« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
lishes life with innumerable institutions and improvements which make it one grand theatre of wonders. (Cheers.]
And now that this traditional friendship between the two nations is to be ever cemented by that generous gift of our ally, that colossal statue, which so nobly typifies the great principle for which our fathers fought, may the flame which is to arise from its uplifted arm light the path of liberty to all who follow in its ways, until human rights and human freedom become the common heritage of mankind.
Ariosto tells us a pretty story of a gentle fairy, who, by a mysterious law of her nature, was at certain periods compelled to assume the form of a serpent and to crawl upon the ground. Those who in the days of her disguise spurned her and trod upon her were forever debarred from a participation in those gifts that it was her privilege to bestow, but to those who, despite her unsightly aspect, comforted her and encouraged her and aided her, she appeared in the beautiful and celestial form of her true nature, followed them ever after with outstretched arms, lavished upon them her gifts, and filled their homes with happiness and wealth.
And so, when America lay prostrate upon the ground, after throwing off the British yoke, yet not having established a government which the nations of the earth were willing to recognize, then it was that France sympathized with her, and comforted her, and aided her, and now that America has arisen in her strength and stands erect before the nations of the world, in the true majesty and glory of that form in which God intended she should thenceforth tread the earth, she always stands with arms outstretched towards France in token of the great gratitude she bears her. [Applause and cheers.]
THE CITIZEN SOLDIER
(Speech of Horace Porter at the eighth annual dinner of the New England Society in the City of Brooklyn, December 21, 1887. The President, John Winslow, proposed the toast,“ The Citizen Soldier," saying: The next regular toast is ‘The Citizen Soldier.' I have already referred to the embarrassment which a presiding officer feels in introducing a well-known and distinguished man. If I refer to the distinguished gentleman who is to respond to this toast as a pathetic speaker, you will immediately recall some of his fine humor; and if I should speak of him as a humorous speaker you will recall some pathetic sentence; so it is better to let General Horace Porter speak for himself."]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:
-After General Sherman the deluge. I am the deluge. It is fortunate for me this evening that I come after General Sherman only in the order of speech, and not in the order of dinner, for a person once said in Georgia—and he was a man who knew regarding the March to the Sea—that anyone who came after General Sherman wouldn't find much to eat. Having been brought up in Pennsylvania, I listened with great interest to General Sherman's reference to the proposed names of the States in the country. He mentioned one as “ Sylvania." That was evidently a dead letter till we put the Pen(n) to it. (Laughter.] I noticed that President Dwight listened with equal interest to the statement of that expedition which went West and carried such a large quantity of whiskey with it, in consequence of which the first University was founded. [Laughter.]
But, gentlemen, when I am requested in such an august presence as this to speak of the “Citizen Soldier," I cannot help feeling like the citizen soldier of Hibernian extraction who came up, in the streets of New York, to a general officer and held out his hand for alms, evidently wanting to put himself temporarily on the General's pay-roll, as it were. The General said: “Why don't you work?” He said he couldn't on account of his wounds. The General asked where he was wounded. He said, “In the retrate at Bull Run.” “ But whereabouts on your person?” He replied, " You'll notice the scar here." (Pointing to his face.] “Now, how could you get wounded in the face while on the
retreat?" "I had the indiscrition to look back.” [Laughter.] “Well," said the General," that wouldn't prevent your working.” Ah," answered the man, the worst wound is here.” [Left breast.] The General said, “Oh, that's all bosh; if the bullet had gone in there it would have passed through your heart and killed you.” “I beg your pardon, sir, at that moment me heart was in me mouth!” [Great laughter.] So if I had known that such an early attack was to be made upon me here to-night, I should have thrown my pickets farther out to the front, in hopes of getting sufficient information to beat a hasty retreat; for if there is one lesson better than another taught by the war, it is that a man may retreat successfully from almost any position, if he only starts in time. [Laughter.]
In alluding to the Citizen Soldier I desire it to be distinctly understood that I make no reference to that organization of Home Guards once formed in Kansas, where the commanding officer tried to pose as one of the last surviving heroes of the Algerine War, when he had never drawn a sword but once and that was in a raffle, and where his men had determined to emulate the immortal example of Lord Nelson. The last thing that Nelson did was to die for his country, and this was the last thing they ever intended to do. [Laughter.]
I allude to that Citizen Soldier who breathed the spirit of old Miles Standish, but had the additional advantage of always being able to speak for himself; who came down to the front with hair close cropped, clean shaven, newly baptized, freshly vaccinated, pocket in his shirt, musket on his shoulder, ready to do anything, from squirrel hunting up to manslaughter in the first degree. He felt that with a single rush he could carry away two spans of barbed-wire fence without scratching himself. If too short-sighted to see the enemy, he would go nearer; if lame, he would make this an excuse to disobey an order to retreat; if he had but one stocking, he would take it off his foot in wet weather and wrap it around the lock of his gun; and as to marching, he would keep on the march as long as he had upper garments enough left to wad a gun or nether garments enough to flag a train with. [Laughter.] He was the last man in a retreat, the first man in an enemy's smoke-house. When he wanted fuel he took only the top rail of the fence, and kept on taking the top rail till there was none of that fence left standing. The New England soldier knew everything that was between the covers of books, from light infantry tactics to the new version of the Scriptures. One day, on a forced march in Virginia, a New England man was lagging behind, when his colonel began stirring him up and telling him he ought to make better time. He at once started to argue the case with the colonel, and said: “See here, colonel, I've studied the tactics and hev learned from 'em how to form double column at half distance, but I hev never yet learned how to perform double distance on half rations.” [Laughter.]
But, Mr. President, this is a subject which should receive a few serious words from me before I sit down. It was not until the black war cloud of rebellion broke upon us that we really appreciated the Citizen Soldier at his full worth. But when the country was struck we saw, pouring down from the hill tops, and surging up from the valleys, that magnificent army of citizen soldiery, at the sight of which all Christendom stood amazed. They gathered until the streets of every hamlet in the land were lighted by the glitter of their steel and resounded to the tread of their marching columns. It seemed that the middle wall of partition was broken down between all classes, that we were living once more in the heroic ages, that there had returned to us the brave days of old, when none were for a party but all were for the state.” [Applause.] And then that unbroken line swept down to the front. But in that front what scenes were met! There was the blistering Southern sun; swamps which bred miasma and death; rivers with impassable approaches; heights to be scaled, batteries to be captured, the open plain with guns in front and guns in flank, which swept those devoted columns until human blood flowed as freely as festal wine; there was the dense forest, the under-growth barring the passage of man, the upper-growth shutting out the light of heaven; ammunition-trains exploding, the woods afire, the dead roasted in the flames, the wounded dragging their mangled limbs after them to escape its ravages, until it seemed that Christian men had turned to fiends, and hell itself had usurped the place of earth. [Applause.)
And when success perched upon our banners, when the bugle sounded the glad notes of final and triumphal vic y, the disbanding of that army was even more marvellous than its organization. It disappeared, not as the flood of waters of the spring, which rend the earth, and leave havoc and destruction in their course; but rather, as was once eloquently said, like the snows of winter under a genial sun, leaving the face of Nature untouched, and the handiwork of man undisturbed; not injuring, but moistening and fructifying the earth. [Applause.) But the mission of the Citizen Soldier did not end there, it has not ended yet. We have no European enemy to dread, it is true; we have on our own continent no foeman worthy of our steel; for, unlike the lands of Europe, this land is not cursed by propinquity. But we must look straight in the face the fact that we have in our midst a discontented class, repudiated alike by employers and by honest laborers. They come here from the effete monarchies of the old world, rave about the horrors of tyrannous governments, and make no distinction between them and the blessings of a free and independent government. They have, but a little while ago, created scenes in which mob-law ruled the hour, riot held its sanguinary sway, and the earth of our streets tasted the blood of our citizens. When such scenes as these occur, we cannot wait for aid from the crews of vessels in the offing, we cannot look for succor to the army garrisons of distant forts; but in our great cities -those plague spots in the body politic—we want trained militia who can rally as rapidly as the long roll can be beaten. And I know that all property-owners feel safer, that all lawabiding citizens breathe freer, when they see a militia, particularly like that in our own State, go forth in the summer to be inured to the hardships of the march, to the discipline of tent-life in the field, exhibiting an esprit de corps, a discipline, a true touch of the elbow, which is beyond all praise. I love to take off my hat to their marching column; I love to salute its passing banners. They will always be the true bulwark of our defence. I know of no man, and no set of men, who more gladly or more eagerly make this statement than those who have been reared in the regular army; and I take particular pride in making this acknowledgment and paying this tribute in the presence of the senior and the most