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PRESENTATION OF A HAT AND STAFF TO MYRON LAWRENCE
Some thirty years ago, the following described customs were observed by the members of the Legislature. The new members of the Senate, as a memorial of res. pect, to the oldest member, presented him with some mark of esteem -as a cane, a hat, a snuff-box, or cloak. The members of the House, who saw him for the first time, invited the older members of their respective counties, to a supper at their charge. This latter custom was observed with great strictness, until the Temperance Reformation, when it was dis-continued. The other, so far as is known, fell with it. It has been revived under peculiarly auspicious circumstances, and so celebrated as to form an easy and becoming precedent for future observance.
The presentation of a “ Hat and Staff,” by the youngest to the oldest member of the Senate, took place in the Senate Chamber, January 22, 1852, immediately after the adjournment, Mr. Brinley of Boston, being in the chair.
The hat was manufactured by Mr. Stone, of Court street, and the cane, which is of Malacca, mounted with agate and gold, by Henry Prentiss of the same street.
Mr BURLINGAME prefaced the presentation with the following remarks ; and that the full force of them may be understood, we will state that Mr. LAWRENCE, the recipient, is the largest man in the Commonwealth, weighing 345 pounds :
Sir, in obedience to an old custom, and on behalf of the younger members of the Senate, I shall have the pleasure, after a few words, of presenting you, the senior inember of this body, with this hat and this staff, not only as tokens of our esteem, but as symbols of that protection and support which are due from youth to age, especially when that age, as in this instance, is crowned with civic honors.
Sir, we are not unmindful of your private virtue and your public service. We congratulate you that the cares of State have consisted so well with your health and happiness, and that those sorrows, which have come to you, as they come to all men, have not left their saddening influence upon your genial nature. When we look upon your broad breast and expansive brow, and consider the vital energy of the one and the intellectual strength of the other, we cannot wonder at the wit and the wisdom with which you have enlivened and enlightened ihe previous deliberations of this body. Sir, many an antique gem has resparkled in the light of your genius; many a strong man has gone down before the ponderous weight of your arguments.
Your partial friends have styled you the Sheridan of your party; they have done you injustice, for Sheridan, it is said, prepared his wit. The light of yours comes not from the lamp. Its quality attests its spontaneity, and what it lacks in finish it makes up in force. But I need not dwell upon qualities or criticise characteristics. Nor need I in this presence refer to your professional or political triumphs. They illus minate the records of our courts, and are written down as with a pen of iron, in the rock of our State's history.
The people of Hampshire who have long reposed in the shadow of your influence, have returned you many times to the House, and again and again to the Senate, over whose councils you have been called upon to preside, and I think I may say, without disparaging the illustrious men who have filled that chair, and without disrespect to
the gentleman who temporarily occupies it [Mr. Brinler) or to the gentleman who permanently fills it [Mr. Wilson) with so niuch credit to himsely and satisfaction to the Senate, I may say that it was never in all respects so completely filled as when occupied by yourself.
As a legislator, you have looked to the welfare of the people, and while you have had due regard to individual interests, you have done more perhaps than any other man in the Commonwealth to illustrate the benefit of large corporalions.
For the great cause of human liberty you have offered your right arm to paralysis; and you have ever been ready, I have no doubt to respond to the mandatory part of the great Writ of Right in the very words of its title, Habeas Corpus.
Sir, you have given form to the idea but faintly expressed by the words « Great and General Court of Massachusetts.” You have illustrated the stature a man may reach, and the spheroidal development he may attain in this free land under the inspiration of fair opportunity. And you have also illustrated the historical fact so credit. able to the State, that
“ Man is the noblest growth our soil supplies." Beyond the limits of our State, in the wide realm of politics, your policy has kept pace with the expanding power of the republic. Indeed, you have shone in the political heavens, not like a meteor which dazzles but to delude, but like a fixed star of the first magnitude. The great drainatist has said that some men are born great, and that others have greatness thrust upon them. You are not indebted for your greatness to any adventitious circumstance of birth, or to any undue efforts on the part of friends to place upon your Atlantean shoulders unmerited honors. No, your greatness is your own. It is the result of slow growth. And it is a greatness which, if taken away, would not enrich another, but make you peor indeed. The other day when I had the honor to call you pater senatus, you responded that you were, not only in views, but in discipline. Sir, as obedient children we shall liear vour views with great respect, considering their paternity, and take with humility the discipline you may deem necessary to their enforcement, feeling that it will be imparted for our good, and in accordance with the wisdom of Solomon — that wisdom mellowed by time, and softened still more by the paternal tenderness of your own warm heart. Time was when a gulf stood between youth and age; when friendships depended more upon years than upon yearnings. You have done much to fill up that gulf, and by your social qualities to bring on that “good time coming,” when as it is said, we may seek our affinities without regard to sex, age or condition. It is thought by some that age not only extinguishes the fires of hope, but that it dries up the deep fountains of human sympathy. This is not so. I have found in my experience, as pure, as warm, as kind feelings, in a heart whose throbbings had toiled past the noon of life, as in the ardent and tumultuous breast of youth. Sir, youth and age should go hand in hand together. The wisdom and experience of the one instructing and directing the enthusiasm of the other. You stand upon the very keystone of the arch of life; enjoying the full confidence of your fellow citizens and with the prospect of still further enlarging your sphere of action. ir, when your honors come chick upon you, sometimes remember your children of the Senate, especially in your patriar. chal dispensations.
And now, I present you with this staff, with the assurance that you may lean upon it, and find support. Ănd with this hat (Mr. B. here took the articles from the table, and looking at the hat remarked,
“ It's odd how hats expand their brims
As youth begins to fade;
It wanted them for shade.”'] This hat continued Mr. BURLINGAME, we feel will cover more of manhood than can any where else be found ; and we believe it is a gift which will be felt by you in in your crowning hours, and whenever the memory of this occasion shall come brimming up And Sir, having performed a most delightful duty we wait your paternal advice.
At the conclusion of Mr. BURLINGAME's remarks, Mr. LAWRENCE, amid shouts of laughter, responded as follows :
My Sons :-Your filial offerings are accepted, with gratitude, and will be kept and carefully used as memorials of this pleasant occasion, and of the relationship between us hereby recognized. As patriarch of these promising young men, it will afford me great pleasure to witness your advancement in legislative knowledge, and your im.
provement in the difficult science of statesmanship. I shall rockon it among my pleasantest duties to watch your progress with paternal care, to admonish you with paternal kindness, and if need be administer reproof and chastisement with paternal fidelity. It is the right of the well strickened in years, to admonish and advise the young The old man, having sailed far down the river of life, carefully noting its sinuosities, its shoals and sunken reefs, its whirlpools and eddies, its rapids and cataracts, is competent to instruct the inexperienced voyager, and qualified to assume the functions and authority of a pilot. In youth and early manhood the horizon is free from clouds, the visions of hope are all beautiful and enchanted and daguerreotyped with a strong light. But disappointment is the lot of man. It is eminently the portion of him who reasons from false principles, who believes without sufficient evidence, who bopes against hope, and follows every fitting chimera of a distempered brain as a veritable reality.
Allow me, my sons, in my patriarchal character, to give you, in all sincerity and frankness, certain practical advice as to your legislative course and duties. Be ever in your seat during the sessions of the board, give undivided attention to the business in progress, endeavor to understand the merits and provisions of every bill acted on, and never dodge a vote. As individual Senators, let honor be your polar star, honesty of purpose your sheet anchor, truth your compass, and the best good of the whole your supreme object, and the strong breeze of popularity will all your sails, and carry you onward to the desired port.
In your intercourse with each other, be courteous and gentlemanly, and always respectful to superiors in age. The hoary head is the residence of wisdom, and is entitled to respect.
Cultivate equanimity of temper, restrain passion, suppress irritation, and bridle your tongues— He that bridleth his tongue, is greater than he that taketh a city."
In debate, regard the main points under discussion, avoid digressions, and let not your partiality for a particular provision or enactment beget a doggedness of purpose. If your opponent suggests an amendment, obviously improving the bill, accept it graciously, and in this manner you will conquer his prejudice and secure his aid.
Do not speak often. Young men frequently err in this respect. Whenever you ask the attention of the Senate, presume that your hearers know something, and do not weary and disgust them by dry and uninteresting minutia of detail. Never speak unless you have something to say, and always stop when you get through. Pursue these rules and you will be listened to by your fellows with marked respect and attention. Adopt the opposite course, and you will find the newspaper,or the pen, or the knife, will be put into immediate requisition. The inost unwelcome labor I im. agine, is to address empty seats, or a pre-occupied audience.
Hold your opinions strongly, and be ever ready to give a reason for your faith.
Inexperienced debaters are apt to judge a speech by its length and rheteorical orna. ments rather than by the amount of thought and matter for reflection. This though a very common, is nevertheless a most fatal mistake. The short pithy, pointed, and well-aimed speech is the one that tells, while the elaborate, wire-drawn, lampsinelling essay, profusely ornate with tropes and metaphors, is marvellously soporific in its influence. Cultivate, my sons, a plain straight forward, Websterian manner of style and address, and you cannot fail to become effieient and acceptable Senators. The habits you form here may continue through life. Concentrate, therefore your thoughts, condense your minds, form a manly and energetic style of address let every word be fraught with meaning, and every sentence add to the intensity of the leading ideas.
My sons, you have commenced your Senatorial course under favorable auspices. Your elder bretheren, being accomplished legislators, will furnish examples worthy of imitation. During the session there will be grave subjects of debate and matters of serious enactment. Give your undivided attention to the business on hand, and if an important thought, or series of thoughts occur to you, which have escaped former debates,“ screw your courage up to the sticking-point, and break the ice," and give the Senate the benefit of your thoughts. No man knows what he can do, until he has been put to the test. Don't grieve the spirit of eloquence stirring within you, but cherish it, encourage it, nurse it, until the seed shall have germinated, the bud expanded and the fruit be ripened into perfection.
Consider well, the path of duty. Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth an unsavory odor, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor. In your exalted station all eyes are upon you. An impartial public is
ready to award you honor or dishonor according as your deeds shall be. Partial friends ase watching you with yearning hearts, deeply sympathising in your welfare.Wives and children are looking to some of you with an intensity of hope and love, and with a confident expectation, that you will discha ge your whole dutv, that no words can express.
Do not give to party what is meant for mankind. When occasion calls, rise superior to party interest, to party discipline, and to party dictation.Be men, be patriots, be christians, be conscientious legislators. On occasions like these, let the higher law, an enlightened conscience, proudly triumph over party arrangements, and merge the partizan in the patriot. And, when your heads shall be silvered o'er with age, and the sunny faced boy you now dandle on your knees shall worthily occupy your place, a retrospect of the past will present no cause for repen. tance and reminiscences of this day and of this occasion, of this Patriarch and these elder brethren, and these now consecrated noviciates, will sweetly cluster in your memories, and stir up your pure minds by way of reinembrance.
My sons, my patriarchal blessing rest on you. Remember that the man who is diligent in his business shall stand before kinys, he shall not stand before mere men. And may the blessing of Heaven crown yonr life with happiness and lead you into the way of all truth and all duty, now and forever.
[At the conclusion of Mr. LAWRENCE's remarks, the Senate adjourned.]