Public Speaking
by Irvah Lester Winter
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I say, gentlemen, by the standard of the law are we to judge the actions of the people who were the assailants and those who were the assailed and then on duty. And here, gentlemen, the rule we formerly laid down takes place. To the facts, gentlemen, apply yourselves. Consider them as testified; weigh the credibility of the witnesses— balance their testimony—compare the several parts of it—see the amount of it; and then, according to your oath, "make true deliverance according to your evidence." That is, gentlemen, having settled the facts, bring them truly to the standard of the law; the king's judges, who are acquainted with it, who are presumed best to know it, will then inspect this great standard of right and wrong, truth and justice; and they are to determine the degree of guilt to which the fact rises.


May it please your honors, and you gentlemen of the jury,—After having thus gone through the evidence and considered it as applicatory to all and every one of the prisoners, let us take once more a brief and cursory survey of matters supported by the evidence. And here let me ask in sober reason, what language more opprobrious, what actions more exasperating, than those used on this occasion? Words, I am sensible, are no justification of blows, but they serve as the grand clew to discover the temper and the designs of the agents; they serve also to give us light in discerning the apprehensions and thoughts of those who are the objects of abuse.

"You lobsters!"—"You bloody-back!"—"You coward!"—"You dastard!" are but some of the expressions proved. What words more galling? What more cutting and provoking to a soldier? But accouple these words with the succeeding actions,—"You dastard!"—"You coward!" A soldier and a coward!

This was touching "the point of honor and the pride of virtue." But while these are as yet fomenting the passions and swelling the bosom, the attack is made; and probably the latter words were reiterated at the onset; at least, were yet sounding in the ear. Gentlemen of the jury, for Heaven's sake, let us put ourselves in the same situation! Would you not spurn at that spiritless institution of society which tells you to be a subject at the expense of your manhood?

But does the soldier step out of his ranks to seek his revenge? Not a witness pretends it. Did not the people repeatedly come within the 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 judgments."

"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, 1868


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 Presidents.

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 Boeotes as he drives his dogs up the zenith in their race of sidereal fire?" will force itself on his notice. What, indeed, would Boeotes think of this new constellation?

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 patriotism.


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, publishers.


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 nation?

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 woods.

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, publishers.


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 down.

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 people:—

"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 reenforcements 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, publishers.


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 Thermopylae 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 example!


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 AEschylus 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 consecration.


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."

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