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eral who could make a Christmas gift to his President of a great seaboard city; as a chieftain whose field of military operations covered nearly half a continent; who had penetrated everglades and bayous; the inspiration of whose commands forged weaklings into giants; whose orders all spoke with the true bluntness of the soldier; who fought from valley's depth to mountain height, and marched from inland rivers to the sea. No one can rob him of his laurels; no man can lessen the measure of his fame. His friends will never cease to sing pæans in his honor, and even the wrath of his enemies may be counted in his praise. [Prolonged applause.]
THE ASSIMILATED DUTCHMAN
(Speech of Horace Porter at the fourth annual dinner of the Poughkeepsie District Members of the Holland Society of New York, October 3, 1893. The banquet was held in commemoration of the relief of the siege of Leyden, 1574. J. William Beekman, the President, introduced General Porter as follows: “ Gentlemen, we will now proceed to a toast that we shall all enjoy, I am sure, after so much has been said about the Dutch. This toast is to be responded to by a gentleman whom we all know. It is hardly necessary to introduce him. But I will read the sentiment attached to this toast : • The American: Formed of the blendings of the best strains of Europe, he cannot be worthy of his ancestry without combining in himself the best qualities of them all.' And I call upon General Horace Porter to respond."]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN :-We speakers have naturally been a little embarrassed at the outset this evening, for just as we were about to break into speech, your President reminded us that the only one worthy of having a monument built to his memory was William the Silent. Well, it seemed to carry me back to those ancient days of Greece, when Pythagoras inaugurated his School of Silence, and called on Damocles to make the opening speech.
Your President has shown from the start this evening that he is determined to enforce discipline, totally regardless of previous acquaintance. He appears to have been in a Shakespearian mood to-night. He seemed to be looking at each one of these alleged speakers and saying of him: “Therefore, I'll watch him till he be dieted to my request and then I will set upon him.” But he must remember that Shakespeare also said: “Dainty bits make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.”
I do not know how the rest of you feel, but after these delicious but somewhat plethoric dinners, I feel very much like Mr. Butterby, when his lavender-colored trousers were sent to him the night before his wedding, and he returned them to the tailor with a note saying, “Let them out two inches around the waist, which will leave a margin for emotion and the wedding breakfast.” [Laughter.]
Now, we speakers to-night cannot expect to be received with any vast ebullition of boisterous enthusiasm here, for we understand that every member pays for his own wine. Besides, I am sure that you will not be likely to get any more ideas from me than you would get lather from a cake of
After having wrestled with about thirty dishes at this dinner, and after all this being called upon to speak, I feel a great sympathy with that woman in Ireland who had had something of a field-day on hand. She began by knocking down two somewhat unpopular agents of her absentee landlord, and was seen, later in the day, dancing a jig on the stomach of the prostrate form of the Presbyterian minister. One of her friends admired her prowess in this direction and invited her in, and gave her a good stiff glass of whiskey. Her friend said, “ Shall I pour some water in your whiskey? and the woman replied, “For God's sake, haven't I had trouble enough already to-day?” [Laughter.]
I am a little at a loss still to know how I got into this company to-night. I begin to feel like some of those United States Senators who, after they have reached Washington, look around and wonder how they got there. The nearest approach to being decorated with a sufficiently aristocratic epithet to make me worthy of admission to this Society was when I used to visit outside of my native State and be called a “ Pennsylvania Dutchman.” But history tells us that at the beginning of the Revolution there was a battle fought at Breed's Hill, and it was called the Battle of Bunker Hill, because it was not fought there; and I suppose I have been brought into this Dutch Society to-night because I am not a Dutchman. [Laughter.]
I have great admiration for these Dutchmen; they always get to the front. When they appear in New York they are always invited to seats on the roof; when they go into an orchestra, they are always given one of the big fiddles to play; and when they march in a procession, they are always sure to get a little ahead of the band. This Society differs materially from other so-called foreign societies. When we meet the English, we invariably refer to the common stock from which we sprang, but in the Dutch Society the stock is always preferred! and when a Dutchman dies, why, his funeral is like that funeral of Abel, who was killed by his brother Cain—no one is allowed to attend unless he belongs to a first family. [Laughter.]
Now, a Dutchman is only happy when he gets a “Van” attached to the front of his name, and a “ dam” to the rear end of the city from which his ancestors came.
I notice they are all very particular about the “dam.” [Laughter.]
There was a lady—a New York young lady—who had been spending several years in England and had just returned. She had posed awhile as a professional beauty. Then she attempted to marry into the aristocracy, but the market for titles was a little dull that year and she came home. She had lived there long enough to become an Anglomaniac. She met a Dutchman in New York-I think he was a member of the Holland Society—and she said: “Everything seems so remarkably commonplace here, after getting back from England; I am sure you must admit that there is nothing so romantic here as in England.” The Dutchman remarked: “Well, I don't know about that.” She said: “I was stopping at a place in the country, with one of the members of the aristocracy, and there was a little piece of water-a 'sort of miniature lake, as it were—so sweet. The waters were confined by little rustic walls, so to speak, and that was called the ‘ Earl's Oath '; we have nothing so romantic in New York, I'm sure." Said the Dutchman: “Oh, yes, here we have. McComb's Dam." (Laughter.]
But, Mr. President, I certainly am in earnest sympathy with the patriotic sentiment expressed in the toast which you have been pleased to assign to me to-night, saying, in effect, that the American is composed of the best strains of
Europe, and the American cannot be worthy of his ancestors unless he aims to combine within himself the good qualities of all. America has gained much by being the conglomerate country that she is, made up of a commingling of the blood of other races. It is a well-known fact in the crossing of breeds that the best traits predominate in the result. We in this land, have gained much from the purity of those bloods; we have suffered little from the taint.
It is well in this material age, when we are dwelling so much upon posterity, not to be altogether oblivious to pedigree. It has been well said that he who does not respect his ancestors will never be likely to achieve anything for which his descendants will respect him. Man learns but very little in this world from precept; he learns something from experience; he learns much from example, and the best teachers of humanity are the lives of worthy men.”
We have a great many admirable so-called foreign societies in New York, and they are all doing good workgood work in collecting interesting historical data in regard to the ancestors who begat them; in regard to the lands from which they came-good work in the broad field of charity. But it is the Holland Society which seems to be a little closer to us than the others—more our Society, even with those of us who have no Dutch blood in our veins. We feel that these old Dutch names are really more closely associated in our minds with the city of New York than with Holland itself.
The men from whom you sprang were well calculated to carry on the great work undertaken by them. In the first place, in that good old land they had educated the conscience. The conscience never lost its hold upon the man. He stood as firm in his convictions as the rock to its base. His religion was a religion of the soul, and not of the senses. He might have broken the tables of stone on which the laws were written; he never would have broken those laws themselves. He turned neither to the past with regret nor to the future with apprehension. He was a man inured to trials; practised in self-abnegation; educated in the severe school of adversity; and that little band which set out from Holland to take up its career in the New World was well calculated to undertake the work which Providence had marked out for them. Those men had had breathed into their nostrils at their very birth the true spirit of liberty. Somehow or other liberty seemed to be indigenous in that land. They imbibed that true spirit of liberty which does not mean unbridled license of the individual, but that spirit of liberty which can turn blind submission into rational obedience; that spirit of liberty which Hall says stifles the voices of kings, dissipates the mists of superstition, kindles the flames of art, and pours happiness into the laps of the people. Those men started out boldly upon the ocean; they paused not until they dipped the fringes of their banners in the waters of the western seas. They built up this great metropolis. They bore their full share in building up this great nation and in planting in it their pure principles. They builded even better than they knew.
In the past year I think our people have been more inclined than ever before to pause and contemplate how big with events is the history of this land. It was developed by people who believed not in the “divine right of kings,” but in the divine right of human liberty. If we may judge the future progress of this land by its progress in the past, it does not require that one should be endowed with prophetic vision to predict that in the near future this young but giant Republic will dominate the policy of the world. America was not born amidst the mysteries of barbaric ages; and it is about the only nation which knows its own birthday. Woven of the stoutest fibres of other lands, nurtured by a commingling of the best blood of other races, America has now cast off the swaddling-clothes of infancy, and stands forth erect, clothed in robes of majesty and power, in which the God who made her intends that she shall henceforth tread the earth; and to-day she may be seen moving down the great highways of history, teaching by example; moving at the head of the procession of the world's events; marching in the van of civilized and christianized liberty, her manifest destiny to light the torch of liberty till it illumines the entire pathway of the world, and till human freedom and human rights become the common heritage of mankind. (Applause.]