Charles Carleton Coffin Part 15

Charles Carleton Coffin -

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From this pamphlet we extract the following:

After prayer and a brief silence, Dr. Little said:

"There are few men, I think, engrossed in the affairs of life, for an entire generation, to whom the Word of G.o.d was so vital and so precious as to our friend, Mr. Coffin. Let us open this Word, and listen while G.o.d speaks to us, in Ps.

23; Ps. 39: 4, 13; Ps. 46: 1, 5, 7.

"I will read from Ezekiel 26: 1-5, which was a favorite word with Mr. Coffin, and the pa.s.sage which he himself read, as he was journeying in the Eastern land, at the very spot concerning which the prophecy is uttered. Mr. Coffin was sitting there with his open Bible, and saw the literal fulfilment of this prophecy,--the fishermen spreading the nets in the very neighborhood where he was sitting."

The continued readings were from John 11: 21, 23; John 14: 19; 2 Cor. 5: 1, 8; Rev. 21: 1; Rev. 22: 5; 1 Cor. 15: 51, 57. The quartet sang "In My Father's Arms Enfolded."

Dr. Barton then read a letter from Rev. E. B. Webb, D. D., who was unable to be present. The following are the closing paragraphs. They recall the Oriental travels enjoyed by pastor and paris.h.i.+oner in company.

"Together we visited the home of Mary and Martha, and the tomb from which the Life-Giver called forth Lazarus to a new and divine life. We stood in Gethsemane, by the old olive-trees, beneath the shadows of which the Saviour of men prayed, and sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. We climbed together to the top of the Mount of Olives, and looked up into the deep heavens to which he ascended, and abroad to the city over which he wept; and both our words and our silence told how real it all was, and how the significance of it entered into our lives.

"From the city we journeyed northward,--up past Bethel, where Jacob saw a new vision, and got a new heart, and on, past the blue waters of Galilee, and across the great plain,--battle-ground of the ancient nations,--and over the Lebanons to Damascus and Baalbec, and then to the sea, and homeward thence; and always and everywhere scrutinizing the present, or reaching back into the past; drinking from the sparkling waters of Abana and Pharpar, or searching for the wall over which Paul was let down in a basket; impressed by the ruins of half-buried temples and cities, or looking forward, with sublime faith in the prophecy and promise, to the time when all things shall be made new;--Carleton was always the same thoughtful, genial, courteous companion and sympathizing friend.

"I honored, loved, and esteemed the man. His life is a beautiful example of devout Christian steadfastness. The history of his small beginnings, gradual increase, and final success, is one to inspire n.o.ble endeavor, and ensure reward. He honored the church, and the church does well to honor him.

"Affectionately yours, "E. B. Webb."

The Rev. Dr. Little paid a warm tribute to the memory of his friend:

"At eleven years of age he [Carleton] entered the church.

Think of it! Sixty-three years devoted to the service of his Lord and Master! He seems to me to be an ill.u.s.tration of a man who, when he is equal to it, finds a hard physical environment united with a wholesome moral and spiritual environment of supreme advantage. To a weak nature it would very likely mean only failure, but to a man of the heroic mould of Mr. Coffin it meant opportunity, and it only nerved him to more strenuous effort; and it was everything to him that the atmosphere in the home, the community, and the church was what it was,--so warm, so Christian, so spiritual, so sympathetic, and so suited to furnish just the right conditions for the moulding of his very responsive and susceptible nature.

"And then he possessed what I think might very well be called the spirit of aggressiveness, or, possibly better, the spirit of sanctified self-a.s.sertion. He never thought of self-a.s.sertion for his own sake, or for the sake of honor or promotion, but he had in him a kind of push and an earnestness of purpose--you might almost say audacity--that somehow stirred him and prompted him always to be in the place of greatest advantage at a given time for the service of others. He seemed always to be just at the point of supreme advantage in a crisis, just where he could give the world, at the right time, and in the best way, the fullest report of a battle, or a conference, or any other matters of supreme moment. This was characteristic of him. It appeared all through his New Hamps.h.i.+re life, and was indeed in part a native endowment."

After an address by the author of this volume on "Charles Carleton Coffin as a Historian," Dr. W. E. Barton, in felicitous diction, reviewed the earthly life of him with whose career many memories were then busy.

"Grief is no unusual thing. There is no heart here that has not known it. There is scarce a home where death has not entered. We weep the more sincerely with those that weep, because the intervals are not long between our own sorrows.

The whole Commonwealth mourns to-day our chief magistrate.

G.o.d comfort his family! G.o.d save the Commonwealth of Ma.s.sachusetts! G.o.d bless him in whose elevation to the Governor's chair Providence has antic.i.p.ated the will of the people.

"A very tender sorrow brings us here to-day, and we turn for comfort to the Word of G.o.d.

"Text: With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.--Ps. 91: 16.

"It is not because of his unusual age that this text seems to me appropriate for the funeral of our friend. His years were but little more than threescore and ten, and his step was light, and his heart was young, and we hardly thought of him as an old man. Nor is it because his work seemed to us completed, that we think of the measure of his days as satisfied. His facile pen dropped upon a new page; and before him, as he ceased to labor, were tasks midway, and others just begun. It is because our first feeling is so unsatisfied, it is because there was so much more which he wished, and we wished him to do, and that we are constrained to measure the length of his life, and to find, if we may find, in spite of this sudden break in our hopes and his plans, a completion that can satisfy. Measured by its experiences and accomplishments, it may seem to us that this life, so abruptly terminated, was one whose length and symmetry well deserve to be considered a fulfilment of the promise of the text."

Following the prayer, Dr. Barton said:

"It was the purpose of our organist, Mr. Dunham, a true and honored friend of Mr. Coffin, to play, as the postlude to this service, the stateliest of funeral marches, but I dissuaded him. This is a Christian funeral. Our music is not a dirge, but a jubilate. The hope of our friend in life is ours for him in death. Instead of even the n.o.blest funeral march expressing our own grief, there will be played the most triumphant of anthems, expressing his own victory over death,--Handel's matchless 'Hallelujah Chorus.'"

The organ then played the "Hallelujah Chorus," and the benediction was p.r.o.nounced by Dr. Barton.

It had been intended to deposit the mortal relics of Carleton in the ancestral cemetery at Webster, N. H., the village next to Boscawen, but Providence interposed. After all preparations for travel and transportation had been made, heavy rains fell, which washed away bridges and so disturbed the ordinary condition of the roads in New Hamps.h.i.+re that the body had to be deposited in a vault at Brookline until a more convenient season for interment. Meanwhile, the soldiers of the Grand Army, adult friends, and even children, united in the wish that the grave of their friend and helper might be within easy reach of Boston, so that on the National Memorial Day, and at other times of visitation, the mound might be accessible for the tribute of flowers. And so it eventuated that what was once mortal of Charles Carleton Coffin rests in Mount Auburn.

The memorial in stone will be a boulder transported from more northern regions ages ago and left by ice on land which belonged to Mrs.

Coffin's grandfather. On this rugged New Hamps.h.i.+re granite will be inscribed the name of Charles Carleton Coffin, with the dates of his births into this world and the next.

Both of the man and this, his last memorial, we may say _Deus fecit_.


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