Public Speaking
by Irvah Lester Winter
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From an article in The Philistine, with the permission of the author


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

What to do!

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Whilst their purple hands do reek and smoke,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An extract from "A Man Without a Country"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This is my own, my native land!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On this slip of paper he had written:—

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

But the change was not always a benefit to the style of oratory. It was a period of somewhat formal style; it was not a period when the English language was reaching to its highest sources. You will be surprised to find, for instance, in the books and addresses of that period how little Shakespeare is quoted, how much oftener much inferior poets. In Edmund Burke's orations he quotes Shakespeare very little; and Edmund Burke's orations are interesting especially for this, that they are not probably the original addresses which he gave, are literature rather than oratory, and are now generally supposed to have been written out afterwards.

Like Burke most of the orators of that period have a certain formal style. When all is said and done, the clergy got a certain pithiness from that terrific habit they had of going back every little while and pinning down their thought with a text. One English clergyman of the period compared his text to a horse block on which he ascended when he wished to mount his horse, and then he rode his horse as long as he wished and might or might not come back to that horse block again. Therefore we see in the oratory of that time a certain formality.

Moreover, in the absence of the modern reporter, we really do not know exactly what was said in the greatest speeches of that day. The modern reporter, whose aim is to report everything that is said, and who generally succeeds in putting in a great many fine things which haven't occurred to the orators—the modern reporter was not known, and we have but very few descriptions even of the great orations.


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


It happened to me, when I was in college, to be once on some business at an office on State Street in Boston, then as now the central business street of the place, in a second-story office where there were a number of young men writing busily at their desks. Presently one of the youths, passing by accident across the room, stopped suddenly and said,—

"There is Daniel Webster!"

In an instant every desk in that room was vacated, every pane in every window was filled with a face looking out, and I, hastening up behind them, found it difficult to get a view of the street so densely had they crowded round it. And once looking out, I saw all up and down the street, in every window I could see, just the same mass of eager faces behind the windows. Those faces were all concentrated on a certain figure, a farmer-like, sunburned man who stood, roughly clothed, with his hands behind him, speaking to no one, looking nowhere in particular; waiting, so far as I could see, for nothing, with broad shoulders and heavy muscles, and the head of a hero above. Such a brow, such massive formation, such magnificent black eyes, such straight black eyebrows I had never seen before.

That man, it appeared, was Daniel Webster! I saw people go along the street sidling along past him, looking up at him as if he were the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World in New York harbor. Nobody knew what he wanted, it never was explained; he may have been merely waiting for some companion to go fishing. But there he was, there he stands in my memory. I don't know what happened afterwards, or how these young men ever got back to their desks—if they ever did.

For me, however, that figure was revealed by one brief duplicate impression, which came in a few months afterwards when I happened to be out in Brookline, a suburb of Boston, where people used to drive then, as they drive now, on summer afternoons for afternoon tea—only, afternoon tea not having been invented, they drove out to their neighbors' houses for fruit or a cup of chocolate.

You have heard Boston perhaps called the "Hub of the universe." A lady, not a Bostonian, once said that if Boston were the hub of the universe, Brookline ought to be called the "Sub-hub." In the "sub-hub" I was sitting in the house of a kinsman who had a beautiful garden; who was the discoverer, in fact, of the Boston nectarine, which all the world came to his house to taste. I heard voices in the drawing-room and went in there. And there I saw again before me the figure of that day on State street, but it was the figure of a man with a beamingly good- natured face, seated in a solid chair brought purposely to accommodate his weight, sitting there with the simple culinary provision of a cup of chocolate in his hand.

It so happened that the great man, the godlike Daniel, as the people used to call him, had expressed the very mortal wish for a little more sugar in his chocolate; and I, if you please, was the fortunate youth who, passing near him, was selected as the Ganymede to bring to him the refreshment desired. I have felt ever since that I, at least, was privileged to put one drop of sweetness into the life of that great man, a life very varied and sometimes needing refreshment. And I have since been given by my classmates to understand—I find they recall it to this day—that upon walking through the college yard for a week or two after that opportunity, I carried my head so much higher than usual as to awaken an amount of derision which undoubtedly, if it had been at West Point, would have led to a boxing match.

That was Daniel Webster, one of the two great lawyers of Boston—I might almost say, of the American bar at that time.


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


The Englishman, as far as I have observed, as a rule gets up with reluctance, and begins with difficulty. Just as you are beginning to feel seriously anxious for him, you gradually discover that he is on the verge of saying some uncommonly good thing. Before you are fully prepared for it he says that good thing, and then to your infinite amazement he sits down!

The American begins with an ease which relieves you of all anxiety. The anxiety begins when he talks a while without making any special point. He makes his point at last, as good perhaps as the Englishman's, possibly better. But then when he has made it, you find that he goes on feeling for some other good point, and he feels and feels so long, that perhaps he sits down at last without having made it.

My ideal of a perfect speech in public would be that it should be conducted by a syndicate or trust, as it were, of the two nations, and that the guaranty should be that an American should be provided to begin every speech and an Englishman provided to end it.

Then, when we go a little farther and consider the act of speech itself, and its relation to the word, we sometimes meet with a doubt that we see expressed occasionally in the daily papers provided for us with twenty pages per diem and thirty-two on Sunday, whether we will need much longer anything but what is called sometimes by clergymen "the printed word"—whether the whole form of communication through oral speech will not diminish or fade away.

It seems to me a truly groundless fear—like wondering whether there will ever be a race with only one arm or one leg, or a race of people who live only by the eye or by the ear. The difference between the written word and the spoken word is the difference between solitude and companionship, between meditation and something so near action that it is at least halfway to action and creates action. It is perfectly supposable to imagine a whole race of authors of whom not one should ever exchange a word with a human being while his greatest work is being produced.

The greatest work of American literature, artistically speaking, Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter," was thus produced. His wife records that during the year that he was writing it, he shut himself up in his study every day. She asked no questions; he volunteered no information. She only knew that something was going on by the knot in his forehead which he carried all that year. At the end of the year he came from his study and read over to her the whole book; a work of genius was added to the world. It was the fruit of solitude.

And sometimes solitude, I regret as an author to say, extends to the perusal of the book, for I have known at least one volume of poems of which not a copy was ever sold; and I know another of which only one copy was sold through my betraying the secret of the author and mentioning the book to a classmate, who bought that one copy.

Therefore, in a general way, we may say that literature speaks in a manner the voice of solitude. As soon as the spoken word comes in, you have companionship. There can be no speech without at least one person present, if it is only the janitor of the church. Dean Swift in reading the Church of England service to his manservant only, adapted the service as follows: "Dearly beloved Roger, the Scripture moveth thee and me in sundry places," etc.; but in that very economy of speech he realized the presence of an audience. It takes a speaker and an audience together to make a speech—I can say to you what I could not first have said to myself. "The sea of upturned faces," as Daniel Webster said, borrowing the phrase, however, from Scott's "Rob Roy"— "the sea of upturned faces makes half the speech." And therefore we may assume that there will always be this form of communication. It has, both for the speaker and for the audience, this one vast advantage.


From "Girls and Education," by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works.


I doubt whether any one has told more effectively what a college may do for a girl's mind than Dr. Thomas Fuller. In his "Church History of Britain" he gives a short chapter to "The Conveniency of She-Colleges." (I once quoted this chapter at Smith College, and was accused of making it up.) "Nunneries also," he observes, "were good She-Schools, wherein the girls and maids of the neighborhood were taught to read and work; and sometimes a little Latin was taught them therein. Yea, give me leave to say, if such feminine foundations had still continued, haply the weaker sex might be heightened to a higher perfection than hitherto hath been attained. That sharpness of their wits, and suddenness of their conceits, which their enemies must allow unto them, might by education be improved into a judicious solidity."

The feminine mind, with its quick intuitions and unsteady logic, may keep the intuitions and gain a firmness which makes it more than transiently stimulating. The emotional mind has its charm, especially if its emotions are favorable to ourselves.

In some things it may be well that emotion is greater than logic; but emotion in logic is sad to contend with, sad even to contemplate—and such is too often the reasoning of the untrained woman. Do not for a moment suppose that I believe such reasoning peculiar to women; but from the best men it has been in great measure trained out.

In a right-minded, sound-hearted girl, college training tends toward control of the nervous system; and control of the nervous system— making it servant and not master—is almost the supreme need of women. Without such control they become helpless; with it they know scarcely a limit to their efficiency. The world does not yet understand that for the finest and highest work it looks and must look to the naturally sensitive, whether women or men. I remember expressing to the late Professor Greenough regret that a certain young teacher was nervous. His answer has been a comfort to me ever since. "I wouldn't give ten cents for any one who isn't." The nervous man or woman is bound to suffer; but the nervous man or woman may rise to heights that the naturally calm can never reach and can seldom see. To whom do you go for counsel? To the calm, no doubt; but never to the phlegmatic-never to the calm who are calm because they know no better (like the man in Ruskin "to whom the primrose is very accurately the primrose because he does not love it"). You go to the calm who have fought for their calmness, who have known what it is to quiver in every nerve, but have put through whatever they have taken in hand.

There are numberless sweet and patient women who never studied beyond the curriculum of the district school, women who help every one near them by their own unselfish loveliness; but the intelligently patient, the women who can put themselves into the places of all sorts of people, who can sympathize not merely with great and manifest griefs, but with every delicate jarring of the human soul—hardest of all, with the ambitions of the dull—these women, who must command a respect intellectual as well as moral, reach their highest efficiency through experience based on college training.

College life, designed as it is to strengthen a girl's intellect and character, should teach her to understand better, and not worse, herself as distinguished from other beings of her own sex or the opposite, should fortify her individuality, her power of resisting, and her determination to resist, the contagion of the unwomanly. Exaggerated study may lessen womanly charm; but there is nothing loud or masculine about it. Nor should we judge mental training or anything else by scattered cases of its abuse. The only characteristics of women that the sensible college girl has lost are feminine frivolity, and that kind of headless inaccuracy in thought and speech which once withheld from the sex—or from a large part of it—the intellectual respect of educated men.

At college, if you have lived rightly, you have found enough learning to make you humble, enough friendship to make your hearts large and warm, enough culture to teach you the refinement of simplicity, enough wisdom to keep you sweet in poverty and temperate in wealth. Here you have learned to see great and small in their true relation, to look at both sides of a question, to respect the point of view of every honest man or woman, and to recognize the point of view that differs most widely from your own. Here you have found the democracy that excludes neither poor nor rich, and the quick sympathy that listens to all and helps by the very listening. Here too, it may be at the end of a long struggle, you have seen—if only in transient glimpses—that after doubt comes reverence, after anxiety peace, after faintness courage, and that out of weakness we are made strong. Suffer these glimpses to become an abiding vision, and you have the supreme joy of life.


From an address to the students of Harvard University, 1885. Published in "The Drama; Addresses by Henry Irving," William Heinemann, London, publisher, 1893


What is the art of acting? I speak of it in its highest sense, as the art to which Roscius, Betterton, and Garrick owed their fame. It is the art of embodying the poet's creations, of giving them flesh and blood, of making the figures which appeal to your mind's eye in the printed drama live before you on the stage. "To fathom the depths of character, to trace its latent motives, to feel its finest quiverings of emotion, to comprehend the thoughts that are hidden under words, and thus possess one's self of the actual mind of the individual man"—such was Macready's definition of the player's art; and to this we may add the testimony of Talma. He describes tragic acting as "the union of grandeur without pomp and nature without triviality." It demands, he says, the endowment of high sensibility and intelligence.

You will readily understand from this that to the actor the well-worn maxim that art is long and life is short has a constant significance. The older we grow the more acutely alive we are to the difficulties of our craft. I cannot give you a better illustration of this fact than a story which is told of Macready. A friend of mine, once a dear friend of his, was with him when he played Hamlet for the last time. The curtain had fallen, and the great actor was sadly thinking that the part he loved so much would never be his again. And as he took off his velvet mantle and laid it aside, he muttered almost unconsciously the words of Horatio, "Good-night, sweet Prince" then turning to his friend, "Ah," said he, "I am just beginning to realise the sweetness, the tenderness, the gentleness of this dear Hamlet!" Believe me, the true artist never lingers fondly upon what he has done. He is ever thinking of what remains undone: ever striving toward an ideal it may never be his fortune to attain.

It is often supposed that great actors trust to the inspiration of the moment. Nothing can be more erroneous. There will, of course, be such moments, when an actor at a white heat illumines some passage with a flash of imagination (and this mental condition, by the way, is impossible to the student sitting in his armchair); but the great actor's surprises are generally well weighed, studied, and balanced. We know that Edmund Kean constantly practiced before a mirror effects which startled his audience by their apparent spontaneity. It is the accumulation of such effects which enables an actor, after many years, to present many great characters with remarkable completeness.

I do not want to overstate the case, or to appeal to anything that is not within common experience, so I can confidently ask you whether a scene in a great play has not been at some time vividly impressed on your minds by the delivery of a single line, or even of one forcible word. Has not this made the passage far more real and human to you than all the thought you have devoted to it? An accomplished critic has said that Shakespeare himself might have been surprised had he heard the "Fool, fool, fool!" of Edmund Kean. And though all actors are not Keans, they have in varying degree this power of making a dramatic character step out of the page, and come nearer to our hearts and our understandings.

After all, the best and most convincing exposition of the whole art of acting is given by Shakespeare himself: "To hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure." Thus the poet recognized the actor's art as a most potent ally in the representation of human life. He believed that to hold the mirror up to nature was one of the worthiest functions in the sphere of labor, and actors are content to point to his definition of their work as the charter of their privileges.


From "The Harvard Graduates Magazine"


Just in the last few years we have had a striking illustration of strong reaction against prevailing educational policies. There has come upon us right here on these grounds and among Harvard's constituents, and widespread over the country as well, a distrust of freedom for students, of freedom for citizens, of freedom for backward races of men. This is one of the striking phenomena of our day, a distrust of freedom.

Now, there is no moment in life when there comes a greater sudden access of freedom than this moment in which you find yourselves. When young men come to an American college, I care not at all which college—to any American college from the parents' home or from school, they experience a tremendous access of freedom. Is it an injury? Is it a danger? Are you afraid of it? Has society a right to be afraid of it? What is freedom for? What does it do for us? Does it hurt us or help us? Do we grow in it, or do we shrink in it? That is quite an important question in the management of Harvard University. It is the important question in modern government. It is pretty clear that when young men or old men are free, they make mistakes, and they go wrong; having freedom to do right or wrong, they often do right and they often do wrong. When you came hither, you found yourselves in possession of a new freedom. You can overeat yourselves, for example; you can overdrink; you can take no care for sleep; you can take no exercise or too much; you can do little work or too much; you can indulge in harmful amusements: in short, you have a great new freedom here. Is it a good thing for you or a bad thing? Clearly you can go astray, for the road is not fenced. You can make mistakes; you can fall into sin. Have you learned to control yourselves? Have you got the will-power in you to regulate your own conduct? Can you be your own taskmaster? You have been in the habit of looking to parents, perhaps, or to teachers, or to the heads of your boarding schools or your day schools for control in all these matters. Have you got it in yourselves to control yourselves? That is the prime question which comes up with regard to every one of you when you come to the University. Have you the sense and the resolution to regulate your own conduct?

It is pretty clear that in other spheres freedom is dangerous. How is it with free political institutions? Do they always yield the best government? Look at the American cities and compare them with the cities of Europe. Clearly, free institutions do not necessarily produce the best government. Are then free institutions wrong or inexpedient? What is freedom for? Why has God made men free, as he has not made the plants and the animals? Is freedom dangerous? Yes! but it is necessary to the growth of human character, and that is what we are all in the world for, and that is what you and your like are in college for. That is what the world was made for, for the occupation of men who in freedom through trial win character. It is choice which makes the dignity of human nature. It is habitual choosing after examination, consideration, reflection, and advice, which makes the man of power. It is through the internal motive power of the will that men imagine, invent, and thrust thoughts out into the obscure beyond, into the future. The will is the prime motive power; and you can only train your wills, in freedom. That is what freedom is for, in school and college, in society, industries, and governments. Fine human character is the ultimate object, and freedom is the indispensable condition of its development.

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