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vated, rewarded, and held up for imitation. The neglect of it would have an unfriendly influence on virtue and public spirit. The wisest and most renowned nations have not only voted thanks and triumphs to their illustrious citizens, while living; but have celebrated them in eulogies, when dead; and have erected altars of virtue and monuments of honour, to perpetuate their names to succeeding ages and generations.
Thus did Greece and Rome, in the best days of their republics; and it was the " manner of the Egyp"tians, the fathers of arts and sciences, not only to "celebrate the names and actions of their departed "worthies, but to embalm their bodies, that they "might long be kept in public view, as examples of "virtue, and, although dead, yet speaking."* It was also an established custom of the Athenians, every winter, to solemnize a public funeral of their heroes who had fallen in battle.
"A day was appointed, and a tabernacle erected "for the purpose; and for the space of three days "before the celebration of the ceremony, all were at "liberty to deck out the remains of their friends at "their own discretion. The bones of the slain were "brought to the tabernacle at the day appointed, in "a grand procession. Ten cypress coffins were "drawn on herses or carriages, duly ornamented, "one for every tribe; in each of which were sepa"rately contained the bones of all that belonged to "that tribe. Distinguished above the rest, one "sumptuous bier was carried along empty; as for "all those that were missing, whose bodies could "not be found amongst the slain. All who were "willing, both citizens and strangers, attended the "solemnity, and the women who were related to the "deceased took their station near the sepulchre, "groaning and lamenting, while the remains were "deposited in the public burying-place, which stood "in the finest suburb of the city; for it had been the "custom to bury in that place all who fell fighting "for their country, except those at Marathon, whose "extraordinary valour the Athenians judged proper "to honour with a sepulchre on the field of battle. "As soon as this public interment was ended, some "orator, selected for the office by the public voice, "and always a person in great esteem for his high "understanding, and of chief dignity amongst them, "pronounced over them the Euloge or Panegyric— "and this done, they departed."
* The same sentiments partly occur here as in the former Oration, respecting the use of funeral Eulogies—which could not be avoided as the Orations were of different dates, and, in some degree, before different audiences.
This' interesting account is given by Thucydides*: And circumstanced as the people of these United States now are, and as our posterity, for ages to come, must be, in building up and completing the glorious fabric of American empire and happiness, it might be a wise institution, if (in imitation of this Athenian sepulture, or of the Genoese feast of union) we should make, at least, an annual pause; and consecrate a day to the review of past events, the commemoration of illustrious characters who have borne a share in the foundation and establishment of our renown, and particularly those of whom we may have been bereft during each preceding year.
* Book II. VOL. I. G 4
In that view, how many patriots, statesmen, and philosophers, would now pass before us?—A Livingston, a Bowdoin, a Franklin!
At the name of Franklin, every thing interesting to virtue, freedom, and humanity, rises to our recollection! By what Euloge shall we do justice to his pre-eminent abilities and worth ? This would require a pre-eminence of abilities and worth, like his own. His vast and comprehensive mind was cast in a mould, which nature seems rarely to haye used before, and, therefore, can be measured only by a mind cast in a similar mould. His original and universal genius was capable of the greatest things, but disdained not the smallest, provided they were useful. With equal ease and abilities, he could conduct the affairs of a printing-press, and of a great nation; and discharge the duties of a public minister of state, or the private executor of a will. Those talents, which have separately entered into the composition of other eminent characters in the various departments of life, were in him united to form one great and splendid character; and whoever, in future, shall be said to have deserved well of his country, need not think himself undervalued, when he shall be compared to a Franklin, in any of the great talents he possessed; but the happy man who shall be said to equal him in his whole talents, and who shall devote them
to the like benevolent and beneficent purposes, for the service of his country and the happiness of mankind, can receive no further addition to his praise.
Franklin, as a philosopher, might have become a Newton; and as a lawgiver, a Lycurgus: But he was greater than either of them, by uniting the talents of both, in the practical philosophy of doing good; compared to which, all the palms of speculative wisdom and science wither on the sight. He did not seek to derive his eminence from the mere profession of letters, which, although laborious, seldom elevates a man to any high rank in the public confidence and esteem; but he became great by applying his talents to things useful, and accommodating his instructions to the exigencies of times and the necessities of his country.
Had we no other proof of this, the great and dignified part which he sustained in the American revolution, one of the most important events recorded among the annals of mankind, would alone have been sufficient to immortalize his name; but when we take into the account his previous labours for half a century, to illuminate the minds of his fellow-citizens, to prepare them for the mighty event, to nurse them into greatness by the arts of industry and virtue, to shew them the happiness which lay within their reach, to teach them to dare, and to bear, and to improve success—this accumulation of services has woven for his head a diadem of such beauty, as scarcely ever adorned the brow of either ancient or modern worthy.
In the earliest stages of life, he had conceived the mighty idea of American empire and glory; but like
Hercules in the cradle, he was ignorant of his own strength, and had not conceived the achievements and labours which awaited him. He had not conceived that he was, one day, to contend with kings and potentates for the rights of his country; to extort from them an acknowledgment of its sovereignty; and to subscribe with his name the sacred instruments* which were to give it a pre-eminent rank among the nations of the earth, and to assure its liberty and independence to the latest ages!
He was content in his humble, but honourable, station of an useful private citizen, to cherish in his own bosom, and in distant view, the idea of American greatness; and he cherished those also in whom he discovered ideas congenial to his own! Here I can speak from grateful experience. An essay of mine, in early youth, anticipating that bright (era which has now commenced, when arts and science, religion and liberty, all that can adorn or exalt human nature, are diffusing themselves over this immense .continent, which fell into his hands near forty years ago, first procured me that place in his esteem, that familiarity of conversation, and connexion with him, both in public and private life, which will enable me to proceed, with some advantage, to the remaining part of mv duty, however unqualified in other respects.
That duty would lead me more immediately to contemplate lam as & philosopher, the founder of that
• The declaration of American independence, by the congress of the United States, the treaties of amity and commerce, and of alliance with France: the definitive treaty of peace with Great-Britain, acknowledging the ir.t'.ept-ndence of Ameiica, &c.