An American Politician
F. Marion Crawford
Part 5 out of 5
setting sun behind them touched them softly, and threw a rosy color upon
Joe's pale face, and gilded Sybil's bright hair, hovering about her brows
in a halo of radiant glory. Joe looked at her and wondered at the change
love had wrought in so short a time. Sybil had once seemed so cold and
white that only a nun's veil could be a fit thing to bind upon her saintly
head; but now the orange blossoms would look better there, Joe thought,
twined in a bride's wreath of white and green, of purity and hope.
"My Snow Angel," she exclaimed, "the sun has melted you at last!"
"Tell me the story of the Snow Angel," said Sybil, smiling. "You once said
that you would."
"I will tell you," said Joe, "as well I can remember it. Mamma used to
tell it to me years and years ago, when I was quite a small thing. It is a
pretty story. Listen."
"Once on a time, far away in the north, there lived an angel. She was
very, very beautiful, and all of the purest snow, quite white, her face
and her hands and her dress and her wings. She lived alone, ever so far
away, all through the long winter, in a valley of beautiful snow, where
the sun never shone even in the summer. She was the most lovely angel that
ever was, but she was so cold that she could not fly at all, and so she
waited in the valley, always looking southward and wishing with all her
heart that the sun would rise above the hill.
"Sometimes people passed, far down below, in sledges, and she almost would
have asked some one of them to take her out of the valley. But once, when
she came near the track, a man came by and saw her, and he was so
dreadfully frightened that he almost fell out of the sled.
"Sometimes, too, the little angels, who were young and curious, would fly
down into the cold valley and look at her and speak to her.
"'Pretty angel,' they would say, 'why do you stay all alone in this dreary
"'They forgot me here,' she used to answer, 'and now I cannot fly until
the sun is over the hill. But I am very happy. It will soon come.'
"It was too cold for the little angels, and so they soon flew away and
left her; and they began to call her the Snow Angel among themselves, and
some of them said she was not real, but the other ones said she must be,
because she was so beautiful. She was not unhappy, because angels never
can be, you know; only it seemed a long time to wait for the sun to come.
"But at last the sun heard of her, and the little angels who had seen her
told him it was a shame that he should not rise high enough to warm her
and help her to fly. So, as he is big and good-natured and strong, he said
he would try, and would do his best; and on midsummer's day he determined
to make a great effort. He shook himself, and pushed and struggled very
hard, and got hotter than he had ever been in his whole life with his
exertions, but at last, with a great brave leap, he found himself so high
that he could see right down into the valley, and he saw the Snow Angel
standing there, and she was so beautiful that he almost cried with joy.
And then, as he looked, he saw a very wonderful sight.
"The Snow Angel, all white and glistening, looked up into the sun's face
and stretched her arms towards him and trembled all over; and as she felt
that he was come at last and had begun to warm her, she thrust out her
delicate long wings, and they gleamed and shone and struck the cold clear
air. Then the least possible tinge of exquisite color came into her face,
and she opened her lips and sang for joy; and presently, as she was
singing, she rose straight upward with a rushing sound, like a lark in the
sunlight, the whitest and purest and most beautiful angel that ever flew
in the sky. And her voice was so grand and clear and ringing, that all the
other angels stopped in their songs to listen, and then sang with her in
joy because the Snow Angel was free at last.
"That is the story mamma used to tell me, long ago, and when I first saw
you I thought of it, because you were so cold and beautiful that you
seemed all made of snow. But now the sun is over the hill, Sybil dear, is
"Dear Joe," said Sybil, winding her arm round her friend's neck and laying
her face close to hers, "you are so nice."
The sun sank suddenly behind them, and all the eastern water caught the
purple glow. It was dark when the two girls walked slowly back to the old
Joe stayed many days with Sybil at Sherwood, and the days ran into weeks
and the weeks to months as the summer sped by. Ronald came and went daily,
spending long hours with Sybil in the garden, and growing more manly and
quiet in his happiness, while Sybil grew ever fairer in the gradual
perfecting of her beauty. It was comforting to Joe to see them together,
knowing what honest hearts they were. She occupied herself as she could
with books and a few letters, but she would often sit for hours in a deep
chair under the overhanging porch, where the untrimmed honeysuckle waved
in the summer breeze like a living curtain, and the birds would come and
swing themselves upon its tendrils. But Joe's cheek was always pale, and
her heart weary with longing and with fighting against the poor imprisoned
love that no one must ever guess.
The wedding-day was fixed for the middle of August, and the ceremony was
to take place in Newport. It is not an easy matter to arrange the marriage
of two young people neither of whom has father or mother, though their
subsequent happiness is not likely to suffer much by the bereavement. It
was agreed, however, that Mrs. Wyndham, who was Sybil's oldest friend,
should come and stay at Sherwood until everything was finished; and she
answered the invitation by saying she was "perfectly wild to come,"--and
she came at once. Uncle Tom Sherwood was a little confused at the notion
of having his house full of people; but Sybil had been amusing herself by
reorganizing the place for some time back, and there is nothing easier
than to render a great old-fashioned country mansion habitable for a few
days in the summer, when carpets are useless and smoking chimneys are not
Mrs. Wyndham said that Sam would come down for the wedding and stay over
the day, but that she expected he was pretty busy just now.
"By the way," she remarked, "you know John Harrington has come home. We
must send him an invitation."
The three ladies were walking in the garden after breakfast, hatless and
armed with parasols. Joe started slightly, but no one noticed it.
"When did he come--where has he been all this time?" asked Sybil.
"Oh, I do not know. He came down to see Sam the other day at our place. He
seems to have taken to business. They talked about the Monroe doctrine and
the Panama canal, and all kinds of things. Sam says somebody has died and
left him money. Anyway, he seems a good deal interested in the canal."
Mrs. Wyndham chatted on, planning with Sybil the details of the wedding.
The breakfast was to be at Sherwood, and there were not to be many people.
Indeed, the distance would keep many away, a fact for which no one of
those principally concerned was at all sorry. John Harrington, sweltering
in the heat of New York, and busier than he had ever been in his life,
received an engraved card to the effect that Mr. Thomas Sherwood requested
the pleasure of Mr. Harrington's company at the marriage of his
grandniece, Miss Sybil Brandon, to Mr. Ronald Surbiton, at Sherwood, on
the 15th of August. There was also a note from Mrs. Wyndham, saying that
she was staying at Sherwood, and that she hoped John would be able to
John had, of course, heard of the engagement, but he had not suspected
that the wedding would take place so soon. In spite of his business,
however, he determined to be present. A great change had come over his
life since he had bid Joe good-by six months earlier. He had been called
to London as he had expected, and had arrived there to find that Z was
dead, and that he was to take his place in the council. The fiery old man
had died very suddenly, having worked almost to his last hour, in spite of
desperate illness; but when it was suspected that his case was hopeless,
John Harrington was warned that he must be ready to join the survivors at
In the great excitement, and amidst the constant labor of his new
position, the past seemed to sink away to utter insignificance. His
previous exertions, the short sharp struggle for the senatorship ending in
defeat, the hopes and fears of ten years of a most active life, were
forgotten and despised in the realization of what he had so long and so
ardently desired, and now at last he saw that his dreams were no
impossibility, and that his theories were not myths. But he knew also
that, with all his strength and devotion and energy, he was as yet no
match for the two men with whom he had to do. Their vast experience of men
and things threw his own knowledge into the shade, and cool as he was in
emergencies, he recognized that the magnitude of the matters they handled
astonished and even startled him more than he could have believed
possible. Years must elapse before he understood what seemed as plain as
the day to them, and he must fight many desperate battles before he was
their equal. But the determination to devote his life wholly and honestly
to the one object for which a man should live had grown stronger than
ever. In his exalted view the ideal republic assumed grand and noble
proportions, and already overshadowed the whole earth with the glory of
honor and peace and perfect justice. Before the advancing tide of a
spotless civilization, all poverty, all corruption and filthiness, all
crime, all war and corroding seeds of discord were swept utterly away and
washed from the world, to leave only forever and ever the magnificent
harmony of nations and peoples, wherein none of those vile, base, and
wicked things should even be dreamed of, or so much as remembered.
He thought of Joe sometimes, wondering rather vaguely why she had acted as
she had, and whether any other motive than pure sympathy with his work had
made her resent so violently Vancouver's position towards him. It was odd,
he thought, that an English girl should find such extreme interest in
American political doings, and then the scene in the dim sitting-room
during the ball came vividly back to his memory. It was not in his nature
to fancy that every woman who was taken with a fit of coughing was in love
with him, but the conviction formed itself in his mind that he might
possibly have fallen in love with Joe if things had been different. As it
was, he had put away such childish things, and meant to live out his years
of work, with their failure or success, without love and without a wife.
He would always be grateful to Joe, but that would be all, and he would be
glad to see her whenever an opportunity offered, just as he would be glad
to see any other friend. In this frame of mind he arrived in Newport on
the morning of the wedding, and reached the little church among the trees
just in time to witness the ceremony.
It was not different from other weddings, excepting perhaps that the place
where the High Church portion of Newport elects to worship is probably
smaller than any other consecrated building in the world. Every seat was
crowded, and it was with difficulty that John could find standing room
just within the door. The heat was intense, and the horses that stood
waiting in the avenue, sweated in the sun as they fought the flies, and
pawed the hard road in an agony of impatience.
Sybil was exquisitely lovely as she went by on old Mr. Sherwood's arm. The
old gentleman had consented to assume a civilized garb for once in his
life, and looked pleased with his aged self, as well he might be, seeing
that the engagement had been made under his roof. Then Ronald passed,
paler than usual, but certainly the handsomest man present, carrying
himself with a new dignity, as though he knew himself a better man than
ever in being found worthy of his beautiful bride. It was soon over, and
the crowd streamed out after the bride and bridegroom.
"Hallo, Harrington, how are you?" said Vancouver, overtaking John as he
turned into the road. "You had better get in with me and drive out. I have
not seen you for an age."
John stood still and surveyed Vancouver with a curiously calm air of
"Thank you very much," he answered civilly. "I have hired a carriage to
take me there. I dare say we shall meet. Good-morning."
John had been to Sherwood some years before, but he was surprised at the
change that had been wrought in honor of the marriage. The place looked
inhabited, the windows were all open, and the paths had been weeded,
though Sybil had not allowed the wild shrubbery to be pruned nor the box
hedges to be trimmed. She loved the pathless confusion of the old grounds,
and most of all she loved the dilapidated summer-house.
John shook hands with many people that he knew. Mrs. Wyndham led him aside
a little way.
"Is it not just perfectly splendid?" she exclaimed. "They are so exactly
suited to each other. I feel as if I had done it all. You are not at all
"On the contrary," said John, "I am very enthusiastic. It is the best
thing that could possibly have happened."
"Then go and do likewise," returned Mrs. Sam, laughing. Then she changed
her tone. "There is a young lady here who will be very glad to see you. Go
and try and cheer her up a little, can't you?"
"Who is that?"
"A young lady over there--close to Sybil-dressed in white with roses.
Don't you see? How stupid you are! There--the second on the left."
"Do you mean to say that is Miss Thorn?" exclaimed John in much surprise,
and looking where Mrs. Sam directed him. "Good Heavens! How she has
"Yes, she has changed a good deal," said Mrs. Wyndham, looking at John's
"I hardly think I should have known her," said John. "She must have been
very ill; what has been the matter?"
"The matter? Well, perhaps if you will go and speak to her, you will see
what the matter is," answered Mrs. Sam, enigmatically.
"What do you mean?" John looked at his companion in astonishment.
"I mean just exactly what I say. Go and talk to her, and cheer her up a
little." She dropped her voice, and spoke close to Harrington's ear--"No
one else in the world can," she added.
John's impulse was to answer Mrs. Wyndham sharply. What possible right
could she have to say such things? It was extremely bad taste, if it was
nothing worse, even with an old friend like John. But he checked the words
on his lips and spoke coldly.
"It is not fair to say things like that about any girl," he answered. "I
will certainly go and speak to her at once, and if you will be good enough
to watch, you will see that I am the most indifferent of persons in her
"Very well, I will watch," said Mrs. Wyndham, not in the least
disconcerted. "Only take care."
John smiled quietly, and made his way through the crowd of gaily-dressed,
laughing people to here Joe was standing. She had not yet caught sight of
him, but she knew he was in the room, and she felt very nervous. She
intended to treat him with friendly coolness, as a protest against her
conduct in former days.
Poor Joe! she was very miserable, but she had made a brave effort. Her
pale cheeks and darkened eyes contrasted painfully with the roses she
wore, and her short nervous remarks to those who spoke to her sounded very
unlike her former self.
"How do you do, Miss Thorn?" John said, very quietly. "It is a long time
since we met."
Joe put her small cold hand in his, and it trembled so much that John
noticed it. She turned her head a little away from him, frightened now
that he was at last come.
"Yes," she said in a low voice, "it is a long time." She felt herself turn
red and then pale, and as she looked away from John she met Mrs. Wyndham's
black eyes turned full upon her in an inquiring way. She started as though
she had been caught in some wrong thing; but she was naturally brave, and
after the first shock she spoke to John more naturally.
"We seem destined for festivities, Mr. Harrington," she said, trying to
laugh. "We parted at a ball, and we meet again at a wedding."
"It is always more gay to meet than to part," answered John. "I think this
is altogether one of the gayest things I ever saw. What a splendid fellow
your cousin is. It does one good to see men like that."
"Yes, Ronald is very good-looking," said Joe. "I am so very glad, you do
not know; and he is so happy."
"Any man ought to be who marries such a woman," said John. "By the bye,"
he added with a smile, "Vancouver takes it all very comfortably, does he
not? I would like to know what he really feels."
"I am sure that whatever it is, it is something bad," said Joe.
"How you hate him!" exclaimed John with a laugh.
"I--I do not hate him. But you ought to, Mr. Harrington. I simply despise
him, that is all."
"No, I do not hate him either," answered John. "I would not disturb my
peace of mind for the sake of hating any one. It is not worth while."
Some one came and spoke to Joe, and John moved away in the crowd, more
disturbed in mind than he cared to acknowledge. He had gone to Joe's side
in the firm conviction that Mrs. Wyndham was only making an untimely jest,
and that Joe would greet him indifferently. Instead she had blushed,
turned paler, hesitated in her speech, and had shown every sign of
confusion and embarrassment. He knew that Mrs. Wyndham was right, after
all, and he avoided her, not wishing to give a fresh opportunity for
making remarks upon Joe's manner.
The breakfast progressed, and the people wandered out into the garden from
the hot rooms, seeking some coolness in the shady walks. By some chain of
circumstances which John could not explain, he found himself left alone
with Joe an hour after he had first met her in the house. A little knot of
acquaintances had gone out to the end of one of the walks, where there was
a shady old bower, and presently they had paired off and moved away in
various directions, leaving John and Joe together. The excitement had
brought the faint color to the girl's face at last, and she was more than
usually inclined to talk, partly from nervous embarrassment, and partly
from the enlivening effect of so many faces she had not seen for so long.
"Tell me," she said, pulling a leaf from the creepers and twisting it in
her fingers--"tell me, how long was it before you forgot your
disappointment about the election? Or did you think it was not worth while
to disturb your peace of mind for anything so trivial?"
"I suppose I could not help it," said John. "I was dreadfully depressed at
first. I told you so, do you remember?"
"Of course you were, and I was very sorry for you. I told you you would
lose it, long before, but you do not seem to care in the least now. I do
not understand you at all."
"I soon got over it," said John. "I left Boston on the day after I saw
you, and went straight to London. And then I found that a friend of mine
was dead, and I had so much to do that I forgot everything that had gone
Joe gave a little sigh, short and sharp, and quickly checked.
"You have a great many friends, have you not?" she said.
"Yes, very many. A man cannot have too many of the right sort."
"I do not think you and I mean the same thing by friendship," said Joe. "I
should say one cannot have too few."
"I mean friends who will help you at the right moment, that is, when you
ask help. Surely it must be good to have many."
"Everything that you do and say always turns to one and the same end,"
said Joe, a little impatiently. "The one thing you live for is power and
the hope of power. Is there nothing in the world worth while save that?"
"Power itself is worth nothing. It is the thing one means to get with it
that is the real test."
"Of course. But tell me, is anything you can obtain by all the power the
world holds better than the simple happiness of natural people, who are
born and live good lives, and--fall in love, and marry, and that sort of
thing, and are happy, and die?" Joe looked down and turned the leaf she
held in her fingers, as she stated her proposition.
John Harrington paused before he answered. A moment earlier he had been as
calm and cold as he was wont to be; now, he suddenly hesitated. The strong
blood rushed to his brain and beat furiously in his temples, and then sank
heavily back to his heart, leaving his face very pale. His fingers wrung
each other fiercely for a moment. He looked away at the trees; he turned
to Josephine Thorn; and then once more he gazed at the dark foliage,
motionless in the hot air of the summer's afternoon.
"Yes," he said, "I think there are things much better than those in the
world." But his voice shook strangely, and there was no true ring in it.
Joe sighed again.
In the distance she could see Ronald and Sybil, as they stood under the
porch shaking hands with the departing guests. She looked at them, so
radiant and beautiful with the fulfilled joy of a perfect love, and she
looked at the stern, strong man by her side, whose commanding face bore
already the lines of care and trouble, and who, he said, had found
something better than the happiness of yonder bride and bridegroom.
She sighed, and she said in her woman's heart that they were right, and
that John Harrington was wrong.
"Come," she said, rising, and her words had a bitter tone, "let us go in;
it is late." John did not move. He sat like a stone, paler than death,
and said no word in answer. Joe turned and looked at him, as though
wondering why he did not follow her. She was terrified at the expression
in his face.
"Are you not coming?" she asked, suddenly going close to him and looking
into his eyes.
Joe was frightened; she stood and looked into Harrington's eyes, doubting
what she should do, not understanding what was occurring. He looked so
pale and strange as he sat there, that she was terrified. She came a step
nearer to him, and tried to speak.
"What is the matter, Mr. Harrington?" she stammered. "Speak--you frighten
Harrington looked at her for one moment more, and then, without speaking,
buried his face in his hands. Joe clasped her hands to her side in a
sudden pain; her heart beat as though it would break, and the scene swam
round before her in the hot air. She tried to move another step towards
the bench, and her strength almost failed her; she caught at the lattice
of the old summer-house, still pressing one hand to her breast. The rotten
slabs of the wood-work cracked under her light weight. She breathed hard,
and her face was as pale as the shadows on driven snow; in another moment
she sank down upon the bench beside John, and sat there, staring vacantly
out at the sunlight. Harrington felt her gentle presence close to him and
at last looked up; every feature of his strong face seemed changed in the
convulsive fight that rent his heart and soul to their very depths; the
enormous strength of his cold and dominant nature rose with tremendous
force to meet and quell the tempest of his passion, and could not; dark
circles made heavy shadows under his deep-set eyes, and his even lips,
left colorless and white, were strained upon his clenched teeth.
"God help me--I love you."
That was all he said, but in his words the deep agony of a mortal struggle
rang strangely--the knell of the old life and the birth-chime of the new.
One by one, the words he had never thought to speak fell from his lips,
distinctly; the oracle of the heart answered the great question of fate in
its own way.
Josephine Thorn sat by his side, her hands lying idly in her lap, her thin
white face pressing against the old brown lattice, while a spray of the
sweet honeysuckle that climbed over the wood-work just touched her bright
brown hair. As John spoke she tried to lift her head and struggled to put
out her hand, but could not.
As the shadows steal at evening over the earth, softly closing the flowers
and touching them to sleep, silently and lovingly, in the promise of a
bright waking--so, as she sat there, her eyelids drooped and the light
faded gently from her face, her lips parted a very little, and with a
soft-breathed sigh she sank into unconsciousness.
John Harrington was in no state to be surprised or startled by anything
that happened. He saw, indeed, that she had fainted, but with the unerring
instinct of a great love he understood. With the tenderness of his
strength he put one arm about her, and drew her to him till her fair head
rested upon his shoulder, and he looked into her face.
In a few moments he had passed completely from the old life to a life
which he had never believed possible, but which had nevertheless been long
present with him. He knew it and felt it, quickly realizing that for the
first time since he could remember he was wholly and perfectly happy. He
was a man who had dreamed of all that is noble and great for man to do,
who had consecrated his every hour and minute to the attainment of his
end; and though his aim was in itself a good one, the undivided
concentration which the pursuit of it required had driven him into a state
outwardly resembling extreme egotism. He had loved his own purposes as he
had loved nothing else, and as he had been persuaded that he could love
nothing else, in the whole world. Now, suddenly, he knew his own heart.
There is something beyond mere greatness, beyond the pursuit of even the
highest worldly aims; there is something which is not a means to the
attainment of happiness, which is happiness itself. It is an inner
sympathy of hearts and souls and minds, a perfect union of all that is
most worthy in the natures of man and woman; it is a plant so sensitive
that a breath of unkindness will hurt it and blight its beauty, and yet it
is a tree so strong that neither time nor tempest can overthrow it when it
has taken root; and if you would tear it out and destroy it, the place
where it grew is as deep and as wide as a grave. It is a bond that is as
soft as silk and as strong as death, binding hearts, not hands; so long as
it is not strained a man will hardly know that he is bound, but if he
would break it he will spend his strength in vain and suffer the pains of
hell, for it is the very essence and nature of a true love that it cannot
With such men as John Harrington love at first sight is an utter
impossibility. The strong dominant aspirations that lead them are a light
too brilliant to be outshone by any sudden flash of hot passion. Love,
when it comes to them, is of slow growth, but enduring in the same
proportion as it is slow; identifying itself, by degrees so small that a
man himself is unconscious of it, with the deepest feelings of the heart
and the highest workings of the intellect. It steals silently into the
soul in the guise of friendship, asking nothing but loyal friendship in
return; in the appearance of kindness which asks but a little gratitude;
in the semblance of a calm and passionless trustfulness, demanding only a
like trust as its equivalent pledge, a like faith as a gauge for its own,
an equal measure of charity for an equal; and so love builds himself a
temple of faith and charity, and trust and kindness, and honest
friendship, and rejoices exceedingly in the whole goodness and strength
and beauty of the place where he will presently worship. When that day
comes he stands in the midst and kindles a strong clear flame upon the
altar, and the fire burns and leaps and illuminates the whole temple of
love, which is indeed the holy of holies of the temple of life.
John Harrington, through five and thirty years of his life, had believed
that the patient labor of a powerful intellect could suffice to a man, in
its results, for the attainment of all that humanity most honors, even for
the wise and unerring government of humanity itself. To that end and in
that belief he had honestly given every energy he possessed, and had
sternly choked down every tendency he felt in his inner nature toward a
life less intellectual and more full of sympathy for the affairs of
individual mankind. With him to be strong was to be cold--to be warm was
to be weak and subject to error; a supreme devotion to his career and a
supreme disdain of all personal affections were the conditions of success
which he deemed foremostly necessary, and he had come to an almost
superstitious belief in the idea that the love of woman is the destruction
of the intellectual man. Himself ready to sacrifice all he possessed, and
to spend his last strength in the struggle for an ideal, he had
nevertheless so identified his own person with the object he strove to
attain that he regarded all the means he could possibly control with as
much jealousy as though he had been the most selfish of men. Friends he
looked upon as tools for his trade, and he valued them not only in
proportion to their honesty and loyalty of heart, but also in the degree
of their power and intelligence. He sought no friendships which could not
help him, and relinquished none that could be of service in the future.
But the world is not ruled by intellect, though it is sometimes governed
by brute force and yet more brutal passions. The dominant power in the
affairs of men is the heart. Humanity is moved far more by what it feels
than by what it knows, and those who would be rulers of men must before
all things be men themselves, and not merely highly finished intellectual
The guests were gone, no one had missed Harrington and Joe, and Ronald and
Sybil had gone into the house. They sat side by side in the little bower
at the end of the long walk--Joe's fair head resting in her
unconsciousness upon John's shoulder. Presently she stirred, and opening
her eyes, looked up into his face. She drew gently away from him, and a
warm blush spread quickly over her pale cheek; she glanced down at her
small white hands and they clasped each other convulsively.
John looked at her; suddenly his gray eyes grew dark and deep, and the
mighty passion took all his strength into its own, so that he trembled and
turned pale again. But the words failed him no longer now. He knew in a
moment all that he had to say, and he said it.
"You must not be angry with me, Miss Thorn," he began, "you must not think
I am losing my head. Let me tell you now--perhaps you will listen to me.
God knows, I am not worthy to say such things to you, but I will try to
be. It is soon said. I love you; I can no more help loving you than I can
help breathing. You have utterly changed me, and saved me, and made a life
for me out of what was not life at all. Do not think it is sudden--what is
really to last forever must take some time in growing. I never knew till
to-day-I honored you and would have done everything in the world for you,
and I was more grateful to you than I ever was to any human being. But I
thought when we met we should be friends just as we always were, and
instead of that I know that this is the great day of my life, and that my
life with all that it holds is yours now, for always, to do with as you
will. Pray hear me out, do not be afraid; no man ever honored you as I
Joe glanced quickly at him and then again looked down; but the surging
blood came and went in her face, coursing madly in her pulses, every beat
of her heart crying gladness.
"It is little enough I have to offer you," said John, his voice growing
unsteady in the great effort to speak calmly. There was something almost
terrible in the strength of his rising passion. "It is little enough--my
poor life, with its wretched struggles after what is perhaps far too great
for me. But such as it is I offer it to you. Take it if you will. Be my
wife, and give me the right to do all I do for your sake, and for your
sake only." He stretched out his hand and took hers, very gently, but the
strained sinews of his wrist trembled violently. Josephine made no
resistance, but she still looked down and said nothing.
"Use me as you will," he continued almost in a whisper. "I will be all to
you that man ever was to a living woman. Do not say I have no right to ask
you for as much. I have this right, that I love you beyond the love of
other men, so truly and wholly I love you; I will serve you so faithfully,
I will honor you so loyally that you will love me too. Say the word, my
beloved, say that it is not impossible! I will wait--I will work--I will
strive to be worthy of you." He pressed his white lips to her white hand,
and tried to look into her eyes, but she turned away from him. "Will you
not speak to me? Will you not give to me some word--some hope? I can never
love you less, whatever you may answer me--yes or no--but oh, if you knew
the difference to me!"
Pale as death, John looked at Joe. She turned to him, very white, and
gazed into the dark gray depths of his eyes, where the raging force of a
transcendent passion played so wildly; but she felt no fear, only a mad
longing to speak.
"Tell me--for God's sake tell me," John said in low, trembling tones,
"have I hurt you? Is it too much that I ask?"
For one moment there was silence as they gazed at each other. Then with a
passionate impulse Josephine buried her face in her hands upon John's
"No, it is not that!" she sobbed. "I love you so much--I have loved you so
John Harrington and Josephine Thorn were married in the autumn of that
year, and six months later John was elected to the Senate. With
characteristic patience he determined to await a favorable opportunity
before speaking at any length in the Capitol. He loved his new life, and
the instinct to take a leading part was strong in him, but he knew too
well the importance of the first impression made by a long speech to
thrust himself forward until the right moment came.
It chanced that the presidential election took place in that year, just a
twelvemonth after John's marriage, and the unusual occurrences that
attended the struggle gave him the chance he desired. Three candidates
were supported nearly equally by the East, the West, and the South, and on
opening the sealed documents in the presence of the two houses, it was
found that no one of the three had obtained the majority necessary to
elect him. The country was in a state of unparalleled agitation. The
imminent danger was that the non-election of the candidate from the West
would produce a secession of the Western States from the Union, in the
same way that a revolution was nearly brought about in 1876, during the
contest between Mr. Hayes and Mr. Tilden.
In this position of affairs, the electors being unable to agree upon any
one of the three candidates, the election was thrown into the hands of
Congress, in accordance with the clause of the Constitution which provides
that in such cases the House of Representatives shall elect a president,
each State having but one vote.
Harrington had made many speeches in different parts of the country during
the election campaign, and had attracted much attention by his calm good
sense in such excited times. There was consequently a manifest desire
among senators and representatives to hear him speak in the Capitol, and
upon the day when the final election of the President took place he judged
that his opportunity had come. Josephine was in the ladies' gallery, and
as John rose to his feet he looked long and fixedly up to her, gathering
more strength to do well what he so much loved to do, from gazing at her
whom he loved better than power, or fame, or any earthly thing. His eyes
shone and his cheek paled; his old life with all its energy and active
work was associated in his mind with failure, with discontent, and with
solitude; his new life, with her by his side, was brilliant, happy, and
successful. He felt within him the strength to move thousands, the faith
in his cause and in his power to help it which culminates in great deeds.
His strong voice rang out, clear and far-heard, as he spoke.
"MR. PRESIDENT,--We are here to decide, on behalf of our country, a great
matter. Many of us, many more who are scattered over the land, will look
back upon this day as one of the most important in our times, and for
their sakes as well as our own we are bound to summon all our strength of
intelligence and all our calmness of judgment to aid us in our decision.
"The question in which a certain number of ourselves are to become
arbitrators is briefly this: Are we to act on this occasion like
partisans, straining every nerve for the advantage of our several parties?
or are we to act like free men, exerting our united forces in one
harmonious body for the immediate good of the whole country? The struggle
may seem at first sight to be a battle between the East, the West, and the
South. In sober earnest, it is a contest between the changing principles
of party politics on the one hand and the undying principle of freedom on
"I need not make any long statement of the case to you. We are here
assembled to elect a President. Our position is almost unprecedented in
the history of the country. Instead of acquiescing in the declared will of
the people, our fellow-citizens, we are told that the people's wish is
divided, and we are called upon to act spontaneously for the people, in
accordance with the constitution of our country. By our individual and
unhampered votes the life of the country is to be determined for the next
four years. Let us not forget the vast responsibility that is upon us. Let
us join our hands and say to each other, 'We are no longer Republicans,
nor Democrats, nor Independents--we are one party, the party of the Union,
and there are none against us.'
"A partisan is not necessarily a man who asserts a truth and defends it
with his whole strength. A partisan means one who takes up his position
with a party. There is a limit where a partisan becomes an asserter of
falsehood, and that limit is reached when a man resigns his own principles
into the judgment of another, his conscience into another's keeping; when
a man gives up free thought, free judgment, and free will in absolute and
blind adherence to a set of thoughts, judgments, and decisions over which
he exercises no control, and in the formation of which he has but one
voice in many millions. Every one remembers the fable of the old man who,
when dying, made his sons break their staves one by one, and then bade
them bind a bundle of others together, and to try and break them by one
effort. In the uniting of individuals in a party there is strength, but
there must also be complete unity. If the old man had bidden his sons bind
their staves in several bundles instead of in one, the result would have
been doubtful. That is what party spirit makes men do. Party spirit is a
universal solvent; it is the great acid, the _aqua fortis_ of
political alchemy, which eats through bands of steel and corrodes pillars
of iron in its acrid virulence, till the whole engine of a nation's
government is crumbled and dissolved into a shapeless and a worse than
useless mass of broken metal.
"Man is free, his will is free, his choice, his judgments, his capacity
for thought, and his power to profit by it are all as free as air, just so
long as he remembers that they are his own--no longer. When he forgets
that he is his own master, absolutely and entirely, he becomes another
"The contest here is between political passion roused to its fiercest
pitch by the antagonism of parties, and the universal liberty of opinion,
which we all say we possess, while so few of us dare honestly exercise it.
This passion, this political frenzy that seizes men and whirls them in its
eddies, is a most singular compound of patriotism, of enthusiasm for an
individual, and of the personal hopes, fears, generosity, and avarice of
the individual who is enthusiastic. It is a passion which, existing in
others, can be turned to account by the cool leader who does not possess
it, but which may too easily bring ruin upon the man who is led.
"The danger ahead is this same party spirit, this wild and thoughtless
frenzy in matters where unbiased judgment is most of all necessary. It is
a rock upon which we have split before; it has taken us many years to
recover from the shock, and now we are in danger of altogether losing our
political life upon the same reef. Unless we mend our course we inevitably
shall. Men forego every consideration of public honor and private
conscience for the sake of electing a party candidate. The man at the helm
of the party ship has declared that he will sail due north, or south, or
east, or west, whatever happens, and his crew laugh together and keep no
lookout; they even feel a certain pride in their leader, who thus defies
the accidents of nature for the sake of sailing in a fixed direction.
"What is the result of all this? It is here before us. The country is
splitting into parties. Three candidates are set up for the office of
President. Three distinct parties stand in the field, each one vowing
vengeance, secession, revolution, utter dismemberment of the Union, unless
its chosen champion is elected to be chief of the Executive Department. Is
this to be the life of our Republic in future? Is this all that so many
millions of free citizens can do for the public good and for public
harmony? What shall we gain by electing the candidate from the North, if
the defeated candidate from the South is determined to produce a
revolution; and if the disappointed candidate from the West threatens to
touch off the dry powder and spring the mine of a great western secession?
Have we not seen all this before? Has not the bitter cry of a nation's
broken heart gone up to heaven already in mortal agony for these very
things to which our uncontrollable political passions are hourly leading
"The contest is between political passion on the one hand and universal
liberty on the other.
"Liberty in some countries is a kind of charade word, an anagram, a symbol
representing an imaginary quantity, a password invented by unhappy men to
express all that they do not possess; a term meaning in the minds of
slaves a conglomerate of conditions so absurd, of aspirations so futile,
of imaginary delights so fantastically unreasonable, that if the ideal
state of which the chained dreamers rave were realized but for one moment,
humanity would start in amazement at the first glimpse of so much
monstrosity, and by and by would hold its sides with laughter at the folly
of its deluded fellows. In most countries where liberty is talked of it is
but a dream, and such a dream as could only occur to the sickened fancy of
a generation of bondsmen. But it means something else with us. It is here,
in this country, in this capital, in this hall, it is in the air we
breathe, in the light we see, in the strong, free pulses of our blood; it
is the heritage of men whose sires died for it, whose fathers laid down
all they had for it, of men whose own veins have bled for it--and not in
vain. In these United States, liberty is a fact.
"We must decide quickly, then, between the conditions of our liberty and
the requirements of frantic political passion. We must decide between
peace and war, for that is where the issue will come in the end. Between
freedom, prosperity, and peace on the one side, and a civil war on the
other; an alternative so horrible and inhuman and hideous, that the very
mention of it makes brave men shiver in disgust at the memories the word
recalls. Do you think we are much further from it now than we were in
1860? Do you think we were far from it in 1876? It is a short step from
the threat to the deed when political passion is already turning to bitter
"In our times there is much talk of civilization and culture. Two words
define all that is necessary to be known about them. Civilization is
peace. The uncivilized state of man is incessant war. Culture is
conscience, because conscience means the exercise of honest judgment, and
an ignorant people can form no honest judgment of their own which can be
"In a state of peace, educated and truthful men judge fairly, and act
sensibly on their decisions. In other words, the majority is right and
free. In times of war and in times of great ignorance majorities have
rarely been either free or right.
"It is a bad sign of the times when education increases and truth
disappears. They ought to grow together, for education means absolutely
nothing but the teaching and learning of what is true. If it does not mean
that, it means nothing. In some countries the idea of truth is coexistent
with the idea of destroying all existing forms of belief. Some silly
person recently went so far as to raise the cry in this country, 'Separate
Church and State!' If there is a country where they are absolutely
separated, it is ours; but let the beliefs of mankind take care of
themselves. I dare say there will be Christians left in the world even
when Professor Huxley has written his last book, and when Colonel
Ingersoll has delivered his last lecture. I am reminded of the Chinese
philosopher and political economist, who answered when he was asked about
religious matters: 'Do you understand this world so well that you need
occupy yourselves with another?'
"The issue turns upon no such absurdities, neither does it rest with any
consideration of so-called platforms--free trade, civil service, free
navigation, tariff reform, and all the rest of those things. The real
issue is between civilization and barbarism, between peace and war.
"Be warned in this great strait. I believe we need few principles, but
universal ones. I believe in the republic because it was founded in
simplicity, and has been built up in strength by the strongest of strong
men; because its existence proves the greatest truth with which we ever
have to do, namely, that men are born equal and free, although they may
grow up slaves to their evil passions, and become greater or less
according as they manfully put their hands to the plough, or ignobly lie
down and let themselves be trampled upon. The battle of life is to the
stronger, but no man is so weak that he cannot raise himself a little if
he will, according to the abilities that are born in him; and nowhere can
he raise himself so speedily and securely as on this free soil of ours.
Nowhere can he go so far without being molested; for nowhere can man put
himself so closely and trustfully in the keeping of nature, certain that
she will not fail him, certain that she will yield him a thousand fold for
"There are indeed times in the history of a great institution when it is
just as well as necessary to reconsider the principles upon which it is
founded. There are times in the life of a great nation when it behooves
her chief men to examine and see whether the basis of her constitution is
a sound one, and whether she can continue to grow great without any change
in the fundamental conditions of her development. It is a bad and a
dangerous time for a growing nation, but it is an almost inevitable stage
in her life. Thank God, that time is past with us! Let us not think of the
possibility of exposing ourselves again to civil war as an alternative
against retrogression into barbarism.
"Civilization is peace, and to extend civilization is to increase the
security of property in the world--of property and life and conscience.
The natural and barbarous state of man is that where the human animal
satisfies its cravings without any thought of consequences. The cultivated
state is that where humanity has ceased to be merely animal, and considers
the consequences first and the cravings afterwards. Civilization unites
men so that they dwell together in harmony; to separate them into parties
that strive to annihilate each other is to undo the work of civilization,
to plunge the state into civil war; to hew it in pieces, and split it and
tear it to shreds, till the magnificent body of thinking beings, acting as
one man for the public good, is reduced to the miserable condition of a
handful of hostile tribes, whose very existence depends upon successful
robbery and well-timed violence.
"Party spirit, so long as it is only a force which binds together a number
of men of honest purposes and opinions, is a good thing, and it is by its
means that just and powerful majorities are formed and guided. But where
party spirit loses sight of the characters of men, and judges them
according as they are Republicans or Democrats, instead of considering
whether they are good or bad citizens; when party spirit becomes a machine
for obtaining power by fair or foul means, instead of a fixed principle
for upholding the fair against the foul--then there is great danger that
the majority itself is losing its liberty, and upon the liberty of
majorities depends ultimately the stability and prosperity of the
"Consider what is the history of the average politician to-day, of the man
whose personal character is as good as that of his neighbor, who has
always belonged to the same party, and who looks forward to the hope of
political distinction. Consider how he has struggled through all manner of
difficulties to his present position, striving always to maintain good
relations with the chiefs of his party, while often acknowledging in his
heart that he would act differently were his connection with those chiefs
a matter of less vital importance to himself. He probably will tell you
that his profession is politics. He has sacrificed much to obtain his seat
in Congress, or his position in office, and he knows that henceforth he
must live by it or else begin life over again in another sphere. At all
events, for a term of years, his personal prosperity depends upon the use
he can make of his hold upon the public goods. He is not individually to
be blamed, perhaps, for he follows a precedent as widely recognized as it
is universally pernicious. It is the system that is to be blamed, the
general belief that a man can, and justly may, support himself by clinging
to a set of principles of which he does not honestly approve; that he may
earn his daily meal, since it comes to that in the end, by doing jobs
which in the free state he would despise as unworthy, and by speaking
boldly in support of measures which he knows to be injurious to the
welfare of the country. That is the history, the epitome of the ends and
aims and manner of being of the average politician in our day. He has
ventured into the waters of political life, and they have risen around him
till he must use all his strength in keeping his head above them, though
the torrent carry him whither it will and whither he would not. There are
no compromises when a man is drowning.
"There are many who are not in any such position. There are men great and
honest, and disinterested in the highest sense of the word--men whose
whole lives prove it, whose whole record is one of honor and truth, whose
following consists of men they have themselves chosen as their friends. We
are not obliged to select a drowning man for our President; we can choose
a man who stands on his own feet upon dry ground.
"There is an old proverb which contains much wisdom: 'Tell me who are your
friends, and I will tell you what you are.' Is a man fit to stand at the
head of a community of men when he has associated with a set of parasites,
who live upon his leavings, and will starve him if they can, in order to
enjoy his portion? Consider what is the position of the President of the
United States. Think what vast power is placed in the hands of one man;
what vast interests of public and private good are at stake; what an
endless sequence of events and results of events must follow upon the
individual action of the chief of the Executive Department; and remember
how free and untrammeled that individual action is. A people who elect an
officer to such a position need surely to be cautious in their choice and
circumspect in their judgment of the man elected. They must satisfy
themselves about what he is likely to do by judging honestly what he has
done; they must know who are his friends, his supporters, his advisers, in
order to judge of the friends he will make. They must take into their
consideration also the character of his colleague, the vice-president, and
the effect upon the country and the country's relation with, the world,
should any disaster suddenly throw the vice-president into office. We
cannot afford to elect a vice-president who would destroy the national
credit in a week, should the President himself be overtaken by death. We
must remember to count the cost of what we are doing, not passing over one
item because another item seems just. We cannot overlook the future, nor
disregard the influence which our election has upon the next; the steps
which men, once in office, may take in order to secure to themselves
another term, or to strengthen the position of the men whom they desire to
"In a word, we must put forth all our strength. We must be cool, far-
sighted, and impartial in such times as these. And yet, how has this
campaign been hitherto conducted? Practically, by raising a party cry; by
exciting every species of evil passion of which man is capable; by
tickling the cupidity of one man and flattering the ambitions of another;
by intimidating the weak, and groveling before the strong; by every
species of fawning sycophancy on the one hand, and brutal overbearing
bullying on the other.
"Party, party, party! A man would rather commit a crime than vote against
his party. The evil runs through the country from East to West, from North
to South, eating at the nation's heartstrings, gnawing at her sinews, and
undermining her strength. The time is coming, is even now come, when two
or three parties no longer suffice to express the disunion of the Union.
There are three to-day: to-morrow there will be five, the next day ten,
twenty, a hundred, till every man's hand is against his fellow, and his
fellow's against him. The divisions have grown so wide that the majority
and the minority are but the extremities of a countless set of internecine
majorities and minorities.
"Members of parties are bound no longer by the honest determination to do
the right, to choose the right, and to uphold the right--they are bound by
fearful penalties to support their own man, were he the very chiefest
outcast of the earth, lest the man of another party be elected in his
place. The adverse candidate is perhaps avowedly better fitted for the
office, a hundred times more honest, more experienced, more worthy of
respect. But he belongs to the enemy. Down with him! let him perish in his
honesty and righteousness! There is no good in him, for he is a Democrat!
There is no good in him, for he is a Republican! He is a scoundrel, for he
is a Southerner! He is a thief, for he is a Northerner! He is the prince
of liars, for he comes from the West! He is the scum of mankind, for he is
from the East! The people rage and rend each other, and the frenzy grows
apace with the hour, till honor and justice, truth and manliness, are lost
together in the furious chaos of human elements. The tortured airs of
heaven howl out curses in a horrid unison, this fair free soil of ours,
dishonored and befouled, moans beneath our feet in a dismal drone of
hopeless woe; there is no rock or cavern or ghostly den of our mighty land
but hisses back the echo of some hideous curse, and hell itself is upon
earth, split and rent into multiplied hells.
"And the ultimate expression of the senses of these things is money. There
is the chiefest disgrace. We are not worse than the old nations, but we
have a right to be very much better; we have the obligation to be better,
the unchanging moral obligation which lies upon every man to use the
advantage he has. We alone among nations are free, we alone among nations
inhabit a quarter of the world by ourselves, and live and grow great in
our own way with no thought of the rest. Let us think more of living
greatly than of prosecuting greatness for the sake of its pecuniary
emoluments. Let us elect presidents who will give their efforts to making
us all great together, and not to making some citizens rich at the expense
of others who are also citizens. A President can do much toward either of
these results, bad or good. He has the future of the republic in his
hands, as well as the present. Let us be the richest among nations, since
the course of events makes us so, but let us not be the most sordid. Let
it never be said, in the land which has given birth to the only true
liberty the world has ever seen, that liberty can be sold for a few
dollars in the market-place, and bartered against the promise of four
years of civil employment at a small salary!
"This party spirit, this miserable craving for the good things that may be
extracted from the service of a party, has produced the crying evil of our
times. A certain class--a very large class--call our politics dirty, and
our politicians dishonest. Young men whose education and position in the
commonwealth entitle them to a voice in public matters withdraw entirely
from all contact with the real life of the country. Liberty has become a
leper, a blind outcast in the eyes of the gilded youth of to-day. She sits
apart in ashes and in rags, and asks a little charity of the richest of
her children--a miserable mother despised and cast out by her sons. They
will not own her for their mother, nor spare one crust to feed her from
their plenty. They pass by on the other side, staring in admiration at the
image they have set up for themselves--the image of what they consider
social excellence, an idol compounded of decayed customs, and breathing
the poisonous emanations of a dead world, a monument raised to the
prejudices of former times, to the petty thirst for aristocratic
distinctions which they cherish in their hearts, to their love of money,
show, superficial culture, and armorial bearings.
"Truly let them perish in the fruition of their contemptible desires! Let
them set up a thing called society and worship it; let them lose
themselves in the contemplation of objects whose beauty they can never
appreciate save by counting the cost; let them disgrace the names their
honest fathers bore, by striving to establish their descent from houses
stained with crime and denied with blood; let them disown their fathers
and spit in their mothers' faces,--but let them not call themselves free,
nor give themselves the airs of men. They toss their foolish heads in
scorn of all that a man holds truest and best. We can afford to let them
speak, if they please, even words of contempt and dishonor; we can afford
to let them say that in laboring for our country we are groveling in mud
and defiling our hands with impurity; but we cannot afford to let them
steal our children from us, nor to submit to the pestilent influence of
their corruption in our ranks. Those who would be of the republic must
labor for the public good, instead of insolently asserting that there is
no good in the public on which they have fattened and thriven so well.
"All honor to those who have set their faces against the growing evil, to
check it if they can, and to lay the foundation of a barrier against which
the tidal wave of corruption and dishonesty shall break in vain. All
praise to the brave men who might live in the indolent lotus-eating
atmosphere of wasteful idleness, but who have put their hand to the wheel
of state, determined to bear all their might upon the whirling spokes
rather than see the good ship go to pieces on the rock ahead. They have
begun a good work, and they have sown a good seed; they ask for no reward,
nor look for the reaping of the harvest. They mean to do right, and they
do it, because right is right, not because they expect to be rewarded with
the spoils or fed with fat tit-bits from the feast of party. Upon such men
as these, be they rich or poor, we must rely. The poor man can make
sacrifices as great as the rich, for he can forego for his country's sake,
the promise of ease and the hope of wealth as well as any million-maker in
"In the tremendous issue now before us we are called to decide upon the
life of the country during the next four years. We are chosen to direct
the course of a stream from its very source, and to turn it into a channel
where it will run smoothly to the end. For the four years of an
administration are like a river. The water rises suddenly from the spring
and flows swiftly, ever increasing in volume as it is swollen by
tributaries and absorbs into itself other rivers by the way. It may run
smoothly in a fair stream, moistening barren lands and softening the
parched desert into fertility; moving great engines of industry with a
ceaseless, even strength; bearing the burden of a mighty and prosperous
commerce on its broad bosom; spreading plenty and refreshment through the
wide pastures by its banks, fed on its way by waters so clear that at the
last it merges untainted and unsullied into the ocean, whence its limpid
drops may again be taken up and poured in soft, life-giving rain upon the
"But in digging for a spring men may find suddenly a torrent that they
cannot control. It suddenly bursts its bounds and banks, and rushes
headlong down, carrying everything before it in a resistless whirl of
devastation, tearing great trees up by the roots, crashing through
villages and towns and factories, girding the world with a liquid tempest
that sends the works of man spinning down upon its dreadful course, till
it plunges into the abyss, a frantic chaos of indiscriminate destruction,
storm, and death.
"Can any of us here present say that he will, that he dare, take upon
himself the responsibility of electing a President from motives of party
prejudice? Having it in our power to agree upon the very best man, would
any of us remember this day without shame if we disgraced those who trust
us, by giving our votes to a mere party candidate? The danger is great,
imminent, universal. We can save the country from it, I would almost say
from, death itself, by acting in accordance with our honest convictions.
Is any man so despicable, so lost to honor, that in such a case he will
put aside the welfare of a nation for the miserable sake of party
popularity? Are we to stand here in the guise and manner of free men,
knowing that we are driven together like a flock of sheep into the fold by
the howling of the wolves outside? Are we to strut and plume ourselves
upon our unhampered freedom, while we act like slaves? Worse than slaves
we should be if we allowed one breath of party spirit, one thought of
party aggrandizement, to enter into the choice we are about to make.
Slaves are driven to their work; shall we willingly let ourselves be
beaten into doing the dirty work of others by sacrificing the nobility of
our manhood? Do we meet here, like paid gladiators of old, to cut each
other's throats in earnest while attacking and defending a sham fortress,
raised in the arena for the diversion of those who set us on to the
butchery and promise to pay the survivors? Are we to provide a feast of
carrion for a flock of vultures and unclean beasts of prey, when we need
only stand together, and be true to ourselves and to each other, to
accomplish one of the greatest acts in history? The vultures will leave us
alone unless we destroy each other; we need not fear them. We are not
slaves to be terrified into compliance with evil, neither are we sheep
that we need huddle trembling together at the snarling of a wolf."
"No, no, indeed!" were the words heard on all sides in the audience, now
"I do not say, elect this candidate, or that one. I am not canvassing for
any candidate. It is too late for that, even if it were seemly for me to
do so. I am canvassing for the cause of liberty against slavery, as better
men have done before me in this very house. I am defending the reputation
of unity against the slanderous attack of disunion, against the fearful
peril of secession. I appeal to you, as you are men, to act as men in this
great crisis, to put out your strong hands together and avert the
overwhelming disaster that threatens us; to stand side by side as
brothers,--for we are indeed brothers, children of one father and one
mother, heirs of such magnificent heritage as has not fallen to the lot of
mortality before, co-heirs of freedom, and inheritors of the free estate,
five and fifty millions of free children, born to our mother, the great
republic, who bow the knee to no man, and call no man master."
Loud applause greeted this part of the speech.
"I appeal from license to law, from division to harmony, from the raging
turmoil of angry and devouring passion without to the calm serenity that
reigns within these walls. As we turn in horror and loathing from the
unbridled fury of human beings, changed almost to beasts, so let us turn
in hope and security to those things we can honor and respect, to the
dignity of truth and the unbending strength of unquestioned right.
"I appeal to you to make this day the greatest in your lives, the most
memorable in our history as a nation. Lay aside this day the memories of
the past, and look forward to the brightness of the future. Throw down the
weapons of petty and murderous strife, and join together in perfect
harmony of mutual trust. Be neither Republicans, nor Democrats, nor
Independents. Be what it is your greatest privilege to be--American
citizens. Cast parties to the winds, and uphold the state. Trample under
your free-born feet the badges of party bondage, the ignoble chains of
party slavery, the wretched hopes of party preferment."
"Yes. Hear, hear! He is right!" cried many voices.
"Yes," answered John Harrington, in tones that rose to the very roof of
the vast building.
"'Yes, by that blood our fathers shed,
O Union, in thy sacred cause,
Whilst, streaming from the gallant dead,
It sealed and sanctified thy laws.'
"Yes, and strong hearts and strong hands will hold their own; the promise
of brave men will prevail, and echoing down the avenues of time will
strike grand chords of harmony in the lives of our children and children's
children. So, in the far-off ages, when hundreds of millions of our flesh
and blood shall fill this land, dwelling together in the glory of such
peace as no turmoil can trouble and no discontent disturb, those men of
the dim future will remember what we swore to do, and what we did; and
looking back, they will say one to another: 'On that day our fathers
struck a mighty blow, and shattered and crushed and trampled out all
dissensions and all party strife forever and ever.'
"Choose, then, of your own heart and will a man to be our President and
our leader. Elect him with one accord, and as you give your voices in the
choice, stand here together, knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, hand to
hand; and let the mighty oath go thundering up to heaven,
"'THIS UNION SHALL NOT BE BROKEN!'"
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