« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
to have a serious pastoral talk; and while he convalesced I watched for an opportunity for it. As I sat one day on the side of his bed in the hospital tent chatting with him, he asked me what the campaign, when by and by spring opened, was going to be. I told him that I didn't know. 'Well,” said he, “ I suppose that General McClellan knows all about it.” (This was away back in 1861, not long after we went to the field.) I answered: “ General McClellan has his plans, of course, but he doesn't know. Things may not turn out as he expects.” But,” said the corporal, " President Lincoln knows, doesn't he?” “No," I said," he doesn't know, either. He has his ideas, but he can't see ahead any more than General McClellan can."
” said the corporal, “ it would be a great comfort if there was somebody that did know about things ”—and I saw my chance." True, corporal,” I observed, “ that's a very natural feeling; and the blessed fact is there is One who does know everything, both past and future, about you and me, , and about this army; who knows when we are going to move, and where to, and what's going to happen; knows the whole thing." Oh,” says the corporal, “ you mean old Scott!” [Laughter.]
The Forefathers generally spared people the trouble of guessing what they were driving at. [Applause.]
That for which they valued education was that it gave men power to think and reason and form judgments and communicate and expound the same, and so capacitated them for valid membership of the Church and of the State. And that was still another original Yankee notion.
Not often has the nature and the praise of it been more worthily expressed, that I am aware of, than in these sentences, which I lately happened upon, the name of whose author I will, by your leave, reserve till I have repeated them: “Next to religion they prized education. If their lot had been cast in some pleasant place of the valley of the Mississippi, they would have sown wheat and educated their children; but as it was, they educated their children and planted whatever might grow and ripen on that scanty soil with which capricious nature had tricked off and disguised the granite beds beneath. Other colonies would have brought up some of the people to the school; they, if I may be allowed so to express it, let down the school to all the people, not doubting but by doing so the people and the school would rise of themselves.”
I do not know if Cardinal Gibbons is present; I do not recognize him. If he is, I am pleased to have had the honor to recite in his hearing and to commend to his attention these words, so true, so just, so appreciative, of a distinguished ecclesiastic of his communion; for they were spoken by the late Archbishop Hughes in a public lecture in this city in 1852. [Applause.]
I would, however, much rather have recited them in the ears of those Protestant Americans—alas, that there should be born New Englanders among them, that is, such according to the flesh, not according to the spirit—who are wont to betray a strange relish for disparaging both the principles and the conduct of our great sires in that early day when they were sowing in weakness what has ever since been rising with power.
There have always, indeed, been those who were fond of spying the blemishes of New England, of illustrating human depravity by instances her sinners contributed. With the open spectacle of armies of beggars-God's beggars they are; I do not object to them—continually swarming in across her borders, as bees to their meadows, and returning not empty, they keep on calling her close-fisted. They even blaspheme her weather-her warm-hearted summers and her magnificent winters. There is, to be sure, a time along in March—but let that pass. (Laughter.]
I refer to this without the least irritation. I do not complain of it. On the contrary, I glory in it. I love her for the enemies she has made. (Laughter.]
She is the church member among the communities, and must catch it accordingly. It is the saints who are always in the wrong. [Laughter.]
Elijah troubled Israel. Daniel was a nuisance in Babylon. And long may New England be such as to make it an object to find fault with her. [Hearty applause.)
Such she will be so long as she is true to herself-true to her great traditions; true to the principles of which her life was begotten; so long as her public spirit has supreme regard to the higher ranges of the public interest; so long as in her ancient glorious way she leaves the power of the keys in the hands of the people; so long as her patriotism springs, as in the beginning it sprang, from the consciousness of rights wedded to the consciousness of duties; so long as by her manifold institutions of learning, humanity, religion, thickly sown, multitudinous, universal, she keeps the law of the Forefathers' faith, that "Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Prolonged applause.)
THE SOLDIER STAMP
(Speech of Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, of Hartford, Conn., at the eighty-sixth annual dinner of the New England Society in the city of New York, December 22, 1891. J. Pierpont Morgan, the President, occupied the chair. Mr. Twichell responded to the toast, “ Forefathers' Day.”]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY:
—The posture of my mind the last fortnight relative to the duty of the present hour-which, indeed, I was proud to be assigned to, as I ought to have been, but which has been a black care to me ever since I undertook it-has a not inapt illustration in the case of the old New England parson who, when asked why he was going to do a certain thing that had been laid upon him, yet the thought of which affected him with extreme timidity, answered: “I wouldn't if I didn't suppose it had been foreordained from all eternity-and I'm a good mind to not as it is.” [Laughter.] However, I have the undisguised good-will of my audience to begin with, and that's half the battle. The forefathers, in whose honor we meet, were men of good-will, profoundly so; but they were, in their day, more afraid of showing it, in some forms, than their descendants happily
The first time I ever stood in the pulpit to preach was in the meeting-house of the ancient Connecticut town where I was brought up. That was a great day for our folks and all my old neighbors, you may depend. After benediction, when I passed out into the vestibule, I was the recipient there of many congratulatory expressions. Among my friends in the crowd was an aged deacon, a man in whom survived, to a rather remarkable degree, the original New England Puritan type, who had known me from the cradle, and to whom the elevation I had reached was as gratifying as it could possibly be to anybody. But when he saw the smile of favor focussed on me there, and me, I dare say, appearing to bask somewhat in it, the dear old man took alarm. He was apprehensive of the consequences to that youngster. And so, taking me by the hand and wrestling down his natural feelings—he was ready to cry for joy-he said: “Well, Joseph, I hope you'll live to preach a great deal better than that!” [Laughter.] It was an exceedingly appropriate remark, and a very tender one if you were at the bottom of it.
That severe, undemonstrative New England habit, that emotional reserve and self-suppression, though it lingers here and there, has mostly passed away and is not to be regretted. As much as could be has been made of it to our forefathers' discredit, as has been made of everything capable of being construed unfavorably to them. They to whom what they call the cant of the Puritan is an offence, themselves have established and practise a distinct antiPuritan cant with which we are all familiar. The very people who find it abhorrent and intolerable that they were such censors of the private life of their contemporaries, do not scruple to bring to bear on their private life a search-light that leaves no accessible nook of it unexplored, and regarding any unpretty trait espied by that unsparing inquest the rule of judgment persistently employed—as one is obliged to perceive-tends to be: “No explanation wanted or admitted but the worst.” [Applause.]
Accordingly, the infestive deportment characteristic of the New England colonist has been extensively interpreted as the indisputable index of his sour and morose spirit, begotten of his religion. I often wonder that, in computing the cause of his rigorous manners, so inadequate account is wont to be made of his situation, as in a principal and longcontinuing aspect substantially military—which it was. The truth is, his rhysiognomy was primarily the soldier stamp on him.
If you had been at Gettysburg on the morning of July 2, 1863, as I was, and had perused the countenance of the First and Eleventh Corps, exhausted and bleeding with the previous day's losing battle, and the countenance of the Second, Third, and Twelfth Corps, getting into position to meet the next onset, which everybody knew was immediately impending, you would have said that it was a sombre community—that Army of the Potomac—with a good deal of grimness in the face of it; with a notable lack of the playful element, and no fiddling or other fine arts to speak of.
As sure as you live, gentlemen, that is no unfair representation of how it was with the founders of the New England commonwealths in their planting period.
The Puritan of the seventeenth century lived, moved, and had his being on the field of an undecided struggle for existence—the New England Puritan most emphatically so. He was under arms in body much of the time—in mind all the time. Nothing can be truer than to say that. And yet people everlastingly pick and poke at him for being sternfeatured and deficient in the softer graces of life.
It was his beauty that he was so, for it grew out of and was befitting his circumstances. And I, for one, love to see that austere demeanor so far as it is yet hereditary on the old soil—and some of it is left—thinking of its origin. It is the signature of a fighting far more than of an ascetic ancestry—memorial of a new Pass of Thermopylæ held by the latest race of Spartans on the shores of a new world. [Applause.]
It may be doubted if ever in the history of mankind was displayed a quality of public courage—of pure, indomitable pluck—surpassing that of the New England plantations in their infant day. No condition of its extremest proof was lacking. While the Bay Colony, for example, was in the pinch of its first wrestle with Nature for a living, much as ever able to furnish its table with a piece of bread—with the hunger-wolf never far away from the door, and behind that wolf the Narragansett and the Pequot, at what moment to burst into savagery none could tell—in the season when mere existence was the purchase of physical toil, universal and intense, and of watching night and day—there came from the old country, from the high places of authority, the