William Sumner Crosby.

Memorial services upon the seventy-fourth birthday of Wendell Phillips, held at the residence of William Sumner Crosby...South Boston, Nov. 29th, 1885.. online

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Online LibraryWilliam Sumner CrosbyMemorial services upon the seventy-fourth birthday of Wendell Phillips, held at the residence of William Sumner Crosby...South Boston, Nov. 29th, 1885.. → online text (page 1 of 3)
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^ No. 517 Broadway, South Boston, Nov. 29TH, 1885.

pritttcb for priratc iltrculation oitly.



No. 29 Oliver Street.


Ts54 n

Peace if possible ;
Justice at any rate.

Wendell Phillips.


On the t-vening of the seventy-fourtli birthday of Wendell
Phillips, November 29, 1885, a large number of his friends
assembled in the parlors of William Sumner Crosby, in South
Boston, to render in reverent love and admiration their homage to
his character, and to commemorate by memorial services his life-
long consecration to universal humanity in its extremest needs.

It was peculiarly fitting that the memorial address should be
given by Theodore D. Weld — one of the last of the early aboli-
tionists, r>nd the life-long friend of Wendell Phillijjs. Among the
hundred guests ])rescnt were —



The Rev. M. J. SAVAGE.

Mr. henry B. BLAClvWELL.

Dr. DAVID THAYER I Mr. Phillips's physician).

Dr. JOHN P. REYNOLDS (Mr. Phillips's nephew).

Mk. WHXIAM warren (the comedian, who " never missed an oppor-
tunity in thirty years to hear Mr. Phillips/').

The Rev. Fr. CORCORAN.

The Rev. GEO. H. YOUNG.



Mr. JOHN W. HUTCHINSON (the last of the Hutchinson family of

Mr. J. M. W. YERRINGTON (the reporter of Mr. Phillips's speeches).


Mr. a. H. GRIMKfi (Mr. Phillips's eulogist at Tremont Temple, Ajiril 9,



Mr. E. T. BILLINGS (the portrait artist).

The Rev. WM. H. LYON.





The Rkv. C. B. ELDER.

Mr. Crosby, who presided, opened the exercises by reading the
twenty-third Psalm from a Bible, a present of Mr. Phillips's mother
to her son, and given by him to Mrs. Crosby a short time before
his death. Mr. Crosby also read the twelfth verse of the fifteenth
chapter o First Corinthians : —

" Now IF Christ he preached that he rose from


This Psalm and this verse Mr, Phillips had marked in the Bible,
and requested that both should be read at his funeral.

The Broadway Unitarian Choir, in charge of Mr. William R.
Baker, then sang the twenty-third Psalm, after which the Rev. M.
J. Savage offered the following prayer :

Father, we know that no words of ours can adequately name Thee. It is
Thy might in the infinite universe of which we seem so small a part. We
are overwhelmed by Thy majesty in the heavens above us, and lost in the
mystery of Thy presence about us and beneath us. But though Thou art
manifested as power and might and glory, we believe also that there is that
in Thee which responds to our trusting hearts when we call Thee "Our
Father." We do not believe our cry is lost in empty space; but rather that
all we know as human tenderness and pity ar.d helpfulness and love are only
finite manifestations of what is infinite in Thee.

We do not pray because thou needest to be told anything, or because we
think we can persuade Thee to be kinder than Thou already art. Did we
dream that our prayers had power to interfere with or alter Thine eternally
wise and loving purposes we should not dare to pray. We pray because we
must, pouring out our inmost hearts before Thee, as children think aloud
their childish hopes and fears in the presence of father or mother. But
chiefly our prayer is gratitude and trust.

We thank Thee that man has always been feeling after Thee, though
sometiines blindly groping, and that thou hast never been far from any one
of us. Thou didst seek us before we could seek Thee. Forever has it been
true that Thou hast stood at the door and knocked, ready at the opening of
the door to come in and abide with us. As fast and as far as we have
made room for Thee, Thou hast come into the brain as truth, into the heart
as love, and into the life as noble action.

And never hast Thou left any age without a witness of Thee, a teacher, a
leader, an inspiring and uplifting power. Always has some noble one been
Thy voice, calling men to duty ; always has some seer been Thy light to
show the way

And not only in ancient times have Thine inspired ones spoken Thy truth
to the world. For Thou art the living God — as truly living and leading in
the grand forward and upward movements of the modern world as at any
period in the past. Thou hast sent to our time also seers and prophets to
rouse the people from their indifference, and to lead them in the way of
righteousness. In our day, as well as in the past, hast Thou sent a voice
to cry in the wilderness, " Prepare ye the way of the Lord! " In our day, as
we as in the past, hast thou sent one to undo the heavy burdens, to proclaim
liberty to the captive, and to break the shackles of them that were bound.

And to-night we especially thank Thee for him whom we are gathered to
commemorate; — for his clear eye that saw the truth, for his brave heart
that did not falter, and for his disturbinf;j voice that would not cry peace so
long as the people were at rest in the wrong.

May we prove worthy of the honor we pay to him by being ourselves true
to the duty that calls to us to-day. May we render him no mere lip-homage;
but, in his spirit, do the work that this hour needs. So shall we make our
own lives his fitting monument, and carry on still further the work of human
deliverance and uplifting to which he devoted his life.

Thus shall come on earth "the kingdom of God," that is the kingdom
of a perfected humanity. When that grand consummation is reached, may
we be fit to join in the paean of victory because we have done some little
thing at least to help on that victorv. And Thine shall be the honor and
the glory forever and ever. Amen !

At the close of this j^rayer the Choir chanted :

If I were a voice, a persuasive voice,

That could travel the wide world through,

I would fly on the beams of the morning light,

And speak to men with a gentle might,

And bid them to be true.

I would fly, I would fly over land and sea,

Wherever a human heart might be,

Telling a tale, or singing a song.

In praise of the right — in blame of the wrong.

If I were a voice, a consoling voice,

I'd fly on the wings of the air;

The homes of sorrow and guilt I'd seek.

And calm and truthful words I'd speak,

To save them from despair.

I would fly, I would fly o'er the crowded town

And drop like the happy sunshine down

Into the hearts of suffering men.

And teach them to look up again.

If I were a voice, an immortal voice,

T would fly the eartii around,

And wherever man unto error bow'd

I'd publish in notes both long and loud

The truth's most joyful sound.

I would fly, I would fly on the wings of day,

Proclaiming peace on my world-wide way,

Bidding the saddened ones rejoice —

If I were a voice — an immortal voice.

Mr. Crosby then read letters from friends of Mr. Phillips,
which will be found at the end of the pamphlet.

In introducing the speaker of the evening, Mrs. Crosby said :

" 1 have great pleasure in presenting to you Mr. Theodore D.
Weld. At the age of eighty-two he comes to speak to us as no
living man can of Wendell Phillips. Mr. Phillips always spoke of
him as the most eloquent and impressive of the early anti-slavery
orators, and cherished for him always the closest friendship and
most reverential regard. Let us never^ forget how much we owe to
him and his noble wife, Angelina Grimkd."

The exercises closed by the Choir singing Rev. M. J. Savage's
" Ode to Truth" : —


No power on earth can sever

My soul from truth forever -

In whatever path she wanders,

I'll follow my commander.

All hail ! All hail ! beloved Truth !

Whate'er the foe before me.
Where'er the flag flies o'er me,
I'll stand and never falter.
No bribe my faith shall alter.
Lead on ! Lead on ! thou mighty Truth

And when the fight is over,
Look down upon thy lover,
He asks, for well-done duty.
To see thy heav'nly beauty.
Reveal thy face, celestial Truth


Lessons from the Life of Wendell Phillips.

Of all greatness, the greatest is a great soul, great in the divine
self-forgetting, that lives for others, to cheer, cherish and uplift, to
help, befriend, bless and save ; lives to right wrongs, to lighten
burdens, ease pains, assuage ills, and calm passions ; ever serving
needs and soothing griefs ; glad in others' joy, sharing others'
woe ; in all doing, daring, and self-sacrifice consecrated to univer-
sal right, truth, duty, aspiration, and progress.

Such souls recast the race, illumine and inspire it ; wake up its
latent life, and launch it into noble action. They marshall its
array, lead its advance, and beat the time of its movement as it
marches on. Their voices ring out the glad tidings, that the old
earth's hoary wrongs pass fast away, and fast the new earth cometh
wherein dwelleth righteousness.

They are God's embassadors. His credentials, written out on
their lives, are His loving despatches to the children of His care.
Bom with these gifts and graces, they are saviours by birthright,
commissioned to breathe through all their breath of life, giving
eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, speech to the dumb, healing to
the bruised and broken, freedom to the slave, succor to the
tempted, rescue to the wandering, and to the lost safe guidance
home to their Father's house.


They are humanity's pathfinders, exploring its way ; engineers
drawing its lines and laying its course ; pioneers casting up its
highway and smoothing the rugged route ; torchbearers, lighting,
guiding, and cheering it on ; guardian-angels hovering over it by
day with songs of deliverance, and by night encamping round
about it in loving watch and ward.

They open for its thirst fountains in the desert, and minister to
its hunger that mystic manna, which to the faithful never faileth.

Such souls are God's apostles to man, buoying him upward by
the inspiration of their lives, and quickening torpid natures by the
magnetism of supernal ideas.

Thus from age to age they have been his pilots through night
and storm, over raging seas ; pioneers out of Egypt's bondage
through the wilderness to the promised land.

Fifty-six years ago, just such a soul, the moral hero of his time,
bearing God's mandates to this slave-holding nation and church,
its abject ally, went forth thus commissioned. Alone, God-sent,
he lifted up his prophecy against a generation of oppressors, dead
in trespasses and sins.

Far and long his warning voice rang out, "Repent !" " Break
every yoke ! " Let the oppressed go free ! " His trumpet-blast
died in the dull ears of a besotted nation and church. To them
he seemed as one who mocked.

At length here and there a kindred soul — a man, a woman —
caught his inspiration. Those near pressed around him ; those
afar shouted back their glad all-hail.

Very slowly their numbers grew. At length, after years of
stniggle, the charmed circle widened, till thousands wrought exult-
ing together.

Then came among them one in earliest manhood, whose fervent
soul drew him by irrepressible affinities to the leader's side.

Thenceforth they twain were one. Together with ecjual step they
marched, leading the van in a moral warfare against infinite odds.

Divinely they magnified their office. How ihcy wrought, wrote,
spoke, lived, agonized and conquered !

No lips so touched by altar-coals as theirs, no pens like theirs
flashed truth's electric fires, till, life's last forces spent, they rested
from their labors ; and in might and multitude their works have
followed them, till now. from sea to sea, myriads rise up and call
them blessed.

Let us for this hour commune with the younger of these anoint-
ed souls as he traversed his great career. A life wrought out in all
daring and sacrifice for the poorest of earth's poor, desolate out-
casts, guiltless victims, the plundered and forsaken of every realm.

A life so sublime in its devotion to man's intensest needs chal-
lenges our reverent pondering of the lessons it teaches.

Twenty-two months ago all of Wendell Phillips that could die
was borne to Boston's most ancient place of burial. There, at the
centre of the old puritan city, his majestic form, lowered tenderly
to its final rest, sleeps with his kindred dust. Yet this lapse of
time has hardly, if at all, dulled that keen sense of loss borne to us
upon his latest breath.

No event, topic, or name lives more vividly to-day in the best
thought and heart of his native New luiglantl than the memory of
that grand career. Pulpits, platforms and the press have lavished
spontaneous homage upon his genius and character.

From ocean to ocean, cities, villages and hamlets, even the thinly
peopled frontiers skirting our far West and North, uprose, uncov-
ered as the wires sped on those drear death-tidings ; while with
choked utterance those whose hearts his life had won whispered
brokenly the name they loved.

Even the late slave-holding South hushed for a while its dis-


cordant note, while some in New Orleans, Charleston and Rich-
mond let fall tender words as they read upon their bulletins,
" Wendell Phillips is dead."

But it was not his genius alone, and the vast service it had ren-
dered to man, that kindled this loving admiration. They who out-
poured those eulogies had felt the thrill of his heart-beat ; its pulses
had throbbed through them in words that burned. Thus inspired
they spake.

What our common speech calls genius is some special faculty
overshadowing all others and ruling the realm of mind.

Not such was the genius of Wendell Phillips. It was no king
over his other powers, but a ruler among rulers, each co-ordinate
with each in a balanced equality. It was no single element, but
all the higher elements forming a common unit, equal forces
blended in an inseparable whole. Some minds are great in a
single faculty ; others in kindred faculties with mutual affinities ;
others still in the general range and elevation of all the higher

Such pre-eminently was the genius of Wendell Phillips. Strong
in each of its elements, ethic, aesthetic, logical, philosophic, criti-
cal, emotional, imaginative, all these with conscience and indomita-
ble will were the rounded man himself. The large stature of his
powers, their exalted level, thus making each a vital constituent of
his genius, made him in their combination what he was.

This aggregation ot great mental and moral forces crystallized
into character, were the grand way-marks which shaped and signal-
ized his lite-career.

Some of these stand out so far in Iront that each seems almost
the man himself. I name first, intuitive insight into rights and
wrongs, the nature, relations and fitnesses of things.

Second : An absolute self-poise, never jostled, however rude the


shock or confounding the (]uandary, whatever friends estranged
or associations sundered.

Third : A heroism that nothing could daunt, converting each
danger into new strength to dare.

Fourth : A serene independence, standing upon its own footing,
and content to stand alone.

Fifth : A fidelity to conviction, never swerving from its line for
cross, loss, struggle, peril or self-sacrifice, whatever the onset or the

Sixth : A moral courage unmoved by scoff or taunt, threats or
curses, by faces averted in disgust or scowling in scorn, pale in hate
or ablaze with rage, while calmly confronting stormy clamor and
universal ostracism.

Seventh : All these elements were pioneered by a conscience
sensitive as quicksilver, true as needle to pole, impelled to univer-
sal right by an indomitable will, and wrought out in a stringent logic,
philosophy and rhetoric, compact in tersest phrase, proverb, epi-
gram, invective, poetic conception and eloquence ; in natural,
simple speech of common words, and flowing in a style of trans-
parent strength and beauty.

To these were added the charm of rare personal attractions, a
majestic presence, an air of blended grace and dignity, a gentle,
winning manner, with never a trace of self-display, or hardly of
self-consciousness, his face alive with soul, his eye serenely benig-
nant to right, but darting lightnings at incorrigible wTong, his
speech resonant with those wonderous tones which once heard
were heard always ; while over all his supremely unselfish life was
a crown of glory.

His Boston birth was to him a cherished boon. Speaking of it
he said, " I love inexpressibly the streets of Boston, over which my
mother bore up my baby feet, and if God grants me time enough


I will make them too pure for the footsteps of a slave." \Vhen an
old man he wrote, " I was born in Boston, and the good name of
the old town is bound up with every fibre of my heart." Why did
Boston so nestle in his heart ? Not because it was renowned for
those splendors which strike the eye, marvels which have made
famous many cities. In those scores have surpassed Boston.

It was because the grand old town sat crowned with glorious
memories, his joy and pride. While life lasted they stirred him
heart and brain,

Boston's sublime example in extremest peril, when every portent
foreboded downfall, in the grapple with England's usurpation, that
grand defiance lived deathless in his memory, and cast in its own
mould the plastic boyhood of the young devotee.

That old heroic mould of revolutionary Boston holds its own
to-day, and will ever, despite its later degeneracy. True, her per-
fidy to liberty, Oct. 21st, 1835, trailed across her escutcheon, spot-
less till then, a stain indelible. Yet jet-black as that stain was and
will be forever, it can never dim the glory of Boston's revolutionary
renown. That grand old revolution, its thronging difficulties met
and mastered, its trials and struggles, burdens and losses, privations ,
hardships and sufferings, intense, long-drawn and heroically borne ;
its dangers confronted, grappled and defiantly dared ; that im-
mortal seven-years' struggle, an agony of desperation, crowned
victor at last, while the land still smoked with slaughter, these
kindling memories were all household words in the diction of the
heroic boy.

That wonderous story his heart had garnered word by word. To
him it was a living inspiration in all the air. He drew it in with
his breath and thundered it forth in declamation from the platform
of Boston's Latin School, as the fiery words of Otis, Quincy, Adams
and Patrick Henry leaped glowing from his fervid lips.


But though by birth native to Boston, and counting that nativity
a precious boon, Wendell Phillips caught in his earliest young
manhood vivid foregleams of a higher nativity than that according
to the flesh. This was in due time born of soul-travail in birth-
throes of the spirit. Pondering the vision and bitiing his time, he
felt within him new yearnings, his inner eye fast opening, his inner
ear unsealing, his whole being expanding and exulting in its new-
found inlets and outlets, giving it freer course, fuller pulses, wider
scope and higher aspirations. As he mused there came to him
inklings of a birthright unknown before. Clearer and more clear
the light shone, till full-orbed at last it rose upon him, revealing his
life-clientage of earth's plundered millions, poorest of the myriad
poor, victims foredoomed to disfranchisement from birth, dehu-
manized by human laws, whelmed under direst wrongs, stripped of
all rights, robbed of themselves and thus of all besides, the tortured
victims of all atrocities wrought by man upon man. Forlorn, out-
casts ! desolate, forsaken, forgotten and left to perish !

Thus called of God he counselled not with man. Hailing the
vision, he bowed to its sacred baptism and felt laid upon him an
ordaining hand, consecrate with the anointing of a divine apostle-
ship to bind up the broken-hearted, set at liberty the bruised,
proclaim deliverance to the captive, the opening of prisons to
the bond, and to deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the

Straightway, strong of heart, he girded his loins, buckled on his
armor and left all, looking never backward except in joy to shout
his deliverance. Then exulting in his summons, his mission and
his message, he sprang to the toils, scorns, perils, alienations, con-
flicts and hair-breadth escapes of his life-career.

At this, his first great crisis, let us turn back to note the special
stages which marked thus far the scenes of his life.


Born November 29th, 181 1, he graduated at fifteen from the
Boston Latin School, at nineteen from Harvard College.

I have recently received letters from two of his classmates, de-
scribing his college-career. The first is from his roommate, the
Rev. John Tappan Pierce, of Illinois.

Mr. Pierce says : " Our acquaintance began at Harvard in i82 7>
when we first met to be examined. I was then a lad of fifteen,
but two weeks younger than Phillips. Though I had never seen
him before, I was drawn to him by irresistible attraction, and I
always found him true as magnet to steel. I had engaged a room-
mate, otherwise we should have roomed together the first year ;
but, just before entering the Sophomore Class in 1828, Phillips
came to my room and proposed our partnership, which I joyfully
accepted ; and here began our life-intimacy, a sweet and enduring

" I will speak first of his moral traits. He was not then a profess-
ing Christian, yet he never said or did anything unbecoming the
Christian character. What President Kirkland said in his life of
Fisher Ames was eminently true of Phillips : " He needed not the
sting of guilt to make him virtuous." His character shone conspic-
uous. He was above pretence, a sincere, conscientious, devoted
friend. He had a deep love for all that was true and honorable,
always detested a mean action. His Bible was always open on the
centre-table. His character was perfectly transparent ; there were
no subterfuges, no pretences about him. He was known by all to.
be just what he seemed.

" Second, his social traits : He was the favorite of the class. If
any class-honor was to be conferred, who sp likely to have it as he ?
Nor would any dispute his claim. Though very modest in his
self-estimate, every one wiUingly yielded him the palm. Upon the
death of a valued classmate, Thompson, none but Phillips must
pronounce the eulogy.


" Third ; His standing as a scholar was among the first in a large
class. This is saying not a little when we recall the names of
Motley, the historian ; Simmons, the distinguished orator ; Eames,
United States charg^ d'affaires ; McKean, a true son of genius ; the
Rev. Dr. Morrison, late editor of the " Unitarian Review ;" Mayor
Shurtleff, and Dr. Shattuck, of Boston ; Pickering, the Boston
lawyer ; Judge Darrell, of New Orleans ; Joseph Williams, Lieut.-
Ciovemor of Michigan and president of a state college there.

" As an orator Phillips took the highest stand of any graduate of
our day. I never knew him to fail in anything or hesitate in a
recitation. In mathematics he was facile princeps; natural and
moral philosophy, history, the ancient languages, in all pre-
eminent, equally good in all branches.

" He hated oppression and always defended the defenceless. He
had great power of reasoning, and easy mastery over those with
whom he grappled. He was laborious, patient under trials, and of
a cheerful disposition that could never be discouraged."

Another of his classmates, the Rev. Dr. Morrison, speaks thus of
him : " Wendell Phillips in college and Wendell Phillips six years
after were entirely different men. In college he was the proud
leader of the aristocracy. From what he then was no one could
possibly predict what he afterwards became as the defender and
personal friend of the helpless and desi)ised. There was always
the same grace and dignity of personal bearing, the same remarka-
ble power of eloquence, whether in extempore debate or studied
declamation. It was a great treat to hear him declaim as a college
exercise. He was always studying remarkable passages, as an
exercise in composition, and to secure the most expressive forms of
language, as well as an exercise in elocution, to give to language its

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Online LibraryWilliam Sumner CrosbyMemorial services upon the seventy-fourth birthday of Wendell Phillips, held at the residence of William Sumner Crosby...South Boston, Nov. 29th, 1885.. → online text (page 1 of 3)