“The saying of the Liturgy is true and wise, that ’in the midst of life we are in death.’ But it is still more true that in the midst of death we are in life. Do we ever believe so much in immortality as when we look on such a dear and noble face, now so still, which a few hours ago was radiant with thought and love? ’He is not here: he is risen.’ That power which we knew,—that soaring intelligence, that soul of fire, that ever-advancing spirit,—that cannot have been suddenly annihilated with the decay of these earthly organs. It has left its darkened dust behind. It has outsoared the shadow of our night. God does not trifle with his creatures by bringing to nothing the ripe fruit of the ages by the lesion of a cerebral cell, or some bodily tissue. Life does not die, but matter dies off from it. The highest energy we know, the soul of man, the unit in which meet intelligence, imagination, memory, hope, love, purpose, insight,—this agent of immense resource and boundless power,—this has not been subdued by its instrument. When we think of such an one as he, we can only think of life, never of death.
“Such was his own faith, as expressed in his paper on ‘Immortality.’ But he himself was the best argument for immortality. Like the greatest thinkers, he did not rely on logical proof, but on the higher evidence of universal instincts,—the vast streams of belief which flow through human thought like currents in the ocean; those shoreless rivers which forever roll along their paths in the Atlantic and Pacific, not restrained by banks, but guided by the revolutions of the globe and the attractions of the sun.”
* * * * *
“Let us then ponder his words:—
’Wilt thou not ope thy heart to know
What rainbows teach and sunsets show?
Voice of earth to earth returned,
Prayers of saints that inly burned,
Saying, What is excellent
As God lives, is permanent;
Hearts are dust, hearts’ loves remain;
Hearts’ love will meet thee again.
* * * *
House and tenant go to ground
Lost in God, in Godhead found.’”
After the above address a feeling prayer was offered by Rev. Howard M. Brown, of Brookline, and the benediction closed the exercises in the church. Immediately before the benediction, Mr. Alcott recited the following sonnet, which he had written for the occasion:—–
“His harp is silent: shall successors rise,
Touching with venturous hand the trembling string,
Kindle glad raptures, visions of surprise,
And wake to ecstasy each slumbering thing?
Shall life and thought flash new in wondering eyes,
As when the seer transcendent, sweet, and wise,
World-wide his native melodies did sing,
Flushed with fair hopes and ancient memories?
Ah, no! That matchless lyre shall silent lie:
None hath the vanished minstrel’s wondrous skill
To touch that instrument with art and will.
With him, winged poesy doth droop and die;
While our dull age, left voiceless, must lament
The bard high heaven had for its service sent.”