« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of our women, and the influence of their example, there are raised up, even there, girls who are good daughters, loyal wives, and faithful mothers. They seem to rise in those rude surroundings as grows the pond lily, which is entangled by every species of rank growth, environed by poison, miasma and corruption, and yet which rises in the beauty of its purity and lifts its fair face unblushing to the sun.
No one who has witnessed the heroism of America's daughters in the field should fail to pay a passing tribute to their worth. I do not speak alone of those trained Sisters of Charity, who in scenes of misery and woe seem Heaven's chosen messengers on earth; but I would speak also of those fair daughters who come forth from the comfortable firesides of New England and other States, little trained to scenes of suffering, little used to the rudeness of a life in camp, who gave their all, their time, their health, and even life itself, as a willing sacrifice in that cause which then moved the nation's soul. As one of these, with her graceful form, was seen moving silently through the darkened aisles of an army hospital, as the motion of her passing dress wasted a breeze across the face of the wounded, they felt that their parched brows had been fanned by the wings of the angel of mercy.
Ah! Mr. President, woman is after all a mystery. It has been well said, that woman is the great conundrum of the nineteenth century; but if we cannot guess her, we will never give her up. [Applause.)
FRIENDLINESS OF THE FRENCH
(Speech of Horace Porter at the banquet given by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, June 24, 1885, to the officers of the French national ship Isere,” which brought over the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Charles Stewart Smith, vicePresident of the Chamber, proposed the following toast: “ The French Alliance; initiated by noble and sympathetic Frenchmen; grandly maintained by the blood and treasure of France; now newly cemented by the spontaneous action of the French people; may it be perpetuated through all time.” In concluding his introduction, the Chairman said: "We shall hear from our friend, General Porter.”]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:* Voulez-vous me permettre de faire mes remarques en français ? Si je m'addresse à vous dans une langue que je ne parle pas, et que personne ici ne comprends, j'en impute la faute entièrement à l’example malheureux de Monsieur Coudert. Ce que je veux dire est que—this is the fault of Coudert. He has been switching the languages round in every direction, and has done all he could to sidetrack English.
What I mean to say is, that if I were to mention in either language one tithe of the subjects which should be alluded to to-night in connection with the French Alliance, I should keep you all here until the rising of another sun, and these military gentlemen around me, from abroad, in attempting to listen to it, would have to exhibit what Napoleon considered the highest quality in a soldier: “Two-o'clock-inthe-morning courage.” [Applause.)
One cannot speak of the French Alliance without recalling the services of Benjamin Franklin in connection with it. When he was in Paris and was received in a public assemblage, not understanding anything of the language, and believing, very properly, that it was a good thing always to follow the example of the French in society, he vociferously applauded every time the rest of them applauded, and he did not learn until it was all over that the applause was, in each instance, elicited by a reference to his name and distinguished public services, and so, during the eloquent speech of our friend, Mr. Coudert, I could not but look upon the American members of this assemblage, and notice that they applauded most vociferously when they supposed that the speaker was alluding particularly to their arduous services as members of the Chamber of Commerce. [Laughter.]
* TRANSLATION.-Will you kindly allow me to make my speech in French? If I address you in a tongue that I do not speak, and that no one here understands, I must lay the entire blame on that unfortunate example of Mr. Coudert. What I desire to say is,
I congratulate our friends from abroad, who do not understand our language, upon the very great privilege they enjoy here to-night, a privilege that is not enjoyed by Americans or by Englishmen who come among us.
It is the rare and precious privilege at an American banquet of not being expected to pay the slightest attention to the remarks of the after-dinner speakers. [Laughter.] If there is one thing I feel I can enjoy more than another, it is standing upon firm land and speaking to those whose life is on the sea, to these “toilers of the deep.” There is in this a sort of poetic justice, a sentimental retribution; for on their element I am never able to stand up, and, owing to certain gastronomic uncertainties, my feelings on that element are just the reverse of those I experience at the present moment. For in the agonies of a storm I have so much on my mind that I have nothing whatever on my stomach. But after this feast to-night I have so much on my stomach that I fear I have nothing whatever on my mind. And when I next go to sea I want to go as the great statue of Liberty: first being taken all apart with the pieces carefully stored amidships. (Laughter.] ]
While they were building the statue in France, we were preparing slowly for the pedestal. You cannot hurry constructions of this kind; they must have time to settle. We long ago prepared the stones for that pedestal, and we first secured the services of the most useful, most precious stone of all—the Pasha from Egypt. [Laughter.] We felt that his services in Egypt had particularly fitted him for this task. There is a popular belief in this country, which I have never once heard contradicted, that he took a prominent part in laying the foundations of the great Pyramids, that he assisted in placing the Egyptian Sphinx in position, and that he even had something to do with Cleopatra's Needle. [Laughter.]
When Napoleon was in Egypt he said to his people: “ Forty centuries are looking down upon you.” We say to General Stone, as he stands upon that pedestal: “Fiftyfive millions of people are looking up to you! and some of them have contributed to the fund.” (Laughter.] When we read of the size of that statue, we were troubled, particularly when we saw the gigantic dimensions of the Goddess's nose, but our minds were relieved when we found that that nose was to face southward, and not in the direction of Hunter's Point. (Laughter and applause.]
Monsieur le President:-* Quand le cæur est plein il deborde, et ce soir mon cœur est plein de la France, mais— Oh, there I go, again wandering with Coudert away from the mother-tongue. (Laughter.]
I have no doubt all the gentlemen here to-night of an American turn of mind wish that the mantle of Elijah of old had fallen upon the shoulders of Mr. Coudert, for then he might have stood some chance of being translated. [Laughter.] A few years ago distinguished military men from abroad came here to participate in the celebration of the rooth anniversary of the surrender of Yorktown by Lord Cornwallis. They were invited here by the Government, the descendants of all distinguished foreigners, to participate in that historical event, except the descendants of Lord Cornwallis. (Laughter.] And if our French guests had been here then, and had gone down and seen Yorktown, they would not have wondered that Cornwallis gave up that place; their only astonishment would have been that he consented to remain there as long as he did. [Laughter.]
But, Mr. President, upon a subject fraught with so much interest to us all, and with so much dignity, let me, before I close, speak a few words in all seriousness. If we would properly appreciate the depth and the lasting nature of that traditional friendship between the two nations, which is the child of the French Alliance, we must consider the conditions of history at the time that alliance was formed. For years a desperate war had been waged between the most powerful of nations and the weakest of peoples, struggling to become a nation. The American coffers had been drained, the spirit of the people was waning, hope was fading, and
*TRANSLATION.—When the heart is full it overflows, and this evening my heart is full of France, but
patriot hearts who had never despaired before were now bowed in the dust. The trials of the Continental army had never been matched since the trade of war began. Their sufferings had never been equalled since the days of the early Christian martyrs. While courage still animated the hearts of the people, and their leaders never took counsel of their fears, yet a general gloom had settled down upon the land. Then we saw a light breaking in upon our eastern horizon, a light which grew in brilliancy until it became to us a true bow of promise. That light came from the brave land of France. [Enthusiastic cheering.)
Then hope raised our standards; then joy brightened our crest; then it was, that when we saw Gates and Lincoln and Greene and Washington, we saw standing shoulder to shoulder with them, D'Estaing, De Grasse, Rochambeau, and that princely hero (pcinting to a portrait against the wall], that man who was the embodiment of gallantry, of liberty, of chivalry, the immortal Lafayette. [Loud cheers.] Then the two armies moved hand-in-hand to fight the common foe. They vied nobly with each other and, by an unselfish emulation and by a generous rivalry, showed the world that the path of ambition had not become so narrow that two could not walk it abreast. [Cries of " Good! Good!” and cheers.]
Two treaties were made; one was military in its terms, and was called the Defensive Treaty. The other we recall with great interest in the presence of an assemblage of business men such as this. The second treaty was called the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce. The results of those treaties have passed into history. That alliance taught many worthy lessons. It taught that tyranny you may find anywhere; it is a weed that grows on any soil. But if you want liberty, you must go forth and fight for it. [Applause.) It taught us those kindly sentiments between nations which warm the heart, liberalize the mind, and animate the courage. It taught men that true liberty can turn blind submission into rational obedience. It taught men, as Hall has said, that true liberty smothers the voice of kings, dispels the mists of superstition, and by its magic touch kindles the rays of genius, the enthusiasm of poetry, the flame of eloquence, pours into our laps opulence and art, and embel