Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

But it is not to scenes like these that I would now recall you. I would that my voice could reach the ear of every admirer of our guest throughout the land, that with us they might welcome him, on this, his first public appearance to our shores. Like the rushing of many waters, the response would come to us from the bleak hills of Canada, from the savannas of the South, from the prairies of the West, uniting in an “earthquake voice" in the cheers with which we welcome Charles Dickens to this new world.

ANDREW V. V. RAYMOND

THE DUTCH AS ENEMIES

[Speech of Rev. Dr. Andrew V. V. Raymond at the thirteenth Annual dinner of the Holland Society of New York, January 12, 1898. The President, John W. Vrooman, said: “I must now make good a promise, and permit me to illustrate it by a brief story. A minister about to perform the last rites for a dying man, a resident of Kentucky, said to him with solemnity that he hoped he was ready for a better land. The man instantly rallied and cried out, 'Look here, Mr. Min. ister, there ain't no better land than Kentucky!' To secure the attendance of our genial and eloquent College President I made a promiso to him to state publicly at this time that there is no better college in the world than Union College; that there is no better president in the world than the president of old Union; and I may add that there is no better man than my valued friend, President Andrew V. V. Raymond, of Union College, who will respond to the toast: The Dutch as Enemies.—Did a person but know the value of an enemy he would purchase him with fine gold.'"]

MR. PRESIDENT:Ladies-to whom now, as always, I look up for inspiration—and gentlemen of the Holland Society, when one has been rocked in a Dutch cradle, and baptized with a Dutch name and caressed with a Dutch slipper, and nursed on Dutch history, and fed on Dutch theology, he is open to accept an invitation from the Holland Society. It is now four years since I had the pleasure of speaking my mind freely about the Dutch, and in the meantime so much mind-or is it only speech—has accumulated that the present opportunity comes very much like a merciful interposition of Providence on my behalf. During these years my residence has been changed, for whereas I used to live in Albany now I live in Schenectady, which is like moving from The Hague to Leyden, or in other words, going a little farther into the heart of Dutchdom, for nowhere else is Dutch spelled with a larger D than

in the city of my residence to-day, with Lisha's Kill on one side, and Rotterdam on another, and Amsterdam on the third, and a real dyke on the fourth, to say nothing of the canal.

You do not remember that speech of mine four years ago for you did not hear it. That was not my fault, however, but your misfortune, of course. You did not hear it because you were not here. You were asleep in your own beds, of course, where Dutchmen always go when they are sleepy, which is perhaps the principal reason why they are not caught napping in business hours. Unfortunately, however, that speech was printed in full, or I might repeat it now. One learns from such little experiences what not to do the next time. But if you do not remember the speech, I do -at least the subject—which was "The Dutch as Neighbors," and it has seemed wise to get as far as possible from that subject to-night lest I might be tempted to plagiarize, and so I propose to talk for a moment only about “ The Dutch as Enemies."

I do not like the first suggestion of this subject any more than do you. For to think of a man as an enemy is to think ill of him, and to intimate that the Dutchman was not and is not perfect is to intimate something which no one here will believe, and which no one certainly came to hear. But as a matter of fact, gentlemen, no one can be perfect without being an enemy any more than he can be perfect without being a friend. The two things are complementary; the one is the reverse side of the other. Everything in this universe, except a shadow, has two sides—unless, perhaps, it may be a political machine whose one-sidedness is so proverbial as to suggest that it also is a thing wholly of darkness caused by someone standing in the way of the light. The Dutchman, however, is not a shadow of anything or of anybody. You can walk around him, and when you do that you find that he has not only a kindly face and a warm hand, but something called backbone, and it is that of which I am to speak to-night, for it suggests about all that I mean by the Dutchman as an enemy.

Some people are enemies, or become enemies, because of their spleen; others because of their total depravity; and others still because they persist in standing upright when

someone wants them to lie down and be stepped on. That is the meaning of backbone, in this world of human strife, and if, from time to time, it has made an enemy of the peaceloving Dutchman, it has been the kind of enmity that has gathered to itself not a little gratitude, for after all it is the kind of enmity that has made this world more tolerable as a place of temporary abode. If no one opposes tyrants and thieves and heretics and franchise-grabbers, city lots fall rapidly in price. It is the Dutchman who keeps up the real estate market. When I have suggested that it is because of his opposition that he is regarded as an enemy, I have come to the heart of all that I propose to say to-night. As a matter of fact, the Dutchman has never been very aggressive. He may not be enterprising, but his powers of resistance are superb, and as this world wags it is often better to hold fast than it is to be fast.

If the Dutchman has not been aggressive, he has certainly been steadfast. He has never become an enemy willingly, but always under compulsion; willing to let other people alone if they will let him alone, and if they will not do that, then he makes them do it. Those dykes tell the whole story. The Dutchman did not want the sea-only the earth. But when the sea wanted him he took up arms against it. It was so with those Roman legions. The Dutchman had no quarrel with Rome until Rome wanted to extend its empire that way, and to acquire him and grow fat from his tribute money. But the Dutchman had no need of an empire up his way, and so kept his tribute money, and sent the eagles home hungry. If Spain had not wanted to whip the Dutchman, the Dutchman would not have whipped Spain. If England had not wanted a brush with the Dutch, that broom would never have been nailed to Tromp's masthead. If Jameson had not tried to raid the Dutchman, the Dutchman would not have corralled Jameson. From first to last, his battles have been on the defensive. He has always been ambitious to be a good friend with the latch-string always on the outside, and has only become an enemy when somebody has tried to get into his house through the window. That kind of enmity hurts no one who does not deserve to be hurt.

As this world goes, it is a great thing to say of a man

that he never gets down his gun until he sees another gun pointed his way, but it is a greater thing to say that when he does see that other gun he does not get under the bed, and that is what can be said of the Dutchman more than of any other man in the world. He will not run into a fight; he will not run away from a fight-in fact he has no reputation whatever as a runner in any direction. But he can take a stand, and when the smoke has cleared away there he is, still standing. He will not vote himself an enemy, but if against his will he is voted an enemy, he accepts the election, and discharges the duties of his office with painstaking vigilance and care. Now, no one does that, and ever gets re-elected, no matter what the office. Such is the world. And so the Dutchman has never been voted an enemy twice by the same people. One term of his vigorous administration of hostile forces is quite enough, and inasmuch as he does not care for the office personally, and takes it only from a sense of duty, he never seeks a re-election. He is always ready to step down and out, and resume his old occupation of being a good neighbor and a peaceloving citizen.

That is perhaps his greatest virtue, and it all grows out of the fact that his spirit of antagonism is located in his backbone, leaving his heart free. He does not love strife and he does not hate the man with whom he fights, and so, in all his battles, he has never been vindictive, cruel, merciless. When he has had to fight he has fought like a man and a Christian, for righteousness' sake, and not like a demon to humiliate and to annihilate his foes. That makes the Dutchman a rare kind of enemy, and that, more than anything else, I think, has distinguished his enmity through all the years of his history. He has gone far toward obeying the precept, “Love your enemies, and bless them that curse you.” If he has not been able to keep men from hating him, and cursing him, and persecuting him, he has been able to keep himself from hating and cursing and persecuting in return; and so, while he is one of the greatest of military heroes in history, he is also one of the greatest of moral heroes, and that is a greater honor, inasmuch as that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »