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The earnest men are so few in the world that their very earnestness becomes at once the badge of their nobility.-Dwight.
Joan Brown Dillon was born near Wellsburg, Brooke county, in what is now West Virginia, and not far from Steubenville, Ohio. When he was an infant his father removed to Belmont county, Ohio, where the son had the limited opportunities of instruction which the rural schools, during the winter terms, afforded, and where he acquired a scant knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic. At the tender age of nine years he lost his father, when he was thrust upon his own resources and returned to his native county, where he soon became an apprentice to a printer at Charleston. Having acquired some knowledge of the “art preservative" he directed his footsteps toward Cincinnati, his outfit and fortune consisting of his compositor's rule and a resolute purpose to use it.
It was during the period of his apprenticeship there that he had fostered his affection for the Muses, and developed that passion for poetry, which blossomed so early in sweet and beautiful creations.
In 1826 he conceived the poem entitled, “The Burial of the Beautiful,” which was produced in the Cincinnati Gazette, and which made him conspicuous as a writer of verse among the young men of that city who paid court to Parnassus. During the year following he was an occasional contributor to Flint's Western Review, and in 1829 he wrote “ The Orphan's Lament,” which appeared in The Western Souvenir. His poetic adventures continued, and in 1831 he combined with Willian D. Gallagher, subsequently an editor and author of versatile and graphic power, for the composition of a New Year's lay for the carrier-boy of the Cincinnati Mirror. In that poem the stanzas on “The Funeral of the Year” were included, beginning:
"Come to the funeral of the year!
Not with spirits worn by sadness"
From Cincinnati Mr. Dillon removed to Logansport, Indiana, where, between editorial work and diversions at the “case,” he prosecuted the studies in which he had been previously engaged, in pursuance of which he made application, was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law. But the vapid and interminable questions of dry fact, the subtle analyzations and calloused technicalities of the
legal science, were not so congenial to his fancy as paths of literature and fields of thought and investigation. Hoary border legends, traditional story more especially local history, deeply absorbed his mind, the sequel culminati a determination, on his part, to prepare a history of Indiana, to the capi which state he removed in 1842. A small volume of “Historical Notes” was lished in 1843, which, however, met with but a limited sale.
In 1859 was produced "A History of Indiana,” embracing a history a discovery, settlement, and civil and military affairs of the great Northwester ritory, together with a clearly defined presentation of the progress of public in Indiana, from 1816 to 1856.
This work, comprising six hundred and thirty-six pages, was issued in by Messrs. Bingham and Doughty, of Indianapolis, and is a most valuable ad tion to the historic literature of the nation. It is exhaustive in its detail, c and dense in its statement, refreshing in its luxuriance of fact and evi methodical in its grouping of salient events, written in the author's charact style of plain but vigorous English, indicating deep-striking, assiduous res and supported by remarkable proofs of incontestable authentication.
He was librarian of the state of Indiana, from 1845 to 1850, in which p he manifested commendable zeal. In 1851 he was appointed, by Judge Cha Test, then secretary, assistant secretary of state, in which capacity he served f years. Upon the organization of the state board of agriculture, in the sam he was chosen its first secretary, in which relation he rendered valuable and tive service for five years.
He was secretary of the Indiana historical society at the time of his deat as much as any man in the state of his adoption, was distinguished for his to the memory of the pioneers, and a noble desire to preserve the fading red their lives and times. Many, indeed, were his noble utterances concernin struggles and sorrows, both in his chaste and sinewy prose, and the rich broideries of song.
In 1861 he was made custodian of the library of the department of the at Washington, D. C., where with unremittent industry he applied himse 1870, at the termination of which time he resigned his position to accept the ship of the committee of the house on military affairs, of which Hon. John was president. After the expiration of this period of service he returned to apolis, where the remainder of his life was spent, and where the sun of 1 longed, busy and useful life sank calmly and composedly into its dark ai eclipse.
"As speeds the arrow to its goal,
That the life of John B. Dillon was an interesting and suggestive one, be gainsaid ; that, in some of its aspects, its best efforts may have been c place, may be true; but that it was a life soundly devoted to duty, largely with inclinations and faculties to do good, full of the vegetating vigor o
purpose, and characterized by the most courageous and conscientious convictions of right, his friends, who best knew him, freely and cordially testify.
There were no whirls, eddies or cascades in the current of his years; it had rather a quiet, steady, earnest and placid flow. He chose the noiseless ways and paths of the world to the din, and dust, and smoke and clamor that induce unrest, and make its toils and burdens hard and heavy. His proverbial modesty forbade his coveting the glare of preferment, or conspicuous situations; yet, when promoted to places of honor, his trustworthiness was exemplary and grand. He was unacquainted with the arts of personal advancement, and lacked emphatically in selfassertion.
He was a student all his life—from his first experiments in living until its toil. ing close. He accepted labor as the motive, duty and destiny of man, and never was he known to timidly shrink from its mandate or injunction. And may it not truthfully be said of him, that he forged and beat out his life by the blows of his arm? Labor to him, therefore, became a joy and pleasure.
Whether as compositor in the printing office, or as student untangling the Penelopean web of the law, or as devotee at the shrine of truth, or in the sphere of a public official, the same uniform, unwavering adhesion to duty, and vigilant and scrupulous recognition of obligation, invariably were present. He was a deeply earnest man, and polite by nature and by culture—a modest patrician gentleman. His extreme simplicity and confiding disposition were everywhere apparent. He had faith in man-in his highest destinies--cherished a hope for his ultimate and universal elevation, looking forward to the better to-morrows-to the
“ Day ever rising-never risen!
Time ever coming-never come!"
He admired all that was sweet in innocence, unsullied in virtue, and was a lover of all that is beautiful in the world. To him a beautiful church was a sermon in stone—its spire, a finger pointing to the Throne.
In his historical inquiries he aimed to be thorough and exhaustive, assuming nothing, and taking nothing for granted. The record, the lower strata, and the bottom facts had to be explored, and neither time nor toil were permitted to interpose to prevent this consummation. Any subject under his consideration received his undivided attention and discriminating thought. With him, what was worth doing was worth the best employment of his powers in that direction.
This scrupulous regard for facts was nowhere exhibited more forcibly than in his historical labors and composition. He put his honesty into every line he wrote, and, in this respect, resembled the mason with whom Hugh Miller served his apprenticeship, who “put his conscience into every stone that he laid.” His history of Indiana clearly affirms this assertion, and if slab, shaft, or granite do not commemorate his name, this work will remain his monument, surviving brass and outliving marble.
He was a man of intellect and of wide and varied attainments, a gleaner like Ruth, after sheaves of truth. His interpretation of constitutional questions bore
great gravity, and on problems of political science his opinions commanded than respectful attention. His attachment and fondness for books, with which joyed the most remarkable familiarity, had expanded into a passion. He ha passed the curriculum of the university, nor won the diploma of the college, was self-made, nature not having especially caressed or favored him. Wh possessed he gathered by "the process of accretion, which builds the ant particle by particle, thought by thought, fact by fact."
If there was one mastering, dominant, conquering instinct or impulse nature, it was to do right. “His eye was single. He had chosen the good law.” Nor did he desire to simply live in this atmosphere, but he aimed a bored to diffuse it. His temperament was positive, and, like his morality, it abated. The problem under consideration must be right or wrong, just or u and between these, there was, with him, no border land. He cared little probabilities ; the end was the truth, and from this he would not fluctuate, noi less than logical or rational motives, make excursions from it. His anchorage made in safe harbors.
A more sensitive man was seldom met. His feelings lay near the surfac were liable to be punctured by the merest bodkin. Hence, he was exceedingly ful to not wound or hurt the sensibilities of others. Few unkind words ever efrom his lips. The soils of his heart were rich and warm, and subject to an flow of the affections. His friendships were ardent and unfaltering, and his was set to their music as the stars are to the melodies of heaven.
He was no strict constructionist in matters of benevolence, and his contrib were only limited by his ability to give. He, perhaps, agreed with Granvill
"The liberal are secure alone,
For what we frankly give forever is our own."
His integrity and honesty stole into the hearts and affections of all whd him. Were it possible for all men to achieve riches, it might have been p that he would have preferred virtue. He had no anxiety for the accumula wealth ; money was the means, not the end, and although, in this respect, h dition was largely the result of the policy of his life, he never murmuredrepined. His life forcibly and felicitously illustrated the conception of th who wrote,
"Good resolutions stereotyped iu deeds,
Pure hearts whose throbs are felt in what we say-
Though not a member of the church he was a constant attendant; was gent reader of the Bible, professing the utmost faith in its precepts, and che an abiding trust in the principles of our most holy religion. For some wholly within his own keeping, he did not choose the covenant of marriage
was well known that he entertained a profound regard for the gentler sex, having confidence in their mission to elevate and Christianize man, and believing that,
“There's many & beam from the fountain of day,
That, to reach us unclouded, must pass on its way
It has been suggested, but all is conjectural, that in his earlier life some haunting disappointment may have befallen him, and that the lines here introduced are evidence in that direction. It is sufficient to our purpose to introduce the poem, as an index to a delicate and exquisite fancy:
THE BURIAL OF THE BEAUTIFUL.
Where shall the dead, and the beautiful sleep?
Bury her there-bury her there!
Where shall the dead, and the beautiful sloop ?
Bury her there-bury her there
Other of his published poems are richly sweet and beautiful, while some, of true merit, remain unpublished.
After a brief and apparently painless sickness, on January 21, 1879, John Brown Dillon, patriot, poet, historian, author, and co-laborer with good men and women in worthy, noble and Christian enterprises, closed his eyes in that sleep which ends this transient, mortal life.
It was not the writer's privilege to know, or have seen him, only in copied features and in words and thoughts. Yet, from what we have been permitted to