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BY LOREN BENJAMIN MACDONALD
O GOD, we thank Thee for that Divine Wisdom which, from generation to generation, entering into holy souls, has made them friends of God and prophets. We come before Thy face deeply grateful for the gift of that illumined soul whose name to-day we honor. We thank Thee for all the blessed way in which Thou didst lead him. We bless Thee that, entering into his mind and heart, Thou didst so guide him in the way of truth and light and beauty, that, shedding down upon us to-day the greatness of his thought and the beauty of his spirit, we catch something of that divine influence and inspiration, and our lives are made sweeter and better because he has lived.
We thank Thee, O God, that Thou didst so touch his heart in early youth that he was led on in devout allegiance to the spirit of truth to which he gave his life — that truth which brought him into Thy sacred presence. We thank Thee that Thy spirit of beauty so took possession of his soul that he was evermore guided by it to Thee, the source of all beauty. We thank Thee for that vision of righteousness by which he was ever led on into the Holy of Holies of Thy presence. And we thank Thee that from that mount of vision, from that divine insight, he comes to us to-day to quicken our better life, to
make the world more beautiful for us, to make the way of life more sacred, to give us a deeper sense of responsibility in living, so that our lives mean more to us to-day because of his teaching.
We come at this hour yielding our minds and hearts in gracious and loving admiration and allegiance to his blessed influence. We feel the touch of his spirit in these sacred surroundings. We feel that, in these places hallowed by his presence, we stand on holy ground. We pray Thee that more and more we may feel that the beauty of the world is increased to us, indeed, because he has lived. Grant us, we pray, that, standing in the inspiration of his memory, with the blessed influence of his spirit pressing in upon our spirits, we may, indeed, follow in that way to which he pointed. May his spirit be an antidote for all our restlessness, a cure for all that is shallow and unworthy in our lives. May we, entering to-day into the silences of the spirit, feeling ourselves in the presence of that great Over-Soul, in whose presence he felt himself, be inspired, as he was, to go forth to do Thy work for the right, and to earnest labor for Thy blessed kingdom of truth and beauty and goodness. Make us also illumined souls, touched by that divine fire from above, so that we, too, catching some vision from the mount, may go forward to help bring something of the divine kingdom of light and peace and joy here upon the earth.
We ask it all as Thy children, Amen.
ADDRESS OF SAMUEL HOAR
NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS : - It is a rare event in the life of a New England town when, by a common impulse, men pause to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one of its citizens.
With patriotic pride, and deep and tender feeling, we are accustomed to recur at frequent intervals to the pathetic story of those settlements in the wilderness, of which this in Concord was the type, and we note with high appreciation that what was then sown here in weakness has been raised in power again and yet again.
And we also esteem it a priceless heritage, worthy of continued celebration, that when in the providence of God it became necessary that the might of England should be “fronted and driven back,” to secure the preservation of the liberty of which the Fathers had sown the seed, there was then found here the fertile field and the husbandmen ready for the harvest. These strengthening memories are a part of our local history..
It is not, however, the least of the claims of Concord to fame that out from her loins should have sprung the great intellectual and spiritual leader and emancipator of America.
It seems fitting that this people should commemorate Emerson on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, for their history and their quiet fields
furnished the alembic in which that clear and pure spirit was distilled.
Of the seven men who had been ministers of this town before his birth, whose names are borne on yonder tablet, he claimed five as his kindred. It was the blood of Peter Bulkeley, the founder, repeating itself in his veins, that made him a non-conformist. His grandfather, William Emerson, the preacher of the Revolution, transmitted to him a lofty patriotism. If there was found in his discourses a moving eloquence, it was traceable to the unquenchable spirit of Daniel Bliss, his great-grandfather, who came down here from Springfield to discipline and divide this people, of whom it was said that when the celebrated Whitefield preached here in 1764 in the afternoon, and Mr. Bliss preached in the morning, “ the Concord people thought their minister gave them the better sermon of the two."
The Social Circle, of which Mr. Emerson was an active member for forty-two years, itself a society in this town which traces its origin to the Committee of Safety in the Revolution, acting in this behalf for the people of Concord, has invited you to join with it in this Commemoration. It has appointed me its mouthpiece. The summons must be obeyed, for I cannot disregard those voices, audible to myself alone, which bid me to
what I can. This Society, with the modesty generated by over one hundred and twenty years of life in Concord, recalls what Emerson himself recorded of it in 1844:
“Much the best society I have ever known is a club in Concord called the Social Circle, consisting always of twenty-five of our citizens, doctor, lawyer, farmer, trader, miller, mechanic, etc., solidest of men who yield the solidest of gossip.”
It should be added that no member of the Social Circle now living was a member when these words were written.
I suppose that a majority of this audience will agree that the earliest misfortune in Mr. Emerson's life, which, however, he did all he could to counteract in after years, was that he was not born in Concord.
The record which fixes the time of his birth speaks of three successive events, and is found in his father's diary, as follows:
“ May 25, 1803. Mr. Puffer preached his Election Sermon to great acceptance. This day also, whilst I was at dinner at Governor Strong's, my son Ralph Waldo was born. Mrs. E. well. — Club at Mr. Adams'."
So we, too, divide our ceremonies to-day into three parts : an acceptable discourse in the morning ; a symposium after noon; and a meeting of the Club in the evening
His father, the Rev. William Emerson, who in 1803 was the minister of the First Church in Boston, died in 1811 when Ralph Waldo was eight years old. His mother, left a widow with six children and in narrow circumstances, was a woman of