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THE LATE GEORGE LIVERMORE, ESQ.
ARTICLE IN THE BOSTON DAILY ADVERTISER, SEPTEMBER 2, 1865.
N the death of Mr. Livermore we have all lost a friend. He was naturally and essentially kind. He was also most conscientious and sincere. He was exquisite in simplicity. He was pure in heart. Though retiring and modest, he was outspoken and courageous for the Right. His instinctive earnestness was always on the side of virtue. These qualities marked him in all the walks of life. To these must be added a general intelligence, much acquired information, business talents of no common order, and an immense love of books.
He was a merchant always, and his name will hereafter be inscribed proudly among those who have done. honor to the commercial life of Boston. Men are remembered most by what they do outside their profession. Although not unsuccessful in business, Mr. Livermore will be commemorated as a merchant who excelled in refined tastes, in generous sympathies, and in literary studies. He was an example of what a merchant may be, not only at his counting-house, but at home, in association with men, in the Sunday school, in counsel to the young, and especially in his library.
Among his schoolmates was one whose reputation in the medical profession is enhanced by acknowledged
fame as writer and as poet, who cheered him during his late illness.1 I had not the advantage of acquaintance with Mr. Livermore at that early day. I knew him first as he was about to visit Europe, and I cannot forget his absorbing interest at that time in the family of William Roscoe. He admired the accomplished author of the history of Lorenzo de' Medici and of Leo the Tenth, because he was a merchant who cultivated letters, and while in England one of his peculiar pleasures was to study on the spot the life and character of this merchant author. His interest in bibliography was recognized by Dibdin, the great professor of the science, who conceived a friendship for his American disciple.
On his return, our merchant, while engaged in all the activities of business, renewed his devotion to those other pursuits which made him so dear to a large and growing circle. His library increased. His specialty was Bibles, of which he formed a precious collection. Among these is one which once belonged to Melancthon, with notes in the autograph of this mild and scholarly Reformer. There is also a very rare copy of "The Soldier's Pocket Bible," in antique print and spelling, as published for the God-fearing Ironsides of Oliver Cromwell. In other departments the library is rich and interesting. Mr. Livermore read his books, but he had a true pleasure in looking at them. He was choice in editions, and careful in bindings. Anything in vellum or large paper had a fascination for him, showing that he had not conversed with Dibdin in vain. This library, after overflowing the rooms of his house, was gathered into a beautiful apartment,
1 Oliver Wendell Holmes.
built expressly for it. There, at the close of the day, after the cares of business were over, he found a pleasant retreat, interrupted only by the welcome visit of friends. His moderate desires were amply gratified, and he was happy. The library of Prospero was not more to him, when he "prized it above his dukedom."
As a member of learned societies and of charitable associations, Mr. Livermore was indefatigable. Perhaps nobody in our community was more felt in these quiet and unobtrusive labors. His interest in public affairs was constant also, and this became intense as the great issue presented by the Rebellion loomed into sight. He busied himself to raise troops. More important still, at a critical moment, before the Government had determined to enlist colored soldiers, he prepared and printed at his own expense a most instructive elucidation of this question, founded on our Revolutionary history, which he entitled "An Historical Research respecting the Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes, as Slaves, as Citizens, and as Soldiers." This was read to the Massachusetts Historical Society, 14th August, 1862, two months before the first Proclamation of Emancipation, and nine months before the famous Fifty-fourth Regiment, of Massachusetts, commanded by Colonel Shaw, sailed from Boston. Among the agencies which swayed the public mind at that time, this work is conspicuous, and it is within my own knowledge that it much interested President Lincoln. While preparing the final Proclamation of Emancipation, the President expressed a desire to consult it, and, as his own copy was mislaid, he requested me to send him mine, which I did. But while performing
this patriotic service, our merchant did not forget his bibliographical tastes. The many editions were all remarkable for faultless paper and type, and one of them, now before me, is on large paper.
At the time of his death Mr. Livermore was fifty-six years of age, which was also the age of President Lincoln, for whom he entertained unbounded regard, deepening into affectionate reverence. By the bedside, in his last illness, hung a copy of the immortal Proclamation, signed by its author in his own autograph. There also within reach were good books, which he enjoyed as long as he could enjoy anything, and even after he began to lose hold of life.
The death of such a man must make many sad. To family, friends, and neighbors it will be irreparable. To the whole community it is a calamity. There is more than one mourner who will repeat, from the bottom of his heart, the words of the great poet:
THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE
NATIONAL FAITH :
GUARANTIES FOR THE NATIONAL FREEDMAN AND THE NATIONAL CREDITOR.
SPEECH AT THE REPUBLICAN STATE CONVENTION, IN WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS, SEPTEMBER 14, 1865. WITH APPENDIX.
Nor was civil society established merely for the sake of living, but rather for the sake of living well. — ARISTOTLE, Politics, tr. Taylor, Book III. Ch. 9.
This, Sir, is a cause that would be dishonored and betrayed, if I contented myself with appealing only to the understanding. It is too cold, and its processes are too slow for the occasion. I desire to thank God, that, since He has given me an intellect so fallible, He has impressed upon me an instinct that is sure. On a question of shame and honor reasoning is sometimes useless, and worse. I feel the decision in my pulse: if it throws no light upon the brain, it kindles a fire at the heart.-FISHER AMES, Speech in Congress on the Treaty with Great Britain, April 28, 1796: Works, Vol II. p. 56.