Public Speaking
Irvah Lester Winter

Part 6 out of 7

points of their bayonets and strike on the muzzles of the guns? You
have heard the witnesses.

Does the law allow one member of the community to behave in this manner
towards his fellow citizen, and then bid the injured party be calm and
moderate? The expressions from one party were--"Stand off, stand
off!"--"I am upon my station."--"If they molest me upon my post, I will
fire."--"Keep off!"

These words were likely to produce reflection and procure peace. But
had the words on the other hand a similar tendency? Consider the temper
prevalent among all parties at this time. Consider the situation of the
soldiery; and come to the heat and pressure of the action. The
materials are laid, the spark is raised, the fire enkindles, all
prudence and true wisdom are utterly consumed. Does common sense, does
the law expect impossibilities?

Here, to expect equanimity of temper, would be as irrational as to
expect discretion in a madman. But was anything done on the part of the
assailants similar to the conduct, warnings, and declarations of the
prisoners? Answer for yourselves, gentlemen! The words reiterated all
around stabbed to the heart; the actions of the assailants tended to a
worse end,--to awaken every passion of which the human breast is
susceptible; fear, anger, pride, resentment, revenge, alternately take
possession of the whole man.

To expect, under these circumstances, that such words would assuage the
tempest, that such actions would allay the flames,--you might as
rationally expect the inundations of a torrent would suppress a deluge,
or rather that the flames of Aetna would extinguish a conflagration!


Gentlemen of the Jury,--This case has taken up much of your time, and
is likely to take up so much more that I must hasten to a close.
Indeed, I should not have troubled you, by being thus lengthy, but from
a sense of duty to the prisoners; they who in some sense may be said to
have put their lives in my hands; they whose situation was so peculiar
that we have necessarily taken up more time than ordinary cases
require. They, under all these circumstances, placed a confidence it
was my duty not to disappoint, and which I have aimed at discharging
with fidelity. I trust you, gentlemen, will do the like; that you will
examine and judge with a becoming temper of mind; remembering that they
who are under oath to declare the whole truth think and act very
differently from bystanders, who, being under no ties of this kind,
take a latitude which is by no means admissible in a court of law.

I cannot close this cause better than by desiring you to consider well
the genius and spirit of the law which will be laid down, and to govern
yourselves by this great standard of truth. To some purposes, you may
be said, gentlemen, to be ministers of justice; and "ministers," says a
learned judge, "appointed for the ends of public justice, should have
written on their hearts the solemn engagements of his Majesty, at his
coronation, to cause law and justice in mercy to be executed in all his

"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven:...
It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."

I leave you, gentlemen, hoping you will be directed in your inquiry and
judgment to a right discharge of your duty. We shall all of us,
gentlemen, have an hour of cool reflection when the feelings and
agitations of the day shall have subsided; when we shall view things
through a different and a much juster medium. It is then we all wish an
absolving conscience. May you, gentlemen, now act such a part as will
hereafter insure it; such a part as may occasion the prisoners to
rejoice. May the blessing of those who were in jeopardy of life come
upon you--may the blessing of Him who is "not faulty to die" descend
and rest upon you and your posterity.


Before the Court of King's Bench, 1781


Gentlemen,--You have now heard, upon the solemn oaths of honest,
disinterested men, a faithful history of the conduct of Lord George
Gordon, from the day that he became a member of the Protestant
Association to the day that he was committed a prisoner to the Tower.
And I have no doubt, from the attention with which I have been honored
from the beginning, that you have still kept in your minds the
principles to which I entreated you would apply it, and that you have
measured it by that standard. You have, therefore, only to look back to
the whole of it together; to reflect on all you have heard concerning
him; to trace him in your recollection through every part of the
transaction; and, considering it with one manly, liberal view, to ask
your own honest hearts, whether you can say that this noble and
unfortunate youth is a wicked and deliberate traitor, who deserves by
your verdict to suffer a shameful and ignominious death, which will
stain the ancient honors of his house forever.

The crime which the Crown would have fixed upon him is, that he
assembled the Protestant Association round the House of Commons, not
merely to influence and persuade Parliament by the earnestness of their
supplications, but actually to coerce it by hostile, rebellious force;
that, finding himself disappointed in the success of that coercion, he
afterward incited his followers to abolish the legal indulgences to
Papists, which the object of the petition was to repeal, by the burning
of their houses of worship, and the destruction of their property,
which ended, at last, in a general attack on the property of all orders
of men, religious and civil, on the public treasures of the nation, and
on the very being of the government.

To support a charge of so atrocious and unnatural a complexion, the
laws of the most arbitrary nations would require the most
incontrovertible proof. And what evidence, gentlemen of the jury, does
the Crown offer to you in compliance with these sound and sacred
doctrines of justice? A few broken, interrupted, disjointed words,
without context or connection--uttered by the speaker in agitation and
heat--heard, by those who relate them to you, in the midst of tumult
and confusion--and even those words, mutilated as they are, in direct
opposition to, and inconsistent with, repeated and earnest declarations
delivered at the very same time and on the very same occasion, related
to you by a much greater number of persons, and absolutely incompatible
with the whole tenor of his conduct. Which of us all, gentlemen, would
be safe, standing at the bar of God or man, if we were not to be judged
by the regular current of our lives and conversations, but by detached
and unguarded expressions, picked out by malice, and recorded, without
context or circumstances, against us? Yet such is the only evidence on
which the Crown asks you to dip your hands, and to stain your
consciences, in the innocent blood of the noble and unfortunate youth
who stands before you.

I am sure you cannot but see, notwithstanding my great inability,
increased by a perturbation of mind (arising, thank God! from no
dishonest cause), that there has been not only no evidence on the part
of the Crown to fix the guilt of the late commotions upon the prisoner,
but that, on the contrary, we have been able to resist the probability,
I might almost say the possibility of the charge, not only by living
witnesses, whom we only ceased to call because the trial would never
have ended, but by the evidence of all the blood that has paid the
forfeit of that guilt already; since, out of all the felons who were
let loose from prisons, and who assisted in the destruction of our
property, not a single wretch was to be found who could even attempt to
save his own life by the plausible promise of giving evidence to-day.

What can overturn such a proof as this? Surely a good man might,
without superstition, believe that such a union of events was something
more than natural, and that a Divine Providence was watchful for the
protection of innocence and truth.

I may now, therefore, relieve you from the pain of hearing me any
longer, and be myself relieved from speaking on a subject which
agitates and distresses me. Since Lord George Gordon stands clear of
every hostile act or purpose against the Legislature of his country, or
the properties of his fellow-subjects--since the whole tenor of conduct
repels the belief of the _traitorous intention_ charged by the
indictment--my task is finished. I shall make no address to your
passions. I will not remind you of the long and rigorous imprisonment
he has suffered; I will not speak to you of his great youth, of his
illustrious birth, and of his uniformly animated and generous zeal in
Parliament for the Constitution of his country. Such topics might be
useful in the balance; yet, even then, I should have trusted to the
honest hearts of Englishmen to have felt them without excitation. At
present, the plain and rigid rules of justice and truth are sufficient
to entitle me to your verdict.



Arthur Alfred Lynch, otherwise Arthur Lynch, the jury have found you
guilty of the crime of high treason, a crime happily so rare that in
the present day a trial for treason seems to be almost an anachronism--
a thing of the past. The misdeeds which have been done in this case,
and which have brought you to the lamentable pass in which you stand,
must surely convince the most skeptical and apathetic of the gravity
and reality of the crime. What was your action in the darkest hour of
your country's fortunes, when she was engaged in the deadly struggle
from which she has just emerged? You joined the ranks of your country's
foes. Born in Australia, a land which has nobly shown its devotion to
its parent country, you have indeed taken a different course from that
which was adopted by her sons. You have fought against your country,
not with it. You have sought, as far as you could, to dethrone Great
Britain from her place among the nations, to make her name a byword and
a reproach, a synonym for weakness and irresolution. Nor can I forget
that you have shed the blood, or done your best to shed the blood, of
your countrymen who were fighting for their country. How many wives
have been made widows, how many children orphans, by what you and those
who acted under your command have done, Heaven only knows! You thought
it safe at that dark hour of the Empire's fate, when Ladysmith, when
Kimberley, when Mafeking, were in the very jaws of deadly peril--you
thought it safe, no doubt, to lift the parricidal hand against your
country. You thought she would shrink from the costly struggle wearied
out by her gigantic efforts, and that, at the worst, a general peace
would be made which would comprehend a general amnesty and cover up
such acts as yours and save you from personal peril. You misjudged your
country and failed to appreciate that, though slow to enter into a
quarrel, however slow to take up arms, it has yet been her wont that in
the quarrel she shall bear herself so that the opposer may beware of
her, and that she is seldom so dangerous to her enemies as when the
hour of national calamity has raised the dormant energies of her
people--knit together every nerve and fiber of the body politic, and
has made her sons determined to do all, to sacrifice all on behalf of
the country that gave them birth. And against what a Sovereign and what
a country did you lift your hand! A Sovereign the best beloved and most
deeply honored of all the long line of English Kings and Queens, and
whose lamented death was called back to my remembrance only yesterday
as a fresh sorrow to many an English household. Against a country which
has been the home of progress and freedom, and under whose beneficent
sway, whenever you have chosen to stay within her dominions, you have
enjoyed a liberty of person, a freedom of speech and action, such as
you can have in no other country in Europe, and it is not too much to
say in no other country in the world. The only--I will not say excuse,
but palliation that I can find for conduct like yours is that it has
been for some years past the fashion to treat lightly matters of this
kind, so that men have been perhaps encouraged to play with sedition
and to toy with treason, wrapt in a certain proud consciousness of
strength begotten of the deep-seated and well-founded conviction that
the loyalty of her people is supreme, and true authority in this
country has slumbered or has treated with contemptuous indifference
speeches and acts of sedition. It may be that you have been misled into
the notion that, no matter what you did, so long as your conduct could
be called a political crime, it was of no consequence. But it is one
thing to talk sedition and to do small seditious acts, it is quite
another thing to bear arms in the ranks of the foes of your country,
and against it. Between the two the difference is immeasurable. But had
you and those with whom you associated yourself succeeded, what fatal
mischief might have been done to the great inheritance which has been
bequeathed to us by our forefathers--that inheritance of power which it
must be our work to use nobly and for good things; an inheritance of
influence which will be of little effect even for good unless backed by
power, and of duty which cannot be effectually performed if our power
be shattered and our influence impaired. He who has attempted to do his
country such irreparable wrong must be prepared to submit to the
sentence which it is now my duty to pronounce upon you. The sentence of
this Court--and it is pronounced in regard to each count of the
indictment--is that you be taken hence to the place from which you
came, and from thence to a place of execution, there to be hanged by
the neck until you are dead.


From the Official Records of the Trial in the United States Senate,


Andrew Johnson has disregarded and violated the laws and Constitution
of his own country. Under his administration the government has not
been strengthened, but weakened. Its reputation and influence at home
and abroad have been injured and diminished. Ten States of this Union
are without law, without security, without safety; public order
everywhere violated, public justice nowhere respected; and all in
consequence of the evil purposes and machinations of the President.
Forty millions of people have been rendered anxious and uncertain as to
the preservation of public peace and the perpetuity of the institutions
of freedom in this country. All classes are oppressed by the private
and public calamities which he has brought upon them. They appeal to
you for relief. The nation waits in anxiety for the conclusion of these
proceedings. Forty millions of people, whose interest in public affairs
is in the wise and just administration of the laws, look to this
tribunal as a sure defense against the encroachments of a criminally
minded Chief Magistrate.

Will any one say that the heaviest judgment which you can render is any
adequate punishment for these crimes? Your office is not punishment,
but to secure the safety of the republic. But human tribunals are
inadequate to punish those criminals who, as rulers or magistrates, by
their example, conduct, policy, and crimes, become the scourge of
communities and nations. No picture, no power of the imagination, can
illustrate or conceive the suffering of the poor but loyal people of
the South. A patriotic, virtuous, law-abiding chief magistrate would
have healed the wounds of war, soothed private and public sorrows,
protected the weak, encouraged the strong, and lifted from the Southern
people the burdens which now are greater than they can bear.

Travelers and astronomers inform us that in the southern heavens, near
the southern cross, there is a vast space which the uneducated call the
hole in the sky, where the eye of man, with the aid of the powers of
the telescope, has been unable to discover nebulae, or asteroid, or
comet, or planet, or star, or sun. In that dreary, cold, dark region of
space, which is only known to be less than infinite by the evidences of
creation elsewhere, the Great Author of celestial mechanism has left
the chaos which was in the beginning. If this earth were capable of the
sentiments and emotions of justice and virtue, which in human mortal
beings are the evidences and the pledge of our Divine origin and
immortal destiny, it would heave and throw, with the energy of the
elemental forces of nature, and project this enemy of two races of men
into that vast region, there forever to exist in a solitude eternal as
life, or as the absence of life, emblematical of, if not really, that
"outer darkness" of which the Savior of man spoke in warning to those
who are the enemies of themselves, of their race, and of their God. But
it is yours to relieve, not to punish. This done and our country is
again advanced in the intelligent opinion of mankind. In other
governments an unfaithful ruler can be removed only by revolution,
violence, or force. The proceeding here is judicial, and according to
the forms of law. Your judgment will be enforced without the aid of a
policeman or a soldier. What other evidence will be needed of the value
of republican institutions? What other test of the strength and vigor
of our government? What other assurance that the virtue of the people
is equal to any emergency of national life?


Mr. Chief Justice and Senators,--If indeed we have arrived at a settled
conclusion that this is a court, that it is governed by the law, that
it is to confine its attention to the facts applicable to the law, and
regard the sole evidence of those facts to be embraced within the
testimony of witnesses or documents produced in court, we have made
great progress in separating, at least, from your further consideration
much that has been impressed upon your attention heretofore. It follows
from this that the President is to be tried upon the charges which are
produced here, and not upon common fame.

I may as conveniently at this point of the argument as at any other pay
some attention to the astronomical punishment which the learned and
honorable manager, Mr. Boutwell, thinks should be applied to this novel
case of impeachment of the President. Cicero I think it is who says
that a lawyer should know everything, for sooner or later there is no
fact in history, in science, or of human knowledge that will not come
into play in his arguments. Painfully sensible of my ignorance, being
devoted to a profession which "sharpens and does not enlarge the mind,"
I yet can admire without envy the superior knowledge evinced by the
honorable manager. Indeed, upon my soul, I believe he is aware of an
astronomical fact which many professors of that science are wholly
ignorant of. But nevertheless, while some of his honorable colleagues
were paying attention to an unoccupied and unappropriated island on the
surface of the seas, Mr. Manager Boutwell, more ambitious, had
discovered an untenanted and unappropriated region in the skies,
reserved, he would have us think, in the final councils of the
Almighty, as the place of punishment for convicted and deposed American

At first I thought that his mind had become so "enlarged" that it was
not "sharp" enough to discover the Constitution had limited the
punishment; but on reflection I saw that he was as legal and logical as
he was ambitious and astronomical, for the Constitution has said
"removal from office," and has put no limit to the distance of the
removal, so that it may be, without shedding a drop of his blood, or
taking a penny of his property, or confining his limbs, instant removal
from office and transportation to the skies. Truly, this is a great
undertaking; and if the learned manager can only get over the obstacles
of the laws of nature the Constitution will not stand in his way. He
can contrive no method but that of a convulsion of the earth that shall
project the deposed President to this infinitely distant space; but a
shock of nature of so vast an energy and for so great a result on him
might unsettle even the footing of the firm members of Congress. We
certainly need not resort to so perilous a method as that. How shall we
accomplish it? Why, in the first place, nobody knows where that space
is but the learned manager himself, and he is the necessary deputy to
execute the judgment of the court.

Let it then be provided that in case of your sentence of deposition and
removal from office the honorable and astronomical manager shall take
into his own hands the execution of the sentence. With the President
made fast to his broad and strong shoulders, and, having already
essayed the flight by imagination, better prepared than anybody else to
execute it in form, taking the advantage of ladders as far as ladders
will go to the top of this great Capitol, and spurning then with his
foot the crest of Liberty, let him set out upon his flight, while the
two houses of Congress and all the people of the United States shall
shout, "_Sic itur ad astra_."


But here a distressing doubt strikes me; how will the manager get back?
He will have got far beyond the reach of gravitation to restore him,
and so ambitious a wing as his could never stoop to a downward flight.
Indeed, as he passes through the constellations, that famous question
of Carlyle by which he derides the littleness of human affairs upon the
scale of the measure of the heavens, "What thinks Bœotes as he drives
his dogs up the zenith in their race of sidereal fire?" will force
itself on his notice. What, indeed, would Bœotes think of this new

Besides, reaching this space, beyond the power of Congress even "to
send for persons and papers," how shall he return, and how decide in
the contest, there become personal and perpetual, the struggle of
strength between him and the President? In this new revolution, thus
established forever, who shall decide which is the sun and which is the
moon? Who determine the only scientific test which reflects the hardest
upon the other?

Mr. Chief Justice and Senators, we have come all at once to the great
experiences and trials of a full-grown nation, all of which we thought
we should escape--the distractions of civil strife, the exhaustions of
powerful war. We could summon from the people a million of men and
inexhaustible treasure to help the Constitution in its time of need.
Can we summon now resources enough of civil prudence and of restraint
of passion to carry us through this trial, so that whatever result may
follow, in whatever form, the people may feel that the Constitution has
received no wound! To this court, the last and best resort for this
determination, it is to be left. And oh, if you could only carry
yourselves back to the spirit and the purpose and the wisdom and the
courage of the framers of the government, how safe would it be in your
hands? How safe is it now in your hands, for you who have entered into
their labors will see to it that the structure of your work comports in
durability and excellence with theirs. Indeed, so familiar has the
course of the argument made us with the names of the men of the
convention and of the first Congress that I could sometimes seem to
think that the presence even of the Chief Justice was replaced by the
serene majesty of Washington, and that from Massachusetts we had Adams
and Ames, from Connecticut, Sherman and Ellsworth, from New Jersey,
Paterson and Boudinot, and from New York, Hamilton and Benson, and that
they were to determine this case for us. Act, then, as if under this
serene and majestic presence your deliberations were to be conducted to
their close, and the Constitution was to come out from the watchful
solicitude of these great guardians of it as if from their own judgment
in this court of impeachment.



Reprinted, with the author's permission, from a speech at a dinner of
The Harvard Club of New York City.


There should be a proper amount of modesty in one called upon to
address such an intelligent audience of educated men as I see before
me, and I am conscious of it in the same sense as the patient who said
to his physician, "I suffer a great deal from nervous dyspepsia, and I
attribute it to the fact that I attend so many public dinners." "Ah, I
see," said the doctor, "you are often called upon to speak, and the
nervous apprehension upsets your digestion." "Not at all; my
apprehension is entirely on account of the other speakers; I never say
a thing;" and it is with some hesitation that I respond to your call.

Following out that line of thought, there is a great deal that is
attractive in a gathering of College men. They have such a winsome and
a winning way with them.

Richest in endowments, foremost in progress, honored by the renown of a
long line of distinguished sons, the university that claims you is
worthy of the homage and respect which it receives from the educated
men of America.

The study of the development of the human race by educational processes
which change by necessity under changing conditions and environment, is
one of the most interesting that we can engage in. The greatest men of
this country, or any other, have not always been made by the
university, however it may be with the average. You cannot always tell
by a man's degree what manner of man he is likely to be. But the value
of a technical or academic training is apparent as time goes on,
population increases, occupations multiply and compete, and the strife
of life becomes more fierce and strenuous.

Many in these days seem to prefer notoriety to fame, because it runs
along the line of least resistance. A man has to climb for fame, but he
can get notoriety by an easy tumble. And others forget the one
essential necessary to success, of personal effort, and, assuming there
is a royal road to learning, are content with the distinction of a
degree from a university, without caring for what it implies, and
answer as the son did to his father who asked him: "Why don't you work,
my son? If you only knew how much happiness work brings, you would
begin at once." "Father, I am trying to lead a life of self-denial in
which happiness cuts no figure; do not tempt me."

But notwithstanding all these tendencies, the level of mankind is
raised at these fountains of learning, the tone is higher, and the
standards are continually advanced. The discipline and the training
reaches and acts upon a willing and eager army of young recruits and
works its salutary effect, like that upon a man who listened with rapt
attention to a discourse from the pulpit and was congratulated upon his
devotion, and asked if he was not impressed. "Yes," he replied, "for it
is a mighty poor sermon that doesn't hit me somewhere."

However discouraging the action of our governing bodies through the
obstruction and perverse action of an ignorant or corrupt majority or
minority in them may be in the administration of great public affairs,
the time at last comes when the nation arouses from its lethargy,
shakes off its torpor, shows the strain of its blood, and follows its
trained and intelligent leaders, like the man who, in a time of sore
distress, after the ancient fashion, put ashes on his head, rent his
garments, tore off his coat, his waistcoat, his shirt, and his
undershirt, and at last came to himself. At such times, by the
universal voice of public opinion and amid hearty applause of the whole
people, we welcome to public office and the highest responsible
stations such men as our universities have given to the country. It
matters not to what family we belong--Harvard, Yale, Columbia, or
Princeton--we are all of us one in our welcome to them, for they
represent the university spirit and what it teaches--honor, high-
mindedness, intelligence, truthfulness, unselfishness, courage, and


Reprinted with the author's permission


Mr. President and Gentlemen,--I came here to-night with some notes for
a speech in my pocket, but I have been sitting next to General Butler,
and in the course of the evening they have mysteriously disappeared.
The consequence is, gentlemen, that you may expect a very good speech
from him and a very poor one from me. When I read this toast which you
have just drunk in honor of Her Gracious Majesty, the Queen of Great
Britain, and heard how you received the letter of the British Minister
that was read in response, and how heartily you joined in singing "God
Save the Queen," when I look up and down these tables and see among you
so many representatives of English capital and English trade, I have my
doubts whether the evacuation of New York by the British was quite as
thorough and lasting as history would fain have us believe. If George
III, who certainly did all he could to despoil us of our rights and
liberties and bring us to ruin--if he could rise from his grave and see
how his granddaughter is honored at your hands to-night, why, I think
he would return whence he came, thanking God that his efforts to
enslave us, in which for eight long years he drained the resources of
the British Empire, were not successful.

The truth is, the boasted triumph of New York in getting rid of the
British once and forever has proved, after all, to be but a dismal
failure. We drove them out in one century only to see them return in
the next to devour our substance and to carry off all the honors. We
have just seen the noble Chief Justice of England, the feasted favorite
of all America, making a triumphal tour across the Continent and
carrying all before him at the rate of fifty miles an hour. Night after
night at our very great cost we have been paying the richest tribute to
the reigning monarch of the British stage, and nowhere in the world are
English men and women of character and culture received with a more
hearty welcome, a more earnest hospitality, than in this very state of
New York. The truth is, that this event that we celebrate to-day, which
sealed the independence of America and seemed for a time to give a
staggering blow to the prestige and the power of England, has proved to
be no less a blessing to her own people than to ours. The latest and
best of the English historians has said that, however important the
independence of America might be in the history of England, it was of
overwhelming importance in the history of the world, and that though it
might have crippled for a while the supremacy of the English nation, it
founded the supremacy of the English race. And in the same spirit we
welcome the fact that those social, political, and material barriers
that separated the two nations a century ago have now utterly vanished;
that year by year we are being drawn closer and closer together, and
that this day may be celebrated with equal fitness on both sides of the
Atlantic and by all who speak the English tongue.


From "Modern Eloquence," Vol. I, Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago,


When I was conversing recently with Lord Tennyson, he said to me: "It
is bad for us that English will always be a spoken speech, since that
means that it will always be changing, and so the time will come when
you and I will be as hard to read for the common people as Chaucer is
to-day." You remember what opinion your brilliant humorist, Artemus
Ward, let fall concerning that ancient singer. "Mr. Chaucer," he
observed casually, "is an admirable poet, but as a spellist, a very
decided failure."

To the treasure house of that noble tongue the United States has
splendidly contributed. It would be far poorer to-day without the
tender lines of Longfellow, the serene and philosophic pages of
Emerson, the convincing wit and clear criticism of my illustrious
departed friend, James Russell Lowell, the Catullus-like perfection of
the lyrics of Edgar Allan Poe, and the glorious, large-tempered
dithyrambs of Walt Whitman.

These stately and sacred laurel groves grow here in a garden forever
extending, ever carrying further forward, for the sake of humanity, the
irresistible flag of our Saxon supremacy, leading one to falter in an
attempt to eulogize America and the idea of her potency and her
promise. The most elaborate panegyric would seem but a weak
impertinence, which would remind you, perhaps too vividly, of Sydney
Smith, who, when he saw his grandchild pat the back of a large turtle,
asked her why she did so. The little maid replied: "Grandpa, I do it to
please the turtle." "My child," he answered, "you might as well stroke
the dome of St. Paul's to please the Dean and chapter"

I myself once heard, in our Zoological gardens in London, another
little girl ask her mamma whether it would hurt the elephant if she
offered him a chocolate drop. In that guarded and respectful spirit is
it that I venture to tell you here to-night how truly in England the
peace and prosperity of your republic is desired, and that nothing
except good will is felt by the mass of our people toward you, and
nothing but the greatest satisfaction in your wealth and progress.

Between these two majestic sisters of the Saxon blood the hatchet of
war is, please God, buried. No cause of quarrel, I think and hope, can
ever be otherwise than truly out of proportion to the vaster causes of
affection and accord. We have no longer to prove to each other, or to
the world, that Englishmen and Americans are high-spirited and
fearless; that Englishmen and Americans alike will do justice, and will
have justice, and will put up with nothing else from each other and
from the nations at large. Our proofs are made on both sides, and
indelibly written on the page of history. Not that I wish to speak
platitudes about war. It has been necessary to human progress; it has
bred and preserved noble virtues; it has been inevitable, and may be
again; but it belongs to a low civilization. Other countries have,
perhaps, not yet reached that point of intimate contact and rational
advance, but for us two, at least, the time seems to have come when
violent decisions, and even talk of them, should be as much abolished
between us as cannibalism.

I ventured, when in Washington, to propose to President Harrison that
we should some day, the sooner the better, choose five men of public
worth in the United States, and five in England; give them gold coats
if you please, and a handsome salary, and establish them as a standing
and supreme tribunal of arbitration, referring to them the little
family fallings-out of America and of England, whenever something goes
wrong between us about a sealskin in Behring Strait, a lobster pot, an
ambassador's letter, a border tariff, or an Irish vote. He showed
himself very well disposed toward my suggestion.

Mr. President, in the sacred hope that you take me to be a better poet
than orator, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your
reception to-night, and personally pray for the tranquility and
prosperity of this free and magnificent republic.


From an address in Brewer's "The World's Best Orations," Vol. VII, Ferd
P. Kaiser, St. Louis, Chicago, publishers.


Mr. Toastmaster, Mr. President, and Gentlemen,--I very fully and very
cordially appreciate the very kind feelings which have just now been
uttered by the toastmaster in terms so eloquent, and which you
gentlemen have accepted and received in so sympathetic a manner. Let me
say at once, in the name of my fellow-Canadians who are here with me
and also, I may say, in the name of the Canadian people, that these
feelings we shall at all times reciprocate; reciprocate, not only in
words evanescent, but in actual living deeds.

Because I must say that I feel that, though the relations between
Canada and the United States are good, though they are brotherly,
though they are satisfactory, in my judgment they are not as good, as
brotherly, as satisfactory as they ought to be. We are of the same
stock. We spring from the same races on one side of the line as on the
other. We speak the same language. We have the same literature, and for
more than a thousand years we have had a common history.

Let me recall to you the lines which, in the darkest days of the Civil
War, the Puritan poet of America issued to England:--

"Oh, Englishmen! Oh, Englishmen!
In hope and creed,
In blood and tongue, are brothers,
We all are heirs of Runnymede."

Brothers we are, in the language of your own poet. May I not say that
while our relations are not always as brotherly as they should have
been, may I not ask, Mr. President, on the part of Canada and on the
part of the United States, if we are sometimes too prone to stand by
the full conceptions of our rights, and exact all our rights to the
last pound of flesh? May I not ask if there have not been too often
between us petty quarrels, which happily do not wound the heart of the

There was a civil war in the last century. There was a civil war
between England, then, and her colonies. The union which then existed
between England and her colonies was severed. If it was severed,
American citizens, as you know it was, through no fault of your
fathers, the fault was altogether the fault of the British Government
of that day. If the British Government of that day had treated the
American colonies as the British Government for the last twenty or
fifty years has treated its colonies; if Great Britain had given you
then the same degree of liberty which it gives to Canada, my country;
if it had given you, as it has given us, legislative independence
absolute,--the result would have been different; the course of victory,
the course of history, would have been very different.

But what has been done cannot be undone. You cannot expect that the
union which was then severed shall ever be restored; but can we not
expect--can we not hope that the banners of England and the banners of
the United States shall never, never again meet in conflict, except
those conflicts provided by the arts of peace, such as we see to-day in
the harbor of New York in the contest between the _Shamrock_ and
the _Columbia_ for the supremacy of naval architecture and naval
prowess? Can we not hope that if ever the banners of England and the
banners of the United States are again to meet on the battlefield, they
shall meet entwined together in the defense of some holy cause, in the
defense of holy justice, for the defense of the oppressed, for the
enfranchisement of the downtrodden, and for the advancement of liberty,
progress, and civilization?


From a speech in "Modern Eloquence," Vol. I, Geo. L. Shuman and
Company, Chicago, publishers.


Now, the attitude of men towards women is very different, according to
the different nations to which they belong. You will find a good
illustration of that different attitude of men toward women in France,
in England, and in America, if you go to the dining-rooms of their
hotels. You go to the dining-room, and you take, if you can, a seat
near the entrance door, and you watch the arrival of the couples, and
also watch them as they cross the room and go to the table that is
assigned to them by the head waiter. Now, in Europe, you would find a
very polite head waiter, who invites you to go in, and asks you where
you will sit; but in America the head waiter is a most magnificent
potentate who lies in wait for you at the door, and bids you to follow
him sometimes in the following respectful manner, beckoning, "There."
And you have got to do it, too.

I traveled six times in America, and I never saw a man so daring as not
to sit there. In the tremendous hotels of the large cities, where you
have got to go to Number 992 or something of the sort, I generally got
a little entertainment out of the head waiter. He is so thoroughly
persuaded that it would never enter my head not to follow him, he will
never look round to see if I am there. Why, he knows I am there, but
I'm not. I wait my time, and when he has got to the end I am sitting
down waiting for a chance to be left alone. He says, "You cannot sit
here." I say: "Why not? What is the matter with this seat?" He says,
"You must not sit there." I say, "I don't want a constitutional walk;
don't bother, I'm all right." Once, indeed, after an article in the
_North American Review_--for your head waiter in America reads
reviews--a head waiter told me to sit where I pleased. I said, "Now,
wait a minute, give me time to realize that; do I understand that in
this hotel I am going to sit where I like?" He said, "Certainly!" He
was in earnest. I said, "I should like to sit over there at that table
near the window." He said, "All right, come with me." When I came out,
there were some newspaper people in the hotel waiting for me, and it
was reported in half a column in one of the papers, with one of those
charming headlines which are so characteristic of American journalism,
"Max sits where he likes!" Well, I said, you go to the dining-room, you
take your seat, and you watch the arrival of the couples, and you will
know the position of men. In France Monsieur and Madame come in
together abreast, as a rule arm in arm. They look pleasant, smile, and
talk to each other. They smile at each other, even though married.

In England, in the same class of hotel, John Bull comes in first. He
does not look happy. John Bull loves privacy. He does not like to be
obliged to eat in the presence of lots of people who have not been
introduced to him, and he thinks it very hard he should not have the
whole dining-room to himself. That man, though, mind you, in his own
house undoubtedly the most hospitable, the most kind, the most
considerate of hosts in the world, that man in the dining-room of a
hotel always comes in with a frown. He does not like it, he grumbles,
and mild and demure, with her hands hanging down, modestly follows Mrs.
John Bull. But in America, behold the arrival of Mrs. Jonathan! behold
her triumphant entry, pulling Jonathan behind! Well, I like my own
country, and I cannot help thinking that the proper and right way is
the French. Ladies, you know all our shortcomings. Our hearts are
exposed ever since the rib which covered them was taken off. Yet we ask
you kindly to allow us to go through life with you, like the French,
arm in arm, in good friendship and camaraderie.


From "The New South," with the permission of Henry W. Grady, Jr.


Pardon me one word, Mr. President, spoken for the sole purpose of
getting into the volumes that go out annually freighted with the rich
eloquence of your speakers--the fact that the Cavalier as well as the
Puritan was on the continent in its early days, and that he was "up and
able to be about." I have read your books carefully and I find no
mention of that fact, which seems to me an important one for preserving
a sort of historical equilibrium if for nothing else. Let me remind you
that the Virginia Cavalier first challenged France on this continent--
that Cavalier, John Smith, gave New England its very name, and was so
pleased with the job that he has been handing his own name around ever
since--and that while Miles Standish was cutting off men's ears for
courting a girl without her parents' consent, and forbade men to kiss
their wives on Sunday, the Cavalier was courting everything in sight,
and that the Almighty had vouchsafed great increase to the Cavalier
colonies, the huts in the wilderness being full as the nests in the

But having incorporated the Cavalier as a fact in your charming little
books, I shall let him work out his own salvation, as he always has
done with engaging gallantry, and we will hold no controversy as to his
merits. Why should we? Neither Puritan nor Cavalier long survive as
such. The virtues and traditions of both happily still live for the
inspiration of their sons and the saving of the old fashion. But both
Puritan and Cavalier were lost in the storm of the first Revolution;
and the American citizen, supplanting both and stronger than either,
took possession of the Republic bought by their common blood and
fashioned to wisdom, and charged himself with teaching men government
and establishing the voice of the people as the voice of God.

My friend Dr. Talmage has told you that the typical American has yet to
come. Let me tell you that he has already come. Great types, like
valuable plants, are slow to flower and fruit. But from the union of
these colonist Puritans and Cavaliers, from the straightening of their
purposes and the crossing of their blood, slow perfecting through a
century, came he who stands as the first typical American, the first
who comprehended within himself all the strength and gentleness, all
the majesty and grace, of this Republic--Abraham Lincoln. He was the
sum of Puritan and Cavalier, for in his ardent nature were fused the
virtues of both, and in the depths of his great soul the faults of both
were lost. He was greater than Puritan, greater than Cavalier, in that
he was American, and in that in his homely form were first gathered the
vast and thrilling forces of his ideal government--charging it with
such tremendous meaning and so elevating it above human suffering that
martyrdom, though infamously aimed, came as a fitting crown to a life
consecrated from the cradle to human liberty. Let us, each cherishing
the traditions and honoring his fathers, build with reverent hands to
the type of this simple but sublime life, in which all types are
honored; and in our common glory as Americans there will be plenty and
to spare for your forefathers and for mine.


Reprinted with the author's permission


I really don't know, at this late hour, Mr. Chairman, how you expect me
to treat this difficult and tender subject.

I might take up the subject etymologically, and try and explain how
woman ever acquired that remarkable name. But that has been done before
me by a poet with whose stanzas you are not familiar, but whom you will
recognize as deeply versed in this subject, for he says:--

"When Eve brought woe to all mankind,
Old Adam called her woe-man,
But when she woo'd with love so kind,
He then pronounced her woman.

"But now, with folly and with pride,
Their husbands' pockets trimming,
The ladies are so full of whims
That people call them w(h)imen."

Mr. Chairman, I believe you said I should say something about the
Pilgrim mothers. Well, sir, it is rather late in the evening to venture
upon that historic subject. But, for one, I pity them. The occupants of
the galleries will bear me witness that even these modern Pilgrims--
these Pilgrims with all the modern improvements--how hard it is to put
up with their weaknesses, their follies, their tyrannies, their
oppressions, their desire of dominion and rule. But when you go back to
the stern horrors of the Pilgrim rule, when you contemplate the rugged
character of the Pilgrim fathers, why, you give credence to what a
witty woman of Boston said--she had heard enough of the glories and
sufferings of the Pilgrim fathers; for her part, she had a world of
sympathy for the Pilgrim mothers, because they not only endured all
that the Pilgrim fathers had done, but they also had to endure the
Pilgrim fathers to boot. Well, sir, they were afraid of woman. They
thought she was almost too refined a luxury for them to indulge in.
Miles Standish spoke for them all, and I am sure that General Sherman,
who so much resembles Miles Standish, not only in his military renown
but in his rugged exterior and in his warm and tender heart, will echo
his words when he says:--

"I can march up to a fortress, and summon the place to surrender, But
march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not. I am not afraid
of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon, But of a thundering
'No!' point-blank from the mouth of a woman, That I confess I'm afraid
of, nor am I ashamed to confess it."

Mr. President, did you ever see a more self-satisfied or contented set
of men than these that are gathered at these tables this evening? I
never come to the Pilgrim dinner and see these men, who have achieved
in the various departments of life such definite and satisfactory
success, but that I look back twenty or thirty or forty years, and see
the lantern-jawed boy who started out from the banks of the
Connecticut, or some more remote river of New England, with five
dollars in his pocket and his father's blessing on his head and his
mother's Bible in his carpetbag, to seek those fortunes which now they
have so gloriously made. And there is one woman whom each of these,
through all his progress and to the last expiring hour of his life,
bears in tender remembrance. It is the mother who sent him forth with
her blessing. A mother is a mother still--the holiest thing alive; and
if I could dismiss you with a benediction to-night, it would be by
invoking upon the heads of you all the blessing of the mothers that we
left behind us.


From "Modern Eloquence," Vol. III, Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago,


Mr. President and Gentlemen,--It was with great diffidence that I
accepted the invitation of your President to respond to a toast to-
night. I realized my incapacity to do justice to the occasion, while at
the same time I recognized the high compliment conveyed. I felt
somewhat as the man did respecting the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy;
he said he didn't know whether Lord Bacon wrote Shakespeare's works or
not, but if he didn't, he missed the greatest opportunity of his life.

We are a plain people, and live far away. We are provincial; we have no
distinctive literature and no great poets; our leading personage abroad
of late seems to be the Honorable "Buffalo Bill"; and we use our
adjectives so recklessly that the polite badinage indulged in toward
each other by your New York editors to us seems tame and spiritless. In
mental achievement we may not have fully acquired the use of the fork,
and are "but in the gristle and not yet hardened into the bone of
manhood." We stand toward the East somewhat as country to city cousin;
about as New to Old England, only we don't feel half so badly about it,
and on the whole are rather pleased with ourselves. There is not in the
whole broad West a ranch so lonely or so remote that a public school is
not within reach of it. With generous help from the East, Western
colleges are elevating and directing Western thought, and men busy
making States yet find time to live manly lives and to lend a hand. All
this may not be aesthetic, but it is virile, and it leads up and not

There are some things more important than the highest culture. The West
is the Almighty's reserve ground, and as the world is filling up, He is
turning even the old arid plains and deserts into fertile acres, and is
sending there the rain as well as the sunshine. A high and glorious
destiny awaits us; soon the balance of population will lie the other
side of the Mississippi, and the millions that are coming must find
waiting for them schools and churches, good government, and a happy

"Who love the land because it is their own,
And scorn to give aught other reason why;
Would shake hands with a King upon his throne,
And think it kindness to his Majesty."

In everything which pertains to progress in the West, the Yankee
reėnforcements step rapidly to the front. Every year she needs more of
them, and as the country grows the annual demand becomes greater.
Genuine New Englanders are to be had on tap only in six small States,
and remembering this we feel that we have the right to demand that in
the future, even more than in the past, the heads of the New England
households weary not in the good work.

In these days of "booms" and New Souths and Great Wests, when everybody
up North who fired a gun is made to feel that he ought to apologize for
it, and good fellowship everywhere abounds, there is a sort of tendency
to fuse; only big and conspicuous things are much considered; and New
England being small in area and most of her distinguished people being
dead, she is just now somewhat under an eclipse. But in her past she
has undying fame. You of New England and her borders live always in the
atmosphere of her glories; the scenes which tell of her achievements
are ever near at hand, and familiarity and contact may rob them of
their charms, and dim to your eyes their sacredness. The sons of New
England in the West revisit her as men who make pilgrimage to some holy
shrine, and her hills and valleys are still instinct with noble
traditions. In her glories and her history we claim a common heritage,
and we never wander so far away from her that, with each recurring
anniversary of this day, our hearts do not turn to her with renewed
love and devotion for our beloved New England; yet--

"Not by Eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But Westward, look, the land is bright!"


From "Modern Eloquence," Vol. Ill, Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago,


You must not forget, Mr. President, in eulogizing the early men of New
England, who are your clients to-night, that it was only through the
help of the early women of New England, who are mine, that your boasted
heroes could ever have earned their title of the Pilgrim Fathers. A
health, therefore, to the women in the cabin of the Mayflower! A
cluster of Mayflowers themselves, transplanted from summer in the old
world to winter in the new! Counting over those matrons and maidens,
they numbered, all told, just eighteen. Their names are now written
among the heroines of history! For as over the ashes of Cornelia stood
the epitaph "The Mother of the Gracchi," so over these women of the
Pilgrimage we write as proudly "The Mothers of the Republic." There was
good Mistress Bradford, whose feet were not allowed of God to kiss
Plymouth Rock, and who, like Moses, came only near enough to see but
not to enter the Promised Land. She was washed overboard from the
deck--and to this day the sea is her grave and Cape Cod her monument!
There was Mistress Carver, wife of the first governor, who, when her
husband fell under the stroke of sudden death, followed him first with
heroic grief to the grave, and then, a fortnight after, followed him with
heroic joy up into Heaven! There was Mistress White--the mother of the
first child born to the New England Pilgrims on this continent. And it
was a good omen, sir, that this historic babe was brought into the
world on board the Mayflower between the time of the casting of her
anchor and the landing of her passengers--a kind of amphibious prophecy
that the newborn nation was to have a birthright inheritance over the
sea and over the land. There also was Rose Standish, whose name is a
perpetual June fragrance, to mellow and sweeten those December winds.

Then, after the first vessel with these women, there came other women--
loving hearts drawn from the olden land by those silken threads which
afterwards harden into golden chains. For instance, Governor Bradford,
a lonesome widower, went down to the seabeach, and, facing the waves,
tossed a love letter over the wide ocean into the lap of Alice
Southworth in old England, who caught it up, and read it, and said,
"Yes, I will go." And she went! And it is said that the governor, at
his second wedding, married his first love! Which, according to the New
Theology, furnishes the providential reason why the first Mrs. Bradford
fell overboard!

Now, gentlemen, as you sit to-night in this elegant hall, think of the
houses in which the _Mayflower_ men and women lived in that first
winter! Think of a cabin in the wilderness--where winds whistled--where
wolves howled--where Indians yelled! And yet, within that log house,
burning like a lamp, was the pure flame of Christian faith, love,
patience, fortitude, heroism! As the Star of the East rested over the
rude manger where Christ lay, so--speaking not irreverently--there
rested over the roofs of the Pilgrims a Star of the West--the Star of
Empire; and to-day that empire is the proudest in the world!

And now, to close, let me give you just a bit of good advice. The
cottages of our forefathers had few pictures on the walls, but many
families had a print of "King Charles's Twelve Good Rules," the
eleventh of which was, "Make no long meals." Now King Charles lost his
head, and you will have leave to make a long meal. But when, after your
long meal, you go home in the wee small hours, what do you expect to
find? You will find my toast--"Woman, a beautiful rod!" Now my advice
is, "Kiss the rod!"


Reprinted with the author's permission


The story of the life of Abraham Lincoln savors more of romance than
reality. It is more like a fable of the ancient days than the story of
a plain American of the nineteenth century. The singular vicissitudes
in the life of our martyred President surround him with an interest
which attaches to few men in history. He sprang from that class which
he always alluded to as the "plain people," and never attempted to
disdain them. He believed that the government was made for the people,
not the people for the government. He felt that true Republicanism is a
torch--the more it is shaken in the hands of the people the brighter it
will burn. He was transcendently fit to be the first successful
standard bearer of the progressive, aggressive, invincible Republican
party. He might well have said to those who chanced to sneer at his
humble origin what a marshal of France raised from the ranks said to
the haughty nobles of Vienna boasting of their long line of descent,
when they refused to associate with him: "I am an ancestor; you are
only descendants!" He was never guilty of any posing for effect, any
attitudinizing in public, any mawkish sentimentality, any of that
puppyism so often bred by power, that dogmatism which Johnson said was
only puppyism grown to maturity. He made no claim to knowledge he did
not possess. He felt with Addison that pedantry and learning are like
hypocrisy in religion--the form of knowledge without the power of it.
He had nothing in common with those men of mental malformation who are
educated beyond their intellects.

The names of Washington and Lincoln are inseparably associated, and yet
as the popular historian would have us believe one spent his entire
life in chopping down acorn trees and the other splitting them up into
rails. Washington could not tell a story. Lincoln always could. And
Lincoln's stories always possessed the true geometrical requisites,
they were never too long, and never too broad.

But his heart was not always attuned to mirth; its chords were often
set to strains of sadness. Yet throughout all his trials he never lost
the courage of his convictions. When he was surrounded on all sides by
doubting Thomases, by unbelieving Saracens, by discontented Catilines,
his faith was strongest. As the Danes destroyed the hearing of their
war horses in order that they might not be affrighted by the din of
battle, so Lincoln turned a deaf ear to all that might have discouraged
him, and exhibited an unwavering faith in the justice of the cause and
the integrity of the Union.

It is said that for three hundred years after the battle of Thermopylę
every child in the public schools of Greece was required to recite from
memory the names of the three hundred martyrs who fell in the defense
of that pass. It would be a crowning triumph in patriotic education if
every school child in America could contemplate each day the grand
character and utter the inspiring name of Abraham Lincoln, who has
handed down unto a grateful people the richest legacy which man can
leave to man--the memory of a good name, the inheritance of a great


From a speech at a dinner of graduates of Yale University, in New York,
1889. By the kindness of the author.


On Boston Common, under the shadow of the State House, and within the
atmosphere of Harvard University, there is an inscription on a column,
in honor of those who, on land and sea, maintained the cause of their
country during four years of civil war. The visitor approaches it with
respect and reverently uncovers as he reads.

With similar high emotions we, as citizens of the world of letters, and
acknowledging particular allegiance to the province thereof founded by
Elihu Yale, are assembled to pour libations, to partake of a
sacrificial feast, and to crown with honors and with bays those who, on
land and sea, with unparalleled courage and devotion, have borne their
flag to victory in desperate encounters.

Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war.

On large fields of strife, the record of success like that which we are
called upon to commemorate would give the victors a high place in
history and liken their country to ancient Thebes,--

"Which spread her conquest o'er a thousand states,
And poured her heroes through a hundred gates."

There are many reasons why Yale men win. One is that which was stated
by Lord Beaconsfield, "The Secret of success is constancy of purpose."
That alone sufficiently accounts for it.

We are here present in no vain spirit of boasting, though if our right
to exalt ourselves were questioned, we might reply in the words of the
American girl who was shown some cannon at Woolwich Arsenal, the
sergeant in charge remarking, "You know we took them from you at Bunker
Hill." "Yes," she replied, "I see you've got the cannon, but I guess
we've got the hill."

We come rather in a spirit of true modesty to recognize the plaudits of
an admiring world, to tell you how they were won. It was said in the
days of Athenian pride and glory that it was easier to find a god in
Athens than a man. We must be careful in these days of admiration of
athletic effort that no such imputation is laid upon us, and that the
deification of the human form divine is not carried to extremes.

It is a curious coincidence that a love of the classics and proficiency
in intellectual pursuits should coexist with admiration for physical
perfection and with athletic superiority during all the centuries of
which the history is written. The youth who lisped in Attic numbers and
was brought up on the language we now so painfully and imperfectly
acquire, who was lulled to sleep by songs of Ęschylus and Sophocles,
who discussed philosophy in the porches of Plato, Aristotle, and
Epicurus, was a more accomplished classical scholar than the most
learned pundit of modern times, and was a model of manly beauty, yet he
would have died to win the wreath of parsley at the Olympian games,
which all esteemed an immortal prize. While, in our time, to be the
winning crew on the Isis, the Cam, the English or American Thames, is
equal in honor and influence to the position of senior wrangler,
valedictorian, or Deforest prize man.

The man who wins the world's honors to-day must not be overtrained
mentally or physically; not, as John Randolph said of the soil of
Virginia,--"poor by nature and ruined by cultivation," hollow-chested,
convex in back, imperfect in sight, shuffling in gait, and flabby in
muscle. The work of such a man will be musty like his closet, narrow as
the groove he moves in, tinctured with the peculiarities that border on
insanity, and out of tune with nature.

No man can work in the world unless he knows it, struggles with it, and
becomes a part of it, and the statement of the English statesman that
the undergraduate of Oxford or Cambridge who had the best stomach, the
hardest muscles, and the greatest ambition would be the future Lord
Chancellor of England, had a solid basis of truth.

Gentlemen of the bat, the oar, the racquet, the cinder path, and the
leathern sphere, never were conquerors more welcome guests, in palace
or in hall, at the tables of their friends than you are here.

You come with your laurels fresh from the fields you have won, to
receive the praise which is your due and which we so gladly bestow.
Your self-denial, devotion, skill, and courage have brought honor to
your University, and for it we honor you.


At a banquet in honor of General Grant, Chicago, 1877


MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN,--"The Babies." Now, that's something like.
We haven't all had the good fortune to be ladies; we have not all been
generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the
babies, we stand on common ground--for we've all been babies. It is a
shame that for a thousand years the world's banquets have utterly
ignored the baby, as if he didn't amount to anything! If you,
gentlemen, will stop and think a minute--if you will try to go back
fifty or a hundred years, to your early married life, and recontemplate
your first baby--you will remember that he amounted to a good deal--and
even something over.

You soldiers all know that when that little fellow arrived at family
headquarters, you had to hand in your resignation. He took entire
command. You had to execute his order whether it was possible or not.
And there was only one form of marching in his manual of tactics, and
that was the double-quick. When he called for soothing syrup, did you
venture to throw out any remarks about certain services unbecoming to
an officer and a gentleman? No; you got up and got it! If he ordered
his pap bottle, and it wasn't warm, did you talk back? Not you; you
went to work and warmed it. You even descended so far in your menial
office as to take a suck at that warm, insipid stuff yourself, to see
if it was right!--three parts water to one of milk, a touch of sugar to
modify the colic, and a drop of peppermint to kill those immortal
hiccoughs. I can taste that stuff yet.

And how many things you learned as you went along! Sentimental young
folks still take stock in that beautiful old saying, that when a baby
smiles in his sleep it is because the angels are whispering to him.
Very pretty, but "too thin"--simply wind on the stomach, my friends. I
like the idea that a baby doesn't amount to anything! Why, one baby is
just a house and a front yard full by itself; one baby can furnish more
business than you and your whole interior department can attend to; he
is enterprising, irrepressible, brimful of lawless activities. Do what
you please you can't make him stay on the reservation. Sufficient unto
the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don't ever
pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot; and there ain't any
real difference between triplets and insurrections.

Among the three or four million cradles now rocking in the land there
are some which this nation would preserve for ages as sacred things, if
we could know which ones they are. For in one of these cradles the
unconscious Farragut of the future is at this moment teething; in
another the future great historian is lying, and doubtless he will
continue to lie until his earthly mission is ended. And in still one
more cradle, somewhere under the flag, the future illustrious
commander-in-chief of the American armies is so little burdened with
his approaching grandeurs and responsibilities as to be giving his
whole strategic mind at this moment, to trying to find out some way to
get his own big toe into his mouth, an achievement to which (meaning no
disrespect) the illustrious guest of this evening also turned his
attention some fifty-six years ago! And if the child is but the
prophecy of the man, there are mighty few will doubt that he succeeded.



Read by Mr. Watson in New York, at the celebration of the Dickens
Centenary, 1912. Reprinted from the public press.


When Nature first designed
In her all-procreant mind
The man whom here tonight we are met to honor--
When first the idea of Dickens flashed upon her--
"Where, where" she said, "upon my populous earth
Shall this prodigious child be brought to birth?
Where shall we have his earliest wondering look
Into my magic book?
Shall he be born where life runs like a brook,
Pleasant and placid as of old it ran,
Far from the sound and shock of mighty deeds,
Among soft English meads?
Or shall he first my pictured volume scan
Where London lifts its hot and fevered brow
For cooling night to fan?"
"Nay, nay," she said, "I have a happier plan
For where at Portsmouth, on the embattled tides
The ships of war step out with thundering prow
And shake their stormy sides--
In yonder place of arms, whose gaunt sea wall
Flings to the clouds the far-heard bugle call--
He shall be born amid the drums and guns,
He shall be born among my fighting sons,
Perhaps the greatest warrior of them all."


So there, where from the forts and battle gear
And all the proud sea babbles Nelson's name,
Into the world this later hero came--
He, too, a man that knew all moods but fear--
He, too, a fighter. Yet not his the strife
That leaves dark scars on the fair face of life.
He did not fight to rend the world apart;
He fought to make it one in mind and heart,
Building a broad and noble bridge to span
The icy chasm that sunders man from man.
Wherever wrong had fixed its bastions deep,
There did his fierce yet gay assault surprise
Some fortress girt with lucre or with lies;
There his light battery stormed some ponderous keep;
There charged he up the steep,
A knight on whom no palsying torpor fell,
Keen to the last to break a lance with Hell.
And still undimmed his conquering weapons shine;
On his bright sword no spot of rust appears,
And still across the years
His soul goes forth to battle, and in the face
Of whatso'er is false, or cruel, or base,
He hurls his gage and leaps among the spears,
Being armed with pity and love and scorn divine,
Immortal laughter and immortal tears.



Ye Mariners of England
That guard our native seas!
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze!
Your glorious standard launch again
To match another foe:
And sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow;
While the battle rages loud and long
And the stormy winds do blow.

The spirit of your fathers
Shall start from every wave,
For the deck it is our field of fame,
And Ocean was their grave:
Where Blake and mighty Nelson fell
Your manly heart shall glow,
As ye sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow;
While the battle rages loud and long
And the stormy winds do blow.

Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep;
Her march is o'er the mountain waves,
Her home is on the deep.
With thunders from her native oak
She quells the floods below,
As they roar on the shore,
When the stormy winds do blow;
When the battle rages loud and long
And the stormy winds do blow.

The meteor-flag of England
Shall yet terrific burn;
Till danger's troubled night depart
And the star of peace return.
Then, then, ye ocean warriors!
Our song and feast shall flow
To the fame of your name,
When the storm has ceased to blow;
When the fiery fight is heard no more,
And the storm has ceased to blow.


Read in Sanders Theater at the Harvard Class Day Exercises, 1903.
Reprinted with permission.


Not unto every one of us shall come
The bugle call that sounds for famous deeds;
Not far lands, but the pleasant paths of home,
Not broad seas to traffic, but the meads
Of fruitful midland ways, where daily life
Down trellised vistas, heavy in the Fall,
Seems but the decent way apart from strife;
And love, and work, and laughter there seem all.

War, and the Orient Sun uprising,
The East, the West, and Man's shrill clamorous strife,
Travail, disaster, flood, and far emprising,
Man may not reach, yet take fast hold on life.
Let us now praise men who are not famous,
Striving for good name rather than for great;
Hear we the quiet voice calling to claim us,
Heed it no less than the trumpet-call of fate!

Profit we to-day by the men who've gone before us,
Men who dared, and lived, and died, to speed us on our way.
Fair is their fame, who make that mighty chorus,
And gentle is the heritance that comes to us to-day.

They pulled with the strength that was in them,
But 'twas not for the pewter cup,
And not for the fame 'twould win them
When the length of the race was up.
For the college stood by the river,
And they heard, with cheeks that glowed,
The voice of the coxswain calling
At the end of the course--"Well rowed!"

We have pulled at the sweep and run at the games,
We have striven to stand to our boyhood aims,
And we know the worth of our fathers' names;
Shall we have less care for our own?
The praise of men they dared despise,
They set the game above the prize,
Must we fear to look in our fathers' eyes,
Nor reap where they have sown?

Do we lose the zest we've known before?
The joy of running?--The kick of the oar
When the ash sweeps buckle and bend?
Is the goal too far?--Too hard to gain?
We know that the candle is not the play,
We know the reward is not to-day,
And may not come at the end.

But we hear the voice of each bygone class
From the river's bank when our own crews pass,
And the backs of the men are bowed,
With a steady lift and a squandering strength,
For the heave that shall drive us a nation's length,
Till the coxswain calls--"Well rowed."

Now all to the tasks that may find us--
To the saddle, the home, or the sea,
Still hearing the voices behind us
The voices that set us free;
Free to be bound by our honor,
Free to our birthright of toil,
The masters, and slaves, of the nation,
The Serfs, and the Lords, of the soil!

Proudly we lift the burdens
That humbled the ages past,
And pray to the God that gave them
We may bear them on to the last;

That our sons and our younger brothers,
When our gaps in the front they fill,
May know that the class has faltered not,
And the line is even still.

Then out to the wind and weather!
Down the course our fathers showed,
And finish well together,
As the coxswain calls--"Well rowed!"


Harvard Class Poem, 1907, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, publishers,
Reprinted with permission.


There's a trampling of hoofs in the busy street,
There's a clanking of sabers on floor and stair,
There's a sound of restless, hurrying feet,
Of voices that whisper, of lips that entreat,--
Will they live, will they die, will they strive, will they dare?--
The houses are garlanded, flags flutter gay,
For a troop of the Guard rides forth to-day.

Oh, the troopers will ride and their hearts will leap,
When it's shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend--
But it's some to the pinnacle, some to the deep,
And some in the glow of their strength to sleep,
And for all it's a fight to the tale's far end,
And it's each to his goal, nor turn nor sway,
When the troop of the Guard rides forth to-day.

The dawn is upon us, the pale light speeds
To the zenith with glamour and golden dart.
On, up! Boot and saddle! Give spurs to your steeds!
There's a city beleaguered that cries for men's deeds,
With the pain of the world in its cavernous heart.

Ours be the triumph! Humanity calls!
Life's not a dream in the clover!
On to the walls, on to the walls,
On to the walls, and over!

The wine is spent, the tale is spun,
The revelry of youth is done.
The horses prance, the bridles clink,
While maidens fair in bright array
With us the last sweet goblet drink,
Then bid us, "Mount and away!"
Into the dawn, we ride, we ride,
Fellow and fellow, side by side;
Galloping over the field and hill,
Over the marshland, stalwart still,
Into the forest's shadowy hush,
Where specters walk in sunless day,
And in dark pool and branch and bush
The treacherous will-o'-the-wisp lights play.
Out of the wood 'neath the risen sun,
Weary we gallop, one and one,
To a richer hope and a stronger foe
And a hotter fight in the fields below--
Each man his own slave, each his lord,
For the golden spurs and the victor's sword!

An anxious generation sends us forth
On the far conquest of the thrones of might.
From west to east, from south to north,
Earth's children, weary-eyed from too much light,
Cry from their dream-forsaken vales of pain,
"Give us our gods, give us our gods again!"
A lofty and relentless century,
Gazing with Argus eyes,
Has pierced the very inmost halls of faith;
And left no shelter whither man may flee
From the cold storms of night and lovelessness and death.

Old gods have fallen and the new must rise!
Out of the dust of doubt and broken creeds,
The sons of those who cast men's idols low
Must build up for a hungry people's needs
New gods, new hopes, new strength to toil and grow;
Knowing that nought that ever lived can die,--
No act, no dream but spreads its sails, sublime,
Sweeping across the visible seas of time
Into the treasure-haven of eternity.
The portals are open, the white road leads
Through thicket and garden, o'er stone and sod.
On, up! Boot and saddle! Give spurs to your steeds!
There's a city beleaguered that cries for men's deeds,
For the faith that is strength and the love that is God!
On, through the dawning! Humanity calls!
Life's not a dream in the clover!
On to the walls, on to the walls,
On to the walls, and over!


At a class reunion. By permission of, and by special arrangement with,
Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works.


Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night!

We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more?
He's tipsy, young jackanapes!--show him the door!
'Gray temples at twenty?'--Yes! _white_ if we please;
Where the snowflakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!

Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake!
Look close,--you will see not a sign of a flake!
We want some new garlands for those we have shed,--
And these are white roses in place of the red.

We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
Of talking (in public) as if we were old:--
That boy we call 'Doctor,' and this we call 'Judge';
It's a neat little fiction,--of course it's all fudge.

That fellow's the 'Speaker,'--the one on the right:
'Mr. Mayor,' my young one, how are you to-night?
That's our 'Member of Congress,' we say when we chaff;
There's the 'Reverend' What's his name?--don't make me laugh.

That boy with the grave mathematical look
Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was _true_!
So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too!

There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
That could harness a team with a logical chain;
When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
We called him 'The Justice,' but now he's 'The Squire.'

And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,--
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,--
Just read on his medal, 'My country,' 'of thee!'

You hear that boy laughing?--You think he's all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!

Yes, we're boys,--always playing with tongue or with pen,--
And I sometimes have asked,--Shall we ever be men?
Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
Till the last dear companion drops smiling away?

Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
The stars of its winter, the dews of its May!
And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
Dear Father, take care of thy children, the BOYS!



From "The Orations and Addresses of George William Curtis," Vol. 1
Copyright 1893, by Harper and Brothers. Reprinted with permission.


It is especially necessary for us to perceive the vital relation of
individual courage and character to the common welfare, because ours is
a government of public opinion, and public opinion is but the aggregate
of individual thought. We have the awful responsibility as a community
of doing what we choose; and it is of the last importance that we
choose to do what is wise and right. In the early days of the
antislavery agitation a meeting was called at Faneuil Hall, in Boston,
which a good-natured mob of sailors was hired to suppress. They took
possession of the floor and danced breakdowns and shouted choruses and
refused to hear any of the orators upon the platform. The most eloquent
pleaded with them in vain. They were urged by the memories of the
Cradle of Liberty, for the honor of Massachusetts, for their own honor
as Boston boys, to respect liberty of speech. But they still laughed
and sang and danced, and were proof against every appeal. At last a man
suddenly arose from among themselves, and began to speak. Struck by his
tone and quaint appearance, and with the thought that he might be one
of themselves, the mob became suddenly still, "Well, fellow-citizens,"
he said, "I wouldn't be quiet if I didn't want to." The words were
greeted with a roar of delight from the mob, which supposed it had
found its champion, and the applause was unceasing for five minutes,
during which the strange orator tranquilly awaited his chance to
continue. The wish to hear more hushed the tumult, and when the hall
was still he resumed: "No, I certainly wouldn't stop if I hadn't a mind
to; but then, if I were you, I _would_ have a mind to!" The oddity
of the remark and the earnestness of the tone, held the crowd silent,
and the speaker continued, "not because this is Faneuil Hall, nor for
the honor of Massachusetts, nor because you are Boston boys, but
because you are men, and because honorable and generous men always love
fair play." The mob was conquered. Free speech and fair play were
secured. Public opinion can do what it has a mind to in this country.
If it be debased and demoralized, it is the most odious of tyrants. It
is Nero and Caligula multiplied by millions. Can there then be a more
stringent public duty for every man--and the greater the intelligence
the greater the duty--than to take care, by all the influence he can
command, that the country, the majority, public opinion, shall have a
mind to do only what is just and pure and humane?


From "The New South." Reprinted with permission


Permitted, through your kindness, to catch my second wind, let me say
that I appreciate the significance of being the first Southerner to
speak at this board, which bears the substance, if it surpasses the
semblance, of original New England hospitality--and honors the
sentiment that in turn honors you, but in which my personality is lost,
and the compliment to my people made plain.

I bespeak the utmost stretch of your courtesy to-night. I am not
troubled about those from whom I come. You remember the man whose wife
sent him to a neighbor with a pitcher of milk, and who, tripping on the
top step, fell with such casual interruptions as the landings afforded
into the basement, and, while picking himself up, had the pleasure of
hearing his wife call out: "John, did you break the pitcher?"

"No, I didn't," said John, "but I'll be dinged if I don't."

So, while those who call me from behind may inspire me with energy, if
not with courage, I ask an indulgent hearing from you. I beg that you
will bring your full faith in American fairness and frankness to
judgment upon what I shall say. There was an old preacher once who told
some boys of the Bible lesson he was going to read in the morning. The
boys, finding the place, glued together the connecting pages. The next
morning he read on the bottom of one page, "When Noah was one hundred
and twenty years old he took unto himself a wife, who was--" then
turning the page--"140 cubits long, 40 cubits wide, built of gopher
wood--and covered with pitch inside and out." He was naturally puzzled
at this. He read it again, verified it, and then said, "My friends,
this is the first time I ever met this in the Bible, but I accept this
as an evidence of the assertion that we are fearfully and wonderfully
made." If I could get you to hold such faith to-night I could proceed
cheerfully to the task I otherwise approach with a sense of


From "The Lincoln Story Book," with the permission of G. W. Dillingham
and Co., New York, publishers.


The Illinois Republican State Convention of 1860 met at Decatur, in a
wigwam built for the purpose, a type of that noted in the Lincoln
Annals as at Chicago. A special welcome was given to Abraham Lincoln as
a "distinguished citizen of Illinois, and one she will ever be
delighted to honor." The session was suddenly interrupted by the
chairman saying: "There is an old Democrat outside who has something to
present to the convention."

The present was two old fence rails, carried on the shoulder of an
elderly man, recognized by Lincoln as his cousin John Hanks, and by the
Sangamon folks as an old settler in the Bottoms. The rails were
explained by a banner reading:

"Two rails from a lot made by Abraham Lincoln and John Hanks, in the
Sangamon Bottom, in the year 1830."

Thunderous cheers for "the rail-splitter" resounded, for this slur on
the statesman had recoiled on aspersers and was used as a title of
honor. The call for confirmation of the assertion led Lincoln to rise,
and blushing--so recorded--said:

"Gentlemen,--I suppose you want to know something about those things.
Well, the truth is, John and I did make rails in the Sangamon Bottom."
He eyed the wood with the knowingness of an authority on "stumpage,"
and added: "I don't know whether we made those rails or not; the fact
is, I don't think they are a credit to the makers!" It was John Hanks'
turn to blush. "But I do know this: I made rails then, and, I think, I
could make better ones now!"

Whereupon, by acclamation, Abraham Lincoln was declared to be "first
choice of the Republican party in Illinois for the Presidency."

Riding a man in on a rail became of different and honorable meaning
from that out.

This incident was a prepared theatrical effect. Governor Oglesby
arranged with Lincoln's stepbrother, John D. Johnston, to provide two
rails, and with Lincoln's mother's cousin, Dennis Hanks, for the latter
to bring in the rails at the telling juncture. Lincoln's guarded manner
about identifying the rails, and sly slap at his ability to make better
ones, show that he was in the scheme, though recognizing that the dodge
was of value politically.


From a lecture on Daniel O'Connell in "Speeches and Lectures," with the
permission of Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, Boston, publishers.


We used to say of Webster, "This is a great effort"; of Everett, "It is
a beautiful effort"; but you never used the word "effort" in speaking
of O'Connell. It provoked you that he would not make an effort. I heard
him perhaps a score of times, and I do not think more than three times
he ever lifted himself to the full sweep of his power.

And this wonderful power, it was not a thunderstorm: he flanked you
with his wit, he surprised you out of yourself; you were conquered
before you knew it.

He was once summoned to court out of the hunting field, when a young
friend of his of humble birth was on trial for his life. The evidence
gathered around a hat found next the body of the murdered man, which
was recognized as the hat of the prisoner. The lawyers tried to break
down the evidence, confuse the testimony, and get some relief from the
directness of the circumstances, but in vain, until at last they called
for O'Connell. He came in, flung his riding-whip and hat on the table,
was told the circumstances, and, taking up the hat, said to the
witness, "Whose hat is this?" "Well, Mr. O'Connell, that is Mike's
hat." "How do you know it?" "I will swear to it, sir." "And did you
really find it by the body of the murdered man?" "I did that, sir."
"But you're not ready to swear to that?" "I am, indeed, Mr. O'Connell."
"Pat, do you know what hangs on your word? A human soul. And with that
dread burden, are you ready to tell this jury that the hat, to your
certain knowledge, belongs to the prisoner?" "Y-yes, Mr. O'Connell;
yes, I am."

O'Connell takes the hat to the nearest window, and peers into it--"J-a-
m-e-s, James. Now, Pat, did you see that name in the hat?" "I did, Mr.
O'Connell." "You knew it was there?" "Yes, sir; I read it after I
picked it up."----"No name in the hat, your Honor."

So again in the House of Commons. When he took his seat in the House in
1830, the London _Times_ visited him with its constant indignation,
reported his speeches awry, turned them inside out, and made nonsense
of them; treated him as the New York _Herald_ use to treat us
Abolitionists twenty years ago. So one morning he rose and said,
"Mr. Speaker, you know I have never opened my lips in this House,
and I expended twenty years of hard work in getting the right to enter
it,--I have never lifted my voice in this House, but in behalf of the
saddest people the sun shines on. Is it fair play, Mr. Speaker, is it
what you call 'English fair play' that the press of this city will not
let my voice be heard?" The next day the _Times_ sent him word
that, as he found fault with their manner of reporting him, they never
would report him at all, they never would print his name in their
parliamentary columns. So the next day when prayers were ended
O'Connell rose. Those reporters of the _Times_ who were in the
gallery rose also, ostentatiously put away their pencils, folded their
arms, and made all the show they could, to let everybody know how it
was. Well, you know nobody has a right to be in the gallery during the
session, and if any member notices them, the mere notice clears the
gallery; only the reporters can stay after that notice. O'Connell rose.
One of the members said, "Before the member from Clare opens his
speech, let me call his attention to the gallery and the instance of
that 'passive resistance' which he is about to preach." "Thank you,"
said O'Connell. "Mr. Speaker, I observe the strangers in the gallery."
Of course they left; of course the next day, in the columns of the
London _Times_, there were no parliamentary debates. And for the
first time, except in Richard Cobden's case, the London _Times_
cried for quarter, and said to O'Connell, "If you give up the quarrel,
we will."


From "Hunting the Grizzly," with the permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons,
New York and London, Publishers.


In the cow country there is nothing more refreshing than the light-
hearted belief entertained by the average man to the effect that any
animal which by main force has been saddled and ridden, or harnessed
and driven a couple of times, is a "broke horse." My present foreman is
firmly wedded to this idea, as well as to its complement, the belief
that any animal with hoofs, before any vehicle with wheels, can be
driven across any country. One summer on reaching the ranch I was
entertained with the usual accounts of the adventures and misadventures
which had befallen my own men and my neighbors since I had been out
last. In the course of the conversation my foreman remarked: "We had a
great time out here about six weeks ago. There was a professor from Ann
Arbor came out with his wife to see the Bad Lands, and they asked if we
could rig them up a team, and we said we guessed we could, and Foley's
boy and I did; but it ran away with him and broke his leg! He was here
for a month. I guess he didn't mind it, though." Of this I was less
certain, forlorn little Medora being a "busted" cow town, concerning
which I once heard another of my men remark, in reply to an inquisitive
commercial traveler: "How many people lives here? Eleven--counting the
chickens--when they're all in town!"

My foreman continued: "By George, there was something that professor
said afterward that made me feel hot. I sent word up to him by Foley's
boy that seein' as how it had come out, we wouldn't charge him nothin'
for the rig; and that professor answered that he was glad we were
showing him some sign of consideration, for he'd begun to believe he'd
fallen into a den of sharks, and that we gave him a runaway team
apurpose. That made me hot, calling that a runaway team. Why, there was
one of them horses never _could_ have run away before; it hadn't
never been druv but twice! and the other horse maybe had run away a few
times, but there was lots of times he _hadn't_ run away. I esteemed
that team full as liable not to run away as it was to run away,"
concluded my foreman, evidently deeming this as good a warranty
of gentleness in a horse as the most exacting could possibly require.


From a lecture entitled "Clear Grit," published in "Modern Eloquence,"
Vol. IV, Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago.


In what we call the good old times--say, three hundred years ago--a
family lived on the border between England and Scotland, with one
daughter of a marvelous homeliness. Her name was Meg. She was a capital
girl, as homely girls generally are. She knew she had no beauty, so she
made sure of quality and faculty. But the Scotch say that "while beauty
may not make the best kail, it looks best by the side of the kail-pot."
So Meg had no offer of a husband, and was likely to die in what we call
"single blessedness." Everybody on the border in those days used to
steal, and their best "holt," as we say, was cattle. If they wanted
meat and had no money, they would go out and steal as many beef cattle
as they could lay their hands on, from somebody on the other side of
the border. Well, they generally had no money, and they were always
wanting beef, and they could always be hung for stealing by the man
they stole from if he could catch them, and so they had what an
Irishman would call a fine time entirely. One day a young chief,
wanting some beef as usual, went out with part of his clan, came upon a
splendid herd on the lands of Meg's father, and went to work to drive
them across to his own. But the old fellow was on the lookout, mustered
his clan, bore down on the marauders, beat them, took the young chief
prisoner, and then went home to his peel very much delighted. Meg's
mother, of course, wanted to know all about it, and then she said,
"Noo, laird, what are you gaun to do with the prisoner?" "I am gaun to
hang him," the old man thundered, "just as soon as I have had my
dinner." "But I think ye're noo wise to do that," she said. "He has got
a braw place, ye ken, over the border, and he is a braw fellow. Noo
I'll tell ye what I would do. I would give him his chance to be hung or
marry oor Meg." It struck the old man as a good idea, and so he went
presently down into the dungeon, told the young fellow to get ready to
be hung in thirty minutes, but then got round to the alternative, and
offered to spare his life if he would marry Meg, and give him the beef
into the bargain. He had heard something about Meg's wonderful want of
beauty, and so, with a fine Scotch prudence, he said, "Ye will let me
see her, laird, before I mak' up my mind, because maybe I would rather
be hung." "Aye, mon, that's fair," the old chief answered, and went in
to bid the mother get Meg ready for the interview. The mother did her
best, you may be sure, to make Meg look winsome, but when the poor
fellow saw his unintentional intended he turned round to the chief and
said, "Laird, if ye have nae objection, I think I would rather be
hung." "And sae ye shall, me lad, and welcome," the old chief replied,
in a rage. So they led him out, got the rope around his neck; and then
the young man changed his mind, and shouted, "Laird, I'll tak' her." So
he was marched back into the castle, married before he had time to
change his mind, if that was possible, and the tradition is that there
never was a happier pair in Scotland, and never a better wife in the
world than Meg. But I have told the story because it touches this
point, of the way they hold their own over there when there are great
families of children. They tell me that the family flourishes famously
still; no sign of dying out or being lost about it. Meg's main feature
was a very large mouth, and now in the direct line in almost every
generation the neighbors and friends are delighted, as they say, to get
Meg back. "Here's Meg again," they cry when a child is born with that
wonderful mouth. Sir Walter Scott was one of the descendants of the
family. He had Meg's mouth, in a measure, and was very proud of it when
he would tell the story.


From a speech published in Brewer's "The World's Best Orations," Vol.
IX, Ferd. P. Kaiser, St. Louis, Chicago, publisher.

BY SIDNEY SMITH I have spoken so often on this subject, that I am sure
both you and the gentlemen here present will be obliged to me for
saying but little, and that favor I am as willing to confer, as you can
be to receive it. I feel most deeply the event which has taken place,
because, by putting the two houses of Parliament in collision with each
other, it will impede the public business and diminish the public
prosperity. I feel it as a churchman, because I cannot but blush to see
so many dignitaries of the Church arrayed against the wishes and
happiness of the people. I feel it more than all, because I believe it
will sow the seeds of deadly hatred between the aristocracy and the
great mass of the people. The loss of the bill I do not feel, and for
the best of all possible reasons--because I have not the slightest idea
that it is lost. I have no more doubt, before the expiration of the
winter, that this bill will pass, than I have that the annual tax bills
will pass, and greater certainty than this no man can have, for
Franklin tells us there are but two things certain in this world--death
and taxes. As for the possibility of the House of Lords preventing ere
long a reform of Parliament, I hold it to be the most absurd notion
that ever entered into human imagination. I do not mean to be
disrespectful, but the attempt of the lords to stop the progress of
reform reminds me very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and of
the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington on that occasion. In the
winter of 1824, there set in a great flood upon that town, the tide
rose to an incredible height, the waves rushed in upon the houses, and
everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this
sublime and terrible storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach,
was seen at the top of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her
mop, squeezing out the water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic
Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I
need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat
Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle, but she
should not have meddled with a tempest. Gentlemen, be at your ease--be
quiet and steady. You will beat Mrs. Partington.


From the same speech as the foregoing


An honorable member of the honorable house, much connected with this
town, and once its representative, seems to be amazingly surprised, and
equally dissatisfied, at this combination of king, ministers, nobles,
and people, against his opinion,--like the gentleman who came home from
serving on a jury very much disconcerted, and complaining he had met
with eleven of the most obstinate people he had ever seen in his life,
whom he found it absolutely impossible by the strongest arguments to
bring over to his way of thinking.

They tell you, gentlemen, that you have grown rich and powerful with
these rotten boroughs, and that it would be madness to part with them,
or to alter a constitution which had produced such happy effects. There
happens, gentlemen, to live near my parsonage a laboring man of very
superior character and understanding to his fellow laborers, and who
has made such good use of that superiority that he has saved what is
(for his station in life) a very considerable sum of money, and if his
existence is extended to the common period he will die rich. It
happens, however, that he is (and long has been) troubled with violent
stomachic pains, for which he has hitherto obtained no relief, and
which really are the bane and torment of his life. Now, if my excellent
laborer were to send for a physician and to consult him respecting this
malady, would it not be very singular language if our doctor were to
say to him: "My good friend, you surely will not be so rash as to
attempt to get rid of these pains in your stomach. Have you not grown
rich with these pains in your stomach? have you not risen under them
from poverty to prosperity? has not your situation since you were first
attacked been improving every year? You surely will not be so foolish
and so indiscreet as to part with the pains in your stomach?" Why, what
would be the answer of the rustic to this nonsensical monition?
"Monster of rhubarb! (he would say) I am not rich in consequence of the
pains in my stomach, but in spite of the pains in my stomach; and I
should have been ten times richer, and fifty times happier, if I had
never had any pains in my stomach at all." Gentlemen, these rotten
boroughs are your pains in the stomach--and you would have been a much
richer and greater people if you had never had them at all. Your wealth
and your power have been owing not to the debased and corrupted parts
of the House of Commons, but to the many independent and honorable
members whom it has always contained within its walls. If there had
been a few more of these very valuable members for close boroughs we
should, I verily believe, have been by this time about as free as
Denmark, Sweden, or the Germanized States of Italy.

This is the greatest measure which has ever been before Parliament in
my time, and the most pregnant with good or evil to the country; and
though I seldom meddle with political meetings, I could not reconcile
it to my conscience to be absent from this.

Every year for this half century, the question of reform has been
pressing upon us, till it has swelled up at last into this great and
awful combination; so that almost every city and every borough in
England are at this moment assembled for the same purpose, and are
doing the same thing we are doing.


From "Modern Eloquence," Vol. X, Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago,


I do not want to be in the position of a man I once heard of who was a
lion tamer. He was a very brave man. There was no lion, no matter how


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