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Russell H. Conwell by Agnes Rush Burr

Part 6 out of 6

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all your family's expenses, and of any servants you wish lo take with
you--only get out of the country." "Well," I said, "I am not going to
leave the country for my country's good, unless I know what I am going
for." I never could find out what the trouble with that second chapter
was, and I afterwards asked Mrs. Blaine if she knew what was the
matter. She then broke out in a paroxysm of grief and said that if he
had stayed in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he was a teacher, "he
would be living yet." She said "he had given thirty years of his life
to the public service, and now they have so ungratefully disgraced his
name, sent him to an early grave, and all in consequence of what he
has done for the public. He is a stranger to his country--a stranger
to his friends," and then she said, "O would to God he had stayed in
Pennsylvania!" I left her then, but I have never known what was in
that second chapter that caused the disturbance. But I do know
the second chapter was concerning their early and happy life in
Washington, Pennsylvania, where he taught in the college.

Near our home in Newton, Massachusetts, was that of F.F. Smith, who
wrote "America." It was of him that Oliver Wendell Holmes said that
"Nature tried to hide him by naming him Smith." Smith lived that quiet
and restful life that reminds one of Tennyson's "Brook" when thinking
of him. He knew the glory of modest living.

The last time I saw the sweet Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier,
was in Amesbury, before he died. He sent a note to the lecture hall
asking me to come to come to him. I asked him what was his favorite
poem of his own writing. He said he had not thought very much about
it, but said that there was one that he especially remembered:

"I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air,
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care."

I then asked him, "Mr. Whittier, how could you write all those war
songs which sent us young men to war, and you a peaceful Quaker? I
cannot understand it." He smiled and said that his great-grandfather had
been on a ship that was attacked by pirates, and as one of the pirates
was climbing up the rope into their ship, his great-grandfather
grasped a knife and cut the rope, saying: "If thee wants the rope,
thee can have it." He said that he had inherited something of the same

At Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Bayard Taylor took me to the grave of
his wife, and said "Here is the spot where I determined to live anew.
From this grave the real experiences of my life began." There he was
completing his home called "Cedar Croft." But he died while U.S.
Minister to Germany. The Young Men's Congress of Boston, when
arranging for a great memorial service in Tremont Temple, asked me to
call on Dr. Oliver Wendel Holmes to ask him to write a poem on Bayard
Taylor's death. When I asked Mr. Holmes to write this poem, to be read
in the Tremont Temple, he was sitting on the rocking chair. He rocked
back and kicked up his feet, and began to laugh. "I write a poem on
Bayard Taylor--ah, no--but I tell you, if you will get Mr. Longfellow
to write a poem on Bayard Taylor's death, I will read it." These
things only show the eccentricities of Mr. Holmes. So I went to Mr.
Longfellow and told him what Dr. Holmes had said, and here is the poem
he wrote:

"Dead he lay among his books!
The peace of God was in his looks.
As the statues in the gloom
Watch o'er Maximilian's tomb,
So those volumes from their shelve.
Watched him, silent as themselves.
Ah, his hand will never more
Turn their storied pages o'er.
Never more his lips repeat
Songs of theirs, however sweet.
Let the lifeless body rest!
He is gone who was its guest.
Gone as travellers haste to leave
An inn, nor tarry until eve.

"Traveller! in what realms afar,
In what planet, in what star,
In what gardens of delight
Rest thy weary feet to-night?
Poet, thou whose latest verse
Was a garland on thy hearse,
Thou hast sung with organ tone
In Deukalion's life thine own.
On the ruins of the Past
Blooms the perfect flower, at last
Friend, but yesterday the bells
Rang for thee their loud farewells;
And to-day they toll for thee,
Lying dead beyond the sea;
Lying dead among thy books;
The peace of God in all thy looks."

That great traveller, like Mr. Longfellow, used to tell me of his
first wife. He always said that her sweet spirit occupied that room
and stood by him. I often told him that he was wrong and argued with
him, but he said, "I know she is here." I often thought of the great
inspiration she had been to him in his marvelous poems and books.
Poor Bayard Taylor, "In what gardens of delight, rest thy weary feet
to-night?" Mr. Longfellow once said that Mary "stood between him and
his manuscript," and he could not get away from the impression that
she was with him all the time. How sad was her early death and how he
suffered the martyrdom of the faithful! Longfellow's home life was
always beautiful But his later years were disturbed greatly by
souvenir and curiosity seekers.

Horace Greeley died of a broken heart because he was not elected
President of the United States, and never was happy in the last years
of his life. His idea of true happiness was to go to some quiet
retreat and publish some little paper. He once declared at a dinner in
Brooklyn that he envied the owner of a weekly paper in Indiana whose
paper was so weakly that the subscribers did not miss it if it failed
to appear.

Mr. Tennyson told me that he would not exchange his home, walled in as
it was like a fortress for Windsor Castle or the throne of the Queen.

Mr. Carnegie said to me only a few months ago that if a man owned his
home and had his health he had all the money that man needed to be as
happy as any person can be. Mr. Carnegie was right about that.

Empress Eugenie, in 1870, was said to be the happiest woman in France.
I saw her in the Tuilleres at a gorgeous banquet and a few years
after, when her husband had been captured, her son killed and she was
a widow, at the Chislehurst Cottage, I said to her, "The last time
I saw you in that beautiful palace you were said to be the happiest
woman in the world." "Sir," she said, "I am far happier now than I was
then." It was a statement that for a long time I could not understand.

I caught a glimpse of Garibaldi weeping because he did not go back
with his wife, Anita, to South America.

I visited Charles Dickens at his home and asked him to come to America
again and read from his books, but Mr. Dickens said "No, I will never
cross the ocean; I will not go even to London. When I die, I am to be
buried out there on the lawn," and he pointed out the place to me. A
few weeks later I hired a custodian to let me in early at the rear
gate of Westminster Abbey, for Parliament had changed Mr. Dickens's
will in one respect, and provided that he should not be buried on the
lawn of his cottage, but instead in Westminster Abbey, but they made
no other change in his will. There I looked on the fifteen men, all
whom the will allowed to be present at his funeral, who were bearing
all that was mortal of Charles Dickens to his rest, and I heard Dean
Stanley say "While Mr. Dickens lived, his loss was our gain; but
now his gain is our loss." When he uttered that great truth, very
condensed, in that beautiful language, he showed that human life in
the public service of one's fellow men may be nothing more or less
than continual sacrifice.

My friends, if you are called to public service; if you have influence
that you can use for the public good, do not hesitate to go if you are
SURE that DUTY calls you. But if, instead, no voice of God, no call of
mankind, doth require that you go out and give up the best of life for
your fellows, remember how fortunate you are. If you can go to your
home at evening and read your paper in peace, and rest undisturbed,
do so, and remember that you have reached the very height of personal
happiness. Then seek no farther, count thyself happy and go no farther
than God shall call you. For the happiest man is not famous, nor
rich, but he who hath his loved ones in an undisturbed peace around.
Remember what Wendell Phillips said, "All within this gate is
Paradise; all without it is MARTYDROM."

I had a glimpse of Generals Grant and Sheridan wrestling like boys,
over a box of cigars sent into General Grant's tent. They were boys

I had a glimpse of Li-Hung Chang at Nanking, China, at an execution by
beheading, and a glimpse of him an hour later playing leap frog with
his grandchildren. Childhood was a joy, manhood a tragedy.

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