Public Speaking
Irvah Lester Winter

Part 4 out of 7

who saw him then fancied that he seemed that day like one who forefelt
the end. But there was no flinching as he charged. He had just turned
to give a cheer when the fatal ball struck him. There was a convulsion
of the upward hand. His eyes, pleading and loyal, turned their last
glance to the flag. His lips parted. He fell dead, and at nightfall lay
with his face to the stars. Home they brought him, fairer than Adonis
over whom the goddess of beauty wept. They buried him in the village
churchyard under the green turf. Year by year his comrades and his kin,
nearer than comrades, scatter his grave with flowers. Do you ask who he
was? He was in every regiment and every company. He went out from every
Massachusetts village. He sleeps in every Massachusetts burying ground.
Recall romance, recite the names of heroes of legend and song, but
there is none that is his peer.


From an address in the United States Senate


For the third time the Congress of the United States are assembled to
commemorate the life and the death of a President slain by the hand of
an assassin. The attention of the future historian will be attracted to
the features which reappear with startling sameness in all three of
these awful crimes: the uselessness, the utter lack of consequence of
the act; the obscurity, the insignificance of the criminal; the
blamelessness--so far as in our sphere of existence the best of men may
be held blameless--of the victim. Not one of our murdered Presidents
had an enemy in the world; they were all of such preeminent purity of
life that no pretext could be given for the attack of passional crime;
they were all men of democratic instincts, who could never have
offended the most jealous advocates of equality; they were of kindly
and generous nature, to whom wrong or injustice was impossible; of
moderate fortune, whose slender means nobody could envy. They were men
of austere virtue, of tender heart, of eminent abilities, which they
had devoted with single minds to the good of the Republic. If ever men
walked before God and man without blame, it was these three rulers of
our people. The only temptation to attack their lives offered was their
gentle radiance--to eyes hating the light that was offense enough.

The obvious elements which enter into the fame of a public man are few
and by no means recondite. The man who fills a great station in a
period of change, who leads his country successfully through a time of
crisis; who, by his power of persuading and controlling others, has
been able to command the best thought of his age, so as to leave his
country in a moral or material condition in advance of where he found
it,--such a man's position in history is secure. If, in addition to
this, his written or spoken words possess the subtle qualities which
carry them far and lodge them in men's hearts; and, more than all, if
his utterances and actions, while informed with a lofty morality, are
yet tinged with the glow of human sympathy,--the fame of such a man
will shine like a beacon through the mists of ages--an object of
reverence, of imitation, and of love. It should be to us an occasion of
solemn pride that in the three great crises of our history such a man
was not denied us. The moral value to a nation of a renown such as
Washington's and Lincoln's and McKinley's is beyond all computation. No
loftier ideal can be held up to the emulation of ingenuous youth. With
such examples we cannot be wholly ignoble. Grateful as we may be for
what they did, let us be still more grateful for what they were. While
our daily being, our public policies, still feel the influence of their
work, let us pray that in our spirits their lives may be voluble,
calling us upward and onward.

There is not one of us but feels prouder of his native land because the
august figure of Washington presided over its beginnings; no one but
vows it a tenderer love because Lincoln poured out his blood for it; no
one but must feel his devotion for his country renewed and kindled when
he remembers how McKinley loved, revered, and served it, showed in his
life how a citizen should live, and in his last hour taught us how a
gentleman could die.


From an address at the unveiling of a statue of General Lee, at
Washington and Lee University, 1883


Mounted in the field and at the head of his troops, a glimpse of Lee
was an inspiration. His figure was as distinctive as that of Napoleon.
The black slouch hat, the cavalry boots, the dark cape, the plain gray
coat without an ornament but the three stars on the collar, the calm,
victorious face, the splendid, manly figure on the gray war horse,--he
looked every inch the true knight--the grand, invincible champion of a
great principle.

The men who wrested victory from his little band stood wonder-stricken
and abashed when they saw how few were those who dared oppose them, and
generous admiration burst into spontaneous tribute to the splendid
leader who bore defeat with the quiet resignation of a hero. The men
who fought under him never revered or loved him more than on the day he
sheathed his sword. Had he but said the word, they would have died for
honor. It was because he said the word that they resolved to live for

Plato congratulated himself, first, that he was born a man; second,
that he had the happiness of being a Greek; and third, that he was a
contemporary of Sophocles. And in this audience to-day, and here and
there the wide world over, is many an one who wore the gray, who
rejoices that he was born a man to do a man's part for his suffering
country; that he had the glory of being a Confederate; and who feels a
justly proud and glowing consciousness in his bosom when he says unto
himself: "I was a follower of Robert E. Lee. I was a soldier in the
army of Northern Virginia."

As president of Washington and Lee University, General Lee exhibited
qualities not less worthy and heroic than those displayed on the broad
and open theater of conflict when the eyes of nations watched his every
action. In the quiet walks of academic life, far removed from "war or
battle's sound," came into view the towering grandeur, the massive
splendor, and the loving-kindness of his character. There he revealed
in manifold gracious hospitalities, tender charities, and patient,
worthy counsels, how deep and pure and inexhaustible were the fountains
of his virtues. And loving hearts delight to recall, as loving lips
will ever delight to tell, the thousand little things he did which sent
forth lines of light to irradiate the gloom of the conquered land and
to lift up the hopes and cheer the works of his people.

Come we then to-day in loyal love to sanctify our memories, to purify
our hopes, to make strong all good intent by communion with the spirit
of him who, being dead, yet speaketh. Let us crown his tomb with the
oak, the emblem of his strength, and with the laurel, the emblem of his
glory. And as we seem to gaze once more on him we loved and hailed as
Chief, the tranquil face is clothed with heaven's light, and the mute
lips seem eloquent with the message that in life he spoke, "There is a
true glory and a true honor; the glory of duty done, the honor of the
integrity of principle."



From 1806, the period of my entrance upon this noble theater, with
short intervals, to the present time, I have been engaged in the public
councils, at home or abroad. Of the services rendered during that long
and arduous period of my life it does not become me to speak; history,
if she deign to notice me, and posterity, if the recollection of my
humble actions shall be transmitted to posterity, are the best, the
truest, and the most impartial judges.

I have not escaped the fate of other public men, nor failed to incur
censure and detraction of the bitterest, most unrelenting, and most
malignant character. But I have not meanwhile been unsustained.
Everywhere throughout the extent of this great continent I have had
cordial, warmhearted, faithful, and devoted friends, who have known me,
loved me, and appreciated my motives.

In the course of a long and arduous public service, especially during
the last eleven years in which I have held a seat in the Senate, from
the same ardor and enthusiasm of character, I have no doubt, in the
heat of debate, and in an honest endeavor to maintain my opinions
against adverse opinions alike honestly entertained, as to the best
course to be adopted for the public welfare, I may have often
inadvertently and unintentionally, in moments of excited debate, made
use of language that has been offensive, and susceptible of injurious
interpretation towards my brother Senators. If there be any here who
retain wounded feelings of injury or dissatisfaction produced on such
occasions, I beg to assure them that I now offer the most ample apology
for any departure on my part from the established rules of
parliamentary decorum and courtesy. On the other hand, I assure
Senators, one and all, without exception and without reserve, that I
retire from this chamber without carrying with me a single feeling of
resentment or dissatisfaction toward the Senate or any one of its

In retiring, as I am about to do, forever, from the Senate, suffer me
to express my heartfelt wishes that all the great and patriotic objects
of the wise framers of our Constitution may be fulfilled; that the high
destiny designed for it may be fully answered; and that its
deliberations, now and hereafter, may eventuate in securing the
prosperity of our beloved country, in maintaining its rights and honor
abroad, and upholding its interests at home. I retire, I know, at a
period of infinite distress and embarrassment. I wish I could take my
leave of you under more favorable auspices; but, without meaning at
this time to say whether on any or on whom reproaches for the sad
condition of the country should fall, I appeal to the Senate and to the
world to bear testimony to my earnest and continued exertions to avert
it, and to the truth that no blame can justly attach to me.

May the most precious blessings of heaven rest upon the whole Senate
and each member of it, and may the labors of every one redound to the
benefit of the nation and the advancement of his own fame and renown.
And when you shall retire to the bosom of your constituents, may you
receive that most cheering and gratifying of all human rewards--their
cordial greeting of "Well done, good and faithful servant."

And now, Mr. President, and Senators, I bid you all a long, a lasting,
and a friendly farewell.


From an address before both houses of Congress, February, 1882


Surely, if happiness can ever come from the honors or triumphs of this
world, on that quiet July morning James A. Garfield may well have been
a happy man. No foreboding of evil haunted him, no slightest
premonition of danger clouded his sky. His terrible fate was upon him
in an instant. One moment he stood erect, strong, confident in the
years stretching peacefully out before him. The next he lay wounded,
bleeding, helpless, doomed to weary weeks of torture, to silence and
the grave.

Great in life, he was surpassingly great in death. For no cause, in the
very frenzy of wantonness and wickedness, by the red hand of Murder he
was thrust from the full tide of this world's interest, from its hopes,
its aspirations, its victories, into the visible presence of death. And
he did not quail. Not alone for the one short moment in which, stunned
and dazed, he could give up life, hardly aware of its relinquishment,
but through days of deadly languor, through weeks of agony that was not
less agony because silently borne, with clear sight and calm courage he
looked into his open grave. What blight and ruin met his anguished eyes
whose lips may tell--what brilliant broken plans, what baffled high
ambitions, what sundering of strong, warm, manhood's friendships, what
bitter rending of sweet household ties! Behind him a proud, expectant
nation; a great host of sustaining friends; a cherished and happy
mother wearing the full, rich honors of her early toil and tears; the
wife of his youth, whose whole life lay in his; the little boys not yet
emerged from childhood's day of frolic; the fair young daughter; the
sturdy sons just springing into closest companionship, claiming every
day, and every day rewarding, a father's love and care; and in his
heart the eager, rejoicing power to meet all demand. Before him
desolation and great darkness! And his soul was not shaken. His
countrymen were thrilled with instant, profound, and universal
sympathy. Masterful in his mortal weakness, he became the center of a
nation's love, enshrined in the prayers of a world. But all the love
and all the sympathy could not share with him his suffering. He trod
the winepress alone. With unfaltering front he faced death. With
unfailing tenderness he took leave of life. Above the demoniac hiss of
the assassin's bullet he heard the voice of God. With simple
resignation he bowed to the divine decree.

As the end drew near, his early craving for the sea returned. The
stately mansion of power had been to him the wearisome hospital of
pain, and he begged to be taken from its prison walls, from its
oppressive, stifling air, from its homelessness and its hopelessness.
Gently, silently, the love of a great people bore the pale sufferer to
the longed-for healing of the sea, to live or to die, as God should
will, within sight of its heaving billows, within sound of its manifold
voices. With wan, fevered face tenderly lifted to the cooling breeze he
looked out wistfully upon the ocean's changing wonders--on its far
sails whitening in the morning light; on its restless waves rolling
shoreward to break and die beneath the noonday sun; on the red clouds
of evening arching low to the horizon; on the serene and shining
pathway of the stars. Let us think that his dying eyes read a mystic
meaning which only the rapt and parting soul may know. Let us believe
that in the silence of the receding world he heard the great waves
breaking on a farther shore, and felt already upon his wasted brow the
breath of the eternal morning.


Delivered from the steps of the Capitol at Washington, 1865.


FELLOW COUNTRYMEN,--At this second appearing to take the oath of the
Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than
there was at first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course
to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of
four years, during which public declarations have been constantly
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still
absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little
that is new could be presented.

The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as
well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably
satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no
prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were
anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all
sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war,
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it with war--
seeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than
let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let
it perish, and the war came. One eighth of the whole population were
colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized
in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and
powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of
the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the
object for which the insurgents would rend the Union by war, while the
Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial
enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which
it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease when, or even before, the conflict itself should
cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental
and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, and
each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any
men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread
from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be
not judged. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of neither
has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. Woe unto
the world because of offenses, for it must needs be that offenses come,
but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh. If we shall suppose
that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence
of God, must needs come, but which having continued through His
appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North
and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense
came, shall we discern there any departure from those divine attributes
which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we
hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may
speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the
wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of
unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with
the lash shall be repaid by another drawn with the sword, as was said
three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that the judgments
of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the
right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are
in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have
borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which
may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and
with all nations.


From an address in the House of Commons, February, 1862


No person can be insensible to the fact that the House meets to-night
under circumstances very much changed from those which have attended
our assembling for many years. Of late years--indeed, for more than
twenty years past--whatever may have been our personal rivalries, and
whatever our party strife, there was at least one sentiment in which we
all coincided, and that was a sentiment of admiring gratitude to that
Throne whose wisdom and whose goodness had so often softened the
acerbities of our free public life, and had at all times so
majestically represented the matured intelligence of an enlightened

Sir, all that is changed. He is gone who was "the comfort and support"
of that Throne. It has been said that there is nothing which England so
much appreciates as the fulfillment of duty. The Prince whom we have
lost not only was eminent for the fulfillment of duty, but it was the
fulfillment of the highest duty under the most difficult circumstances.
Prince Albert was the Consort of his Sovereign--he was the father of
one who might be his Sovereign--he was the Prime Councillor of a realm,
the political constitution of which did not even recognize his
political existence.

Sir, it is sometimes deplored by those who admired and loved him that
he was thwarted occasionally in his undertakings, and that he was not
duly appreciated. But these are not circumstances for regret, but for
congratulation. They prove the leading and original mind which has so
long and so advantageously labored for this country. Had he not
encountered these obstacles, had he not been subject to this occasional
distrust and misconception, it would only have shown that he was a man
of ordinary mold and temper. Those who improve must change, those who
change must necessarily disturb and alarm men's prejudices. What he had
to encounter was only a demonstration that he was a man superior to his
age, and therefore admirably adapted for the work of progress. There is
one other point, and one only, on which I will presume for a moment to
dwell, and it is not for the sake of you, Sir, or those who now hear
me, or of the generation to which we belong, but it is that those who
come after us may not misunderstand the nature of this illustrious man.
Prince Albert was not a mere patron; he was not one of those who by
their gold or by their smiles reward excellence or stimulate exertion.
His contributions to the cause of State were far more powerful and far
more precious. He gave to it his thought, his time, his toil; he gave
to it his life. On both sides and in all parts of the House I see many
gentlemen who occasionally have acted with the Prince at those council
boards where they conferred and consulted upon the great undertakings
with which he was connected. I ask them, without fear of a denial,
whether he was not the leading spirit, whether his was not the mind
which foresaw the difficulty, his not the resources that supplied the
remedy; whether his was not the courage which sustained them under
apparently overpowering difficulties; whether every one who worked with
him did not feel that he was the real originator of those plans of
improvement which they assisted in carrying into effect?

But what avail these words? This House to-night has been asked to
condole with the Crown upon this great calamity. No easy office. To
condole, in general, is the office of those who, without the pale of
sorrow, still feel for the sorrowing. But in this instance the country
is as heart-stricken as its Queen. Yet in the mutual sensibility of a
Sovereign and a people there is something ennobling--something which
elevates the spirit beyond the level of mere earthly sorrow. The
counties, the cities, the corporations of the realm--those illustrious
associations of learning and science and art and skill, of which he was
the brightest ornament and the inspiring spirit, have bowed before the
Throne. It does not become the Parliament of the country to be silent.
The expression of our feelings may be late, but even in that lateness
may be observed some propriety. To-night the two Houses sanction the
expression of the public sorrow, and ratify, as it were, the record of
a nation's woe.


From an address in the House of Commons


I feel myself unequal even to dealing with what is, perhaps, more
strictly germane to this address--I mean, Mr. Gladstone as a
politician, as a Minister, as a leader of public thought, as an eminent
servant of the Queen; and if I venture to say anything, it is rather of
Mr. Gladstone, the greatest member of the greatest deliberative
assembly, which, so far, the world has seen.

Sir, I think it is the language of sober and unexaggerated truth to say
that there is no gift which would enable a man to move, to influence,
to adorn an assembly like this that Mr. Gladstone did not possess in a
supereminent degree. Debaters as ready there may have been, orators as
finished. It may have been given to others to sway as skillfully this
assembly, or to appeal with as much directness and force to the simpler
instincts of the great masses in the country; but, sir, it has been
given to no man to combine all these great gifts as they were combined
in the person of Mr. Gladstone. From the conversational discussion
appropriate to our work in committees, to the most sustained eloquence
befitting some great argument, and some great historic occasion, every
weapon of Parliamentary warfare was wielded by him with the success and
ease of a perfect, absolute, and complete mastery. I would not venture
myself to pronounce an opinion as to whether he was most excellent in
the exposition of a somewhat complicated budget of finance or
legislation, or whether he showed it most in the heat of extemporary
debate. At least this we may say, that from the humbler arts of
ridicule or invective to the subtlest dialectic, the most persuasive
eloquence, the most cogent appeals to everything that was highest and
best in the audience that he was addressing, every instrument which
could find place in the armory of a member of this House, he had at his
command without premeditation, without forethought, at the moment and
in the form which appeared best suited to carry out his purpose.

It may, perhaps, be asked whether I have nothing to say about Mr.
Gladstone's place in history, about the judgment we ought to pass upon
the great part which he has played in the history of his country and
the history of the world during the many years in which he held a
foremost place in this assembly. These questions are legitimate
questions. But they are not to be discussed by me to-day. Nor, indeed,
do I think that the final answer can be given to them--the final
judgment pronounced--in the course of this generation. But one service
he did--in my opinion incalculable--which is altogether apart from the
judgment which we may be disposed to pass on the particular opinions,
the particular views, or the particular lines of policy which Mr.
Gladstone may from time to time have adopted. Sir, he added a dignity
and he added a weight to the deliberations of this House by his genius
which I think it is impossible adequately to express.

It is not enough, in my opinion, to keep up simply a level, though it
be a high level, of probity and of patriotism. The mere virtue of civic
honesty is not sufficient to preserve this assembly from the fate which
has overcome so many other assemblies, the products of democratic
forces. More than this is required, more than this was given to us by
Mr. Gladstone. Those who seek to raise in the public estimation the
level of our proceedings will be the most ready to admit the infinite
value of those services, and realize how much the public prosperity is
involved in the maintenance of the work of public life. Sir, that is a
view which, it seems to me, places the services of Mr. Gladstone to
this assembly, which he loved so well, and of which he was so great a
member, in as clear a light and on as firm a basis as it is possible to
place them.


From an address in the House of Lords, May, 1898


My Lords, this is, as has been pointed out, an unique occasion. Mr.
Gladstone always expressed a hope that there might be an interval left
to him between the end of his political and of his natural life. That
period was given to him, for it is more than four years since he
quitted the sphere of politics. Those four years have been with him a
special preparation for his death, but have they not also been a
preparation for his death with the nation at large? Had he died in the
plenitude of his power as Prime Minister, would it have been possible
for a vigorous and convinced Opposition to allow to pass to him,
without a word of dissent, the honors which are now universally
conceded? Hushed for the moment are the voices of criticism; hushed are
the controversies in which he took part; hushed for the moment is the
very sound of party conflict. I venture to think that this is a notable
fact in our history. It was not so with the elder Pitt. It was not so
with the younger Pitt. It was not so with the elder Pitt--in spite of
his tragic end, of his unrivaled services, and of his enfeebled old
age. It was not so with the younger Pitt--in spite of his long control
of the country and his absolute and absorbed devotion to the State. I
think that we should remember this as creditable not merely to the man,
but to the nation.

My Lords, there is one deeply melancholy feature of Mr. Gladstone's
death--by far the most melancholy--to which I think none of my noble
friends have referred. I think that all our thoughts must be turned,
now that Mr. Gladstone is gone, to that solitary and pathetic figure
who, for sixty years, shared all the sorrows and all the joys of Mr.
Gladstone's life; who received his every confidence and every
aspiration; who shared his triumphs with and cheered him under his
defeats; who, by her tender vigilance, I firmly believe, sustained and
prolonged his years. I think that the occasion ought not to pass
without letting Mrs. Gladstone know that she is in all our thoughts to-
day. And yet, my Lords--putting that one figure aside--to me, at any
rate, this is not an occasion for absolute and entire and unreserved
lamentation. Were it, indeed, possible so to protract the inexorable
limits of human life that we might have hoped that future years, and
even future generations, might see Mr. Gladstone's face and hear his
matchless voice, and receive the lessons of his unrivaled experience--
we might, perhaps, grieve to-day as those who have no hope. But that is
not the case. He had long exceeded the span of mortal life; and his
latter months had been months of unspeakable pain and distress. He is
now in that rest for which he sought and prayed, and which was to give
him relief from an existence which had become a burden to him. Surely
this should not be an occasion entirely for grief; when a life
prolonged to such a limit, so full of honor, so crowned with glory, had
come to its termination. The nation lives that produced him. The nation
that produced him may yet produce others like him; and, in the
meantime, it is rich in his memory, rich in his life, and rich, above
all, in his animating and inspiring example. Nor do I think that we
should regard this heritage as limited to our own country or to our own
race. It seems to me that, if we may judge from the papers of to-day,
that it is shared by, that it is the possession of, all civilized
mankind, and that generations still to come, through many long years,
will look for encouragement in labor, for fortitude in adversity, for
the example of a sublime Christianity, with constant hope and constant
encouragement, to the pure, the splendid, the dauntless figure of
William Ewart Gladstone.


From a centennial address at the United States Military Academy at West
Point, with the author's permission.


As we stand here to-day a hundred years of history pass in review
before us. The present permanent Academy was founded in 1802. The class
that year contained two cadets. During the ten years following the
average number was twenty. We might say of the cadets of those days
what Curran said of the books in his library--"not numerous, but

And now a word to the Corps of Cadets, the departure of whose
graduating class marks the close of the first century of the Academy's
life. The boy is father to the man. The present is the mold in which
the future is cast. The dominant characteristics of the cadet are seen
in the future general. You have learned here how to command, and a
still more useful lesson, how to obey. You have been taught obedience
to the civil, as well as to the military, code, for in this land the
military is always subordinate to the civil law. Not the least valuable
part of your education is your service in the cadet ranks, performing
the duties of a private soldier. That alone can acquaint you with the
feelings and the capabilities of the soldiers you will command. It
teaches you just how long a man can carry a musket in one position
without overfatigue, just how hard it is to keep awake on sentry duty
after an exhausting day's march. You will never forget this part of
your training. When Marshal Lannes's grenadiers had been repulsed in an
assault upon the walls of a fortified city, and hesitated to renew the
attack, Lannes seized a scaling ladder and, rushing forward, cried:
"Before I was a marshal I was a grenadier, and I have not forgotten my
training." Inspired by his example, the grenadiers carried the walls
and captured everything before them.

Courage is the soldier's cardinal virtue. You will seldom go amiss in
following General Grant's instructions to his commanders, "When in
doubt move to the front."

A generous country has with fostering care equipped you for your
career. It is entitled to your undivided allegiance. In closing, let me
mention, by way of illustration, a most touching and instructive scene
which I once witnessed at the annual meeting in the great hall of the
Sorbonne in Paris for the purpose of awarding medals of honor to those
who had performed acts of conspicuous bravery in saving human life at
sea. A bright-eyed boy of scarcely fourteen summers was called to the
platform. The story was recounted of how one winter's night when a
fierce tempest was raging on the rude Normandy coast, he saw signals of
distress at sea and started with his father, the captain of a small
vessel, and the mate to attempt a rescue. By dint of almost superhuman
effort the crew of a sinking ship was safely taken aboard. A wave then
washed the father from the deck. The boy plunged into the seething
waves to save him, but the attempt was in vain, and the father
perished. The lad struggled back to the vessel to find that the mate
had also been washed overboard. Then lashing himself fast, he took the
wheel and guided the boat, with its precious cargo of human souls,
through the howling storm safely into port. The minister of public
instruction, after paying a touching tribute to the boy's courage in a
voice broken with emotion, pinned the medal on his breast, placed in
his hands a diploma of honor, and then, seizing the brave lad in his
arms, imprinted a kiss on each cheek. For a moment the boy seemed
dazed, not knowing which way to turn, as he stood there with the tears
streaming down his bronzed cheeks while every one in that vast hall
wept in sympathy. Suddenly his eyes turned toward his old peasant
mother, she to whom he owed his birth and his training, as she sat at
the back of the platform with bended form and wearing her widow's cap.
He rushed to her, took the medal from his breast, and, casting it and
his diploma into her lap, threw himself on his knees at her feet.

Men of West Point, in the honorable career which you have chosen,
whatever laurels you may win, always be ready to lay them at the feet
of your country to which you owe your birth and your education.


From an address at Columbia University, June, 1909


We have seen that the sifting out of young men capable of scholarship
is receiving to-day less attention than it deserves; and that this
applies not only to recruiting future leaders of thought, but also to
prevailing upon every young man to develop the intellectual powers he
may possess. We have seen also that, while the graduate school can
train scholars, it cannot create love of scholarship. That work must be
done in undergraduate days. We have found reasons to believe that
during the whole period of training, mental and physical, which reaches
its culmination in college, competition is not only a proper but an
essential factor; and we have observed the results that have been
achieved at Oxford and Cambridge by its use. In this country, on the
other hand, several causes, foremost among them the elective system,
have almost banished competition in scholarship from our colleges;
while the inadequate character of our tests, and the corporate nature
of self-interest in these latter times, raise serious difficulties in
making it effective.

Nevertheless, I have faith that these obstacles can be overcome, and
that we can raise intellectual achievement in college to its rightful
place in public estimation. We are told that it is idle to expect young
men to do strenuous work before they feel the impending pressure of
earning a livelihood; that they naturally love ease and self-
indulgence, and can be aroused from lethargy only by discipline, or by
contact with the hard facts of a struggle with the world. If I believed
that, I would not be president of a college for a moment. It is not
true. A normal young man longs for nothing so much as to devote himself
to a cause that calls forth his enthusiasm, and the greater the
sacrifice involved, the more eagerly will he grasp it. If we were at
war and our students were told that two regiments were seeking
recruits, one of which would be stationed at Fortress Monroe, well-
housed and fed, living in luxury, without risk of death or wounds,
while the other would go to the front, be starved and harassed by
fatiguing marches under a broiling sun, amid pestilence, with men
falling from its ranks killed or suffering mutilation, not a single man
would volunteer for the first regiment, but the second would be quickly
filled. Who is it that makes football a dangerous and painful sport? Is
it the faculty or the players themselves?

A young man wants to test himself on every side, in strength, in
quickness, in skill, in courage, in endurance; and he will go through
much to prove his merit. He wants to test himself, provided he has
faith that the test is true, and that the quality tried is one that
makes for manliness; otherwise he will have none of it. Now we have not
convinced him that high scholarship is a manly thing worthy of his
devotion, or that our examinations are faithful tests of intellectual
power; and in so far as we have failed in this we have come short of
what we ought to do. Universities stand for the eternal worth of
thought, for the preeminence of the prophet and the seer; but instead
of being thrilled by the eager search for truth, our classes too often
sit listless on the bench. It is not because the lecturer is dull, but
because the pupils do not prize the end enough to relish the drudgery
required for skill in any great pursuit, or indeed in any sport. To
make them see the greatness of that end, how fully it deserves the
price that must be paid for it, how richly it rewards the man who may
compete for it, we must learn--and herein lies the secret--we must
learn the precious art of touching their imagination.


From a lecture, entitled "Masters of the Situation"


There was once a noble ship full of eager passengers, freighted with a
rich cargo, steaming at full speed from England to America. Two thirds
of a prosperous voyage thus far were over, as in our mess we were
beginning to talk of home. Fore and aft the songs of good cheer and
hearty merriment rose from deck to cabin.

"As if the beauteous ship enjoyed the beauty of the sea,
She lifteth up her stately head, and saileth joyfully,
A lovely path before her lies, a lovely path behind;
She sails amid the loveliness like a thing of heart and mind."

Suddenly, a dense fog came, shrouding the horizon, but as this was a
common occurrence in the latitude we were sailing, it was hardly
mentioned in our talk that afternoon. There are always croakers on
board ship, if the weather changes however slightly, but the
_Britannia_ was free, that voyage, of such unwelcome passengers. A
happier company never sailed upon an autumn sea! The storytellers are
busy with their yarns to audiences of delighted listeners in sheltered
places; the ladies are lying about on couches, and shawls, reading or
singing; children in merry companies are taking hands and racing up and
down the decks,--when a quick cry from the lookout, a rush of officers
and men, and we are grinding on a ledge of rocks off Cape Race! One of
those strong currents, always mysterious, and sometimes impossible to
foresee, had set us into shore out of our course, and the ship was
blindly beating on a dreary coast of sharp and craggy rocks.

I heard the order given, "Every one on deck!" and knew what that
meant--the masts were in danger of falling. Looking over the side, we
saw bits of the keel, great pieces of plank, floating out into the deep
water. A hundred pallid faces were huddled together near the stern of
the ship where we were told to go and wait. I remember somebody said
that a little child, the playfellow of passengers and crew, could not
be found, and that some of us started to find him; and that when we
returned him to his mother she spake never a word, but seemed dumb with
terror at the prospect of separation and shipwreck, and that other
specter so ghastly when encountered at sea.

Suddenly we heard a voice up in the fog in the direction of the
wheelhouse, ringing like a clarion above the roar of the waves, and the
clashing sounds on shipboard, and it had in it an assuring, not a
fearful tone. As the orders came distinctly and deliberately through
the captain's trumpet, to "ship the cargo," to "back her," to "keep her
steady," we felt somehow that the commander up there in the thick mist
on the wheelhouse knew what he was about, and that through his skill
and courage, by the blessing of heaven, we should all be rescued. The
man who saved us so far as human aid ever saves drowning mortals, was
one fully competent to command a ship; and when, after weary days of
anxious suspense, the vessel leaking badly, and the fires in danger of
being put out, we arrived safely in Halifax, old Mr. Cunard, agent of
the line, on hearing from the mail officer that the steamer had struck
on the rocks and had been saved only by the captain's presence of mind
and courage, simply replied, "Just what might have been expected in
such a disaster; Captain Harrison is always master of the situation."
Now, no man ever became master of the situation by accident or
indolence. I believe with Shelley, that the Almighty has given men and
women arms long enough to reach the stars if they will only put them
out! It was an admirable saying of the Duke of Wellington, "that no
general ever blundered into a great victory." St. Hilaire said, "I
ignore the existence of a blind chance, accident, and haphazard
results." "He happened to succeed," is a foolish, unmeaning phrase. No
man happens to succeed.


Reprinted from "American Wit and Humor," copyrighted in "Modern
Eloquence," Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago, publishers.


Wit may take many forms, but it resides essentially in the thought or
the imagination. In its highest forms it does not deal in things but
with ideas. It is the shock of pleased surprise which results from the
perception of unexpected likeness between things that differ or of an
unexpected difference between things that are alike. Or it is where
utterly incongruous things are apparently combined in the expression of
one idea. Wit may be bitter or kindly or entirely neutral so far as the
feelings are concerned. When extremes of feeling, one way or the other,
are concerned, then it takes on other names which will be considered by

But not to stop any longer with definition, it is almost pure wit when
some one said of an endless talker that he had "occasional brilliant
flashes of silence." So of the saying of Mr. Henry Clapp. You know it
is said of Shakespeare, "He is not for a day, but for all time."
Speaking of the bore who calls when you are busy and never goes, Mr.
Clapp said, "He is not for a time, but for all day." And what could be
more deliciously perfect than the following: Senator Beck of Kentucky
was an everlasting talker. One day a friend remarked to Senator Hoar,
"I should think Beck would wear his brain all out talking so much."
Whereupon Mr. Hoar replied, "Oh, that doesn't affect him any: he rests
his mind when he is talking." This has, indeed, a touch of sarcasm; but
it is as near the pure gold of wit as you often get. Or, take this.
There being two houses both of which are insisted on as the real
birthplace of the great philosopher and statesman, Mark Twain gravely
informs us that "Franklin was twins, having been born simultaneously in
two different houses in Boston."

One of the finest specimens of clear-cut wit is the saying of the Hon.
Carroll D. Wright. Referring to the common saying, he once keenly
remarked: "I know it is said that figures won't lie, but,
unfortunately, liars will figure."

In contradistinction from wit, humor deals with incidents, characters,
situations. True humor is altogether kindly; for, while it points out
and pictures the weaknesses and foibles of humanity, it feels no
contempt and leaves no sting. It has its root in sympathy and blossoms
out in toleration.

It would take too long at this point in my lecture to quote complete
specimens of humor; for that would mean spreading out before you
detailed scenes or full descriptions. But fortunately it is not
necessary. Cervantes, Shakespeare, Charles Lamb, Dickens, and a host of
others will readily occur to you. But what could be better of its kind
than this? General Joe Johnston was one day riding leisurely behind his
army on the march. Food had been scarce and rations limited. He spied a
straggler in the brush beside the road. He called out sharply, "What
are you doing here?" Being caught out of the ranks was a serious
offense, but the soldier was equal to the emergency. So to the
General's question he replied, "Pickin' 'simmons." The persimmon, as
you know, has the quality of puckering the mouth, as a certain kind of
wild cherry used to mine when I was a boy. "What are you picking
'simmons for?" sharply rejoined the General. Then came the humorous
reply that disarmed all of the officer's anger and appealed to his
sympathy, while it hinted all "the boys" were suffering for the cause.
"Well, the fact of it is, General, I'm trying to shrink up my stomach
to the size of my rations, so I won't starve to death."


From an article in The Philistine, with the permission of the author


When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very
necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents.
Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba--no one knew
where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The President
must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, "There's a fellow by the name of Rowan
will find Garcia for you if anybody can." Rowan was sent for and given
a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of
Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it
over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from
an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out
on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on
foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special
desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be
delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is
he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in
deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It
is not book learning young men need, nor instruction about this and
that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be
loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the
thing--"Carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias. No man who has
endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but
has been well-nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average
man--the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do
it. Slipshod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and
half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or
crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or
mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an angel
of light for an assistant.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this
infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to catch hold and lift, are
the things that put pure socialism so far into the future. If men will
not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of the
effort is for all?

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away
as well as when he is at home. And the man, who, when given a letter
for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic
questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the
nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid
off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one
long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks
shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to
let him go. He is wanted in every city, town, and village--in every
office, shop, store, and factory. The world cries out for such; he is
needed, and needed badly-the man who can carry a message to Garcia.



A Roman, an orator, and a triumvir, a conqueror when all Rome seemed
armed against him only to have his glory "false played" by a woman
"unto an enemy's triumph,"--such is Shakespeare's story of Mark Antony.
Passion alternates with passion, purpose with purpose, good with evil,
and strength with weakness, until his whole nature seems changed, and
we find the same and yet another man.

In "Julius Csar" Antony is seen at his best. He is the one triumphant
figure of the play. Csar falls. Brutus and Cassius are in turn
victorious and defeated, but Antony is everywhere a conqueror. Antony
weeping over Csar's body, Antony offering his breast to the daggers
which have killed his master, is as plainly the sovereign power of the
moment as when over Csar's corpse he forces by his magnetic oratory
the prejudiced populace to call down curses on the heads of the

Csar's spirit still lives in Antony,--a spirit that dares face the
conspirators with swords still red with Csar's blood and bid them,

Whilst their purple hands do reek and smoke,

fulfill their pleasure,--a spirit that over the dead body of Csar
takes the hand of each and yet exclaims:--

"Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies."

Permission is granted Antony to speak a farewell word over the body of
Csar in the crowded market place. Before the populace, hostile and
prejudiced, Antony stands as the friend of Csar. Slowly, surely,
making his approach step by step, with consummate tact he steals away
their hearts and paves the way for his own victory. The honorable men
gradually turn to villains of the blackest dye. Csar's mantle, which
but a moment before had called forth bitter curses, now brings tears to
every Roman's eye. The populace fast yields to his eloquence. He
conquers every vestige of distrust as he says:--

"I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him."

And now the matchless orator throws off his disguise. With resistless
vehemence he pours forth a flood of eloquence which bears the fickle
mob like straws before its tide:--

"I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Csar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me; but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Csar, that would move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny."

The effect is magical. The rage of the populace is quickened to a white
heat; and, baffled, beaten by a plain, blunt man, the terror-stricken
conspirators ride like madness through the gates of Rome.


From "Orations and After-Dinner Speeches," the Cassell Publishing
Company, New York, publishers.


Andr's story is the one overmastering romance of the Revolution.
American and English literature is full of eloquence and poetry in
tribute to his memory and sympathy for his fate. After the lapse of a
hundred years, there is no abatement of absorbing interest. What had
this young man done to merit immortality? The mission whose tragic
issue lifted him out of the oblivion of other minor British officers,
in its inception was free from peril or daring, and its objects and
purposes were utterly infamous.

Had he succeeded by the desecration of the honorable uses of passes and
flags of truce, his name would have been held in everlasting
execration. In his failure the infant Republic escaped the dagger with
which he was feeling for its heart, and the crime was drowned in tears
for his untimely end. His youth and beauty, the brightness of his life,
the calm courage in the gloom of his death, his early love and
disappointment, surrounded him with a halo of poetry and pity which
have secured for him what he most sought and could never have won in
battles and sieges,--a fame and recognition which have outlived that of
all the generals under whom he served.

Are kings only grateful, and do not republics forget? Is fame a
travesty, and the judgment of mankind a farce? America had a parallel
case in Captain Nathan Hale. Of the same age as Andr, he, after
graduation at Yale College with high honors, enlisted in the patriot
cause at the beginning of the contest, and secured the love and
confidence of all about him. When none else would go upon a most
important and perilous mission, he volunteered, and was captured by the

While Andr received every kindness, courtesy, and attention, and was
fed from Washington's table, Hale was thrust into a noisome dungeon in
the sugarhouse. While Andr was tried by a board of officers and had
ample time and every facility for defense, Hale was summarily ordered
to execution the next morning. While Andr's last wishes and bequests
were sacredly followed, the infamous Cunningham tore from Hale his
cherished Bible and destroyed before his eyes his last letter to his
mother and sister, and asked him what he had to say. "All I have to
say," was his reply, "is, I regret I have but one life to lose for my

The dying declarations of Andre and Hale express the animating spirit
of their several armies, and teach why, with all her power, England
could not conquer America. "I call upon you to witness that I die like
a brave man," said Andr, and he spoke from British and Hessian
surroundings, seeking only glory and pay. "I regret I have but one life
to lose for my country," said Hale; and, with him and his comrades,
self was forgotten in that absorbing, passionate patriotism which
pledges fortune, honor, and life to the sacred cause.



One raw morning in spring--it will be eighty years the nineteenth day
of this month--Hancock and Adams, the Moses and Aaron of that Great
Deliverance, were both at Lexington; they also had "obstructed an
officer" with brave words. British soldiers, a thousand strong, came to
seize them and carry them over sea for trial, and so nip the bud of
Freedom auspiciously opening in that early spring. The town militia
came together before daylight, "for training." A great, tall man, with
a large head and a high, wide brow, their captain,--one who had "seen
service,"--marshaled them into line, numbering but seventy, and bade
"every man load his piece with powder and ball." "I will order the
first man shot that runs away," said he, when some faltered. "Don't
fire unless fired upon, but if they want to have a war, let it begin

Gentlemen, you know what followed; those farmers and mechanics "fired
the shot heard round the world." A little monument covers the bones of
such as before had pledged their fortune and their sacred honor to the
Freedom of America, and that day gave it also their lives. I was born
in that little town, and bred up amid the memories of that day. When a
boy, my mother lifted me up, on Sunday, in her religious, patriotic
arms, and held me while I read the first monumental line I ever saw--
"Sacred to Liberty and the Rights of Mankind."

Since then I have studied the memorial marbles of Greece and Rome, in
many an ancient town; nay, on Egyptian obelisks, have read what was
written before the Eternal roused up Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt,
but no chiseled stone has ever stirred me to such emotion as these
rustic names of men who fell "In the Sacred Cause of God and their

Gentlemen, the Spirit of Liberty, the Love of Justice, was early fanned
into a flame in my boyish heart. The monument covers the bones of my
own kinsfolk; it was their blood which reddened the long, green grass
at Lexington. It was my own name which stands chiseled on that stone;
the tall Captain who marshaled his fellow farmers and mechanics into
stern array, and spoke such brave and dangerous words as opened the war
of American Independence,--the last to leave the field,--was my
father's father. I learned to read out of his Bible, and with a musket
he that day captured from the foe, I learned also another religious
lesson, that "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God." I keep them
both "Sacred to Liberty and the Rights of Mankind," to use them both
"In the Sacred Cause of God and my Country."


Reprinted with the permission of Henry W. Grady, Jr.


I went to Washington the other day, and I stood on the Capitol Hill; my
heart beat quick as I looked at the towering marble of my country's
Capitol, and the mist gathered in my eyes as I thought of its
tremendous significance, and the armies and the treasury, and the
judges and the President, and the Congress and the courts, and all that
was gathered there. And I felt that the sun in all its course could not
look down on a better sight than that majestic home of a republic that
had taught the world its best lessons of liberty. And I felt that if
honor and wisdom and justice abided therein, the world would at last
owe that great house in which the ark of the covenant of my country is
lodged, its final uplifting and its regeneration.

Two days afterward, I went to visit a friend in the country, a modest
man, with a quiet country home. It was just a simple, unpretentious
house, set about with big trees, encircled in meadow and field rich
with the promise of harvest.

Inside was quiet, cleanliness, thrift, and comfort. Outside, there
stood my friend, the master, a simple, upright man, with no mortgage on
his roof, no lien on his growing crops, master of his own land and
master of himself. There was his old father, an aged, trembling man,
but happy in the heart and home of his son.

They started to their home, and as they reached the door the old mother
came with the sunset falling fair on her face, and lighting up her
deep, patient eyes, while her lips, trembling with the rich music of
her heart, bade her husband and son welcome to their home. Beyond was
the housewife, busy with her household cares, clean of heart and
conscience, the buckler and helpmeet of her husband. Down the lane came
the children, trooping home after the cows, seeking as truant birds do
the quiet of their home nest.

And I saw the night come down on that house, falling gently as the
wings of the unseen dove. And the old man--while a startled bird called
from the forest, and the trees were shrill with the cricket's cry, and
the stars were swarming in the sky--got the family around him, and,
taking the old Bible from the table, called them to their knees, the
little baby hiding in the folds of its mother's dress, while he closed
the record of that simple day by calling down God's benediction on that
family and on that home. And while I gazed, the vision of that marble
Capitol faded. Forgotten were its treasures and its majesty, and I
said, "Oh, surely here in the homes of the people are lodged at last
the strength and the responsibility of this government, the hope and
the promise of this republic."



When Abraham Lincoln sat, book in hand, day after day, under the tree,
moving round it as the shadow crossed, absorbed in mastering his task;
when James Garfield rang the bell at Hiram Institute on the very stroke
of the hour and swept the schoolroom as faithfully as he mastered his
Greek lesson; when Ulysses Grant, sent with his team to meet some men
who came to load his cart with logs, and, finding no men, loaded the
cart with his own boy's strength, they showed in the conscientious
performance of duty the qualities which were to raise them to become
kings of men. When John Adams was told that his son, John Quincy Adams,
had been elected President of the United States, he said, "He has
always been laborious, child and man, from infancy."

But the youth was not destined to die in the deep valley of obscurity
and toil, in which it is the lot--and perhaps the happy lot--of most of
us to spend our little lives. The hour came; the man was needed. In
1861 there broke out that most terrible war of modern days. Grant
received a commission as Colonel of Volunteers, and in four years the
struggling toiler had been raised to the chief command of a vaster army
than has ever been handled by any mortal man. Who could have imagined
that four years would make that enormous difference? But it is often
so. The great men needed for some tremendous crisis have stepped often,
as it were, out of a door in the wall which no man had noticed; and,
unannounced, unheralded, without prestige, have made their way silently
and single-handed to the front. And there was no luck in it. It was a
work of inflexible faithfulness, of indomitable resolution, of
sleepless energy, and iron purpose and tenacity. In the campaigns at
Fort Donelson; in the desperate battle at Shiloh; in the siege of
Corinth; in battle after battle, in seige after seige; whatever Grant
had to do, he did it with his might. Other generals might fail--he
would not fail. He showed what a man could do whose will was strong. He
undertook, as General Sherman said of him, what no one else would have
ventured and his very soldiers began to reflect something of his
indomitable determination.

His sayings revealed the man. "I have nothing to do with opinions," he
said at the outset," and shall only deal with armed rebellion." "In
riding over the field," he said at Shiloh, "I saw that either side was
ready to give way, if the other showed a bold front. I took the
opportunity, and ordered an advance along the whole line." "No terms,"
he wrote to General Buckner at Fort Donelson (and it is pleasant to
know that General Buckner stood as a warm friend beside his dying bed);
"no terms other than unconditional surrender can be accepted." "My
headquarters," he wrote from Vicksburg, "will be on the field." With a
military genius which embraced the vastest plans while attending to the
smallest details, he defeated, one after another, every great general
of the Confederates except Stonewall Jackson. The Southerners felt that
he held them as in the grasp of a vise; that this man could neither be
arrested nor avoided. For all this he has been severely blamed. He
ought not to be blamed. He has been called a butcher, which is grossly
unjust. He loved peace; he hated bloodshed; his heart was generous and
kind. His orders were to save lives, to save treasure, but at all costs
to save his country--and he did save his country.

After the surrender at Appomattox Court House, the war was over. He had
put his hand to the plow and had looked not back. He had made blow
after blow, each following where the last had struck; he had wielded
like a hammer the gigantic forces at his disposal, and had smitten
opposition into the dust. It was a mighty work, and he had done it
well. Surely history has shown that for the future destinies of a
mighty nation it was a necessary and blessed work!


From the copyrighted print in "A Modern Reader and Speaker," by George
Riddle, with the permission of Duffield and Company, New York,


I fear we undervalue the devotion to country which comes from a
contemplation of what has been done and suffered in her name. I feel
that we teach those who are to make or mar the future of this nation
too much of what has been done elsewhere, and too little of what has
been done here. Courage is the characteristic of no one land or time.
The world's history is full of it and the lessons it teaches. American
courage, however, is of this nation; it is ours, and if the finest
national spirit is worth the creating; if patriotism is still a quality
to be engendered in our youth; if love of country is still to be a
strong power for good, those acts of devotion and of heroic personal
sacrifice with which our history is filled, are worthy of earnest
study, of continued contemplation, and of perpetual consideration.

"Let him who will, sing deeds done well across the sea,
Here, lovely Land, men bravely live and die for Thee."

The particular example I desire to speak about is of that splendid
quality of courage which dares everything not for self or country, but
for an enemy. It is of that kind which is called into existence not by
dreams of glory, or by love of land, but by the highest human desire;
the desire to mitigate suffering in those who are against us.

In the afternoon of the day after the battle of Fredericksburg, General
Kershaw of the Confederate army was sitting in his quarters when
suddenly a young South Carolinian named Kirkland entered, and, after
the usual salutations, said: "General, I can't stand this." The
general, thinking the statement a little abrupt, asked what it was he
could not stand, and Kirkland replied: "Those poor fellows out yonder
have been crying for water all day, and I have come to you to ask if I
may go and give them some." The "poor fellows" were Union soldiers who
lay wounded between the Union and Confederate lines. To go to them,
Kirkland must go beyond the protection of the breastworks and expose
himself to a fire from the Union sharpshooters, who, so far during that
day, had made the raising above the Confederate works of so much as a
head an act of extreme danger. General Kershaw at first refused to
allow Kirkland to go on his errand, but at last, as the lad persisted
in his request, declined to forbid him, leaving the responsibility for
action with the boy himself. Kirkland, in perfect delight, rushed from
the general's quarters to the front, where he gathered all the canteens
he could carry, filled them with water, and going over the breastworks,
started to give relief to his wounded enemies. No sooner was he in the
open field than our sharpshooters, supposing he was going to plunder
their comrades, began to fire at him. For some minutes he went about
doing good under circumstances of most imminent personal danger. Soon,
however, those to whom he was taking the water recognized the character
of his undertaking. All over the field men sat up and called to him,
and those too hurt to raise themselves, held up their hands and
beckoned to him. Soon our sharpshooters, who luckily had not hit him,
saw that he was indeed an Angel of Mercy, and stopped their fire, and
two armies looked with admiration at the young man's pluck and loving-
kindness. With a beautiful tenderness, Kirkland went about his work,
giving of the water to all, and here and there placing a knapsack
pillow under some poor wounded fellow's head, or putting in a more
comfortable position some shattered leg or arm. Then he went back to
his own lines and the fighting went on. Tell me of a more exalted
example of personal courage and self-denial than that of that
Confederate soldier, or one which more clearly deserves the name of
Christian fortitude. In that terrible War of the Rebellion, Kirkland
gave up his life for a mistaken cause in the battle of Chickamauga, but
I cannot help thanking God that, in our reunited country, we are joint
heirs with the men from the South in the glory and inspiration that
come from such heroic deeds as his.


Reprinted, with permission, from "The Orations and Addresses of George
William Curtis," Vol. III. Copyright, 1894, by Harper and Brothers.


The Minuteman of the Revolution! And who was he? He was the old, the
middle-aged, and the young. He was the husband and the father, who left
his plow in the furrow and his hammer on the bench, and marched to die
or be free. He was the son and lover, the plain, shy youth of the
singing school and the village choir, whose heart beat to arms for his
country, and who felt, though he could not say with the old English

"I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more."

He was the man who was willing to pour out his life's blood for a
principle. Intrenched in his own honesty, the king's gold could not buy
him; enthroned in the love of his fellow citizens, the king's writ
could not take him; and when, on the morning of Lexington, the king's
troops marched to seize him, his sublime faith saw, beyond the clouds
of the moment, the rising sun of the America we behold, and, careless
of himself, mindful only of his country, he exultingly exclaimed, "Oh,
what a glorious morning!" And then, amid the flashing hills, the
ringing woods, the flaming roads, he smote with terror the haughty
British column, and sent it shrinking, bleeding, wavering, and reeling
through the streets of the village, panic-stricken and broken.

Him we gratefully recall to-day; him we commit in his immortal youth to
the reverence of our children. And here amid these peaceful fields,--
here in the heart of Middlesex County, of Lexington and Concord and
Bunker Hill, stand fast, Son of Liberty, as the minuteman stood at the
old North Bridge. But should we or our descendants, false to justice or
humanity, betray in any way their cause, spring into life as a hundred
years ago, take one more step, descend, and lead us, as God led you in
saving America, to save the hopes of man.

No hostile fleet for many a year has vexed the waters of our coast; nor
is any army but our own likely to tread our soil. Not such are our
enemies to-day. They do not come, proudly stepping to the drumbeat,
their bayonets flashing in the morning sun. But wherever party spirit
shall strain the ancient guarantees of freedom; or bigotry and
ignorance shall lay their fatal hands on education; or the arrogance of
caste shall strike at equal rights; or corruption shall poison the very
springs of national life,--there, Minuteman of Liberty, are your
Lexington Green and Concord Bridge. And as you love your country and
your kind, and would have your children rise up and call you blessed,
spare not the enemy. Over the hills, out of the earth, down from the
clouds, pour in resistless might. Fire from every rock and tree, from
door and window, from hearthstone and chamber. Hang upon his flank from
morn to sunset, and so, through a land blazing with indignation, hurl
the hordes of ignorance and corruption and injustice back--back in
utter defeat and ruin.


Reprinted with permission from "The Orations and Addresses of George
William Curtis," Vol. III. Copyright 1894, by Harper and Brothers.


On Tuesday, April 18, 1775, Gage, the royal governor, who had decided
to send a force to Concord to destroy the stores, picketed the roads
from Boston into Middlesex, to prevent any report of the intended march
from spreading into the country. But the very air was electric. In the
tension of the popular mind, every sound and sight was significant. In
the afternoon, one of the governor's grooms strolled into a stable
where John Ballard was cleaning a horse. John Ballard was a son of
liberty; and when the groom idly remarked in nervous English "about
what would occur to-morrow," John's heart leaped and his hand shook,
and, asking the groom to finish cleaning the horse, he ran to a friend,
who carried the news straight to Paul Revere.

Gage thought that his secret had been kept, but Lord
Percy, who had heard the people say on the Common that
the troops would miss their aim, undeceived him. Gage
instantly ordered that no one should leave the town. But
Dr. Warren was before him, and, as the troops crossed the
river, Paul Revere was rowing over the river farther down
to Charlestown, having agreed with his friend, Robert
Newman, to show lanterns from the belfry of the Old North

"One, if by land, and two, if by sea,"

as a signal of the march of the British.
It was a brilliant April night. The winter had been unusually mild and
the spring very forward. The hills were already green; the early grain
waved in the fields, and the air was sweet with blossoming orchards.
Under the cloudless moon the soldiers silently marched, and Paul Revere
swiftly rode, galloping through Medford and West Cambridge, rousing
every house as he went, spurring for Lexington and Hancock and Adams,
and evading the British patrols, who had been sent out to stop the

Stop the news! Already the village church bells were beginning to ring
the alarm, as the pulpits beneath them had been ringing for many a
year. In the awakening houses lights flashed from window to window.
Drums beat faintly far away and on every side. Signal guns flashed and
echoed. The watchdogs barked; the cocks crew.

Stop the news! Stop the sunrise! The murmuring night trembled with the
summons so earnestly expected, so dreaded, so desired. And as, long
ago, the voice rang out at midnight along the Syrian shore, wailing
that great Pan was dead, but in the same moment the choiring angels
whispered, "Glory to God in the highest, for Christ is born," so, if
the stern alarm of that April night seemed to many a wistful and loyal
heart to portend the passing glory of British dominion and the tragical
chance of war, it whispered to them with prophetic inspiration, "Good
will to men; America is born!"

There is a tradition that long before the troops reached Lexington an
unknown horseman thundered at the door of Captain Joseph Robbins in
Acton, waking every man and woman and babe in the cradle, shouting that
the regulars were marching to Concord and that the rendezvous was the
old North Bridge. Captain Robbins' son, a boy of ten years, heard the
summons in the garret where he lay, and in a few minutes was on his
father's old mare, a young Paul Revere, galloping along the road to
rouse Captain Isaac Davis, who commanded the minutemen of Acton. The
company assembled at his shop, formed, and marched a little way, when
he halted them and returned for a moment to his house. He said to his
wife, "Take good care of the children," kissed her, turned to his men,
gave the order to march, and saw his home no more. Such was the history
of that night in how many homes!

The hearts of those men and women of Middlesex might break, but they
could not waver. They had counted the cost. They knew what and whom
they served; and, as the midnight summons came, they started up and
answered, "Here am I!"


From "Speeches and Lectures," with the permission of Lothrop, Lee and
Shepard, Boston, publishers.


We have a pitying estimate, a tender compassion, for the narrowness,
ignorance, and darkness of the bygone ages. We seem to ourselves not
only to monopolize, but to have begun, the era of light. In other
words, we are all running over with a fourth-day-of-July spirit of
self-content. I am often reminded of the German whom the English poet
Coleridge met at Frankfort. He always took off his hat with profound
respect when he ventured to speak of himself. It seems to me, the
American people might be painted in the chronic attitude of taking off
its hat to itself.

Considering their employment of the mechanical forces, and their
movement of large masses from the earth, we know that the Egyptians had
the five, seven, or three mechanical powers; but we cannot account for
the multiplication and increase necessary to perform the wonders they

There is a book telling how Domenico Fontana of the sixteenth century
set up the Egyptian obelisk at Rome on end, in the Papacy of Sixtus V.
Wonderful! Yet the Egyptians quarried that stone, and carried it a
hundred and fifty miles, and the Romans brought it seven hundred and
fifty miles, and never said a word about it.

Take canals. The Suez canal absorbs half its receipts in cleaning out
the sand which fills it continually, and it is not yet known whether it
is a pecuniary success. The ancients built a canal at right angles to
ours; because they knew it would not fill up if built in that
direction, and they knew such a one as ours would. There were
magnificent canals in the land of the Jews, with perfectly arranged
gates and sluices. We have only just begun to understand ventilation
properly for our houses; yet late experiments at the Pyramids in Egypt
show that those Egyptian tombs were ventilated in the most perfect and
scientific manner.

Again, cement is modern, for the ancients dressed and joined their
stones so closely, that, in buildings thousands of years old the thin
blade of a penknife cannot be forced between them. The railroad dates
back to Egypt. Arago has claimed that they had a knowledge of steam. A
painting has been discovered of a ship full of machinery, and a could
only be accounted for by supposing the motive power to have been steam.
Bramah acknowledges that he took the idea of his celebrated lock from
an ancient Egyptian pattern. De Tocqueville says that there was no
social question that was not discussed to rags in Egypt.

"Well," say you, "Franklin invented the lightning rod." I have no doubt
he did; but years before his invention, and before muskets were
invented, the old soldiers on guard on the towers used Franklin's
invention to keep guard with; and if a spark passed between them and
the spearhead, they ran and bore the warning of the state and condition
of affairs. After that you will admit that Benjamin Franklin was not
the only one that knew of the presence of electricity, and the
advantages derived from its use. Solomon's Temple you will find was
situated on an exposed point of the hill: the temple was so lofty that
it was often in peril, and was guarded by a system exactly like that of
Benjamin Franklin.

Well, I may tell you a little of ancient manufactures. The Duchess of
Burgundy took a necklace from the neck of a mummy, and wore it to a
ball given at the Tuileries; and everybody said they thought it was the
newest thing there. A Hindoo princess came into court; and her father,
seeing her, said, "Go home, you are not decently covered,--go home;"
and she said, "Father, I have seven suits on;" but the suits were of
muslin so thin that the king could see through them, A Roman poet says,
"the girl was in the poetic dress of the country." I fancy the French
would be rather astonished at this. Four hundred and fifty years ago
the first spinning machine was introduced into Europe. I have evidence
to show that it made its first appearance two thousand years before.

Why have I groped among these ashes? I have told you these facts to
show you that we have not invented everything--that we do not
monopolize the encyclopedia. The past had knowledge. But it was the
knowledge of the classes, not of the masses. "The beauty that was
Greece and the grandeur that was Rome" were exclusive, the possession
of the few. The science of Egypt was amazing; but it meant privilege--
the privilege of the king and the priest. It separated royalty and
priesthood from the people, and was the engine of oppression. When
Cambyses came down from Persia and thundered across Egypt, treading out
royalty and priesthood, he trampled out at the same time civilization

The distinctive glory of the nineteenth century is that it distributes
knowledge; that it recognizes the divine will, which is that every man
has a right to know whatever may be serviceable to himself or to his
fellows; that it makes the church, the schoolhouse, and the town hall,
its symbols, and humanity its care. This democratic spirit will animate
our arts with immortality, if God means that they shall last.


An extract from "A Man Without a Country"


Philip Nolan was as fine a young officer as there was in the "Legion of
the West," as the Western division of our army was then called. When
Aaron Burr made his first dashing expedition down to New Orleans in
1805, at Fort Massac, or somewhere above on the river, he met, as the
devil would have it, this gay, dashing, bright young fellow; at some
dinner party, I think. Burr marked him, talked to him, walked with him,
took him a day or two's voyage in his flatboat, and, in short,
fascinated him. For the next year, barrack life was very tame to poor
Nolan. He occasionally availed himself of the permission the great man
had given him to write to him. Long, high-worded, stilted letters the
poor boy wrote and rewrote and copied. But never a line did he have in
reply from the gay deceiver. The other boys in the garrison sneered at
him, because he sacrificed in this unrequited affection for a
politician the time which they devoted to Monongahela, hazard, and
high-low-jack. But one day Nolan had his revenge. This time Burr came
down the river, not as an attorney seeking a place for his office, but
as a disguised conquerer. He had defeated I know not how many district
attorneys; he had dined at I know not how many public dinners; he had
been heralded in I don't know how many "Weekly Arguses," and it was
rumored that he had an army behind him and an empire before him. It was
a great day--his arrival--to poor Nolan. Burr had not been at the fort
an hour before he sent for him. That evening he asked Nolan to take him
out in his skiff, to show him a canebrake or a cottonwood tree, as he
said--really to seduce him; and by the time the sail was over, Nolan
was enlisted body and soul. From that time, though he did not yet know
it, he lived as A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.

What Burr meant to do I know no more than you. It is none of our
business just now. Only, when the grand catastrophe came, and Jefferson
and the House of Virginia of that day undertook to break on the wheel
all the possible Clarences of the then House of York, by the great
treason trial at Richmond, some of the lesser fry in that distant
Mississippi Valley, which was farther from us than Puget's Sound is to-
day, introduced the like novelty on their provincial stage; and, to
while away the monotony of the summer at Fort Adams, got up, for
"spectacles," a string of court-martials on the officers there. One and
another of the colonels and majors were tried, and, to fill out the
list, little Nolan, against whom, Heaven knows, there was evidence
enough--that he was sick of the service, had been willing to be false
to it, and would have obeyed any order to march any-whither with any
one who would follow him had the order been signed, "By command of His
Exc. A. Burr." The courts dragged on. The big flies escaped--rightly
for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I say; yet you and I
would never have heard of him, but that, when the president of the
court asked him at the close whether he wished to say anything to show
that he had always been faithful to the United States, he cried out, in
a fit of frenzy:--"Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of
the United States again!"

I suppose he did not know how the words shocked old Colonel Morgan, who
was holding the court. He, on his part, had grown up in the West of
those days, in the midst of "Spanish plot," "Orleans plot," and all the
rest. He had spent half his youth with an older brother, hunting horses
in Texas; and, in a word, to him "United States" was scarcely a
reality. Yet he had been fed by "United States" for all the years since
he had been in the army. He had sworn on his faith as a Christian to be
true to "United States." It was "United States" which gave him the
uniform he wore, and the sword by his side. I do not excuse Nolan; I
only explain to the reader why he damned his country, and wished he
might never hear her name again.

He never did hear her name but once again. From that moment, September
23, 1807, till the day he died, May 11, 1863, he never heard her name
again. For that half century and more he was a man without a country.

Old Morgan, as I said, was terribly shocked. He called the court into
his private room, and returned in fifteen minutes, with a face like a
sheet, to say:--

"Prisoner, hear the sentence of the court! The court decides, subject
to the approval of the president, that you never hear the name of the
United States again."

Nolan laughed. But nobody else laughed. Old Morgan was too solemn, and
the whole room was hushed dead as night for a minute. Even Nolan lost
his swagger in a moment. Then Morgan added:--

"Mr. Marshal, take the prisoner to Orleans in an armed boat, and
deliver him to the naval commander there."

The marshal gave his orders and the prisoner was taken out of court.

"Mr. Marshal," continued old Morgan, "see that no one mentions the
United States to the prisoner. Mr. Marshal, make my respects to
Lieutenant Mitchell at Orleans, and request him to order that no one
shall mention the United States to the prisoner while he is on board
ship. You will receive your written orders from the officer on duty
here this evening. The court is adjourned without day."

The plan then adopted was substantially the same which was necessarily
followed ever after. The Secretary of the Navy was requested to put
Nolan on board a government vessel bound on a long cruise, and to
direct that he should be only so far confined there as to make it
certain that he never saw or heard of the country. One afternoon a lot
of the men sat on the deck smoking and reading aloud. Well, so it
happened that in his turn Nolan took the book and read to the others;
and he read very well. Nobody in the circle knew a line of the poem,
only it was all magic and Border chivalry, and was ten thousand years
ago. Poor Nolan read steadily through the fifth canto without a thought
of what was coming:--

"Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,"--

It seems impossible to us that anybody ever heard this for the first
time; but all these fellows did then, and poor Nolan himself went on,
still unconsciously or mechanically:--

"This is my own, my native land!"

Then they all saw something was to pay; but he expected to get through,
I suppose, turned a little pale, but plunged on:--

"Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?--
If such there breathe, go, mark him well,"--

By this time the men were all beside themselves, wishing there was any
way to make him turn over two pages; but he had not quite presence of
mind for that; he gagged a little, colored crimson, and staggered on:--

"For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite these titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,"--

and here the poor fellow choked, could not go on, but started up, swung
the book into the sea, vanished into his stateroom, and we did not see
him for two months again. He never entered in with the young men
exactly as a companion again; but generally he had the nervous, tired
look of a heart-wounded man.

And when Nolan died, there was found in his Bible a slip of paper at
the place where he had marked the text:--

"They desire a country, even a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed
to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city."

On this slip of paper he had written:--

"Bury me in the sea; it has been my home, and I love it. But will not
some one set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams or at Orleans, that
my disgrace may not be more than I ought to bear? Say on it:--
"In Memory of
"_Lieutenant in the Army of the United States_.
"He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but
no man deserved less at her hands."


From "Cuba in War Time," with the author's permission


Adolfo Rodriguez was the only son of a Cuban farmer. When the
revolution broke out, young Rodriguez joined the insurgents, leaving
his father and mother and two sisters at the farm. He was taken by the
Spanish, was tried by a military court for bearing arms against the
government, and sentenced to be shot by a fusillade some morning before
sunrise. His execution took place a half mile distant from the city, on
the great plain that stretches from the forts out to the hills, beyond
which Rodriguez had lived for nineteen years.

There had been a full moon the night preceding the execution, and when
the squad of soldiers marched out from town, it was still shining
brightly through the mists. It lighted a plain two miles in extent
broken by ridges and gullies and covered with thick, high grass and
with bunches of cactus and palmetto.

The execution was quickly finished with rough, and, but for one
frightful blunder, with merciful swiftness. The crowd fell back when it
came to the square of soldiery, and the condemned man, the priests, and
the firing squad of six young volunteers passed in and the lines closed
behind them.

Rodriguez bent and kissed the cross which the priest held up before
him. He then walked to where the officer directed him to stand, and
turned his back to the square and faced the hills and the road across
them which led to his father's farm. As the officer gave the first
command he straightened himself as far as the cords would allow, and
held up his head and fixed his eyes immovably on the morning light
which had just begun to show above the hills.

The officer had given the order, the men had raised their pieces, and
the condemned man had heard the clicks of the triggers as they were
pulled back, and he had not moved. And then happened one of the most
cruelly refined, though unintentional, acts of torture that one can
very well imagine. As the officer slowly raised his sword, preparatory
to giving the signal, one of the mounted officers rode up to him and
pointed out silently--the firing squad were so placed that when they
fired they would shoot several of the soldiers stationed on the extreme
end of the square.

Their captain motioned his men to lower their pieces, and then walked
across the grass and laid his hand on the shoulder of the waiting
prisoner. It is not pleasant to think what that shock must have been.
The man had steeled himself to receive a volley of bullets in the back.
He believed that in the next instant he would be in another world; he
had heard the command given, had heard the click of the Mausers as the
locks caught--and then, at that supreme moment, a human hand had been
laid upon his shoulder and a voice spoke in his ear.

You would expect that any man who had been snatched back to life in
such a fashion would start and tremble at the reprieve, or would break
down altogether, but this boy turned his head steadily, and followed
with his eyes the direction of the officer's sword, then nodded his
head gravely, and with his shoulders squared, took up a new position,
straightened his back again, and once more held himself erect. As an
exhibition of self-control this should surely rank above feats of
heroism performed in battle, where there are thousands of comrades to
give inspiration. This man was alone, in sight of the hills he knew,
with only enemies about him, with no source to draw on for strength but
that which lay within himself.

The officer of the firing squad, mortified by his blunder, hastily
whipped up his sword, the men once more leveled their rifles, the sword
rose, dropped, and the men fired. At the report the Cuban's head
snapped back almost between his shoulders, but his body fell slowly, as
though some one had pushed him gently forward from behind and he had
stumbled. He sank on his side in the wet grass without a struggle or
sound, and did not move again.

At that moment the sun, which had shown some promise of its coming in
the glow above the hills, shot up suddenly from behind them in all the
splendor of the tropics, a fierce, red disk of heat, and filled the air
with warmth and light.



From "Essays in Application," with the permission of Charles Scribner's
Sons, New York, publishers.


There is the highest authority for believing that a man's life, even
though he be an author, consists not in the abundance of things that he
possesses. Rather is its real value to be sought in the quality of the
ideas and feelings that possess him, and in the effort to embody them
in his work.

The work is the great thing. The delight of clear and steady thought,
of free and vivid imagination, of pure and strong emotion; the
fascination of searching for the right words, which sometimes come in
shoals like herring, so that the net can hardly contain them, and at
other times are more shy and fugacious than the wary trout which refuse
to be lured from their hiding places; the pleasure of putting the fit
phrase in the proper place, of making a conception stand out plain and
firm with no more and no less than is needed for its expression, of
doing justice to an imaginary character so that it shall have its own
life and significance in the world of fiction, of working a plot or an
argument clean through to its inevitable close: these inward and
unpurchasable joys are the best wages of the men and women who write.

What more will they get? Well, unless history forgets to repeat itself,
their additional wages, their personal dividends under the profit-
sharing system, so to speak, will be various. Some will probably get
more than they deserve, others less.

The next best thing to the joy of work is the winning of gentle readers
and friends who find some good in your book, and are grateful for it,
and think kindly of you for writing it.

The next best thing to that is the recognition, on the part of people
who know, that your work is well done, and of fine quality. That is
called fame, or glory, and the writer who professes to care nothing for
it is probably deceiving himself, or else his liver is out of order.
Real reputation, even of a modest kind and of a brief duration, is a
good thing; an author ought to be able to be happy without it, but
happier with it.


From the Introduction to "The World's Famous Orations," with the
permission of Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York and London,


While it is absolutely necessary for the orator to master his subject
and to speak with earnestness, his speech can be made more effective by
the addition of clearness, brevity and apt illustrations.

Clearness of statement is of very great importance. It is not
sufficient to say that there are certain self-evident truths; it is
more accurate to say that all truth is self-evident. Because truth is
self-evident, the best service that one can render a truth is to state
it so clearly that it can be comprehended, needs no argument in its
support. In debate, therefore, one's first effort should be to state
his own side so clearly and concisely as to make the principles
involved easily understood. His second object should be so to divest
his opponent's argument of useless verbiage as to make it stand forth
clearly; for as truth is self-evident, so error bears upon its face its
own condemnation. Error needs only to be exposed to be overthrown.

Brevity of statement also contributes to the force of a speaker. It is
possible so to enfold a truth in long-drawn-out sentences as
practically to conceal it. The epigram is powerful because it is full
of meat and short enough to be remembered. To know when to stop is
almost as important as to know where to begin and how to proceed. The
ability to condense great thoughts into small words and brief sentences
is an attribute of genius. Often one lays down a book with the feeling
that the author has "said nothing with elaboration," while in perusing
another book one finds a whole sermon in a single sentence, or an
unanswerable argument couched in a well-turned phrase.

The interrogatory is frequently employed by the orator, and when wisely
used is irresistible. What dynamic power for instance, there is in that
question propounded by Christ, "What shall it profit a man if he gain
the whole world and lose his own soul?" Volumes could not have
presented so effectively the truth that he sought to impress upon his

The illustration has no unimportant place in the equipment of the
orator. We understand a thing more easily when we know that it is like
something which we have already seen. Illustrations may be drawn from
two sources--nature and literature--and of the two, those from nature
have the greater weight. All learning is valuable; all history is
useful. By knowing what has been we can better judge the future; by
knowing how men have acted heretofore we can understand how they will
act again in similar circumstances. But people know nature better than
they know books, and the illustrations drawn from everyday life are the
most effective.

If the orator can seize upon something within the sight or hearing of
his audience,--something that comes to his notice at the moment and as
if not thought of before,--it will add to the effectiveness of the
illustration. For instance, Paul's speech to the Athenians derived a
large part of its strength from the fact that he called attention to an
altar near by, erected "to the Unknown God," and then proceeded to
declare unto them the God whom they ignorantly worshiped.

Abraham Lincoln used scripture quotations very frequently and very
powerfully. Probably no Bible quotation, or, for that matter, no
quotation from any book ever has had more influence upon a people than
the famous quotation made by Lincoln in his Springfield speech of
1858,--"A house divided against itself cannot stand." It is said that
he had searched for some time for a phrase which would present in the
strongest possible way the proposition he intended to advance--namely,
that the nation could not endure half slave and half free.

It is a compliment to a public speaker that the audience should discuss
what he says rather than his manner of saying it; more complimentary
that they should remember his arguments, than that they should praise
his rhetoric. The orator should seek to conceal himself behind his
subject. If he presents himself in every speech he is sure to become
monotonous, if not offensive. If, however, he focuses attention upon
his subject, he can find an infinite number of themes and, therefore,
give variety to his speech.


From "Essays in Application," with the permission of Charles Scribner's
Sons, New York, publishers.


Every one knows what books are. But what is literature? It is the ark
on the flood. It is the light on the candlestick. It is the flower
among the leaves; the consummation of the plant's vitality, the crown
of its beauty, and the treasure house of its seeds. It is hard to
define, easy to describe.

Literature is made up of those writings which translate the inner
meanings of nature and life, in language of distinction and charm,
touched with the personality of the author, into artistic forms of
permanent interest. The best literature, then, is that which has the
deepest significance, the most lucid style, the most vivid
individuality, and the most enduring form.

On the last point contemporary judgment is but guess-work, but on the
three other points it should not be impossible to form, nor improper to
express, a definite opinion.

Literature has its permanent marks. It is a connected growth, and its
life history is unbroken. Masterpieces have never been produced by men
who have had no masters. Reverence for good work is the foundation of
literary character. The refusal to praise bad work, or to imitate it,
is an author's personal chastity.

Good work is the most honorable and lasting thing in the world. Four
elements enter into good work in literature:--An original impulse--not
necessarily a new idea, but a new sense of the value of an idea. A
first-hand study of the subject and the material. A patient, joyful,
unsparing labor for the perfection of form. A human aim--to cheer,
console, purify, or ennoble the life of the people. Without this aim
literature has never sent an arrow close to the mark. It is only by
good work that men of letters can justify their right to a place in the
world. The father of Thomas Carlyle was a stonemason, whose walls stood
true and needed no rebuilding. Carlyle's prayer was, "Let me write my
books as he built his houses."


From an address before the New York Chamber of Commerce, 1890


Before we can talk together to advantage about the value of education
in business, we ought to come to a common understanding about the sort
of education we mean and the sort of business.

We must not think of the liberal education of to-day as dealing with a
dead past--with dead languages, buried peoples, exploded philosophies;
on the contrary, everything which universities now teach is quick with
life and capable of application to modern uses. They teach indeed the
languages and literature of Judea, Greece, and Rome; but it is because
those literatures are instinct with eternal life. They teach
mathematics, but it is mathematics mostly created within the lifetime
of the older men here present. In teaching English, French, and German,
they are teaching the modern vehicles of all learning--just what Latin
was in medieval times. As to history, political science, and natural
science, the subjects, and all the methods by which they are taught,
may properly be said to be new within a century. Liberal education is
not to be justly regarded as something dry, withered, and effete; it is
as full of sap as the cedars of Lebanon.

And what sort of business do we mean? Surely the larger sorts of
legitimate and honorable business; that business which is of advantage
both to buyer and seller, and to producer, distributor, and consumer
alike, whether individuals or nations, which makes common some useful
thing which has been rare, or makes accessible to the masses good
things which have been within reach only of the few--I wish I could say
simply which make dear things cheap; but recent political connotations
of the word cheap forbid. We mean that great art of production and
exchange which through the centuries has increased human comfort,
cherished peace, fostered the fine arts, developed the pregnant
principle of associated action, and promoted both public security and
public liberty.

With this understanding of what we mean by education on the one hand
and business on the other, let us see if there can be any doubt as to
the nature of the relations between them. The business man in large
affairs requires keen observation, a quick mental grasp of new
subjects, and a wide range of knowledge. Whence come these powers and
attainments--either to the educated or to the uneducated--save through
practice and study? But education is only early systematic practice and
study under guidance. The object of all good education is to develop
just these powers--accuracy in observation, quickness and certainty in
seizing upon the main points of new subjects, and discrimination in
separating the trivial from the important in great masses of facts.
This is what liberal education does for the physician, the lawyer, the
minister, and the scientist. This is what it can do also for the man of
business; to give a mental power is one of the main ends of the higher
education. Is not active business a field in which mental power finds
full play? Again, education imparts knowledge, and who has greater need
to know economics, history, and natural science than the man of large

Further, liberal education develops a sense of right, duty, and honor;
and more and more, in the modern world, large business rests on
rectitude and honor, as well as on good judgment. Education does this
through the contemplation and study of the moral ideals of our race;
not in drowsiness or dreaminess or in mere vague enjoyment of poetic
and religious abstractions, but in the resolute purpose to apply
spiritual ideals to actual life. The true university fosters ideals,
but always to urge that they be put into practice in the real world.
When the universities hold up before their youth the great Semitic
ideals which were embodied in the Decalogue, they mean that those
ideals should be applied in politics. When they teach their young men
that Asiatic ideal of unknown antiquity, the Golden Rule, they mean
that their disciples shall apply it to business; when they inculcate
that comprehensive maxim of Christian ethics, "Ye are all members of
one another," they mean that this moral principle is applicable to all
human relations, whether between individuals, families, states, or


From the author's lectures on oratory, with his permission


It is a singular fact that the three leaders of the revolution, in the
Massachusetts colony, John Adams, Sam Adams, and Oxenbridge Thatcher,
were all trained originally to be clergymen, and all afterwards
determined to be lawyers, and get their legal training in addition.
John Adams did it; Oxenbridge Thatcher did it. Sam Adams's parents held
so hard to the doctrine that the law was a disreputable profession that
they never allowed him to enter it. He went into business, but before
he got through, mixed himself up with legal questions more than the two
others put together. And what is more, and what has only lately been
brought out distinctly, there existed in the southern colonies
represented by Virginia very much the same feeling, only coming from a
different source. It was not a question of church membership or of
ecclesiastical training--the southern colonies never troubled
themselves very much about those things--but turned upon a wholly
different thing. The southern colonies were based on land ownership;
the aim was to build up a type of society like the English type, an
aristocratic system of landowners as in England. And these
miscellaneous men who, without owning large estates or large numbers of
slaves, came forward to try cases in court, were regarded with the same
sort of suspicion which the same class had to meet in Massachusetts.

Patrick Henry, the greatest of Virginians for the purpose for which
Providence had marked him out, was always regarded by Jefferson in very
much the same light in which Sam Adams was by his uncles, who were
afraid he wanted to be a lawyer. Henry was regarded as a man from the
people, an irregularly trained man. Jefferson, you will find,
criticizes his pronunciation severely. He talked about "yearth" instead
of "earth." He said that a man's "nateral" parts needed to be improved
by "eddication." Jefferson had traveled in Europe and talked with
cultivated men in other countries. He did not do that sort of thing,
and he, not being a man of the most generous or candid nature, always
tries to make us think that Patrick Henry was a nobody who had very
little practice. And it was not until the admirable life of him written
for the "American Statesmen" series by my predecessor in this
lectureship, Moses Coit Tyler, whose loss we so greatly mourn, that it
was clearly made out that, on the contrary, he had an immense legal
practice and was wonderfully successful in a great variety of cases.

So, both North and South, there was this antagonism to this new class
coming forward; and yet that new class stepped forward and took the
leadership of the American Revolution. Not that the clergy were false
to their duty. They did their duty well. There is a book by J. Wingate
Thornton, called "The Clergy of the American Revolution," which
contains an admirable and powerful series of sermons by those very
clergymen whom I have criticized for their limitations. They did their
part admirably, and yet one sees as time goes on that the lawyers are
taking matters into their own hands.

But the change was not always a benefit to the style of oratory. It was
a period of somewhat formal style; it was not a period when the English
language was reaching to its highest sources. You will be surprised to
find, for instance, in the books and addresses of that period how


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