The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With an Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview

JEREMIAH MASON.

[THE death of the Hon. Jeremiah Mason, one of the most eminent members of the legal profession in the United States, took place at Boston, on the 14th of October, 1848. At a meeting of the Bar of the County of Suffolk, Mass., held on the 17th instant, appropriate resolutions in honor of the deceased, accompanied with a few eloquent observations, were introduced by Mr. Choate, and unanimously adopted. It was voted by the meeting, that Mr. Webster should be requested to present these resolutions to the Supreme Judicial Court at its next term in Boston.

In compliance with this request, at the opening of the next term of the court, on the 14th of November, 1848, prayer having been offered, Mr. Webster rose and spoke as follows.]

MAY it please your Honors,-- JEREMIAH MASON, one of the counsellors of this court, departed this life on the 14th of October, at his residence in this city. The death of one of its members, so highly respected, so much admired and venerated, could not fail to produce a striking impression upon the members of this bar; and a meeting was immediately called, at which a member of this court, just on the eve of leaving the practice of his profession for a seat on the bench,1 presided; and resolutions expressive of the sense entertained by the bar of the high character of the deceased, and of sincere condolence with those whom his loss touched more nearly, were moved by one of his distinguished brethren, and adopted with entire unanimity. My brethren have appointed me to the honorable duty of presenting these resolutions to this court; and it is in discharge of that duty that I rise to address you, and pray that the resolutions which I hold in my hand may be read by the clerk.

The clerk of the court then read the resolutions, as follows:--

"Resolved, That the members of this oar have heard with profound emotion of the decease of the Honorable Jeremiah Mason, one of the most eminent and distinguished of the great men who have ever adorned this profession; and, as well in discharge of a public duty, as in obedience to the dictates of our private feelings, we think it proper to mark this occasion by some attempt to record our estimate of his pre-eminent abilities and high character.

"Resolved, That the public character and services of Mr. Mason demand prominent commemoration; that, throughout his long life, whether as a private person or in public place, he maintained a wide and various intercourse with public men, and cherished a constant and deep interest in public affairs, and by his vast practical wisdom and sagacity, the fruit of extraordinary intellectual endowments, matured thought, and profound observation, and by the soundness of his opinions and the comprehensiveness and elevated tone of his politics, he exerted at all times a great and most salutary influence upon the sentiments and policy of the community and the country; and that, as a Senator in the Congress of the United States during a period of many years, and in a crisis of affairs which demanded the wisdom of the wisest and the civil virtues of the best, he was distinguished among the most eminent men of his country for ability in debate, for attention to all the duties of his great trust, for moderation, for prudence, for fidelity to the obligations of that party connection to which he was attached, for fidelity still more conspicuous and still more admirable to the higher obligations of a thoughtful and enlarged patriotism.

"Resolved, That it was the privilege of Mr. Mason to come to the bar when the jurisprudence of New England was yet in

____________________
1
Mr. Justice Richard Fletcher.

-589-

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