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As I have said before this club on another occasion, the citizens of Chicago are fortunate above those of any other great city in the United States in the average high character of their newspapers. They may have their faults, but who has not? Let him or her who is without fault throw stones.
If the newspaper press is as bad as some people always pretend to think, how comes it that every good cause instinctively seeks its aid with almost absolute confidence of obtaining it? And how comes it that the workers of evil just as instinctively aim to fraudulently use it or silence it, and with such poor success?
To expose and oppose wrong is an almost involuntary rule among newspaper workers—from chief to printer's devil. They make mistakes like others, they are tempted and fall like others, but I testify to a well-recognized intention of our profession, the rule is to learn the facts, and print them, too—to know the truth and not hide it under a bushel. Nine-tenths of the criticisms of the press one hears is the braying of the galled jades or the crackling of thorns under a pot.
The press stands for light, not darkness. It is the greatest power in our modern civilization. Thieves and rascals of high and low degree hate and malign it, but no honest man has reasonable cause to fear the abuse of its power. It is a beacon, and not a false light. It casts its blessed beams into dark places, and while it brings countless crimes to light, it also reveals to the beneficence of the world the wrongs and needs of the necessitous. It is the embodiment of energy in the pursuit of news, for its name is Light, and its aim is Knowledge. Ignorance and crime flee from before it like mist before the God of Light. It stands to-day
“ For the truth that lacks assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
And the good that it can do."
It has no license to do wrong; it has boundless liberty and opportunity to do good.
(Speech of Theodore Tilton at the sixtieth annual dinner of the New England Society in the City of New York, December 22, 1863. The Chairman, Joseph H. Choate, gave the following toast, Wonian -the strong staff and beautiful rod which sustained and comforted our forefathers during every step of the pilgrims' progress.” Theodore Tilton was called upon to respond. ]
GENTLEMEN: It is somewhat to a modest man's embarrassment, on rising to this toast, to know that it has already been twice partially spoken to this evening-first by my friend, Senator Lane from Indiana, and just now, most eloquently, by the mayor-elect of New York (John T. Hoffman), who could not utter a better word in his own praise than to tell us that he married a Massachusetts wife. [Applause.] In choosing the most proper spot on this platform as my standpoint for such remarks as are appropriate to such a toast, my first impulse was to go to the other end of the table; for hereafter, Mr. Chairman, when you are in want of a man to speak for Woman, remember what Hamlet said, “ Bring me the recorder!”* [Laughter.] But, on the other hand, here, at this end, a prior claim was put in from the State of Indiana, whose venerable Senator (Henry S. Lane) has expressed himself disappointed at finding no women present. So, as my toast introduces that sex, I feel bound to stand at the Senator's end of the roomnot, however, too near the Senator's chair, for it may be dangerous to take Woman too near that "good-looking man.” (Laughter and applause.] Therefore, gentlemen, I
* Allusion to John T. Hoffman, who occupied the post of Recorder previous to his election as Mayor.
stand between these two chairs—the Army on my right [General Hancock), the Navy on my left [Admiral Farragut] -to hold over their heads a name that conquers bothWoman! [Applause.] The Chairman has pictured a viceadmiral tied for a little while to a mast; but it is the spirit of my sentiment to give you a vice-admiral tied life-long to a master. [Applause.] In the absence of woman, therefore, from this gilded feast, I summon her to your golden remembrance. There is an old English song-older, sir, than the Pilgrims:
“ By absence, this good means I gain,
That I can catch her
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. [Great laughter.] A health, therefore, to the women in the cabin of the Mayflower! A cluster of May-flowers 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.” [Applause.] 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! [Applause.] There was Mistress Carver, wife of the first governor, and 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! [Applause. 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 new-born nation was to have a birthright inheritance over the sea and over the land. [Great applause.] There, also, was Rose Standish, whose name is a perpetual June fragrance, to mellow and sweeten those December winds. And there, too, was Mrs. Winslow, whose name is even more than a fragrance; it is a taste; for, as the advertisements say, “ children cry for it "; it is a soothing syrup. [Great laughter.]
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 sea-beach, 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! [Great laughter.]
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! [Applause.) And if we could summon up from their graves, and bring hither tonight, that olden company of long-mouldered men, and they could sit with us at this feast-in their mortal flesh and with their stately presence--the whole world would make a pilgrimage to see those pilgrims! [Applause.] How quaint their attire! How grotesque their names! How we treasure every relic of their day and generation! And of all the heirlooms of the earlier times in Yankeeland, what household memorial is clustered round about with more sacred and touching associations than the spinning-wheel! The industrious mother sat by it doing her work while she instructed her children! The blushing daughter plied it diligently, while her sweetheart had a chair very close by. And you remember, too, another person who used it more than all the rest—that peculiar kind of maiden, well along in life, who, while she spun her yarn into one “ blue stocking, spun herself into another. [Laughter.] But perhaps my toast forbids me to touch upon this well-known class of Yankee women-restricting me, rather, to such women as “comforted” the Pilgrims. [Laughter.]
But, my friends, such of the Pilgrim Fathers as found good women to "comfort" them had, I am sure, their full share of matrimonial thorns in the flesh. For instance, I know of an early New England epitaph on a tombstone, in these words: “Obadiah and Sarah Wilkenson—their warfare is accomplished.” [Uproarious laughter.] And among the early statutes of Connecticut-a State that began with blue laws, and ends with black [laughter)—there was one which said: “No Gospel minister shall unite people in marriage; the civil magistrates shall unite people in marriage; as they may do it with less scandal to the church.” [Loud laughter.] Now, gentlemen, since Yankee clergymen fared so hard for wedding-fees in those days, is it to be wondered at that so many Yankee clergymen have escaped out of New England, and are here to-night? [Laughter.] Dropping their frailties in the graves which cover their ashes, I hold up anew to your love and respect the Forefathers of New England! And as the sons of the Pilgrims are worthy of their sires, so the daughters of the Pilgrims are worthy of their mothers. I hold that in true womanly worth, in housewifely thrift, in domestic skill, in every lovable and endearing quality, the present race of Yankee women are the women of the earth! [Applause.) And I trust that we shall yet have a Republic which, instead of disfranchising one-half its citizens, and that too by common consent its “better half,” shall ordain the political equality, not only