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The Chairman of the Memorial Session of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, held at Washington in February, 1882, was charged with the duty of preparing an address, in commemoration of the life and life-work of ALEXANDER LYMAN HOLLEY, and the Council of the Institute was at the same time requested to take into consideration the publication of a Memorial Volume, to contain the above-mentioned address, the proceedings of that meeting, and such other matters as it might be deemed expedient to include in it.
In accordance with that request, the Council now issues the present volume, concerning the contents and scope of which a few words may fitly be said in this place:
It was evidently proper that the proceedings of other societies, as well as our own, in honor of Mr. Holley, should be published in this connection. Upon that head no explanation is needed, beyond the expression of regret that the record is incomplete—the action of various societies and the eulogies pronounced by many admirers not having been communicated to the secretary of the Institute. The testimony of the press, technical and non-technical, was overwhelmingly abundant; but, upon due consideration, it was decided that the obituary notices and articles published in American and foreign journals should be omitted, because to publish them would be to occupy many pages with but slightly varied repetitions of the leading facts of Mr. Holley's career.
It was the general desire of members of the Institute that Mr. Holley's professional papers and addresses, and also, if possible, some or all of his brilliant speeches should be included in the volume.
With regard to the former, a reference to the catalogue, beginning on page 143, will show that their number was so great as to preclude all idea of comprehending them in a single book. Moreover, most of them were accompanied with plates, which could not well be reproduced or included in a work of the present character. A few papers and addresses, not illustrated with drawings, and adapted to display the versatile ability of their author, have, therefore, been selected; and it is believed that the choice thus made will be generally approved.
Concerning his humorous and eloquent speeches on special occasions, difficulty of another sort has been encountered. It is, perhaps, not just to the memory of any man to make public after his death what he deliberately and intentionally withheld from publication during his lifetime. In this case, the notes for many occasional speeches, found among Mr. Holley's papers by his biographer, , would give, if published, no adequate notion of the speeches themselves. They do not even accurately convey what he said-still less, the personal charm of his presence and manner. As the editor of London Engineering has justly said : “We think that American engineers cordially acceded to him the place of orator par excellence of the profession. . Holley was both orator and poet in his speech; his voice was beautiful and under perfect training; his power of language as remarkable as his readiness at all times to employ it to good and emphatic purpose.”
It is notoriously impossible to preserve in printed words the power and the effect of such gifts. Some hint of them may be obtained from his speeches, in reception of the Pittsburgh testimonial, and at the De Lesseps banquet, which are given in full in the following pages,
and from several extracts contained in the Memorial Address. As an example of his wit and ready command of language, the
Metallurgist's Ode to Spring,” read at the Baltimore banquet of the Institute, has been selected.
To complete the record contained in this book, it is necessary to add a brief statement of the circumstances of Mr. Holley's death, January 29th, 1882. He had already once recovered, in the summer of 1881, from a supposed bilious attack, which was universally expected to prove fatal, and had enjoyed another year of sufficient health and strength to permit the resumption of professional work. But his malady (subsequently proved to be an internal tumor, obstructing the gall-duct, and producing many apparent symptoms of liver-disease) was, in its nature, incurable. Early in the autumn of 1881 he was attacked, during a professional journey in Belgium, with what he deemed to be a malarial ague. Unable to throw it off, he went forward, nevertheless, with desperate resolution until he had completed, in England and Scotland, the programme of his work. To his wife and daughters, then travelling in Europe, he made light of his illness, lest they should abandon their tour to rejoin him; and when at last the family was reunited in London, the anxiety of all was concentrated upon the terrible fever which had seized the elder daughter, rather than the slow disease which was gradually stealing upon the father. Relieved at last from the worst pressure of this anxiety, Mr. Holley could give some attention to his own condition, and, soon concluding that in London, at least, he could not get well, he returned to this country, leaving his family to follow, a few weeks later, with the convalescent invalid. Up to the time of their sailing from England, he seemed to maintain a cheerful hope of recovery, and dictated frequent encouraging dispatches to them, rapidly arranging, at the same time, his business affairs, with, perhaps, unconscious prescience of the end. Five days before his death, the certainty of a fatal termination was recognized by all, and the only question left was, whether he would live to greet once more those who, comforted by his last, cheerful message, were on their way to him across the sea. It was not to be; they reached the house a few moments after he had passed away.
The portrait of Mr. Holley, which constitutes the frontispiece of this volume, shows him, as all who knew him will delight to remember him, in the healthful vigor of his prime. Strength and beauty, courage and gentleness, enthusiasm and judgment, earnest purpose and happy humor, were blended in his face, as they were, in overflowing power yet exquisite balance, united in his character and illustrated in his life.
ALEXANDER LYMAN HOLLEY.
FEBRUARY 1, 1882.
Private Service held at the House, Brooklyn, N. Y.
HYMN.-"Nearer, my God, to Thee."
It is left for me to say a word--the last in his own dwelling-by the side of the remains of our dear friend; and since, lacking a few words from me, no words will be spoken, I may be permitted to say that while in my thoughts and in my heart I can compass, so far as ever we can, the theme of this event of his departure from our midst, I feel wholly unable to compass it in words. It seems the strangest thing in the world, the most impossible thing in the world, that he is dead. They seem incredible words, when they are taken upon the lips, that Alexander Holley is dead, and that we shall see him no more in this world. For a good many years, to me, as to many of us here, he stood as the image of vitality, physically, mentally, and in his affections. He was full of ripe fruit. How active he was! What a vivacity he had! What a spring! What an overflow of animal spirits! What a pleasure it was to meet him! How cordial his greeting was! He was one of those friends whose countenance made your face to shine. It was a joy to come in contact with him. What a sweet and sudden surprise at meeting he would always testify! Is it possible that that great pleasure of life for many of us has been tasted for the last time? Shall we never see