite worthy of imitation. His kindly and sympathetic nature, his graces of mind and heart, amiability of character, sweetness of disposition, gentleness of manner, and fine courtesy made conquest of universal esteem and placed him high in the hearts of those who had the good fortune to know him. His constituents appreciated and loved him. They knew his diligence in their service; they knew that the command of duty was to him a “Thus saith the Lord;' that no draft made upon him in any matter whose claim he recognized would ever go to protest. So they trusted him and were never betrayed; confided in him and found him worthy.
The lesson such a career, brief as it was, teaches appeals to all of us, that the only way for a Representative to securely hold the confidence and affection of his constituents is in the demonstration of his worthiness by integrity, fidelity, industry, and efficiency in their service.
Mr. HOFFECKER was a man of light and leading in his community. He was a gentleman of the old school, courtly and polished in manners, with an attractive personality that commanded universal respect. The variety and prominence of the positions he held of a business, social, and ecclesiastical character denoted the commanding influence he exerted in his community. When he was laid to rest the chief mourner was the town in which he had dwelt. In recognition of his private worth and public services all places of business were closed. “Grand, good Chris
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tian gentleman! No unkind word was ever spoken of him," said one who had known him for many years. “A noble Christian man, a counselor always safe, an honored and trusted citizen," said another. “One of God's noblemen, always engaged in love and good works,” said another old acquaintance. His sterling manhood, exalted character, and broad Christian spirit gave him the deserved preeminence he enjoyed in the State he so faithfully represented for a brief period on this floor.
Our departed friend reached and passed the bounds of man's appointed years. The mysterious clock which the angel of life wound up to run three score years and ten and gave the key to the angel of the resurrection, as beautifully suggested by Dr. Holmes, ran a little beyond the appointed time.
Death came unheralded. We heard the rustle and saw the shadow of his wings, and it was over. “As the shadows steal at evening over the earth, softly closing the flowers and touching them to sleep, silently and lovingly in the promise of a bright awaking," so he fell asleep. Nature, with a little rudeness in her touch, perhaps, disengaged the vital cord, and he “passed serenely into rest on the other shore of that mysterious sea that never yet has borne on any wave the image of a homeward sail.”
The suddenness of his taking off is a circumstance not wholly without comfort. To one who is ready I can not but feel, with Ruskin, that death is the comforter and friend, bringing in his right hand rest and in his left hope. It is not uncommon in our day to hear the desire expressed for a sudden death. Dr. Holmes once said, when he read of some one being taken off quickly, it made his mouth water. I am sure our departed friend in every way answered the description contained in the poet's lines, which voice my own feelings:
“When faith and patience, hope and love,
ADDRESS OF MR. MONDELL, OF WYOMING. . Mr. SPEAKER: My acquaintance with Mr. BROSIUS began in the early days of the Fifty-fourth Congress. A constituent of mine who bore the same family name as our departed friend, and who was a great admirer of his, charged me before I left home for the capital to make his early acquaintance and inquire of him relative to the history of the family to which they both belonged.
I took the first opportunity that presented to introduce myself, and thus began an acquaintance that ripened into a friendship which, at least on my part, grew and strengthened through all the years that followed. I have never been brought into contact with a character which more deeply impressed me with its most striking characteristics of kindliness of heart and honesty of purpose than that of our departed friend, a character at once strong and vigorous, gentle and lovable.
I last saw him a few short weeks before he was called to his reward, as he stood here upon this floor to pay tribute to the memory of a departed statesman. The beautiful sentiments he then so eloquently utterec have a peculiar significance in that they were practically his last words on the floor of this Chamber, and one thought that he then expressed comes to me now as especially appropriate to this occasion, when we are gathered to review the life work and pay tribute to the memory of this gallant soldier, good citizen, accomplished legislator, kindly and sympathetic man. He said on that occasion:
He is gone, but he left behind for our instruction the lesson of a beau, tiful life of sympathy and service; to contemplate and emulate it is the
only way to make it profitable to us. Death comes like a faithful schoolmaster with the open book of a closed life, and assigns us the lesson which we must study or lose its teaching. There is a “golden text” in the lesson of this dutiful and beautiful life which we may all study with profit.
When our departed friend uttered this beautiful sentiment, little did we think how soon his summons was to come “to join the innumerable caravan that moves unto the silent halls of death," or how appropriate the words he then uttered to the memory of one who had given a long and faithful service to his country would be on the occasion when the final tribute of love and affection should be paid to his memory.
While we are admonished again by the passing of our friend of the uncertainty of human existence, we are also reminded by the beauty of his life and character that for such a soul the end of usefulness here is but a translation to greater usefulness amid fairer fields and under brighter skies beyond, and that there shall follow him there the full fruitage of the seeds of loving kindness and noble endeavor which he sowed with such unwearying hand throughout a busy and eventful life.
He is gone from among us in the flesh, but he is with us and shall remain to the end of time in the influences for good which he exerted here. This little span of mortal life is but the seedtime of existence—the seedtime in which he scattered broadcast the seeds of beautiful thoughts and kindly and considerate action, which, like the pebble thrown on the mirrored bosom of the lake, radiates its influence in ever-widening, never-ending circles, the ultimate limit and extent of which only Omnipotence can know; and who can say to what far-distant age and clime the never-failing, never-ceasing, kindly, and helpful influence of our departed friend may extend, passing, with the souls which it has and shall influence, beyond the shores of time to break in soothing, cooling waves of loving sympathy upon the golden strands of a distant eternity?