Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1821–1834
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. V: Literature of the Republic, Part II., 1821–1834
 
The Character of John Quincy Adams
By Edward Everett (1794–1865)
 
[Eulogy on Mr. Adams. 1848.—From Orations and Speeches by Edward Everett. 1850–68.]

I HAVE left untouched the great qualities of the man, the traits which form the heroism of his character, and would have made him, at all times, and in any career, a person of the highest mark and force. These were, his lion heart, which knew not the fear of man; and his religious spirit, which feared God in all things, constantly, profoundly, and practically. A person of truer courage, physical and moral, I think, never lived. In whatever calling of life he had grown up, this trait, I am sure, would have been conspicuous. Had he been a common sailor, he would have been the first to go to the mast-head, when the topsails were flying into ribbons. He never was called to expose his life in the field, but, had his duty required it, he was a man to lead a forlorn hope, with a steady step, through a breach spouting with fire. It was his custom, at a time when personal violence towards individuals politically obnoxious was not uncommon, to walk the unwatched and desolate streets of Washington alone, and before sunrise. This may be set down to the steadiness of nerves which is shared by men of inferior tone of mind. But in his place in the House of Representatives,—in the great struggle into which he plunged, from a conscientious sense of duty, in the closing years of his life, and in the boldness and resolution with which he trod on ground never before thrown open to free discussion,—he evinced a moral courage, founded on the only true basis of moral principle, of which I know no brighter example. It was with this he warred, and with this he conquered; strong in the soundness of his honest heart, strong in the fear of God,—the last great dominant principle of his life and character.
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  There was the hiding of his power. There it was that he exhibited, in its true type, the sterling quality of the good old stock of which he came. Offices, and affairs, and honors, and studies, left room in his soul for faith. No man laid hold, with a firmer grasp, of the realities of life; but no man dwelt more steadily on the mysterious realities beyond life. He entertained a profound, I had almost said an obsolete, reverence for sacred things. The daily and systematic perusal of the Bible was an occupation with which no other duty was allowed to interfere. He attended the public offices of social worship with a constancy seldom witnessed in this busy and philosophic age. Still there was nothing austere or narrow-minded in his religion; there was no affectation of rigor in his life or manners; no unreflecting adoption of traditionary opinions in matters of belief. He remained, to the end of his days, an inquirer after truth. He regularly attended the public worship of churches widely differing from each other in doctrinal peculiarities. The daily entry of his journal, for the latter part of his life, begins with a passage extracted from Scripture, followed with his own meditation and commentary; and, thus commencing the day, there is little reason to doubt that, of his habitual reflections, as large a portion was thrown forward to the world of spirits as was retained by the passing scene.  2
 
 
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