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ROBERT C. WINTHROP
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
(Speech of Robert C. Winthrop made at the public dinner given to Amin Bey by the merchants of Boston, Mass., November 4, 1850.)
MR. PRESIDENT:-I am greatly honored by the sentiment just proposed, and I beg my good friend, the VicePresident (Hon. Benjamin Seaver), to accept my hearty thanks for the kind and complimentary terms in which he has presented my name to the company. I am most grateful for the opportunity of meeting with so large a number of the intelligent and enterprising merchants of Boston, and of uniting with them in a tender of deserved hospitality, and in a tribute of just respect, to the Commissioner of his Imperial Majesty, the Sultan of Turkey.
And yet, I cannot but reflect, even as I pronounce these words, how strangely they would have sounded in the ears of our fathers not many generations back, or even in our own ears not many years ago. A deserved tender of hospitality, a just tribute of respect, to the Representative of the Grand Turk! Sir, the country from which your amiable and distinguished guest has come, was not altogether unknown to some of the early American discoverers and settlers. John Smith-do not smile too soon, Mr. President, for though the name has become proverbially generic in these latter days, it was once identified and individualized as the name of one of the most gallant navigators and captains which the world has ever known--that John Smith who first gave the cherished name of New England to what the Pilgrims of the Mayflower called “these Northern parts of Virginia "-he, I say, was well acquainted with Turkey; and two centuries and a half ago, he gave the name of a Turkish lady to one of the capes of our own Massachusetts Bay. But he knew Turkey as a prison and a dungeon, and he called what is now Cape Ann, Cape Tragabigzanda, only to commemorate his affection for one who had sootlied the rigors of a long and loathsome captivity.
Nor was Turkey an unknown land to at least one of those Winthrops of the olden time, with whom the Vice-President has so kindly connected me. In turning over some old family papers since my return home, I have stumbled on the original autograph of a note from John Winthrop, the younger, dated “ December 26th, 1628, at the Castles of the Hellespont," whither he had gone, as is supposed, as the Secretary of Sir Peter Wich, the British Ambassador at Constantinople. The associations of that day, however, with those remote regions, were by no means agreeable, and I should hardly dare to dwell longer upon them on this occasion and in this presence. I rejoice that events have occurred to break the spell of that hereditary prejudice, which has so long prevailed in the minds of not a few of us, toward the Ottoman Empire. I rejoice that our associations with Turkey are no longer those only of the plague and the bowstring; that we are encouraged and authorized to look to her hereafter for something better than a little coarse wool for our blankets, or a few figs for our dessert, or even a little opium or rhubarb for our medicine-chests; that, in a word, we are encouraged and warranted to look to her, under the auspices and administration of her young, gallant, and generous Sultan, for examples of reform, of toleration, of liberality, of a magnanimous and chivalrous humanity, which are worthy of the admiration and imitation of all mankind. I rejoice, especially, that an occasion has been afforded for testifying the deep sense which is entertained throughout our country, of the noble conduct of the Sublime Porte in regard to the unfortunate exiles of Hungary.
The influence which the Ottoman Empire seems destined to exert over the relations of Eastern and Western Europe, is of the most interesting and important character; and, while we all hold steadfastly to the great principle of neutrality which Washington established and enforced, we yet cannot suppress our satisfaction that this influence is now
in the hands of one who seems determined to wield it fearlessly for the best interests of civilization and humanity.
And now, sir, let us hope that our distinguished friend, Amin Bey, may return home with some not less favorable impressions of our own land. Of our enterprise, of our industry, of our immense material production, of our rapid progress in arts and improvements of every kind, of our vast territorial extent, he cannot fail to testify. Let us hope that he may be able to speak also of internal order, of domestic tranquillity, of wise and just laws, faithfully administered and promptly obeyed, of a happy, contented, and united people, commending by their practice and example, as well as by their principles and precepts, the institutions under which they live.
The distinguished gentleman who preceded me [Mr. Webster], and whom I have been under the disadvantage of following in other scenes as well as here, has spoken of the Union of these States. There is no language so strong or so emphatic, which even he can use, as to the importance of preserving that Union, which does not meet with a prompt and cordial echo in my own bosom. To the eyes of Amin Bey, and to the eyes of all foreign nations, we are indeed but one country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To them there is no Boston or New York, no Carolina or Louisiana. Our commerce goes forth under one and the same flag, whether from the Bay of Massachusetts or from the “Golden Gate” of California. Under that flag, it has been protected, prospered, and extended beyond example. Under that flag, new fields are opening to it, and new triumphs are before it. May our distinguished guest take home with him an assurance, founded upon all that he has seen and all that he has heard, of the resolution of us all, that the flag of our Union shall still and always remain one and the same, from ocean to ocean, untorn and untarnished, proof alike against everything of foreign assault and everything of domestic dissensioni [Great applause.]
JOHN SERGEANT WISE
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH
[Speech of John S. Wise at the eleventh annual dinner of the New England Society in the City of Brooklyn, December 20, 1890. The President, Willard Bartlett, occupied the chair. He called upon Mr. Wise to speak to the toast, Captain John Smith, the Ruler of Vir. ginia, and Admiral of New England,” saying: “It was not without a purpose that your committee arranged the order of speaking this evening. I am sure that the gentlemen who have already addressed you will take it in good part, if I say we knew that, by putting one name at the end of the programme, we should be sure to hold the audience here till the doxology. Now a speaker who bears the name of the first ruler of Virginia I ever knew anything about, will address you upon Virginia's still earlier ruler, Captain John Smith.”)
MR. CHAIRMAN: It is one of the peculiarities of Americans, that they attempt to solve the unsolvable problem of successfully mixing gastronomy and oratory. In chemistry there are things known as incompatibles, which it is impossible to blend and at the same time preserve their original characteristics. It is impossible to have as good a dinner as we have had served to-night, and preserve the intellectual faculties of your guests so that they may be seen at their best. I am not unmindful that in the menu the courses grew shorter until they culminated in the pungent and brief episode of cheese, and so I take it that as to the oratory here on tap, you desire it to become gradually more brief and more pungent.
Now, the task of condensing into a five-minute speech two hundred and seventy years of the history of America, is something that has been assigned to me, and I propose to address myself to it without further delay. (Laughter.] John Smith was at one time President of Virginia, and afterward Admiral of New England, and ever since then, until lately, New England and Virginia have been trying to pull loose from each other, so as not to be under the same ruler. [Laughter and applause.] John Smith was a godsend to the American settlers, because he was a plain man in a company of titled nonentities, and after they had tried and failed in every effort to make or perpetuate an American colony, plain John Smith, a democrat, without a title, took the helm and made it a success. (Laughter.]
Then and there, and ever since, we laid aside the Reginald-Trebizond-Percys of nobility, and stuck to the plain John Smiths, honest citizens, of capacity and character. By his example we learned that “Kind hearts are more than coronets," and simple men of worth are infinitely better than titled vagabonds of Norman blood. [Applause.] It is almost three centuries since a tiny vessel, not larger than a modern fishing-smack, turned her head to the sunset across an unknown sea, for the land of conjecture. The ship's company, composed of passengers from England, that wonderful nest of human wanderers, that splendid source of the best civilization of the world, cast anchor by chance in a noble bay for which they had not sailed, and settled a colony; not with any particularly high or noble object, but really in pursuit of gold, and searching for a South Sea which they never found. The voyage had been projected without any other object than the accumulation of wealth, which wealth was to be carried back to the old country and enjoyed in that England which they loved, and to which their eyes ever turned backward with affection, reverence, and the hope of return. This band of younger sons and penniless nobility, attempted to make a settlement under the charter known as the London charter of Virginia; and while we find to-day men sneering at John Smith, the fact remains that he alone was enabled by his strong personality, by his sterling, individual worth, to resist the savages, to make the lazy work, to furnish food for the weak and sickly, to re-inspire those who had lost hope, and to firmly establish a settlement in Virginia. His reward was what? Sedition in his own camp, ingratitude among his own followers, misrepresentation to his patrons, disappointment, disease, and poverty to himself; a return to England and posthumous fame. But his bulldog