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the world which loves a lover the descendants of those who, generation after generation, with tears and laughter, have sympathized with John Alden and Priscilla, cannot fail to open their hearts in sympathy to Henry Watterson and his star-eyed goddess. [Applause.] I have the honor and great pleasure of introducing him to respond to the toast of 'The Puritan and the Cavalier.'”]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:–Eight years ago, to-night, there stood where I am standing now a young Georgian, who, not without reason, recognized the “significance " of his presence here—“the first southerner to speak at this board ”—a circumstance, let me add, not very creditable to any of us—and in words whose eloquence I cannot hope to recall, appealed from the New South to New England for a united country.
He was my disciple, my protégé, my friend. He came to me from the southern schools, where he had perused the arts of oratory and letters, to get a few hints in journalism, as he said; needing so few, indeed, that, but a little later, I sent him to one of the foremost journalists of this foremost city, bearing a letter of introduction, which described him as "the greatest boy ever born in Dixie, or anywhere else."
He is gone now. But, short as his life was, its heavenborn mission was fulfilled; the dream of his childhood was realized; for he had been appointed by God to carry a message of peace on earth, good-will to men, and, this done, he vanished from the sight of mortal eyes, even as the dove from the ark.
I mean to take up the word where Grady left it off, but I shall continue the sentence with a somewhat larger confidence, and, perhaps, with a somewhat fuller meaning; because, notwithstanding the Puritan trappings, traditions, and associations which surround me-visible illustrations of the self-denying fortitude of the Puritan character and the sombre simplicity of the Puritan taste and habit-I never felt less out of place in all my life.
To tell you the truth, I am afraid that I have gained access here on false pretences; for I am no Cavalier at all; just plain Scotch-Irish; one of those Scotch-Irish southerners who ate no fire in the green leaf and has eaten no dirt in the brown, and who, accepting, for the moment, the terms Puritan and Cavalier in the sense an effete sectional
ism once sought to ascribe to them-descriptive labels at once classifying and separating North and South-verbal redoubts along that mythical line called Mason and Dixon, over which there were supposed by the extremists of other days to be no bridges—I am much disposed to say, “A plague o' both your houses!”
Each was good enough and bad enough in its way, whilst they lasted; each in its turn filled the English-speaking world with mourning; and each, if either could have resisted the infection of the soil and climate they found here, would be to-day striving at the sword's point to square life by the iron rule of Theocracy, or to round it by the dizzy whirl of a petticoat! It is very pretty to read about the Maypole in Virginia and very edifying and inspiring to celebrate the deeds of the Pilgrim Fathers. But there is not Cavalier blood enough left in the Old Dominion to produce a single crop of first families, whilst out in Nebraska and Iowa they claim that they have so stripped New England of her Puritan stock as to spare her hardly enough for farm hands. This I do know, from personal experience, that it is impossible for the stranger-guest, sitting beneath a bower of roses in the Palmetto Club at Charleston, or by a mimic log-heap in the Algonquin Club at Boston, to tell the assembled company apart, particularly after ten o'clock in the evening! Why, in that great, final struggle between the Puritans and the Cavaliers—which we still hear sometimes casually mentioned--although it ended nearly thirty years ago, there had been such a mixing up of Puritan babies and Cavalier babies during the two or three generations preceding it, that the surviving grandmothers of the combatants could not, except for their uniforms, have picked out their own on any field of battle!
Turning to the Cyclopædia of American Biography, I find that Webster had all the vices that are supposed to have signalized the Cavalier, and Calhoun all the virtues that are claimed for the Puritan. During twenty years three statesmen of Puritan origin were the chosen party leaders of Cavalier Mississippi: Robert J. Walker, born and reared in Pennsylvania; John A. Quitman, born and reared in New York, and Sargent S. Prentiss, born and reared in the good old State of Maine. That sturdy Puritan, John Slidell,
never saw Louisiana until he was old enough to vote and to fight; native here—an alumnus of Columbia College—but sprung from New England ancestors. Albert Sidney Johnston, the most resplendent of modern Cavaliers—from tip to toe a type of the species—the very rose and expectancy of the young Confederacy-did not have a drop of Southern blood in his veins; Yankee on both sides of the house, though born in Kentucky a little while after his father and mother arrived there from Connecticut. The Ambassador who serves our Government near the French Republic was a gallant Confederate soldier and is a representative southern statesman; but he owns the estate in Massachusetts where his father was born, and where his father's fathers lived through many generations.
And the Cavaliers, who missed their stirrups, somehow, and got into Yankee saddles? The woods were full of them. If Custer was not a Cavalier, Rupert was a Puritan. And Sherwood and Wadsworth and Kearny, and McPherson and their dashing companions and followers! The one typical Puritan soldier of the war-mark you!—was a Southern, and not a Northern, soldier; Stonewall Jackson, of the Virginia line. And, if we should care to pursue the subject farther back, what about Ethan Allen and John Stark and Mad Anthony Wayne—Cavaliers each and every one? Indeed, from Israel Putnam to “ Buffalo Bill,” it seems to me the Puritans have had rather the best of it in turning out Cavaliers. So the least said about the Puritan and the Cavalier-except as blessed memories or horrid examples - the better for historic accuracy.
If you wish to get at the bottom facts, I don't mind telling you—in confidence—that it was we Scotch-Irish who vanquished both of you—some of us in peace-others of us in war-supplying the missing link of adaptability—the needed ingredient of common sense—the conservative principle of creed and action, to which this generation of Americans owes its intellectual and moral emancipation from frivolity and pharisaism—its rescue from the Scarlet Woman and the mailed hand-and its crystallization into a national character and polity, ruling by force of brains and not by force of arms.
Gentlemen -Sir-I, too, have been to Boston. Strange
as the admission may seem, it is true; and I live to tell the tale. I have been to Boston; and when I declare that I found there many things that suggested the Cavalier and did not suggest the Puritan, I shall not say I was sorry. But among other things, I found there a civilization perfect in its union of the art of living with the grace of life; an Americanism ideal in its simple strength. Grady told us, and told us truly, of that typical American who, in Dr. Talmage's mind's eye, was coming, but who, in Abraham Lincoln's actuality, had already come. In some recent studies into the career of that great man, I have encountered many startling confirmations of this judgment; and from that rugged trunk, drawing its sustenance from gnarled roots, interlocked with Cavalier sprays and Puritan branches deep beneath the soil, shall spring, is springing, a shapely tree-symmetric in all its parts—under whose sheltering boughs this nation shall have the new birth of freedom Lincoln promised it, and mankind the refuge which was sought by the forefathers when they fled from oppression. Thank God, the axe, the gibbet, and the stake have had their day. They have gone, let us hope, to keep company with the lost arts. It has been demonstrated that great wrongs may be redressed and great reforms be achieved without the shedding of one drop of human blood; that vengeance does not purify, but brutalizes; and that tolerance, which in private transactions is reckoned a virtue, becomes in public affairs a dogma of the most far-seeing statesmanship. Else how could this noble city have been redeemed from bondage? It was held like a castle of the Middle Ages by robber barons, who levied tribute right and left. Yet have the mounds and dykes of corruption been carried—from buttress to bell-tower the walls of crime have fallen-without a shot out of a gun, and still no fires of Smithfield to light the pathway of the victor, no bloody assizes to vindicate the justice of the cause; nor need of any.
So I appeal from the men in silken hose who danced to music made by slaves—and called it freedom-from the men in bell-crowned hats, who led Hester Prynne to her shame -and called it religion—to that Americanism which reaches forth its arms to smite wrong with reason and truth, secure in the power of both. I appeal from the patriarchs of New
England to the poets of New England; from Endicott to Lowell; from Winthrop to Longfellow; from Norton to Holmes; and I appeal in the name and by the rights of that common citizenship-of that common origin-back both of the Puritan and the Cavalier-to which all of us owe our being. Let the dead past, consecrated by the blood of its martyrs, not by its savage hatreds—darkened alike by kingcraft and priestcraft-let the dead past bury its dead. Let the present and the future ring with the song of the singers. Blessed be the lessons they teach, the laws they make. Blessed be the eye to see, the light to reveal. Blessed be Tolerance, sitting ever on the right hand of God to guide the way with loving word, as blessed be all that brings us nearer the goal of true religion, true Republicanism and true patriotism, distrust of watchwords and labels, shams and heroes, belief in our country and ourselves. It was not Cot. ton Mather, but John Greenleaf Whittier, who cried:
“Dear God and Father of us all,
Forgive our faith in cruel lies,
Forgive the blindness that denies.
Our bloody altars—make us soc
(Applause and cheers.)