In the Preface of “The Melvin Memorial” (1909), a tribute from the surviving brother to the three who died during the Civil War, I found the remarkable words by Alfred Roe, Editor, which I am about to share, hopping I will find a way to use then on my film about the sculptor to contextualize the extraordinary setting of “Mourning Victory”.
“It has been said that no equal area in the world contans so many graves of famous people of letters as does that burial-ground, known as the «Sleepy Hollow" of Concord. It is a fact that were all the dwellers there simultaneously to respond to the resurrection-call, Thoreau would be within easy conversing distance from Hawthorne and Emerson, and all could readily talk with the Alcotts, the father and his still more noted daughters, while a minute's walk would carry the entire group to the enclosure where now reposes the mortality of Samuel Hoar and his far wider-known sons, E. Rockwood and George Frisbie.
Well worn are the paths leading to the last resting-places of these men and women of world-wide repute, and worthy, indeed, must
be the memorial which will in any degree divide with them the interest of visitors. It would seem that an addition had been made to the shrines of the Cemetery, and the pilgrims who resort thither already ask for the « Mourning Victory" who maintains sleepless vigils over her sacred trust. When the brother sought a sculptor who could embody in marble the thought which had
crowded his brain for many a weary year, fortunate was he in finding him in the person of his old associate and friend, Daniel Chester French, himself a Concord boy and man, whose Minute Man of 1775 had, in one brief day, written the name of the artist high on the scroll of fame. Entering into the mind and heart of the loving kinsman, he gives to the clay and marble an embodiment which even the untaught at once recognize as a life-like realization of man's love for man and reverence for his manly virtues. Though the dead do not appear in solid form, yet every beholder is conscious that Victory ever sees the «Embattled Farmer," whether he
stands by the «rude bridge which arched the flood," or on hospital cot, in the battle-front or in starving stockade, almost a century later, he gives his life for country. While a generation intervenes between the figure by the riverside and that which holds its solemn trust in Sleepy Hollow, and though the touch of the great artist is seen in many a labor elsewhere, even he must grant that all other work, however beautiful, lacks the soul which home and heart have imparted to his earliest and his latest. To paint the lily has ever been deemed the severest of tasks, yet even this, our artist, inspired by friendship and appreciation of the true and the beautiful, has accomplished in that his chisel and genius have added new interest to the home of the dead in Concord.”