xt7zkh0dvx2m https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7zkh0dvx2m/data/mets.xml Watterson, Henry, 1840-1921. 1870  books b92-155-29772541 English R. Clarke & Co., : Cincinnati : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Prentice, George D. (George Denison), 1802-1870. George Dennison Prentice  : a memorial address delivered before the legislature of Kentucky in the hall of the House of representatives on the evening of Wednesday, February 2nd, 1870 / by Henry Watterson. text George Dennison Prentice  : a memorial address delivered before the legislature of Kentucky in the hall of the House of representatives on the evening of Wednesday, February 2nd, 1870 / by Henry Watterson. 1870 2002 true xt7zkh0dvx2m section xt7zkh0dvx2m 












George Dennison Prentice.



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    B. HENRY WATTERSON.



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George Dennison Prentice.










       A MEMORIAL ADDRESS.

DELIVERED BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE OF KENTUCKY IN THE HALL
    OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON THE EVENING
         OF WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY znd, 1870.







      By HENRY WATTERSON.








             CINCINNATI:
       ROBERT CLARKE  CO.
                 1870.

 This page in the original text is blank.

 




















             IN MEMORIAM.








RESOLUTIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF KENTUCKY, INTRO-
             DUCED BY THE HON. BASIL W. DUKE.

   WHEREAS, The death of GEORGE D. PRENTICE deprives the State of Ken-
tucky of one of her oldest and best known citizens, and removes from the
public press of the country its most distinguished ornament; and,
  WHEREAS, The universal regret which this event inspires is shared by the
representatives of the people of Kentucky; and,
  WHEREAS, Some suitable recognition and formal testimonial are suggested,
not less by the inclination of the moment, than the great services of Mr.
PRENTICE to the literature and journalism of his time; therefore,
  Resolved, By the General Assembly of the State of Kentucky, That HENRY
WATTERSON, on account of his close personal and professional relations with
Mr. PRENTICE, and his intimate knowledge of his life and chatacter, be, and is
hereby, requested to deliver a memorial address, at some early day, upon the
career and services of the deceased journalist, statesman, and poet.


RESOLUTIONS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF TENNESSEE, INTRO-
             DUCED BY THE HON. JOHN FLEMING.

  WHEREAS, The intelligence of the death of GEORGE D. PRENTICE has been
received with profound sorrow by this General Assembly; and,
  WHEREAS, We feel in his death the last of one whose name is closely iden-
tified with the history of the country for the last quarter of a century in the
manifold character of poet, journalist, biographer, and statesman, who has shed
luster on the literature of his age, and the energies of whose great mind were,
throughout his career and during the most interesting and trying period of our
history, devoted to the good of his country and elevation of his race; therefore,
be it
  Resolved, That, in common with the nation, we deplore the loss of the

 











6                        In Memoriam.

distinguished dead as a public bereavement, and especially do we tender our
sympathy to our sister State of Kentucky in the loss of her most brilliant son.
  Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be at once forwarded to each of the
speakers of the Legislature of Kentucky now in session at Frankfort.


   The foregoing were adopted unanimously on Monday,
the 31st of January, i870.


 













        MEMORIAL ADDRESS.





   GEORGE DENNISON PRENTICE was born in a little, old-
 fashioned New England cottage on the outskirts of the
 village of Preston, in Connecticut, the i8th of December,
 1802, which came that year, as I find by reference to a
 chronological table, on a Saturday, and was attended by a
 coast gale that swept over the country fiercely far and near.
 He died in a Kentucky farm-house, on the banks of the
 Ohio river, ten miles below the city of Louisville, just
 before the break of Saturday, the 22d of January, 1870,
 and in the midst of an untoward winter flood that roared
 and swelled about the lonely spot. Between the tempest
 of his coming and the tempest of his going, flowed a life-
 current many toned and strong; often illuminated by
 splendid and varied achievements, and sometimes overcast
 by shadowy passions, struggles, and sorrows; but never
pausing upon its journey during sixty-seven years, nor
turning out of its course; a long life and a busy, joining
in uncommon measure and degree Thought to Action, and
devoting both to the practice of government, the conduct
of parties, and the cultivation of belles-lettres. For this
man was a daring partisan and a delightful poet; a distin-
guished advocate of a powerful political organization; a

 








George D. Prentice.



generous patron of arts; a constant friend to genius. In
violent and lawless times he used a pistol with hardly less
danger and effect than a pen, being regarded at one time as
the best pistol shot in Kentucky. By turns a Statesman,
a Wit, a Poet, a Man of the World, and always a Journal-
ist, he gave to the press of his country its most brilliant
illustrations, and has left to the State and to his progeny by
odds the largest reputation ever achieved by a newspaper
writer. You recognized these things, and the Legislature
of Tennessee recognized them, when his death was
described in the resolutions of both assemblies as a "public
bereavement." Such an honor was never paid the mem-
ory of any other journalist; and, although you have signal-
ized yourselves no less than him, it is my duty, and I assure
you it is a very great satisfaction, to thank you on behalf
of the profession which owes this, among so many obliga-
tions, to the genius of PRENTICE.
  There are some names that have a mysterious charm
in them-that go directly from the ear to the heart like
echoes from a world of beauty and enchantment-that
whisper to us somehow of song and blossom-whose very
shadows are fragrant and seductive. Rupert and Voltaire,
Richter and Chateaubriand, Sheridan and Tom Marshall,
are of this nature, and represent, in one sort and another,
what might be called the knight errantry of civilization.
PRENTICE belongs to the same class. What Rupert was
in the saddle, and Voltaire and Richter in the fight for free
opinions; what the friend of Madame Recamier was in
diplomacy; what Sheridan was in the Commons; what



8

 








Memorial Address.



Marshall was before the people-PRENTICE was to the
press. But the mention of his name, like the mention of
the others, does not recall the broils and battles in which
he participated; nor does it suggest any of those hard and
dry realities, which, in common with his fellow-men, he
had to encounter and endure. Much the reverse. It tells
us of the princely and the splendid, the pleasant and the
fanciful; and on this account many persons have very
erroneously conceived his work to have been as the play
of others, idealizing him as one whose genius was so scin-
tillating and abundant, that its flashes fell from him in spite
of himself, like the stars that were cast from the armor of
the Magic Buckler in the legend. Scintillant and abundant
he was, but he was also a rare scholar and a prodigious
drudge-overflowing with both the energy and the poetry
of life-admirably poised and balanced by the two forces
which we understand as Fancy and Intellect. Burke's
description of Charles Townsend seems to me to be a most
concise sketch of GEORGE D. PRENTICE. I am using
Burke's own language: "There certainly never arose in
this country a more pointed or a more finished wit, and,
where his passions were not concerned, a more refined,
exquisite and penetrating judgment."  For nearly a third
of a century he was, as Hazlett said of Cobbett, i sort of
fourth estate in the politics of America. WRhatever cause
he espoused he defended by a style of argument that was
never trite nor feeble, nor muddy nor confused, but was
luminous and strong, enriched by all that was necessary to
establish it and decorate it, and suited exactly to the temper



9

 








George D. Prentice.



of the times and the comprehension of the people, which
he seldom failed to hit between the acorn and the hull.
In considering his career, however, I shall ask leave to
speak of him rather as I knew him in his own person than
as he was known to the public through the transactions in
which he bore a part. I take it for granted that you are
not at all curious to learn what opinion I or any man may
entertain of this or that political event; and, at the very
best, opinions will differ on these points, leaving us in the
end nothing assured or distinct. If we would understand
history, we must study the men who made it; and in order
to get a clear notion of their characters and motives, we
need not take the record, but the spirit of their lives. I
shall, therefore, undertake to detain you neither by a moral
upon the political experience of Kentucky, nor a narrative
of the ups and downs of a by-gone political generation. I
wish to give you instead a homely, and, as far as I may be
able, a graphic notion of GEORGE D. PRENTICE as he was
known to his familiars; for I suppose I need not tell you
that he was a man of many marked traits and peculiarities
of manner, of voice, of appearance, and even of gait, as
well as of genius.
  The newspapers have already acquainted you with the
leading points in his career. That he was born, as I have
stated, in 1802; that he was taught by his mother to read
the Bible with ease when a little over three years of age;
that he studied under Horace Mann and Tristam Burges
at Brown University, where he was a famous Latin and
English scholar, reciting the whole of the 12th book of



I0

 








Memorial Address.



the pound;neid from memory for a single lesson, and commit-
ing, in like manner, such books as Kame's Elements of
Criticism and Dugald Stuart's Philosophy; that he began
as an editor in Hartford, coming hence to write a life of
Henry Clay, and remaining here to establish the Louisville
7ournal, in 1830; and that he made that the most cele-
brated and popular newspaper in America, and himself the
most conspicuous journalist of his time; are matters of
fact which need not be elaborated on this occasion. They
belongto biography. Of his marriage, after his wife had
been taken from him, he was himself not averse to speak-
ing, and dwelt upon her memory with touching fondness.
I had never the happiness of knowing her, but from his
own ideal, and from the representation of those who had
most reason to remember her hospitality or to bless her
bounty, there can be no doubt that she was a most charm-
ing woman. He loved to refer to her as a girl, and it is
curious that she is the only woman I ever heard him speak
of with genuine warmth and tenderness, although there
were many good and gentle women who had been his life-
long friends. "I have not had credit," he said, on one
occasion, "for being a devoted husband; but if I had my
life to go over, that is the only relation I would not alter;
she was the wisest, the purest, the best and the most thor-
oughly enchanting woman I ever knew." Most persons
will call to mind the verses which he addressed to her.
Verses, you are possibly aware, are not always truth-tellers,
but in this instance they expressed the impulses of a nature
which, readily impressed by all things agreeable, could not



I I

 








12               George D. Prentice.

be drawn out to the full by one of less grace of mind and
heart. His affection for his children was likewise intense,
and the loss of his elder son was a terrible blow. I know
of nothing more affecting than his fondness for a little,
fair-haired, bright-eyed boy, a grandson, who bears his
name, and who used often to come and visit him and spend
whole afternoons in his room; for you will understand that
he lived in the office-slept and ate and worked there-
seldom quitting it. Strangers supposed that he was de-
crepit, and there existed an impression that he had resigned
his old place to a younger and more active spirit. He
resigned nothing. I doubt whether he ever did more work,
or better work, during any single year of his life than
during this last year. He said, on the ist of January,
I869, "I will make the last years of my life the best years
of my life, and I shall work like a tiger ;" and he did work
like a machine which seemed to have no stop in it. In a
note to Mr. Haldeman, two or three months ago, he
wrote: "I work twenty-four hours a day, and the reason
I do not work any more is because the days are no longer."
I have had some personal knowledge of the working
capacity of the two newspaper writers in this country who
have been reputed the readiest and most profuse; but I
never knew any one who could write as much as PRENTICE
in a given time, or sustain the quantity and quality of his
writing for so long a time. Mr. Raymond used to run
abroad when fagged out, and Mr. Forney takes frequent
recreative  intervals.  PRENTICE was unresting.  He
actually averaged from fifteen to eighteen hours a day,

 







Memorial Address.



and kept this up month after month, turning out column
upon column of all sorts of matter, " from gay to grave,
and from lively to severe." The only testiness he ever
exhibited was when his work was interrupted; and yet,
withal, he had leisure for abundant intercourse with his
comrades, and would every now and then appear like a
sudden apparition, to one or another, with something
curious or comical to say. But he never laughed at his
own conceits. He would sit at a table dictating the droll-
est things in a slow, precise, subdued tone of voice, un-
moved and grave of aspect, while the laughter went round
him. I heard him once say to an amanuensis whom he
had just engaged, " Now, all I ask of you is to write down
what I tell you, but above all don't you watch my mouth
like a cat watching a mouse-trap." He was a careful as
well as a voluminous writer; set great store by critical ac-
curacy of expression and exactness in marks of punctua-
tion, and was an amateur grammarian, learned in all the
methods, though wedded to his own. He invariably re-
vised the manuscript of his amanuensis, and read his proof-
sheets to the last. And yet, except to have his matter
appear correctly, he was indifferent to it. He used to say,
" Use no ceremony with my matter. A man who writes as
much as I do can not expect to hit the nail always on the
head." But he did hit it nearer than anybody else. He
was very much attached to Mr. Shipman, and had perfect
confidence in the taste and judgment of that able writer
and scholar. Sometimes he would write a paragraph, not
over nice but always funny, intended to be struck out by



13

 








George D. Prentice.



Shipman. Often enough the wit got the better of Ship-
man's scruples, and the paragraph went in, which seemed
to amuse PRENTICE vastly. He was by no means sensitive
to what we call the "proprieties," and regarded many of
the conventional notions of society as affected and absurd,
and entitled to little respect. He once told me a story of
his having horrified the steady old Whigs of Louisville soon
after he began to edit the 7ournal, and in the midst of the
Clay and Jackson war, by riding to the race-course in an
open carriage with Mrs. General Eaton, who happened to
be passing through the city just after the notable scandal
at Washington. At that time he was full and erect, rosy.
cheeked and brown-haired, with an eye which at sixty-
seven was still marvelous for its beauty and brightness,
beaming with a clear, warm and steady light.
  PRENTICE was twenty-seven years old when he came to
Kentucky. He was obscure and poor. The people of the
West were rough. The times were violent. Parties were
dividing upon measures of government which could not, in
their nature, fail to arouse and anger popular feeling, and
to the bitterness of conflicting interests was added the
enthusiasm which the rival claims of two great party chief-
tians everywhere excited. In those days there was no
such thing as journalism as we now understand it. The
newspaper was but a poor affair, owned by a clique or a
politician. The editor of a newspaper was nothing if not
personal. Moreover, the editors who had appeared above
the surface had been men of second-rate abilities, and had
served merely as squires to their liege lords, the politicians.



14

 







                   Memorial Address.                   is

 This much PRENTICE reformed at once and altogether.
 He established the Louisville Yournal; he threw himself
 into the spirit of the times as the professed friend of Mr.
 Clay and the champion of his principles; but he invented
 a warfare hitherto unknown, and illustrated it by a personal
 identity which very soon elevated him into the rank of a
 party leader as well as a partisan editor. I fancy that the
 story of giants, which has come down to us through the
 nursery, illustrates the suggestion that in the early days of
 the world there was room for the play of a gigantic indi-
 viduality, which population and civilization exclude from
 modern concerns. Originally men went out singly in quest
 of fortune, and a hero was, in faith, a giant; then they
 moved in couples. Next in clusters. We now travel in
 circles. Combinations are essential. One man is noth-
 ing by himself. Our very political system is an organism
 of " rings ;" and the journal of to-day no longer represents
 the personal caprices and peculiarities of its editor, but
 stands as the type of a class of public opinion quite beyond
 the reach of personal influences. Personal journalism is a
 lost art. Journalism is now a distinct profession to which
 the individual editor holds the relation which the individ-
 ual lawyer holds to the courts; and as oratory is becoming
 less and less essential to the practice of law, so mere
 literary culture is becoming less and less essential to the
 practice of journalism. Mr. PRENTICE, the most dis-
 tinguished example of the personal journalism of the past,
 leaves but one other behind him, and when Greeley goes
here will be no one left, and we shall hardly see another.

 








George D. Prentice.



As was said of the players, " they die and leave no copy."
PRENTICE, like Greeley, knew nothing and cared less for
the machinery of the modern newspaper; its multitude of
writers, reporters and correspondents to be handled under
fixed laws known to a common usage; its tangled web of
telegraphy; its special departments and systematic mechan-
ism. For details of this sort he had no concern, they be-
longed to a different degree of journalism from that in
which he had made his fame. But he adapted himself to
their necessary exactions with perfect cheerfulness; and
he wrote as readily and vigorously in an impersonal char-
acter as he had done, when he was not only writing solely
in his own person, but when there was no knowing at
what moment he might be called upon to back a bon-mot
by a bullet.
  From  1830 to i86i the influence of PRENTICE was
perhaps greater than the influence of any political writer
who ever lived; it was an influence directly positive and
personal. It owed its origin to the union in his person of
gifts which no one had combined before him. He had, to
build upon, an intellect naturally strong and practical, and
this was trained by rigid, scholarly culture. He possessed
a keen wit and a poetical temperament. He was brave
and aggressive; and though by no means quarrelsome, he
was as ready to fight as to write, and his lot was cast in a
region where he had to do a good deal of both. Thus,
the business of an editor requiring him to do the writing
and fighting for his party, he did not lack opportunities for
personal display; and you may be sure he made every

 








Memorial Address.



opportunity tell for even more than its value. It is now
generally admitted that he never came off worsted in any
encounter, physical or intellectual. In all his combats he
displayed parts which were signal and showy; overwhelm-
ing invective; varied by a careless, off-hand satire, which
hit home; or strong, logical, plausible, pleasing, Anglo-
Saxon argument, that brought out the strong points of his
subject and obscured the weak ones; or nipping, para-
graphic frost that sparkled and blighted; or quiet daring
that was ever reckless of consequences. Who can wonder
that he was the idol of his party  Who can wonder that
he was the darling of the mob But, with these great
popular gifts, he was a gentleman of graceful and easy
address, kind and genial among men, gallant among ladies,
a sweet poet, a cultivated man of the world. I am not
making a fancy sketch, although it looks like one; because
where will you go to find the like It is easy enough to
describe the second or third-rate abilities. They belong to
a class, and may be arrayed under a standard. But it is
impossible to compare PRENTICE with any man. He was
as great a partisan as Cobbett; but Cobbett was only a
partisan. He was as able and as consistent a political
leader as Greeley; but Greeley never had PRENTICE'S wit,
courage, or accomplishments. I found in London that his
fame is exceeded by that of no American newspaper writer;
but the journalists of Paris, where there is still nothing but
personal journalism, considered him a few years ago as the
solitary journalist of genius among us. His sarcasms have
often got into Charivari, and several of his poems have been
               2



17

 









George D. Prentice.



translated. The French adore that which is witty, abusive,
and brave. How could they fail to put a great estimate
upon PRENTICE, who might have ranked with Sainte-
Beuve as a critic, and certainly surpassed Rochefort as a
popular chief
  For five and thirty years his life realized an uninter-
rupted success. He cared little for money, but what he
needed he had, and there was no end to the evidence of
his fame and power which constantly reached him. His
imagination, however, took a habitually melancholy turn,
and threw out, in the midst of wild and witty partisan
bursts, flashes of a somewhat morbid description. It is
not strange, that, as he grew aged, he withdrew himself
from very close and active intercourse with men. The
little ambition he ever had deserted him. His domesticity,
to which he was attached, was gone. Society bored him.
All his faculties remained clear and full; but the motive
for personal effort was wanting, and he worked because it
was his nature to work. He would have died else. He
quoted on three occasions a verse of a fine poem of
Mangan's, which seemed to represent his condition:

           Homeless, wifeless, flagonless, alone;
             Not quite bookless though, unless I choose,
           With nothing left to do except to groan,
             Not a soul to woo except the muse.
           Oh, this is hard for me to bear,
             Me, that whilom lived so much en baut,
           Me, that broke all hearts, like chinaware,
             Twenty golden years ago."



I 8

 








Memorial Address.



   He let his hair and beard grow long, and was careless in
 his attire. People thought him thoroughly broken down
 as they saw him on the street heedless, as he always was,
 of passers-by, or in his room wearing his old brown and
 tattered robe. They should have seen him enlivened by a
 glow of work or feeling, and in his shirt-sleeves, as lithe
 of limb and jaunty of carriage as a boy; no man of his
 age was ever more active. He once assured me that he
 had never had a headache in his life. It was not the
 infirmity of age which carried him off, but a disorder
 which a younger man might have resisted as feebly as he
 did.
   PRENTICE appeared as an author but twice. His biog-
raphy of Henry Clay is a masterpiece of political special
pleading. The narrative, however, is meagre and rather
turgid. It was not the story, but the argument, which he
had at heart; for the book was written to serve a party
purpose. His little volume of witticisms from the Louis-
ville 7ournal is more representative. In his preface he
expressed a doubt whether such a republication would bear
the test of time. " I know," he said, "that such things
do not keep well." But they have kept pretty well so far.
I can recall no book of wit and humor, not even the
collections of Hook and Jerrold, in which the salt is
fresher or more savory; and the student of that brevity
which is the soul of wit can hardly find a better model of
all that is neat, racy, and concise. Of these paragraphs
all are good, but the best are those which were cracked
over the head of poor Shadrach Penn. PRENTICE in his



19

 








George D. Prentice.



last days spoke of Penn as an able and sincere man, but
wanting sadly for ready self-possession. " In six months,"
said PRENTICE, "I pelted him out of his senses and into a
libel suit." It must have been terrible, indeed, upon Penn,
and did finally drive him away from Louisville to St. Louis,
where he died. Penn could say nothing-could not write
a sentence-that PRENTICE did not seize and turn to his
own account. Penn unguardedly speaks of "l ying these
cold mornings curled up in bed."  PRENTICE retorts that
"this proves what we've always said, that 'you lie like a
dog.'" Penn comes back angrily with something about
PRENTICE'S setting up a " lie factory," to which PRENTICE
rejoins, " if we ever do set up a lie factory, we will cer-
tainly swing you out for a sign."  Penn says he has
" found a rat hole." PRENTICE says, " that will save your
next year's rent." Penn says he has met one of PREN-
TICE' S statements squarely. "Yes," said PRENTICE, "by
lying roundly." Then Penn, wearied out, says he will
have no more to do with PRENTICE. " Well," says PREN-
TICE, tauntingly, "if he is resolved to play dummy we will
torture him no longer. We never were cruel to dumb
creatures."  Finally, when Penn was driven from  the
field, PRENTICE wrote: "The Advertiser of yesterday
contained a long valedictory from Shadrach Penn, its late
editor. Shadrach, after a residence of twenty-three years
in this city, goes to spend the rest of his life and lay his
bones in St. Louis. Well, he has our best wishes for his
prosperity. All the ill will we ever had for him passed out
long ago through our thumb and forefinger. His lot,



20

 








Memorial Address.



hitherto, has been a most ungentle one, but we trust his
life will prove akin to the plant that begins to blossom at
the advanced age of half a century. May all be well with
him here and hereafter. We should, indeed, be sorry if a
poor fellow whom we have been torturing eleven years in
this world should be passed over to the devil in the next."
Rough joking this, but characteristic of the times. The
Journal was crowded with it, along with a deal that was
neither rough nor jocose.  That, for example, was a
neat reply to Dickens' complaint that at Louisville he was
not able to find water enough to clean himself. " And
the great Ohio river," said PRENTICE, "right at hand."
And to the young lady who threatened to stamp on his
paper: " She had better not; it has little eyes in it."  The
sewing girls of New York devoted one day to sewing for
the benefit of the Polish exiles. PRENTICE said this was a
beautiful instance "of the needle turning to the pole," and
Punch afterward appropriated the conceit.
  On his poems PRENTICE himself put no great account.
They were thrown off idly. He wrote verses, he said, as
a discipline, or for recreation. He did not stand " Up
to the chin in the Rubicon flood." The best thing he
did is undoubtedly the " Closing Year," which has many
good lines and bold images, and will always be a favorite
recitative. The " Lines on my Mother's Grave," and the
" Lines to my Son," are also pathetic. I once heard Albert
Pike recite the "Lines on my Mother's Grave" at a club
party in Washington, in a way that left not a dry eye in
the room. But, after all, the fame of PRENTICE must



2 I

 








George D. Prentice.



stand not upon any one piece of work which he did, but
upon the purpose and influence of his whole life; its re-
alization of every public demand; its adaptation to every
party need ; its current readiness and force ; its thorough
consistency from first to last. He did more for others and
asked less for himself than any public man of his day. He
put hundreds of men into office, but he was never a candi-
date for office himself. He relied exclusively upon his
newspaper, and by this agency alone rose to eminence.
Many young writers imagine that culture is a fine thing;
and so it is. But culture without character is common-
place. That which is really good in literature and journal-
ism is that which is representative, the product of the spirit
of the country or times. PRENTICE was a perfect inter-
preter of his own times ; and when that is said we say of
him what can only be said with truth of two or three men
in an age. His personality was diffusive as well as ardent.
He had a spirit vehement and daring. Now that he is
gone there is no one to succeed him; and I doubt whether,
if it were possible, it would be safe to trust to another the
power which, as far as he himself was concerned, he used
so unselfishly and so sparingly. There was a time when
the splendor of his fame was very captivating to myself, as
I dare say it was to thousands of other ambitious youths of
the country. But you will believe me sincere when I tell
you, paraphrasing the words of Tyndall upon Faraday, how
lightly I hold the honor of being PRENTICE'S successor
compared with the honor of having been PRENTICE'S friend.



22

 







Memorial Address.



His friendship was energy and inspiration. His " mantle"
is a burden I shall never pretend to carry.
   He lived out nearly the allotted span. He had well-
 nigh reached the age of threescore years and ten. The
 joy of life was gone. He grew old of heart. Few of the
 dear ones remained to him, and those that did remain were
 hardly of his generation.

                "The mossy marbles rest
                On the lips that he has prest
                     In their bloom:
                 And the names he loved to hear
                 Have been carved for many a year
                     On the tomb."

   He was exasperated by the Byron scandal, and wrote all
the editorials that appeared in the Courier-7ournal on that
subject. Most of them he read to me, as was his habit
when anything seriously interested him; and I shall never
forget how, reading one of them, he broke down twice,
and finally altogether; his voice grew hoarse; his utter-
ance failed him; the tears came raining down his cheek,
and he arose silently and glided out of the room. It was
not decrepitude. It was feeling; for, excepting a few
trifling exaggerations which marked his style of writing
when he was deeply moved, the article was clear, vigorous,
and compact.
  Born in winter, he died in winter. He came in a gale
which blew across the Eastern sea, and his life was borne
out on the ebb of a mighty flood in the West. It was
stormy, as we know, from the beginning to the end. I



23

 








George D. Prentice.



have described the place where he died as lonely. It was
the home of his son, a farm-house just upon the water's
edge. Mr. PRENTICE quitted the office on Christmas Eve
to go to the country and spend the holidays. He was
unusually well and cheerful. A few days before he con-
fided to my keeping a lengthy manuscript which he had
written with his own hand. It is an autobiographic note
of the leading dates and events of his life, and, though the
writing must have been painful, it is neat and clear. He
said gloomily on one occasion, "I hope you won't let me
snuff out like a tallow candle," but he had no thought of
a snuffing out" when he bought the Christmas presents for
little George. The rest, however, is told in a line. A
cold ride of ten miles, an influenza, pneumonia, weeks of
prostration.  The flood came during his illness.  The
river swelled out of its banks.  The waters gathered
around about, reaching the very door-sill. He lay in an
upper chamber and could hear their noisy surges moaning
like the echoes of his own regrets. He will hear them
never more. He is beyond the fever and the worry and
the fret and the tumult of this world. He is dead.
  He sleeps now in Cave Hill Cemetery, the Louisville
place of burial, whither on the Monday after he died his
remains were conducted with all the h