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Starr King
by [?]

And then Doctor Hale talked, just talked for an hour about Starr King.

Doctor Hale has given that same talk or sermon every year for thirty years: I have heard it three times, but never exactly twice alike. I have tried to get a printed copy of the address, but have so far failed. Yet this is sure: you can not hear Doctor Hale tell of Starr King without a feeling that King was a most royal specimen of humanity, and a wish down deep in your heart that you, too, might reflect some of the sterling virtues that he possessed.

* * * * *

Starr King died in California in Eighteen Hundred Sixty-four. In Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, is his statue in bronze. In the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco is a tablet to his memory; in the Unitarian Church at Oakland are many loving tokens to his personality; and in the State House at Sacramento is his portrait and an engrossed copy of resolutions passed by the Legislature at the time of his death, wherein he is referred to as “the man whose matchless oratory saved California to the Union.”

“Who was Starr King?” I once asked Doctor Charles H. Leonard of Tufts College. And the saintly old man lifted his eyes as if in prayer of thankfulness and answered: “Starr King! Starr King! He was the gentlest and strongest, the most gifted soul I ever knew–I bless God that I lived just to know Starr King!”

Not long after this I asked the same question of Doctor C. A. Bartol that I had asked Doctor Leonard, and the reply was: “He was a man who proved the possible–in point of temper and talent, the most virile personality that New England has produced. We call Webster our greatest orator, but this man surpassed Webster: he had a smile that was a benediction; a voice that was a caress. We admired Webster, but Starr King we loved: one convinced our reason, the other captured our hearts.”

The Oriental custom of presenting a thing to the friend who admires it symbols a very great truth. If you love a thing well enough, you make it yours.

Culture is a matter of desire; knowledge is to be had for the asking; and education is yours if you want it. All men should have a college education in order that they may know its worthlessness. George William Curtis was a very prince of gentlemen, and as an orator he won by his manner and by his gentle voice fully as much as by the orderly procession of his thoughts.

“Oh, what is it in me that makes me tremble so at voices! Whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her will I follow,” says Walt Whitman.

If you have ever loved a woman and you care to go back to May-time and try to analyze the why and the wherefore, you probably will not be able to locate the why and the wherefore, but this negative truth you will discover: you were not won by logic. Of course you admired the woman’s intellect–it sort of matched your own, and in loving her you complimented yourself, for thus by love and admiration do we prove our kinship with the thing loved.

But intellect alone is too cold to fuse the heart. Something else is required, and for lack of a better word we call it “personality.” This glowing, winning personality that inspires confidence and trust is a bouquet of virtues, the chief flower of which is Right Intent–honesty may be a bit old-fashioned, but do not try to leave it out.

George William Curtis and Starr King had a frank, wide-open, genuine quality that disarmed prejudice right at the start. And both were big enough so that they never bemoaned the fact that Fate had sent them to the University of Hard Knocks instead of matriculating them at Harvard.