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George Dennison Prentice : a memorial address delivered before the legislature of Kentucky in the hall of the House of representatives on the evening of Wednesday, February 2nd, 1870 / by Henry Watterson.
George Dennison Prentice : a memorial address delivered before the legislature of Kentucky in the hall of the House of representatives on the evening of Wednesday, February 2nd, 1870 / by Henry Watterson. Watterson, Henry, 1840-1921. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-155-29772541 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. George Dennison Prentice : a memorial address delivered before the legislature of Kentucky in the hall of the House of representatives on the evening of Wednesday, February 2nd, 1870 / by Henry Watterson. Watterson, Henry, 1840-1921. R. Clarke & Co., Cincinnati : 1870. 27 p. ; 24 cm. Coleman Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN03988.19 KUK) Printing Master B92-155. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Prentice, George D. (George Denison), 1802-1870. George Dennison Prentice. z ]RFmOrifll bhAFx. B. HENRY WATTERSON. m m This page in the original text is blank. George Dennison Prentice. A MEMORIAL ADDRESS. DELIVERED BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE OF KENTUCKY IN THE HALL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON THE EVENING OF WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY znd, 1870. By HENRY WATTERSON. CINCINNATI: ROBERT CLARKE CO. 1870. This page in the original text is blank. IN MEMORIAM. RESOLUTIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF KENTUCKY, INTRO- DUCED BY THE HON. BASIL W. DUKE. WHEREAS, The death of GEORGE D. PRENTICE deprives the State of Ken- tucky of one of her oldest and best known citizens, and removes from the public press of the country its most distinguished ornament; and, WHEREAS, The universal regret which this event inspires is shared by the representatives of the people of Kentucky; and, WHEREAS, Some suitable recognition and formal testimonial are suggested, not less by the inclination of the moment, than the great services of Mr. PRENTICE to the literature and journalism of his time; therefore, Resolved, By the General Assembly of the State of Kentucky, That HENRY WATTERSON, on account of his close personal and professional relations with Mr. PRENTICE, and his intimate knowledge of his life and chatacter, be, and is hereby, requested to deliver a memorial address, at some early day, upon the career and services of the deceased journalist, statesman, and poet. RESOLUTIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF TENNESSEE, INTRO- DUCED BY THE HON. JOHN FLEMING. WHEREAS, The intelligence of the death of GEORGE D. PRENTICE has been received with profound sorrow by this General Assembly; and, WHEREAS, We feel in his death the last of one whose name is closely iden- tified with the history of the country for the last quarter of a century in the manifold character of poet, journalist, biographer, and statesman, who has shed luster on the literature of his age, and the energies of whose great mind were, throughout his career and during the most interesting and trying period of our history, devoted to the good of his country and elevation of his race; therefore, be it Resolved, That, in common with the nation, we deplore the loss of the 6 In Memoriam. distinguished dead as a public bereavement, and especially do we tender our sympathy to our sister State of Kentucky in the loss of her most brilliant son. Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be at once forwarded to each of the speakers of the Legislature of Kentucky now in session at Frankfort. The foregoing were adopted unanimously on Monday, the 31st of January, i870. MEMORIAL ADDRESS. GEORGE DENNISON PRENTICE was born in a little, old- fashioned New England cottage on the outskirts of the village of Preston, in Connecticut, the i8th of December, 1802, which came that year, as I find by reference to a chronological table, on a Saturday, and was attended by a coast gale that swept over the country fiercely far and near. He died in a Kentucky farm-house, on the banks of the Ohio river, ten miles below the city of Louisville, just before the break of Saturday, the 22d of January, 1870, and in the midst of an untoward winter flood that roared and swelled about the lonely spot. Between the tempest of his coming and the tempest of his going, flowed a life- current many toned and strong; often illuminated by splendid and varied achievements, and sometimes overcast by shadowy passions, struggles, and sorrows; but never pausing upon its journey during sixty-seven years, nor turning out of its course; a long life and a busy, joining in uncommon measure and degree Thought to Action, and devoting both to the practice of government, the conduct of parties, and the cultivation of belles-lettres. For this man was a daring partisan and a delightful poet; a distin- guished advocate of a powerful political organization; a George D. Prentice. generous patron of arts; a constant friend to genius. In violent and lawless times he used a pistol with hardly less danger and effect than a pen, being regarded at one time as the best pistol shot in Kentucky. By turns a Statesman, a Wit, a Poet, a Man of the World, and always a Journal- ist, he gave to the press of his country its most brilliant illustrations, and has left to the State and to his progeny by odds the largest reputation ever achieved by a newspaper writer. You recognized these things, and the Legislature of Tennessee recognized them, when his death was described in the resolutions of both assemblies as a "public bereavement." Such an honor was never paid the mem- ory of any other journalist; and, although you have signal- ized yourselves no less than him, it is my duty, and I assure you it is a very great satisfaction, to thank you on behalf of the profession which owes this, among so many obliga- tions, to the genius of PRENTICE. There are some names that have a mysterious charm in them-that go directly from the ear to the heart like echoes from a world of beauty and enchantment-that whisper to us somehow of song and blossom-whose very shadows are fragrant and seductive. Rupert and Voltaire, Richter and Chateaubriand, Sheridan and Tom Marshall, are of this nature, and represent, in one sort and another, what might be called the knight errantry of civilization. PRENTICE belongs to the same class. What Rupert was in the saddle, and Voltaire and Richter in the fight for free opinions; what the friend of Madame Recamier was in diplomacy; what Sheridan was in the Commons; what 8 Memorial Address. Marshall was before the people-PRENTICE was to the press. But the mention of his name, like the mention of the others, does not recall the broils and battles in which he participated; nor does it suggest any of those hard and dry realities, which, in common with his fellow-men, he had to encounter and endure. Much the reverse. It tells us of the princely and the splendid, the pleasant and the fanciful; and on this account many persons have very erroneously conceived his work to have been as the play of others, idealizing him as one whose genius was so scin- tillating and abundant, that its flashes fell from him in spite of himself, like the stars that were cast from the armor of the Magic Buckler in the legend. Scintillant and abundant he was, but he was also a rare scholar and a prodigious drudge-overflowing with both the energy and the poetry of life-admirably poised and balanced by the two forces which we understand as Fancy and Intellect. Burke's description of Charles Townsend seems to me to be a most concise sketch of GEORGE D. PRENTICE. I am using Burke's own language: "There certainly never arose in this country a more pointed or a more finished wit, and, where his passions were not concerned, a more refined, exquisite and penetrating judgment." For nearly a third of a century he was, as Hazlett said of Cobbett, i sort of fourth estate in the politics of America. WRhatever cause he espoused he defended by a style of argument that was never trite nor feeble, nor muddy nor confused, but was luminous and strong, enriched by all that was necessary to establish it and decorate it, and suited exactly to the temper 9 George D. Prentice. of the times and the comprehension of the people, which he seldom failed to hit between the acorn and the hull. In considering his career, however, I shall ask leave to speak of him rather as I knew him in his own person than as he was known to the public through the transactions in which he bore a part. I take it for granted that you are not at all curious to learn what opinion I or any man may entertain of this or that political event; and, at the very best, opinions will differ on these points, leaving us in the end nothing assured or distinct. If we would understand history, we must study the men who made it; and in order to get a clear notion of their characters and motives, we need not take the record, but the spirit of their lives. I shall, therefore, undertake to detain you neither by a moral upon the political experience of Kentucky, nor a narrative of the ups and downs of a by-gone political generation. I wish to give you instead a homely, and, as far as I may be able, a graphic notion of GEORGE D. PRENTICE as he was known to his familiars; for I suppose I need not tell you that he was a man of many marked traits and peculiarities of manner, of voice, of appearance, and even of gait, as well as of genius. The newspapers have already acquainted you with the leading points in his career. That he was born, as I have stated, in 1802; that he was taught by his mother to read the Bible with ease when a little over three years of age; that he studied under Horace Mann and Tristam Burges at Brown University, where he was a famous Latin and English scholar, reciting the whole of the 12th book of I0 Memorial Address. the pound;neid from memory for a single lesson, and commit- ing, in like manner, such books as Kame's Elements of Criticism and Dugald Stuart's Philosophy; that he began as an editor in Hartford, coming hence to write a life of Henry Clay, and remaining here to establish the Louisville 7ournal, in 1830; and that he made that the most cele- brated and popular newspaper in America, and himself the most conspicuous journalist of his time; are matters of fact which need not be elaborated on this occasion. They belongto biography. Of his marriage, after his wife had been taken from him, he was himself not averse to speak- ing, and dwelt upon her memory with touching fondness. I had never the happiness of knowing her, but from his own ideal, and from the representation of those who had most reason to remember her hospitality or to bless her bounty, there can be no doubt that she was a most charm- ing woman. He loved to refer to her as a girl, and it is curious that she is the only woman I ever heard him speak of with genuine warmth and tenderness, although there were many good and gentle women who had been his life- long friends. "I have not had credit," he said, on one occasion, "for being a devoted husband; but if I had my life to go over, that is the only relation I would not alter; she was the wisest, the purest, the best and the most thor- oughly enchanting woman I ever knew." Most persons will call to mind the verses which he addressed to her. Verses, you are possibly aware, are not always truth-tellers, but in this instance they expressed the impulses of a nature which, readily impressed by all things agreeable, could not I I 12 George D. Prentice. be drawn out to the full by one of less grace of mind and heart. His affection for his children was likewise intense, and the loss of his elder son was a terrible blow. I know of nothing more affecting than his fondness for a little, fair-haired, bright-eyed boy, a grandson, who bears his name, and who used often to come and visit him and spend whole afternoons in his room; for you will understand that he lived in the office-slept and ate and worked there- seldom quitting it. Strangers supposed that he was de- crepit, and there existed an impression that he had resigned his old place to a younger and more active spirit. He resigned nothing. I doubt whether he ever did more work, or better work, during any single year of his life than during this last year. He said, on the ist of January, I869, "I will make the last years of my life the best years of my life, and I shall work like a tiger ;" and he did work like a machine which seemed to have no stop in it. In a note to Mr. Haldeman, two or three months ago, he wrote: "I work twenty-four hours a day, and the reason I do not work any more is because the days are no longer." I have had some personal knowledge of the working capacity of the two newspaper writers in this country who have been reputed the readiest and most profuse; but I never knew any one who could write as much as PRENTICE in a given time, or sustain the quantity and quality of his writing for so long a time. Mr. Raymond used to run abroad when fagged out, and Mr. Forney takes frequent recreative intervals. PRENTICE was unresting. He actually averaged from fifteen to eighteen hours a day, Memorial Address. and kept this up month after month, turning out column upon column of all sorts of matter, " from gay to grave, and from lively to severe." The only testiness he ever exhibited was when his work was interrupted; and yet, withal, he had leisure for abundant intercourse with his comrades, and would every now and then appear like a sudden apparition, to one or another, with something curious or comical to say. But he never laughed at his own conceits. He would sit at a table dictating the droll- est things in a slow, precise, subdued tone of voice, un- moved and grave of aspect, while the laughter went round him. I heard him once say to an amanuensis whom he had just engaged, " Now, all I ask of you is to write down what I tell you, but above all don't you watch my mouth like a cat watching a mouse-trap." He was a careful as well as a voluminous writer; set great store by critical ac- curacy of expression and exactness in marks of punctua- tion, and was an amateur grammarian, learned in all the methods, though wedded to his own. He invariably re- vised the manuscript of his amanuensis, and read his proof- sheets to the last. And yet, except to have his matter appear correctly, he was indifferent to it. He used to say, " Use no ceremony with my matter. A man who writes as much as I do can not expect to hit the nail always on the head." But he did hit it nearer than anybody else. He was very much attached to Mr. Shipman, and had perfect confidence in the taste and judgment of that able writer and scholar. Sometimes he would write a paragraph, not over nice but always funny, intended to be struck out by 13 George D. Prentice. Shipman. Often enough the wit got the better of Ship- man's scruples, and the paragraph went in, which seemed to amuse PRENTICE vastly. He was by no means sensitive to what we call the "proprieties," and regarded many of the conventional notions of society as affected and absurd, and entitled to little respect. He once told me a story of his having horrified the steady old Whigs of Louisville soon after he began to edit the 7ournal, and in the midst of the Clay and Jackson war, by riding to the race-course in an open carriage with Mrs. General Eaton, who happened to be passing through the city just after the notable scandal at Washington. At that time he was full and erect, rosy. cheeked and brown-haired, with an eye which at sixty- seven was still marvelous for its beauty and brightness, beaming with a clear, warm and steady light. PRENTICE was twenty-seven years old when he came to Kentucky. He was obscure and poor. The people of the West were rough. The times were violent. Parties were dividing upon measures of government which could not, in their nature, fail to arouse and anger popular feeling, and to the bitterness of conflicting interests was added the enthusiasm which the rival claims of two great party chief- tians everywhere excited. In those days there was no such thing as journalism as we now understand it. The newspaper was but a poor affair, owned by a clique or a politician. The editor of a newspaper was nothing if not personal. Moreover, the editors who had appeared above the surface had been men of second-rate abilities, and had served merely as squires to their liege lords, the politicians. 14 Memorial Address. is This much PRENTICE reformed at once and altogether. He established the Louisville Yournal; he threw himself into the spirit of the times as the professed friend of Mr. Clay and the champion of his principles; but he invented a warfare hitherto unknown, and illustrated it by a personal identity which very soon elevated him into the rank of a party leader as well as a partisan editor. I fancy that the story of giants, which has come down to us through the nursery, illustrates the suggestion that in the early days of the world there was room for the play of a gigantic indi- viduality, which population and civilization exclude from modern concerns. Originally men went out singly in quest of fortune, and a hero was, in faith, a giant; then they moved in couples. Next in clusters. We now travel in circles. Combinations are essential. One man is noth- ing by himself. Our very political system is an organism of " rings ;" and the journal of to-day no longer represents the personal caprices and peculiarities of its editor, but stands as the type of a class of public opinion quite beyond the reach of personal influences. Personal journalism is a lost art. Journalism is now a distinct profession to which the individual editor holds the relation which the individ- ual lawyer holds to the courts; and as oratory is becoming less and less essential to the practice of law, so mere literary culture is becoming less and less essential to the practice of journalism. Mr. PRENTICE, the most dis- tinguished example of the personal journalism of the past, leaves but one other behind him, and when Greeley goes here will be no one left, and we shall hardly see another. George D. Prentice. As was said of the players, " they die and leave no copy." PRENTICE, like Greeley, knew nothing and cared less for the machinery of the modern newspaper; its multitude of writers, reporters and correspondents to be handled under fixed laws known to a common usage; its tangled web of telegraphy; its special departments and systematic mechan- ism. For details of this sort he had no concern, they be- longed to a different degree of journalism from that in which he had made his fame. But he adapted himself to their necessary exactions with perfect cheerfulness; and he wrote as readily and vigorously in an impersonal char- acter as he had done, when he was not only writing solely in his own person, but when there was no knowing at what moment he might be called upon to back a bon-mot by a bullet. From 1830 to i86i the influence of PRENTICE was perhaps greater than the influence of any political writer who ever lived; it was an influence directly positive and personal. It owed its origin to the union in his person of gifts which no one had combined before him. He had, to build upon, an intellect naturally strong and practical, and this was trained by rigid, scholarly culture. He possessed a keen wit and a poetical temperament. He was brave and aggressive; and though by no means quarrelsome, he was as ready to fight as to write, and his lot was cast in a region where he had to do a good deal of both. Thus, the business of an editor requiring him to do the writing and fighting for his party, he did not lack opportunities for personal display; and you may be sure he made every Memorial Address. opportunity tell for even more than its value. It is now generally admitted that he never came off worsted in any encounter, physical or intellectual. In all his combats he displayed parts which were signal and showy; overwhelm- ing invective; varied by a careless, off-hand satire, which hit home; or strong, logical, plausible, pleasing, Anglo- Saxon argument, that brought out the strong points of his subject and obscured the weak ones; or nipping, para- graphic frost that sparkled and blighted; or quiet daring that was ever reckless of consequences. Who can wonder that he was the idol of his party Who can wonder that he was the darling of the mob But, with these great popular gifts, he was a gentleman of graceful and easy address, kind and genial among men, gallant among ladies, a sweet poet, a cultivated man of the world. I am not making a fancy sketch, although it looks like one; because where will you go to find the like It is easy enough to describe the second or third-rate abilities. They belong to a class, and may be arrayed under a standard. But it is impossible to compare PRENTICE with any man. He was as great a partisan as Cobbett; but Cobbett was only a partisan. He was as able and as consistent a political leader as Greeley; but Greeley never had PRENTICE'S wit, courage, or accomplishments. I found in London that his fame is exceeded by that of no American newspaper writer; but the journalists of Paris, where there is still nothing but personal journalism, considered him a few years ago as the solitary journalist of genius among us. His sarcasms have often got into Charivari, and several of his poems have been 2 17 George D. Prentice. translated. The French adore that which is witty, abusive, and brave. How could they fail to put a great estimate upon PRENTICE, who might have ranked with Sainte- Beuve as a critic, and certainly surpassed Rochefort as a popular chief For five and thirty years his life realized an uninter- rupted success. He cared little for money, but what he needed he had, and there was no end to the evidence of his fame and power which constantly reached him. His imagination, however, took a habitually melancholy turn, and threw out, in the midst of wild and witty partisan bursts, flashes of a somewhat morbid description. It is not strange, that, as he grew aged, he withdrew himself from very close and active intercourse with men. The little ambition he ever had deserted him. His domesticity, to which he was attached, was gone. Society bored him. All his faculties remained clear and full; but the motive for personal effort was wanting, and he worked because it was his nature to work. He would have died else. He quoted on three occasions a verse of a fine poem of Mangan's, which seemed to represent his condition: Homeless, wifeless, flagonless, alone; Not quite bookless though, unless I choose, With nothing left to do except to groan, Not a soul to woo except the muse. Oh, this is hard for me to bear, Me, that whilom lived so much en baut, Me, that broke all hearts, like chinaware, Twenty golden years ago." I 8 Memorial Address. He let his hair and beard grow long, and was careless in his attire. People thought him thoroughly broken down as they saw him on the street heedless, as he always was, of passers-by, or in his room wearing his old brown and tattered robe. They should have seen him enlivened by a glow of work or feeling, and in his shirt-sleeves, as lithe of limb and jaunty of carriage as a boy; no man of his age was ever more active. He once assured me that he had never had a headache in his life. It was not the infirmity of age which carried him off, but a disorder which a younger man might have resisted as feebly as he did. PRENTICE appeared as an author but twice. His biog- raphy of Henry Clay is a masterpiece of political special pleading. The narrative, however, is meagre and rather turgid. It was not the story, but the argument, which he had at heart; for the book was written to serve a party purpose. His little volume of witticisms from the Louis- ville 7ournal is more representative. In his preface he expressed a doubt whether such a republication would bear the test of time. " I know," he said, "that such things do not keep well." But they have kept pretty well so far. I can recall no book of wit and humor, not even the collections of Hook and Jerrold, in which the salt is fresher or more savory; and the student of that brevity which is the soul of wit can hardly find a better model of all that is neat, racy, and concise. Of these paragraphs all are good, but the best are those which were cracked over the head of poor Shadrach Penn. PRENTICE in his 19 George D. Prentice. last days spoke of Penn as an able and sincere man, but wanting sadly for ready self-possession. " In six months," said PRENTICE, "I pelted him out of his senses and into a libel suit." It must have been terrible, indeed, upon Penn, and did finally drive him away from Louisville to St. Louis, where he died. Penn could say nothing-could not write a sentence-that PRENTICE did not seize and turn to his own account. Penn unguardedly speaks of "l ying these cold mornings curled up in bed." PRENTICE retorts that "this proves what we've always said, that 'you lie like a dog.'" Penn comes back angrily with something about PRENTICE'S setting up a " lie factory," to which PRENTICE rejoins, " if we ever do set up a lie factory, we will cer- tainly swing you out for a sign." Penn says he has " found a rat hole." PRENTICE says, " that will save your next year's rent." Penn says he has met one of PREN- TICE' S statements squarely. "Yes," said PRENTICE, "by lying roundly." Then Penn, wearied out, says he will have no more to do with PRENTICE. " Well," says PREN- TICE, tauntingly, "if he is resolved to play dummy we will torture him no longer. We never were cruel to dumb creatures." Finally, when Penn was driven from the field, PRENTICE wrote: "The Advertiser of yesterday contained a long valedictory from Shadrach Penn, its late editor. Shadrach, after a residence of twenty-three years in this city, goes to spend the rest of his life and lay his bones in St. Louis. Well, he has our best wishes for his prosperity. All the ill will we ever had for him passed out long ago through our thumb and forefinger. His lot, 20 Memorial Address. hitherto, has been a most ungentle one, but we trust his life will prove akin to the plant that begins to blossom at the advanced age of half a century. May all be well with him here and hereafter. We should, indeed, be sorry if a poor fellow whom we have been torturing eleven years in this world should be passed over to the devil in the next." Rough joking this, but characteristic of the times. The Journal was crowded with it, along with a deal that was neither rough nor jocose. That, for example, was a neat reply to Dickens' complaint that at Louisville he was not able to find water enough to clean himself. " And the great Ohio river," said PRENTICE, "right at hand." And to the young lady who threatened to stamp on his paper: " She had better not; it has little eyes in it." The sewing girls of New York devoted one day to sewing for the benefit of the Polish exiles. PRENTICE said this was a beautiful instance "of the needle turning to the pole," and Punch afterward appropriated the conceit. On his poems PRENTICE himself put no great account. They were thrown off idly. He wrote verses, he said, as a discipline, or for recreation. He did not stand " Up to the chin in the Rubicon flood." The best thing he did is undoubtedly the " Closing Year," which has many good lines and bold images, and will always be a favorite recitative. The " Lines on my Mother's Grave," and the " Lines to my Son," are also pathetic. I once heard Albert Pike recite the "Lines on my Mother's Grave" at a club party in Washington, in a way that left not a dry eye in the room. But, after all, the fame of PRENTICE must 2 I George D. Prentice. stand not upon any one piece of work which he did, but upon the purpose and influence of his whole life; its re- alization of every public demand; its adaptation to every party need ; its current readiness and force ; its thorough consistency from first to last. He did more for others and asked less for himself than any public man of his day. He put hundreds of men into office, but he was never a candi- date for office himself. He relied exclusively upon his newspaper, and by this agency alone rose to eminence. Many young writers imagine that culture is a fine thing; and so it is. But culture without character is common- place. That which is really good in literature and journal- ism is that which is representative, the product of the spirit of the country or times. PRENTICE was a perfect inter- preter of his own times ; and when that is said we say of him what can only be said with truth of two or three men in an age. His personality was diffusive as well as ardent. He had a spirit vehement and daring. Now that he is gone there is no one to succeed him; and I doubt whether, if it were possible, it would be safe to trust to another the power which, as far as he himself was concerned, he used so unselfishly and so sparingly. There was a time when the splendor of his fame was very captivating to myself, as I dare say it was to thousands of other ambitious youths of the country. But you will believe me sincere when I tell you, paraphrasing the words of Tyndall upon Faraday, how lightly I hold the honor of being PRENTICE'S successor compared with the honor of having been PRENTICE'S friend. 22 Memorial Address. His friendship was energy and inspiration. His " mantle" is a burden I shall never pretend to carry. He lived out nearly the allotted span. He had well- nigh reached the age of threescore years and ten. The joy of life was gone. He grew old of heart. Few of the dear ones remained to him, and those that did remain were hardly of his generation. "The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he has prest In their bloom: And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb." He was exasperated by the Byron scandal, and wrote all the editorials that appeared in the Courier-7ournal on that subject. Most of them he read to me, as was his habit when anything seriously interested him; and I shall never forget how, reading one of them, he broke down twice, and finally altogether; his voice grew hoarse; his utter- ance failed him; the tears came raining down his cheek, and he arose silently and glided out of the room. It was not decrepitude. It was feeling; for, excepting a few trifling exaggerations which marked his style of writing when he was deeply moved, the article was clear, vigorous, and compact. Born in winter, he died in winter. He came in a gale which blew across the Eastern sea, and his life was borne out on the ebb of a mighty flood in the West. It was stormy, as we know, from the beginning to the end. I 23 George D. Prentice. have described the place where he died as lonely. It was the home of his son, a farm-house just upon the water's edge. Mr. PRENTICE quitted the office on Christmas Eve to go to the country and spend the holidays. He was unusually well and cheerful. A few days before he con- fided to my keeping a lengthy manuscript which he had written with his own hand. It is an autobiographic note of the leading dates and events of his life, and, though the writing must have been painful, it is neat and clear. He said gloomily on one occasion, "I hope you won't let me snuff out like a tallow candle," but he had no thought of a snuffing out" when he bought the Christmas presents for little George. The rest, however, is told in a line. A cold ride of ten miles, an influenza, pneumonia, weeks of prostration. The flood came during his illness. The river swelled out of its banks. The waters gathered around about, reaching the very door-sill. He lay in an upper chamber and could hear their noisy surges moaning like the echoes of his own regrets. He will hear them never more. He is beyond the fever and the worry and the fret and the tumult of this world. He is dead. He sleeps now in Cave Hill Cemetery, the Louisville place of burial, whither on the Monday after he died his remains were conducted with all the honoring circum- stance and ceremony which the living can pay to the dead; and he lies by the side of the little family group that went before him. Happy reunion ! How peaceful, tranquil, satisfying! How gently it seems to round and smooth the vexed turmoil of a life, which, brilliant as it was, had its 24 Memorial Address. sorrows and cares. I have given in another place a poem of Koerner which he was fond of, and recited some- times. But I may repeat it here. It is somewhat auto- biographical, and runs in this wise: "What though no maiden tears ever be shed Q'er my clay bed; Still will the generous night never refuse To weep her dews; And though no friendly hand garland the cross Above my moss, Yet will the dear, dear moon tenderly shine Down on that sign; And, though the passer-by songlessly pass Through the long grass; There will the noon-tide bee pleasantly hum And warm winds come; Yes, you at least, ye dells, meadows and streams, Stars and moon-beams, Will think on him whose weak. meritless lays Teemed with your praise !" The music sounds like his own. He was himself a poet of the fields, the skies, the flowers, "the dells, meadows and streams, stars and moonbeams." Perhaps no man was ever followed to the grave bv a more touching demonstration of public interest. Few men ever lived who inspired so much personal interest. There was in his very faults something that took hold of the popular fancy; and he united in himself three elements at least that never fail to exert a powerful influence among the people. He was brilliant, brave, and generous. He was an intellectual match for any man. He was physically 25 26 George D. Prentice. and mentally afraid of no man. He gave bountifully to all men. There was buried within him a superb nature, and his death for a moment lights up the vestibule in which he is placed by the side of three famous friends of his, making a group which will always be the pride and glory of this country. Clay, Crittenden, Marshall, and PRENTICE. They were contemporaries in stirring times; and it is much to say of PRENTICE that he borrowed no light from them, but that he let the glow and sparkle of his genius fall upon their lives, and that they were brighter for it. They are all contemporaries once more in the presence of the everlast- ing Genius of the Universe. The Statesman, by whose compromising spirit and patriotic heart peace was so long maintained among the people; the Senator, who gave the last effort of a noble life to avert the long impending strife of States; the Orator, who might have vied with either, and was his own worst enemy; the Journalist, who launched a party against the winds and currents, and was its steadiest and truest pilot as long as a single battered fragment tossed upon the waters-all are gone now, and stand side by side, immortal peers. PRENTICE rests in a quiet spot, where the violets which he loved to sing, and the meadow grass that grew greener in his song, will presently come and grow above him, and the stars which he made into a thousand images shine there by night, and the quiet skies that gave the kindliest joy to his old age bend over his grave. He is dead to a world of love and pity and admiration. But so long as there is a gravestone upon that hillside, so long Memorial Address. 27 as there is a newspaper printed in the beautiful Anglo- Saxon tongue, which he understood so well and wrote so forcibly and so gracefully, the descendants of this genera- tion and the stranger who comes from afar will seek out curiously and lovingly the place where they laid him. The man is dead. But PRENTICE is not dead.