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on the banks of the Monongahela River, set up their stills, built their meeting-houses, organized the presbytery-and, gentlemen, the reputation of our Monongahela rye is unsurpassed to this day (long applause), and our unqualified orthodoxy even now turns the stomach of a modern Puritan and constrains Colonel Ingersoll * not to pray, alas! but to swear. [Loud laughter.]
Mr. President, I hope General Porter will join me in claiming some recognition for the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from these sons of the Puritans. For do you not know that your own man Bancroft says that the first public voice in America for dissolving all connection with Great Britain came not from the Puritans of New England, the Dutch of New York, nor the planters of Virginia, but from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians? [Applause.] Therefore, Mr. President, be kind enough to accept from us the greeting of the Scotch-Irish of Pennsylvania, our native State—that prolific mother of pig-iron and coal, whose favorite and greatest sons are still Albert Gallatin, of Switzerland, and Benjamin Franklin, of Massachusetts. [Laughter and applause.]
The first son of a Forefather I ever fell in with was a ninemonths Connecticut man at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the spring of ’62. Now, I was a guileless and generous lad of nineteen-all Pennsylvanians are guileless and generous, for our mountains are so rich in coal, our valleys so fat with soil, that our living is easy and therefore our wits are dull, and we are still voting for Jackson. [Great laughter.] The reason the Yankees are smart is because they have to wrest a precarious subsistence from a reluctant soil. “What shall I do to make my son get forward in the world?” asked an English lord of a bishop. “I know of only one way,” replied the bishop; “give him poverty and parts." Well, that's the reason the sons of the Pilgrims have all got on in the world. They all started with poverty, and had to exercise their wits on nutmegs or notions or something to thrive. (Laughter.] Yes, they had “parts." Why, they have taken New York from the Dutch; they are half of Wall Street, and only a Jew, or a long-headed Sage, or that surprising and surpassing genius in finance, Jay, t can wrestle with them on equal terms. Ah! these Yankees have “parts ”-lean bodies, sterile soil, but such brains that they grew a Webster. [Applause.] Well, this Connecticut man invited me to his quarters. When I got back to my regiment I had a shabby overcoat instead of my new one, I had a frying-pan worth twenty cents, that cost me five dollars, and a recipe for baked beans for which I had parted with my gold pen and pencil. [Continued laughter.] I was a sadder and a wiser man that night for that encounter with the Connecticut Pilgrim.
* Robert G. Ingersoll. † Jay Gould.
But my allotted time is running away, and, preacher-like, I couldn't begin without an introduction. I am afraid in this case the porch will be bigger than the house. But now to my toast,“ The Clergy.” Surely, Mr. President and gentlemen, you sons of the Pilgrims appreciate the debt you owe the Puritan divines. What made your section great, dominant, glorious in the history of our common country? To what class of your citizens—more than to any other, I think-do you owe the proud memories of your past, and your strength, achievements, and culture in the present? Who had the first chance on your destiny, your character, your development? Why, the Puritan preacher, of course; the man who in every parish inculcated the fear of God in your fathers' souls, obedience to law, civil and divine, the dignity of man, the worth of the soul and right conduct in life. [Applause.] Believe me, gentlemen, the Puritan clergy did a great work for New England. Our whole country feels yet the impulse and movement given it by those stern preachers of righteousness, who had Abrahamic eyes under their foreheads and the stuff of Elijah in their souls. [Applause.) I know it's the fashion now to poke fun at the Puritans, to use the “ Blue Laws” as a weapon against them, to sneer at them as hard, narrow, and intolerant. Yes, alas! we do not breathe through their lungs any more. The wheel has gone round, and we have come back to the very things the Puritans fled from in hatred and in horror.
We pride ourselves these days on our sweetness and light," on our culture and manners. The soul of the age is hospitable and entertains, like an inn,“ God or the devil on equal terms,” as George Eliot says. Alas! the Puritan chart has failed us in the sea through which we are passing; the old stars have ceased to shine; too many of us know neither our course nor destination; "authority is mute;
the “ Thus saith the Lord ” of the Puritan is not enough now for our guidance. For the age is in all things not one of reason or of faith, but of speculation not only in the business of the world, but in all moral and spiritual questions as well. Well, we shall see what we shall see. But for one, I admire with all my soul a man who knows just what he was put into this world for, what his chief end in it is, what he believes, must do and must be, and in the ways thereof is willing to inflict or to suffer death. [Applause.] The Puritan divine was such a man. He sowed your rocky coasts and sterile hills with conscience and God. You are living on the virtue that came out of the hem of his garment; he is our bulwark still in this land against superstition on the one hand and infidelity on the other. [Applause.] Grand man he was, the old Puritan; once arrived he was always arrived; while other men hesitated he acted; while others debated he declared; fearing God, he was lifted above every other fear; and though he has passed away for a time-only for a time, remember: the wheel is still turning, we can't stand on air-he will come back again, but in the meantime he is still a “preacher of righteousness to our souls as effective in death as in life. [Applause.]
In your presence I greet with my warmest admiration, I salute with my profound reverence, the old Puritan divines of New England who had a scorn for all base uses of life, who were true to duty as they saw it, who had convictions for which they would kill or die, who formed their characters and guided their lives by the law of righteousness in human conduct. To these men under God we largely owe our liberties and our laws in this land. I take off my hat to his ghost, and salute him as greater than he who has taken a city, for the Puritan divine conquered himself. He was an Isaac, not an Ishmael; he was a Jacob, not an Esau; a God-born man who knew what his soul did wear. Great man he was, hard, stern, and intolerant. Yes, but what would you have, gentlemen? The Puritan was not a pretty head carved on a cherry-stone, but a Colossus cut from the rock, huge, grim, but awe-inspiring, fortifying to the soul if not warming to the heart. [Applause.)
Well, would he know you to-night, I wonder, his own sons, if he came in upon you now, in circumstances so dif
ferent and with manners and customs so changed? Would he gaze at you with sad, sad eyes, and weep over you as the degenerate sons of noble sires? [Laughter.] No, no; you are worthy, I think. The sons will keep what the fathers won. After all, you are still one with the Puritan in all essential things. [Applause.) You clasp hands with him in devotion to the same principle, in obedience to the same God. True, the man between doublet and skin plays many parts; fashions come and go, never long the same, but * clothe me as you will I am Sancho Panza still.” So you are Puritans still. Back of your Unitarianism, back of your Episcopalianism, back of your Transcendentalism, back of all your isms, conceits, vagaries—and there is no end to them-back of them all there beats in you the Puritan heart. Blood will tell. Scratch a child of sweetness and light on Beacon Hill to-day and you will find a Puritan. [Laughter.] Scratch your Emerson, your Bellows, your Lowell, your Longfellow, your Wendell Phillips, your Phillips Brooks, and you find the Puritan. [Applause.] In intellectual conclusions vastly different, in heart, at bottom, you're all one in love of liberty, in fear of God, contempt for shams, and scorn of all things base and mean. [Applause.]
So, ye ghosts of old Puritan divines, ye cannot look down on your sons to-night with sad and reproachful eyes. For the sons have not wasted what the fathers gained, nor failed in any critical emergency, nor yet forsaken the God ye feared so well, though they have modified your creed. Gentlemen, I cannot think that the blood has run out. Exchange your evening dress for the belted tunic and cloak; take off the silk hat and put on the wide brim and the steeple crown, and lo! I see the Puritan. And twenty years ago I heard him speak and saw him act. “If any man hauls down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.” Why, Warren in old Boston did not act more promptly or do a finer thing. Well, what moved in your splendid Dix when he gave that order? The spirit of the old Puritan. And I saw the sons of the sires act. Who reddened the streets of Baltimore with the first Union blood?-Massachusetts. (Loud applause.) Who to-day are the first to rally to the side of a good cause, on trial in the community? Who are still first in colleges and letters in this land? Who, east or
west, advocate justice, redress wrongs, maintain equal rights, support churches, love liberty, and thrive where others starve? Why, these ubiquitous sons of the Puritans, of course, who dine me to-night. Gentlemen, I salute you. “If I were not Miltiades I would be Themistocles; if I were not a Scotch-Irishman I would be a Puritan. [Continued applause.]