Page images

to his family; loyal to his country; loyal to his God. This produced a reciprocal feeling in all who came in contact with it It was one of the chief reasons why men became so loyally attached to him. It is true that this trait so dominated his whole character that it led him to make mistakes; it led him to continue to stand by men who were no longer worthy of his confidence; but after all it was a trait so grand, so noble, we do not stop to count the errors which resulted. It led him to be a man who had the courage to be just; to stand between worthy and unworthy admirers and slanderers, and let kindly sentiment have a voice in an age in which the heart played so small a part in public life Many a public man has had hosts of followers because they fattened in the patronage dispensed at his hand; many have been his adherents because they were in the cause that he represented, but perhaps no man but General Grant had so many friends who loved him for his own sake; whose attachment strengthened only with time; whose affection knew neither variableness nor shadow, nor turn; who stuck as closely as the toga to Nessus, whether he was Captain, General, or President, or simply a private citizen.

General Grant was essentially great in great emergencies; it was the very magnitude of the task which called forth the powers which mastered it. In ordinary matters he was an ordinary man. In momentous affairs he towered as a giant. When he served in a company there was nothing in his acts to distinguish him from the fellow-officers of his company; but when he wielded corps and armies the great qualities of the commander flashed forth, and his master strokes of genius placed him at once in the front rank of the world's great captains. When he hauled wood from his little farm and sold it in the streets of St. Louis, there was nothing in his business or his financial capacity different from that of small farmers about him; but, when, as president of the republic, he found it his duty to puncture the fallacy of the inflationists, to throttle by a veto the attempt of unwise legislators to tamper with the American credit, he penned a state paper so logical, so masterful, that it has ever since been the pride, wonder and admiration of every lover of an honest currency. He was made for great things, not for little. He could collect, for the nation, $15,000,000 from Great Britain, in settlement of the Alabama claim. He could not protect his own personal savings from the miscreants who robbed him in Wall street. But General Grant needs no eulogies. His name is indelibly engraved in the hearts of his countrymen. His services attest his greatness. He did his duty, and trusted to history for his meed of praise. The more history discusses him, the more brilliant becomes the luster of his deeds. His record is like a torch, the more it is shaken the brighter it burns. His name will stand imperishable when epitaphs have vanished utterly, and monuments and statues have crumbled into dust; but the people of this great city, everywhere renowned for their deeds of generosity, have covered themselves anew with glory in fashioning in enduring bronze; in rearing in monumental rock that magnificent tribute to his worth which was yesterday unveiled in the presence of countless thousands. As I gazed upon its graceful lines and chaste proportions, I felt that the deeds will remind us of the child-like simplicity which was mingled with the majestic grandeur of his nature. The memories clustering about it will recall the heroic age of the republic; it will point the path of loyalty to children yet unborn; its mute eloquence will plead for equal sacrifice should war ever again threaten the nation's life. Generations yet to come will pause to read the inscription which it bears, and the voices of a grateful people will ascend from the consecrated spot on which it stands as an incense rises from holy places, invoking blessings upon the memory of him who had filled to the very full the largest measure of human greatness and covered the earth with his renown.

I remember an incident which will ever be memorable, and which never can be effaced from the memory of those who witnessed it. I can scarcely trust my own feelings to recall it. It was on Decoration day in the city of New York, the last one he ever saw on earth. That morning the members of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans in that vicinity, rose earlier than was their wont. They seemed to spend more time that morning unfurling the old battle flags, in burnishing the medals of honor which decorated their breasts, for on that day they had determined to march by the house of their dying commander, to give him a last marching salute. In the streets the columns were formed; inside the house on that bed from which he never was to rise again, lay the stricken chief. The hand which had seized the surrendered swords of countless thousands could scarcely return the pressure of the friendly grasp. That voice that had cheered on to triumphant victory, the allegiance of America's manhood, could no longer call for the cooling draught that slaked the thirst of a fevered tongue, and prostrated on that bed of anguish lay the form which in the new world had ridden at the head of the conquering column, which in the old world had been deemed worthy to stand with head covered and feet sandaled in the presence of princes, kings and emperors. In the street his ear caught the sound of martial music. Bands were playing the same strains which had echoed his guns at Vicksburg, the same quickstep to which his men sped in hot · haste when pursuing Lee through Virginia. And then came the heavy, measured step of moving columns, a step which can be acquired only by years of service in the field. He recognized it all now. It was the tread of his old veterans. With his little remaining strength he arose and dragged himself to the window. He gazed upon those battle-flags dipped to him in salute, those precious standards, bullet-riddled, battlestained, but remnants of their former service, with scarcely enough left of them on which to print the names of the battles. They had seen his eyes once more light with the flames that enkindled them at Shiloh, at the heights of Chattanooga, amid the glories of Appoinattox, and as those war-scarred veterans looked, with uncovered heads and upturned faces, for the last time upon the pallid features of their old chief, the cheeks which had been bronzed with southern suns and begrimed with powder were bathed in the tears of manly grief. Soon they saw rising the hand which had so often pointed out to them the path to victory. He raised it slowly and painfully to his head in recognition of their salutation. When the column had passed the hand fell heavily by his side. It was his last military salute.

SECOND TOAST.-The War is Over,- Let Us Have Peace."

Response by Honorable HENRY WATTERSON.

I believe that, at this moment, the people of the United States are nearer together, in all that constitutes kindred feeling and interest, than they have been since the adoption of the Federal Constitution. If it were not so, I should hardly venture to come here and talk to you as I am going to talk to-night. As it is, surrounded though I be by Union soldiers, my bridges burned, and every avenue of escape cut off, I am not in the least discouraged or alarmed. On the contrary, I never felt safer, or happier, or more at home. Indeed, I think that, supported by your presence, and sustained by these commissary stores, I could stand a siege of several months and hold out against incredible odds. It is wonderful how circumstances alter cases; for it was not always so.

I am one of many witnesses who live to tell the story of a journey to the moon, and back! It may not be that I have any marvels of personal adventure or any prodigies of individual valor to relate; but I do not owe my survival to the precaution taken by a member of the Confederate battery commanded by the brave Captain Howell, of Georgia. It was the habit of this person to go to the rear whenever the battery got well under fire. At last Captain Howell called him up and admonished him that, if the breach of duty was repeated, he would shoot him down as he went, without a word. The reply came on the instant: “That's all right, Captain; that's all right; you can shoot me; but I'll be dadburned if I'm going to let them darn'd Yankees do it!" I at least gave you the opportunity to try, and I am much your debtor that, in my case, your marksmanship was so defective.

You have been told that the war is over. I think that I, myself, have heard that observation. I am glad of it.

I am glad of it. Roses smell sweeter than gunpowder; for every-day uses, the carving-knife is preferable to the bayonet, or the sabre; and, in a contest for first choice between cannon-balls and wine corks, I have a decided prejudice in favor of the latter!

The war is over; and it is well over. God reigns, and the Gov. ernment at Washington still lives. I am glad of that. I can conceive nothing worse for ourselves, nothing worse for our children, than what might have been if the war had ended otherwise, leaving two exhausted combatants to become the prey of foreign intervention and diplomacy, setting the clock of civilization back a century, and splitting the noblest of the continents into five or six weak and warring Republics, like those of South America, to repeat in the New World the mistakes of the Old.

The war is over, truly; and, let me repeat it is well over. If anything was wanting to proclaim its termination from every house-top and door-post in the land, that little brush we had last spring with Signor Macaroni furnished it. As to the touch of an electric bell, the whole people rallied to the brave words of the Secretary of State, and, for the moment, sections and parties sunk

out of sight and thought in one over-mastering sentiment of racehood, manhood and nationality.

I shall not stop to inquire whether the war made us better than we were. It certainly made us better acquainted, and, on the whole, it seems to me that we are none the worse for that better acquaintance. The truth is, the trouble between us was never more than skin-deep; and the curious thing about it is that it was not our skin, anyhow! It was a black skin, not a white skin, that brought it about.

As I see it, our great sectional controversy was, from first to last, the gradual evolution of a people from darkness to light, with no charts or maps to guide them, and no experience to lead the way.

The framers of our Constitution found themselves unable to fix decisively and to define accurately the exact relation of the States to the Federal Government. On that point they left what may be described as an “open clause," and through that open clause, as through an open door, the grim spectre of disunion stalked. It was attended on one hand by African slavery; on the other hand by sectional jealousy, and between this trio of evil spirits, the household flower of peace was torn from the lintel and tossed into the flames of war.

In the beginning, all of us were guilty, and equally guilty, for African slavery. It was the good fortune of the North first to find out that slave labor was not profitable. So, very sensibly; it sold the slaves to the South, which, very disastrously, pursued the delusion. Time at last has done its perfect work; the South sees now, as the North saw before it, that the system of slavery, as it was maintained by us, was the clumsiest and costliest labor system on earth, and that when we took the field to fight for it, we set out upon a fool's errand.

Under slave labor, the yield of cotton never reached five million bales. Under free labor, it has never fallen below that figure, gradually ascending to six and seven, until, this year, it is about to reach nearly nine million bales. This tells the whole story. I am not here to talk politics, of

But I put it to you, whether that is not a pretty good showing for free black labor, and whether, with such a showing, the Southern whites can afford any other than just and kind treatment to the blacks, without whom indeed the South would be a briar patch, and half our national gold income a gaping hole-in-theground!


« EelmineJätka »