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Volume 7, by Elbert  Hubbard

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Title: Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, Volume 7
       Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators

Author: Elbert  Hubbard

Release Date: December 7, 2007 [EBook #23761]

Language: English

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Little Journeys To the Homes of the Great, Volume 7

Little Journeys to the Homes
of Eminent Orators


Elbert Hubbard

Memorial Edition

New York





When we agreed, O Aspasia! in the beginning of our loves, to communicate our thoughts by writing, even while we were both in Athens, and when we had many reasons for it, we little foresaw the more powerful one that has rendered it necessary of late. We never can meet again: the laws forbid it, and love itself enforces them. Let wisdom be heard by you as imperturbably, and affection as authoritatively, as ever; and remember that the sorrow of Pericles can rise but from the bosom of Aspasia. There is only one word of tenderness we could say, which we have not said oftentimes before; and there is no consolation in it. The happy never say, and never hear said, farewell.

And now at the close of my day, when every light is dim and every guest departed, let me own that these wane before me, remembering, as I do in the pride and fulness of my heart, that Athens confided her glory, and Aspasia her happiness, to me.

Have I been a faithful guardian? Do I resign them to the custody of the gods, undiminished and unimpaired? Welcome then, welcome, my last hour! After enjoying for so great a number of years, in my public and private life, what I believe has never been the lot of any other, I now extend my hand to the urn, and take without reluctance or hesitation that which is the lot of all.

Pericles to Aspasia
[Pg 10]


[Pg 11]

Once upon a day there was a grocer who lived in Indianapolis, Indiana. The grocer's name being Heinrich Schliemann, his nationality can be inferred; and as for pedigree, it is enough to state that his ancestors did not land at either Plymouth or Jamestown. However, he was an American citizen.

Now this grocer made much moneys, for he sold groceries as were, and had a feed-barn, a hay-scales, a sommer-garten and a lunch-counter. In fact, his place of business was just the kind you would expect a strenuous man by the name of Schliemann to keep.

Soon Schliemann had men on the road, and they sold groceries as far west as Peoria and as far east as Xenia.

Schliemann grew rich, and the opening up of Schliemann's Division, where town lots were sold at auction, and Anheuser-Busch played an important part, helped his bank-balance not a little.

Schliemann grew rich: and the gentle reader being clairvoyant, now sees Schliemann weighed on his own hay-scales—and wanting everything in sight—tipping the beam at part of a ton. The expectation is that Schliemann will evolve into a large oval satrap, grow beautifully boastful and sublimely reminiscent, representing his Ward in the Common Council until pudge[Pg 12] plus prunes him off in his prime.

But this time the reader is wrong: Schliemann was tall, slender and reserved, also taciturn. Groceries were not the goal. In fact, he had interests outside of Indianapolis, that few knew anything about. When Schliemann was thirty-eight years old he was worth half a million dollars; and instead of making his big business still bigger, he was studying Greek. It was a woman and Eros taught Schliemann Greek, and this was so letters could be written—dictated by Eros, who they do say is an awful dictator—that would not be easily construed by Hoosier "hoi polloi." Together the woman and Schliemann studied the history of Hellas.

About the year Eighteen Hundred Sixty-eight Schliemann turned all of his Indiana property into cash; and in April, Eighteen Hundred Seventy, he was digging in the hill of Hissarlik, Troad. The same faculty of thoroughness, and the ability to captain a large business—managing men to his own advantage, and theirs—made his work in Greece a success. Schliemann's discoveries at Mount Athos, Mycenæ, Ithaca and Tiryns turned a searchlight upon prehistoric Hellas and revolutionized prevailing ideas concerning the rise and the development of Greek Art.

His Trojan treasures were presented to the city of Berlin. Had Schliemann given his priceless findings to Indianapolis, it would have made that city a Sacred Mecca for all the Western World—set it apart, and[Pg 13] caused James Whitcomb Riley to be a mere side-show, inept, inconsequent, immaterial and insignificant. But alas! Indianapolis never knew Schliemann when he lived there—they thought he was a Dutch Grocer! And all the honors went to Benjamin Harrison, Governor Morton and Thomas A. Hendricks.

If the Indiana Novelists would cease their dalliance with Dame Fiction and turn to Truth, writing a simple record of the life of Schliemann, it would eclipse in strangeness all the Knighthoods that ever were in Flower, and Ben Hur would get the flag in his Crawfordsville chariot-race for fame.

Berlin gave the freedom of the city to Schliemann; the Emperor of Germany bestowed on him a Knighthood; the University voted him a Ph. D.; Heidelberg made him a D. C. L.; and Saint Petersburg followed with an LL. D.

The value of the treasure, now in the Berlin Museum, found by Schliemann exceeds by far the value of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum.

We know, and have always known, who built the Parthenon and crowned the Acropolis; but not until Schliemann had by faith and good works removed the mountain of Hissarlik, did we know that the Troy, of which blind Homer sang, was not a figment of the poet's brain.

Schliemann showed us that a thousand years before the age of Pericles there was a civilization almost as great. Aye! more than this—he showed us that the[Pg 14] ancient city of Troy was built upon the ruins of a city that throve and pulsed with life and pride, a thousand years or more before Thetis, the mother of Achilles, held her baby by the heel and dipped him in the River Styx.

Schliemann passed to the Realm of Shade in Eighteen Hundred Ninety, and is buried at Athens, in the Ceramicus, in a grave excavated by his own hands in a search for the grave of Pericles.

[Pg 15]Pericles lived nearly twenty-five centuries ago. The years of his life were sixty-six—during the last thirty-one of which, by popular acclaim, he was the "First Citizen of Athens." The age in which he lived is called the Age of Pericles.

Shakespeare died less than three hundred years ago, and although he lived in a writing age, and every decade since has seen a plethora of writing men, yet writing men are now bandying words as to whether he lived at all.

Between us and Pericles lie a thousand years of night, when styli were stilled, pens forgotten, chisels thrown aside, brushes were useless, and oratory was silent, dumb. Yet we know the man Pericles quite as well as the popular mind knows George Washington, who lived but yesterday, and with whom myth and fable have already played their part.

Thucydides, a contemporary of Pericles, who outlived him by nearly half a century, wrote his life. Fortunately, Thucydides was big enough himself to take the measure of a great man. At least seven other contemporaries, whose works we have in part, wrote also of the First Citizen.

To Plutarch are we indebted for much of our knowledge of Pericles, and fortunately we are in position to verify most of Plutarch's gossipy chronicles.

The vanishing-point of time is seen in that Plutarch[Pg 16] refers to Pericles as an "ancient"; and through the mist of years it hardly seems possible that between Plutarch and Pericles is a period of five hundred years. Plutarch resided in Greece when Paul was at Athens, Corinth and other Grecian cities. Later, Plutarch was at Miletus, about the time Saint Paul stopped there on his way to Rome to be tried for blasphemy—the same offense committed by Socrates, and a sin charged, too, against Pericles. Nature punishes for most sins, but sacrilege, heresy and blasphemy are not in her calendar, so man has to look after them. Plutarch visited Patmos where Saint John was exiled and where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Plutarch was also at "Malta by the Sea," where Saint Paul was shipwrecked; but so far as we know, he never heard of Paul nor of Him of whom, upon Mars Hill, Paul preached.

Paul bears testimony that at Athens the people spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. They were curious as children, and had to be diverted and amused. They were the same people that Pericles had diverted, amused and used—used without their knowing it, five hundred years before.

[Pg 17]The gentle and dignified Anaxagoras, who abandoned all his property to the State that he might be free to devote himself to thought, was the first and best teacher of Pericles. Under his tutorship—better, the companionship of this noble man—Pericles acquired that sublime self-restraint, that intellectual breadth, that freedom from superstition, which marked his character.

Superstitions are ossified metaphors, and back of every religious fallacy lies a truth. The gods of Greece were once men who fought their valiant fight and lived their day; the supernatural is the natural not yet understood—it is the natural seen through the mist of one, two, three, ten or twenty-five hundred years, when things loom large and out of proportion—and all these things were plain to Pericles. Yet he kept his inmost belief to himself, and let the mob believe whate'er it list. Morley's book on "Compromise" would not have appealed much to Pericles—his answer would have been, "A man must do what he can, and not what he would." Yet he was no vulgar demagog truckling to the caprices of mankind, nor was he a tyrant who pitted his will against the many and subdued by a show of arms. For thirty years he kept peace at home, and if this peace was once or twice cemented by an insignificant foreign war, he proved thereby that he was abreast of Napoleon, who said, "The cure for civil dissension is war abroad." Pericles[Pg 18] stands alone in his success as a statesman. It was Thomas Brackett Reed, I believe, who said, "A statesman is a politician who is dead."

And this is a sober truth, for, to reveal the statesman, perspective is required.

Pericles built and maintained a State, and he did it, as every statesman must, by recognizing and binding to him ability. It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test. While Pericles lived, there also lived Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pythagoras, Socrates, Herodotus, Zeno, Hippocrates, Pindar, Empedocles and Democritus. Such a galaxy of stars has never been seen before nor since—unless we have it now—and Pericles was their one central sun.

Pericles was great in many ways—great as an orator, musician, philosopher, politician, financier, and great and wise as a practical leader. Lovers of beauty are apt to be dreamers, but this man had the ability to plan, devise, lay out work and carry it through to a successful conclusion. He infused others with his own animation, and managed to set a whole cityful of lazy people building a temple grander far in its rich simplicity than the world had ever seen. By his masterly eloquence and the magic of his presence, Pericles infused the Greeks with a passion for beauty and a desire to create. And no man can inspire others with the desire to create who has not taken sacred[Pg 19] fire from the altar of the gods. The creative genius is the highest gift vouchsafed to man, and wherein man is likest God. The desire to create does not burn the heart of the serf, and only free people can respond to the greatest power ever given to any First Citizen.

In beautifying the city there was a necessity for workers in stone, brass, iron, ivory, gold, silver and wood. Six thousand of the citizens were under daily pay as jurors, to be called upon if their services were needed; most of the other male adults were soldiers. Through the genius of Pericles and his generals these men were set to work as masons, carpenters, braziers, goldsmiths, painters and sculptors. Talent was discovered where before it was supposed there was none; music found a voice; playwriters discovered actors; actors found an audience; and philosophy had a hearing. A theater was built, carved almost out of solid stone, that seated ten thousand people, and on the stage there was often heard a chorus of a thousand voices. Physical culture developed the perfect body so that the Greek forms of that time are today the despair of the human race. The recognition of the sacredness of the temple of the soul was taught as a duty; and to make the body beautiful by right exercise and by right life became a science. The sculptor must have models approaching perfection, and the exhibition of the sculptor's work, together with occasional public religious processions of naked youths, kept before the people[Pg 20] ideals superb and splendid.

For several years everybody worked, carrying stone, hewing, tugging, lifting, carving. Up the steep road that led to the Acropolis was a constant procession carrying materials. So infused was everybody and everything with the work that a story is told of a certain mule that had hauled a cart in the endless procession. This worthy worker, "who was sustained by neither pride of ancestry nor hope of posterity," finally became galled and lame and was turned out to die. But the mule did not die—nothing dies until hope dies. That mule pushed his way back into the throng and up and down he went, filled and comforted with the thought that he was doing his work—and all respected him and made way. If this story was invented by a comic poet of the time, devised by an enemy of Pericles, we see its moral, and think no less of Pericles. To inspire a mule with a passion for work and loyalty in a great cause is no mean thing.

So richly endowed was Pericles that he was able to appreciate the best not only in men, but in literature, painting, sculpture, music, architecture and life as well. In him there was as near a perfect harmony as we have ever seen—in him all the various lines of Greek culture united, and we get the perfect man. Under the right conditions there might be produced a race of such men—but such a race never lived in Greece and never could. Greece was a splendid experiment. Greece was God's finest plaything—devised to show what He could do.

[Pg 21]I have sometimes thought that comeliness of feature and fine physical proportions were a handicap to an orator. If a man is handsome, it is quite enough—let him act as chairman and limit his words to stating the pleasure he has in introducing the speaker. No man in a full-dress suit can sway a thousand people to mingled mirth and tears, play upon their emotions and make them remember the things they have forgotten, drive conviction home, and change the ideals of a lifetime in an hour. The man in spotless attire, with necktie mathematically adjusted, is an usher. If too much attention to dress is in evidence, we at once conclude that the attire is first in importance and the message secondary.

The orator is a man we hate, fear or love, and are curious to see. His raiment is incidental; the usher's clothes are vital. The attire of the usher may reveal the man—but not so the speaker. If our first impressions are disappointing, so much the better, provided the man is a man.

The best thing in Winston Churchill's book, "The Crisis," is his description of Lincoln's speech at Freeport. Churchill got that description from a man who was there. Where the issue was great, Lincoln was always at first a disappointment. His unkempt appearance, his awkwardness, his shrill voice—these things made people laugh, then they were ashamed because they laughed, then they pitied, next followed surprise,[Pg 22] and before they knew it, they were being wrapped 'round by words so gracious, so fair, so convincing, so free from prejudice, so earnest and so charged with soul that they were taken captive, bound hand and foot.

Talmage, who knew his business, used to work this element of disappointment as an art. When the event was important and he wished to make a particularly good impression, he would begin in a very low, sing-song voice, and in a monotonous manner, dealing in trite nothings for five minutes or more. His angular form would seem to take on more angles and his homely face would grow more homely, if that were possible—disappointment would spread itself over the audience like a fog; people would settle back in their pews, sigh and determine to endure. And then suddenly the speaker would glide to the front, his great chest would fill, his immense mouth would open and there would leap forth a sentence like a thunderbolt.

Visitors at "The Temple," London, will recall how Joseph Parker works the matter of surprise, and often piques curiosity by beginning his sermon to two thousand people in a voice that is just above a whisper.

One of the most impressive orators of modern times was John P. Altgeld, yet to those who heard him for the first time his appearance was always a disappointment. Altgeld was so earnest and sincere, so full of his message that he scorned all the tricks of oratory, but still he must have been aware that his insignificant[Pg 23] form and commonplace appearance were a perfect foil for the gloomy, melancholy and foreboding note of earnestness that riveted his words into a perfect whole.

Over against the type of oratory represented by Altgeld, America has produced one orator who fascinated first by his personal appearance, next exasperated by his imperturbable calm, then disappointed through a reserve that nothing could baffle, and finally won through all three, more than by his message. This man was Roscoe Conkling, he of the Hyperion curls and Jovelike front.

The chief enemy of Conkling (and he had a goodly list) was James G. Blaine, who once said of him, "He wins, like Pericles, by his grand and god-like manner—and knows it." In appearance and manner Pericles and Conkling had much in common, but there the parallel stops.

Pericles appeared only on great occasions. We are told that in twenty years he was seen on the streets of Athens only once a year, and that was in going from his house to the Assembly where he made his annual report of his stewardship. He never made himself cheap. His speeches were prepared with great care and must have been memorized. Before he spoke he prayed the gods that not a single unworthy word might escape his lips. We are told that his manner was so calm, so well poised, that during his speech his mantle was never disarranged.

[Pg 24]In his speeches Pericles never championed an unpopular cause—he never led a forlorn hope—he never flung reasons into the teeth of a mob. His addresses were the orderly, gracious words of eulogy and congratulation. He won the approval of his constituents often against their will, and did the thing he wished to do, without giving offense. Thucydides says his words were like the honey of Hymettus—persuasion sat upon his lips.

No man wins his greatest fame in that to which he has given most of his time; it's his side issue, the thing he does for recreation, his heart's play-spell, that gives him immortality. There is too much tension in that where his all is staked. But in his leisure the pressure is removed, his heart is free and judgment may for the time take a back seat—there was where Dean Swift picked his laurels. Although Pericles was the greatest orator of his day, yet his business was not oratory. Public speaking was to him merely incidental and accidental. He doubtless would have avoided it if he could—he was a man of affairs, a leader of practical men, and he was a teacher. He held his place by a suavity, gentleness and gracious show of reasons unparalleled. In oratory it is manner that wins, not words. One virtue Pericles had in such generous measure that the world yet takes note of it, and that is his patience. If interrupted in a speech, he gave way and never answered sharply, nor used his position to the other's[Pg 25] discomfiture. In his speeches there was no challenge, no vituperation, no irony, no arraignment. He assumed that everybody was honest, everybody just, and that all men were doing what they thought was best for themselves and others. His enemies were not rogues—simply good men who were temporarily in error. He impeached no man's motives; but went much out of his way to give due credit.

On one occasion, early in his public career, he was berated by a bully in the streets. Pericles made no answer, but went quietly about his business. The man followed him, continuing his abuse—followed him clear to the door of his house. It being dark, Pericles ordered one of his servants to procure a torch, light the man home and see that no harm befell him.

The splendor of his intellect and the sublime strength of his will are shown in that small things did not distress him. He was building the Parthenon and making Athens the wonder of the world: this was enough.

[Pg 26]The Greeks at their best were barbarians; at their worst, slaves. The average intelligence among them was low; and the idea that they were such a wonderful people has gained a foothold simply because they are so far off. The miracle of it all is that such sublimely great men as Pericles, Phidias, Socrates and Anaxagoras should have sprung from such a barbaric folk. The men just named were as exceptional as was Shakespeare in the reign of Elizabeth. That the masses had small appreciation of these men is proven in the fact that Phidias and Anaxagoras died in prison, probably defeating their persecutors by suicide. Socrates drank the cup of hemlock, and Pericles, the one man who had made Athens immortal, barely escaped banishment and death by diverting attention from himself to a foreign war. The charge against both Pericles and Phidias was that of "sacrilege." They said that Pericles and Phidias should be punished because they had placed their pictures on a sacred shield.

Humanity's job-lot was in the saddle, and sought to wound Pericles by attacking his dearest friends: so his old teacher, Anaxagoras, was made to die; his beloved helper, Phidias, the greatest sculptor the world has ever known, suffered a like fate; and his wife, Aspasia, was humiliated by being dragged to a public trial, where the eloquence of Pericles alone saved her from a malefactor's death; and it is said that this was[Pg 27] the only time when Pericles lost his "Olympian calm."

The son of Pericles and Aspasia was one of ten generals executed because they failed to win a certain battle. The scheme of beheading unsuccessful soldiers was not without its advantages, and in some ways is to be commended; but the plan reveals the fact that the Greeks had so little faith in their leaders that the threat of death was deemed necessary to make them do their duty. This son of Pericles was declared illegitimate by law; another law was passed declaring him legitimate: and finally his head was cut off, all as duly provided in the statutes. Doesn't this make us wonder what this world would have been without its lawmakers? The particular offense of Anaxagoras was that he said Jove occasionally sent thunder and lightning with no thought of Athens in mind. The same subject is up for discussion yet, but no special penalty is provided by the State as to conclusions.

The citizens of Greece in the time of Pericles were given over to two things which were enough to damn any individual and any nation—idleness and superstition. The drudgery was done by slaves; the idea that a free citizen should work was preposterous; to be useful was a disgrace. For a time Pericles dissipated their foolish thought, but it kept cropping out. To speak disrespectfully of the gods was to invite death, and the philosophers who dared discuss the powers of Nature or refer to a natural religion were safe only[Pg 28] through the fact that their language was usually so garlanded with the flowers of poesy that the people did not comprehend its import.

Very early in the reign of Pericles a present of forty thousand bushels of wheat had been sent from the King of Egypt; at least it was called a present—probably it was an exacted tribute. This wheat was to be distributed among the free citizens of Athens, and accordingly when the cargo arrived there was a fine scramble among the people to show that they were free. Everybody produced a certificate and demanded wheat.

Some time before this Pericles had caused a law to be passed providing that in order to be a citizen a man must be descended from a father and a mother who were both Athenians. This law was aimed directly at Themistocles, the predecessor of Pericles, whose mother was an alien. It is true the mother of Themistocles was an alien, but her son was Themistocles. The law worked and Themistocles was declared a bastardicus and banished.

Before unloading our triremes of wheat, let the fact be stated that laws aimed at individuals are apt to prove boomerangs. "Thee should build no dark cells," said Elizabeth Fry to the King of France, "for thy children may occupy them." Some years after Pericles had caused this law to be passed defining citizenship, he loved a woman who had the misfortune to be born[Pg 29] at Miletus. According to his own law the marriage of Pericles to this woman was not legal—she was only his slave, not his wife. So finally Pericles had to go before the people and ask for the repeal of the law that he had made, in order that his own children might be made legitimate. Little men in shovel hats and knee-breeches who hotly fume against the sin of a man marrying his deceased wife's sister are usually men whose wives are not deceased, and have no sisters.

The wheat arrived at the Piræus, and the citizens jammed the docks. The slaves wore sleeveless tunics. The Greeks were not much given to that absurd plan of cutting off heads—they simply cut off sleeves. This meant that the man was a worker—the rest affected sleeves so long that they could not work, somewhat after the order of the Chinese nobility, who wear their finger-nails so long they can not use their hands. "To kill a bird is to lose it," said Thoreau. "To kill a man is to lose him," said the Greeks.

"You should have your sleeves cut off," said some of the citizens to others, with a bit of acerbity, as they crowded the docks for their wheat.

The talk increased—it became louder.

Finally it was proposed that the distribution of wheat should be deferred until every man had proved his pedigree.

The ayes had it.

The result was that on close scrutiny five thousand[Pg 30] supposed citizens had a blot on their 'scutcheon. The property of these five thousand men was immediately confiscated and the men sold into slavery. The total number of free men, women and children in the city of Athens was about seventy-five thousand, and of the slaves or helots about the same, making the total population of the city about one hundred fifty thousand.

We have heard so much of "the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome," that we are, at times, apt to think the world is making progress backward. But let us all stand erect and lift up our hearts in thankfulness that we live in the freest country the world has ever known. Wisdom is not monopolized by a few; power is not concentrated in the hands of a tyrant; knowledge need not express itself in cipher; to work is no longer a crime or a disgrace.

We have superstition yet, but it is toothless: we can say our say without fear of losing our heads or our sleeves. We may lose a few customers, and some subscribers may cancel, but we are not in danger of banishment; and that attenuated form of ostracism which consists in neglecting to invite the offender to a four-o'clock tea has no terrors.

Bigotry is abroad, but it has no longer the power to throttle science; the empty threat of future punishment and the offer of reward are nothing to us, since we perceive they are offered by men who haven't[Pg 31] these things to give. The idea of war and conquest is held by many, but concerning it we voice our thoughts and write our views; and the fact that we perceive and point out what we believe are fallacies, and brand the sins of idleness and extravagance, is proof that light is breaking in the East. If we can profit by the good that was in Greece and avoid the bad, we have the raw material here, if properly used, to make her glory fade into forgetfulness by comparison.

Do not ask that the days of Greece shall come again—we now know that to live by the sword is to die by the sword, and the nation that builds on conquest builds on sand. We want no splendor fashioned by slaves—no labor driven by the lash, nor lured on through superstitious threat of punishment and offer of reward: we recognize that to own slaves is to be one.

Ten men built Athens. The passion for beauty that these men had may be ours, their example may inspire us, but to live their lives—we will none of them! Our lives are better—the best time the world has ever seen is now; and a better yet is sure to be. The night is past and gone—the light is breaking in the East!

[Pg 32]Womanhood was not held in high esteem in Greece. To be sure, barbaric Sparta made a bold stand for equality, and almost instituted a gynecocracy, but the usual idea was that a woman's opinion was not worth considering. Hence the caricaturists of the day made sly sport of the love of Pericles and Aspasia. These two were intellectual equals, comrades; and that all of Pericles' public speeches were rehearsed to her, as his enemies averred, is probably true. "Aspasia has no time for society; she is busy writing a speech for her lord," said Aristophanes. Socrates used to visit Aspasia, and he gave it out as his opinion that Aspasia wrote the sublime ode delivered by Pericles on the occasion of his eulogy on the Athenian dead. The popular mind could not possibly comprehend how a great man could defer to a woman in important matters, and she be at once his wife, counselor, comrade, friend. Socrates, who had been taught by antithesis, understood it.

The best minds of our day behold that Pericles was as sublimely great in his love-affairs as he was in his work as architect and statesman. Life is a whole, and every man works his love up into life—his life is revealed in his work, and his love is mirrored in his life. For myself I can not see why the Parthenon may not have been a monument to a great and sublime passion, and the statue of Athena, its chief ornament, be the sacred symbol of a great woman greatly loved.

[Pg 33]So far as can be found, the term of "courtesan" applied by the mob to Aspasia came from the fact that she was not legally married to Pericles, and for no other reason. That their union was not legal was owing to the simple fact that Pericles, early in his career, had caused a law to be passed making marriage between an Athenian and an alien morganatic: very much as in England, for a time, the children of a marriage where one parent was a Catholic and the other a Protestant were declared by the State to be illegitimate. The act of Pericles in spreading a net for his rival and getting caught in it himself is a beautiful example of the truth of a bucolic maxim, "Chickens most generally come home to roost."

Thucydides says that for thirty years Pericles never dined away from home but once. He kept out of crowds, and was very seldom seen at public gatherings. The idea held by many was that a man who thus preferred his home and the society of a woman was either silly or bad, or both. Socrates, for instance, never went home as long as there was any other place to go, which reminds us of a certain American statesman who met a friend on the street, the hour being near midnight. "Where are you going, Bill?" asked the statesman. "Home," said Bill. "What!" said the statesman, "haven't you any place to go?" The Athenian men spent their spare time in the streets and marketplaces—this was to them what the daily paper[Pg 34] is to us.

In his home life Pericles was simple, unpretentious and free from all extravagance. No charge could ever be brought against him that he was wasting the public money for himself—the beauty he materialized was for all. He held no court, had no carriages, equipage, nor guards; wore no insignia of office, and had no title save that of "First Citizen" given him by the people. He is the supreme type of a man who, though holding no public office, yet ruled like a monarch, and, best of all, ruled his own spirit. There is no government so near perfect as that of an absolute monarchy—where the monarch is wise and just.

[Pg 35]Greece is a beautiful dream. Dreams do not endure, yet they are a part of life, no less than the practical deeds of the day. The glory of Greece could not last; its limit was thirty years—one generation. The splendor of Athens was built on tribute and conquest, and the lesson of it all lies in this: For thirty years Pericles turned the revenues of war into art, beauty and usefulness.

England spent more in her vain efforts to subjugate two little South African republics than Pericles spent in making Athens the Wonder of the World. If Chamberlain and Salisbury had been the avatars of Pericles and Phidias, they would have used the nine hundred millions of dollars wasted in South Africa, and the services of those three hundred thousand men, and done in England, aye! or done in South Africa, a work of harmony and undying beauty such as this tired earth had not seen since Phidias wrought and Pindar sang.

And another thing, the thirty thousand Englishmen sacrificed to the God of War, and the ten thousand Boers, dead in a struggle for what they thought was right, would now nearly all be alive and well, rejoicing in the contemplation of a harmony unparalleled and unsurpassed.

During the last year the United States has appropriated four hundred million dollars for war and war-apparatus. Since Eighteen Hundred Ninety-seven we have expended about three times the sum named for[Pg 36] war and waste. If there had been among us a Pericles who could have used this vast treasure in irrigating the lands of the West and building Manual-Training Schools where boys and girls would be taught to do useful work and make beautiful things, we could have made ancient Greece pale into forgetfulness beside the beauty we would manifest.

When Pericles came into power there was a union of the Greek States, formed with intent to stand against Persia, the common foe. A treasure had been accumulated at Delos by Themistocles, the predecessor of Pericles, to use in case of emergency.

The ambition of Themistocles was to make Greece commercially supreme. She must be the one maritime power of the world. All the outlying islands of the Ægean Sea were pouring their tithes into Athens and Delos that they might have protection from the threatening hordes of Persia.

Pericles saw that war was not imminent, and under the excuse of increased safety he got the accumulated treasure moved from Delos to Athens. The amount of this emergency fund, to us, would be insignificant—a mere matter of, say, two million dollars. Pericles used this money, or a portion of it at least, for beautifying Athens, and he did his wondrous work by maintaining a moderate war-tax in a time of peace, using the revenue for something better than destruction and vaunting pride.

[Pg 37]But Pericles could not forever hold out against the mob at Athens and the hordes abroad. He might have held the hordes at bay, but disloyalty struck at him at home—his best helpers were sacrificed to superstition—his beloved helper Phidias was dead. War came—the population from the country flocked within the walls of Athens for protection. The pent-up people grew restless, sick; pestilence followed, and in ministering to their needs, trying to infuse courage into his whimpering countrymen, bearing up under the disloyalty of his own sons, planning to meet the lesser foe without, Pericles grew aweary, Nature flagged, and he was dead.

From his death dates the decline of Greece—she has been twenty-five centuries dying and is not dead even yet. To Greece we go for consolation, and in her armless and headless marbles we see the perfect type of what men and women yet may be. Copies of her Winged Victory are upon ten thousand pedestals pointing us the way.

England has her Chamberlain, Salisbury, Lord Bobs, Buller, and Kitchener; America has her rough-riders who bawl and boast, her financiers, and her promoters. In every city of America there is a Themistocles who can organize a Trust of Delos and make the outlying islands pay tithes and tribute through an indirect tax on this and that. In times of alleged danger all Kansans flock to arms and offer their lives in the interest of outraged humanity.

[Pg 38]These things are well, but where is the Pericles who can inspire men to give in times of peace what all are willing to give in the delirium of war—that is to say, themselves?

We can Funstonize men into fighting-machines; we can set half a nation licking stamps for strife; but where is the Pericles who can infuse the populace into paving streets, building good roads, planting trees, constructing waterways across desert sands, and crowning each rock-ribbed hill with a temple consecrated to Love and Beauty! We take our mules from their free prairies, huddle them in foul transports and send them across wide oceans to bleach their bones upon the burning veldt; but where is the man who can inspire our mules with a passion to do their work, add their mite to building a temple and follow the procession unled, undriven—with neither curb nor lash—happy in the fond idea that they are a part of all the seething life that throbs, pulses and works for a Universal Good!

England is today a country tied with crape. On the lintels of her doorposts there linger yet the marks of sprinkled blood; the guttural hurrahs of her coronation are mostly evoked by beer; behind it all are fears and tears and a sorrow that will not be comforted.

"I never caused a single Athenian to wear mourning," truthfully said Pericles with his dying breath. Can the present prime ministers of earth say as much? That is the kind of leader America most needs today—a man[Pg 39] who can do his work and make no man, woman or child wear crape.

The time is ripe for him—we await his coming.

We are sick and tired of plutocrats who struggle and scheme but for themselves; we turn with loathing from the concrete selfishness of Newport and Saratoga; the clatter of arms and the blare of battle-trumpets in time of peace are hideous to our ears—we want no wealth gained from conquest and strife.

Ours is the richest country the world has ever known. Greece was a beggar compared with Iowa and Illinois, where nothing but honest effort is making small cities great. But we need a Pericles who shall inspire us to work for truth, harmony and beauty—a beauty wrought for ourselves—and a love that shall perform such miracles that they will minister to the millions yet unborn. We need a Pericles! We need a Pericles!


It is not long, my Antony, since, with these hands, I buried thee.[Pg 41] Alas! they were then free, but thy Cleopatra is now a prisoner, attended by guard, lest, in the transports of her grief, she should disfigure this captive body, which is reserved to adorn the triumph over thee. These are the last offerings, the last honors she can pay thee; for she is now to be conveyed to a distant country. Nothing could part us while we lived, but in death we are to be divided. Thou, though a Roman, liest buried in Egypt; and I, an Egyptian, must be interred in Italy, the only favor I shall receive from thy country. Yet, if the Gods of Rome have power or mercy left (for surely those of Egypt have forsaken us), let them not suffer me to be led in living triumph to thy disgrace! No! hide me, hide me with thee in the grave; for life, since thou hast left it, has been misery to me.

[Pg 42]


[Pg 43]

The sole surviving daughter of the great King Ptolemy of Egypt, Cleopatra was seventeen years old when her father died.

By his will the King made her joint heir to the throne with her brother Ptolemy, several years her junior. And according to the custom not unusual among royalty at that time, it was provided that Ptolemy should become the husband of Cleopatra.

She was a woman—her brother a child.

She had intellect, ambition, talent. She knew the history of her own country, and that of Assyria, Greece and Rome; and all the written languages of the world were to her familiar. She had been educated by the philosophers, who had brought from Greece the science of Pythagoras and Plato. Her companions had been men—not women, or nurses, or pious, pedantic priests.

Through the veins of her young body pulsed and leaped life plus.

She abhorred the thought of an alliance with her weak-chinned brother; and the ministers of state who suggested another husband, as a compromise, were dismissed with a look. They said she was intractable, contemptuous, unreasonable, and was scheming for the sole possession of the throne. She was not to be diverted[Pg 44] even by ardent courtiers who were sent to her, and who lay in wait, ready with amorous sighs—she scorned them all.

Yet she was a woman still, and in her dreams she saw the coming prince.

She was banished from Alexandria.

A few friends followed her, and an army was formed to force from the enemy her rights.

But other things were happening. A Roman army came leisurely drifting in with the tide, and disembarked at Alexandria. The Great Cæsar himself was in command—a mere holiday, he said. He had intended to join the land forces of Mark Antony and help crush the rebellious Pompey, but Antony had done the trick alone, and only a few days before, word had come that Pompey was dead.

Cæsar knew that civil war was on in Alexandria, and being near he sailed slowly in, sending messengers ahead warning both sides to lay down their arms.

With him was the far-famed invincible Tenth Legion that had ravished Gaul. Cæsar wanted to rest his men, and incidentally to reward them. They took possession of the city without a blow.

Cleopatra's troops laid down their arms, but Ptolemy's refused. They were simply chased beyond the walls, and their punishment was for a time deferred.

Cæsar took possession of the palace of the King, and his soldiers accommodated themselves in the houses,[Pg 45] public buildings and temples as best they could.

Cleopatra asked for a personal interview that she might present her cause. Cæsar declined to meet her. He understood the trouble—many such cases he had seen. Claimants for thrones were not new to him. Where two parties quarreled both were right—or wrong—it really mattered little. It is absurd to quarrel—still more foolish to fight. Cæsar was a man of peace, and to keep the peace he would appoint one of his generals governor, and make Egypt a Roman colony. In the meantime he would rest a week or two, with the kind permission of the Alexandrians, and work upon his "Commentaries"—no, he would not see either Cleopatra or Ptolemy: any information desired he would get through his trusted emissaries.

In the service of Cleopatra was a Sicilian slave who had been her personal servant since she was a little girl. This man's name was Appolidorus—a man of giant stature and imposing mien. Ten years before his tongue had been torn out as a token that as he was to attend a queen he should tell no secrets.

Appolidorus had but one thought in life, and that was to defend his gracious queen. He slept at the door of Cleopatra's tent, a naked sword at his side, held in his clenched and brawny hand.

And now behold at dusk of day the grim and silent Appolidorus, carrying upon his giant shoulders a large and curious rug, rolled up and tied 'round at either[Pg 46] end with ropes. He approaches the palace of the King, and at the guarded gate hands a note to the officer in charge. This note gives information to the effect that a certain patrician citizen of Alexandria, being glad that the gracious Cæsar had deigned to visit Egypt, sends him the richest rug that can be woven, done, in fact, by his wife and daughters and held against this day, awaiting Rome's greatest son.

The officer reads the note, and orders a soldier to accept the gift and carry it within—presents were constantly arriving. A sign from the dumb giant makes the soldier stand back—the present is for Cæsar and can be delivered only in person. "Lead and I will follow," were the words done in stern pantomime.

The officer laughs, sends the note inside, and the messenger soon returning, signifies that the present is acceptable and the slave bearing it shall be shown in. Appolidorus shifts the burden to the other shoulder, and follows the soldier through the gate, up the marble steps, along the splendid hallway lighted by flaring torches and lined with reclining Roman soldiers.

At a door they pause an instant, there is a whispered word—they enter.

The room is furnished as becomes the room that is the private library of the King of Egypt. In one corner, seated at the table, pen in hand, sits a man of middle age, pale, clean-shaven, with hair close-cropped. His dress is not that of a soldier—it is the flowing, white[Pg 47] robe of a Roman Priest. Only one servant attends this man, a secretary, seated near, who rises and explains that the present is acceptable and shall be deposited on the floor.

The pale man at the table looks up, smiles a tired smile, and murmurs in a perfunctory way his thanks.

Appolidorus having laid his burden on the floor, kneels to untie the ropes.

The secretary explains that he need not trouble, pray bear thanks and again thanks to his master—he need not tarry!

The dumb man on his knees neither hears nor heeds.

The rug is unrolled.

From out the roll a woman leaps lightly to her feet—a beautiful young woman of twenty.

She stands there, poised, defiant, gazing at the pale-faced man seated at the table.

He is not surprised—he never was. One might have supposed he received all his visitors in this manner.

"Well?" he says in a quiet way, a half-smile parting his thin lips.

The woman's breast heaves with tumultuous emotion—just an instant. She speaks, and there is no tremor in her tones. Her voice is low, smooth and scarcely audible: "I am Cleopatra."

The man at the desk lays down his pen, leans back and gently nods his head, as much as to say, indulgently, "Yes, my child, I hear—go on!"

[Pg 48]"I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and I would speak with thee alone."

She paused; then raising one jeweled arm motions to Appolidorus that he shall withdraw. With a similar motion, the man at the desk signifies the same to his astonished secretary.

Appolidorus went down the long hallway, down the stone steps and waited at the outer gate amid the throng of soldiers. They questioned him, gibed him, railed at him, but they got no word in reply.

He waited—he waited an hour, two—and then came a messenger with a note written on a slip of parchment. The words ran thus: "Well-beloved 'Dorus: Veni, vidi, vici! Go fetch my maids, also all of our personal belongings."

[Pg 49]Standing alone by the slashed and stiffened corpse of Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony says:

"Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times."

Cæsar had two qualities that mark the man of supreme power: he was gentle and he was firm.

To be gentle, generous, lenient, forgiving, and yet never relinquish the vital thing—this is to be great.

To know when to be generous and when firm—this is wisdom.

The first requisite in ruling others is to rule one's own spirit.

The suavity, moderation, dignity and wise diplomacy of Cæsar led him by sure and safe steps from a lowly clerkship to positions of gradually increasing responsibility. At thirty-seven he was elected Pontifex Maximus—the head of the State Religion.

Between Pagan Rome and Christian Paganism there is small choice—all State religions are very much alike. Cæsar was Pope: and no State religion since his time has been an improvement on that of Cæsar.

In his habits Cæsar was ascetic—a scholar by nature. He was tall, slender, and in countenance sad. For the intellect Nature had given him, she had taken toll by cheating him in form and feature. He was deliberate and of few words—he listened in a way that always first complimented the speaker and then disconcerted him.

By birth he was a noble, and by adoption one of the[Pg 50] people. He was both plebeian and patrician.

His military experience had been but slight, though creditable, and his public addresses were so few that no one claimed he was an orator. He had done nothing of special importance, and yet the feeling was everywhere that he was the greatest man in Rome. The nobles feared him, trembling at thought of his displeasure. The people loved him—he called them, "My children."

Cæsar was head of the Church, but politically there were two other strong leaders in Rome, Pompey and Crassus. These two men were rich, and each was at the head of a large number of followers whom he had armed as militia "for the defense of State." Cæsar was poor in purse and could not meet them in their own way even if so inclined. He saw the danger of these rival factions. Strife between them was imminent—street fights were common—and it would require only a spark to ignite the tinder.

Cæsar the Pontiff—the man of peace—saw a way to secure safety for the State from these two men who had armed their rival legions to protect it.

To secure this end he would crush them both.

The natural way to do this would have been to join forces with the party he deemed the stronger, and down the opposition. But this done, the leader with whom he had joined forces would still have to be dealt with.

Cæsar made peace between Pompey and Crassus by[Pg 51] joining with them, forming a Triumvirate.

This was one of the greatest strokes of statecraft ever devised. It made peace at home—averted civil war—cemented rival factions.

When three men join forces, make no mistake—power is never equally divided.

Before the piping times of peace could pall, a foreign war diverted attention from approaching difficulties at home.

The Gauls were threatening—they were always threatening—war could be had with them any time by just pushing out upon them. To the south, Sicily, Greece, Persia and Egypt had been exploited—fame and empire lay in the dim and unknown North.

Only a Cæsar could have known this. He had his colleagues make him governor of Gaul. Gaul was a troublesome place to be, and they were quite willing he should go there. For a priest to go among the fighting Gauls—they smiled and stroked their chins! Gaul had definite boundaries on the south—the Rubicon marked the line—but on the north it was without limit. Real-estate owners own as high in the air and as deep in the earth as they wish to go. Cæsar alone guessed the greatness of Gaul.

Under pretense of protecting Rome from a threatened invasion he secured the strongest legions of Pompey and Crassus. Combining them into one army he led them northward to such conquest and victory as[Pg 52] the world had never before seen.

It is not for me to tell the history of Cæsar's Gallic wars. Suffice it to say that in eight years he had penetrated what is now Switzerland, France, Germany and England. Everywhere he left monuments of his greatness in the way of splendid highways, baths, aqueducts and temples. Colonies of settlers from the packed population of Rome followed the victors.

An army left to itself after conquest will settle down to riot and mad surfeit, but this man kept his forces strong by keeping them at work—discipline was never relaxed, yet there was such kindness and care for his men that no mutiny ever made head.

Cæsar became immensely rich—his debts were now all paid—the treasure returned to Rome did the general coffers fill, his name and fame were blazoned on the Roman streets.

When he returned he knew, and had always known, it would be as a conquering hero. Pompey and Crassus did not wish Cæsar to return. He was still governor of Gaul and should stay there. They made him governor—he must do as they required—they sent him his orders. "The die is cast," said Cæsar on reading the message. Immediately he crossed the Rubicon.

An army fights for a leader, not a cause. The leader's cause is theirs. Cæsar had led his men to victory, and he had done it with a comparatively small degree of danger. He never made an attack until every expedient[Pg 53] for peace was exhausted. He sent word to each barbaric tribe to come in and be lovingly annexed, or else be annexed willy-nilly. He won, but through diplomacy where it was possible. When he did strike, it was quickly, unexpectedly and hard. The priest was as great a strategist as he was a diplomat. He pardoned his opposers when they would lay down their arms—he wanted success, not vengeance. But always he gave his soldiers the credit.

They were loyal to him.

Pompey and Crassus could not oppose a man like this—they fled.

Cæsar's most faithful and trusted colleague was Mark Antony, seventeen years his junior—a slashing, dashing, audacious, exuberant fellow.

Cæsar became dictator, really king or emperor. He ruled with moderation, wisely and well. He wore the purple robe of authority, but refused the crown. He was honored, revered, beloved. The habit of the Pontiff still clung to him—he called the people, "My children."

The imperturbable calm of the man of God was upon him. His courage was unimpeachable, but caution preserved him from personal strife. That he could ever be approached by one and all was his pride.

But clouds were beginning to gather.

He had pardoned his enemies, but they had not forgiven him.

There were whisperings that he was getting ready to[Pg 54] assume the office of emperor. At a certain parade when Cæsar sat upon the raised seat, reviewing the passing procession, Mark Antony, the exuberant, left his place in the ranks, and climbing to the platform, tried to crown his beloved leader with laurel. Cæsar had smilingly declined the honor, amid the plaudits of the crowd.

Some said this whole episode was planned to test the temper of the populace.

Another cause of offense was that, some time before, Cæsar had spent several months in Alexandria at the court of Cleopatra. And now the young and beautiful queen had arrived in Rome, and Cæsar had appeared with her at public gatherings. She had with her a boy, two years old, by name Cæsario.

This Egyptian child, said the conspirators, was to be the future Emperor of Rome. To meet this accusation Cæsar made his will and provided that his grand-nephew, Octavius Cæsar, should be his adopted son and heir. But this was declared a ruse.

The murmurings grew louder.

Sixty senators combined to assassinate Cæsar. The high position of these men made them safe—by standing together they would be secure.

Cæsar was warned, but declined to take the matter seriously. He neither would arm himself nor allow guards to attend him.

On the Fifteenth of March, B. C. Forty-four, as Cæsar[Pg 55] entered the Senate the rebels crowded upon him under the pretense of handing him a petition, and at a sign fell upon him. Twenty-three of the conspirators got close enough to send their envious daggers home.

Brutus dipped his sword in the flowing blood, and waving the weapon aloft cried, "Liberty is restored!"

Two days later, Mark Antony, standing by the dead body of his beloved chief, sadly mused:

"Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times."

[Pg 56]Cæsar died aged fifty-six. Mark Antony, his executor, occupying the office next in importance, was thirty-nine.

In point of physique Mark Antony far surpassed Cæsar: they were the same height, but Antony was almost heroic in stature and carriage, muscular and athletic. His face was comely: his nose large and straight; his eyes set wide apart; his manner martial. If he lacked in intellect, in appearance he held averages good.

Antony had occupied the high offices of questor and tribune, the first calling for literary ability, the second for skill as an orator. Cæsar, the wise and diplomatic, had chosen Mark Antony as his Secretary of State on account of his peculiar fitness, especially in representing the Government at public functions. Antony had a handsome presence, a gracious tongue, and was a skilled and ready writer. Cæsar himself was too great a man to be much in evidence.

In passing it is well to note that all the tales as to the dissipation and profligacy of Mark Antony in his early days come from the "Philippics" of Cicero, who made the mistake of executing Lentulus, the step-father of Mark Antony, and then felt called upon forever after to condemn the entire family. "Philippics" are always a form of self-vindication.

However, it need not be put forward that Mark Antony was by any means a paragon of virtue—a man who has been successively and successfully soldier, lawyer,[Pg 57] politician, judge, rhetorician and diplomat is what he is. Rome was the ruler of the world; Cæsar was the undisputed greatest man of Rome; and Mark Antony was the right hand of Cæsar.

At the decisive battle of Pharsalia, Cæsar had chosen Mark Antony to lead the left wing while he himself led the right. More than once Mark Antony had stopped the Roman army in its flight and had turned defeat into victory. In the battle with Aristobulus he was the first to scale the wall.

His personal valor was beyond cavil—he had distinguished himself in every battle in which he had taken part.

It was the first intent of the conspirators that Cæsar and Antony should die together, but the fear was that the envious hate of the people toward Cæsar would be neutralized by the love the soldiers bore both Cæsar and Antony. So they counted on the cupidity and ambition of Antony to keep the soldiers in subjection.

Antony was kept out of the plot, and when the blow was struck he was detained at his office by pretended visitors who wanted a hearing.

When news came to him that Cæsar was dead, he fled, thinking that massacre would follow. But the next day he returned and held audience with the rebels.

Antony was too close a follower of Cæsar to depart from his methods. Naturally he was hasty and impulsive; but now, everything he did was in imitation of the[Pg 58] great man he had loved.

Cæsar always pardoned. Antony listened to the argument of Brutus that Cæsar had been removed for the good of Rome. Brutus proposed that Antony should fill Cæsar's place as Consul or nominal dictator; and in return Brutus and Cassius were to be made governors of certain provinces—amnesty was to be given to all who were in the plot.

Antony agreed, and at once the Assembly was called and a law passed tendering pardon to all concerned—thus was civil war averted. Cæsar was dead, but Rome was safe.

The funeral of Cæsar was to occur the next day. It was to be the funeral of a private citizen—the honor of a public funeral-pyre was not to be his. Brutus would say a few words, and Antony, as the closest friend of the dead, would also speak—the body would be buried and all would go on in peace.

Antony had done what he had because it was the only thing he could do. To be successor of Cæsar filled his ambition to the brim—but to win the purple by a compromise with the murderers! It turned his soul to gall.

At the funeral of Cæsar the Forum was crowded to every corner with a subdued, dejected, breathless throng. People spoke in whispers—no one felt safe—the air was stifled and poisoned with fear and fever.

Brutus spoke first: we do not know his exact words, but we know the temper of the man, and his mental attitude.

[Pg 59]Mark Antony had kept the peace, but if he could only feel that the people were with him he would drive the sixty plotting conspirators before him like chaff before the whirlwind.

He would then be Cæsar's successor because he had avenged his death.

The orator must show no passion until he has aroused passion in the hearer—oratory is a collaboration. The orator is the active principle—the audience the passive.

Mark Antony, the practised orator, begins with simple propositions to which all agree. Gradually he sends out quivering feelers—the response returns—he continues, the audience answers back—he plays upon their emotion, and soon only one mind is supreme, and that is his own.

We know what he did and how he did it, but his words are lost. Shakespeare, the man of imagination, supplies them.

The plotters have made their defense—it is accepted.

Antony, too, defends them—he repeats that they are honorable men, and to reiterate that a man is honorable is to admit that possibly he is not. The act of defense implies guilt—and to turn defense into accusation through pity and love for the one wronged is the supreme task of oratory.

From love of Cæsar to hate for Brutus and Cassius is but a step. Panic takes the place of confidence among the conspirators—they slink away. The spirit of the[Pg 60] mob is uppermost—the only honor left to Cæsar is the funeral-pyre. Benches are torn up, windows pulled from their fastenings, every available combustible is added to the pile, and the body of Cæsar—he alone calm and untroubled amid all this mad mob—is placed upon this improvised throne of death. Torches flare and the pile is soon in flames.

Night comes on, and the same torches that touched to red the funeral-couch of Cæsar hunt out the houses of the conspirators who killed him.

But the conspirators have fled.

One man is supreme, and that man is Mark Antony.

[Pg 61]To maintain a high position requires the skill of a harlequin. It is an abnormality that any man should long tower above his fellows.

For a few short weeks Mark Antony was the pride and pet of Rome. He gave fetes, contests, processions and entertainments of lavish kind. "These things are pleasant, but they have to be paid for," said Cicero.

Then came from Illyria, Octavius Cæsar, aged nineteen, the adopted son of Cæsar the Great, and claimed his patrimony.

Antony laughed at the stripling, and thought to bribe him with a fete in his honor and a promise, and in the meantime a clerkship where there was no work to speak of and pay in inverse ratio.

The boy was weak in body and commonplace in mind—in way of culture he had been overtrained—but he was stubborn.

Mark Antony lived so much on the surface of things that he never imagined there was a strong party pushing the "Young Augustus" forward.

Finally Antony became impatient with the importuning young man, and threatened to send him on his way with a guard at his heels to see that he did not return.

At once a storm broke over the head of Antony. It came from a seemingly clear sky—Antony had to flee, not Octavius.

The soldiers of the Great Cæsar had been remembered in his will with seventy-five drachmas to every man, and[Pg 62] the will must stand or fall as an entirety. Cæsar had provided that Octavius should be his successor—this will must be respected. Cicero was the man who made the argument. The army was with the will of the dead man, rather than with the ambition of the living.

Antony fled, but gathered a goodly army as he went, intending to return.

After some months of hard times passion cooled, and Antony, Octavius and Lepidus, the chief general of Octavius, met in the field for consultation. Swayed by the eloquence of Antony, who was still full of the precedents of the Great Cæsar, a Triumvirate was formed, and Antony, Octavius and Lepidus coolly sat down to divide the world between them.

One strong argument that Antony used for the necessity of this partnership was that Brutus and Cassius were just across in Macedonia, waiting and watching for the time when civil war would so weaken Rome that they could step in and claim their own.

Brutus and his fellow conspirators must be punished.

In two years from that time, they had performed their murderous deed; Cassius was killed at his own request by his servant, and Brutus had fallen on his sword to escape the sword of Mark Antony.

In the stress of defeat and impending calamity, Mark Antony was a great man; he could endure anything but success.

But now there were no more enemies to conquer:[Pg 63] unlike Cæsar the Great he was no scholar, so books were not a solace; to build up and beautify a great State did not occur to him. His camp was turned into a place of mad riot and disorder. Harpers, dancers, buffoons and all the sodden splendor of the East made the nights echo with "shouts, sacrifices, songs and groans."

When Antony entered Ephesus the women went out to meet him in the undress of bacchanals, while troops of naked boys representing cupids, and men clothed like satyrs danced at the head of the procession. Everywhere were ivy crowns, spears wreathed with green, and harps, flutes, pipes, and human voices sang songs of praise to the great god Bacchus—for such Antony liked to be called.

Antony knew that between Cleopatra and Cæsar there had been a tender love. All the world that Cæsar ruled, Antony now ruled—or thought he did. In the intoxication of success he, too, would rule the heart that the great Cæsar had ruled. He would rule this proud heart or he would crush it beneath his heel.

He dispatched Dellius, his trusted secretary, to Alexandria, summoning the Queen to meet him at Cilicia, and give answer as to why she had given succor to the army of Cassius.

The charge was preposterous, and if sincere, shows the drunken condition of Antony's mind. Cleopatra loved Cæsar—he was to her the King of Kings, the one supreme and god-like man of earth. Her studious[Pg 64] and splendid mind had matched his own; this cold, scholarly man of fifty-two had been her mate—the lover of her soul. Scarcely five short years before, she had attended him on his journey as he went away, and there on the banks of the Nile as they parted, her unborn babe responded to the stress of parting, no less than she.

Afterward she had followed him to Rome that he might see his son, Cæsario.

She was in Rome when Brutus and Cassius struck their fatal blows, and had fled, disguised, her baby in her arms—refusing to trust the precious life in the hands of hirelings.

And now that she should be accused of giving help to the murderer of her joy! She had execrated and despised Cassius, and now she hated, no less, the man who had wrongfully accused her.

But he was dictator—his summons must be obeyed. She would obey it, but she would humiliate him.

Antony waited at Cilicia on the day appointed, but Cleopatra did not appear. He waited two days—three—and very leisurely, up the river, the galleys of Cleopatra came.

But she did not come as suppliant.

Her curiously carved galley was studded with nails of gold; the oars were all tipped with silver; the sails were of purple silk. The rowers kept time to the music of flutes. The Queen in the gauzy dress of Venus reclined[Pg 65] under a canopy, fanned by cupids. Her maids were dressed like the Graces, and fragrance of burning incense diffused the shores.

The whole city went down the river to meet this most gorgeous pageant, and Antony the proud was left at the tribunal alone.

On her arrival Cleopatra sent official word of her presence. Antony sent back word that she should come to him.

She responded that if he wished to see her he should call and pay his respects.

He went down to the riverside and was astonished at the dazzling, twinkling lights and all the magnificence that his eyes beheld. Very soon he was convinced that in elegance and magnificence he could not cope with this Egyptian queen.

The personal beauty of Cleopatra was not great. Many of her maids outshone her. Her power lay in her wit and wondrous mind. She adapted herself to conditions; and on every theme and topic that the conversation might take, she was at home.

Her voice was marvelously musical, and was so modulated that it seemed like an instrument of many strings. She spoke all languages, and therefore had no use for interpreters.

When she met Antony she quickly took the measure of the man. She fell at once into his coarse soldier ways, and answered him jest for jest.

[Pg 66]Antony was at first astonished, then subdued, next entranced—a woman who could be the comrade of a man she had never seen before! She had the intellect of a man and all the luscious weaknesses of a woman.

Cleopatra had come hating this man Antony, and to her surprise she found him endurable—and more. Besides that, she had cause to be grateful to him—he had destroyed those conspirators who had killed her Cæsar—her King of Kings.

She ordered her retinue to make ready to return. The prows were turned toward Alexandria; and aboard the galley of the Queen, beneath the silken canopy, at the feet of Cleopatra, reclined the great Mark Antony.

[Pg 67]The subject is set forth in Byron's masterly phrase, "Man's love is of man's life a thing apart; 'tis woman's whole existence." Still, I suppose it will not be disputed that much depends upon the man and—the woman.

In this instance we have a strong, wilful, ambitious and masculine man. Up to the time he met Cleopatra, love was of his life apart; after this, it was his whole existence. When they first met there at Cilicia, Antony was past forty; she was twenty-five.

Plutarch tells us that Fulvia, the wife of Antony, an earnest and excellent woman, had tried to discipline him. The result was that, instead of bringing him over to her way of thinking, she had separated him from her.

Cleopatra ruled the man by entwining her spirit with his—mixing the very fibers of their being—fastening her soul to his with hoops of steel. She became a necessity to him—a part and parcel of the fabric of his life. Together they attended to all the affairs of State. They were one in all the games and sports. The exuberant animal spirits of Antony occasionally found vent in roaming the streets of Alexandria at dead of night, rushing into houses and pulling people out of bed, and then absconding before they were well awake. In these nocturnal pranks, Cleopatra often attended him, dressed like a boy. Once they both got well pummeled, and deservedly, but they stood the drubbing rather than reveal their identity.

[Pg 68]The story of their fishing together, and Antony making all the catch has been often told. He had a skilful diver go down every now and then and place a fish on his hook. Finally, when he grew beautifully boastful, as successful fishermen are apt to do, Cleopatra had her diver go down and attach a large Newfoundland salt codfish to his hook, which when pulled up before the company turned the laugh, and in the guise of jest taught the man a useful lesson. Antony should have known better than to try to deceive a woman like that—other men have tried it before and since.

But all this horseplay was not to the higher taste of Cleopatra—with Cæsar, she would never have done it.

It is the man who gives the key to conduct in marriage, not the woman; the partnership is successful only as a woman conforms her life to his. If she can joyfully mingle her life with his, destiny smiles in benediction and they become necessary to each other. If she grudgingly gives, conforming outwardly, with mental reservations, she droops, and spirit flagellates the body until it sickens, dies. If she holds out firmly upon principle, intent on preserving her individuality, the man, if small, sickens and dies; if great he finds companionship elsewhere, and leaves her to develop her individuality alone—which she never does. One of three things happens to her: she dies, lapses into nullity, or finds a mate whose nature is sufficiently like her own that they can blend.

[Pg 69]Cleopatra was a greater woman, far, than Antony was a man. But she conformed her life to his and counted it joy. She was capable of better things, but she waived them all, as strong women do and have done since the world began. Love is woman's whole existence—sometimes. But love was not Cleopatra's whole existence, any more than it is the sole existence of the silken Sara, whose prototype she was. Cleopatra loved power first, afterward she loved love. By attaching to herself a man of power both ambitions were realized.

Two years had gone by, and Antony still remained at Alexandria. Importunities, requests and orders had all failed to move him to return. The days passed in the routine affairs of State, hunting, fishing, excursions, fetes and games. Antony and Cleopatra were not separated night or day.

Suddenly news of serious import came: Fulvia, and Lucius, the brother of Antony, had rebelled against Cæsar and had gathered an army to fight him.

Antony was sore distressed, and started at once to the scene of the difficulty. Fulvia's side of the story was never told, for before Antony arrived in Italy she was dead.

Octavius Cæsar came out to meet Antony and they met as friends. According to Cæsar the whole thing had been planned by Fulvia as a scheme to lure her lord from the arms of Cleopatra. And anyway the plan had worked. The Triumvirate still existed—although[Pg 70] Lepidus had practically been reduced to the rank of a private citizen.

Antony and Cæsar would now rule the world as one, and to cement the bond Antony should take the sister of Octavius to wife. Knowing full well the relationship of Antony and Cleopatra, she consented to the arrangement, and the marriage ceremony was duly performed.

Antony was the head of the Roman army and to a great degree the actual ruler. Power was too unequally divided between him and Cæsar for either to be happy—they quarreled like boys at play.

Antony was restless, uneasy, impatient. Octavia tried to keep the peace, but her kindly offices only made matters worse.

War broke out between Rome and certain tribes in the East, and Antony took the field. Octavia importuned her liege that she might attend him, and he finally consented. She went as far as Athens, then across to Macedonia, and here Antony sent her home to her brother that she might escape the dangers of the desert.

Antony followed the enemy down into Syria; and there sent for Cleopatra, that he might consult with her about joining the forces of Egypt with those of Rome to crush the barbarians.

Cleopatra came on, the consultation followed, and it was decided that when Cæsar the Great—the god-like man whose memory they mutually revered—said,[Pg 71] "War is a foolish business," he was right. They would let the barbarians slide—if they deserved punishment, the gods would look after the case. If the barbarians did not need punishment, then they should go free.

Tents were struck, pack-camels were loaded, horses were saddled, and the caravan started for Alexandria. By the side of the camel that carried the queen, quietly stepped the proud barb that bore Mark Antony.

[Pg 72]Cleopatra and Antony ruled Egypt together for fourteen years. The country had prospered, even in spite of the extravagance of its governors, and the Egyptians had shown a pride in their Roman ruler, as if he had done them great honor to remain and be one with them.

Cæsario was approaching manhood—his mother's heart was centering her ambition in him—she called him her King of Kings, the name she had given to his father. Antony was fond of the young man, and put him forward at public fetes even in advance of Cleopatra, his daughter, and Alexander and Ptolemy, his twin boys by the same mother. In playful paraphrase of Cleopatra, Antony called her the Queen of Kings, and also the Mother of Kings.

Word reached Rome that these children of Cleopatra were being trained as if they were to rule the world—perhaps it was so to be! Octavius Cæsar scowled. For Antony to wed his sister, and then desert her, and bring up a brood of barbarians to menace the State, was a serious offense.

An order was sent commanding Antony to return—requests and prayer all having proved futile and fruitless.

Antony had turned into fifty; his hair and beard were whitening with the frost of years. Cleopatra was near forty—devoted to her children, being their nurse, instructor, teacher.

The books refer to the life of Antony and Cleopatra[Pg 73] as being given over to sensuality, licentiousness, profligacy. Just a word here to state this fact: sensuality alone sickens and turns to satiety ere a single moon has run her course. Sensuality was a factor in the bond, because sensuality is a part of life; but sensuality alone soon separates a man and a woman—it does not long unite. The bond that united Antony and Cleopatra can not be disposed of by either the words "sensuality" or "licentiousness"—some other term here applies: make it what you wish.

A copy of Antony's will had been stolen from the Alexandria archives and carried to Rome by traitors in the hope of personal reward. Cæsar read the will to Senate. One clause of it was particularly offensive to Cæsar: it provided that on the death of Antony, wherever it might occur, his body should be carried to Cleopatra. The will also provided that the children of Cleopatra should be provided for first, and afterward the children of Fulvia and Octavia.

The Roman Senate heard the will, and declared Mark Antony an outlaw—a public enemy.

Erelong Cæsar himself took the field and the Roman legions were pressing down upon Egypt. The renegade Mark Antony was fighting for his life. For a time he was successful, but youth was no longer his, the spring had gone out of his veins, and pride and prosperity had pushed him toward fatty degeneration.

His soldiers lost faith in him, and turned to the powerful[Pg 74] name of Cæsar—a name to conjure with. A battle had been arranged between the fleet of Mark Antony and that of Cæsar. Mark Antony stood upon a hillside, overlooking the sea, and saw the valiant fleet approach, in battle-array, the ships of the enemy. The two fleets met, hailed each other in friendly manner with their oars, turned and together sailed away.

On shore the cavalry had done the same as the soldiers on the sea—the infantry were routed.

Mark Antony was undone—he made his way back to the city, and as usual sought Cleopatra. The palace was deserted, save for a few servants. They said that the Queen had sent the children away some days before, and she was in the mausoleum.

To the unhappy man this meant that she was dead. He demanded that his one faithful valet, known by the fanciful name of Eros, should keep his promise and kill him. Eros drew his sword, and Antony bared his breast, but instead of striking the sword into the vitals of his master, Eros plunged the blade into his own body, and fell at his master's feet.

At which Mark Antony exclaimed, "This was well done, Eros—thy heart would not permit thee to kill thy master, but thou hast set him an example!" So saying, he plunged his sword into his bowels.

The wound was not deep enough to cause immediate death, and Antony begged the gathered attendants to kill him.

[Pg 75]Word had been carried to Cleopatra, who had moved into her mausoleum for safety. This monument and tomb had been erected some years before; it was made of square blocks of solid stone, and was the stoutest building in Alexandria. While Antony was outside the walls fighting, Cleopatra had carried into this building all of her jewelry, plate, costly silks, gold, silver, pearls, her private records and most valuable books. She had also carried into the mausoleum a large quantity of flax and several torches.

The intent was that, if Antony were defeated and the city taken by Cæsar, the conqueror should not take the Queen alive, neither should he have her treasure. With her two women, Iras and Charmion, she entered the tomb, all agreeing that when the worst came they would fire the flax and die together.

When the Queen heard that Antony was at death's door she ordered that he should be brought to her. He was carried on a litter to the iron gate of the tomb; but she, fearing treachery, would not unbar the door. Cords were let down from a window above, and the Queen and her two women, with much effort, drew the sorely stricken man up, and lifted him through the window.

Cleopatra embraced him, calling him her lord, her life, her king, her husband. She tried to stanch his wound, but the death-rattle was already in his throat. "Do not grieve," he said; "remember our love—remember,[Pg 76] too, I fought like a Roman and have been overcome only by a Roman!"

And so holding him in her arms, Antony died.

When Cæsar heard that his enemy was dead, he put on mourning for the man who had been his comrade and colleague, and sent messages of condolence to Cleopatra. He set apart a day for the funeral and ordered that the day should be sacred, and Cleopatra should not be disturbed in any way.

Cleopatra prepared the body for burial with her own hands, dug the grave alone, and with her women laid the body to rest, and she alone gave the funeral address.

Cæsar was gentle, gracious, kind. Assurances came that he would do neither the city nor the Queen the slightest harm.

Cleopatra demanded Egypt for her children, and for herself she wished only the privilege of living with her grief in obscurity. Cæsar would make no promises for her children, but as for herself she should still be Queen—they were of one age—why should not Cæsar and Cleopatra still rule, just as, indeed, a Cæsar had ruled before!

But this woman had loved the Great Cæsar, and now her heart was in the grave with Mark Antony—she scorned the soft, insinuating promises.

She clothed herself in her most costly robes, wearing the pearls and gems that Antony had given her, and upon her head was the diadem that proclaimed her[Pg 77] Queen. A courier from Cæsar's camp knocked at the door of the mausoleum, but he knocked in vain.

Finally a ladder was procured, and he climbed to the window through which the body of Antony had been lifted.

In the lower room he saw the Queen seated in her golden chair of state, robed and serene, dead. At her feet lay Iras, lifeless. The faithful Charmion stood as if in waiting at the back of her mistress' chair, giving a final touch to the diadem that sat upon the coils of her lustrous hair.

The messenger from Cæsar stood in the door aghast—orders had been given that Cleopatra should not be harmed, neither should she be allowed to harm herself.

Now she had escaped!

"Charmion!" called the man in stern rebuke. "How was this done?"

"Done, sir," said Charmion, "as became a daughter of the King of Egypt."

As the woman spoke the words she reeled, caught at the chair, fell, and was dead.

Some said these women had taken a deadly poison invented by Cleopatra and held against this day; others, still, told of how a countryman had brought a basket of figs, by appointment, covered over with green leaves, and in the basket was hidden an asp, that deadliest of serpents. Cleopatra had placed the asp in her bosom, and the other women had followed her example.

[Pg 78]Cæsar, still wearing mourning for Mark Antony, went into retirement and for three days refused all visitors. But first he ordered that the body of Cleopatra, clothed as she had died, in her royal robes, should be placed in the grave beside the body of Mark Antony.

And it was so done.


Some have narrowed their minds, and so fettered them with the chains of antiquity that not only do they refuse to speak save as the ancients spake, but they refuse to think save as the ancients thought. God speaks to us, too, and the best thoughts are those now being vouchsafed to us. We will excel the ancients!

[Pg 80]


[Pg 81]

The wise ones say with a sigh, Genius does not reproduce itself. But let us take heart and remember that mediocrity does not always do so, either. Men of genius have often been the sons of commonplace parents—no hovel is safe from it.

The father of Girolamo Savonarola was a trifler, a spendthrift and a profligate. Yet he proved a potent teacher for his son, pressing his lessons home by the law of antithesis. The sons of dissipated fathers are often temperance fanatics.

The character of Savonarola's mother can be best gauged by the letters written to her by her son. Many of these have come down to us, and they breathe a love that is very gentle, very tender and yet very profound. That this woman had an intellect which went to the heart of things is shown in these letters: we write for those who understand, and the person to whom a letter is written gives the key that calls forth its quality. Great love-letters are written only to great women.

But the best teacher young Girolamo had was Doctor Michael Savonarola, his grandfather, who was a physician of Padua, and a man of much wisdom and common-sense, besides. Between the old man and his grandchild there was a very tender sentiment, that soon formed[Pg 82] itself into an abiding bond. Together they rambled along the banks of the Po, climbed the hills in springtime looking for the first flowers, made collections of butterflies, and caught the sunlight in their hearts as it streamed across the valleys as the shadows lengthened. On these solitary little journeys they usually carried a copy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and seated on a rock the old man would read to the boy lying on the grass at his feet. In a year or two the boy did the reading, and would expound the words of the Saint as he went along.

The old grandfather was all bound up in this slim, delicate youngster, with the olive complexion and sober ways. There were brothers and sisters at home—big and strong—but this boy was different. He was not handsome enough to be much of a favorite with girls, nor strong enough to win the boys, and so he and the grandfather were chums together.

This thought of aloofness, of being peculiar, was first fostered in the lad's mind by the old man. It wasn't exactly a healthy condition. The old man taught the boy to play the flute, and together they constructed a set of pipes—the pipes o' Pan—and out along the river they would play, when they grew tired of reading, and listen for the echo that came across the water.

"There are voices calling to me," said the boy looking up at the old man, one day, as they rested by the bank.

"Yes, I believe it—you must listen for the Voice," said the old man.[Pg 83]

And so the idea became rooted in the lad's mind that he was in touch with another world, and was a being set apart.

"Lord, teach me the way my soul should walk!" was his prayer. Doubt and distrust filled his mind, and his nights were filled with fear. This child without sin believed himself to be a sinner.

But this feeling was all forgotten when another companion came to join them in their walks. This was a girl about the same age as Girolamo. She was the child of a neighbor—one of the Strozzi family. The Strozzi belonged to the nobility, and the Savonarolas were only peasants, yet with children there is no caste. So this trinity of boy, girl and grandfather was very happy. The old man taught his pupils to observe the birds and bees, to make tracings of the flowers, and to listen to the notes he played on the pipes, so as to call them all by name. And then there was always the Saint Thomas Aquinas to fall back upon should outward nature fail.

But there came a day when the boy and the girl ceased to walk hand in hand, and instead of the delight and abandon of childhood there was hesitation and aloofness.

When the parents of the girl forbade her playing with the boy, reminding her of the difference in their station, and she came by stealth to bid the old man and her playmate Girolamo good-by, the pride in the boy's heart flamed up: he clenched his fist—and feeling spent itself in tears.

[Pg 84]When he looked up the girl was gone—they were never to meet again.

The grief of the boy pierced the heart of the old man, and he murmured, "Joy liveth yet for a day, but the sorrow of man abideth forever."

Doubt and fear assailed the lad.

The efforts of his grandfather to interest him in the study of his own profession of medicine failed. Religious brooding filled his days, and he became pale and weak from fasting.

He had grown in stature, but the gauntness of his face made his coarse features stand out so, that he was almost repulsive. But this homeliness was relieved by the big, lustrous, brown eyes—eyes that challenged and beseeched in turn.

The youth was now a young man—eighteen summers lay behind—when he disappeared from home.

Soon came a letter from Bologna in which Girolamo explained at length to his mother that the world's wickedness was to him intolerable, its ambition ashes, and its hopes not worth striving for. He had entered the monastery of Saint Dominico, and to save his family the pain of parting he had stolen quietly away. "I have harkened to the Voice," he said.

[Pg 85]Savonarola remained in the monastery at Bologna for six years, scarcely passing beyond its walls. These were years of ceaseless study, writing, meditation—work. He sought the most menial occupations—doing tasks that others cautiously evaded. His simplicity, earnestness and austerity won the love and admiration of the monks, and they sought to make life more congenial to him, by advancing him to the office of teacher to the novitiates.

He declared his unfitness to teach, and it was an imperative order, and not a suggestion, that forced him to forsake the business of scrubbing corridors on hands and knees, and array himself in the white robe of a teacher and reader.

The office of teacher and that of orator are not far apart—it is all a matter of expression. The first requisite in expression is animation—you must feel in order to impart feeling. No drowsy, lazy, disinterested, half-hearted, preoccupied, selfish, trifling person can teach—to teach you must have life, and life in abundance. You must have abandon—you must project yourself, and inundate the room with your presence. To infuse life, and a desire to remember, to know, to become, into a class of a dozen pupils, is to reveal the power of an orator. If you can fire the minds of a few with your own spirit, you can, probably, also fuse and weld a thousand in the same way.

Savonarola taught his little class of novitiates, and soon[Pg 86] the older monks dropped in to hear the discourse. A larger room was necessary, and in a short time the semi-weekly informal talk resolved itself into a lecture, and every seat was occupied when it was known that Brother Girolamo would speak.

This success suggested to the Prior that Savonarola be sent out to preach in the churches round about, and it was so done.

But outside the monastery Savonarola was not a success: he was precise, exact, and labored to make himself understood—freedom had not yet come to him.

But let us wait!

One of America's greatest preachers was well past forty before he evolved abandon, swung himself clear, and put out for open sea. Uncertainty and anxiety are death to oratory.

In every monastery there are two classes of men—the religious, the sincere, the earnest, the austere; and the fat, lazy, profligate and licentious.

And the proportion of the first class to the second changes just in proportion as the monastery is successful—to succeed in Nature is to die. The fruit much loved by the sun rots first. The early monasteries were mendicant institutions, and for mendicancy to grow rich is an anomaly that carries a penalty. A successful beggar is apt to be haughty, arrogant, dictatorial—from a humble request for alms to a demand for your purse is but a step. In either case the man wants something that is[Pg 87] not his—there are three ways to get it: earn it, beg it, seize it. The first method is absurd—to dig I am ashamed—the second, easy; the last is best of all, provided objection is not too strenuous. Beggars a-horseback are knights of the road.

That which comes easy, goes easy, and so it is the most natural thing in the world for a monk to become a connoisseur of wines, an expert gourmet, a sensualist who plays the limit. The monastic impulse begins in the beautiful desire for solitude—to be alone with God—and ere it runs its gamut dips deep into license and wallows in folly.

The austere monk leaves woman out, the other kind enslaves her: both are wrong, for man can never advance and leave woman behind. God never intended that man, made in His image, should be either a beast or a fool.

And here we are wiser than Savonarola—noble, honest and splendid man that he was. He saw the wickedness of the world and sought to shun it by fleeing to a monastery. There he saw the wickedness of the monastery, and there being no place to flee he sought to purify it. And at the same time he sought to purify and better the world by standing outside of the world.

The history of the Church is a history of endeavor to keep it from drifting into the thing it professes not to be—concrete selfishness. The Church began in humility and simplicity, and when it became successful,[Pg 88] behold it became a thing of pomp, pride, processional, crowns, jewels, rich robes and a power that used itself to subjugate and subdue, instead of to uplift and lead by love and pity.

Oh, the shame of it!

And Savonarola saw these things—saw them to the exclusion of everything else—and his cry continually was for a return to the religion of Jesus the Carpenter, the Man who gave his life that others might live.

The Christ spirit filled the heart of Savonarola. His soul was wrung with pity for the poor, the unfortunate, the oppressed; and he had sufficient insight into economics to know that where greed, gluttony and idleness abound, there too stalk oppression, suffering and death. The palaces of the rich are built on the bones of the poor.

Others, high in Church authority, saw these things, too, and knew, no less than Savonarola, the need of reform—they gloried in his ringing words of warning, and they admired no less his example of austerity.

They could not do the needed work—perhaps he could do a little, at least.

And so he was transferred to Saint Mark's Monastery at Florence—the place that needed him most.

Florence was the acknowledged seat of art and polite learning of all Italy, and Saint Mark's was the chief glory of the Church in Florence.

Florence was prosperous and so was Saint Mark's, and have we not said that there is something in pure[Pg 89] prosperity that taints the soul?

Savonarola was sent to Saint Mark's merely as a teacher and lecturer. Bologna was full of gloom and grime—the bestiality there was untamed. Here everything was gilded, gracious and good to look upon. The cloister-walks were embowered in climbing roses, the walls decorated fresh from the brush of Fra Angelico, and the fountains in the gardens, adorned by naked cupids, sent their sparkling beads aloft to greet the sunlight.

Brother Girolamo had never seen such beauty before—its gracious essence enfolded him round, and for a few short hours lifted that dead weight of abiding melancholy from his soul.

When he lectured he was surprised to find many fashionable ladies in his audience: learning was evidently a fad. He saw that it was expected that he should be amusing, diverting, and incidentally, instructive. He had only one mode of preaching—this was earnest exhortation to a higher life, the life of austerity, simplicity and nearness to God, by laboring to benefit His children.

He mumbled through his lecture and retired, abashed and humiliated.

[Pg 90]It was the year Fourteen Hundred Eighty-two, and the whole world was athrill with thought and feeling. Lorenzo the Magnificent was at the very height of his power and popularity; printing-presses gave letters an impetus; art flourished; the people were dazzled by display and were dipping deep into the love of pleasure. The austerity of Christian religion had glided off by imperceptible degrees into pagan pageantry, and the song of bacchanals filled the streets at midnight.

Lorenzo did for the world a great and splendid work—for one thing, he discovered Michelangelo—and the encouragement he gave to the arts made Florence the beautiful dream in stone that she is even to this day.

The world needs the Lorenzos and the world needs, too, the Savonarolas—they form an Opposition of Forces that holds the balance true. Power left to itself attains a terrific impetus: a governor is needed, and it was Savonarola who tempered and tamed the excesses of the Medici.

In Fourteen Hundred Eighty-three Savonarola was appointed Lenten preacher at the Church of Saint Lorenzo in Florence. His exhortations were plain, homely, blunt—his voice uncertain, and his ugly features at times inclined his fashionable auditors to unseemly smiles. When ugliness forgets itself and gives off the flash of the spirit, it becomes magnificent—takes upon itself a halo—but this was not yet to be.

[Pg 91]The orator must subdue his audience or it will subdue him.

Savonarola retired to his cloister-cell, whipped and discouraged. He took no part in the festivals and fetes: the Gardens of Lorenzo were not for him; the society of the smooth and cultured lovers of art and literature was beyond his pale. Being incapable by temperament of mixing in the whirl of pleasure, he found a satisfaction in keeping out of it, thus proving his humanity. Not being able to have a thing, we scorn it. Men who can not dance are apt to regard dancing as sinful.

Savonarola saw things as a countryman sees them when he goes to a great city for the first time.

There is much that is wrong—very much that is wasteful, extravagant, absurd and pernicious, but it is not all base, and the visitor is apt to err in his conclusions, especially if he be of an intense and ascetic type.

Savonarola was sick at heart, sick in body—fasts and vigils had done their sure and certain work for nerves and digestion. He saw visions and heard voices, and in the Book of Revelation he discovered the symbols of prophesy that foretold the doom of Florence. He felt that he was divinely inspired.

In the outside world he saw only the worst—and this was well.

He believed that he was one sent from God to cleanse the Church of its iniquities—and he was right.

These madmen are needed—Nature demands them, and[Pg 92] so God makes them to order. They are ignorant of what the many know, and this is their advantage; they are blind to all but a few things, and therein lies their power.

The belief in his mission filled the heart of Savonarola. Gradually he gained ground, made head, and the Prior of Saint Mark's did what the Prior of Saint Dominico's had done at Bologna—he sent the man out on preaching tours among the churches and monasteries. The austerity and purity of his character, the sublimity of his faith, and his relentless war upon the extravagance of the times, made his presence valuable to the Church. Then in all personal relationships the man was most lovable—gentle, sympathetic, kind. Wherever he went his influence was for the best.

Power plus came to him for the first time at Brescia in Fourteen Hundred Eighty-six. The sermon he gave was one he had given many times; in fact, he never had but one theme: flee from the wrath to come, and accept the pardon of the gentle Christ ere it is too late—ere it is too late.

Much of what passes for oratory is merely talk, lecture, harangue and argument. These things may all be very useful, and surely they have their place in the world of work and business, but oratory is another thing. Oratory is the impassioned outpouring of a heart—a heart full to bursting: it is the absolute giving of soul to soul.

Every great speech is an evolution—it must be given[Pg 93] many times before it becomes a part of the man himself. Oratory is the ability to weld a mass of people into absolutely one mood. To do this the orator must lose himself in his subject—he must cast expediency to the winds. And more than this, his theme must always be an appeal for humanity. Invective, threat, challenge, all play their parts, but love is the great recurring theme that winds in and out through every great sermon or oration. Pathos is only possible where there is great love, and pathos is always present in the oration that subdues, that convinces, that wins, and sends men to their knees in abandonment of their own wills. The audience is the female element—the orator the male, and love is the theme. The orator comes in the name of God to give protection—freedom.

Usually the great orator is on the losing side. And this excites on the part of the audience the feminine attribute of pity, and pity fused with admiration gives us love—thus does love act and react on love.

Oratory supplies the most sublime gratification which the gods have to give. To subdue the audience and blend mind with mind affords an intoxication beyond the ambrosia of Elysium. When Sophocles pictured the god Mercury seizing upon the fairest daughter of Earth and carrying her away through the realms of space, he had in mind the power of the orator, which through love lifts up humanity and sways men by a burst of feeling that brooks no resistance.

[Pg 94]Oratory is the child of democracy—it pleads for the weak, for the many against the few—and no great speech was ever yet made save in behalf of mankind. The orator feels their joys, their sorrows, their hopes, their desires, their aspirations, their sufferings and pains. They may have wandered far, but his arms are open wide for their return. Here alone does soul respond to soul. And it is love, alone, that fuses feeling so that all are of one mind and mood. Oratory is an exercise of power.

But oratory, like all sublime pleasures, pays its penalty—this way madness lies. The great orator has ever been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Oratory points the martyr's path; it leads by the thorn road; and those who have trod the way have carried the cross with bleeding feet, and deep into their side has been thrust the spear.

[Pg 95]It was not until his fortieth year that Savonarola attained that self-sufficiency and complete self-reliance that marks a man who is fit for martyrdom. Courage comes only to those who have done the thing before.

By this time Savonarola had achieved enemies, and several dignitaries had done him the honor of publicly answering him. His invective was against the sins of Church and Society, but his enemies, instead of defending their cause, did the very natural thing of inveighing against Savonarola.

Thus did they divert attention from the question at issue. Personal abuse is often more effective than argument, and certainly much more easy to wield.

Savonarola was getting himself beautifully misunderstood. Such words as fanatic, pretender, agitator, heretic, renegade and "dangerous" were freely hurled at him. They said he was pulling down the pillars of Society. He seriously considered retiring entirely from the pulpit; and as a personal vindication and that his thoughts might live, he wrote a book, "The Triumph of the Cross." This volume contains all his philosophy and depicts truth as he saw it.

Let a reader, ignorant of the author, peruse this book today, and he will find in it only the oft-repeated appeal of a believer in "Primitive Christianity." Purity of life, sincerity, simplicity, earnestness, loyalty to God and love to man—these are very old themes, yet they[Pg 96] can never die. Zeal can always fan them into flame.

Savonarola was an unconscious part of the great "humanist" movement.

Savonarola, John Knox, the Wesleys, Calvin, Luther, the Puritans, Huguenots, Quakers, Shakers, Mennonites and Dunkards—all are one. The scientist sees species under all the manifold manifestations of climate, environment and local condition.

Florence was a republic, but it is only eternal vigilance that can keep a republic a republic. The strong man who assumes the reins is continually coming to the fore, and the people diplomatically handled are quite willing to make him king, provided he continues to call himself "Citizen."

Lorenzo de Medici ruled Florence, yet occupied no office, and assumed no title. He dictated the policy of the government, filled all the offices, and ministered the finances. Incidentally he was a punctilious Churchman—obeying the formula—and the Church at Florence was within his grasp no less than the police. The secret of this power lay in the fact that he handled the "sinews of war"—no man ever yet succeeded largely in a public way who was not a financier, or else one who owned a man who was. Public power is a matter of money, wisely used.

To divert, amuse and please the people is a necessity to the ruler, for power at the last is derived from the people, and no government endures that is not founded[Pg 97] on the consent of the governed. If you would rule either a woman or a nation, you had better gain consent. To secure this consent you must say "please."

The gladiatorial shows of Greece, the games, contests, displays, all the barbaric splendor of processions, music, fetes, festivals, chants, robes and fantastic folderol of Rome—ancient and modern—the boom of guns in sham battles, coronations, thrones and crowns are all manifestations of this great game of power.

The people are children, and must be pleased.

But eventually the people reach adolescence: knowledge comes to them (to a few at least) and they perceive that they themselves foot all bills, and pay in sweat and tears and blood for all this pomp of power.

They rise in their might, like a giant aroused from sleep, and the threads that bound them are burst asunder. They themselves assume the reins of government, and we have a republic.

And this republic endures until some republican, coming in the name of the people, waxes powerful and evolves into a plutocrat who assumes the reins, and the cycle goes its round and winds itself up on the reel of time.

Savonarola thundered against the extravagance, moral riot and pomp of the rich—and this meant the Medici, and all those who fed at the public trough, and prided themselves on their patriotism.

Lorenzo grew uneasy, and sent requests that the preacher moderate his tone in the interests of public[Pg 98] weal. Savonarola sent back words that were unbecoming in one addressing a ruler.

Then it was that Lorenzo the Magnificent, also the wise and wily, resolved on a great diplomatic move.

He had the fanatical and troublesome monk, Fra Girolamo Savonarola, made Prior of the Monastery of Saint Mark's—success was the weapon that would undo him.

Of course, Lorenzo did not act directly in the matter—personally he did not appear at all.

Now the Prior of Saint Mark's had the handling of large sums of money, the place could really be the home of a prince if the Prior wished to be one, and all he had to do was to follow the wishes of the Magnificent Lorenzo.

"Promote him," said Lorenzo, "and his zeal will dilute itself, and culture will come to take the place of frenzy. Art is better than austerity, and silken robes and 'broidered chasubles are preferable to horsehair and rope. A crown looks better than a tonsure."

And Savonarola became Prior of Saint Mark's.

Now the first duty, according to established custom, of a newly appointed Prior was to call, in official robes, and pay his respects to Lorenzo, the nominal governor of Florence. It was just a mere form, you know—simply showing the people that Saint Mark's was still loyal to the State.

Lorenzo appointed a day and sent word that at a certain[Pg 99] hour he would be pleased to welcome the Prior, and congratulate him upon his elevation. At the same time the Prior was expected to say mass in the private chapel of the governor, and bestow his blessing upon the House of the Medici.

But Savonarola treated the invitation to call with disdain, and turned the messengers of Lorenzo away with scant courtesy. Instead of joining hands with Lorenzo he preached a sermon at the Cathedral, bitterly arraigning the aristocracy, prophesying their speedy downfall, and beseeching all men who wished to be saved to turn, repent, make restitution and secure the pardon of God, ere it was too late. The sermon shook the city, and other addresses of the same tenor followed daily. It was a "revival," of the good old Methodist kind—and religious emotion drifting into frenzy is older far than history.

The name of Lorenzo was not mentioned personally, but all saw it was a duel to the death between the plain people and the silken and perfumed rulers. It was the same old fight—personified by Savonarola on one side and Lorenzo on the other.

Lorenzo sunk his pride and went to Saint Mark's for an interview with the Prior. He found a man of adamant and iron, one blind and deaf to political logic, one who scorned all persuasion and in whose lexicon there was no such word as expediency.

Lorenzo turned away, whipped and disappointed—the prophecies of impending doom had even touched his[Pg 100] own stout heart. He was stricken with fever, and the extent of his fear is shown that in his extremity he sent for the Prior of Saint Mark's to come to his bedside.

Even there, Savonarola was not softened. Before granting absolution to the sick man, he demanded three things:

"First, you must repent and feel a true faith in God, who in His mercy alone can pardon."

Lorenzo assented.

"Second, you must give up your ill-gotten wealth to the people."

Lorenzo groaned, and finally reluctantly agreed.

"Third, you must restore to Florence her liberty."

Lorenzo groaned and moaned, and turned his face to the wall.

Savonarola grimly waited half an hour, but no sign coming from the stricken man, he silently went his way.

The next day Lorenzo the Magnificent, aged forty-two, died—died unabsolved.

[Pg 101]Lorenzo left three sons. The eldest was Pietro, just approaching his majority, who was the recognized successor of his father. The second son was Giuliano, who had already been made a cardinal at thirteen years of age, and who was destined to be the powerful Pope, Leo X.

The death of Lorenzo had been indirectly foretold by Savonarola, and now some of his disciples were not slow in showing an ill-becoming exultation. They said, "I told you so!" The intensity of the revival increased, and there was danger of its taking on the form of revolution.

Savonarola saw this mob spirit at work, and for a time moderated his tone. But there were now occasional outbreaks between his followers and those of the Medici. A guard was necessary to protect Savonarola as he passed from Saint Mark's to the different churches where he preached. The police and soldiers were on the side of the aristocracy who supported them.

The Pope had been importuned to use his influence to avert the threatened harm to "true religion." Savonarola should be silenced, said the aristocrats, and that speedily.

A letter came from Pope Alexander, couched in most gentle and gracious words, requesting Savonarola to come to Rome, and there give exhibition of his wondrous gifts.

Savonarola knew that he was dealing with a Borgia—a[Pg 102] man who cajoled, bought and bribed, and when these failed there were noose, knife and poison close at hand. The Prior of Saint Mark's could deal with Lorenzo in Florence, but with Alexander at Rome he would be undone. The iniquities of the Borgia family far exceeded the sins of the Medici, and in his impassioned moments Savonarola had said as much.

At Rome he would have to explain these things—and to explain them would be to repeat them. Alexander stood for nepotism, which is the sugared essence of that time-honored maxim, "To the victor belong the spoils." The world has never seen so little religion and so much pretense as during the reign of the Borgias.

At this time when offenders were called to Rome, it sometimes happened that they were never again heard from. Beneath the Castle Saint Angelo were dungeons—no records were kept—and the stories told of human bones found in walled-up cells are no idle tales. An iron collar circling the neck of a skeleton that was once a man is a sight these eyes have seen.

Prison records open to the public are a comparatively new thing, and the practise of "doctoring" a record has, until recently, been quite in vogue.

Savonarola acknowledged the receipt of the Pope's request, but made excuses, and asked for time.

Alexander certainly did all he could to avoid an open rupture with the Prior of Saint Mark's. He was inwardly pleased when Savonarola affronted the Medici—it was a[Pg 103] thing he dared not do—and if the religious revival could be localized and kept within bounds, all would have been well. It had now gone far enough; if continued, and Rome should behold such scenes as Florence had witnessed, the Holy See itself would not be safe.

Alexander accepted the excuses of Savonarola with much courtesy. Soon word came that the Prior of Saint Mark's was to be made a cardinal, but the gentle hint went with the message that the red hat was to be in the nature of a reward for bringing about peace at Florence.

Peace! Peace! How could there be peace unless Savonarola bowed his head to the rule of the aristocrats?

His sermons were often interrupted—stones were thrown through the windows when he preached. The pulpit where he was to speak had been filled with filth, and the skin of an ass tacked over the sacred desk. Must he go back?

To the offer of the cardinal's hat he sent this message: "No hat will I have but that of a martyr, reddened with my own blood."

The tactics of the Pope now changed; he sent an imperative order that Savonarola should present himself at Rome, and give answer to the charges there made against him.

Savonarola silently scorned the message.

The Pope was still patient. He would waive the insult to himself, if Florence would only manage to take care of her own troubles. But importunities kept coming[Pg 104] that Savonarola should be silenced—the power of the man had grown until Florence was absolutely under his subjection. Bonfires of pictures, books and statuary condemned by him had been made in the streets; and the idea was carried to Rome that there was danger of the palaces being pillaged. Florence could deal with the man, but would not so long as he was legally a part of the Church.

Then it was that the Pope issued his Bull of Excommunication, and the order removing Savonarola from his office as Prior of Saint Mark's.

The answer of Savonarola was a sermon in the form of a defiance. He claimed, and rightly, that he was no heretic—no obligations that the Church asked had he ever disregarded, and therefore the Pope had no right to silence him.

He made his appeal to the rulers of the world, and declared that Alexander was no Pope, because he had deliberately bought his way to the Vatican.

There was now a brief struggle between the authorities of the Pope and those of Florence as to who should have the man. The Pope wanted him to be secretly captured and taken to Rome for trial. Alexander feared the publicity that Florence would give to the matter—he knew a shorter way.

But Florence stood firm. Savonarola had now retired to Saint Mark's and his followers barricaded the position. The man might have escaped, and the authorities hoped[Pg 105] he would, but there he remained, holding the place, and daily preaching to the faithful few who stood by him.

Finally the walls were stormed, and police, soldiers and populace overran the monastery. Savonarola remained passive, and he even reproved several of the monks who, armed with clubs, made stout resistance.

The warrants for arrest called only for Fra Girolamo, Fra Domenico and Fra Silvestro—these last being his most faithful disciples, preaching often in his pulpit and echoing his words.

The prisoners were bound and hurried through the streets toward the Piazza Signoria. The soldiers made a guard of spears and shields around them, but this did not prevent their being pelted with mud and stones.

They were lodged in separate cells, in the prison portion of the Palazzo Vecchio, and each was importuned to recant the charges made against the Pope and the Medici. All refused, even when told that the others had recanted.

Savonarola's judges were chosen from among his most bitter foes. He was brought before them, and ordered to take back his accusations.

He remained silent.

Threatened, he answered in parable.

He was then taken to the torture-cell, stripped of all clothing, and a thin, strong rope passed under his arms. He was suddenly drawn up, and dropped.

This was repeated until the cord around the man's[Pg 106] body cut the skin and his form was covered with blood.

The physically sensitive nature of the man gave way and he recanted.

Being taken to his cell he repeated all he had said against the Pope, and called aloud, "Lord Jesus, pardon me that I forsook thy truth—it was the torture—I now repeat all I ever said from my pulpit—Lord Jesus, pardon!"

Again he was taken to the torture-chamber and all was gone over as before.

He and his two companions were now formally condemned to death and their day of execution set.

To know the worst is peace—it is uncertainty that kills.

A great calm came over Savonarola—he saw the gates of Heaven opening for him. He was able now to sleep and eat. The great brown eyes beamed with love and benediction, and his hands were raised only in blessing to friend and foe alike.

The day of execution came, and the Piazza Signoria was filled with a vast concourse of people. Every spare foot of space was taken. Platforms had been erected and seats sold for fabulous prices. Every window was filled with faces.

An elevated walk had been built out from the second story of the prison to the executioner's platform. From this high scaffold rose a great cross with ropes and chains dangling from the arms. Below were piled high heaps of fagots, saturated with oil.

[Pg 107]There was a wild exultant yell from the enemies of the men on their appearance, but others of their adversaries appeared dazed at their success, and it seemed for a few moments as if pity would take the place of hate, and the mob would demand the release of the men.

The prisoners walked firmly and conversed in undertone, encouraging each other to stand firm. Each held a crucifix and pressed it to his lips, repeating the creed. Halfway across to the gibbet, they were stopped, the crucifixes torn from their hands, and their priestly robes stripped from them. There they stood, clad only in scant underclothes, in sight of the mob that seethed and mocked. Sharp sticks were thrust up between the crevices of the board walk, so blood streamed from their bare feet.

Having advanced so that they stood beneath the gibbet, their priestly robes were again thrown over them, and once more torn off by a bishop who repeated the words, "Thus do I sever you from the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant!"

"Not the Church Triumphant!" answered Savonarola in a loud voice. "You can not do that."

In order to prolong the torture of Savonarola, his companions were hanged first, before his eyes.

When his turn came he stepped lightly to his place between the dead and swinging bodies of his brethren. As the executioner was adjusting the cord about his neck, his great tender eyes were raised to heaven and[Pg 108] his lips moved in prayer as the noose tightened.

The chains were quickly fastened about the bodies to hold them in place, and scarcely had the executioner upon the platform slid down the ladders, than the waiting torches below fired the pile and the flames shot heavenward and licked the great cross where the three bodies swayed.

The smoke soon covered them from view.

Then suddenly there came a gust of wind that parted the smoke and flames, and the staring mob, now silent, saw that the fire had burned the thongs that bound the arms of Savonarola. One hand was uplifted in blessing and benediction.

So died Savonarola.


Only slaves die of overwork. Work a weariness, a danger, forsooth! Those who say so can know very little about it. Labor is neither cruel nor ungrateful; it restores the strength we give it a hundredfold and, unlike financial operations, the revenue is what brings in the capital. Put soul into your work, and joy and health will be yours.

[Pg 110]


[Pg 111]

The idea of the monastery is as old as man, and its rise is as natural as the birth and death of the seasons.

We need society, and we need solitude. But it happens again and again that man gets a surfeit of society—he is thrown with those who misunderstand him, who thwart him, who contradict his nature, who bring out the worst in his disposition: he is sapped of his strength, and then he longs for solitude. He would go alone up into the mountain. What is called the "monastic impulse" comes over him—he longs to be alone—alone with God.

The monastic impulse can be traced back a thousand years before Christ: the idea is neither Christian, Jewish, Philistine nor Buddhist. Every people of which we know have had their hermits and recluses.

The communal thought is a form of monasticism—it is a getting away from the world. Monasticism does not necessarily imply celibacy, but as unrequited or misplaced love is usually the precursor of the monastic impulse, celibacy or some strange idea on the sex problem usually is in evidence.

Monasticism has many forms: College Settlements, Zionism, Deaconesses' Homes, Faith Cottages, Shakerism, Mormonism, are all manifestations of the impulse[Pg 112] to get away from the world, and still benefit the world by standing outside of it. This desire to get away from the world and still mix in it shows that monasticism is not quite sincere—we want society no less than we want solitude. Very seldom, indeed, has a monk ever gone away and remained: he comes back to the world, occasionally, to beg, or sell things, and to "do good."

The rise of the Christian monastery begins with Paul the Hermit, who in the year Two Hundred Fifty withdrew to an oasis in the desert, and lived in a cave before which was a single palm-tree and a spring.

Other men worn with strife, tired of stupid misunderstanding, persecution and unkind fate, came to him. And there they lived in common. The necessity of discipline and order naturally presented itself, so they made rules that governed conduct. The day was divided up into periods when the inmates of this first monastery prayed, communed with the silence, worked and studied.

Within a hundred years there were similar religious communities at fifty or more places in Upper Egypt.

Women have always imitated men, and soon nunneries sprang up here and there. In fact, the nunnery has a little more excuse for being than the monastery. In a barbaric society an unattached woman needs protection, and this she gets in the nunnery. Even so radical a thinker as Max Muller regarded the nunnery as a valuable agent in giving dignity to woman's estate. If she was mistreated and desired protection, she could find[Pg 113] refuge in this sanctuary. She became the Bride of Christ, and through the protection of the convent, man was forced to be civil, and chivalry came to take the place of force.

Most monasteries have been mendicant institutions. As early as the year Five Hundred we read of the monks going abroad a-questing, a bag on their backs. They begged as a business, and some became very expert at it, just as we have expert evangelists and expert debt-raisers. They took anything that anybody had to give. They begged in the name of the poor; and as they traveled they undertook to serve those who were poorer than themselves. They were distributing agents.

They ceased to do manual labor and scorned those who did. They traversed the towns and highways by trios and asked alms at houses or of travelers. Occasionally they carried cudgels, and if such a pair asked for alms it was usually equal to a demand. These monks made acquaintances, they had their friends among men and women, and often being far from home they were lodged and fed by the householders. In some instances the alms given took the form of a tax which the sturdy monks collected with startling regularity. We hear of their dividing the country up into districts, and each man having a route that he jealously guarded.

They came in the name of the Lord—they were supposed to have authority. They said, "He who giveth to[Pg 114] the poor lendeth to the Lord." They blessed those who gave, and cursed those who refused. Some of them presumed to forgive the sins of those who paid. And soon the idea suggested itself of forgiving in advance, or granting an indulgence. They made promises of mansions in the skies to those who conformed, and threatened with the pains of hell those who declined their requests. So the monks occasionally became rich.

And when they grew rich they often became arrogant, dictatorial, selfish, gluttonous and licentious. They undertook to manage the government which they had before in their poverty renounced. They hired servants to wait upon them. The lust of power, and the lust of the flesh, and the pride of the heart all became manifest.

However, there were always a few men, pure of heart and earnest in purpose, who sought to stem the evil tendencies. And so the history of monasticism and the history of the Church is the record of a struggle against idleness and corruption. To shave a man's head, give him a new name, and clothe him in strange garments, does not change his nature. Monks grown rich and powerful will become idle, and the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are then mere jokes and jests.

No man knew this better than Benedict, who lived in the Sixth Century. The profligacy, ignorance and selfishness of the fat and idle monks appalled him. With the aid of Cassiodorus he set to work to reform the monasteries by interesting the inmates in beautiful[Pg 115] work. Cassiodorus taught men to write, illumine and bind books. Through Italy, France and Germany he traveled and preached the necessity of manual labor, and the excellence of working for beauty. The art impulse in the nunneries and monasteries began with Benedict and Cassiodorus, who worked hand in hand for beauty, purity and truth. Benedict had the greater executive ability, but Cassiodorus had the more far-reaching and subtle intellect. He anticipated all that we have to say today on the New Education—the necessity of playing off one faculty of the mind against another through manual labor, play and art creation. He even anticipated the primal idea of the Kindergarten, for he said, "The pleasurable emotion that follows the making of beautiful forms with one's hands is not a sin, like unto the pleasure that is gained for the sake of pleasure—rather to do good and beautiful work is incense to the nostrils of God."

In all Benedictine monasteries flagellations ceased, discipline was relaxed, and the inmates were enjoined to use their energies in their work, and find peace by imitating God, and like Him creating beautiful things.

Beautiful bookmaking traces its genesis almost directly to Benedict and Cassiodorus.

But a hundred years after the death of these great men, the necessity of reform was as great as ever, and other men took up the herculean task.

And so it has happened that every century men have[Pg 116] arisen who protested against the abuses inside the Church. The Church has tried to keep religion pure, but when she has failed and scandalized society at large, monasteries were wiped out of existence and their property confiscated. Since the Fifteenth Century, regularly once every hundred years, France has driven the monks from her borders, and in this year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred Three she is doing what Napoleon did a hundred years ago; what Cromwell did in England in Sixteen Hundred Forty-five; what has been done time and again in every corner of Christendom.

Martin Luther's quarrel with the Church began simply as a protest against certain practises of the monks, and that his protests should develop into a something called "Protestantism" was a thing he never for a moment anticipated or desired. He had no thought of building an institution on negation; and that he should be driven from the Church, because he loved the Church and was trying to purify and benefit it, was a source to him of deepest grief.

[Pg 117]Martin Luther was thirty-five years old. He was short in stature, inclining to be stout, strenuous and bold. His faults and his virtues were all on the surface. He neither deceived nor desired to deceive—the distinguishing feature of his character was frankness. He was an Augustinian monk, serving as a teacher in the University of Wittenberg.

Up to this time his life had been uneventful. His parents had been very poor people—his father a day-laborer, working in the copper-mines. In his boyhood Martin was "stubborn and intractable," which means that he had life plus. His teachers had tried to repress him by flogging him "fifteen times in a forenoon," as he himself has told us.

In childhood he used to beg upon the streets, and so he could the better beg he was taught to sing. This rough, early experience wore off all timidity, and put "stage-fright" forever behind. He could not remember a time when he could not sing a song or make a speech.

That he developed all the alertness and readiness of tongue and fist of the street-urchin there is no doubt.

When he was taken into a monastery at eighteen years of age, the fact that he was a good singer and a most successful beggar were points of excellence that were not overlooked.

That the young man was stubbornly honest in his religious faith, there is not a particle of doubt. The strength of his nature and the extent of his passion made[Pg 118] his life in the monastery most miserable. He had not yet reached the point that many of the older monks had, and learned how to overcome temptation by succumbing to it, so he fasted for days until he became too weak to walk, watched the night away in vigils, and whipped his poor body with straps until the blood flowed.

We now think it is man's duty to eat proper food, to sleep at night, and to care for his body, so as to bring it to the most perfect condition possible—all this that he may use his life to its highest and best. Life is a privilege and not a crime.

But Martin Luther never knew of these things and there was none to teach him, and probably he would have rejected them stoutly if they had been presented—arguing the question six nights and days together.

The result of all that absurd flying in the face of Nature was indigestion and its concomitant, nervous irritability. These demons fastened upon him for life; and we have his word for it in a thousand places that he regarded them as veritable devils—thus does man create his devil in his own image. Luther had visions—he "saw things," and devils, witches and spirits were common callers to the day of his death.

In those early monastery days he used to have fits of depression when he was sure that he had committed the "unpardonable sin," and over and over in his mind he would recount his shortcomings. He went to confession so often that he wore out the patience of at[Pg 119] least one confessor, who once said to him, "Brother Martin, you are not so much a sinner as a fool." Still another gave him this good advice, "God is not angry with you, but He will be if you keep on, for you are surely angry with Him—you had better think less about yourself and more of others: go to work!"

This excellent counsel was followed. Luther began to study the Scriptures and the writings of the saints. He took part in the disputes which were one of the principal diversions of all monasteries.

Now, a monk had the privilege of remaining densely ignorant, or he could become learned. Life in a monastery was not so very different from what it was outside—a monk gravitated to where he belonged. The young man showed such skill as a debater, and such commendable industry at all of his tasks, from scrubbing the floor to expounding Scripture, that he was sent to the neighboring University of Erfurt. From there he was transferred to the University of Wittenberg. In the classes at these universities the plan obtained, which is still continued in all theological schools, of requiring a student to defend his position on his feet. Knotty propositions are put forth, and logical complications fired at the youth as a necessary part of his mental drill. Beside this there were societies where all sorts of abstrusities and absurdities were argued to a standstill.

At this wordy warfare none proved more adept than[Pg 120] Martin Luther. He became Senior Wrangler; secured his degree; remained at the college as a post-graduate and sub-lecturer; finally was appointed a teacher, then a professor, and when twenty-nine years old became a Doctor of Theology.

He took his turn as preacher in the Schlosskirche, which was the School Chapel, and when he preached the place was crowded. He was something more than a monotonous mumbler of words: he made his addresses personal, direct, critical. His allusions were local, and contained a deal of wholesome criticism put with pith and point, well seasoned with a goodly dash of rough and surprising wit.

Soon he was made District Vicar—a sort of Presiding Elder—and preached in a dozen towns over a circuit of a hundred miles. On these tours he usually walked, bareheaded, wearing the monk's robe. Often he was attended by younger monks and students, who considered it a great privilege to accompany him. His courage, his blunt wit, his active ways—all appealed to the youth, and often delegations would go out to meet him. Every college has his kind, whom the bantlings fall down and worship—fisticuffs and books are both represented, and a touch of irreverence for those in authority is no disadvantage.

Luther's lack of reverence for his superiors held him back from promotion—and another thing was his imperious temper. He could not bear contradiction. The[Pg 121] orator's habit of exaggeration was upon him, and occasionally he would affront his best friends in a way that tested their patience to the breaking-point. "You might become an Abbot, and even a Bishop, were it not for your lack of courtesy," wrote his Superior to him on one occasion.

But this very lack of diplomacy, this indifference to the opinions of others, this boldness of speech, made him the pride and pet of the students. Whenever he entered the lecture-room they cheered him, and often they applauded him even in church.

Luther was a "sensational preacher," and he was an honest preacher. No doubt the applause of his auditors urged him on to occasional unseemliness. He acted upon his audience, and the audience reacted upon him. He thundered against the profligacy of the rich, the selfishness of Society, the iniquities of the government, the excesses of the monks, the laxity of discipline in the schools, and the growing tendency in the Church to worship the Golden Calf. In some instances priests and monks had married, and he thundered against these.

All of the topics he touched had been treated by Savonarola in Italy, Wyclif in England, Brenz at Heidelberg, Huss in Bohemia, Erasmus in Holland and Bucer in Switzerland—and they had all paid the penalty of death or exile.

It is well to be bold, but not too bold. Up to a certain point the Church and Society will stand criticism: first[Pg 122] it is diverting, next amusing, then tiresome, finally heretical—that is to say, criminal.

There had been a good deal of heresy. It was in the air—men were thinking for themselves—the printing-presses were at work, and the spirit of the Renaissance was abroad.

Martin Luther was not an innovator—he simply expressed what the many wished to hear—he was caught in the current of the time: he was part and parcel of the Renaissance. And he was a loyal Churchman. None of his diatribes were against the Church itself—he wished to benefit the Church by freeing it from the faults that he feared would disintegrate it.

And so it happened that on the Thirty-first day of October, Fifteen Hundred Seventeen, Martin Luther tacked on the church-door at Wittenberg his Ninety-five Theses.

The church-door was the bulletin-board for the University. The University consisted of about five hundred students. Wittenberg was a village of three or four thousand people, all told. The Theses were simply questions for discussion, and the proposition was that Martin Luther and his pupils would defend these questions against all comers in public debate.

Challenges of this sort were very common, public debates were of weekly occurrence; and little did Martin Luther realize that this paltry half-sheet of paper was to shake the world.

[Pg 123]The immediate cause of Luther's challenge was the presence of a Dominican monk by the name of John Tetzel. This man was raising money to complete Saint Peter's Church at Rome, and he was armed with a commission direct from Pope Leo the Tenth.

That Brother John was an expert in his line, no one has ever denied. He had been in this business of raising money for about ten years, and had built monasteries, asylums, churches and convents. Beginning as a plain, sturdy beggar, this enterprising monk had developed a System—not entirely new, but he had added valuable improvements.

There is a whole literature on the subject of the "indulgence," and I surely have no thought of adding to the mighty tomes on this theme. But just let me briefly explain how John worked: When he approached a town, he sent his agents ahead and secured the co-operation of some certain priest, under the auspices of whose church the place was to be worked. This priest would gather a big delegation of men, women and children, and they would go out in a body to meet the representative of God's Vicegerent on earth. The Pope couldn't come himself, and so he sent John Tetzel.

Tetzel was carried on a throne borne on the shoulders of twenty-five men. His dress outshone any robe ever worn by mortal Pope. Upon his head was a crown, and in his hand a hollow, golden scepter that enclosed[Pg 124] his commission from the Pope. In advance of this throne was carried an immense cross, painted red. As the procession entered a village, people would kneel or uncover as the Agent of the Pope passed by; all traffic would cease—stores and places of business would be closed. In the public square or marketplace a stage would be erected, and from this pulpit Tetzel would preach.

The man had a commanding presence, and a certain rough and telling eloquence. He was the foremost Evangelist of his day. He had a chorus of chanters, who wore bright robes and sang and played harps. It will thus be seen that Moody and Sankey methods are no new thing. Crowds flocked to hear him, and people came for many miles.

Tetzel reasoned of righteousness and judgment to come; he told of the horrors of sin, its awful penalties; he pictured purgatory, hell and damnation.

Men cried aloud for mercy, women screamed, and the flaming cross was held aloft.

Men must repent—and they must pay. If God had blessed you, you should show your gratitude. The Sacrament of Penance consists of three parts: Repentance, Confession, Satisfaction. The intent of Penance is educational, disciplinary and medicinal. If you have done wrong, you can make restitution to God, whom you have angered, by paying a certain sum to His Agent, for a good purpose.

[Pg 125]The Church has never given men the privilege of wronging other men by making a payment. That is one of the calumnies set afloat by infidels who pretend that Catholics worship images. You can, however, show penitence, sincerity and gratitude by giving. Any one can see that this is quite a different thing from buying an indulgence.

This gift you made was similar to the "Wehrgeld," or money compensation made to the injured or kinsmen of those who had been slain.

By giving, you wiped out the offense, and better still you became participant in all the prayers of those to whom you gave. If you helped rebuild Saint Peter's, you participated in all the masses said there for the repose of the dead. This would apply to all your kinsmen now in Purgatory. If you gave, you could get them out, and also insure yourself against the danger of getting in. Repent and show your gratitude.

Tetzel had half a dozen Secretaries in purple robes, who made out receipts. These receipts were printed in red and gold and had a big seal and ribbon attached. The size of the receipt and seal was proportioned according to the amount paid—if you had a son or a daughter in Purgatory, it was wise to pay a large amount. The certificates were in Latin and certified in diffuse and mystical language many things, and they gave great joy to the owners.

The money flowed in on the Secretaries in heaps.[Pg 126] Women often took their jewelry and turned it over with their purses to Tetzel; and the Secretaries worked far into the night issuing receipts—or what some called, "Letters of Indulgence."

That many who secured these receipts regarded them as a license to do wrong and still escape punishment, there is no doubt. Before Tetzel left a town his Secretaries issued, for a sum equal to twenty-five cents, a little certificate called a "Butterbriefe," which allowed the owner to eat butter on his bread on fast-days.

Then in the night Tetzel and his cavalcade would silently steal away, to continue their good work in the next town. This program was gone through in hundreds of places, and the amount of money gathered no one knew, and what became of it all, no one could guess.

Pope, Electors, Bishops, Priests and Tetzel all shared in the benefits.

To a great degree the same plans are still carried on. In Protestant churches we have the professional Debt-Raiser, and the Evangelist who recruits by hypnotic Tetzel methods.

In the Catholic Church receipts are still given for money paid, vouching that the holder shall participate in masses and prayers, his name be put in a window, or engrossed on a parchment to be placed beneath a cornerstone. Trinkets are sold to be worn upon the person as a protection against this and that.

[Pg 127]The Church does not teach that the Pope can forgive sin, or that by mere giving you can escape punishment for sin. Christ alone forgives.

However, the Pope does decide on what constitutes sin and what not; and this being true, I, for myself, do not see why he can not decide that under certain conditions and with certain men an act is not a sin, which with other men is so considered. And surely if he decides it is not a sin, the act thereby carries no penalty. Thus does the Pope have the power to remit punishment.

Either the Pope is supreme or he is not.

Luther thought he was. The most that Luther objected to was Tetzel's extreme way of putting the thing. Tetzel was a Dominican; Luther was an Augustinian; and between these two orders was continual friction. Tetzel was working Luther's territory, and Luther told what he thought of him, and issued a challenge to debate him on ninety-five propositions. That priests in their zeal should overstep their authority, and that people should read into the preaching much more than the preacher intended, is not to the discredit of the Church. The Church can not be blamed for either the mistakes of Moses, or for the mistakes of her members.

We have recently had the spectacle of a noted Evangelist, in Vermont, preaching prohibition, indulging in strong drink, and making a bet with a Jebusite that he would turn all his clothing wrong side out—socks,[Pg 128] drawers, trousers, undershirt, shirt, vest and coat—and preach with his eyes shut. The feat was carried out, and the preacher won the bet; but it would hardly be fair to charge this action up against either the Prohibition Party or the Protestant Religion.

[Pg 129]Revolution never depended on any one man. A strong man is acted upon by the thought of others: he is a sensitive plate upon which impressions are made, and his vivid personality gathers up these many convictions, concentrates them into one focus, and then expresses them. The great man is the one who first expresses what the many believe. He is a voice for the voiceless, and gives in trumpet tones what others would if they could.

Throughout Germany there was a strong liberal movement. To obey blindly was not sufficient. To go to church, perform certain set acts at certain times, and pay were not enough—these things were all secondary—repentance must come first.

And along comes John Tetzel with his pagan processions, supplying salvation for silver! Martin Luther, the strenuous, the impulsive, the bold, quickly writes a challenge in wrath to public disputation. "If God wills," said Martin to a friend, "I'll surely kick a hole in his drum."

Within two weeks after the Ninety-five Theses were nailed to the church-door, copies had been carried all over Germany, and in a month the Theses had gone to every corner of Christendom. The local printing-press at Wittenberg had made copies for the students, and some of these prints were carried the next day to Leipzig and Mainz, and at once recognized by publishers as good copy. Luther had said the things that thousands[Pg 130] had wanted to say. Tame enough are the propositions to us now. Let us give a few of them:

The whole life of the faithful disciple should be an act of repentance.

Punishment remains as long as the sinner hates himself.

The Pope neither can nor will remit punishment for sin.

God must forgive first, and the Pope through his priests can then corroborate the remission.

No one is sure of his own forgiveness.

Every sinner who truly repents has a plenary remission of punishment due him without payment of money to any one.

Every Christian, living or dead, has a full share in all the wealth of the Church, without letters of pardon, or receipts for money paid.

Christians should be taught that the buying of pardons is in no wise to be compared to works of mercy.

To give to a poor man is better than to pay money to a rich priest.

Because of charity and the works of charity, man becomes better, whether he pays money to build a church or not.

Pardon for sin is from Christ, and is free.

The Pope needs prayers for himself more than ready money.

Christians should be taught that the Pope does not know of the exactions of his agents who rob the poor by threat, otherwise he would prefer that Saint Peter's should lie in ashes than be built upon the skin, bones and flesh of his sheep.

[Pg 131]If the Pope can release souls from Purgatory, why does he not empty the place for love and charity?

Since the Pope is the richest man in Christendom, why indeed does he not build Saint Peter's out of his own pocket?

Such are the propositions that leaped hot from Luther's heart; but they are not all of one spirit, for as he wrote he bethought himself that Tetzel was a Dominican, and the Dominicans held the key to the Inquisition. Luther remembered the fate of Huss, and his inward eye caught the glare of fagots afire. So, changing his tone, to show that he was still a Catholic, he said, "God forgives no man his sin until the man first presents himself to His priestly Vicar."

Were it not for such expressions as this last, one might assume that man had no need of the assistance of priests or sacraments, but might go to God direct and secure pardon. But this would do away with even Martin Luther's business, so Brother Martin affirms: "The Church is necessary to man's salvation, and the Church must have a Pope in whom is vested Supreme Authority. The Church is not to blame for the acts of its selfish, ignorant and sinful professors."

One immediate effect of the Theses was that they put a quietus on the work of Brother John Tetzel. Instead of the people all falling prostrate on his approach, many greeted him with jeers and mud-balls. He was only a few miles away from Wittenberg, but news[Pg 132] reached him of what the students had in store, and immediately he quit business and went South.

But although he did not appear in person, Tetzel prepared a counter set of Theses, to the appalling number of one hundred thirteen, and had them printed and widely distributed. His agent came to Wittenberg and peddled the documents on the streets. The students got word of what was going on and in a body captured the luckless Tetzelite, led him to the public square, and burned his documents with much pomp and circumstance. They then cut off the man's coat-tails, conducted him to the outskirts of the town, turned him loose and cheered him lustily as he ran.

It will thus be seen that the human heart is ever the same, and among college students there is small choice.

The following Sunday Luther devoted his whole sermon to a vigorous condemnation of the act of his students, admonishing them in stern rebuke. The sermon was considered the biggest joke of the season.

Tetzel seemed to sink out of sight. Those whom he had sought to serve repudiated him, and Bishops, Electors and Pope declined to defend his cause.

As for Luther, certain Bishops made formal charges against him, sending a copy of his Theses to Pope Leo the Tenth. The Holy Father refused to interfere in what he considered a mere quarrel between Dominicans and Augustinians, and so the matter rested.

But it did not rest long.

[Pg 133]The general policy of the Church in Luther's time was not unlike what it is now. Had he gone to Rome, he would not have been humiliated—the intent would have been to pacify him. He might have been transferred to a new territory, with promise of a preferment, even to a Bishopric, if he did well.

To silence men, excommunicate them, degrade them, has never been done except when it was deemed that the safety of the Church demanded it.

The Church, like governments—all governments—is founded upon the consent of the governed. So every religion, and every government, changes with the people—rulers study closely the will of the people and endeavor to conform to their desire. Priests and preachers give people the religion they wish for—it is a question of supply and demand.

The Church has constantly changed as the intelligence of the people has changed. And this change is always easy and natural. Dogmas and creeds may remain the same, but progress consists in giving a spiritual or poetic interpretation to that which once was taken literally. The scheme of the Esoteric and the Exoteric is a sliding, self-lubricating, self-adjusting, non-copyrighted invention—perfect in its workings—that all wise theologians fall back upon in time of stress.

Had Luther obeyed the mandate and gone to Rome, that would have been the last of Luther.

[Pg 134]Private interpretation is all right, of course: the Church has always taught it—the mistake is to teach it to everybody. Those who should know, do know. Spiritual adolescence comes in due time, and then all things are made plain—be wise!

But Luther was not to be bought off. His followers were growing in numbers, the howls of his enemies increased.

Strong men grow through opposition—the plummet of feeling goes deeper, thought soars higher—vivid and stern personalities make enemies because they need them, otherwise they drowse. Then they need friends, too, to encourage: opposition and encouragement—thus do we get the alternating current.

That Luther had not been publicly answered, except by Tetzel's weak rejoinders, was a constant boast in the liberal camp; and that Tetzel was only fit to address an audience of ignorant peasantry was very sure: some one else must be put forward worthy of Martin Luther's steel.

Then comes John Eck, a priest and lawyer, a man in intimate touch with Rome, and the foremost public disputant and orator of his time. He proposed to meet Luther in public debate. In social station Eck stood much higher than Luther. Luther was a poor college professor in a poor little University—a mere pedagog, a nobody. That Eck should meet him was a condescension on the part of Eck—as Eck explained.

They met at the University of Leipzig, an aristocratic[Pg 135] and orthodox institution, Eck having refused to meet Luther either at Erfurt or at Wittenberg—wherein Eck was wise.

The Bishop at Leipzig posted notices forbidding the dispute—this, it is believed, on orders from Rome, as the Church did not want to be known as having mixed in the matter. The Bishop's notices were promptly torn down, and Duke George decided that, as the dispute was not under the auspices of the Church, the Bishop had no business to interfere.

The audience came for many miles. A gallery was set apart for the nobility. Thousands who could not gain admittance remained outside and had to be content with a rehearsal of the proceedings from those who were fortunate enough to have seats.

The debate began June Twenty-seventh, Fifteen Hundred Nineteen, and continued daily for thirteen days.

Eck was commanding in person, deep of voice, suave and terrible in turn. He had all the graces and the power of a great trial lawyer. Luther's small figure and plain clothes put him at a disadvantage in this brilliant throng, yet we are told that his high and piercing voice was heard much farther than Eck's.

Duke George of Saxony sat on a throne in state, and acted as Master of Ceremonies. Wittenberg was in the minority, and the hundred students who had accompanied Luther were mostly relegated to places outside, under the windows—their ardor to cut off coat-tails had[Pg 136] quite abated.

The proceedings were orderly and dignified, save for the marked prejudice against Luther displayed by Duke George and the nobility.

Luther held his own: his manner was self-reliant, with a touch of pride that perhaps did not help his cause.

Eck led the debate along by easy stages and endeavored to force Luther into anger and unseemliness.

Luther's friends were pleased with their champion—Luther stated his case with precision and Eck was seemingly vanquished.

But Eck knew what he was doing—he was leading Luther into a defense of the doctrines set forth by Huss. And when the time was ripe, Eck, in assumed astonishment, cried out, "Why this is exactly that for which Huss the heretic was tried and rightly condemned!" He very skilfully and slyly gave Luther permission to withdraw certain statements, to which Luther replied with spirit that he took back nothing, "and if this is what Huss taught, why God be praised for Huss."

Eck had gotten what he wanted—a defense of Huss, who had been burned at the stake for heresy.

Eck put his reports in shape and took them to Rome in person, and a demand was made for a formal Bull of Excommunication against Martin Luther.

Word came from Rome that if Luther would amend his ways and publicly disavow his defense of Huss, further proceedings would cease. The result was a[Pg 137] volley of Wittenberg pamphlets restating, in still bolder language, what had already been put forth.

Luther was still a good Catholic, and his quarrel was with the abuses in the Church, not with the Church itself. Had the Pope and his advisers been wise enough they would have paid no attention to Luther, and thus allowed opinion inside the Church to change, as it has changed in our day. Priests and preachers everywhere now preach exactly the things for which Huss, Wyclif, Ridley, Latimer and Tyndale forfeited their lives.

But the Pope did not correctly gauge the people—he did not know that Luther was speaking for fifty-one per cent of all Germany.

Orders were given out in Leipzig from pulpits, that on a certain day all good Catholics should bring such copies of Martin Luther's books as they had in their possession to the public square, and the books would there be burned.

On October Ninth, the Bull of Excommunication mentioning Luther and six of his chief sympathizers reached Wittenberg, cutting them off from the Church forever.

Luther still continued to preach daily, and declared that he was still a Catholic and that as Popes had made mistakes before, so had Pope Leo erred this time. With the Bull came a notice that, if Luther would recant, the Bull would be withdrawn and Luther would be reinstated in the Church.

[Pg 138]To which Luther replied, "If the Bull is withdrawn I will still be in the Church."

Bonfires of Luther's books now burned bright in every town and city of Christendom—even in London.

Then it was that Wittenberg decided to have a bonfire of its own. A printed bill was issued calling upon all students and other devout Christians to assemble at nine o'clock on the morning of December Tenth, Fifteen Hundred Twenty, outside the Elster gate, and witness a pious and religious spectacle. A large concourse gathered, a pyre of fagots was piled high, the Pope's Bull of Excommunication was solemnly placed on top, and the fire was lighted by the hand of Martin Luther.

[Pg 139]The Theses prepared by Tetzel had small sale. People had heard all these arguments before, but Luther's propositions were new.

Everything that Luther said in public now was taken down, printed and passed along; his books were sold in the marketplaces and at the fairs throughout the Empire. Luther glorified Germany, and referred often to the "Deutsche Theologie," and this pleased the people. The jealousy that existed between Italians and Germans was fanned.

He occasionally preached in neighboring cities, and always was attended by an escort of several hundred students. Once he spoke at Nuremberg and was entertained by that great man and artist, Albert Durer. Everywhere crowds hung upon his words, and often he was cheered and applauded, even in churches. He denounced the extravagance and folly of ecclesiastical display, the wrong of robbing the poor in order to add to the splendor of Rome; he pleaded for the right of private interpretation of the Scriptures, and argued the need of repentance and a deep personal righteousness.

Not only was Luther the most popular preacher of that day, but his books outsold all other authors. He gave his writings to whoever would print them, and asked for no copyright nor royalties.

A request came from the Pope that he should appear at Rome.

Such a summons is considered mandatory, and usually[Pg 140] this letter, although expressed in the gentlest and most complimentary way, strikes terror to the heart of the receiver. It means that he has offended or grieved the Head of the Church—God's Vicegerent on earth.

In my own experience I have known several offending priests to receive this summons; I never knew of one who dared disregard the summons; I never knew of one who received it who was not filled with dire foreboding; and I never knew an instance where the man was humiliated or really punished.

A few years ago the American newspapers echoed with the name of a priest who had been particularly bold in certain innovations. He was summoned to Rome, and this was the way he was treated as told me with his own lips, and he further informed me that he ascertained it was the usual procedure:

The offender arrives in Rome full of the feeling that his enemies have wrongfully accused him. He knows charges have been filed against him, but what these charges are he is not aware. He is very much disturbed and very much in a fog. His reputation and character, aye! his future is at stake.

Before the dust of travel is off his clothes, before he shaves, washes his face or eats, he appears at the Vatican and asks for a copy of the charges that have been brought against him.

One of the Pope's numerous secretaries, a Cardinal possibly, receives him graciously, almost affectionately, and[Pg 141] welcomes him to Rome in the name of the Pope. As for any matter of business, why, it can wait: the man who has it in charge is out of the city for a day or so—rest and enjoy the splendor of the Eternal City.

"Where is the traveler's lodging?"

"What? not that—here!"—a bell is rung, a messenger is called, the pilgrim's luggage is sent for, and he is given a room in the Vatican itself, or in one of the nearby "Colleges." A Brother is called in, introduced and duly instructed to attend personally on His Grace the Pilgrim. Show him the wonders of Rome—the churches, art-galleries, the Pantheon, the Appian Way, the Capitol, the Castle—he is one of the Church's most valued servants, he has come from afar—see that he has the attention accorded him that is his due.

The Pilgrim is surprised, a trifle relieved, but not happy. He remembers that those condemned to die are given the best of food; but he tries to be patient, and so he accepts the Brother's guidance to see Rome—and then die, if he must.

The days are crowded full—visitors come and go. He attends this congregation and that—fetes, receptions, pilgrimages follow fast.

The cloud is still upon him—he may forget it for an hour, but each day begins in gloom—uncertainty is the only hell.

At last he boldly importunes and asks that a day shall be set to try his case.

[Pg 142]Nobody knows anything about his case! Charges—what charges? However, a Committee of Cardinals wish to see him—why, yes, Thursday at ten o'clock!

He passes a sleepless night, and appears at the time appointed, haggard, yet firm, armed with documents.

He is ushered into the presence of the Cardinals. They receive him as an equal. A little speech is made, complimenting him on his good work, upon his uprightness, and ends with a gentle caution concerning the wisdom of making haste slowly.

Charges? There are no charges against the Pilgrim—why should there be? And moreover, what if there are? Good men are always maligned. He has been summoned to Rome that the Cardinals might have his advice.

The Pope will meet him tomorrow in order to bestow his personal blessing.

It is all over—the burden falls from his back. He gasps in relief and sinks into a chair.

The greatness of Rome and the kindness and courtesy he has received have subdued him.

Possibly there is a temporary, slight reduction of position—he is given another diocese or territory; but there is a promise of speedy promotion—there is no humiliation. The man goes home subdued, conquered by kindness, happy in the determination to work for the Church as never before.

Rome binds great men to her; she does not drive them away: her policy is wise—superbly, splendidly wise.

[Pg 143]Luther was now beyond the pale—the Church had no further power to punish him, but agents of the Church, being a part of the Government, might proceed against him as an enemy of the State.

Word came that if Luther would cease writing and preaching, and quietly go about his teaching in the University, he would not be troubled in any way.

This only fired him to stronger expression. He issued a proclamation to the German Nation, appealing from the sentence of the Pope, stating he was an Augustinian monk, a Doctor of Theology, a preacher of truth, with no stain upon his character. He declared that no man in Italy or elsewhere had a right to order him to be silent, and no man or set of men could deprive him of a share in God's Kingdom.

He called upon all lovers of liberty who hoped for heaven to repudiate the "Babylonish Captivity"—only by so doing could the smile of God be secured. Thus did Martin Luther excommunicate the Pope.

Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, preserved a strictly neutral attitude. Martin Luther was his subject, and he might have proceeded against him on a criminal charge, and was hotly urged to do so, but his reply was, "Hands Off!"

The city of Worms was at this time the political capital of Germany. A yearly congress, or Diet, was held by the Emperor and his Electors, to consider[Pg 144] matters of special import to the State.

As Frederick refused to proceed against Luther, an appeal was made to the Emperor, Charles the Fifth, asking that Luther be compelled to appear before the Diet of Worms and make answer to the charges that would there be brought against him.

It was urged that Luther should be arrested and carried to Worms and there be confined in the castle until the Diet should meet; but Charles had too much respect for Frederick to attempt any such high-handed procedure—it might mean civil war. Gladly would he have ignored the whole matter, but a Cardinal from Rome was at his elbow, sent purposely to see that Luther should be silenced—silenced as Huss was, if necessary. Charles was a good Catholic—and so for that matter was the Elector Frederick. The latter was consulted and agreed that if the Emperor would issue a letter of "safe-conduct," and send a herald to personally accompany the Reverend Doctor Luther to Worms, the Elector would consent to the proceedings.

The letter sent summoning Luther to Worms was an exceedingly guarded document. It addressed the excommunicated heretic as "honorable, beloved and pious," and begged him to accept the company and safe-conduct of the bearer to Worms and there kindly explain to the Emperor the import of his books and doctrines.

This letter might have been an invitation to a banquet, but Luther said it was an invitation to a holocaust, and[Pg 145] many of his friends so looked upon it. He was urged to disregard it, but his reply was, "Though the road to Worms were lined with devils I'd go just the same."

No more vivid description of Luther's trial at Worms has been given than that supplied by Doctor Charles Beard. This man was neither Catholic nor Protestant, so we can not accuse him of hand-illumining the facts to suit his fancy. Says Doctor Beard:

Towards noon on the Sixteenth of April, Fifteen Hundred Twenty-one, the watchers on the tower gate of Worms gave notice by sound of trumpet that Luther's cavalcade was drawing near. First rode Deutschland the Herald; next came the covered carriage with Luther and three friends; last of all, Justus Jonas on horseback, with an escort of knights who had ridden out from Worms to meet them. The news quickly spread, and though it was dinner-time, the streets were thronged, and two thousand men and women accompanied the heretic to his lodging in the house of the Knights of Saint John. Here he was close to the Elector, while his companions in his lodging were two Saxon councilors. Aleandro, the Papal Nuncio, sent out one of his servants to bring him news; he returned with the report that as Luther alighted from his carriage a man had taken him into his arms, and having touched his coat three times had gone away glorying as if he had touched a relic of the greatest saint in the world. On the other hand, Luther looked round about him, with his demoniac eyes, and said, "God will be with me."

The audience to which Luther was summoned was[Pg 146] fixed for four P.M., and the fact was announced to him by Ulrich von Pappenheim, the hereditary marshal of the Empire. When the time came, there was a great crowd assembled to see the heretic, and his conductors, Pappenheim and Deutschland, were obliged to take him to the hall of audience in the Bishop's Palace through gardens and by back ways. There he was introduced into the presence of the Estates. He was a peasant and a peasant's son, who, though he had written bold letters to Pope and Prelate, had never spoken face to face with the great ones of the land, not even with his own Elector, of whose good-will he was assured. Now he was bidden to answer, less for himself than for what he believed to be the truth of God, before the representatives of the double authority by which the world is swayed. The young Emperor looked at him with impassive eyes, speaking no word either of encouragement or rebuke. Aleandro represented the still greater, the intrinsically superior, power of the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ. At the Emperor's side stood his brother Ferdinand, the new founder of the House of Austria, while round them were grouped six out of the seven Electors, and a crowd of princes, prelates, nobles, delegates of free cities, who represented every phase of German and ecclesiastical feeling.

It was a turning-point of modern European history, at which the great issues which presented themselves to men's consciences were greater still than they knew.

The proceedings began with an injunction given by Pappenheim to Luther that he was not to speak unless spoken to. Then John von Eck, Official-General of the[Pg 147] Archbishop of Trier, champion of the Leipzig deputation, first in Latin, then in German, put, by Imperial command, two questions to Luther. First, did he acknowledge these books here present—showing a bundle of books which were circulated under his name—to be his own; and secondly, was he willing to withdraw and recall them and their contents, or did he rather adhere to and persist in them? At this point, Schurf, who acted as Luther's counsel, interposed with the demand, "Let the titles be read." The official, in reply, recited, one by one, the titles of the books comprised in the collected edition of Luther's works published at Basel, among which were the "Commentaries on the Psalms," the "Sermon of Good Works," the "Commentary on the Lord's Prayer," and besides these, other Christian books, not of a contentious kind.

Upon this, Luther made answer, first in German, then in Latin, that the books were his.

The form of procedure had been committed by the Emperor to Eck, Glapion, and Aleandro, and it may have been by their deliberate intention that Luther was now asked, whether he wished to defend all the books which he had acknowledged as his own, or to retract any part of them? He began his answer in Latin, by an apology for any mistakes that he might make in addressing personages so great, as a man versed, not in courts, but in monk-cells; then, repeating his acknowledgment of the books, proceeded to divide them into three classes. There were some in which he had treated the piety of faith and morals so simply and evangelically that his very adversaries[Pg 148] had been compelled to confess them useful, harmless, and worthy of Christian reading. How could he condemn these? There were others in which he attacked the Papacy and the doctrine of the Papists, who both by their teachings and their wretched examples have wasted Christendom with both spiritual and corporal evil. Nor could any one deny or dissimulate this, since the universal experience and complaint bear witness that, by the laws of the Pope and the doctrines of men, consciences are miserably ensnared and vexed, especially in this illustrious German nation. If he should revoke these books, what would it be but to add force to tyranny, and to open, not merely the windows, but the doors to so great impiety? In that case, Good God, what a cover of wickedness and tyranny would he not become! A third class of his books had been written against private persons, those, namely, who had labored to protect the Roman tyranny and to undermine the piety which he had taught. In these he confessed that he had been more bitter than became his religion and profession. Even these, however, he could not recall, because to do so would be to throw his shield over tyranny and impiety, and to augment their violence against the people of God. From this he proceeded to ask for evidence against himself and a fair trial, adducing the words of Christ before Annas: "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil." Then, with a touch of his native boldness, he told his audience that it needed to beware lest the reign of this most excellent youth, Prince Charles, should become unhappy and of evil omen. "I might," he continued, "illustrate the matter more copiously by Scriptural[Pg 149] examples—as Pharaoh, the King of Babylon, the Kings of Israel—who most completely ruined themselves at the moment when by wisest counsels they were zealous to strengthen and pacify their kingdoms. For it is He who taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and overturns the mountains before they know it. Therefore it is needful to fear God. I do not say these things because my teaching or admonition is necessary to persons of such eminence, but because I ought not to withhold from Germany my due obedience. And with these things I commend myself to Your Most Serene Majesty, and to Your Lordships, humbly asking that you will not suffer me to be brought into ill repute by the efforts of my adversaries. I have spoken."

This speech, spoken as it was with steady composure and a voice that could be clearly heard by the whole assembly, did not satisfy the official. His first demand was that, like the question to which it was in answer, it should be repeated in German. Next, Eck proceeded to point out that Luther's errors, which were the errors of former heretics, Wyclif, Huss and the like, had been sufficiently condemned by the Church, and particularly by the Council of Konstanz. If Luther were willing to recant them, the Emperor would engage that his other works, in which they were not contained, should be tenderly handled: if not, let him recollect the fate of other books condemned by the Church. Then, with the customary exhortation to all theological innovators, not to set their own opinions against those of apostles, saints and martyrs, the official said that what he wanted was a simple and straightforward answer: was Luther willing to recant[Pg 150] or not? To which Luther replied: "Since Your Most Serene Majesty and Your Lordships ask for a simple answer, I will give it, after this fashion: Unless I am convinced by witness of Scripture or plain reason (for I do not believe in the Pope or in Councils alone, since it is agreed that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am overcome by the Scriptures which I have adduced, and my conscience is caught in the Word of God. I neither can nor will recant anything, for it is neither safe nor right to act against one's conscience." Then having given this answer in both languages, he added in German, "God help me! Amen."

The semblance of trial, which alone was allowed to Luther, was now over; it only remained to pass sentence. Early on the morning of the Nineteenth of April the Emperor summoned the Diet once more to take counsel upon the matter. The Estates asked for time to deliberate; on which the Emperor, replying that he would first give them his own opinion, produced a document written in his own hand. Beginning with the statement of his descent from Emperors, Kings of Spain, Archdukes of Austria, and Dukes of Burgundy, all of whom had lived and died faithful sons of the Church and defenders of the Catholic faith, it announced the identity of his policy with theirs. Whatever his predecessors had decreed in matters ecclesiastical, whatever had been decided by the Council of Konstanz and other Councils, he would uphold. Luther had set himself against the whole of Christendom, alleging it to be, both now and for a thousand years past, in error, and only himself in possession of the[Pg 151] truth. The Estates had heard the obstinate answer which he had made the day before; let him be no further heard, and let him be taken back whence he came, the terms of his safe-conduct being carefully observed; but let him be forbidden to preach, nor suffer to corrupt the people with his vile doctrine. "And as we have before said, it is our will that he should be proceeded against as a true and evident heretic."

[Pg 152]The difference between heresy and treason, at one time, was very slight. One was disloyalty to the Church, the other disloyalty to the State.

Luther's peril was very great. The coils had been deliberately laid for him, and he had as deliberately placed his neck in the noose. Surely his accusers had been very patient—every opportunity had been given to him to recant.

Aleandro, the Papal Nuncio, argued that, in the face of such stubborn contumacy and insult to both Pope and Emperor, the Emperor would be justified in canceling his safe-conduct and arresting Luther then and there. His offense in refusing to retract was committed at Worms and his trial should be there—and there he should be executed.

The Elector Frederick was a stronger man far in personality than was the Emperor Charles. "The promise of safe-conduct must be kept," said Frederick, and there he rested, refusing to argue the merits of the case by a word, one way or the other.

Frederick held the life of Luther in his hand—a waver, a tremor—and the fagots would soon crackle: for the man who pleads guilty and refuses pardon there is short shrift.

Luther started back for Saxony. All went well until he reached the Black Forest within the bounds of the domain of Frederick; when behold, the carriages and[Pg 153] little group of horsemen were surrounded by an armed force of silent and determined men. Luther made a stout defense and was handled not over-gently. He was taken from his closed carriage and placed upon a horse—his friends and guard were ordered to be gone.

The darkness of the forest swallowed Luther and his captors.

News soon reached Wittenberg, and the students mourned him as dead.

His enemies gloried in his disappearance, and everywhere told that he had been struck by the vengeance of God.

Luther was lodged in the Castle of Wartburg, and all communication with the outside world cut off.

The whole scheme was a diplomatic move on the part of the Elector. He expected a demand would be made for the arrest of the heretic. To anticipate this demand he arrested the man himself; and thus placed the matter in position to legally resist should the prisoner be demanded.

The Elector was the Governor, and the Estate was what would be to us a State—the terms "state" and "estate" being practically the same word. It was the old question of State Rights, the same question that Hayne and Webster debated in Eighteen Hundred Thirty, and Grover Cleveland and John P. Altgeld fought over in Eighteen Hundred Ninety-four. The Elector Frederick prepared for a legal battle, and would[Pg 154] defy the "Federal Arm" by force if worse came to worst.

Luther remained a prisoner for seven months, and so closely guarded was he that he only knew by inference that his keepers were his friends. The Elector was discreet: he held no personal communication with Luther.

In December, Fifteen Hundred Twenty-one, the prisoner was allowed to go to Wittenberg on a three-days' parole. When he appeared at the University he came as one from the dead. The event was too serious for student jollification; many were struck dumb with astonishment and glad tears of joy were upon every cheek—and by common consent all classes were abandoned, and a solemn service of thanksgiving held in the church, upon the door of which, four years before, this little college professor had tacked his Theses.

All understood now that Luther was a prisoner—he must go back to his prison. He admonished his hearers to be patient, but to be firm; cleave to what they believed to be right, even though it led to the scaffold. He administered the sacrament, and through that congregation, and throughout Saxony, and throughout all Germany ran the vow, silent, solemn and serious, that Martin Luther's defiance of Papal authority was right. The Church was made for man and not man for the Church—and come what may, this man Luther must be protected even though the gutters ran with blood.

When would his trial occur? Nobody knew—but there[Pg 155] would be no haste.

Luther went back to prison, but not to remain there. His little lease of liberty had been given just to see which way the wind lay. He was a prisoner still—a prisoner on parole—and if he was taken out of Saxony it could only be by illegal means.

The action of the Elector was as wise and as successful a bit of legal procedure as ever mortal lawyer worked: that it was all done without the advice, consent or connivance of the prisoner makes it doubly admirable.

Luther set himself to work as never before, writing and preaching. He kept close to Wittenberg and from there sent forth his thunders of revolt. Outside of Saxony, at regular intervals, edicts were read from pulpits ordering any and all copies of Luther's writings to be brought forward that they might be burned. This advertised the work, and made it prized—it was read throughout all Christendom.

That gentle and ascetic Henry the Eighth of England issued a book denouncing Luther and telling what he would do with him if he came to England. Luther replied, a trifle too much in kind. Henry put in a pious rejoinder to the effect that the Devil would not have Luther in hell. In their opinion of Luther the Pope and King Henry were of one mind.

So lived Martin Luther, execrated and beloved. At first he sought to serve the Church, and later he worked to destroy it. After three hundred years, the Catholic Church still lives, with more communicants[Pg 156] than it had in the days of Luther. The fact that it still exists proves its usefulness. It will still live, and it will change as men change. The Church and the Pope are not the detestable things that Martin Luther pictured them; and Protestantism is not the sweet and lovely object that he would have us believe. All formal and organized religions will be what they are, as long as man is what he is—labels count for little.

In Fifteen Hundred Twenty-five Martin Luther married "Catharine the Nun," a most excellent woman, and one whom rumor says had long encouraged and upheld him in his works. Children came to bless them, and the picture of the great heretic sitting at his wooden table with little Johnny Luther on his knee, his loving wife by his side, and kind neighbors entering for a friendly chat, shows the great reformer at his best.

He was the son of a peasant, all his ancestors were peasants, as he so often told, and he lived like a peasant to the last. For himself he wanted little. He sided with the people, the toilers, with those who struggled in the bonds of slavery and fear—for them he was an Eye, an Ear, a trumpet Voice.

There never lived a braver man—there never lived one more earnest and sincere. He fought freedom's fight with all the weapons God had given him; and for the liberty we now enjoy, in great degree, we are debtors to Martin Luther.


I was not, like His Grace of Bedford, swaddled and rocked and dandled into a legislator; "nitor in adversum" is the motto for a man like me. I possessed not one of the qualities, nor cultivated one of the arts, that recommend men to the favor and protection of the great. I was not made for a minion or a tool. As little did I follow the trade of winning the hearts, by imposing on the understandings of the people.

At every step of my progress in life, for in every step I was traversed and opposed, and at every turnpike I met, I was obliged to show my passport, and again and again to prove my sole title to the honor of being useful to my country, by a proof that I was not wholly unacquainted with its laws and the whole system of its interests both abroad and at home; otherwise no rank, no toleration even, for me.

Edmund Burke
[Pg 158]


[Pg 159]

In the "American Encyclopedia," a work I cheerfully recommend, will be found a statement to the effect that Edmund Burke was one of the fifteen children of his parents. Aside from the natural curiosity to know what became of the fourteen, the matter is of small moment, and that its truth or falsity should divide men is most absurd.

Of this, however, we know: the parents of Burke were plain people, rescued from oblivion only through the excellence of this one son. The father was a lawyer, and fees being scarce, he became chief clerk for another barrister, and so lived his life and did his work.

When Edmund Burke was born at Dublin in the year Seventeen Hundred Twenty-nine, that famous city was at its flood-tide of prosperity. It was a metropolis of commerce, art, wit, oratory and literary culture. The one name that looms large to us out of that time is that of Dean Swift, but then there were dozens just as great as he—so-said.

Edmund must have been a bright, fine, attractive boy, for we hear that certain friends of his parents combined with his father and they bent themselves to the task of sending the lad to Trinity College. Before this, however, he had spent some time at a private school kept by one[Pg 160] Abraham Shackleton, an Englishman and a member of the Society of Friends. Shackleton was a rare, sweet soul and a most excellent teacher, endowed with a grave, tranquil nature, constant and austere. Between his son Richard and young Mr. Burke there sprang up a close and affectionate friendship which neither time nor circumstance was able to dim.

Now, the elder Burke was a lawyer, but not a great lawyer.

What more natural, therefore, than that the boy Edmund should follow in his father's footsteps and reap the fame and high honors which an unkind Fate had withheld from his worthy parent?

There was another boy destined for fame at Trinity College while Burke was there, but they did not get acquainted then. Some years later they met in London, though, and talked it over.

In countenance these two young men had a certain marked resemblance. Reynolds painted pictures of both Burke and Goldsmith, and when I looked at these portraits this morning, side by side, I said, "Sir Joshua hadn't quite got the Burke out of his brush before he painted the Goldsmith." Burke is Goldsmith grown big.

Each had a weak chin, which was redeemed by the fine, full forehead and brilliant eye.

In face and features, taken as a whole, Burke had a countenance of surpassing beauty. Note the full sensuous lips, the clear, steady, lustrous, beaming eye, the splendid head! There is nothing small, selfish,[Pg 161] mean or trifling about the man—he is open, frank, sympathetic, gentle, generous and wise.

He is a manly man.

No wonder that even the staid and chilly Hannah More loved him; and little Miss Burney worshiped at his shrine even in spite of "his friendship for those detested rebels, the Americans; and the other grievous sin of persecuting that good man, Warren Hastings."

Goldsmith was small in stature, apologetic in manner, hesitating, and at times there was a lisp in speech, which might have been an artistic and carefully acquired adjunct of wit, but it was not. Burke was commanding in stature, dignified, suave, and in speech direct, copious and elegant. Goldsmith overworked the minor key, but Burke merely suggests that it had not been omitted.

At college young Burke did not prove a brilliant student—his intellect and aptitude it seems were a modest mouse-color that escaped attention.

His reading was desultory and pretty general, with spasms of passion for this study or that, this author or the other. And he has remarked, most regretfully, that these passions were all short-lived, none lasting more than six weeks.

It is a splendid sign to find a youth with a passion for any branch of work, or study, or for any author. No matter how brief the love, it adds a ring of growth to character; and if you have loved a book once it is easy to go back to it. In all these varying moods of likes and[Pg 162] dislikes, Burke was gathering up material for use in after-years.

But his teachers did not regard it so, neither did his father.

He got through college after a five-years' course, aged twenty, by the grace of his tutors. He knew everything except what was in the curriculum.

Tall, handsome, with hair black as the raven's wing, and eyes that looked away off into space, dreamy and unconcerned, was Edmund Burke at twenty.

His father was a business lawyer, with a sharp nose for technicalities, quirks and quillets, but the son studied law as a literary curiosity. Occasionally there were quick chidings, answered with irony needlessly calm: then the good wife and mother would intervene with her tears, and the result was that Burke the elder would withdraw to the open air to cool his coppers. Be it known that no man can stand out against his wife and son when they in love combine.

Finally it was proposed that Edmund go to London and take a course of Law at the Middle Temple. The plan was accepted with ill-concealed alacrity. Father and son parted with relief, but the good-by between mother and son tore the hearts of both—they were parting forever, and Something told them so.

It evidently was the intention of Burke the elder, who was a clear-headed, practical person, competent in all petty plans, that if the son settled down to law[Pg 163] and got his "call," then he would be summoned back to Dublin and put in a way to achieve distinction. But if the young man still pursued his desultory reading and scribbling on irrelevant themes, why then the remittances were to be withdrawn and Edmund Burke, being twenty-one years of age, could sink or swim. Burke pater would wash his hands in innocency, having fully complied with all legal requirements, and God knows that is all any man can do—there!

[Pg 164]In London town since time began, no embryo Coke ever rapped at the bar for admittance—lawyers are "summoned" just as clergymen are "called," while other men find a job. In England this pretty little illusion of receiving a "call" to practise law still obtains.

Burke never received the call, for the reason that he failed to fit himself for it. He read everything but law-books. He might have assisted a young man by the name of Blackstone in compiling his "Commentaries," as their lodgings were not far apart, but he did not. They met occasionally, and when they did they always discussed Spenser or Milton, and waxed warm over Shakespeare.

Burke gave Old Father Antic the Law as lavish a letter of recommendation as the Legal Profession ever received, and he gave it for the very natural reason that he had no use for the Law himself.

The remittances from Dublin were always small, but they grew smaller, less frequent and finally ceased. It was sink or swim—and the young man simply paddled to keep afloat upon the tide of the times.

He dawdled at Dodsley's, visited with the callers and browsed among the books. There was only one thing the young man liked better to do than read, and that was to talk. Once he had read a volume nearly through, when Dodsley up and sold it to a customer—"a rather ungentlemanly trick to play on an honest man," says[Pg 165] Burke.

It was at Dodsley's that he first met his countryman Goldsmith, also Garrick, Boswell and Johnson. It was then that Johnson received that lasting impression of Burke, of whom he said, "Sir, if you met Edmund Burke under a gateway, where you had taken shelter for five minutes to escape a shower, you would be so impressed by his conversation that you would say, 'This is a most extraordinary man.'"

If one knows how, or has to, he can live in a large city at a small expense. For nine years Burke's London life is a tale of a garret, with the details almost lost in the fog. Of this time, in after-years, he seldom spoke, not because he was ashamed of all the straits and shifts he had to endure, but because he was endowed with that fine dignity of mind which does not dwell on hardships gone and troubles past, but rather fixes itself on blessings now at hand and other blessings yet to come. Then, better still, there came a time when work and important business filled every moment of the fast-flying hours. And so he himself once said, "The sure cure for all private griefs is a hearty interest in public affairs."

The best searchlight through the mist of those early days comes to us through Burke's letters to his friend Richard, the son of his old Quaker teacher. Shackleton had the insight to perceive his friend was no common man, and so preserved every scrap of Burke's writing that came his way.

[Pg 166]About that time there seems to have been a sort of meteoric shower of chipmunk magazines, following in the luminous pathway of the "Spectator" and the "Tatler." Burke was passing through his poetic period, and supplied various stanzas of alleged poetry to these magazines for a modest consideration. For one poem he received eighteen pence, as tearfully told by Shackleton, but we have Hawkins for it that this was a trifle more than the poem was worth.

Of this poetry we know little, happily, but glimpses of it are seen in the Shackleton letters; for instance, when he asks his friend's criticism of such lines as these:

"The nymphs that haunt the dusky wood,
Which hangs recumbent o'er the crystal flood."

He speaks of his delight in ambient sunsets, when gilded oceans, ghostly ships, and the dull, dark city vanish for the night. Of course, such things never happen except in books, but the practise of writing about them is a fine drill, in that it enables the writer to get a grasp on his vocabulary. Poetry is for the poet.

And if Burke wrote poetry in bed, having to remain there in the daytime, while his landlady was doing up his single ruffled shirt for an evening party, whose business was it?

When he was invited out to dinner he did the meal such justice that he needed nothing the following day; and the welcome discovery was also made that fasting[Pg 167] produced an exaltation of the "spiritual essence that was extremely favorable to writing good poetry."

Burke had wit, and what Johnson called a "mighty affluence of conversation"; so his presence was welcome at the Turk's Head. Burke and Johnson were so thoroughly well matched as talkers that they respected each other's prowess and never with each other clinched in wordy warfare. Johnson was an arch Tory, Burke the leader of the Whigs; but Ursa was wise enough to say, "I'll talk with him on any subject but politics." This led Goldsmith to remark, "Doctor Johnson browbeats us little men, but makes quick peace with those he can not down." Then there were debating societies, from one of which he resigned because the limit of a speech was seven minutes; but finally the time was extended to fifteen minutes in order to get the Irish orator back.

During these nine years, once referred to by Burke as the "Dark Ages," he had four occupations: book-browsing at Dodsley's, debating in the clubs, attending the theater on tickets probably supplied by Garrick, who had taken a great fancy to him, and his writing.

No writing man could wish a better environment than this: the friction of mind with strong men, books and the drama stirred his emotions to the printing-point.

Burke's personality made a swirl in the social sea that brought the best straight to him.

One of the writers that Burke most admired was[Pg 168] Bolingbroke, that man of masterly mind and mighty tread. His paragraphs move like a phalanx, and in every sentence there is an argument. No man in England influenced his time more than Bolingbroke. He was the inspirer of writers. Burke devoured Bolingbroke, and when he took up his pen, wrote with the same magnificent, stately minuet step. Finally he was full of the essence of Bolingbroke to the point of saturation, and then he began to criticize him. Had Bolingbroke been alive Burke would have quarreled with him—they were so much alike. As it was, Burke contented himself by writing a book after the style of Bolingbroke, carrying the great man's arguments one step further with intent to show their fallacy. The paraphrase is always a complement, and is never well done except by a man who loves the original and is a bit jealous of him.

If Burke began his "Vindication of Natural Society," with intent to produce a burlesque, he missed his aim, and came very near convincing himself of the truth of his proposition. And in fact, the book was hailed by the rationalists as a vindication of Rousseau's philosophy.

Burke was a conservative rationalist, which is something like an altruistic pessimist. In the society of rationalists Burke was a conservative, and when with the conservatives he was a rationalist. That he was absolutely honest and sincere there is not a particle of doubt,[Pg 169] and we will have to leave it to the psychologists to tell us why men hate the thing they love.

"The Vindication of Natural Society" is a great book, and the fact that in the second edition Burke had to explain that it was an ironical paraphrase does not convince us it was. The things prophesied have come about and the morning stars still sing together. Wise men are more and more learning by inclining their hearts toward Nature. Not only is this true in pedagogics, but in law, medicine and theology as well. Dogma has less place now in religion than ever before; many deeply religious men eschew the creed entirely; and in all pulpits may be heard that the sublime truths of simple honesty and kindness are quite enough basis for a useful career. That is good which serves. Religions are many and diverse, but reason and goodness are one.

Burke's attempt to prove that without "revealed religion" mankind would sit in eternal darkness makes us think of the fable of the man who planted potatoes, hoed them, and finally harvested the crop. Every day while this man toiled, there was another man who sat on the fence, chewed a straw and looked on. And the author of the story says that if it were not for the Bible, no one would have ever known to whom the potatoes belonged.

Burke wrote and talked as all good men do, just to clear the matter up in his own mind. Our wisest moves are accidents. Burke's first book was of a sort so striking[Pg 170] that both sides claimed it. Men stopped other men on the street and asked if they had read the "Vindication"; at the coffeehouses they wrangled and jangled over it; and all the time Dodsley smiled and rubbed his hands in glee.

Burke soon blossomed out in clean ruffled shirt every morning, and shortly moved to a suite of rooms, where before he had received his mail and his friends at a coffeehouse.

Then came William Burke, a distant cousin, and together they tramped off through rural England, loitering along flowering hedgerows, and stopping at quaint inns, where the villagers made guesses as to whether the two were gentlemen out for a lark, smugglers or Jesuits in disguise.

One of these trips took our friends to Bath, and there we hear they were lodged at the house of a Doctor Nugent, an excellent and scholarly man. William Burke went back to London and left Edmund at Bath deep in the pursuit of the Sublime. Doctor Nugent had a daughter, aged twenty, beautiful, gentle and gracious. The reader can guess the rest.

That Burke's wife was a most amiable and excellent woman there is no doubt. She loved her lord, believed in him and had no other gods before him. But that she influenced his career directly or through antithesis, there is no trace. Her health was too frail to follow him—his stride was terrific—so she remained at home,[Pg 171] and after every success he came back and told her of it, and rested his great, shaggy head in her lap.

Only one child was born to them, and this boy closely resembled his mother in intellect and physique. This son passed out early in life, and so with Edmund died the name.

[Pg 172]The next book Burke launched was the one we know best, "On the Sublime." The original bore the terrifying title, "A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas Concerning the Sublime and Beautiful." This book consists of one hundred seventeen chapters, each chapter dealing with some special phase of the subject.

It is the most searching and complete analysis of an abstract theme of which I know. It sums the subject up like an essay by Herbert Spencer, and disposes of the case once and forever. It is so learned that only a sophomore could have written it, and we quite forgive the author when we are told that it was composed when he was nineteen.

The book proved Burke's power to follow an idea to its lair, and its launching also launched the author upon the full tide of polite society. Goldsmith said, "We will lose him now," but Burke still stuck by his coffeehouse companions and used them as a pontoon to bridge the gulf 'twixt Bohemia and Piccadilly.

In the meantime he had written a book for Dodsley on "English Settlements in North America," and this did Burke more good than any one else, as it caused him to focus his inquiring mind on the New World. After this man began to write on a subject, his intellect became luminous on the theme, and it was his forevermore.

At routs and fetes and four-o'-clocks, Burke was sought[Pg 173] as an authority on America. He had never been there—he had but promised himself that he would go—for a sick wife held him back. In the meantime he had seen every man of worth who had been to America, and had sucked the orange dry. Macaulay gives the idea when he describes Burke's speech at the Warren Hastings trial. Burke had never been to India; Macaulay had, but that is nothing.

Says Macaulay:

When Burke spoke, the burning sun, the strange vegetation of the palm and cocoa-tree, the rice-field, the tank, the huge trees, older than the Mogul Empire, under which the village crowds assemble, the thatched roof of the peasant's hut, the rich tracery of the mosque where the Imam prays with his face to Mecca, the drums, the banners and gaudy idols, the devotee swinging in the air, the graceful maiden with the pitcher on her head, descending the steps to the riverside, the black faces, the long beards, the yellow streaks of sect, the turbans and the flowing robes, the spears and silver maces, the elephants with their canopies of state, the gorgeous palanquin of the prince, and the close litter of the noble lady—all these things were to him as familiar as the subjects which lay on the road between Beaconsfield and Saint James Street. All India was present to the eye of his mind, from the halls where suitors laid gold and perfumes at the feet of the sovereign, to the wild moor where the gipsy camp was pitched; from the bazar, humming like a beehive with the crowd of buyers and sellers, to the jungle where the lonely courier shakes his bunch of iron rings to scare away the hyenas. He had just as lively an idea[Pg 174] of the insurrection at Benares as of Lord George Gordon's riots, and of the execution of Numcomar as of Doctor Dodd. Oppression in Bengal was to him the same thing as oppression in the streets of London.

The wide encompassing quality of Burke's mind made him a man among men. Just how much he lent his power in those early days to assist those in high places who needed him, we do not know. Such services were sacred to him—done in friendship and in confidence, and held as steadfast as a good lawyer holds the secrets of his client.

No doubt, though, that the one speech which gave glory and a nickname to Single-Speech Hamilton was written by Burke. It was wise, witty and profound—and never again did Hamilton do a thing that rose above the dull and deadly mediocre.

It was a rival of Burke's who said, "He is the only man since Cicero who is a great orator, and who can write as well as he can talk."

That Burke wrote the lectures of Sir Joshua Reynolds is now pretty generally believed; in fact, that he received the goodly sum of four thousand pounds for writing these lectures has been proved to the satisfaction of a jury. Burke never said he wrote the Reynolds lectures, and Sir Joshua left it to his valet to deny it. But read the lectures now and you will see the stately step of Bolingbroke, and the insight, wit and gravity of the man who said: "Mr. Speaker, I[Pg 175] rise to a question of privilege. If it is the pleasure of the House that all the heaviest folios known to us should be here read aloud, I am in honor bound to graciously submit, but only this I ask, that proceedings shall be suspended long enough for me to send home for my nightcap."

[Pg 176]Presently Burke graduated from doing hack-work for William Gerard Hamilton to the position of his private secretary—Hamilton had been appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and so highly did he prize Burke's services that he had the Government vote him a pension of three hundred pounds a year. This was the first settled income Burke had ever received, and he was then well past thirty years of age. But though he was in sore straits financially, when he perceived that the intent of the income was to bind him into the exclusive service of his patron, he resigned his office and refused the pension.

Without knowing how wisely he was acting, Burke, by declining the pension and affronting Lord Hamilton, had done the very thing that it was most expedient to do.

When Hamilton could not buy his man, he foolishly sought to crush him, and this brought Burke for the first time into the white light of publicity.

I suppose it is fully understood that the nobility of England are not necessarily either cultured or well-read. Literature to most of the titled gentry is a blank, my lord—it is so now and always has been so. Burke's brilliant books were not sufficient to make him famous except among the Elect Few; but the episode with Lord Hamilton set the gossips by the ears, and all who had never read Burke's books now pretended they had.

[Pg 177]Burke was a national character—such a man merely needs to be known to be wanted—strong men are always needed. The House of Commons opened its doors to him—several boroughs competing with each other for the favor of being represented by him.

A political break-up with opportunity came along, and we find the Marquis of Rockingham made Premier, and Edmund Burke his secretary. It was Fitzherbert who recommended Burke to Rockingham, and Fitzherbert is immortal for this and for the fact that Johnson used him to point a moral. Said Doctor Johnson: "A man is popular more through negative qualities than positive ones. Fitzherbert is the most acceptable man in London because he never overpowers any one by the superiority of his talents, makes no man think worse of himself by being his rival, seems always ready to listen, does not oblige you to hear much from him, and never opposes what you say."

With Rockingham and Burke it was a case of the tail wagging the dog, but Burke and Rockingham understood each other, and always remained firm friends.

I believe it was John J. Ingalls who said America had never elected but one first-class man for President, and he was chosen only because he was unknown.

Rockingham could neither make a speech nor write a readable article; but he was kindly disposed, honest and intelligent and had a gracious and winning presence. He lives in history today chiefly because Edmund[Pg 178] Burke was associated with him.

Burke was too big a man for Premier—such men have to be kept in subjection—the popular will is wise. Men like Burke make enemies—common folks can not follow them in their flight, and in their presence we feel "like a farmer in the presence of a sleight-of-hand man."

To have life, and life in abundance, is the prayer of every strong and valiant soul. But men are forever running away from life—getting into "positions," monasteries, communities, and now and again cutting the cable of existence by suicide. The man who commits suicide usually leaves a letter giving a reason—almost any reason is sufficient—he was looking for a reason and when he thought he had found it, he seized upon it.

Life to Edmund Burke was the gracious gift of the gods, and he was grateful for it. He ripened slowly. Arrested development never caught him—all the days of his life his mind was expanding and reaching out, touching every phase of human existence. Nothing was foreign to him; nothing that related to human existence was small or insignificant. When the home-thrust was made that Ireland had not suffered more through the absenteeism of her landlords than through the absenteeism of her men of genius, Burke made the reply that Ireland needed friends in the House of Commons more than at home.

Burke loved Ireland to the last, and his fine loyalty[Pg 179] for her people doubtless cost him a seat in the Cabinet. In moments of passion his tongue took on a touch of the old sod, which gave Fox an opportunity of introducing a swell bull, "Burke's brogue is worth going miles to see." And once when Burke was speaking of America he referred to the wondrous forests "where the hand of man had never trod," Fox arose to a point of order. And this was a good deal easier on the part of Fox than to try to meet his man in serious debate.

Burke's was not the primrose path of dalliance. He fought his way inch by inch. Often it was a dozen to one against him. In one speech he said: "The minister comes down in state attended by beasts clean and unclean. He opens his budget and edifies us with a speech—one-half the house goes away. A second gentleman gets up and another half goes, and a third gentleman launches a speech that rids the house of another half."

A loud laugh here came in, and Burke stopped and said he was most happy if a small dehorned Irish bull of his could put the House in such good humor, and went on with his speech. Soon, however, there were cries of "Shame!" from the Tories, who thought Burke was speaking disrespectfully of the King.

Burke paused and said: "Mr. Speaker, I have not spoken of the King except in high esteem—I prize my head too well for that. But I do not think it necessary that I should bow down to his manservant, nor his[Pg 180] maidservant, nor his ox nor his ass"—and he fixed his intrepid gaze upon the chief offender.

Nature's best use for genius is to make other men think; to stir things up so sedimentation does not take place; to break the ankylosis of self-complacency; and start the stream of public opinion running so it will purify itself.

Burke was an agitator—not a leader. He had the great gift of exaggeration, without which no man can be a great orator. He painted the picture large, and put the matter in a way that compelled attention. For thirty years he was a most prominent figure in English politics—no great measure could be passed without counting on him. His influence held dishonesty in check, and made oppression pause.

History is usually written from one of three points of view—political, literary or economic. Macaulay stands for the first, Taine the second, Buckle the third. Each writer considers his subject supreme. When we speak of the history of a country we usually refer to its statesmen.

Politicians live the lives of moths as compared with the lasting influence of commerce that feeds, houses and clothes, says Buckle.

Rulers govern, but it is literature that enlightens, says Taine.

Literature and commerce are made possible only through the wisdom of statesmen, says Macaulay.

[Pg 181]Edmund Burke's business was statecraft; his play was letters; but he lives for us through letters.

He had two sets of ardent friends: his political associates, and that other little group of literary cronies made up of Johnson, Goldsmith, Boswell, Reynolds and Garrick.

With these his soul was free—his sense of sublimity then found wings: the vocabulary of Johnson, the purling poetry of Goldsmith, the grace of Garrick's mimicry, the miracle of Reynolds' pencil and brush—these ministered to his hungry heart.

They were forms of expression.

All life is an expression of spirit.

Burke's life was dedicated to expression.

He expressed through speech, personal presence and written words. Who ever expressed in this way so well? And—stay!—who ever had so much that was worth while to express?


Time was when slaves were exported like cattle from the British[Pg 183] Coast and exposed for sale in the Roman market. These men and women who were thus sold were supposed to be guilty of witchcraft, debt, blasphemy or theft. Or else they were prisoners taken in war—they had forfeited their right to freedom, and we sold them. We said they were incapable of self-government and so must be looked after. Later we quit selling British slaves, but began to buy and trade in African humanity. We silenced conscience by saying, "It's all right—they are incapable of self-government." We were once as obscure, as debased, as ignorant, as barbaric, as the African is now. I trust that the time will come when we are willing to give to Africa the opportunity, the hope, the right to attain to the same blessings that we ourselves enjoy.

William Pitt, on "Abolition of Slavery in England"
[Pg 184]


[Pg 185]

The Law of Heredity has been described as that law of our nature which provides that a man shall resemble his grandmother—or not, as the case may be.

What traits are inherited and what acquired—who shall say? Married folks who resort to the happy expedient of procuring their children at orphan-asylums can testify to the many times they have been complimented on the striking resemblance of father to daughter, or son to mother.

Possibly that is all there is of it—we resemble those with whom we associate. Far be it from me to say the final word on this theme—I would not, if I could, deprive men of a problem they can never solve. When all questions are answered, it will be time to telephone the undertaker.

That men of genius do not reproduce themselves after the flesh is an axiom; but that William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, did, is brought forth as an exception, incident, accident or circumstance, just according to one's mood at the moment.

"Great men do have great sons!" we cry. "Just look at the Pitts, the Adamses, the Walpoles, the Beechers, the Booths, the Bellinis, the Disraelis!" and here we[Pg 186] begin to falter. And then the opposition takes it up and rattles off a list of great men whose sons were spendthrifts, gamblers, ne'er-do-wells and jackanapes.

When Pitt the Younger made his first speech in the House of Commons, he struck thirteen. The members of the House were amazed.

"He's a chip off the old block," they said.

"He's the block itself," said Burke.

Lord Rosebery, who had the felicity to own a Derby winner, once said of Pitt, "He was bred for speed, but not for endurance."

[Pg 187]Since the subject of heredity always seems to come up when the Pitts are mentioned, it may be proper for us to go back and trace pedigree a bit, to see if we have here the formula for producing a genius.

The grandfather of William Pitt the Elder was Thomas Pitt, a sea-captain, trader and gentleman adventurer. In fact, he was a bold buccaneer, but not too bold, for he gave large sums to church and charity, and showed his zeal for virtue by once hanging three smugglers in chains, high up on a gibbet overlooking the coast of Cornwall, and there the bodies were left until the birds of prey and the elements had bleached their bones.

Thomas Pitt was known as "Diamond Tom" through bringing from India and selling to the Regent Orleans the largest diamond, I believe, ever owned in England. For this diamond, Tom received one hundred thirty-five thousand pounds—a sum equal to one million dollars. That Diamond Tom received this money there is no doubt, but where and how he got the diamond nobody seems to know, and in his own time it was deemed indelicate to inquire.

Tom might have wasted that money right shortly—there are several ways of dissipating a fortune—but he wisely decided to found a house. That is to say, he bought a borough—the borough of Old Sarum, the locality that was to become famous as the "rotten borough" of the Reform Bill.

[Pg 188]He bought this borough and all the tenants outright from the Government, just as we bought the Filipinos at two dollars a head. All the people who lived in the borough had to pay tribute, taxes or rent to Tom, for Tom owned the tenures. They had to pay, hike or have their heads cut off. Most of them paid.

If the time were at our disposal, it might be worth while to let this story extend itself into a picture of how all the land in England once belonged to the Crown, and how this land was transferred at will to Thomas, Richard and Henry for cash or as reward for services rendered. It was much the same in America—the Government once owned all the land, and then this land was sold, given out to soldiers, or to homesteaders who would clear the land of trees; and later we reversed the proposition and gave the land to those who would plant trees.

There was this similarity, too, between English and American land-laws: the Indians on the land in America had to pay, move or be perforated. For them to pay rent or work out a road-tax was quite out of the question. Indians, like the Irish, will not pay rent, so we were compelled to evict them.

But there was this difference in America: the owner of the land could sell it; in England he could not. The law of entail has been much modified, but as a general proposition the landowner in England has the privilege of collecting the rent, and warning off poachers, but he[Pg 189] can not mortgage the land and eat it up. This keeps the big estates intact, and is a very good scheme. Under a similar law in the United States, Uncle Billy Bushnell or Ali Baba might live in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and own every foot of East Aurora, and all of us would then vote as Baron Bushnell or Sir Ali dictated, thus avoiding much personal animus at Town-Meetin' time.

But no tenure can be made with death—he can neither be bought, bribed, cajoled nor intimidated. Diamond Tom died and his eldest son Robert came into possession of the estate.

Now, Robert was commonplace and beautifully mediocre. It is one of Nature's little ironies at the expense of the Law of Entail that she will occasionally send out of the spirit-realm, into a place of worldly importance, a man who is a regular chibot, chitterling and chump. Robert Pitt, son of Diamond Tom, escaped all censure and unkind criticism by doing nothing, saying nothing and being nothing.

But he proved procreant and reared a goodly brood of sons and daughters—all much like himself, save one, the youngest son.

This son, by name William Pitt, very much resembled Diamond Tom, his illustrious grandfather—Nature bred back. William was strong in body, firm in will, active, alert, intelligent. Times had changed or he might have been a bold buccaneer, too. He was all his grandfather was, only sandpapered, buffed and polished[Pg 190] by civilization.

He was sent to Eton, and then to Trinity College, Oxford, where buccaneer instincts broke out and he left without a degree. Two careers were open to him, as to all aspiring sons of Noble Beef-eaters—he could enter the Church or the Army.

He chose the Army, and became in due course the first cornet of his company.

His elder brother Thomas was very naturally a member of the House of Commons for Old Sarum, and later sat for Oakhampton. Another of Nature's little ironies here outcrops: Thomas, who was named for his illustrious grandfather—he of the crystallized carbon—didn't resemble his grandfather nearly so much as did his younger brother William. So Thomas with surprising good sense named his brother for a seat in the House of Commons from Old Sarum.

William was but twenty-seven years of age when he began his official career, but he seemed one who had leaped into life full-armed. He absorbed knowledge on every hand. Demosthenes was his idol, and he, too, declaimed by the seashore with his mouth full of pebbles. His splendid command of language was acquired by the practise of translation and retranslation. Whether Greek or Latin ever helped any man to become a better thinker is a mooted question, but the practise of talking off in your own tongue a page of a foreign language is a mighty good way to lubricate your English.

William Pitt had all the graces of a[Pg 191] great orator—he was deliberate, self-possessed, positive. In form he was rather small, but he had a way of carrying himself that gave an impression of size. He was one of the world's big little men—the type of Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Harrison and John D. Long. In the House of Commons he lost no time in making his presence felt. He was assertive, theatrical, declamatory—still, he usually knew what he was talking about. His criticisms of the Government so exasperated Sir Robert Walpole that Walpole used to refer to him as "that terrible cornet of horse." Finally, Walpole had him dismissed from the Army. This, instead of silencing the young man, really made matters worse, and George the Second, who patronized the Opposition when he could not down it, made him groom of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. This was an office lined with adipose, with no work to speak of.

The feeling is that Pitt revealed his common clay by accepting the favor. He was large enough to get along without such things.

In most of the good old "School Speakers" was an extract from a speech supposed to have been delivered by Pitt on the occasion of his being taunted by Horace Walpole on account of his youth. Pitt replied in language something like this: "It is true that I am young, yet I'll get over that; but the man who is a fool will probably remain one all his days."

The speech was reported by a lout of a countryman,[Pg 192] Samuel Johnson by name, who had come up to London to make his fortune, and found his first work in reporting speeches in the House of Commons. Pitt did not write out his speeches for the press, weeks in advance, according to latter-day methods; the man who reported them had to have a style of his own—and certainly Johnson had. Pitt was much pleased with Johnson's reports of his speeches, but on one occasion mildly said, "Ah, Mr. Johnson—you know—I do not exactly remember using that expression!"

And Samuel Johnson said, "Sir, it is barely possible that you did not use the language as I have written it out; but you should." Just how much Johnson we get in Pitt's printed speeches, is still a topic for debate.

Pitt could think on his feet, while Samuel Johnson never made but one speech and broke down in that. But Johnson could write, and the best of Pitt's speeches are those reported by Ursa Major in a style superbly Johnsonese. The member from Old Sarum once sent Johnson two butts of Canary and a barrel of whitebait, as a token of appreciation for his skill in accurate reporting.

Pitt followed the usual course of successful reformers, and in due time lined up on the side of the conservatives, and gradually succumbed to a strictly aristocratic disease, gout. Whether genius is transmissible or not is a question, but all authorities agree as to gout.

Pitt's opposition to the Walpoles was so very firmly[Pg 193] rooted that it continued for life, and for this he was rewarded by the Duchess of Marlborough with a legacy of ten thousand pounds. Her Grace was the mother of the lady who had the felicity to have her picture painted by Gainsborough, which picture was brought to America and secreted here for many years and finally was purchased for sixty-five thousand dollars by Pierpont Morgan, through the kind offices of my friend Patricius Sheedy, Philistine-at-Large.

The Duchess in her will said she gave the money to Pitt as "an acknowledgment of the noble defense he had made for the support of the laws of England." But the belief is that it was her hatred for Walpole that prompted her admiration for Pitt. And her detestation of Walpole was not so much political as sentimental—a woman's love-affairs being much more to her than patriotism—but the Duchess being a woman deceived herself as to reasons. Our acts are right, but our reasons seldom are. I leave this Marlborough matter with those who are interested in the psychology of the heart—merely calling attention to the fact that although the Duchess was ninety when she passed out, the warm experiences of her early womanhood were very vivid in her memory. If you wish to know when love dies out of a woman's brain, you will have to ask some one who is older than was the Duchess of Marlborough.

When George the Second died, and his grandson George the Third came into power, Pitt resigned his office in the[Pg 194] Cabinet and abandoned politics.

At last he found time to get married. He was then forty-six years of age.

Men retire from active life, but seldom remain upon the shelf—either life or death takes them down. In five years' time we find the King offering Pitt anything in sight, and Mr. Pitt, the Great Commoner, became Viscount Pitt, Earl of Chatham.

By this move Pitt lost in popularity more than he had gained in dignity—there was a complete revulsion of feeling toward him by the people, and he never again attained the influence and power he had once known.

Burke once referred to a certain proposed bill as "insignificant, irrelevant, pompous, creeping, explanatory and ambiguous—done in the true Chathamic style."

But the disdain of Burke was really complimentary—it took a worthy foe to draw his fire. Chatham's faults were mostly on the surface, and were more a matter of manner than of head or heart. America has cause to treasure the memory of Chatham. He opposed the Stamp Act with all the vigor of his tremendous intellect, and in the last speech of his life he prophesied that the Americans would never submit to taxation without representation, and that all the power of England was not great enough to subdue men who were fighting for their country. Yet his appeal to George the Third and his minions was like bombarding a fog. But all he said proved true.

[Pg 195]On the occasion of this last great speech Chatham was attended by his favorite son William, then nineteen years old. Proud as was this father of his son, he did not guess that in four short years this boy would, through his brilliancy, cast his own splendid efforts into the shadow; and that Burke, the querulous, would give the son a measure of approbation he never vouchsafed to the father.

William Pitt, the Younger, is known as the "Great Pitt," to distinguish him from his father, who in his day was known as the greatest man in England.

[Pg 196]William Pitt, the second son of the Earl of Chatham, was born of poor but honest parents, in the year Seventeen Hundred Fifty-nine. That was the year that gave us Robert Burns—between whom and Pitt, in some respects, averages were held good. The same year was born William Wilberforce, philanthropist and emancipator, father of Canon Wilberforce.

At this time the fortunes of William Pitt the Elder were at full flood. England was in a fever of exultation—drunk with success. Just where the thought got abroad that the average Englishman is moderate in success and in defeat not cast down, I do not know. But this I have seen: all London mad, howling, exultant, savage drunk, because of the report that the Redcoats had subjugated this colony or that. To subdue, crush, slay and defeat, has caused shrieking shouts of joy in London since London began—unless the slain were Englishmen.

This is patriotism, concerning which Samuel Johnson, reporter in the House of Commons, once made a remark slightly touched with acerbity.

In the years Seventeen Hundred Fifty-eight and Seventeen Hundred Fifty-nine not a month passed but bonfires burned bright from Cornwall to Scotland in honor of English victories on land and sea. In Westphalia, British Infantry defeated the armies of Louis the Fifteenth; Boscawen had sunk a French fleet; Hawke put to flight another; Amherst took Ticonderoga; Clive[Pg 197] destroyed a Dutch armament; Wolfe achieved victory and a glorious death at Quebec. English arms had marched triumphant through India and secured for the tight little island an empire, while another had been gained on the shores of Ontario.

For all this the Great Commoner received most of the glory; and that this tremendous popularity was too great to last is but a truism.

But in such a year it was that William Pitt was born. His father was fifty years old, his mother about thirty. This mother was a woman of rare grace, intellect and beauty, the only sister of two remarkable brothers—George Grenville, the obstinate adviser of George the Third, the man who did the most to make America free—unintentionally—and the other brother was Richard Earl Temple, almost equally potent for right or wrong.

That the child of a sensitive mother, born amid such a crash of excitement, should be feeble was to be expected. No one at first expected the baby to survive.

But tenderness and care brought him through, and he grew into a tall, spindling boy whose intellect far outmatched his body. He was too weak to be sent to take his place at a common school, and so his father and mother taught him.

Between the father and the son there grew up a fine bond of affection. Whenever the father made a public address the boy was there to admire and applaud.

[Pg 198]The father's declining fortunes drove him back to his family for repose, and all of his own ambitions became centered in his son. With a younger man this might not have been the case, but the baby boy of an old man means much more to him than a brood coming early.

Daily, this boy of twelve or fourteen would go to his father's study to recite. Oratory was his aim, and the intent was that he should become the greatest parliamentarian of his time.

This little mutual-admiration society, composed of father and son, speaks volumes for both. Boys reaching out toward manhood, when they are neither men nor boys, often have little respect for their fathers—they consider the pater to be both old-fashioned and tyrannical. And the father, expecting too much of the son, often fails in faith and patience. But there was no such failure here. Chatham personally superintended the matter of offhand translation, and this practise was kept up daily from the time the boy was eight years old until he was nineteen, when his father died.

Then there was the tutor Pretyman who must not be left out. He was a combination valet and teacher, and the most pedantic and idolatrous person that ever moused through dusty tomes. With a trifle more adipose and a little less intellect, he would have made a most successful and awful butler. He seemed a type of the English waiter who by some chance had acquired[Pg 199] a college education, and never said a wrong thing, nor did a right one, during his whole life.

Pretyman wrote a life of Pitt, and according to Macaulay it enjoys the distinction of being the worst biography ever written. Lord Rosebery, however, declares the book is not so bad as it might be. I believe there are two other biographies equally stupid: Weems' "Life of Washington," and the book on Gainsborough, by Thicknesse. Weems' book was written to elevate his man into a demigod; Thicknesse was intent on lowering his subject and exalting himself; while Pretyman extols himself and his subject equally, revealing how William Pitt could never have been William Pitt were it not for his tutor. Pretyman emphasizes trifles, slights important matters, and waxes learned concerning the irrelevant.

A legacy coming to Pretyman, he changed his name to Tomline, as women change their names when they marry or enter a convent.

Religion to Pitt was quite a perfunctory affair, necessary, of course; but a bishop in England was one who could do little good and, fortunately, not much harm. With an irony too subtle to be seen by but very few, Pitt when twenty-seven years of age made his old tutor Bishop of Winchester. Tomline proved an excellent and praiseworthy bishop; and his obsequious loyalty to Pitt led to the promise that if the Primacy should become vacant, Tomline was to be made Archbishop of Canterbury.

[Pg 200]This promise was told by the unthinking Tomline, and reached the ears of George the Third, a man who at times was very much alert.

There came a day when the Primacy was vacant, and to head off the nomination by Pitt, the King one morning at eight o'clock walked over to the residence of Bishop Manners Somers and plied the knocker.

The servant who answered the summons explained that the Bishop was taking his bath and could not be seen until he had had breakfast.

But the visitor was importunate.

The servant went back to his master and explained that the stout man at the door would neither go away nor tell his name, but must see his lordship at once.

When the Bishop appeared in his dressing-gown and saw the King, he nearly had apoplexy. But the King quickly told his errand and made his friend Primate on the doorstep, with the butler and the housemaid for witnesses.

Later in the day when Pitt appeared at the palace he was told that a Primate had been appointed—the King was very sorry, but the present incumbent could not be removed unless charges were preferred. Pitt smilingly congratulated the King on the wisdom of his choice, but afterward referred to the transaction as "a rather scurvy trick."

At twenty-three years of age, William Pitt entered the House of Commons from the same borough that[Pg 201] his father had represented at twenty-seven. His elder brother made way, just as had the elder brother of his father.

The first speech he made in Parliament fixed his place in that body. His fame had preceded him, and when he arose every seat was taken to hear the favorite son of the Earl of Chatham, the greatest orator England had ever seen.

The subject was simply a plan of finance, and lacked all excuse for fine phrasing or flavor of sentiment. And what should a boy of twenty-three know about a nation's financial policy?

Yet this boy knew all about it. Figures, statistics, results, conclusions, were shown in a steady, flowing, accurate, lucid manner. The young man knew his theme—every byway, highway and tracing of it. By that speech he proved his mathematical genius, and blazed the way straight to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Not only did he know his theme, but he had the ability to explain it. He spoke without hesitation or embarrassment, and revealed the same splendid dignity that his father had shown, all flavored by the same dash of indifference for the auditor. But the discerning ones saw that he surpassed his father, in that he carried more reserve and showed a suavity that was not the habit of Chatham.

And the man was there—mighty and self-reliant.

[Pg 202]The voice is the index of the soul. The voice of the two Pitts was the same voice, we have been told—a deep, rich, cultivated lyric-barytone. It was a trained voice, a voice that came from a full column of air, that never broke into a screech, rasping the throat of the speaker and the ear of the listener. It was the natural voice carefully developed by right use. The power of Pitt lay in his cold, calculating intellect, but the instrument that made manifest this intellect was his deep, resonant, perfectly controlled voice.

Pitt never married, and according to the biting phrase of Fox, all he knew of love was a description of it he got from the Iliad. That is to say, he was separated from it about three thousand years. This is a trifle too severe, for when twenty-one years of age he met the daughter of Necker at Paris—she who was to give the world of society a thrill as Madame de Stael. And if the gossips are right it was not the fault of Pitt that a love-match did not follow. But the woman gauged the man, and she saw that love to him would be merely an incident, not a consuming passion, and she was not the woman to write a book on Farthest North. She dallied with the young man a day, and then sent him about his business, exasperated and perplexed. He could strike fire with men as flint strikes on steel, but women were outside his realm.

Yet he followed the career of Madame de Stael, and never managed to quite get her out of his life. Once,[Pg 203] in his later years, he referred to her as that "cold and trifling daughter of France's greatest financier." He admired the father more than he loved the daughter.

For twenty-four years Pitt piloted England's Ship of State. There were constant head-winds, and now and again shifting gales of fierce opposition, and all the time a fat captain to pacify and appease. This captain was stupid, sly, obstinate and insane by turns, and to run the ship and still allow the captain to believe that he was in command was the problem that confronted Pitt. And that he succeeded as well as any living man could, there is no doubt.

During the reign of Pitt, England lost the American Colonies. This was not a defeat for England: it was Destiny. England preserved her independence by cutting the cable that bound her to us.

The life of Pitt was a search for power—to love, wealth and fame he was indifferent.

He was able to manage successfully the finances of a nation, but his own were left in a sorry muddle: at his death it took forty thousand pounds to cause him to be worth nothing. His debts were paid by the nation. And this indifference to his own affairs was put forth at the time as proof of his probity and excellence. We think now that it marked his limitations. His income for twenty years preceding his death was about fifty thousand dollars a year. One hour a day in auditing accounts with his butler would have made all secure. He had[Pg 204] neither wife, child nor dependent kinsmen, yet it was found that his household consumed nine hundred pounds of meat a week and enough beer to float a ship. For a man to waste his own funds in riotous living is only a trifle worse than to allow others to do the same.

Literature, music and art owe little to Pitt: only lovers care for beauty—the sensuous was not for him. He knew the Classics, spoke French like a Parisian, reveled in history, had no confidants, and loved one friend—Wilberforce.

Pictures of Pitt by Reynolds and Gainsborough reveal a face commonplace in feature save for the eye—"the most brilliant eye ever seen in a human face." In describing the man, one word always seems to creep in, the word "haughty." That the man was gentle, kind and even playful among the few who knew him best, there is no doubt. The austerity of his manner was the inevitable result of an ambition the sole aim of which was to dictate the policy of a great nation. All save honor was sacrificed to this end, and that the man was successful in his ambition, there is no dispute.

When he died, aged forty-seven, he was by popular acclaim the greatest Englishman of his time, and the passing years have not shaken that proud position.


Citizens: You see before you the widow of Marat. I do not come here to ask your favors, such as cupidity would covet, or even such as would relieve indigence—Marat's widow needs no more than a tomb. Before arriving at that happy termination to my existence, however, I come to ask that justice may be done in respect to the reports recently put forth in this body against the memory of at once the most intrepid and the most outraged defender of the people.

Simonne Evrard Marat, to the Convention
[Pg 206]


[Pg 207]

The French Revolution traces a lineal descent direct from Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. These men were contemporaries; they came to the same conclusions, expressing the same thought, each in his own way, absolutely independent of the other. And as genius seldom recognizes genius, neither knew the greatness of the other.

Voltaire was an aristocrat—the friend of kings and courtiers, the brilliant cynic, the pet of the salons and the center of the culture and brains of his time.

Rousseau was a man of the people, plain and unpretentious—a man without ambition—a dreamer. His first writings were mere debating-society monologs, done for his own amusement and the half-dozen or so cronies who cared to listen.

But, as he wrote, things came to him; the significance of his words became to him apparent. Opposition made it necessary to define his position, and threat made it wise to amplify and explain. He grew through exercise, as all men do who grow at all; the spirit of the times acted upon him, and knowledge unrolled as a scroll.

The sum of Rousseau's political philosophy found embodiment in his book, "The Social Contract," and his ideas on education in "Emile." "The Social[Pg 208] Contract" became the Bible of the Revolution, and as Emerson says all of our philosophy will be found in Plato, so in a more exact sense can every argument of the men of the Revolution be found in "The Social Contract." But Rousseau did not know what firebrands he was supplying. He was essentially a man of peace—he launched these children of his brain, indifferently, like his children of the flesh, upon the world and left their fate to the god of Chance.

[Pg 209]Out of the dust and din of the French Revolution, now seen by us on the horizon of time, there emerge four names: Robespierre, Mirabeau, Danton and Marat.

Undaunted men all, hated and loved, feared and idolized, despised and deified—even yet we find it hard to gauge their worth, and give due credit for the good that was in each.

Oratory played a most important part in bringing about the explosion. Oratory arouses passion—fear, vengeance, hate—and draws a beautiful picture of peace and plenty just beyond.

Without oratory there would have been no political revolution in France, nor elsewhere.

Politics, more than any other function of human affairs, turns on oratory. Orators make and unmake kings, but kings are seldom orators, and orators never secure thrones. Orators are made to die—the cross, the torch, the noose, the guillotine, the dagger, awaits them. They die through the passion that they fan to flame—the fear they generate turns upon themselves, and they are no more.

But they have their reward. Their names are not writ in water; rather are they traced in blood on history's page. We know them, while the ensconced smug and successful have sunk into oblivion; and if now and then a name like that of Pilate or Caiaphas or Judas comes to us, it is only because Fate has linked the[Pg 210] man to his victim, like unto that Roman soldier who thrust his spear into the side of the Unselfish Man.

In the qualities that mark the four chief orators of the French Revolution, there is much alloy—much that seems like clay. Each had undergone an apprenticeship to Fate—each had been preparing for his work; and in this preparation who shall say what lessons could have been omitted and what not! Explosions require time to prepare: revolutions, political and domestic, are a long time getting ready. Orators, like artists, must go as did Dante, down into the nether regions and get a glimpse of hell.

Jean Paul Marat was exactly five feet high, and his weight when at his best was one hundred twenty pounds—just the weight of Shakespeare. Jean Paul had a nose like the beak of a hawk, an eye like an eagle, a mouth that matched his nose, and a chin that argued trouble. Not only did he have red hair, but Carlyle refers to him as "red-headed."

His parents were poor and obscure people, and his relationship with them seems a pure matter of accident. He was born at the village of Boudry, Switzerland, in Seventeen Hundred Forty-three. His childhood and boyhood were that of any other peasant boy born into a family where poverty held grim sway, and toil and hardship never relaxed their chilling grasp.

His education was of the chance kind—but education anyway depends upon yourself—colleges only supply[Pg 211] a few opportunities, and it lies with the student whether he will improve them or not.

The ignorance of his parents and the squalor of his surroundings acted upon Jean Paul Marat as a spur, and from his fourteenth year the idea of cultivating his mental estate was strong upon him.

Switzerland has ever been the refuge of the man who dares to think. It was there John Calvin lived, demanding the right to his own belief, but occasionally denying others that precious privilege; a few miles away, at beautiful Coppet, resided Madame de Stael, the daughter of Necker; at Geneva, Rousseau wrote, and to name that beautiful little island in the Rhone after him was not necessary to make his fame endure; but a little way from Boudry lived Voltaire, pointing his bony finger at every hypocrite in Christendom.

But as in Greece, in her days of glory, the thinkers were few; so in Switzerland, the land of freedom, the many have been, and are, chained to superstition. Jean Paul Marat saw their pride was centered in a silver crucifix, "that keeps a man from harm"; their conscience committed to a priest; their labors for the rich; their days the same, from the rising of the sun to its going down. They did not love, and their hate was but a peevish dislike. They followed their dull routine and died the death, hopeful that they would get the reward in another world which was denied them in this.

[Pg 212]And Jean Paul Marat grew to scorn the few who would thus enslave the many. For priest and publican he had only aversion.

Jean Paul Marat, the bantam, read Voltaire and steeped himself in Rousseau, and the desire grew strong upon him to do, to dare and to become.

Tourists had told him of England, and like all hopeful and childlike minds, he imagined the excellent to be far off, and the splendid at a distance: Great Britain was to him the Land of Promise.

In the countenance of young Marat was a strange mixture of the ludicrous and the terrible. This, with his insignificant size, and a bodily strength that was a miracle of surprise, won the admiration of an English gentleman; and when the tourist started back for Albion, the lusty dwarf rode on the box, duly articled, without consent of his parents, as a valet.

As a servant he was active, alert, intelligent, attentive. He might have held his position indefinitely, and been handed down to the next generation with the family plate, had he kept a civil tongue in his red head and not quoted Descartes and Jean Jacques.

He had ideas, and he expressed them. He was the central sun below stairs, and passed judgment upon the social order without stint, even occasionally to argufying economics with his master, the Baron, as he brushed his breech.

This Baron is known to history through two facts:[Pg 213] first, that Jean Paul Marat brushed his breeches, and second, that he evolved a new breed of fices.

Now, the master was rich, with an entail of six thousand acres and an income of five thousand pounds, and very naturally he was surprised—amazed—to hear that any one should question the divine origin of the social order.

Religion and government being at that time not merely second cousins, but Siamese twins, Jean Paul had expressed himself on things churchly as well as secular.

And now, behold, one fine day he found himself confronted with a charge of blasphemy, not to mention another damning count of contumacy and contravention.

In fact, he was commanded not to think, and was cautioned as to the sin of having ideas. The penalties were pointed out to Jean Paul, and in all kindness he was asked to make choice between immediate punishment and future silence.

Thus was the wee philosopher raised at once to the dignity of a martyr; and the sweet satisfaction of being persecuted for what he believed, was his.

The city of Edinburgh was not far away, and thither by night the victim of persecution made his way. There is a serio-comic touch to this incident that Marat was never quite able to appreciate—the man was not a humorist. In fact, men headed for the noose, the block, or destined for immortality by the assassin's dagger, very seldom are jokers—John Brown and his like do[Pg 214] not jest. Of all the emancipators of men, Lincoln alone stands out as one who was perfectly sane. An ability to see the ridiculous side of things marks the man of perfect balance.

The martyr type, whose blood is not only the seed of the church, but also of heresy, is touched with madness. To get the thing done, Nature sacrifices the man.

Arriving in Edinburgh, Marat thought it necessary for a time to live in hiding, but finally he came out and was duly installed as barkeep at a tavern, and a student in the medical department of the University of Saint Andrews—a rather peculiar combination.

Marat's sister and biographer, Albertine, tells us that Jean Paul was never given to the use of stimulants, and in fact, for the greater part of his career, was a total abstainer. And the man who knows somewhat of the eternal paradox of things can readily understand how this little tapster, proud and defiant, had a supreme contempt for the patrons who gulped down the stuff that he handed out over the bar. He dealt in that for which he had no use; and the American bartender today who wears his kohinoor and draws the pay of a bank cashier is one who "never touches a drop of anything." The security with which he holds his position is on that very account.

Marat was hungry for knowledge and thirsty for truth, and in his daily life he was as abstemious as was Benjamin Franklin, whom he was to meet, know, and[Pg 215] reverence shortly afterward.

Jean Paul was studying medicine at the same place where Oliver Goldsmith, another exile, studied some years before. Each got his doctor's degree—just how we do not know. No one ever saw Goldsmith's diploma—Doctor Johnson once hinted that it was an astral one—but Marat's is still with us, yellow with age, but plain and legible with all of its signatures and the big seal with a ribbon that surely might impress the chance sufferers waiting in an outer room to see the doctor, who is busy enjoying his siesta on the other side of the partition.

[Pg 216]If it is ever your sweet privilege to clap eyes upon a diploma issued by the ancient and honorable University of Saint Andrews, Edinburgh, you will see that it reads thus:

"Whereas: Since it is just and reasonable that one who has diligently attained a high degree of knowledge in some great and useful science, should be distinguished from the ignorant-vulgar," etc., etc.

The intent of the document, it will be observed, is to certify that the holder is not one of the "ignorant-vulgar," and the inference is that those who are not possessed of like certificates probably are.

A copy of the diploma issued to Doctor Jean Paul Marat is before me, wherein, in most flattering phrase, is set forth the attainments of the holder, in the science of medicine. And even before the ink was dry upon that diploma, the "science" of which it boasted had been discarded as inept and puerile, and a new one inaugurated. And in our day, within the last twenty-five years, the entire science of healing has shifted ground and the materia medica of the "Centennial" is now considered obsolete.

In view of these things, how vain is a college degree that certifies, as the diplomas of Saint Andrews still certify, that the holder is not one of the "ignorant-vulgar"! Isn't a man who prides himself on not belonging to the "ignorant-vulgar" apt to be atrociously ignorant and outrageously vulgar?

[Pg 217]Wisdom is a point of view, and knowledge, for the most part, is a shifting product depending upon environment, atmosphere and condition. The eternal verities are plain and simple, known to babes and sucklings, but often unseen by men of learning, who focus on the difficult, soar high and dive deep, but seldom pay cash. In the sky of truth the fixed stars are few, and the shepherds who tend their flocks by night are quite as apt to know them as are the professed and professional Wise Men of the East—and Edinburgh.

But never mind our little digression—the value of study lies in study. The reward of thinking is the ability to think—whether one comes to right conclusions or wrong matters little, says John Stuart Mill in his essay, "On Liberty."

Thinking is a form of exercise, and growth comes only through exercise—that is to say, expression.

We learn things only to throw them away: no man ever wrote well until he had forgotten every rule of rhetoric, and no orator ever spake straight to the hearts of men until he had tumbled his elocution into the Irish Sea.

To hold on to things is to lose them. To clutch is to act the part of the late Mullah Bah, the Turkish wrestler, who came to America and secured through his prowess a pot of gold. Going back to his native country, the steamer upon which he had taken passage collided in mid-ocean with a sunken derelict. Mullah[Pg 218] Bah, hearing the alarm, jumped from his berth and strapped to his person a belt containing five thousand dollars in gold. He rushed to the side of the sinking ship, leaped over the rail, and went to Davy Jones' Locker like a plummet, while all about frail women and weak men in life-preservers bobbed on the surface and were soon picked up by the boats. The fate of Mullah Bah is only another proof that athletes die young, and that it is harder to withstand prosperity than its opposite.

But knowledge did not turn the head of Marat. His restless spirit was reaching out for expression, and we find him drifting to London for a wider field.

England was then, as now, the refuge of the exile. There is today just as much liberty, and a little more free speech, in England than in America. We have hanged witches and burned men at the stake since England has, and she emancipated her slaves long before we did ours. Over against the home-thrust that respectable women drink at public bars from John O'Groat's to Land's End, can be placed the damning count that in the United States more men are lynched every year than Great Britain legally executes in double the time.

A too-ready expression of the Rousseau philosophy had made things a bit unpleasant for Marat in Edinburgh, but in London he found ready listeners, and the coffeehouses echoed back his radical sentiments.

[Pg 219]These underground debating-clubs of London started more than one man off on the oratorical transverse. Swift, Johnson, Reynolds, Goldsmith, Garrick, Burke—all sharpened their wits at the coffeehouses. I see the same idea is now being revived in New York and Chicago: little clubs of a dozen or so will rent a room in some restaurant, and fitting it up for themselves, will dine daily and discuss great themes, or small, according to the mental caliber of the members.

During the latter part of the Eighteenth Century, these clubs were very popular in London. Men who could talk or speak were made welcome, and if the new member generated caloric, so much the better—excitement was at a premium.

Marat was now able to speak English with precision, and his slight French accent only added a charm to his words. He was fiery, direct, impetuous. He was a fighter by disposition, and care was taken never to cross him beyond a point where the sparks began to fly. The man was immensely diverting, and his size was to his advantage—orators should be very big or very little—anything but commonplace. The Duke of Mantua would have gloried in Jean Paul, and later might have cut off his head as a precautionary measure.

Among the visitors at one of the coffeehouse clubs was one B. Franklin, big, patient, kind. He weighed twice as much as Marat: and his years were sixty, while Marat's were thirty.

[Pg 220]Franklin listened with amused smiles at the little man, and the little man grew to have an idolatrous regard for the big 'un. Franklin carried copies of a pamphlet called "Common Sense," written by one T. Paine. Paine was born in England, but was always pleased to be spoken of as an American, yet he called himself "A Citizen of the World."

Paine's pamphlet, "The Crisis," was known by heart to Marat, and the success of Franklin and Paine as writers had fired him to write as well as to orate. As a result, we have "The Chains of Slavery." The work today has no interest to us except as a literary curiosity. It is a composite of Rousseau and Paine, done by a sophomore in a mood of exaltation, and might serve acceptably well as a graduation essay, done in F major. It lacks the poise of Paine and the reserve of Rousseau, and all the fine indifference of Franklin is noticeable by its absence.

They say that Marat's name was "Mara" and his ancestors came from County Down. But never mind that—his heart was right. Of all the inane imbecilities and stupid untruths of history, none is worse than the statement that Jean Paul Marat was a demagog, hotly intent on the main chance.

In this man's character there was nothing subtle, secret nor untrue. He was simplicity itself, and his undiplomatic bluntness bears witness to his honesty.

In London, he lived as the Mayor of Boston said[Pg 221] William Lloyd Garrison lived—in a hole in the ground. His services as a physician were free to all—if they could pay, all right; if not, it made no difference. He looked after the wants of political refugees, and head, heart and pocketbook were at the disposal of those who needed them. His lodging-place was a garret, a cellar—anywhere: he was homeless, and his public appearances were only at the coffeehouse clubs, or in the parks, where he would stand on a barrel and speak to the crowd on his one theme of liberty, fraternity and equality. His plea was for the individual. In order to have a strong and excellent society, we must have strong and excellent men and women. That phrase of Paine's, "The world is my country: to do good is my religion," he repeated over and over again.

[Pg 222]In the year Seventeen Hundred Seventy-nine, Marat moved to Paris. He was then thirty-six years old. In Paris he lived very much the same life that he had in London. He established himself as a physician, and might have made a decided success had he put all his eggs in one basket and then watched the basket.

But he didn't. Franklin had inspired him with a passion for invention: he rubbed amber with wool, made a battery and applied the scheme in a crude way to the healing art. He wrote articles on electricity and even foreshadowed the latter-day announcement that electricity is life. And all the time he discussed economics, and gave out through speech and written word his views as to the rights of the people. He saw the needs of the poor—he perceived how through lack of nourishment there developed a craving for stimulants, and observed how disease and death fasten themselves upon the ill-fed and the ill-taught. To alleviate the suffering of the poor, he opened a dispensary as he had done in London, and gave free medical attendance to all who applied. At this dispensary, he gave lectures on certain days upon hygiene, at which times he never failed to introduce his essence of Rousseau and Voltaire.

Some one called him "the people's friend." The name stuck—he liked it.

In August, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-nine, this[Pg 223] "terrible dwarf" was standing on his barrel in Paris haranguing crowds with an oratory that was tremendous in its impassioned quality. Men stopped to laugh and remained to applaud.

Not only did he denounce the nobility, but he saw danger in the liberal leaders, and among others, Mirabeau came in for scathing scorn. Of all the insane paradoxes this one is the most paradoxical—that men will hate those who are most like themselves. Family feuds, and the wrangles of denominations that, to outsiders, hold the same faith, are common. When churches are locked in America, it is done to keep Christians out. Christians fight Christians much more than they fight the devil.

Marat had grown to be a power among the lower classes—he was their friend, their physician, their advocate. He had no fear of interruption and never sought to pacify. At his belt, within easy reach, and in open sight, he carried a dagger.

The crowds that hung upon his words were swayed to rank unreason by his impassioned eloquence.

Marat fell a victim to his own eloquence, and the madness of the mob reacted upon him. Like the dyer's hand, he became subdued to that in which he worked. Suspicion and rebellion filled his soul. Wealth to him was an offense—he had not the prophetic vision to see the rise of capitalism and all the splendid industrial evolution which the world is today working out.[Pg 224] Society to him was all founded on wrong premises, and he would uproot it.

In bitter words he denounced the Assembly and declared that all of its members, including Mirabeau, should be hanged for their inaction in not giving the people relief from their oppressors.

Mirabeau was very much like Marat. He, too, was working for the people, only he occupied a public office, while Marat was a private citizen. Mirabeau and his friends became alarmed at the influence Marat was gaining over the people, and he was ordered to cease public speaking. As he failed to comply, a price was put upon his head.

Then it was that he began putting out a daily address in the form of a tiny pamphlet. This was at first called "The Publiciste," but was soon changed to "The People's Friend."

Marat was now in hiding, but still his words were making their impress.

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-one, Mirabeau, the terrible, died—died peacefully in his bed.

Paris went into universal mourning, and the sky of Marat's popularity was darkened.

Marat lived in hiding until August of Seventeen Hundred Ninety-two, when he again publicly appeared and led the riots. The people hailed him as their deliverer. The insignificant size of the man made him conspicuous. His proud defiance, the haughtiness of his[Pg 225] countenance, his stinging words, formed a personality that made him the pet of the people.

Danton, the Minister of Justice, dared not kill him, and so he did the next best thing—he took him to his heart and made him his right-hand man. It was a great diplomatic move, and the people applauded. Danton was tall, powerful, athletic and commanding, just past his thirtieth year. Marat was approaching fifty, and his sufferings while in hiding in the sewers had told severely on his health, but he was still the fearless agitator. When Marat and Danton appeared upon the balcony of the Hotel de Ville, the hearts of the people were with the little man.

But behold, another man had forged to the front, and this was Robespierre. And so it was that Danton, Marat and Robespierre formed a triumvirate, and ruled Paris with hands of iron. Coming in the name of the people, proclaiming peace, they held their place only through a violence that argued its own death.

Marat was still full of the desire to educate—to make men think. Deprivation and disease had wrecked his frame until public speaking was out of the question—the first requisite of oratory is health. But he could write, and so his little paper, "The People's Friend," went fluttering forth with its daily message.

So scrupulous was Marat in money matters that he would accept no help from the Government. He neither drew a salary nor would he allow any but private[Pg 226] citizens to help issue his paper. He lived in absolute poverty with his beloved wife, Simonne Evrard.

They had met about Seventeen Hundred Eighty-eight, and between them had grown up a very firm and tender bond. He was twenty years older than she, but Danton said of her, "She has the mind of a man."

Simonne had some property and was descended from a family of note. When she became the wife of Marat, her kinsmen denounced her, refused to mention her name, but she was loyal to the man she loved.

The Psalmist speaks of something "that passeth the love of woman," but the Psalmist was wrong—nothing does.

Simonne Evrard gave her good name, her family position, her money, her life—her soul into the keeping of Jean Paul Marat. That his love and gratitude to her was great and profound, there is abundant proof. She was his only servant, his secretary, his comrade, his friend, his wife. Not only did she attend him in sickness, but in banishment and disgrace she never faltered. She even set the type, and at times her arm pulled the lever of the press that printed the daily message.

Let it stand to the eternal discredit of Thomas Carlyle that he contemptuously disposes of Simonne Evrard, who represents undying love and unflinching loyalty, by calling her a "washerwoman." Carlyle, with a savage strain of Scotch Calvinism in his cold blood,[Pg 227] never knew the sacredness of the love of man and woman—to him sex was a mistake on the part of God. Even for the sainted Mary of Galilee he has only a grim and patronizing smile, removing his clay pipe long enough to say to Milburn, the blind Preacher, "Oh, yes; a country lass elevated by Catholics into a wooden image and worshiped as a deity!"

Carlyle never held in his arms a child of his own and saw the light of love reflected in a baby's eyes; and nowhere in his forty-odd volumes does he recognize the truth that love, art and religion are one. And this limitation gives Taine excuse for saying, "He writes splendidly, but it is neither truth nor poetry."

When Charlotte Corday, that poor, deluded rustic, reached the rooms of Marat, under a friendly pretense, and thrust her murderous dagger to the sick man's heart, his last breath was a cry freighted with love, "A moi, chere amie!"

And death-choked, that proud head drooped, and Simonne, seeing the terrible deed was done, blocked the way and held the murderess at bay until help arrived.

Hardly had Marat's tired body been laid to rest in the Pantheon, before Charlotte Corday's spirit had gone across the Border to meet his—gone to her death by the guillotine that was so soon to embrace both Danton and Robespierre, the men who had inaugurated and popularized it.

[Pg 228]All Paris went into mourning for Marat—the public buildings were draped with black, and his portrait was displayed in the Pantheon with the great ones gone. A pension for life was bestowed upon his widow, and lavish resolutions of gratitude were laid at her feet in loving token of what she had done in upholding the hands of this strong man.

But Paris, the fickle, in two short years repudiated the pension, the portrait of Marat was removed from the Pantheon, and his body taken by night to another resting-place.

Simonne the widow, and Albertine the sister, sisters now in sorrow, uniting in a mutual love for the dead, lived but in memory of him.

But Carlyle was right—this was a "washerwoman." She spent all of her patrimony in aiding her husband to publish and distribute his writings, and after his death, when friends proved false and even the obdurate kinsmen still considered her name pollution, she took in washing to earn money that she might defend the memory of the man she loved.

She was a washerwoman.

I uncover in her presence, and stand with bowed head in admiration of the woman who gave her life for liberty and love, and who chose a life of honest toil rather than accept charity or all that selfishness and soft luxury had to offer. She was a washerwoman, but she was more—she was a Woman.

[Pg 229]Let Carlyle have the credit of using the word "washerwoman" as a term of contempt, as though to do laundry-work were not quite as necessary as to produce literature.

The sister and the widow wrote his life, republished very much that he had written, and lived but to keep alive the name and fame of Jean Paul Marat, whose sole crime seemed to be that he was a sincere and honest man, and was, throughout his life—often unwisely—the People's Friend.


Love is the only bow on life's dark cloud. It is the morning and[Pg 231] the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the Mother of Art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light to tired souls—builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody—for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right-royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven and we are gods.

Robert G. Ingersoll
[Pg 232]


[Pg 233]

He was three years old, was Robert Ingersoll. There was a baby boy one year old, Ebon by name; then there were John, five years, and two elder sisters.

Little Robert wore a red linsey-woolsey dress, and was a restless, active youngster with a big head, a round face and a pug-nose. No one ever asked. "What is it?"—there was "boy" written large in every baby action and every feature from chubby bare feet to the two crowns of his close-cropped tow-head.

It was a morning in January, and the snow lay smooth and white over all those York State hills. The winter sun sent long gleams of light through the frost-covered panes upon which the children were trying to draw pictures. Visitors began to arrive—visitors in stiff Sunday clothes, although it wasn't Sunday. There were aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and then just neighbors. They filled the little house full. Some of the men went out and split wood and brought in big armfuls and piled it in the corner. They moved on tiptoe and talked in whispers. And now and then they would walk softly into the little parlor by twos and threes and close the door after them.

This parlor was always a forbidden place to the children;[Pg 234] on Sunday afternoons only were they allowed to go in there, or on prayer-meeting night.

In this parlor were six haircloth chairs and a sofa to match. In the center was a little marble-top table, and on it were two red books and a blue one. On the mantel was a plaster-of-Paris cat at one end and a bunch of crystallized flowers at the other. There was a "what-not" in the corner covered with little shells and filled with strange and wonderful things. There was a "store" carpet, bright red. It was a very beautiful room, and to look into it was a great privilege.

Little Robert had tried several times to enter the parlor this cold winter morning, but each time he had been thrust back. Finally he clung to the leg of a tall man, and was safely inside. It was very cold—one of the windows was open! He looked about with wondering baby eyes to see what the people wanted to go in there for!

On two of the haircloth chairs rested a coffin. The baby hands clutched the side—he drew himself up on tiptoe and looked down at the still, white face—the face of his mother. Her hands were crossed just so, and in her fingers was a spray of flowers—he recognized them as the flowers she had always worn on her Sunday bonnet—a rusty black bonnet—not real flowers, just "made" flowers.

But why was she so quiet? He had never seen her hands that way before: those hands were always busy—knitting,[Pg 235] sewing, cooking, weaving, scrubbing, washing!

"Mamma! Mamma!" called the boy.

"Hush, little boy, hush! Your Mamma is dead," said the tall man, and he lifted the boy in his arms and carried him from the room.

Out in the kitchen, in a crib in the corner, lay the "Other Baby," and thither little Robert made his way. He patted the sleeping baby brother, and called aloud in lisping words, "Wake up, Baby, your Mamma is dead!"

And the baby in the crib knew quite as much about it as the toddler in the linsey-woolsey dress, and the toddler knew as much about death as we do today. This wee youngster kept thinking how good it was that Mamma could have such a nice rest—the first rest she had ever known—and just lie there in the beautiful room and hold her flowers!

Fifty years pass. These children, grown to manhood, are again together. One, his work done, is at rest. Standing by his bier, the other voices these deathless words:

"Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We call aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death, hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

[Pg 236]"He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, 'I am better now.' Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead."

[Pg 237]The mother of Ingersoll was a Livingston—a Livingston of right-royal lineage, tracing to that famous family of Revolutionary fame. To a great degree she gave up family and social position to become the wife of the Reverend John Ingersoll, of Vermont, a theolog from the Academy at Bennington.

He was young and full of zeal—he was called "a powerful preacher." That he was a man of much strength of intellect, there is ample proof. He did his duty, said his say, called sinners to repentance, and told what would be their fate if they did not accept salvation. His desire was to do good, and therefore he warned men against the wrath to come. He was an educated man, and all of his beliefs and most of his ideas were gathered and gleaned from his college professors and Jonathan Edwards.

He loved his beautiful wife and she loved him. She loved him just as all good women love, with a complete abandon—with heart, mind and strength. He at first had periods of such abandon, too, but his conscience soon made him recoil from an affection of which God might be jealous. He believed that a man should forsake father, mother, wife and child in order to follow duty—and duty to him was the thing we didn't want to do. That which was pleasant was not wholly good. And so he strove to thrust from him all earthly affections, and to love God alone. Not only this, but[Pg 238] he strove to make others love God. He warned his family against the pride and pomp of the world, and the family income being something under four hundred dollars, they observed his edict.

Life was a warfare—the devil constantly lay in wait—we must resist. This man hated evil—he hated evil more than he loved the good. His wife loved the good more than she hated evil, and he chided her—in love. She sought to explain her position. He was amazed at her temerity. What right had a woman to think!—what right had any one to think!

He prayed for her.

And soon she grew to keep her thoughts to herself. Sometimes she would write them out, and then destroy them before any eyes but her own could read. Once she went to a neighbor's and saw Paine's "Age of Reason." She peeped into its pages by stealth, and then put it quickly away. The next day she went back and read some more, and among other things she read was this, "To live a life of love and usefulness—to benefit others—must bring its due reward, regardless of belief."

She thought about it more and more and wondered really if God could and would damn a person who just went ahead and did the best he could. She wanted to ask her husband about it—to talk it over with him in the evening—but she dare not. She knew too well what his answer would be—for her even to think such[Pg 239] thoughts was a sin. And so she just decided she would keep her thoughts to herself, and be a dutiful wife, and help her husband in his pastoral work as a minister's wife should.

But her proud spirit began to droop, she ceased to sing at her work, her face grew wan, yellow and sad. Yet still she worked—there were no servants to distress her—and when her own work was done she went out among the neighbors and helped them—she cared for the sick, the infirm, she dressed the new-born babe, and closed the eyes of the dying.

That this woman had a thirst for liberty, and the larger life, is shown in that she herself prepared and presented a memorial to the President of the United States praying that slavery be abolished. So far as I know, this was the first petition ever prepared in America on the subject by a woman.

This minister's family rarely remained over two years in a place. At first they were received with loving arms, and there were donation parties where cider was spilled on the floors, doughnuts ground into the carpets, and several haircloth chairs hopelessly wrecked. But the larder was filled and there was much good-cheer.

I believe I said that the Reverend John Ingersoll was a powerful preacher: he was so powerful he quickly made enemies. He told men of their weaknesses in phrase so pointed that necks would be craned to see[Pg 240] how certain delinquents took their medicine. Then some would get up and tramp out during the sermon in high dudgeon. These disaffected ones would influence others: contributions grew less, donations ceased, and just as a matter of bread and butter a new "call" would be angled for, and the parson's family would pack up—helped by the faction that loved them, and the one that didn't. Good-bys were said, blessings given—or the reverse—and the jokers would say, "A change of pastors makes fat calves."

At one time the Reverend John Ingersoll tried to start an independent church in New York City. For a year he preached every Sunday at the old Lyceum Theater, and here it was, on the stage of the theater, in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-four, that Robert G. Ingersoll was baptized.

But the New York venture failed—starved out was the verdict, and a country parish extending a call, it was gladly accepted.

Such a life, to such a woman, was particularly wearing. But Mrs. Ingersoll kept right at her work, always doing for others, until there came a day when kind neighbors came in and cared for her, looked after her household, attending this stricken mother—tired out and old at thirty-one, unaware that she had blessed the world by giving to it a man-child who was to make an epoch.

The watchers one night straightened the stiffening[Pg 241] limbs, clothed the body in the gown that had been her wedding-dress, and folded the calloused fingers over the spray of flowers.

"Hush, little boy—your Mamma is dead!" said the tall man, as he lifted the child and carried him from the room.

[Pg 242]From the sleepy little village of Dresden, Yates County, New York, seven miles from Penn Yan, where Robert Ingersoll was born, to his niche in the Temple of Fame, was a zigzag journey. But that is Nature's plan—we make head by tacking. And as the years go by, more and more we see the line of Ingersoll's life stretching itself straight. Every change to him meant progress. Success is a question of temperament—it is all a matter of the red corpuscle. Ingersoll was a success; happy, exuberant, joying in life, reveling in existence, he marched to the front in every fray.

As a boy he was so full of life that he very often did the wrong thing. And I have no doubt that wherever he went he helped hold good the precedent that preachers' boys are not especially angelic. For instance, we have it on good authority that Bob, aged fourteen, once climbed into the belfry of a church and removed the clapper, so that the sexton thought the bell was bewitched. At another time he placed a washtub over the top of a chimney where a prayer-meeting was in progress, and the smoke broke up the meeting and gave the good people a foretaste of the place they believed in. In these stories, told to prove his depravity, Bob was always climbing somewhere—belfries, steeples, house-tops, trees, verandas, barn-roofs, bridges. But I have noticed that youngsters given to the climbing habit usually do something when they grow up.

[Pg 243]For these climbing pranks Robert and Ebon were duly reproved with a stout strap that hung behind the kitchen-door. Whether the parsonage was in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Illinois—and it dodged all over these States—the strap always traveled, too. It never got lost. It need not be said that the Reverend John Ingersoll was cruel or abusive—not at all: he just believed with Solomon that to spare the rod was to spoil the child. He loved his children, and if a boy could be saved by so simple a means as "strap-oil," he was not the man to shirk his duty. He was neither better nor worse than the average preacher of his day. No doubt, too, the poverty and constant misunderstandings with congregations led to much irritability—it is hard to be amiable on half-rations.

When a stepmother finally appeared upon the scene, there was more trouble for the children. She was a worthy woman and meant to be kind, but her heart wasn't big enough to love boys who carried live mice in their pockets and turned turtles loose in the pantry.

So we find Bob and his brother bundled off to his Grandfather Livingston's in Saint Lawrence County, New York. Here Bob got his first real educational advantages. The old man seems to have been a sort of "Foxy Grandpa": he played, romped, read and studied with the boys and possibly neutralized some of the discipline they had received.

Of his childhood days Robert Ingersoll very rarely[Pg 244] spoke. There was too much bitterness and disappointment in it all, but it is curious to note that when he did speak of his boyhood, it was always something that happened at "Grandfather Livingston's," Finally, the old Grandpa got to thinking so much of the boys that he wanted to legally adopt them, and then we find their father taking alarm and bringing them back to the parsonage, which was then at Elyria, Ohio.

The boys worked at odd jobs, on farms in Summer, clerking in country stores, driving stage—and be it said to the credit of their father, he allowed them to keep the money they made. Education comes through doing things, making things, going without things, taking care of yourself, talking about things, and when Robert was seventeen he had education enough to teach a "Deestrick School" in Illinois.

To teach is a good way to get an education. If you want to know all about a subject, write a book on it, a wise man has said. If you wish to know all about things, start in and teach them to others.

Bob was eighteen—big and strong, with a good nature and an enthusiasm that had no limit. There were spelling-bees in his school, and a debating-society, that had impromptu rehearsals every night at the grocery. Country people are prone to "argufying"—the greater and more weighty the question, the more ready are the bucolic Solons to engage with it. And it is all education to the youth who listens and takes part—who[Pg 245] has the receptive mind.

This love of argument and contention among country people finds vent in lawsuits. Pigs break into a man's garden and root up the potatoes, and straightway the owner of the potatoes "has the law" on the owner of the pigs. This strife is urged on by kind neighbors who take sides, and by the "setters" at the store, who fire the litigants on to unseemliness. Local attorneys are engaged and the trial takes place at the railroad-station, or in the schoolhouse on Saturday. Everybody has opinions, and overrules the "jedge" next day, or not, as the case may be.

This petty strife may seem absurd to us, but it is all a part of the Spirit of the Hive, as Maeterlinck would say. It is better than dead-level dumbness—better than the subjection of the peasantry of Europe. These pioneers settle their own disputes. It makes them think, and a few at least are getting an education. This is the cradle in which statesmen are rocked.

And so it happened that no one was surprised when, in the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-three, there was a sign tacked up over a grocery in Shawneetown, Illinois, and the sign read thus: "R. G. & E. C. Ingersoll, Attorneys and Counselors at Law."

[Pg 246]Shawneetown, Illinois, was once the pride and pet of Egypt. It was larger than Chicago, and doubtless it would have become the capital of the State had it been called Shawnee City. But the name was against it, and dry rot set in. And so today Shawneetown has the same number of inhabitants that it had in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-five, and in Shawneetown are various citizens who boast that the place has held its own.

Robert Ingersoll had won a case for a certain steamboat captain, and in gratitude the counsel had been invited by his client to go on an excursion to Peoria, the head of navigation on the Illinois River. The lawyer took the trip, and duly reached Peoria after many hairbreadth 'scapes on the imminently deadly sandbar. But a week must be spent at Peoria while the boat was reloading for her return trip.

There was a railroad war on in Peoria. The town had one railroad, which some citizens said was enough for any place; others wanted the new railroad.

Whether the new company should be granted certain terminal facilities—that was the question. The route had been surveyed, but the company was forbidden to lay its tracks until the people said "Aye."

So there the matter rested when Robert Ingersoll was waiting for the stern-wheeler to reload. The captain of the craft had meanwhile circulated reports about the eloquence and legal ability of his star passenger.[Pg 247] These reports coming to the ears of the manager of the new railroad, he sought out the visiting lawyer and advised with him.

Railroad Law is a new thing, not quite so new as the Law of the Bicycle, or the Statutes concerning Automobiling, but older than the Legal Precedents of the Aeromotor. Railroad Law is an evolution, and the Railroad Lawyer is a by-product: what Mr. Mantinelli would call a demnition product.

It was a railroad that gave Robert Ingersoll his first fee in Peoria. The man was only twenty-three, but semi-pioneer life makes men early, and Robert Ingersoll stood first in war and first in peace among the legal lights of Shawneetown. His size made amends for his cherubic face, and the insignificant nose was more than balanced by the forceful jaw. The young man was a veritable Greek in form, and his bubbling wit and ready speech on any theme made him a drawing card at the political barbecue.

"Bob" at this time didn't know much about railroads—there was no railroad in Shawneetown—but he was an expert on barbecues. A barbecue is a gathering where a whole ox is roasted and where there is much hard cider and effervescent eloquence. Bob would speak to the people about the advantages of the new railroad; and the opposition could answer if they wished. Pioneers are always ready for a picnic—they delight in speeches—they dote on argument and wordy[Pg 248] warfare. The barbecue was to be across the river on Saturday afternoon.

The whole city quit business to go to the barbecue and hear the speeches.

Bob made the first address. He spoke for two hours about everything and anything—he told stories, and dealt in love, life, death, politics and farming—all but railroading. The crowd was delighted—cheers filled the air.

When the opposition got up to speak and brought forward its profound reasons and heavy logic, 'most everybody adjourned to the tables to eat and drink.

Finally there came rumors that something was going on across the river. The opposition grew nervous and started to go home, but in some mysterious way the two ferryboats were tied up on the farther bank, and were deaf and blind to signals.

It was well after dark before the people reached home, and when they got up the next morning they found the new railroad had a full mile of track down and engines were puffing at their doors.

Bob made another speech in the public square, and cautioned everybody to be law-abiding. The second railroad had arrived—it was a good thing—it meant wealth, prosperity and happiness for everybody. And even if it didn't, it was here and could not be removed except by legal means. And we must all be law-abiding citizens—let the matter be determined by the courts.[Pg 249] Then there were a few funny stories, and cheers were given for the speaker.

On the next trip of the little stern-wheeler the young lawyer and his brother arrived. They hadn't much baggage, but they carried a tin sign that they proceeded to tack up over a store on Adams Street. It read thus: "R. G. & E. C. Ingersoll, Attorneys and Counselors at Law." And there the sign was to remain for twenty-five years.

[Pg 250]At Peoria, the Ingersoll Brothers did not have to wait long for clients. Ebon was the counselor, Robert the pleader, and some still have it that Ebon was the stronger, just as we hear that Ezekiel Webster was a more capable man than Daniel—which was probably the truth.

The Ingersolls had not been long at Peoria before Robert had a case at Groveland, a town only a few miles away, and a place which, like Shawneetown, has held its own.

The issue was the same old classic—hogs had rooted up the man's garden, and then the hogs had been impounded. This time there was a tragedy, for before the hogs were released the owner had been killed.

The people for miles had come to town to hear the eloquent young lawyer from Peoria. The taverns were crowded, and not having engaged a room, the attorney for the defense was put to straits to find a place in which to sleep. In this extremity 'Squire Parker, the first citizen of the town, invited young Ingersoll to his house.

Parker was a character in that neck of the woods—he was an "infidel," and a terror to all the clergy 'round about. And strangely enough—or not—his wife believed exactly as he did, and so did their daughter Eva, a beautiful girl of nineteen. But 'Squire Parker got into no argument with his guest—their belief was the same. Probably we would now call the Parkers simply[Pg 251] radical Unitarians. Their kinsman, Theodore Parker, expressed their faith, and they had no more use for a "personal devil" that he had. The courage of the young woman in stating her religious views had almost made her an outcast in the village, and here she was saying the same things in Groveland that Robert was saying in Peoria. She was the first woman he ever knew who had ideas.

It was one o'clock before he went to bed that night—his head was in a whirl. It was a wonder he didn't lose his case the next day, but he didn't.

He cleared his client and won a bride.

In a few months Robert Ingersoll and Eva Parker were married.

Never were man and woman more perfectly mated than this couple. And how much the world owes to her sustaining love and unfaltering faith, we can not compute; but my opinion is that if it had not been for Eva Parker—twice a daughter of the Revolution, whose ancestors fought side by side with the Livingstons—we should never have heard of Robert Ingersoll as the maker of an epoch. It is love that makes the world go 'round—and it is love that makes the orator and fearless thinker, no less than poet, painter and musician.

No man liveth unto himself alone: we demand the approval and approbation of another: we write and speak for some One; and our thought coming back from this One approved, gives courage and that bold[Pg 252] determination which carries conviction home. Before the world believes in us we must believe in ourselves, and before we fully believe in ourselves this some One must believe in us. Eva Parker believed in Robert Ingersoll, and it was her love and faith that made him believe in himself and caused him to fling reasons into the face of hypocrisy and shower with sarcasm and ridicule the savage and senseless superstitions that paraded themselves as divine.

Wendell Phillips believed in himself because Ann never doubted him. Without Ann he would not have had the courage to face that twenty years' course of mobs. If it had ever occurred to him that the mob was right he would have gone down in darkness and defeat; but with Ann such a suspicion was not possible. He pitted Ann's faith against the prejudice of centuries—two with God are a majority.

It was Eva's faith that sustained Robert. In those first years of lecturing she always accompanied him, and at his lectures sat on the stage in the wings and gloried in his success. He did not need her to protect him from the mob, but he needed her to protect him from himself. It is only perfect love that casteth out fear.

[Pg 253]There is a little book called, "Ingersoll as He Is," which is being circulated by some earnest advocates of truth.

The volume is a vindication, a refutation and an apology. It takes up a goodly list of zealous calumniators and cheerful prevaricators and tacks their pelts on the barn-door of obliquity.

That Ingersoll won the distinction of being more grossly misrepresented than any other man of his time, there is no doubt. This was to his advantage—he was advertised by his rabid enemies no less than by his loving friends. But his good friends who are putting out this vindication should cultivate faith, and know that there is a God, or Something, who looks after the lies and the liars—we needn't.

A big man should never be cheapened by a defense. Life is its own excuse for being, and every life is its own apology. Silence is better than wordy refutation. People who want to believe the falsehoods told of this man, or any other, will continue to believe them until the crack o' doom.

Most accusations contain a certain basis of truth, but they may be no less libels on that account. One zealous advocate, intent on loving his supposed enemy, printed a thrilling story about Ingersoll being taken prisoner during the war, while taking refuge in a pig-pen. To this some of Bob's friends interposed a fierce rejoinder declaring that Bob stood like Falstaff at Gadshill and[Pg 254] fought the rogues in buckram to a standstill.

Heaven forfend me from my friends—I can withstand mine enemies alone!

I am quite ready to believe that Bob, being attacked by an overwhelming force, suddenly bethought him of an engagement, and made a swift run for safety. The impeccable man who has never done a cowardly thing, nor a mean thing, is no kinsman of mine! The saintly hero who has not had his heels run away with his head, and sought safety in a friendly pig-pen—aye! and filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat—has dropped something out of his life that he will have to go back for and pick up in another incarnation. We love men for their limitations and weaknesses, no less than for their virtues. A fault may bring a man very close to us. Have we, too, not sought safety in pig-pens! The people who taunt other people with having taken temporary refuge in a pig-pen are usually those who live in pig-pens the whole year 'round.

The one time in the life of Savonarola when he comes nearest to us is when his tortured flesh wrenched from his spirit a recantation. And who can forget that cry of Calvary, "My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me!" That call for help, coming to us across twenty centuries, makes the man, indeed, our Elder Brother.

And let it here be stated that even Bob's bitterest foe never declared that the man was a coward by nature,[Pg 255] nor that the business of his life was hiding in pig-pens. The incident named was exceptional and therefore noteworthy; let us admit it, at least not worry ourselves into a passion denying it. Let us also stipulate the truth that Bob could never quite overcome the temptation to take an unfair advantage of his opponent in an argument. He laid the fools by the heels and suddenly, 'gainst all the rules of either Roberts or Queensbury.

To go after the prevaricators, and track them to their holes, is to make much of little, and lift the liars into the realm of equals. This story of the pig-pen I never heard of until Ingersoll's friends denied it in a book.

Just one instance to show how trifles light as air are to the zealous confirmation strong as holy writ. In April, Eighteen Hundred Ninety-four, Ingersoll lectured at Utica, New York. The following Sunday a local clergyman denounced the lecturer as a sensualist, a gourmand—one totally indifferent to decency and the feelings and rights of others. Then the preacher said, "At breakfast in this city last Thursday, Ingersoll ordered everything on the bill of fare, and then insulted and roundly abused the waiter-girl because she did not bring things that were not in the hotel."

I happened to be present at that meal. It was an "early-train breakfast," and the bill of fare for the day had not been printed. The girl came in, and standing at the Colonel's elbow, in genuine waiter-girl style, mumbled this: "Ham and eggs, mutton-chops,[Pg 256] beefsteak, breakfast bacon, codfish balls and buckwheat cakes."

And Bob solemnly said: "Ham and eggs, mutton-chops, beefsteak, breakfast bacon, codfish balls and buckwheat cakes."

In amazement the girl gasped, "What?" And then Bob went over it backward: "Buckwheat cakes, codfish balls, breakfast bacon, beefsteak, mutton-chops, and ham and eggs."

This memory test raised a laugh that sent a shout of mirth all through the room, in which even the girl joined.

"Haven't you anything else, my dear?" asked the great man in a sort of disappointed way.

"I think we have tripe and pig's feet," said the girl.

"Bring a bushel," said Bob; "and say, tell the cook I'd like a dish of peacock-tongues on the side." The infinite good nature of it all caused another laugh from everybody.

The girl brought everything Bob ordered except the peacock-tongues, and this order supplied the lecturer and his party of four. The waitress found a dollar-bill under Bob's plate, and the cook who stood in the kitchen-door and waved a big spoon, and called, "Good-by, Bob!" got another dollar for himself.

Ingersoll carried mirth, and joy, and good-cheer, and radiated a feeling of plenitude wherever he went. He was a royal liver and a royal spender. "If I had but a[Pg 257] dollar," he used to say, "I'd spend it as though it were a dry leaf, and I were the owner of an unbounded forest." He maintained a pension-list of thirty persons or more for a decade, spent upwards of forty thousand dollars a year, and while the fortune he left for his wife and children was not large, as men count things on 'Change, yet it is ample for their ease and comfort. His family always called him "Robert" with an almost idolatrous flavor of tender love in the word. But to the world who hated him and the world who loved him, he was just plain "Bob." To trainmen, hackdrivers, and the great singers, poets and players, he was "Bob." "Dignity is the mask behind which we hide our ignorance." When half a world calls a man by a nickname, it is a patent to nobility—small men are never so honored.

"Good-by, Bob," called the white-aproned cook as he stood in the kitchen-door and waved his big spoon.

"Good-by, Brother, and mind you get those peacock-tongues by the time I get back," answered Bob.

As to Ingersoll's mental evolution we can not do better than to let him tell the story himself:

Like the most of us, I was raised among people who knew—who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess—no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced[Pg 258] to create one Monday morning and worked until Saturday night, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity—back of that morning, He had done nothing. They knew that it took Him six days to make the earth—all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what He did each day and when He rested. They knew the origin, the cause, of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.

They not only knew the beginning, but they knew the end. They knew that life had one path and one road. They knew that the path, grass-grown and narrow, filled with thorns and nettles, infested with vipers, wet with tears, stained by bleeding feet, led to heaven, and that the road, broad and smooth, bordered with fruits and flowers, filled with laughter and song, and all the happiness of human love, led straight to hell. They knew that God was doing His best to make you take the path and that the Devil used every art to keep you in the road.

They knew that there was a perpetual battle waged between the great Powers of good and evil for the possession of human souls. They knew that many centuries ago God had left His throne and had been born a babe into this poor world—that He had suffered death for the sake of man—for the sake of saving a few. They also knew that the human heart was utterly depraved, so that man by nature was in love with wrong and hated God with all his might.

At the same time they knew that God created man in His own image and was perfectly satisfied with His work. They also knew that He had been thwarted by[Pg 259] the Devil—who with wiles and lies had deceived the first of human kind. They knew that in consequence of that, God cursed the man and woman; the man with toil, the woman with slavery and pain, and both with death; and that He cursed the earth itself with briars and thorns, brambles and thistles. All these blessed things they knew. They knew too all that God had done to purify and elevate the race. They knew all about the Flood—knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all His children—the old and young—the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe—the young man and the merry maiden—the loving mother and the laughing child—because His mercy endureth forever. They knew, too, that He drowned the beasts and birds—everything that walked or crawled or flew—because His loving-kindness is over all His works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing His children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

All who doubted or denied would be lost. To live a moral and honest life—to keep your contracts, to take care of wife and child—to make a happy home—to be a good citizen, a patriot, a just and thoughtful man, was simply a respectable way of going to hell.

God did not reward men for being honest, generous and brave, but for the act of faith—without faith, all[Pg 260] the so-called virtues were sins, and the men who practised these virtues, without faith, deserved to suffer eternal pain.

All of these comforting and reasonable things were taught by the ministers in their pulpits—by teachers in Sunday schools and by parents at home. The children were victims. They were assaulted in the cradle—in their mother's arms. Then, the schoolmaster carried on the war against their natural sense, and all the books they read were filled with the same impossible truths. The poor children were helpless. The atmosphere they breathed was filled with lies—lies that mingled with their blood.

In those days ministers depended on revivals to save souls and reform the world.

In the Winter, navigation having closed, business was mostly suspended. There were no railways, and the only means of communication were wagons and boats. Generally the roads were so bad that the wagons were laid up with the boats. There were no operas, no theaters, no amusements except parties and balls. The parties were regarded as worldly and the balls as wicked. For real and virtuous enjoyment the good people depended on revivals.

The sermons were mostly about the pains and agonies of hell, the joys and ecstasies of heaven, salvation by faith, and the efficacy of the atonement. The little churches, in which the services were held, were generally small, badly ventilated, and exceedingly warm. The emotional sermons, the sad singing, the hysterical amens, the hope of heaven, the fear of hell, caused many to lose the little sense they had. They became[Pg 261] substantially insane. In this condition they flocked to the "mourners' bench"—asked for the prayers of the faithful—had strange feelings, prayed and wept and thought they had been "born again." Then they would tell their experience—how wicked they had been—how evil had been their thoughts, their desires, and how good they had suddenly become.

They used to tell the story of an old woman who, in telling her experience, said, "Before I was converted, before I gave my heart to God, I used to lie and steal; but now, thanks to the grace and blood of Jesus Christ, I have quit 'em both, in a great measure."

Of course, all the people were not exactly of one mind. There were some scoffers, and now and then, some man had sense enough to laugh at the threats of priests and make a jest of hell. Some would tell of unbelievers who had lived and died in peace.

When I was a boy I heard them tell of an old farmer in Vermont. He was dying. The minister was at his bedside—asked him if he was a Christian—if he was prepared to die. The old man answered that he had made no preparations, that he was not a Christian—that he had never done anything but work. The preacher said that he could give him no hope unless he had faith in Christ, and that if he had no faith his soul would certainly be lost.

The old man was not frightened. He was perfectly calm. In a weak and broken voice he said: "Mr. Preacher, I suppose you noticed my farm. My wife and I came here more than fifty years ago. We were just married. It was a forest then and the land was covered with stones. I cut down the trees, burned the[Pg 262] logs, picked up the stones and laid the walls. My wife spun and wove and worked every moment. We raised and educated our children—denied ourselves. During all those years my wife never had a good dress, or a decent bonnet. I never had a good suit of clothes. We lived on the plainest food. Our hands, our bodies, are deformed by toil. We never had a vacation. We loved each other and the children. That is the only luxury we ever had. Now, I am about to die and you ask me if I am prepared. Mr. Preacher, I have no fear of the future, no terror of any other world. There may be such a place as hell—but if there is, you never can make me believe that it's any worse than old Vermont."

So they told of a man who compared himself with his dog. "My dog," he said, "just barks and plays—has all he wants to eat. He never works—has no trouble about business. In a little while he dies, and that is all. I work with all my strength. I have no time to play. I have trouble every day. In a little while I will die, and then I go to hell. I wish that I had been a dog."

Well, while the cold weather lasted, while the snows fell, the revival went on, but when the Winter was over, when the steamboat's whistle was heard, when business started again, most of the converts "back-slid" and fell again into their old ways. But the next Winter they were on hand, ready to be "born again." They formed a kind of stock company, playing the same parts every Winter and backsliding every Spring.

The ministers who preached at these revivals were in earnest. They were zealous and sincere. They were not philosophers. To them science was the name of a vague dread—a dangerous enemy. They did not know[Pg 263] much, but they believed a great deal. To them hell was a burning reality—they could see the smoke and flames. The Devil was no myth. He was an actual person, a rival of God, an enemy of mankind. They thought that the important business of this life was to save your soul—that all should resist and scorn the pleasures of sense, and keep their eyes steadily fixed on the golden gate of the New Jerusalem. They were unbalanced, emotional, hysterical, bigoted, hateful, loving, and insane. They really believed the Bible to be the actual word of God—a book without mistake or contradiction. They called its cruelties, justice—its absurdities, mysteries—its miracles, facts, and the idiotic passages were regarded as profoundly spiritual. They dwelt on the pangs, the regrets, the infinite agonies of the lost, and showed how easily they could be avoided, and how cheaply heaven could be obtained. They told their hearers to believe, to have faith, to give their hearts to God, their sins to Christ, who would bear their burdens and make their souls as white as snow.

All this the ministers really believed. They were absolutely certain. In their minds the Devil had tried in vain to sow the seeds of doubt.

I heard hundreds of these evangelical sermons—heard hundreds of the most fearful and vivid descriptions of the tortures inflicted in hell, of the horrible state of the lost. I supposed that what I heard was true and yet I did not believe it. I said, "It is," and then I thought, "It can not be."

From my childhood I had heard read, and read the Bible. Morning and evening the sacred volume was opened and prayers were said. The Bible was my first history, the Jews were the first people, and the[Pg 264] events narrated by Moses and the other inspired writers, and those predicted by prophets, were the all-important things. In other books were found the thoughts and dreams of men, but in the Bible were the sacred truths of God.

Yet, in spite of my surroundings, of my education, I had no love for God. He was so saving of mercy, so extravagant in murder, so anxious to kill, so ready to assassinate, that I hated Him with all my heart. At His command, babes were butchered, women violated, and the white hair of trembling age stained with blood. This God visited the people with pestilence—filled the houses and covered the streets with the dying and the dead—saw babes starving on the empty breasts of pallid mothers, heard the sobs, saw the tears, the sunken cheeks, the sightless eyes, the new-made graves, and remained as pitiless as the pestilence.

This God withheld the rain—caused the famine—saw the fierce eyes of hunger—the wasted forms, the white lips, saw mothers eating babes, and remained ferocious as famine.

It seems to me impossible for a civilized man to love or worship or respect the God of the Old Testament. A really civilized man, a really civilized woman, must hold such a God in abhorrence and contempt.

But in the old days the good people justified Jehovah in His treatment of the heathen. The wretches who were murdered were idolators and therefore unfit to live.

According to the Bible, God had never revealed Himself to these people and He knew that without a revelation they could not know that He was the true God. Whose fault was it, then, that they were heathen?

[Pg 265]The Christians said that God had the right to destroy them because He created them. What did He create them for? He knew when He made them that they would be food for the sword. He knew that He would have the pleasure of seeing them murdered.

As a last answer, as a final excuse, the worshipers of Jehovah said that all these horrible things took place under the "old dispensation" of unyielding law, and absolute justice, but that now, under the "new dispensation," all had been changed—the sword of justice had been sheathed and love enthroned. In the Old Testament, they said, God is the judge—but in the New, Christ is the merciful. As a matter of fact, the New Testament is infinitely worse than the Old. In the Old there is no threat of eternal pain. Jehovah had no eternal prison—no everlasting fire. His hatred ended at the grave. His revenge was satisfied when his enemy was dead.

In the New Testament, death is not the end, but the beginning of punishment that has no end. In the New Testament the malice of God is infinite and the hunger of His revenge eternal.

The orthodox God, when clothed in human flesh, told His disciples not to resist evil, to love their enemies, and when smitten on one cheek to turn the other; and yet we are told that this same God, with the same loving lips, uttered these heartless, these fiendish words: "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels."

These are the words of "eternal love."

No human being has imagination enough to conceive of this infinite horror.

[Pg 266]All that the human race has suffered in war and want, in pestilence and famine, in fire and flood—all the pangs and pains of every disease and every death—all this is as nothing compared with the agonies to be endured by one lost soul.

This is the consolation of the Christian religion. This is the justice of God—the mercy of Christ.

This frightful dogma, this infinite lie, made me the implacable enemy of Christianity. The truth is that this belief in eternal pain has been the real persecutor. It founded the Inquisition, forged the chains, and furnished the fagots. It has darkened the lives of many millions. It made the cradle as terrible as the coffin. It enslaved nations and shed the blood of countless thousands. It sacrificed the wisest, the bravest and the best. It subverted the idea of justice, drove mercy from the heart, changed men to fiends, and banished reason from the brain.

Like a venomous serpent it crawls and coils and hisses in every orthodox creed.

It makes man an eternal victim and God an eternal fiend. It is the one infinite horror. Every church in which it is taught is a public curse. Every preacher who teaches it is an enemy of mankind. Below this Christian dogma, savagery can not go. It is the infinite of malice, hatred and revenge.

Nothing could add to the horror of hell, except the presence of its creator, God.

While I have life, as long as I draw breath, I shall deny with all my strength, and hate with every drop of my blood, this infinite lie.

Nothing gives me greater joy than to know that this[Pg 267] belief in eternal pain is growing weaker every day—that thousands of ministers are ashamed of it. It gives me joy to know that Christians are becoming merciful, so merciful that the fires of hell are burning low—flickering, choked with ashes, destined in a few years to die out forever.

For centuries Christendom was a madhouse. Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, monks and heretics were all insane.

Only a few—four or five in a century—were sound in heart and brain. Only a few, in spite of the roar and din, in spite of the savage cries, heard Reason's voice. Only a few, in the wild rage of ignorance, fear and zeal, preserved the perfect calm that wisdom gives.

We have advanced. In a few years the Christians will become humane and sensible enough to deny the dogma that fills the endless years with pain.

[Pg 268]The world is getting better. We are gradually growing honest, and men everywhere, even in the pulpit, are acknowledging they do not know all about things. There was little hope for the race so long as an individual was disgraced if he did not pretend to believe a thing at which his reason revolted. We are simplifying life—simplifying truth. The man who serves his fellowmen best is he who simplifies. The learned man used to be the one who muddled things, who scrambled thought, who took reason away, and instead, thrust upon us faith, with a threat of punishment if we did not accept it, and an offer of reward if we did.

We have now discovered that the so-called learned man had no authority, either for his threat of punishment or his offer of reward. Hypocrisy will not now pass current, and sincerity, frozen stiff with fright, is no longer legal tender for truth. In the frank acknowledgment of ignorance there is much promise. The man who does not know, and is not afraid to say so, is in the line of evolution. But for the head that is packed with falsehood and the heart that is faint with fear, there is no hope. That head must be unloaded of its lumber, and the heart given courage before the march of progress can begin.

Now, let us be frank, and let us be honest, just for a few moments. Let us acknowledge that this revolution in thought that has occurred during the last twenty-five[Pg 269] years was brought about mainly by one individual. The world was ripe for this man's utterance, otherwise he would not have gotten the speaker's eye. A hundred years before we would have snuffed him out in contumely and disgrace. But men listened to him and paid high for the privilege. And those who hated this man and feared him most, went, too, to listen, so as to answer him and thereby keep the planet from swinging out of its orbit and sweeping on to destruction.

Wherever this man spoke, in towns and cities or country, for weeks the air was heavy with the smoke of rhetoric, and reasons, soggy and solid, and fuzzy logic and muddy proof were dragged like siege-guns to the defense.

They dared the man to come back and fight it out. The clouds were charged with challenges, and the prophecy was made and made again that never in the same place could this man go back and get a second hearing. Yet he did go back year after year, and crowds hung upon his utterances and laughed with him at the scarecrow that had once filled their day-dreams, made the nights hideous, and the future black with terror. Through his influence the tears of pity put out the fires of hell; and he literally laughed the devil out of court. This man, more than any other man of his century, made the clergy free. He raised the standard of intelligence in both pew and pulpit, and the preachers who denounced him most, often were, and are, the most[Pg 270] benefited by his work.

This man was Robert G. Ingersoll.

On the urn that encloses his ashes should be these words: Liberator of Men. When he gave his lecture on "The Gods" at Cooper Union, New York City, in Eighteen Hundred Seventy-two, he fired a shot heard 'round the world.

It was the boldest, strongest, and most vivid utterance of the century.

At once it was recognized that the thinking world had to deal with a man of power. Efforts were made in dozens of places to bring statute law to bear upon him, and the State of Delaware held her whipping-post in readiness for his benefit; but blasphemy enactments and laws for the protection of the Unknown were inoperative in his gracious presence. Ingersoll was a hard hitter, but the splendid good nature of the man, his freedom from all personal malice, and his unsullied character, saved him, in those early days, from the violence that would surely have overtaken a smaller person.

The people who now seek to disparage the name and fame of Ingersoll dwell on the things he was not, and give small credit for that which he was.

They demand infinity and perfection, not quite willing yet to acknowledge that perfection has never been incorporated in a single soul.

Let us acknowledge freely that Ingersoll was not a[Pg 271] pioneer in science. Let us admit, for argument's sake, that Rousseau, Voltaire, Paine and Renan voiced every argument that he put forth. Let us grant that he was often the pleader, and that the lawyer habit of painting his own side large, never quite forsook him, and that he was swayed more by his feelings than by his intellect. Let us further admit that in his own individual case there was small evolution, and that for thirty years he threshed the same straw. And these things being said and admitted, nothing more in truth can be said against the man.

But these points are neither to his discredit nor his disgrace. On them you can not construct an indictment—they mark his limitations, that is all.

Ingersoll gave superstition such a jolt that the consensus of intelligence has counted it out. Ingersoll did not destroy the good—all that is vital and excellent and worthy in religion we have yet, and in such measure as it never existed before.

In every so-called "Orthodox" pulpit you can now hear sermons calling upon men to manifest their religion in their work; to show their love for God in their attitude toward men; to gain the kingdom of heaven by having the kingdom of heaven in their own hearts.

Ingersoll pleaded for the criminal, the weak, the defenseless and the depraved. Our treatment toward all these has changed marvelously within a decade. When we ceased to believe that God was going to damn folks,[Pg 272] we left off damning them ourselves. We think better now of God and we think better of men and women. Who dares now talk about the "hopelessly lost"?

You can not afford to indict a man who practised every so-called Christian virtue, simply because there was a flaw or two in his "belief"—the world has gotten beyond that. Everybody now admits that Ingersoll was quite as good a man as those who denounced him most. His life was full of kind deeds and generous acts, and his daily walk was quite as blameless as the life of the average priest and preacher.

Those who seek to cry Ingersoll down reveal either density or malice. He did a great and necessary work, and did it so thoroughly and well that it will never have to be done again. His mission was to liberalize and to Christianize every church in Christendom; and no denomination, be its creed never so ossified, stands now where it stood before Ingersoll began his crusade. He shamed men into sanity.

Ingersoll uttered in clarion tones what thousands of men and women believed, but dared not voice. He was the spokesman for many of the best thinkers of his time. He abolished fear, gave courage in place of cringing doubt, and lived what he believed was truth. His was a brave, cheerful and kindly life. He was loved most by those who knew him best, for in his nature there was neither duplicity nor concealment. He had nothing to hide. We know and acknowledge[Pg 273] the man's limitations, yet we realize his worth: his influence in the cause of simplicity and honesty has been priceless.

The dust of conflict has not yet settled; prejudice still is in the air; but time, the great adjuster, will give Ingersoll his due. The history of America's thought evolution can never be written and the name of Ingersoll left out. In his own splendid personality he had no rivals, no competitors. He stands alone; and no name in liberal thought can ever eclipse his. He prepared the way for the thinkers and the doers who shall come after, and in insight surpass him, reaching spiritual heights which he, perhaps, could never attain.

This earth is a better place, and life and liberty are safer, because Robert G. Ingersoll lived.

The last words of Ingersoll were, by a strange coincidence, the dying words of his brother Ebon: "I am better!"—words of hope, words of assurance to the woman he loved.

Sane to the last! And let us, too, hope that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.


It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry,[Pg 275] Peace, peace; but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!—I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry
[Pg 276]


[Pg 277]

Sarah Syme was a blooming widow, thirty-two in June—such widows are never over thirty-two—and she managed her estate of a thousand acres in Hanover County, Virginia, with business ability. That such a widow, and thirty-two, should remain a widow in a pioneer country was out of the question.

She had suitors. Their horses were tied to the pickets all day long.

One of these suitors has described the widow for us. He says she was "lively in disposition," and he also uses the words "buxom" and "portly." I do not like these expressions—they suggest too much, so I will none of them. I would rather refer to her as lissome and willowy, and tell how her sorrow for the dead wrapped her 'round with weeds and becoming sable—but in the interests of truth I dare not.

Some of her suitors were widowers—ancient of days, fat and Falstaffian. Others were lean and lacrimose, with large families, fortunes impaired and futures mostly behind. Then there were gay fox-hunting holluschickies, without serious intent and minus both future and past worth mentioning, who called and sat on the front porch because they thought their presence would be[Pg 278] pleasing and relieve the tedium of widowhood.

Then there was a young Scotch schoolmaster, educated, temperate and gentlemanly, who came to instruct the two children of the widow in long division, and who blushed to the crown of his red head when the widow invited him to tea.

Have a care, Widow Syme! Destiny has use for you with your lively ways and portly form. You are to make history, help mold a political policy, fan the flames of war, and through motherhood make yourself immortal. Choose your casket wisely, O Widow Syme! It is the hour of Fate!

[Pg 279]The widow was a Queen Bee and so had a perfect right to choose her mate. The Scotchman proved to be it. He was only twenty-five, they say, but he was man enough when standing before the Registrar to make it thirty. When he put his red head inside the church-door some one cried, "Genius!" And so they were married and lived happily ever after.

And the name of the Scotchman was John Henry—I'll not deceive you, Sweet!

John and Sarah were well suited to each other. John was exact, industrious, practical. The wife had a lively sense of humor, was entertaining and intelligent. Under the management of the canny Scot the estate took on a look of prosperity. The man was a model citizen—honors traveled his way: he became colonel of the local militia, county surveyor, and finally magistrate. Babies arrived as rapidly as Nature would allow and with the regularity of an electric clock—although, of course, there wasn't any electricity then.

The second child was named Patrick, Junior, in honor of and in deference to a brother of the happy father—a clergyman of the Established Church. Patrick Henry always subscribed himself "P. Henry, Junior," and whether he was ever aware that there was only one Patrick Henry is a question.

There were nine altogether in the brood—eight of them good, honest, barnyard fowls.

[Pg 280]And one was an eagle.

Why this was so no one knew—the mother didn't know and the father could not guess. All of them were born under about the same conditions, all received about the same training—or lack of it.

However, no one at first suspected that the eagle was an eagle—more than a score of years were to pass before he was suddenly to spread out strong, sinewy wings and soar to the ether.

Patrick Henry caused his parents more trouble and anxiety than all the rest of the family combined. Patrick and culture had nothing in common. As a youngster he roamed the woods, bare of foot and bare of head, his only garments a shirt and trousers held in place by a single gallus. He was indolent, dreamy, procrastinating, frolicsome, with a beautiful aversion to books, and a fondness for fishing that was carried to the limit. The boy's mother didn't worry very much about the youngster, but the father had spells when he took the matter to the Lord in prayer, and afterward, growing impatient of an answer, fell to and used the taws without mercy. John Henry probably did this as much to relieve his own feelings as for the good of the boy, but doubtless he did not reason quite that far.

Patrick nursed his black-and-blue spots and fell back on his flute for solace.

After one such seance, when he was twelve years of age, he disappeared with a colored boy about his own age. They took a shotgun, fishing-tackle and a violin.[Pg 281] They were gone three weeks, during which time Patrick had not been out of his clothes, nor once washed his face. They had slept out under the sky by campfires. The smell of smoke was surely on his garments, and his parents were put to their wits to distinguish between the bond and the free.

Had Patrick been an only child he would have driven his mother into hysteria and his father to the flowing bowl (I trust I use the right expression). If not this, then it would have been because the fond parents had found peace by transforming their son into a Little Lord Fauntleroy. Nature shows great wisdom in sending the young in litters—they educate each other, and so divide the time of the mother that attention to the individual is limited to the actual needs. Too much interference with children is a grave mistake.

Patrick Henry quit school at fifteen, with a love for 'rithmetic—it was such a fine puzzle—and an equal regard for history—history was a lot o' good stories. For two years he rode wild horses, tramped the woods with rod and gun, and played the violin at country dances.

Another spasm of fear, chagrin and discouragement sweeping over the father, on account of the indifference and profligacy of his son, he decided to try the youth in trade, and if this failed, to let him go to the devil. So a stock of general goods was purchased, and Patrick and William, the elder brother, were shoved off upon[Pg 282] the uncertain sea of commerce.

The result was just what might have been expected. The store was a loafing-place for all the ne'er-do-wells in the vicinity. Patrick trusted everybody—those who could not get trusted elsewhere patronized Patrick.

Things grew worse. In a year, when just eighteen years old, P. Henry, Junior, got married—married a rollicking country lass, as foolish as himself—done in bravado, going home from a dance, calling a minister out on his porch, in a crazy-quilt, to perform the ceremony. John Henry would have applied the birch to this hare-brained bridegroom, and the father of the girl would have stung her pink-and-white anatomy, but Patrick coolly explained that the matter could not be undone—they were duly married for better or for worse, and so the less fuss the better. Patrick loved his Doxey, and Doxey loved her Patrick, and together they made as precious a pair of beggars as ever played Gipsy music at a country fair.

Most of the time they were at the home of the bride's parents—not by invitation—but they were there. The place was a wayside tavern. The girl made herself useful in the kitchen, and Patrick welcomed the traveler and tended bar.

So things drifted, until Patrick was twenty-four, when one fine day he appeared on the streets of Williamsburg. He had come in on horseback, and his boots, clothing, hair and complexion formed a chromatic ensemble the[Pg 283] color of Hanover County clay. The account comes from his old-time comrade, Thomas Jefferson, who was at Williamsburg attending college.

"I've come up here to be admitted to the bar," gravely said P. Henry to T. Jefferson.

"But you are a barkeeper now, I hear."

"Yes," said Patrick; "but that's the other kind. You see, I've been studying law, and I want to be admitted to practise."

It took several minutes for the man who was to write the Declaration of Independence to get it through his head that the matter wasn't a joke. Then he conducted the lean, lank, rawboned rustic into the presence of the judges. There were four of these men: Wythe, Pendleton, Peyton and John Randolph. These men were all to be colleagues of the bumpkin at the First Continental Congress at Philadelphia, but that lay in the misty future.

They looked at the candidate in surprise; two of them laughed and two looked needlessly solemn. However, after some little parley, they consented to examine the clown as to his fitness to practise law.

In answer to the first question as to how long he had studied, his reply was, "About six weeks."

One biographer says six months, and still another, with anxious intent to prove the excellence of his man, says six years.

We had better take Jefferson's word—"Patrick Henry's[Pg 284] reply was six weeks." As much as to say: "What difference is it about how long I have studied? You are here to find out how much I know. There are men who can get more in six weeks than others can in six years—I may be one of these."

The easy indifference of the fellow was sublime. But he did know a little law, and he also knew a deal of history. The main thing against him was his unkempt appearance. After some hesitation the judges gave the required certificate, with a little lecture on the side concerning the beauties of etiquette and right attire as an adjunct to excellence in the learned professions.

Young Mr. Jefferson didn't wait to witness the examination of his friend—it was too painful—and besides he did not wish to be around so as to get any of the blame when the prayer for admission was denied.

So Patrick had to find Thomas. "I've got it!" said Patrick, and smiled grimly as he tapped his breast-pocket where the certificate was safely stowed.

Then he mounted his lean, dun horse and rode away, disappearing into the forest.

[Pg 285]As a pedagogic policy the training that Patrick Henry received would be rank ruin. Educational systems are designed for average intellects, but as if to show us the littleness of our little schemes, Destiny seems to give her first prizes to those who have evaded all rules and ignored every axiom. Rules and regulations are for average men—and so are average prizes.

Speak it softly: There are several ways of getting an education. Patrick Henry got his in the woods, following winding streams or lying at night under the stars; by mastering horses and wild animals; by listening to the wrangling of lawyers at country lawsuits, and the endless talk of planters who sat long hours at the tavern, perfectly willing to leave the labors of the field to the sons of Ham.

Thus, at twenty-four, Patrick Henry had first of all a physical constitution like watch-spring steel; he had no nerves; fatigue was unknown to him; he was not aware that he had a stomach. His intellectual endowment lay in his close intimacy with Nature—he knew her and was so a part of her that he never thought of her, any more than the fishes think of the sea. The continual dwelling on a subject proves our ignorance of it—we discuss only that for which we are reaching out.

Then, Patrick Henry knew men—he knew the workers, the toilers, the young, the old, the learned and the ignorant. He had mingled with mankind from behind[Pg 286] the counter, the tavern-bar, in court and school and in church—by the roadside, at horse-races, camp-meetings, dances and social gatherings. He was light of foot, ready of tongue, and with no thought as to respectability, and no doubts and fears regarding the bread-and-butter question. He had no pride, save possibly a pride in the fact that he had none. He played checkers, worked out mathematical problems in his mind to astonish the loafers, related history to instruct them—and get it straight in his own mind—and told them stories to make them laugh. It is a great misfortune to associate only with cultured people. "God loves the common people," said Lincoln, "otherwise He would not have made so many of them." Patrick Henry knew them; and is not this an education—to know Life?

He knew he could move men; that he could mold their thoughts; that he could convince them and bring them over to his own way of thinking. He had done it by the hour. In the continual rural litigations, he had watched lawyers make their appeal to the jury; he had sat on these juries, and he knew he could do the trick better. Therefore, he wanted to become a lawyer.

The practise of law to him was to convince, befog or divert the jury; he could do it, and so he applied for permission to practise law.

He was successful from the first. His clownish ways pleased the judge, the jury and the spectators. His ready tongue and infinite good humor made him a favorite.[Pg 287] There may not be much law in Justice-of-the-Peace proceedings, but there is a certain rude equity which possibly answers the purpose better. And surely it is good practise for the fledglings: the best way to learn law is to practise it. And the successful practise of the law lies almost as much in evading the law as in complying with it—I suppose we should say that softly, too. In support of the last proposition, let me say that we are dealing with P. Henry, Junior, of Virginia, arch-rebel, and a defier of law and precedent. Had he reverenced law as law, his name would have been writ in water. The reputation of the man hinges on the fact that he defied authority.

The first great speech of Patrick Henry was a defiance of the Common Law of England when it got in the way of the rights of the people. Every immortal speech ever given has been an appeal from the law of man to the Higher Law.

Patrick Henry was twenty-seven—the same age that Wendell Phillips was when he discovered himself. No one had guessed the genius of the man—least of all his parents. He himself did not know his power. The years that had gone had been fallow years—years of failure—but it was all a getting together of his forces for the spring. Relaxation is the first requisite of strength.

The case was a forlorn hope, and Patrick Henry, the awkward but clever country pettifogger, was retained[Pg 288] to defend the "Parsons' Cause," because he had opinions in the matter and no reputation to lose.

First, let it be known that Virginia had an Established Church, which was really the Church of England. The towns were called parishes, and the selectmen, or supervisors, were vestrymen. These vestrymen hired the rectors or preachers, and the money which paid the preachers came from taxes levied on the people.

Now, the standard of value in Virginia was tobacco, and the vestrymen, instead of paying the parsons in money, agreed to pay each parson sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco, with curates and bishops in proportion.

But there came a bad year; the tobacco-crop was ruined by a drought, and the value of the weed doubled in price.

The parsons demanded their tobacco; a bargain was a bargain; when tobacco was plentiful and cheap they had taken their quota and said nothing. Now that tobacco was scarce and high, things were merely equalized; a contract was a contract.

But the people complained. The theme was discussed in every tavern and store. There were not wanting infidels to say that the parsons should have prayed for rain, and that as they did not secure the moisture, they were remiss. Others asked by what right shall men who do not labor demand a portion of the crop from those who plant, hoe and harvest?

[Pg 289]Of course, all good Church people, all of the really loyal citizens, argued that the Parsons were a necessary part of the State—without them Society would sink into savagery—and as they did their duties, they should be paid by the people; they served, and all contracts made with them should be kept.

But the mutterings of discontent continued, and to appease the people, the House of Burgesses passed a law providing that, instead of tobacco being a legal tender, all debts could be paid in money; figuring tobacco at the rate of two cents a pound. As tobacco was worth about three times this amount, it will be seen at once that this was a law made in favor of the debtor class. It cut the salaries of the rectors down just two-thirds, and struck straight at English Common Law, which provides for the sacredness of contract.

The rectors combined and decided to make a test case. The Parsons versus the People—or, more properly, "The Reverend John Maury versus The Colony of Virginia."

Both law and equity were on the side of the Parsons. Their case was clear; only by absolutely overriding the law of England could the people win. The array of legal talent on the side of the Church included the best lawyers in the Colony—the Randolphs and other aristocrats were there.

And on the other side was Patrick Henry, the tall, lean, lank, sallow and uncouth representative of the people. Five judges were on the bench, one of whom[Pg 290] was the father of Patrick Henry.

The matter was opened in a logical, lucid, judicial speech by the Honorable Jeremiah Lyon. He stated the case without passion or prejudice—there was only one side to it.

Then Patrick Henry arose. He began to speak; stopped, hesitated, began again, shuffled his feet, cleared his throat, and his father, on the bench, blushed for shame. The auditors thought he was going to break down—even the opposition pitied him.

Suddenly, his tall form shot up, he stepped one step forward and stood like a statue of bronze: his own father did not recognize him, he had so changed. His features were transformed from those of a clown into those of command and proud intelligence. A poise so perfect came upon him that it was ominous. He began to speak—his sentences were crystalline, sharp, clear, direct. The judges leaned forward, the audience hung breathless upon his words.

He began by showing how all wealth comes from labor applied to the land. He pictured the people at their work, showed the laborer in the field in the rains of Spring, under the blaze of the Summer sun, amid the frosts of Autumn—bond and free working side by side with brain and brawn, to wring from the earth a scanty sustenance. He showed the homes of the poor, the mother with babe at her breast, the girls cooking at the fire, others tending the garden—all the process of toil and travail, of patient labor and endless effort,[Pg 291] were rapidly marshaled forth. Over against this, he unveiled the clergy in broadcloth and silken gowns, riding in carriages, seated on cushions and living a life of luxury. He turned and faced the opposition, and shook his bony finger at them in scorn and contempt. The faces of the judges grew livid; many of the Parsons, unable to endure his withering rebuke, sneaked away: the people forgot to applaud; only silence and the stinging, ringing voice of the speaker filled the air.

He accused the Parsons of being the defiers of the law; the people had passed the statute; the preachers had come, asking that it be annulled. And then was voiced, I believe, for the first time in America, the truth that government exists only by the consent of the governed—that law is the crystallized opinion of the people—that the voice of the people is the voice of God—that the act of the Parsons, in seeking to over-ride the will of the people, was treason, and should be punished. He defied the Common Law of England and appealed to the Law of God—the question of right—the question of justice—to whom does the fruit of labor belong!

Before the fiery, overpowering torrent of eloquence of the man, the reason of the judges fled. There was but one will in that assembly, and that will was the will of Patrick Henry.

[Pg 292]In that first great speech of his life—probably the greatest speech then ever given in Virginia—Patrick Henry committed himself irrevocably on the subject of human rights. The theme of taxation came to him in a way it never had before. Men are taxed that other men may live in idleness. Those who pay the tax must decide whether the tax is just or not—anything else is robbery. We shall see how this thought took hold on Patrick's very life. It was the weak many against the entrenched few. He had said more than he had intended to say—he had expressed things which he never before knew that he knew. As he made truth plain to his auditors, he had clarified his own mind.

The heavens had opened before him—he was as one transformed. That outward change in his appearance marked only an inward illumination which had come to his spirit.

In great oratory the appearance of the man is always changed. Men grow by throes and throbs, by leaps and bounds. The idea of "Cosmic Consciousness"—being born again—is not without its foundation in fact: the soul is in process of gestation, and when the time is ripe the new birth occurs, and will occur again and again.

Patrick Henry at once took his place among the strong men of Virginia—his was a personality that must be reckoned with in political affairs. His law practise doubled, and to keep it down he doubled his prices—with[Pg 293] the usual effect. He then tried another expedient, and very few lawyers indeed are strong enough to do this: he would accept no case until the fee was paid in advance. "I keep no books—my fee is so much—pay this and I will undertake your case." He accepted no contingent cases, and if he believed his client was in the wrong, he told him so, and brought about a compromise. Some enemies were made through this frank advice, but when the fight was once on, Patrick Henry was a whirlwind of wrath: he saw but one side and believed in his client's cause as though it had been written by Deity on tables of stone.

Long years after the death of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson made some remarks about Henry's indolence, and his indisposition to write out things. A little more insight, or less prejudice, would have shown that Patrick Henry's plan was only Nature's scheme for the conservation of forces, and at the last was the highest wisdom.

By demanding the fee in advance, the business was simplified immensely. It tested the good faith of the would-be litigant, cut down the number of clients, preserved the peace, freed the secretions, aided digestion and tended to sweet sleep o' nights.

Litigation is a luxury that must be paid for—by the other fellow, we expect when we begin, but later we find we are it. If the lawyers would form a union and agree not to listen to any man's tale of woe until he[Pg 294] placed a hundred dollars in the attorney's ginger-jar, it would be a benefit untold to humanity. Contingent fees and blackmail have much in common.

A man who could speak in public like Patrick Henry was destined for a political career. A vacancy in the State Legislature occurring, the tide of events carried him in. Hardly had he taken the oath and been seated before the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider the Stamp Act. Mutterings from New England had been heard, but Virginia was inclined to abide by the acts of the Mother Country, gaining merely such modifications as could be brought about by modest argument and respectful petition. And in truth let it be stated that the Mother Country had not shown herself blind to the rights of the Colonies, nor deaf to their prayers—the aristocrats of Virginia usually got what they wanted.

The Stamp Act was up for discussion; the gavel rapped for order and the Speaker declared the House in session.

"Mr. Speaker," rang out a high, clear voice. It was the voice of the new member. Inadvertently he was recognized and had the floor. There was a little more "senatorial courtesy" then than now in deliberative bodies, and one of the unwritten laws of the Virginia Legislature was that no member during his first session should make an extended speech or take an active part in the business of the House.

"Sir, I present for the consideration of this House the[Pg 295] following resolutions." And the new member read seven resolutions he had scrawled off on the fly-leaves of a convenient law-book.

As he read, the older members winced and writhed. Peyton Randolph cursed him under his breath. This audacious youth in buckskin shirt and leather breeches was assuming the leadership of the House. His audacity was unprecedented! Here are Numbers Five, Six and Seven of the Resolutions—these give the meat of the matter:

"Resolved, That the general assembly of this colony has the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever, other than the general assembly aforesaid, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.

"Resolved, That His Majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this colony, are not bound to yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them, other than the laws or ordinances of the general assembly aforesaid.

"Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or maintain that any person or persons, other than the general assembly of this colony, have any right or power to impose or lay any taxation on the people here, shall be deemed an enemy to His Majesty's colony."

[Pg 296]As the uncouth member ceased to read, there went up a howl of disapproval. But the resolutions were launched, and according to the rules of the House they could be argued, and in order to be repudiated, must be voted upon.

Patrick Henry stood almost alone. Pitted against him was the very flower of Virginia's age and intellect. Logic, argument, abuse, raillery and threat were heaped upon his head. He stood like adamant and answered shot for shot. It was the speech in the "Parsons' Cause" multiplied by ten—the theme was the same: the right to confiscate the results of labor. Before the debater had ceased, couriers were carrying copies of Patrick Henry's resolutions to New England. Every press printed them—the people were aroused, and the name of Patrick Henry became known in every cot and cabin throughout the Colonies. He was the mouthpiece of the plain people; what Samuel Adams stood for in New England, Patrick Henry hurled in voice of thunder at the heads of aristocrats in Virginia. He lighted the fuse of rebellion.

One passage in that first encounter in the Virginia Legislature has become deathless. Hackneyed though it be, it can never grow old. Referring to the injustice of the Stamp Act, Patrick Henry reached the climax of his speech in these words: "Cæsar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third—"

"Treason!" shouted the Speaker, and the gavel splintered the desk.[Pg 297]

"Treason! Treason!" came in roars from all over the House.

Patrick Henry paused, proud and defiant, waiting for the tumult to subside—"And George the Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!" And he took his seat.

The resolutions were put to a vote and carried. Again Patrick Henry had won.

[Pg 298]By a singular coincidence, on the same day that Patrick Henry, of his own accord, introduced those resolutions at Williamsburg, a mass meeting was held in Boston to consider the same theme, and similar resolutions were passed. There was this difference, however: Patrick Henry flung his reasons into the teeth of an entrenched opposition and fought the fight single-handed, while in Boston the resolutions were read and passed by an assembly that had met for no other purpose.

Patrick Henry's triumph was heralded throughout New England and gave strength and courage to those of feeble knees. From a Colonial he sprang into national fame, and his own words, "I am not a Virginian—I am an American!" went ringing through New England hills.

Meantime, Patrick Henry went back to his farm and law-office. His wife rejoiced in his success, laughed with him at his mishaps and was always the helpful, uncomplaining comrade, and as he himself expressed it, "My best friend." And when he would get back home from one of his trips, the neighbors would gather to hear from his own lips about what he had done and said. He was still the unaffected countryman, seemingly careless, happy and indolent. It was on the occasion of one of these family gatherings that a contemporary saw him and wrote: "In mock complaint he exclaimed, 'How can I play the fiddle with two babies on each[Pg 299] knee and three on my back!'"

So the years went by in work, play and gradually widening fame. Patrick Henry grew with his work—the years gave him dignity—gradually the thought of his heart 'graved its lines upon his face. The mouth became firm and the entire look of the man was that of earnest resolution. Fate was pushing him on. What once was only whispered, he had voiced in trumpet tones; the thought of liberty was being openly expressed even in pulpits.

He had been returned to the Legislature, was a member of the Continental Congress, and rode horseback side by side with Washington and Pendleton to Philadelphia, as told at length in Washington's diary.

In his utterances he was a little less fiery, but in his heart, everybody who knew him at all realized that there dwelt the thought of liberty for the Colonies. John Adams wrote to Abigail that Patrick Henry looked like a Quaker preacher turned Presbyterian.

A year later came what has been rightly called the third great speech of Henry's life, the speech at the Revolutionary Convention at Richmond. Good people often expect to hear oratory at a banquet, a lyceum lecture, or in a Sunday sermon; but oratory is neither lecture, talk, harangue, declamation nor preaching. Of course we say that the great speech is the one that has been given many times, but the fact is, the great speech is never given but once.

The time is ripe—the hour arrives—mighty issues[Pg 300] tremble in the balances. The auditors are not there to be amused nor instructed—they have not stopped at the box-office and paid good money to have their senses alternately lulled and titillated. No! The question is that of liberty or bondage, life or death—passion is in the saddle—hate and prejudice are sweeping events into a maelstrom—and now is the time for oratory! Such occasions are as rare as the birth of stars. A man stands before you—it is no time for fine phrasing—no time for pose or platitude. Self-consciousness is swallowed up in purpose. He is as calm as the waters above the Rapids of Niagara, as composed as a lioness before she makes her spring. Intensity measures itself in perfect poise. And Patrick Henry arises to speak. Those who love the man pray for him in breathless silence, and the many who hate him in their hearts curse him. Pale faces grow paler, throats swallow hard, hands clutch at nothing, and open and shut in nervous spasms. It is the hour of fate.

Patrick Henry speaks:

Mr. President: It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of the siren until she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who having eyes see not, and having ears hear not the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may[Pg 301] cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British Ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and this House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation—the last arguments to which kings resort. I say, gentlemen, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can you assign any other possible motive for it? Has Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British Ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer[Pg 302] upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, deceive ourselves longer.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated, we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the Ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak—unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every[Pg 303] house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of Nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged; their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace; but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

[Pg 304]Life is a gradual death. There are animals and insects that die on the instant of the culmination of the act for which they were created. Success is death, and death, if you have bargained wisely with Fate, is victory.

Patrick Henry, with his panther's strength and nerves of steel, had thrown his life into a Cause—that Cause had won, and now the lassitude of dissolution crept into his veins. We hear of hair growing white in a single day, and we know that men may round out a life-work in an hour. Oratory, like all of God's greatest gifts, is bought with a price. The abandon of the orator is the spending of his divine heritage for a purpose.

Patrick Henry had given himself. Even in his law business he was the conscientious servant, and having undertaken a cause, he put his soul into it. Shame upon those who call this man indolent! He often did in a day—between the rising of the sun and its setting—what others spread out thin over a lifetime and then fail to accomplish.

And now virtue had gone out from him. Four times had Virginia elected him Governor; he had served his State well, and on the fifth nomination he had declined. When Washington wished to make him his Secretary of State, he smiled and shook his head, and to the entreaty that he be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he said that there were others who could fill the place better, but he knew of no one who could manage his farm.

[Pg 305]And so he again became the country lawyer, looked after his plantation, attended to the education of his children, told stories to the neighbors who came and sat on the veranda—now and again went to rustic parties, played the violin, and the voice that had cried, "Give me liberty or give me death," called off for the merry dancers as in the days of old.

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-nine, at the personal request of Washington, who needed, or thought he needed, a strong advocate at the Capitol, Patrick Henry ran for the Legislature. He was elected, but before the day arrived when he was to take his seat, he sickened and died, surrounded by his stricken family. Those who knew him, loved him—those who did not love him, did not know him.

And a Nation mourned his taking off.


The chief difference between a wise man and an ignorant one is, not[Pg 307] that the first is acquainted with regions invisible to the second, away from common sight and interest, but that he understands the common things which the second only sees.

Sight and Insight
[Pg 308]


[Pg 309]

If you had chanced to live in Boston in the early Nineties, alert for all good things in a mental and spiritual way, you would have made the Sundays sacred to Minot Savage, Phillips Brooks and Edward Everett Hale.

Emerson says that if you know a clergyman's sect and behold his livery, in spite of all his show of approaching the subject without prejudice, you know beforehand exactly to what conclusions he will come. This is what robs most sermons of their interest. Preaching, like humor, must have in it the element of surprise. I remember with what a thrill of delight I would sit and watch Minot Savage unwind his logic and then gently weave it into a fabric. The man was not afraid to follow a reason to its lair. He had a way of saying the thing for the first time—it came as a personal message, contradicting, possibly, all that had been said before on the subject, oblivious of precedent.

I once saw a man with a line around his waist leap from a stranded ship into the sea, and strike out boldly for the shore. The thrill of admiration for the act was unforgetable.

The joy of beholding a strong and valiant thinker plunge into a theme is an event. Will he make the[Pg 310] shore, or shall he go down to defeat before these thousands of spectators?

When Minot Savage ceased to speak, you knew he had won—he had brought the line safely to shore and made all secure.

Or, if you have heard Rabbi Hirsch or Felix Adler, you know the feeling. These men make a demand upon you—you play out the line for them, and when all is secure, there is a relief which shows you have been under an intense strain. To paraphrase Browning, they offer no substitute, to an idle man, for a cushioned chair and cigar.

Phillips Brooks made small demand upon his auditors. If I heard Minot Savage in the morning and got wound up tight, as I always did, I went to Vespers at Trinity Church for rest.

The soft, sweet playing of the organ, the subdued lights, the far-away voices of the choir, and finally the earnest words of the speaker, worked a psychic spell. The sermon began nowhere and ended nowhere—the speaker was a great, gentle personality, with a heart of love for everybody and everything. We have heard of the old lady who would go miles to hear her pastor pronounce the word Mesopotamia, but he put no more soul into it than did Phillips Brooks. The service was all a sort of lullaby for tired souls—healing and helpful.

But as after every indulgence there comes a minor strain of dissatisfaction following the awakening, so it[Pg 311] was here—it was beautiful while it lasted. Then eight o'clock would come and I would be at Edward Everett Hale's. This sturdy old man, with his towering form, rugged face and echoing bass voice, would open up the stops and give his blessed "Mesopotamia" like a trumpet call. He never worked the soft pedal. His first words always made me think of "Boots and Saddles!" Be a man—do something! Why stand ye here all the day idle!

And there was love and entreaty, too, but it never lulled you into forgetfulness. There was intellect, but it did not ask you to follow it. The dear old man did not wind in and out among the sinuosities of thought—no, he was right out on the broad prairie, under the open sky, sounding "Boots and Saddles!"

In Doctor Hale's church is a most beautiful memorial window to Thomas Starr King, who was at one time the pastor of this church. I remember Doctor Hale once rose and pointing to that window, said: "That window is in memory of a man! But how vain a window, how absurd a monument if the man had not left his impress upon the hearts of humanity! That beautiful window only mirrors our memories of the individual."

And then Doctor Hale talked, just talked for an hour about Starr King.

Doctor Hale has given that same talk or sermon every year for thirty years: I have heard it three times, but never exactly twice alike. I have tried to get a printed[Pg 312] copy of the address, but have so far failed. Yet this is sure: you can not hear Doctor Hale tell of Starr King without a feeling that King was a most royal specimen of humanity, and a wish down deep in your heart that you, too, might reflect some of the sterling virtues that he possessed.

[Pg 313]Starr King died in California in Eighteen Hundred Sixty-four. In Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, is his statue in bronze. In the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco is a tablet to his memory; in the Unitarian Church at Oakland are many loving tokens to his personality; and in the State House at Sacramento is his portrait and an engrossed copy of resolutions passed by the Legislature at the time of his death, wherein he is referred to as "the man whose matchless oratory saved California to the Union."

"Who was Starr King?" I once asked Doctor Charles H. Leonard of Tufts College. And the saintly old man lifted his eyes as if in prayer of thankfulness and answered: "Starr King! Starr King! He was the gentlest and strongest, the most gifted soul I ever knew—I bless God that I lived just to know Starr King!"

Not long after this I asked the same question of Doctor C. A. Bartol that I had asked Doctor Leonard, and the reply was: "He was a man who proved the possible—in point of temper and talent, the most virile personality that New England has produced. We call Webster our greatest orator, but this man surpassed Webster: he had a smile that was a benediction; a voice that was a caress. We admired Webster, but Starr King we loved: one convinced our reason, the other captured our hearts."

The Oriental custom of presenting a thing to the friend[Pg 314] who admires it symbols a very great truth. If you love a thing well enough, you make it yours.

Culture is a matter of desire; knowledge is to be had for the asking; and education is yours if you want it. All men should have a college education in order that they may know its worthlessness. George William Curtis was a very prince of gentlemen, and as an orator he won by his manner and by his gentle voice fully as much as by the orderly procession of his thoughts.

"Oh, what is it in me that makes me tremble so at voices! Whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her will I follow," says Walt Whitman.

If you have ever loved a woman and you care to go back to May-time and try to analyze the why and the wherefore, you probably will not be able to locate the why and the wherefore, but this negative truth you will discover: you were not won by logic. Of course you admired the woman's intellect—it sort of matched your own, and in loving her you complimented yourself, for thus by love and admiration do we prove our kinship with the thing loved.

But intellect alone is too cold to fuse the heart. Something else is required, and for lack of a better word we call it "personality." This glowing, winning personality that inspires confidence and trust is a bouquet of virtues, the chief flower of which is Right Intent—honesty may be a bit old-fashioned, but do not try to leave it out.

[Pg 315]George William Curtis and Starr King had a frank, wide-open, genuine quality that disarmed prejudice right at the start. And both were big enough so that they never bemoaned the fact that Fate had sent them to the University of Hard Knocks instead of matriculating them at Harvard.

I once heard George William Curtis speak at Saint James Hall, Buffalo, on Civil-Service Reform—a most appalling subject with which to hold a "popular audience." He was introduced by the Honorable Sherman S. Rogers, a man who was known for ten miles up the creek as the greatest orator in Erie County. After the speech of introduction, Curtis stepped to the front, laid on the reading-desk a bundle of manuscript, turned one page, and began to talk. He talked for two hours, and never once again referred to his manuscript—we thought he had forgotten it. He himself tells somewhere of Edward Everett doing the same. It is fine to have a thing and still show that you do not need it. The style of Curtis was in such marked contrast to the bluegrass article represented by Rogers that it seemed a rebuke. One was florid, declamatory, strong, full of reasons: the other was keyed low—it was so melodious, so gently persuasive, that we were thrown off our guard and didn't know we had imbibed rank heresy until we were told so the next day by a man who was not there. As the speaker closed, an old lady seated near me sighed softly, adjusted her Paisley shawl and[Pg 316] said, "That was the finest address I ever heard, except one given in this very hall in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-nine by Starr King."

And I said, "Well, a speech that you can remember for twenty-five years must have been a good one!"

"It wasn't the address so much as the man," answered this mother in Israel, and she heaved another small sigh.

And therein did the good old lady drop a confession. I doubt me much whether any woman will remember any speech for a week—she just remembers the man.

And this applies pretty nearly as much to men, too. Is there sex in spirit? Hardly! Thoreau says the character of Jesus was essentially feminine. Herbert Spencer avers, "The high intuitive quality which we call genius is largely feminine in character." "Starr King was the child of his mother, and his best qualities were feminine," said the Reverend E. H. Chapin.

[Pg 317]When Starr King's father died the boy was fifteen. There were five younger children and Starr was made man of the house by Destiny's acclaim. Responsibility ripens. This slim, slender youth became a man in a day.

The father had been the pastor of the Charlestown Universalist Church. I suppose it is hardly necessary to take a page and prove that this clergyman in an unpopular church did not leave a large fortune to his family. In truth, he left a legacy of debts. Starr King, the boy of fifteen, left school and became clerk in a drygoods-store. The mother cared for her household and took in sewing.

Joshua Bates, master of the Winthrop School, describes Starr King as he was when the father's death cut off his schooldays: "Slight of build, golden-haired, active, agile, with a homely face which everybody thought was handsome on account of the beaming eyes, the winning smile and the earnest desire of always wanting to do what was best and right."

This kind of boy gets along all right anywhere—God is on his side. The hours in the drygoods-store were long, and on Saturday nights it was nearly midnight before Starr would reach home. But there was a light in the window for him, even if whale-oil was scarce, and the mother was at her sewing. Together they ate their midnight lunch, and counted the earnings of the week.

[Pg 318]And the surprise of both that they were getting a living and paying off the debts sort of cleared the atmosphere of its gloom.

In Burke's "Essay on the Sublime," he speaks of the quiet joy that comes through calamity when we discover that the calamity has not really touched us. The death of a father who leaves a penniless widow and a hungry brood comes at first as a shock—the heavens are darkened and hope has fled.

I know a man who was in a railroad wreck—the sleeping-car in which he rode left the track and rolled down an embankment. There was a black interval of horror, and then this man found himself, clad in his underclothes, standing on the upturned car, looking up at the Pleiades and this thought in his mind, "What beauty and peace are in these winter heavens!" The calamity had come—he was absolutely untouched—he was locating the constellations and surprised and happy in his ability to enjoy them.

Starr King and his mother sipped their midnight tea and grew jolly over the thought of their comfortable home; they were clothed and fed, the children well and sleeping soundly in baby abandon upstairs, the debts were being paid. They laughed, did this mother and son, really laughed aloud, when only a month before they had thought that only gloom and misery could ever again be theirs.

They laughed!

[Pg 319]And soon the young man's salary was increased—people liked to trade with him—customers came and asked that he might wait on them. He sold more goods than anyone else in his department, and yet he never talked things on to people. He was alert, affable, kindly, and anticipated the wishes and wants of his customers without being subservient, fawning or domineering.

This kind of helper is needed everywhere—the one who gives a willing hand, who puts soul into his service, who brings a glow of good-cheer into all his relations with men.

The doing things with a hearty enthusiasm is often what makes the doer a marked person and his deeds effective. The most ordinary service is dignified when it is performed in that spirit. Every employer wants those who work for him to put heart and mind into the toil. He soon picks out those whose souls are in their service, and gives them evidence of his appreciation. They do not need constant watching. He can trust them in his absence, and so the places of honor and profit naturally gravitate to them.

The years went by, and one fine day Starr King was twenty years of age. All of the debts were paid, the children were going to school, and mother and son faced the world from the vantage-ground of success. Starr had quit the drygoods trade and gone to teaching school on less salary, so as to get more leisure for study.

Incidentally he kept books at the Navy Yard.

[Pg 320]About this time Theodore Parker wrote to a friend in Maiden: "I can not come to preach for you as I would like, but with your permission I will send Thomas Starr King. This young man is not a regularly ordained preacher, but he has the grace of God in his heart, and the gift of tongues. He is a rare, sweet spirit, and I know that after you have met him you will thank me for sending him to you."

Then soon we hear of Starr King's being invited to Medford to give a Fourth of July oration, and also of his speaking in the Universalist churches at Cambridge, Waltham, Watertown, Hingham and Salem—sent to these places by Doctor E. H. Chapin, pastor of the Charlestown Universalist Church, and successor to the Reverend Thomas F. King, father of Starr King.

Starr seems to have served as a sort of assistant to Chapin, and thereby revealed his talent and won the heart of the great man. Edwin Hubbell Chapin was only ten years older than Starr King, and at that time had not really discovered himself, but in discovering another he found himself. Twenty years later Beecher and Chapin were to rival each other for first place as America's greatest pulpit orator. These men were always fast friends, yet when they met at convention or conference folks came for miles to see the fire fly. "Where are you going?" once asked Beecher of Chapin when they met by chance on Broadway. "Where am I going?" repeated Chapin. "Why, if you are right[Pg 321] in what you preach, you know where I am going." But only a few years were to pass before Chapin said in public in Beecher's presence, "I am jealous of Mr. Beecher—he preaches a better Universalist sermon than I can." Chapin made his mark upon the time: his sermons read as though they were written yesterday, and carry with them a deal of the swing and onward sweep that are usually lost when the orator attempts to write. But if Chapin had done nothing else but discover Starr King, the drygoods-clerk, rescue him from the clutch of commerce and back him on the orator's platform, he deserves the gratitude of generations. And all this I say as a businessman who fully recognizes that commerce is just as honorable and a deal more necessary than oratory. But there were other men to sell thread and calico, and God had special work for Thomas Starr King.

Chapin was a graduate of Bennington Seminary, the school that also graduated the father of Robert Ingersoll. On Chapin's request Theodore Parker, himself a Harvard man, sent Starr King over to Cambridge to preach. Boston was a college town—filled with college traditions, and when one thinks of sending out this untaught stripling to address college men, we can not but admire the temerity of both Chapin and Parker. "He has never attended a Divinity School," writes Chapin to Deacon Obadiah B. Queer of Quincy, "but he is educated just the same. He speaks Greek, Hebrew,[Pg 322] French, German, and fairly good English, as you will see. He knows natural history and he knows humanity; and if one knows man and Nature, he comes pretty close to knowing God."

Where did this drygoods-clerk get his education? Ah, I'll tell you—he got his education as the lion's whelp gets his. The lioness does not send her cub away to a lioness that has no cubs in order that he may be taught. The lion nature gets what it needs with its mother's milk and by doing.

Schools and colleges are cumbrous makeshifts, often forcing truth on pupils out of season, and thus making lessons grievous. "The soul knows all things," says Emerson, "and knowledge is only a remembering." "When the time is ripe, men know," wrote Hegel. At the last we can not teach anything—nothing is imparted. We can not make the plants and flowers grow—all we can do is to supply the conditions, and God does the rest. In education we can only supply the conditions for growth—we can not impart, nor force the germs to unfold.

Starr King's mother was his teacher. Together they read good books, and discussed great themes. She read for him and he studied for her. She did not treat him as a child—things that interested her she told to him. The sunshine of her soul was reflected upon his, and thus did he grow. I know a woman whose children will be learned, even though they never enter a schoolroom. This[Pg 323] woman is a companion to her children and her mind vitalizes theirs. This does not mean that we should at once do away with schools and colleges, but it does reveal the possible. To read and then discuss with a strong and sympathetic intellect what you read is to make the thought your own—it is a form of exercise that brings growth.

Starr King's mother was not a wonderful nor a famous person—I find no mention of her in Society's Doings of the day—nothing of her dress or equipage. If she was "superbly gowned," we do not know it; if she was ever one of the "unbonneted," history is silent. All we know is, that together they read Bulfinch's "Mythology," Grote's "History of Greece," Plutarch, Dante and Shakespeare. We know that she placed a light in the window for him to make his home-coming cheerful, that together they sipped their midnight tea, that together they laughed, and sometimes wept—but not for long.

[Pg 324]In Eighteen Hundred Forty-six Chapin was thirty-two years old. Starr King was twenty-two. A call had reached Chapin to come up higher; but he refused to leave the old church at Charlestown unless Starr King was to succeed him. To place a young man in the position of pastor where he has sat in the pews, his feet not reaching the floor, is most trying. Starr King knew every individual man, woman and child in the church, and they had known him since babyhood. In appearance he was but a boy, and the dignity that is supposed to send conviction home was entirely wanting.

But Chapin had his way and the boy was duly ordained and installed as pastor of the First Universalist Church of Charlestown.

The new pastor fully expected his congregation to give him "absent treatment," but instead, the audience grew—folks even came over from Boston to hear the boy-preacher. His sermons were carefully written, and dealt in the simple, every-day lessons of life. To Starr King this world is paradise enow; it's the best place of which we know, and the way for man to help himself is to try and make it a better place. There is a flavor of Theodore Parker in those early sermons, a trace of Thoreau and much tincture of Emerson—and all this was to the credit of the boy-preacher. His woman's mind absorbed things.

About that time Boston was in very fact the intellectual[Pg 325] hub of America. Emerson was forty-three, his "Nature" had been published anonymously, and although it took eight years to sell this edition of five hundred copies, the author was in demand as a lecturer, and in some places society conceded him respectable. Wendell Phillips was addressing audiences that alternately applauded and jeered. Thoreau had discovered the Merrimac and explored Walden Woods; little Doctor Holmes was peregrinating in his One-Hoss Shay, vouchsafing the confidences of his boarding-house; Lowell was beginning to violate the rules of rhetoric; Whittier was making his plea for the runaway slave; and throughout New England the Lecture Lyceum was feeling its way.

A lecture course was then no vaudeville—five concerts and two lectures to take off the curse—not that! The speakers supplied strong meat for men. The stars in the lyceum sky were Emerson, Chapin, Beecher, Holmes, Bartol, Phillips, Ballou, Everett and Lowell. These men made the New England Lyceum a vast pulpit of free speech and advanced thought. And to a degree the Lyceum made these men what they were. They influenced the times and were influenced by the times. They were in competition with each other. A pace had been set, a record made, and the audiences that gathered expected much. An audience gets just what it deserves and no more. If you have listened to a poor speech, blame yourself.

In the life of George Francis Train, he tells that in[Pg 326] Eighteen Hundred Forty Emerson spoke in Waltham for five dollars and four quarts of oats for his horse—now he received twenty-five dollars. Chapin got the same, and when the Committee could not afford this, he referred them to Starr King, who would lecture for five dollars and supply his own horse-feed.

Two years went by and calls came for Starr King to come up higher. Worcester would double his salary if he would take a year's course at the Harvard Divinity School. Starr showed the letter to Chapin, and both laughed. Worcester was satisfied with Starr King as he was, but what would Springfield say if they called a man who had no theological training? And then it was that Chapin said, "Divinity is not taught in the Harvard Divinity School," which sounds like a paraphrase of Ernest Renan's, "You will find God anywhere but in a theological seminary."

King declined the call to Worcester, but harkened to one from the Hollis Street Church of Boston. He went over from Universalism to Unitarianism and still remained a Universalist—and this created quite a dust among the theologs. Little men love their denomination with a jealous love—truth is secondary—they see microscopic difference where big men behold only unity.

It was about this time that Starr King pronounced this classic: "The difference between Universalism and Unitarianism is that Universalists believe that God is too good to damn them; and the Unitarians believe that[Pg 327] they are too good to be damned."

At the Hollis Street Church this stripling of twenty-four now found himself being compared with the foremost preachers of America. And the man grew with his work, rising to the level of events. It was at the grave of Oliver Wendell Holmes that Edward Everett Hale said, "The five men who have influenced the literary and intellectual thought of America most, believed in their own divinity no less than in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth."

The destiny of the liberal church is not to become strong and powerful, but to make all other denominations more liberal. When Chapin accused Beecher of preaching Universalist sermons, it was a home thrust, because Beecher would never have preached such sermons had not Murray, Ballou, Theodore Parker, Chapin and Starr King done so first—and Beecher supplied the goods called for.

Starr King's voice was deep, melodious and far-reaching, and it was not an acquired "bishop's voice"—it was his own. The biggest basso I ever heard was just five feet high and weighed one hundred twenty in his stockings; Brignoli, the tenor, weighed two hundred forty. Avoirdupois as a rule lessens the volume of the voice and heightens the register—you can't have both adipose and chest tone. Webster and Starr King had voices very much alike, and Webster, by the way, wasn't the big man physically that the school readers proclaim. It was his gigantic head and the royal way[Pg 328] he carried himself that made the Liverpool stevedores say, "There goes the King of America."

There was no pomposity about Starr King. Doctor Bartol has said that when King lectured in a new town his homely, boyish face always caused a small spasm of disappointment or merriment to sweep over the audience. But when he spoke he was a transformed being, and his deep, mellow voice would hush the most inveterate whisperers.

For eleven years Starr King remained pastor of the Hollis Street Church. During the last years of his pastorate he was much in demand as a lecturer, and his voice was heard in all the principal cities as far west as Chicago.

His lecture, "Substance and Show," deserves to rank with Wendell Phillips' "The Lost Arts." In truth it is very much like Phillips' lecture. In "The Lost Arts" Phillips tells in easy conversational way of the wonderful things that once existed; and Starr King relates in the same manner the story of some of the wonderful things that are right here and all around us. It reveals the mind of the man, his manner and thought, as well as any of his productions. The great speech is an evolution, and this lecture, given many times in the Eastern States under various titles, did not touch really high-water mark until King reached California and had cut loose from manuscript and tradition. An extract seems in order:

[Pg 329]

Most persons, doubtless, if you place before them a paving-stone and a slip of paper with some writing on it, would not hesitate to say that there is as much more substance in the rock than in the paper as there is heaviness. Yet they might make a great mistake. Suppose that the slip of paper contains the sentence, "God is love"; or, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; or, "All men have moral rights by reason of heavenly parentage," then the paper represents more force and substance than the stone. Heaven and earth may pass away, but such words can never die out or become less real.

The word "substance" means that which stands under and supports anything else. Whatever then creates, upholds, classifies anything which our senses behold, though we can not handle, see, taste or smell it, is more substantial than the object itself. In this way the soul which vivifies, moves and supports the body is a more potent substance than the hard bones and heavy flesh which it vitalizes. A ten-pound weight falling on your head affects you unpleasantly as substance, much more so than a leaf of the New Testament, if dropped in the same direction; but there is a way in which a page of the New Testament may fall upon a nation and split it, or infuse itself into its bulk and give it strength and permanence. We should be careful, therefore, what test we adopt in order to decide the relative stability of things.

There is a very general tendency to deny that ideal forces have any practical power. But there have been several thinkers whose skepticism has an opposite direction. "We can not," they say, "attribute external[Pg 330] reality to the sensations we feel." We need not wonder that this theory has failed to convince the unmetaphysical common-sense of people that a stone post is merely a stubborn thought, and that the bite of a dog is nothing but an acquaintance with a pugnacious, four-footed conception. When a man falls downstairs it is not easy to convince him that his thought simply tumbles along an inclined series of perceptions and comes to a conclusion that breaks his head; least of all, can you induce a man to believe that the scolding of his wife is nothing but the buzzing of his own waspish thoughts, and her too free use of his purse only the loss of some golden fancies from his memory. We are all safe against such idealism as Bishop Berkeley reasoned out so logically. Byron's refutation of it is neat and witty:

"When Bishop Berkeley says there is no matter,
It is no matter what Bishop Berkeley says."

And yet, by more satisfactory evidence than that which the idealists propose, we are warned against confounding the conception of substance with matter, and confining it to things we can see and grasp. Science steps in and shows us that the physical system of things leans on spirit. We talk of the world of matter, but there is no such world. Everything about us is a mixture or marriage of matter and spirit. A world of matter—there would be no motion, no force, no form, no order, no beauty, in the universe as it now is; organization meets us at every step and wherever we look; organization implies spirit—something that rules, disposes, penetrates and vivifies matter.

[Pg 331]See what a sermon astronomy preaches as to the substantial power of invisible things. If the visible universe is so stupendous, what shall we think of the unseen force and vitality in whose arms all its splendors rest? It is no gigantic Atlas, as the Greeks fancied, that upholds the celestial sphere; all the constellations are kept from falling by an impalpable energy that uses no muscles and no masonry. The ancient mathematician, Archimedes, once said, "Give me a foot of ground outside the globe to stand upon, and I will make a lever that will lift the world." The invisible lever of gravitation, however, without any fulcrum or purchase, does lift the globe, and makes it waltz, too, with its blonde lunar partner, twelve hundred miles a minute to the music of the sun—ay, and heaves sun and systems and Milky Way in majestic cotillions on its ethereal floor.

You grasp an iron ball, and call it hard; it is not the iron that is hard, but cohesive force that packs the particles of metal into intense sociability. Let the force abate, and the same metal becomes like mush; let it disappear, and the ball is a heap of powder which your breath scatters in the air. If the cohesive energy in Nature should get tired and unclench its grasp of matter, our earth would instantly become "a great slump"; so that which we tread on is not material substance, but matter braced up by a spiritual substance, for which it serves as the form and show.

All the peculiarities of rock and glass, diamond, ice and crystal are due to the working of unseen military forces that employ themselves under ground—in caverns, beneath rivers, in mountain crypts, and through[Pg 332] the coldest nights, drilling companies of atoms into crystalline battalions and squares, and every caprice of a fantastic order.

When we turn to the vegetable kingdom, is not the revelation still more wonderful? The forms which we see grow out of substances and are supported by forces which we do not see. The stuff out of which all vegetable appearances are made is reducible to oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. How does it happen that this common stock is worked up in such different ways? Why is a lily woven out of it in one place and a dahlia in another, a grapevine here, and a honeysuckle there—the orange in Italy, the palm in Egypt, the olive in Greece and the pine in Maine? Simply because a subtile force of a peculiar kind is at work wherever any vegetable structure adorns the ground, and takes to itself its favorite robe. We have outgrown the charming fancy of the Greeks that every tree has its Dryad that lives in it, animates it, and dies when the tree withers. But we ought, for the truth's sake, to believe that a life-spirit inhabits every flower and shrub, and protects it against the prowling forces of destruction. Look at a full-sized oak, the rooted Leviathan of the fields. Judging by your senses and by the scales, you would say that the substance of the noble tree was its bulk of bark and bough and branch and leaves and sap, the cords of woody and moist matter that compose it and make it heavy. But really its substance is that which makes it an oak, that which weaves its bark and glues it to the stem, and wraps its rings of fresh wood around the trunk every year, and pushes out its boughs and clothes its twigs with breathing[Pg 333] leaves and sucks up nutriment from the soil continually, and makes the roots clench the ground with their fibrous fingers as a purchase against the storm, and at last holds aloft its tons of matter against the constant tug and wrath of gravitation, and swings its Briarean arms in triumph, in defiance of the gale. Were it not for this energetic essence that crouches in the acorn and stretches its limbs every year, there would be no oak; the matter that clothes it would enjoy its stupid slumber; and when the forest monarch stands up in his sinewy, lordliest pride, let the pervading life-power, and its vassal forces that weigh nothing at all, be annihilated, and the whole structure would wither in a second to inorganic dust. So every gigantic fact in Nature is the index and vesture of a gigantic force. Everything which we call organization that spots the landscape of Nature is a revelation of secret force that has been wedded to matter, and if the spiritual powers that have thus domesticated themselves around us should be canceled, the whole planet would be a huge Desert of Sahara—a bleak sand-ball, without shrub, grass-blade or moss.

As we rise in the scale of forces towards greater subtility, the forces become more important and efficient. Water is more intimately concerned with life than rock, air higher in the rank of service than water, electric and magnetic agencies more powerful than air; and light, the most delicate, is the supreme magician of all. Just think how much expenditure of mechanical strength is necessary to water a city in the hot summer months. What pumping and tugging and wearisome trudging of horses with the great sprinklers[Pg 334] over the tedious pavement! But see by what beautiful and noiseless force Nature waters the world! The sun looks steadily on the ocean, and its beams lift lakes of water into the air, tossing it up thousands of feet with their delicate fingers, and carefully picking every grain of salt from it before they let it go. No granite reservoirs are needed to hold in the Cochituates and Crotons of the atmosphere, but the soft outlines of the clouds hem in the vast weight of the upper tides that are to cool the globe, and the winds harness themselves as steeds to the silken caldrons and hurry them along through space, while they disburse their rivers of moisture from their great height so lightly that seldom a violet is crushed by the rudeness with which the stream descends.

Our conceptions of strength and endurance are so associated with visible implements and mechanical arrangements that it is hard to divorce them, and yet the stream of electric fire that splits an ash is not a ponderable thing, and the way in which the lodestone reaches the ten-pound weight and makes it jump is not perceptible. You would think the man had pretty good molars that should gnaw a spike like a stick of candy, but a bottle of innocent-looking hydrogen-gas will chew up a piece of bar-iron as though it were some favorite Cavendish.

The prominent lesson of science to men, therefore, is faith in the intangible and invisible. Shall we talk of matter as the great reality of the world, the prominent substance? It is nothing but the battleground of terrific forces. Every particle of matter, the chemists tell us, is strained up to its last degree of endurance. The[Pg 335] glistening bead of dew from which the daisy gently nurses its strength, and which a sunbeam may dissipate, is the globular compromise of antagonistic powers that would shake this building in their unchained rage. And so every atom of matter is the slave of imperious masters that never let it alone. It is nursed and caressed, next bandied about, and soon cuffed and kicked by its invisible overseers. Poor atoms! No abolition societies will ever free them from their bondage, no colonization movement waft them to any physical Liberia. For every particle of matter is bound by eternal fealty to some spiritual lords, to be pinched by one and squeezed by another and torn asunder by a third; now to be painted by this and now blistered by that; now tormented with heat and soon chilled with cold; hurried from the Arctic Circle to sweat at the Equator, and then sent on an errand to the Southern Pole; forced through transmigrations of fish, fowl and flesh; and, if in some corner of creation the poor thing finds leisure to die, searched out and whipped to life again and kept in its constant round.

Thus the stuff that we weigh, handle and tread upon is only the show of invisible substances, the facts over which subtle and mighty forces rule.

[Pg 336]Starr King was that kind of plant which needs to be repotted in order to make it flower at its very best. Events kept tugging to loosen his tendrils from his early environments. People who live on Boston Bay like to remain there. We have all heard of the good woman who died and went to Heaven, and after a short sojourn there was asked how she liked it, and she sighed and said, "Ah, yes, it is very beautiful, but it isn't East Somerville!"

Had Starr King consented to remain in Boston he might have held his charge against the ravages of time, secreted a curate, taken on a becoming buffer of adipose, and glided off by imperceptible degrees on to the Superannuated List.

But early in that historic month of April, Eighteen Hundred Sixty-one, he set sail for California, having accepted a call from the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco. This was his first trip to the Pacific Coast, but New England people had preceded him, and not being able to return, they wanted Boston to come to them. The journey was made by the way of Panama, without any special event. The pilot who met the ship outside of Golden Gate bore them the first news that Sumter had been fired upon, and the bombardment was at the time when the ship that bore Starr King was only a few miles from South Carolina's coast.

With prophetic vision Starr King saw the struggle[Pg 337] that was to come, and the words of Webster, uttered many years before, rushed to his lips:

"When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased nor polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as 'What is all this worth?' nor those other words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty first and Union afterwards'; but everywhere, spread over all in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"

The landing was made on Saturday, and the following day Starr King spoke for the first time in California. An hour before the service was to begin, the church was wedged tight. The preacher had much difficulty in making his way through the dense mass of humanity to reach the pulpit. "Is that the man?" went up the[Pg 338] smothered exclamation, as Starr King reached the platform and faced his audience. His slight, slender figure and boyish face were plainly a disappointment, but this was not to last. The preacher had prepared a sermon—such a sermon as he had given many times to well-dressed, orderly and cultured Boston.

And if this California audience was surprised, the speaker also was no less. The men to women were as seven to one. He saw before him a sea of bronzed and bearded faces, earnest, attentive and hungry for truth. There were occasional marks of dissipation and the riot of the senses, softened by excess into penitence—whipped out and homesick. Here were miners in red-flannel shirts, sailors, soldiers in uniform and soldiers of fortune. The preacher looked at the motley mass in a vain attempt to pick out his old friends from New England. The genteel, slightly blasé quality of culture that leans back in its cushioned pew and courteously waits to be instructed, was not there. These people did not lean back: they leaned forward, and with parted lips they listened for every word. There was no choir, and when "an old familiar hymn" was lined off by a volunteer who knew his business, that great audience arose and sang as though it would shake the rafters of heaven.

Those who go down to the sea in ships, sing; shepherds who tend their flocks by night, sing; men in the forest or those who follow the trackless plains, sing.[Pg 339] Congregational singing is most popular among those who live far apart—to get together and sing is a solace. Loneliness, separation and heart-hunger all drive men into song.

These men, many of them far from home, lifted up their voices, and the sounds surged through that church and echoed, surged again and caught even the preacher in their winding waves. He started in to give one sermon and gave another. The audience, the time, the place, acted upon him.

Oratory is essentially a pioneer product, a rustic article. Great sermons and great speeches are given only to people who have come from afar.

Starr King forgot his manuscript and pulpit manners. His deep voice throbbed and pulsed with emotion, and the tensity of the times was upon him. Without once referring directly to Sumter, his address was a call to arms.

He spoke for an hour, and when he sat down he knew that he had won. The next Sunday the place was again packed, and then followed urgent invitations that he should speak during the week in a larger hall.

California was trembling in the balances, and orators were not wanting to give out the arguments of Calhoun. They showed that the right of secession was plainly provided for in the Constitution. Lincoln's call for troops was coldly received, and from several San Francisco pulpits orthodox clergymen were expressing[Pg 340] deep regret that the President was plunging the country into civil war.

The heart of Starr King burned with shame—to him there was but one side to this question—the Union must be preserved.

One man who had known King in Massachusetts wrote back home saying: "You would not know Starr King—he is not the orderly man of genteel culture you once had in Boston. He is a torrent of eloquence, so heartfelt, so convincing, so powerful, that when he speaks on Sunday afternoon out on the sand-hills, he excites the multitude into a whirlwind of applause, with a basso undertone of dissent, which, however, seems to grow gradually less."

Loyalty to the Union was to him the one vital issue. His fight was not with individuals—he made no personal issues. And in several joint debates his courteous treatment of his adversary won converts for his cause. He took pains to say that personally he had only friendship and pity for the individuals who upheld secession and slavery—"The man in the wrong needs friends as never before, since he has ceased to be his own. Do we blame a blind man whom we see rushing towards a precipice?"

From that first Sunday he preached in San Francisco, his life was an ovation wherever he went. Wherever he was advertised to speak, multitudes were there to hang upon his words. He spoke in all the principal towns of[Pg 341] California; and often on the plains, in the mountains, or by the seashore, men would gather from hundreds of miles to hear him.

He gave himself, and before he had been in California a year, the State was safe for the Union, and men and treasure were being sent to Lincoln's aid. The fame of Starr King reached the President, and he found time to write several letters to the orator, thanking him for what he had done. It was in one of these letters that Lincoln wrote, "The only sermons I have ever been able to read and enjoy are those of John Murray"—a statement which some have attempted to smile away as showing the Rail-Splitter's astute diplomacy.

Starr King gave his life to the Cause. He as much died for the Union as though he had fallen stricken by flying lead upon the field. And he knew what he was doing, but in answer to his warning friends he said, "I have only one life to live and now is my time to spend it."

For three years, lacking two months, he spoke and preached several times every week. All he made and all he was he freely gave.

For that frail frame this life of intensity had but one end.

The Emancipation Proclamation had been issued, but Lee's surrender was yet to be.

"May I live to see unity and peace for my country," was the constant prayer of the devoted preacher.

Starr King died March Fourth, Eighteen Hundred[Pg 342] Sixty-four, aged forty years. The closing words of his lecture on Socrates might well be applied to himself: "Down the river of Life, by its Athenian banks, he had floated upon his raft of reason serene, in cloudy as in smiling weather. And now the night is rushing down, and he has reached the mouth of the stream, and the great ocean is before him, dim-heaving in the dusk. But he betrays no fear. There is land ahead, he thought; eternal continents there are, that rise in constant light beyond the gloom. He trusted still in the raft his soul had built, and with a brave farewell to the true friends who stood by him on the shore, he put out into the darkness, a moral Columbus, trusting in his haven on the faith of an idea."


You know how the heart is subject to freshets; you know how the mother, always loving her child, yet seeing in it some new wile of affection, will catch it up and cover it with kisses and break forth in a rapture of loving. Such a kind of heart-glow fell from the Savior upon that young man who said to him, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" It is said, "Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him."

Henry Ward Beecher
[Pg 344]


[Pg 345]

The influence of Henry Ward Beecher upon his time was marked. And now the stream of his life is lost amid the ocean of our being. As a single drop of aniline in a barrel of water will tint the whole mass, so has the entire American mind been colored through the existence of this one glowing personality. He placed a new interpretation on religion, and we are different people because he lived.

He was not constructive, not administrative—he wrote much, but as literature his work has small claim on immortality. He was an orator, and the business of the orator is to inspire other men to think and act for themselves.

Orators live but in memory. Their destiny is to be the sweet, elusive fragrance of oblivion—the thyme and mignonette of things that were.

The limitations in the all-around man are by-products which are used by destiny in the making of orators. The welling emotions, the vivid imagination, the forgetfulness of self, the abandon to feeling—all these things in Wall Street are spurious coin. No prudent man was ever an orator—no cautious man ever made a multitude change its mind, when it had vowed it would not.

Oratory is indiscretion set to music.

[Pg 346]The great orator is great on account of his weaknesses as well as on account of his strength. So why should we expect the orator to be the impeccable man of perfect parts?

These essays attempt to give the man—they are neither a vindication nor an apology.

Edmund Gosse has recently said something so wise and to the point on the subject of biography that I can not resist the temptation to quote him:

If the reader will but bear with me so far as to endure the thesis that the first theoretical object of the biographer should be indiscretion, not discretion, I will concede almost everything practical to delicacy. But this must be granted to me: that the aim of all portraiture ought to be the emphasizing of what makes the man different from, not like, other men. The widow almost always desires that her deceased hero should be represented as exactly like all other respectable men, only a little grander, a little more glorified. She hates, as only a bad biographer can hate, the telling of the truth with respect to those faults and foibles which made the light and shade of his character. This, it appears, was the primitive view of biography. The mass of medieval memorials was of the "expanded-tract" order: it was mainly composed of lives of the saints, tractates in which the possible and the impossible were mingled in inextricable disorder, but where every word was intended directly for edification. Here the biographer was a moralist whose hold upon exact truth of statement was very loose indeed, but who[Pg 347] was determined that every word he wrote should strengthen his readers in the faith. Nor is this generation of biographers dead today. Half the lives of the great and good men, which are published in England and America, are expanded tracts. Let the biographer be tactful, but do not let him be cowardly; let him cultivate delicacy, but avoid its ridiculous parody, prudery.

And I also quote this from James Anthony Froude:

The usual custom in biography is to begin with the brightest side and to leave the faults to be discovered afterwards. It is dishonest and it does not answer. Of all literary sins, Carlyle himself detested most a false biography. Faults frankly acknowledged are frankly forgiven. Faults concealed work always like poison. Burns' offenses were made no secret of. They are now forgotten, and Burns stands without a shadow on him, the idol of his countrymen.

Byron's diary was destroyed, and he remains and will remain with a stain of suspicion about him, which revives and will revive, and will never be wholly obliterated. "The truth shall make you free" in biography as in everything else. Falsehood and concealment are a great man's worst enemy.

[Pg 348]Henry Ward Beecher was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, June Twenty-third, Eighteen Hundred Thirteen. He was the eighth child of Lyman and Roxana Foote Beecher. Like Lincoln and various other great men, Beecher had two mothers: the one who gave him birth, and the one who cared for him as he grew up. Beecher used to take with him on his travels an old daguerreotype of his real mother, and in the cover of the case, beneath the glass, was a lock of her hair—fair in color, and bright as if touched by the kiss of the summer sun. Often he would take this picture out and apostrophize it, just as he would the uncut gems that he always carried in his pockets. "My first mother," he used to call her; and to him she stood as a sort of deity. "My first mother stands to me for love; my second mother for discipline; my father for justice," he once said to Halliday.

I am not sure that Beecher had a well-defined idea of either discipline or justice, but love to him was a very vivid and personal reality. He knew what it meant—infinite forgiveness, a lifelong, yearning tenderness, a Something that suffereth long and is kind. This he preached for fifty years, and he preached little else. Lyman Beecher proclaimed the justice of God; Henry Ward Beecher told of His love. Lyman Beecher was a logician, but Henry Ward was a lover. There is a task on hand for the man who attempts to prove[Pg 349] that Nature is kind, or that God is love. Perhaps man himself, with all his imperfections, gives us the best example of love that the universe has to offer. In preaching the love of God, Henry Ward Beecher revealed his own; for oratory, like literature, is only a confession.

"My first mother is always pleading for me—she reaches out her arms to me—her delicate, long, tapering fingers stroke my hair—I hear her voice, gentle and low!" Do you say this is the language of o'erwrought emotion? I say to you it is simply the language of love. This mother, dead and turned to dust, who passed out when the boy was scarce three years old, stood to him for the ideal. Love, anyway, is a matter of the imagination, and he who can not imagine can not love, and love is from within. The lover clothes the beloved in the garments of his fancy, and woe to him if he ever loses the power to imagine.

Have you not often noticed how the man or woman whose mother died before a time that the child could recall, and whose memory clusters around a faded picture and a lock of hair—how this person is thrice blessed in that the ideal is always a shelter when the real palls? Love is a refuge and a defense. The Law of Compensation is kind: Lincoln lived, until the day of his death, bathed in the love of Nancy Hanks, that mother, worn, yellow and sad, who gave him birth, and yet whom he had never known. No child ever[Pg 350] really lost its mother—nothing is ever lost. Men are really only grown-up children, and the longing to be mothered is not effaced by the passing years. The type is well shown in the life of Meissonier, whose mother died in his childhood, but she was near him to the last. In his journal he wrote this: "It is the morning of my seventieth birthday. What a long time to look back upon! This morning, at the hour my mother gave me birth, I wished my first thoughts to be of her. Dear Mother, how often have the tears risen at the remembrance of you! It was your absence—my longing for you—that made you so dear to me. The love of my heart goes out to you! Do you hear me, Mother, crying and calling for you? How sweet it must be to have a mother!"

[Pg 351]One might suppose that a childless woman suddenly presented by Fate with an exacting husband and a brood of nine would soon be a candidate for nervous prostration; Sarah Porter Beecher, however, rose to the level of events, and looked after her household with diligence and a conscientious heart. Little Henry Ward was four years old and wore a red-flannel dress, outgrown by one of the girls. He was chubby, with a full-moon face and yellow curls, which were so much trouble to take care of that they were soon cut off, after he had set the example of cutting off two himself. He talked as though his mouth were full of hot mush. If sent to a neighbor's on an errand, he usually forgot what he was sent for, or else explained matters in such a way that he brought back the wrong thing. His mother meant to be kind; her patience was splendid; and one's heart goes out to her in sympathy when we think of her faithful efforts to teach the lesser catechism to this baby savage who much preferred to make mud-pies.

Little Henry Ward had a third mother who did him much gentle benefit, and that was his sister Harriet, two years his senior. These little child-mothers who take care of the younger members of the family deserve special seats in Paradise. Harriet taught little Henry Ward to talk plainly, to add four and four, and to look solemn when he did not feel so—and thus escape the strap behind the kitchen-door. His bringing-up was of[Pg 352] the uncaressing, let-alone kind.

Lyman Beecher was a deal better than his religion; for his religion, like that of most people, was an inheritance, not an evolution. Piety settled down upon the household like a pall every Saturday at sundown; and the lessons taught were largely from the Old Testament.

These big, bustling, strenuous households are pretty good life-drill for the members. The children are taught self-reliance, to do without each other, to do for others, and the older members educate the younger ones. It is a great thing to leave children alone. Henry Ward Beecher has intimated in various places in his books how the whole Beecher brood loved their father, yet as precaution against misunderstanding they made the sudden sneak and the quick side-step whenever they saw him coming.

Village life with a fair degree of prosperity, but not too much, is an education in itself. The knowledge gained is not always classic, nor even polite, but it is all a part of the great, seething game of life. Henry Ward Beecher was not an educated man in the usual sense of the word. At school he carved his desk, made faces at the girls, and kept the place in a turmoil generally: doing the wrong thing, just like many another bumpkin. At home he carried in the wood, picked up chips, worked in the garden in Summer, and shoveled out the walks in Winter. He knew when the dishwater was worth saving to mix up with meal for the chickens,[Pg 353] and when it should be put on the asparagus-bed or the rosebushes. He could make a lye-leach, knew that it was lucky to set hens on thirteen eggs, realized that hens' eggs hatched in three weeks, and ducks' in four. He knew when the berries ripened, where the crows nested, and could find the bee-trees by watching the flight of the bees after they had gotten their fill on the basswood-blossoms. He knew all the birds that sang in the branches—could tell what birds migrated and what not—was acquainted with the flowers and weeds and fungi—knew where the rabbits burrowed—could pick the milkweed that would cure warts, and tell the points of the compass by examining the bark of the trees. He was on familiar terms with all the ragamuffins in the village, and regarded the man who kept the livery-stable as the wisest person in New England, and the stage-driver as the wittiest.

Lyman Beecher was a graduate of Yale, and Henry Ward would have been, had he been able to pass the preparatory examinations. But he couldn't, and finally he was bundled off to Amherst, very much as we now send boys to a business college when they get plucked at the high school. But it matters little—give the boys time—some of them ripen slowly, and others there be who know more at sixteen than they will ever know again, like street gamins with the wit of debauchees, rareripes at ten, and rotten at the core. "Delay adolescence," wrote Doctor Charcot to an anxious mother;[Pg 354] "delay adolescence, and you bank energy until it is needed. If your boy is stupid at fourteen, thank God! Dulness is a fulcrum and your son is getting ready to put a lever under the world."

At Amherst, Henry Ward stood well at the foot of his class. He read everything except what was in the curriculum, and never allowed his studies to interfere with his college course. He reveled in the debating societies, and was always ready to thrash out any subject in wordy warfare against all comers. His temper was splendid, his good-nature sublime. If an opponent got the best of him he enjoyed it as much as the audience—he could wait his turn. The man who can laugh at himself, and who is not anxious to have the last word, is right in the suburbs of greatness.

However, the Beechers all had a deal of positivism in their characters. Thomas K. Beecher of Elmira, in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six, declared he would not shave until John C. Fremont was elected President. It is needless to add that he wore whiskers the rest of his life.

When Henry Ward was nineteen his father received a call to become President of Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, and Henry Ward accompanied him as assistant. The stalwart old father had now come to recognize the worth of his son, and for the first time parental authority was waived and they were companions. They were very much alike—exuberant health, energy plus, faith and hope to spare. And[Pg 355] Henry Ward now saw that there was a gentle, tender and yearning side to his father's nature, into which the world caught only glimpses. Lyman Beecher was not free—he was bound by a hagiograph riveted upon his soul; and so to a degree his whole nature was cramped and tortured in his struggles between the "natural man" and the "spiritual." The son was taught by antithesis, and inwardly vowed he would be free. The one word that looms large in the life of Beecher is Liberty.

[Pg 356]Henry Ward Beecher died aged seventy-four, having preached since he was twenty-three. During that time he was pastor of three churches—two years at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, six years at Indianapolis, and forty-three years in Brooklyn. It was in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-seven that he became pastor of the Congregational Church at Lawrenceburg. This town was then a rival of Cincinnati. It had six churches—several more than were absolutely needed. The Baptists were strong, the Presbyterians were strenuous, the Episcopalians were exclusive, while the Congregationalists were at ebb-tide through the rascality of a preacher who had recently decamped and thrown a blanket of disgrace over the whole denomination for ten miles up the creek. Thus were things when Henry Ward Beecher assumed his first charge. The membership of the church was made up of nineteen women and one man. The new pastor was sexton as well as preacher—he swept out, rang the bell, lighted the candles and locked up after service.

Beecher remained in Lawrenceburg two years. The membership had increased to one hundred six men and seventy women. I suppose it will not be denied as an actual fact that women bolster the steeples so that they stay on the churches. From the time women held the rope and let Saint Paul down in safety from the wall in a basket, women have maintained the faith. But Beecher was a man's preacher from first to last. He[Pg 357] was a bold, manly man, making his appeal to men.

Two years at Lawrenceburg and he moved to Indianapolis, the capital of the State, his reputation having been carried thither by the member from Posey County, who incautiously boasted that his "deestrick" had the most powerful preacher of any town on the Ohio River.

At Indianapolis, Beecher was a success at once. He entered into the affairs of the people with an ease and a good nature that won the hearts of this semi-pioneer population. His "Lectures to Young Men," delivered Sunday evenings to packed houses, still have a sale. This bringing religion down from the lofty heights of theology and making it a matter of every-day life was eminently Beecheresque. And the reason it was a success was because it fitted the needs of the people. Beecher expressed what the people were thinking. Mankind clings to the creed; we will not burn our bridges—we want the religion of our mothers, yet we crave the simple common-sense we can comprehend as well as the superstition we can't. Beecher's task was to rationalize orthodoxy so as to make it palatable to thinking minds. "I can't ride two horses at one time," once said Robert Ingersoll to Beecher, "but possibly I'll be able to yet, for tomorrow I am going to hear you preach." Then it was that Beecher offered to write Ingersoll's epitaph, which he proceeded to do by scribbling two words on the back of an envelope,[Pg 358] thus: "Robert Burns."

But these men understood and had a thorough respect for each other. Once at a mass-meeting at Cooper Union, Beecher introduced Ingersoll as the "first, foremost and most gifted of all living orators."

And Ingersoll, not to be outdone, referred in his speech to Beecher as the "one orthodox clergyman in the world who has eliminated hell from his creed and put the devil out of church, and still stands in his pulpit."

Six years at Indianapolis put Beecher in command of his armament. And Brooklyn, seeking a man of power, called him thither. His first sermon in Plymouth Church outlined his course; and the principles then laid down he was to preach for fifty years: the love of God; the life of Christ, not as a sacrifice, but as an example—our Elder Brother; and Liberty—liberty to think, to express, to act, to become.

It would have been worth going miles to see this man as he appeared at Plymouth Church those first years of his ministry. Such a specimen of mental, spiritual and physical manhood Nature produces only once in a century. Imagine a man of thirty-five, when manhood has not yet left youth behind, height five feet ten, weight one hundred eighty, a body like that of a Greek god, and a mind poised, sure, serene, with a fund of good nature that could not be overdrawn; a face cleanly shaven; a wealth of blond hair falling to his broad shoulders; eyes of infinite blue—eyes like the[Pg 359] eyes of Christ when He gazed upon the penitent thief on the cross, or eyes that flash fire, changing their color with the mood of the man—a radiant, happy man, the cheeriest, sunniest nature that ever dwelt in human body, with a sympathy that went out to everybody and everything—children, animals, the old, the feeble, the fallen—a man too big to be jealous, too noble to quibble, a man so manly that he would accept guilt rather than impute it to another. If he had been possessed of less love he would have been a stronger man. The generous nature lies open and unprotected—through its guilelessness it allows concrete rascality to come close enough to strike it. "One reason why Beecher had so many enemies was because he bestowed so many benefits," said Rufus Choate.

Talmage did not discover himself until he was forty-six; Beecher was Beecher at thirty-five. He was as great then as he ever was—it was too much to ask that he should evolve into something more—Nature has to distribute her gifts. Had Beecher grown after his thirty-fifth year, as he grew from twenty-five to thirty-five, he would have been a Colossus that would have disturbed the equilibrium of the thinking world, and created revolution instead of evolution. The opposition toward great men is right and natural—it is a part of Nature's plan to hold the balance true, "lest ye become as gods!"

[Pg 360]I traveled with Major James B. Pond one lecture season, and during that time heard only two themes discussed, John Brown and Henry Ward Beecher. These were his gods. Pond fought with John Brown in Kansas, shoulder to shoulder, and it was only through an accident that he was not with Brown at Harpers Ferry, in which case his soul would have gone marching on with that of Old John Brown. From Eighteen Hundred Sixty to Eighteen Hundred Sixty-six Pond belonged to the army, and was stationed in Western Missouri, where there was no commissariat, where they took no prisoners, and where men like Jesse James lived, who never knew the war was over. Pond had so many notches cut on the butt of his pistol that he had ceased to count them.

He was big, brusk, quibbling, insulting, dictatorial, painstaking, considerate and kind. He was the most exasperating and lovable man I ever knew. He left a trail of enemies wherever he traveled, and the irony of fate is shown in that he was allowed to die peacefully in his bed.

I cut my relationship with him because I did not care to be pained by seeing his form dangling from the crossbeam of a telegraph-pole. When I lectured at Washington a policeman appeared at the box-office and demanded the amusement-license fee of five dollars. "Your authority?" roared Pond. And the policeman not being able to explain, Pond kicked him down[Pg 361] the stairway, and kept his club as a souvenir. We got out on the midnight train before warrants could be served.

He would often push me into the first carriage when we arrived at a town, and sometimes the driver would say, "This is a private carriage," or, "This rig is engaged," and Pond would reply, "What's that to me?—drive us to the hotel—you evidently don't know whom you are talking to!" And so imperious was his manner that his orders were usually obeyed. Arriving at the hotel, he would hand out double fare. It was his rule to pay too much or too little. Yet as a manager he was perfection—he knew the trains to a minute, and always knew, too, what to do if we missed the first train, or if the train was late. At the hall he saw that every detail was provided for. If the place was too hot, or too cold, somebody got thoroughly damned. If the ventilation was bad, and he could not get the windows open, he would break them out. If you questioned his balance-sheet he would the next day flash up an expense-account that looked like a plumber's bill and give you fifty cents as your share of the spoils. At hotels he always got a room with two beds, if possible. I was his prisoner—he was despotically kind—he regulated my hours of sleep, my meals, my exercise. He would throw intruding visitors downstairs as average men shoo chickens or scare cats. He was a bundle of profanity and unrest until after the lecture.[Pg 362] Then we would go to our room, and he would talk like a windmill. He would crawl into his bed and I into mine, and then he would continue telling Beecher stories half the night, comparing me with Beecher to my great disadvantage. A dozen times I have heard him tell how Beecher would say, "Pond, never consult me about plans or explain details—if you do, our friendship ceases." Beecher was glad to leave every detail of travel to Pond, and Pond delighted in assuming sole charge. Beecher never audited an account—he just took what Pond gave him and said nothing. In this Beecher was very wise—he managed Pond and Pond never knew it. Pond had a pride in paying Beecher as much as possible, and found gratification in giving the money to Beecher instead of keeping it. He was immensely proud of his charge and grew to have an idolatrous regard for Beecher. Pond's brusk ways amused Beecher, and the Osawatomie experience made him a sort of hero in Beecher's eyes.

Beecher took Pond at his true value, regarded his wrath as a child's tantrum, and let him do most of the talking as well as the business. And Beecher's great welling heart touched a side of Pond's nature that few knew existed at all—a side that he masked with harshness; for, in spite of his perversity, Pond had his virtues—he was simple as a child, and so ingenuous that deception with him was impossible. He could not tell a lie so you would not know it.

[Pg 363]He served Beecher with a doglike loyalty, and an honesty beyond suspicion. They were associated fourteen years, traveled together over three hundred thousand miles, and Pond paid to Beecher two hundred forty thousand dollars.[Pg 364]

Beecher and Tilton became acquainted about the year Eighteen Hundred Sixty. Beecher was at that time forty-seven years old; Tilton was twenty-five. The influence of the older man over the younger was very marked. Tilton became one of the most zealous workers in Plymouth Church: he attended every service, took part in the Wednesday evening prayer-meeting, helped take up the collection, and was a constant recruiting force. Tilton was a reporter, and later an editorial writer on different New York and Brooklyn dailies. Beecher's Sunday sermon supplied Tilton the cue for his next day's leader. And be it said to his honor, he usually gave due credit, and in various ways helped the cause of Plymouth Church by booming the reputation of its pastor.

Tilton was possessed of a deal of intellectual nervous force. His mind was receptive, active, versatile. His all-round newspaper experience had given him an education, and he could express himself acceptably on any theme. He wrote children's stories, threw off poetry in idle hours, penned essays, skimmed the surface of philosophy, and dived occasionally into theology. But his theology and his philosophy were strictly the goods put out by Beecher, distilled through the Tilton cosmos. He occasionally made addresses at social gatherings, and evolved into an orator whose reputation extended to Staten Island.

[Pg 365]Beecher's big, boyish heart went out to this bright and intelligent young man—they were much in each other's company. People said they looked alike; although one was tall and slender and the other was inclined to be stout. Beecher wore his hair long, and now Tilton wore his long, too. Beecher affected a wide-brimmed slouch-hat; Tilton wore one of similar style, with brim a trifle wider. Beecher wore a large, blue cloak; Tilton wrapped himself 'round with a cloak one shade more ultramarine than Beecher's.

Tilton's wife was very much like Tilton—both were intellectual, nervous, artistic. They were so much alike that they give us a hint of what a hell this world would be if all mankind were made in one mold. But there was this difference between them: Mrs. Tilton was proud, while Tilton was vain. They were only civil toward each other because they had vowed they would be. They did not throw crockery, because to do so would have been bad form.

Beecher was a great joker—hilarious, laughing, and both witty and humorous. I was going to say he was wise, but that isn't the word. Tilton lacked wit—he never bubbled except as a matter of duty. Both Mr. and Mrs. Tilton greatly enjoyed the society of Beecher, for, besides being a great intellectual force, his presence was an antiseptic 'gainst jaundice and introspection. And Beecher loved them both, because they loved him, and because he loved everybody. They supplied him[Pg 366] a foil for his wit, a receptacle for his overflow of spirit, a flint on which to strike his steel. Mrs. Tilton admired Beecher a little more than her husband did—she was a woman. Tilton was glad that his wife liked Beecher—it brought Beecher to his house; and if Beecher admired Tilton's wife—why, was not this a proof that Tilton and Beecher were alike? I guess so! Mrs. Tilton was musical, artistic, keen of brain, emotional, with all a fine-fibered woman's longings, hopes and ideals.

So matters went drifting on the tide, and the years went by, as the years will.

Mrs. Tilton became a semi-invalid, the kind that doctors now treat with hypophosphites, beef-iron-and-wine, cod-liver oil, and massage by the right attendant. They call it congenital anemia—a scarcity of the red corpuscle.

Some doctors there be who do not yet know that the emotions control the secretions, and a perfect circulation is a matter of mind. Anyway, what can the poor Galenite do in a case like this—his pills are powerless, his potions inane! Tilton knew that his wife loved Beecher, and he also fully realized that in this she was only carrying out a little of the doctrine of freedom that he taught, and that he claimed for himself. For a time Tilton was beautifully magnanimous. Occasionally Mrs. Tilton had spells of complete prostration, when she thought she was going to die. At such times her husband would send for Beecher to come and administer[Pg 367] extreme unction.

Instead of dying, the woman would get well.

After one such attack, Tilton taunted his wife with her quick recovery. It was a taunt that pulled tight on the corners of his mouth; it was lacking in playfulness. Beecher was present at the bedside of the propped-up invalid. They turned on Tilton, did these two, and flayed him with their agile wit and ready tongues. Tilton protested they were wrong—he was not jealous—the idea!

But that afternoon he had his hair cut, and he discarded the slouch-hat for one with a stiff brim.

It took six months for his hair to grow to a length sufficient to indicate genius.

[Pg 368]Beecher's great heart was wrung and stung by the tangle of events in which he finally found himself plunged. That his love for Mrs. Tilton was great there is no doubt, and for the wife with whom he had lived for over a score of years he had a profound pity and regard. She had not grown with him. Had she remained in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and married a well-to-do grocer, all for her would have been well. Beecher belonged to the world, and this his wife never knew: she thought she owned him. To interest her and to make her shine before the world, certain literary productions were put out with her name as author, on request of Robert Bonner, but all this was a pathetic attempt by her husband to conceal the truth of her mediocrity. She spied upon him, watched his mail, turned his pockets, and did all the things no wife should do, lest perchance she be punished by finding her suspicions true. Wives and husbands must live by faith. The wife who is miserable until she makes her husband "confess all" is never happy afterwards. Beecher could not pour out his soul to his wife—he had to watch her mood and dole out to her the platitudes she could digest—never with her did he reach abandon. But the wife strove to do her duty—she was a good housekeeper, economical and industrious, and her very virtues proved a source of exasperation to her husband—he could not hate her.

It was Mrs. Beecher herself who first discovered the[Pg 369] relationship existing between her husband and Mrs. Tilton. She accused her husband, and he made no denial—he offered her her liberty. But this she did not want. Beecher promised to break with Mrs. Tilton. They parted—parted forever in sweet sorrow.

And the next week they met again.

The greater the man before the public, the more he outpours himself, the more his need for mothering in the quiet of his home. All things are equalized, and with the strength of the sublime, spiritual nature goes the weakness of a child. Beecher was an undeveloped boy to the day of his death.

Beecher at one time had a great desire to stand square before the world. Major Pond, on Beecher's request, went to Mrs. Beecher and begged her to sue for a divorce. At the same time Tilton was asked to secure a divorce from his wife. When all parties were free, Beecher would marry Mrs. Tilton and face the world an honest man—nothing to hide—right out under the clear, blue sky, blown upon by the free winds of heaven!

This was his heart's desire.

But all negotiations failed. Mrs. Beecher would not give up her husband, and Tilton was too intent on revenge—and cash—to even consider the matter. Then came the crash.

[Pg 370]Tilton sued Beecher for one hundred thousand dollars' damages for alienating his wife's affection. It took five months to try the case. The best legal talent in the land was engaged. The jury disagreed and the case was not tried again.

Had Mrs. Beecher applied for a divorce on statutory grounds, no court would have denied her prayer. In actions for divorce, guilt does not have to be proved—it is assumed. But when one man sues another for money damages, the rulings are drawn finer and matters must be proved. That is where Tilton failed in his lawsuit.

At the trial, Beecher perjured himself like a gentleman to protect Mrs. Tilton; Mrs. Tilton waived the truth for Beecher's benefit; and Mrs. Beecher swore black was white, because she did not want to lose her husband. Such a precious trinity of prevaricators is very seldom seen in a courtroom, a place where liars much do congregate. Judge and jury knew they lied and respected them the more, for down in the hearts of all men is a feeling that the love-affairs of a man and a woman are sacred themes, and a bulwark of lies to protect the holy of holies is ever justifiable.

Tilton was the one person who told the truth, and he was universally execrated for it. Love does not leave a person without reason. And there is something in the thought of money as payment to a man for a woman's love that is against nature.

[Pg 371]Tilton lost the woman's love, and he would balm his lacerated heart with lucre! Money? God help us—a man should earn money. We sometimes hear of men who subsist on women's shame; but what shall we say of a man who would turn parasite and live in luxury on a woman's love—and this woman by him now spurned and scorned! The faults and frailties of men and women caught in the swirl of circumstances are not without excuse, but the cold plottings to punish them and the desire to thrive by their faults are hideous.

The worst about a double life is not its immorality—it is that the relationship makes a man a liar. The universe is not planned for duplicity—all the energy we have is needed in our business, and he who starts out on the pathway of untruth finds himself treading upon brambles and nettles which close behind him and make return impossible. The further he goes the worse the jungle of poison-oak and ivy, which at last circles him round in strangling embrace. He who escapes the clutch of a life of falsehood is as one in a million. Victor Hugo has pictured the situation when he tells of the man whose feet are caught in the bed of bird-lime. He attempts to jump out, but only sinks deeper—he flounders, calls for help, and puts forth all his strength. He is up to his knees—to his hips—his waist—his neck, and at last only hands are seen reaching up in mute appeal to heaven. But the heavens are as[Pg 372] brass, and soon where there was once a man is only the dumb indifference of Nature.

The only safe course is the open road of truth. Lies once begun, pile up; and lies require lies to bolster them.

Mrs. Tilton had made a written confession to her husband, but this she repudiated in court, declaring it was given "in terrorem." Now she had only words of praise and vindication for Beecher.

Mrs. Beecher sat by her husband's side all through the long trial. For a man to leave the woman with whom he has lived a lifetime, and who is the mother of his children, is out of the question. What if she does lack intellect and spirituality! He has endured her; aye! he has even been happy with her at times—the relationship has been endurable—'twere imbecility, and death for both, to break it.

Beecher and his wife would stand together.

Mrs. Tilton's lips had been sanctified by love, and were sealed, though her heart did break.

The jury stood nine for Beecher and three against. Major Pond, the astute, construed this into a vindication—Beecher was not guilty!

The first lecture after the trial was given at Alexandria Bay. Pond had sold out for five hundred dollars. Beecher said it was rank robbery—no one would be there. The lecture was to be in the grove at three o'clock in the afternoon. In the forenoon, boats were seen[Pg 373] coming from east and west and north—excursion-boats laden with pilgrims; sailboats, rowboats, skiffs, and even birch-bark canoes bearing red men. The people came also in carts and wagons, and on horseback. An audience of five thousand confronted the lecturer.

The man who had planned the affair had banked on his knowledge of humanity—the people wanted to see and hear the individual who had been whipped naked at the cart's tail, and who still lived to face the world smilingly, bravely, undauntedly.

Major Pond was paid the five hundred dollars as agreed. The enterprise had netted its manager over a thousand dollars—he was a rich man anyway—things had turned out as he had prophesied, and in the exuberance of his success he that night handed Mr. Beecher a check for two hundred fifty dollars, saying, "This is for you with my love—it is outside of any arrangement made with Major Pond." After they had retired to their rooms, Beecher handed the check to Pond, and said, as his blue eyes filled with tears, "Major, you know what to do with this?" And Major Pond said, "Yes."

Tilton went to Europe, leaving his family behind. But Major Pond made it his business to see that Mrs. Tilton wanted for nothing that money could buy. Beecher never saw Mrs. Tilton, to converse with her, again. She outlived him a dozen years. On her deathbed she confessed to her sister that her denials as to her relations with Beecher were untrue. "He loved me," she[Pg 374] said; "he loved me, and I would have been less than woman had I not loved him. This love will be my passport to Paradise—God understands." And so she died.

[Pg 375]Tilton was by nature an unsuccessful man. He was proudly aristocratic, lordly, dignified, jealous, mentally wiggling and spiritually jiggling. His career was like that of a race-horse which makes a record faster than he can ever attain again, and thus is forever barred from all slow-paced competitions. Tilton aspired to be a novelist, an essayist, a poet, an orator. His performances in each of these lines, unfortunately, were not bad enough to damn him; and his work done in fair weather was so much better than he could do in foul that he was caught by the undertow. And as for doing what Adirondack Murray did—get right down to hardpan and wash dishes in a dishpan—he couldn't do it. Like an Indian, he would starve before he would work—and he came near it, gaining a garret-living, teaching languages and doing hack literary work in Paris, where he went to escape the accumulation of contempt that came his way just after the great Beecher trial.

Before this, Tilton started out to star the country as a lecturer. He evidently thought he could climb to popularity over the wreck of Henry Ward Beecher. Even had he wrecked Beecher completely, it is very likely he would have gone down in the swirl, and become literary flotsam and jetsam just the same.

Tilton had failed to down his man, and men who are failures do not draw on the lecture platform. The auditor has failure enough at home, God knows! and[Pg 376] what he wants when he lays down good money for a lecture-ticket is to annex himself to a success.

Tilton's lecture was called, "The Problem of Life"—a title which had the advantage of allowing the speaker to say anything he wished to say on any subject and still not violate the unities. I heard Tilton give this lecture twice, and it was given from start to finish in exactly the same way. It contained much learning—had flights of eloquence, bursts of bathos, puffs of pathos, but not a smile in the whole hour and a half. It was faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null, dead perfection—no more. It was so perfect that some people thought it great. The man was an actor and had what is called platform presence. He would walk on the stage, carrying his big, blue cloak over his arm, his slouch-hat in his hand—for he clung to these Beecher properties to the last, even claiming that Beecher was encroaching on his preserve in wearing them.

He would bow as stiffly and solemnly as a new-made judge. Then he would toss the cloak on a convenient sofa, place the big hat on top of it, and come down to the footlights, deliberately removing his yellow kid gloves. There was no introduction—he was the whole show and brooked no competition. He would begin talking as he removed the gloves; he would get one glove off and hold it in the other hand, seemingly lost in his speech. From time to time he would emphasize his remarks by beating the palm of his gloved hand[Pg 377] with the loose glove. By the time the lecture was half over, both gloves would be lying on the table; unlike the performance of Sir Edwin Arnold, who, during his readings, always wore one white kid glove and carried its mate in the gloved hand from beginning to end.

Theodore Tilton's lectures were consummate art, done by a handsome, graceful and cultured man in a red necktie, but they did not carry enough caloric to make them go. They seemed to lack vibrations. Art without a message is for the people who love art for art's sake, and God does not care much for these, otherwise he would not have made so few of them.

[Pg 378]Lyman Abbott sums up his estimate of the worth of his lifelong friend and literary associate, Henry Ward Beecher, in the following words:

"It was in the pulpit that Beecher was seen at his best. His mastery of the English tongue, his dramatic power, his instinctive art of impersonation, which had become a second nature, his vivid imagination, his breadth of intellectual view, the catholicity of his sympathies, his passionate enthusiasm, which made for the moment his immediate theme seem to him the one theme of transcendent importance, his quaint humor alternating with genuine pathos, and above all his simple and singularly unaffected devotional nature, made him as a preacher without a peer in his own time and country. His favorite theme was love: love to man was to him the fulfilment of all law; love of God was the essence of all Christianity. Retaining to the day of his death the forms and phrases of the New England theology in which he had been reared, he poured into them a new meaning and gave to them a new significance.

"He probably did more than any other man in America to lead the Puritan churches from a faith which regarded God as a moral governor, the Bible as a book of laws, and religion as obedience to a conscience, to a faith which regards God as a father, the Bible as a book of counsels, and religion as a life of liberty in love."

As a sample of Beecher's eloquence, this extract from[Pg 379] his sermon on the death of Lincoln reveals his quality as well perhaps as anything he ever said:

The joy of the Nation came upon us suddenly, with such a surge as no words can describe. Men laughed, embraced one another, sang and prayed, and many could only weep for gladness.

In one short hour, joy had no pulse. The sorrow was so terrible that it stunned sensibility. The first feeling was the least, and men wanted to get strength to feel. Other griefs belong always to some one in chief, but this belonged to all. Men walked for hours as though a corpse lay in their houses. The city forgot to roar. Never did so many hearts in so brief a time touch two such boundless feelings. It was the uttermost of joy and the uttermost of sorrow—noon and midnight without a space between. We should not mourn, however, because the departure of the President was so sudden. When one is prepared to die, the suddenness of death is a blessing. They that are taken awake and watching, as the bridegroom dressed for the wedding, and not those who die in pain and stupor, are blessed. Neither should we mourn the manner of his death. The soldier prays that he may die by the shot of the enemy in the hour of victory, and it was meet that he should be joined in a common experience in death with the brave men to whom he had been joined in all his sympathy and life.

This blow was but the expiring rebellion. Epitomized in this foul act we find the whole nature and disposition of slavery. It is fit that its expiring blow should be such as to take away from men the last forbearance, the last pity, and fire the soul with invincible[Pg 380] determination that the breeding system of such mischiefs and monsters shall be forever and utterly destroyed. We needed not that he should put on paper that he believed in slavery, who, with treason, with murder, with cruelty infernal, hovered round that majestic man to destroy his life. He was himself the lifelong sting with which Slavery struck at Liberty, and he carried the poison that belonged to Slavery; and as long as this Nation lasts it will never be forgotten that we have had one Martyr-President—never, never while time lasts, while heaven lasts, while hell rocks and groans, will it be forgotten that Slavery by its minions slew him, and in slaying him made manifest its whole nature and tendency. This blow was aimed at the life of the Government. Some murders there have been that admitted shades of palliation, but not such a one as this—without provocation, without reason, without temptation—sprung from the fury of a heart cankered to all that is pure and just.

The blow has failed of its object. The Government stands more solid today than any pyramid of Egypt. Men love liberty and hate slavery today more than ever before. How naturally, how easily, the Government passed into the hands of the new President, and I avow my belief that he will be found a man true to every instinct of liberty, true to the whole trust that is imposed in him, vigilant of the Constitution, careful of the laws, wise for liberty: in that he himself for his life long, has known what it is to suffer from the stings of slavery, and to prize liberty from the bitter experience of his own life. Even he that sleeps has by this event been clothed with new influence. His simple and[Pg 381] weighty words will be gathered like those of Washington, and quoted by those who, were he alive, would refuse to listen. Men will receive a new access to patriotism. I swear you on the altar of his memory to be more faithful to that country for which he perished. We will, as we follow his hearse, swear a new hatred to that slavery against which he warred, and which in vanquishing him has made him a martyr and conqueror. I swear you by the memory of this martyr to hate slavery with an unabatable hatred, and to pursue it. We will admire the firmness of this man in justice, his inflexible conscience for the right, his gentleness and moderation of spirit, which not all the hate of party could turn to bitterness. And I swear you to follow his justice, his moderation, his mercy. How can I speak to that twilight million to whom his name was as the name of an angel of God, and whom God sent before them to lead them out of the house of bondage? O thou Shepherd of Israel, Thou that didst comfort Thy people of old, to Thy care we commit these helpless and long-wronged and grieved.

And now the martyr is moving in triumphal march, mightier than one alive. The Nation rises up at every stage of his coming; cities and States are his pall-bearers, and the cannon beat the hours in solemn progression; dead, dead, dead, he yet speaketh. Is Washington dead? Is Hampden dead? Is David?

Four years ago, O Illinois, we took from your midst an untried man from among the people. Behold! we return him to you a mighty conqueror; not thine any more, but the Nation's—not ours, but the world's. Give him place, O ye prairies! in the midst of this[Pg 382] great continent shall rest a sacred treasure to myriads who shall pilgrim to that shrine to kindle anew their zeal and patriotism. Ye winds that move over mighty spaces of the West, chant his requiem! Ye people, behold the martyr whose blood, as so many articulate words, pleads for fidelity, for law, for Liberty!


What worldwide benefactors these "imprudent" men are! How prudently most men creep into nameless graves; while now and then one or two forget themselves into immortality.

Speech on Lovejoy
[Pg 384]


[Pg 385]

May the good Lord ever keep me from wishing to say the last word; and also from assigning ranks or awarding prizes to great men gone. However, it is a joy to get acquainted with a noble, splendid personality, and then introduce him to you, or at least draw the arras, so you can see him as he lived and worked or nobly failed.

And if you and I understand this man it is because we are much akin to him. The only relationship, after all, is the spiritual relationship. Your brother after the flesh may not be your brother at all; you may live in different worlds and call to each other in strange tongues across wide seas of misunderstandings. "Who is my mother and who are my brethren?"

As you understand a man, just in that degree are you related to him. There is a great joy in discovering kinship—for in that moment you discover yourself, and life consists in getting acquainted with yourself. We see ourselves mirrored in the soul of another—that is what love is, or pretty nearly so.

If you like what I write, it is because I express for you the things you already know; we are akin, our heads are in the same stratum—we are breathing the same atmosphere. To the degree that you comprehend the character[Pg 386] of Wendell Phillips you are akin to him. I once thought great men were all ten feet high, but since I have met a few, both in astral form and in the flesh, I have found out differently.

What kind of a man was Wendell Phillips?

Very much like you and me, Blessed, very much like you and me.

I think well of great people, I think well of myself, and I think well of you. We are all God's children—all parts of the Whole—akin to Divinity.

Phillips never thought he was doing much—never took any great pride in past performances. When what you have done in the past looks large to you, you have not done much today. His hopes were so high that there crept into his life a tinge of disappointment—some have called it bitterness, but that is not the word—just a touch of sadness because he was unable to do more. This was a matter of temperament, perhaps, but it reveals the humanity as well as the divinity of the man. There is nothing worse than self-complacency—smugosity is sin.

Phillips was not supremely great—if he were, how could we comprehend him?

And now if you will open those folding doors—there! that will do—thank you.

[Pg 387]When was he born? Ah, I'll tell you—it was in his twenty-fifth year—about three in the afternoon, by the clock, October Twenty-first, Eighteen Hundred Thirty-five. The day was Indian summer, warm and balmy. He sat there reading in the window of his office on Court Street, Boston, a spick-span new law-office, with four shelves of law-books bound in sheep, a green-covered table in the center, three armchairs, and on the wall a steel engraving of "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

He was a handsome fellow, was this Wendell Phillips—it would a' been worth your while just to run up the stairs and put your head in the door to look at him. "Can I do anything for you?" he would have asked.

"No, we just wanted to see you, that's all," we would have replied.

He sat there at the window, his long legs crossed, a copy of "Coke on Littleton" in his hands. His dress was what it should be—that of a gentleman—his face cleanly shaven, hair long, cut square and falling to his black stock. He was the only son of Boston's first Mayor, both to the manor and to the manner born, rich in his own right; proud, handsome, strong, gentle, refined, educated—a Christian gentleman, heir to the best that Boston had to give—a graduate of the Boston Latin School, of Harvard College, of the Harvard Law School—living with his widowed mother in a mansion on Beacon Hill, overlooking Boston's forty-three acres of[Pg 388] Common!

Can you imagine anything more complete in way of endowment than all this? Did Destiny ever do more for mortal man?

There he sat waiting for clients. About this time he made the acquaintance of a cockeyed pulchritudinous youth, Ben Butler by name, who was errand-boy in a nearby office. It was a strange friendship—peppered by much cross-fire whenever they met in public—to endure loyal for a lifetime.

Clients are sure to come to the man who is not too anxious about them—sure to come to a man like Phillips—a youth clothed with the graces of a Greek—waiting on the threshold of manhood's morning.

Here is his career: a successful lawyer and leader in society; a member of the Legislature; a United States Senator, and then if he cares for it—well, well, well!

But in the meantime, there he sits, not with his feet in the window or on a chair—he is a gentleman, I said, a Boston gentleman—the flower of a gracile ancestry. In the lazy, hazy air is the hum of autumn birds and beetles—the hectic beauty of the dying year is over all. The hum seems to grow—it becomes a subdued roar.

You have sat behind the scenes waiting for the curtain to rise—a thousand people are there just out of your sight—five hundred of them are talking. It is one high-keyed, humming roar.

The roar of a mob is keyed lower—it is guttural and approaches a growl—it seems to come in waves, a[Pg 389] brazen roar rising and falling—but a roar, full of menace, hate, deaf to reason, dead to appeal.

You have heard the roar of the mob in "Julius Cæsar," and stay! once I heard the genuine article. It was in Eighty-four—goodness gracious, I am surely getting old!—it was in a town out West. I saw nothing but a pushing, crowding mass of men, and all I heard was that deep guttural roar of the beast. I could not make out what it was all about until I saw a man climbing a telegraph-pole.

He was carrying a rope in one hand. As he climbed higher, the roar subsided. The climber reached the arms that form the cross. He swung the rope over the crossbeam and paid it out until the end was clutched by the uplifted hands of those below.

The roar arose again like an angry sea, and I saw the figure of a human being leap twenty feet into the air and swing and swirl at the end of the rope.

The roar ceased.

The lawyer laid down the brand-new book, bound in sheep, and leaned out of the window—men were running down the thoroughfare, some hatless, and at Washington Street could be seen a black mass of human beings—beings who had forsaken their reason and merged their personality into a mob.

The young lawyer arose, put on his hat, locked his office, followed down the street. His tall and muscular form pushed its way through the mass.

[Pg 390]Theodore Lyman, the Mayor, was standing on a barrel importuning the crowd to disperse. His voice was lost in the roar of the mob.

From down a stairway came a procession of women, thirty or so, walking by twos, very pale, but calm. The crowd gradually opened out on a stern order from some unknown person. The young lawyer threw himself against those who blocked the way. The women passed on, and the crowd closed in as water closes over a pebble dropped into the river.

The disappearance of the women seemed to heighten the confusion: there were stones thrown, sounds of breaking glass, a crash on the stairway, and down the narrow passage, with yells of triumph, came a crowd of men, half-dragging a prisoner, a rope around his waist, his arms pinioned. The man's face was white, his clothing disheveled and torn. His resistance was passive—no word of entreaty or explanation escaped his lips. A sudden jerk on the rope from the hundred hands that clutched it threw the man off his feet—he fell headlong, his face struck the stones of the pavement, and he was dragged for twenty yards. The crowd grabbed at him and lifted him to his feet—blood dripped from his face, his hat was gone, his coat, vest and shirt were in shreds. The man spoke no word.

"That's him—Garrison, the damned abolitionist!" The words arose above the din and surge of the mob: "Kill him! Hang him!"

[Pg 391]Phillips saw the colonel of his militia regiment, and seizing him by the arm, said, "Order out the men to put down this riot!"

"Fool!" said the Colonel, "don't you see our men are in this crowd!"

"Then order them into columns, and we will protect this man."

"I never give orders unless I know they will be obeyed. Besides, this man Garrison is a rioter himself—he opposes the government."

"But, do we uphold mob-law—here, in Boston!"

"Don't blame me—I haven't anything to do with this business. I tell you, if this man Garrison had minded his own affairs, this scene would never have occurred."

"And those women?"

"Oh, they are members of the Anti-Slavery Society. It was their holding the meeting that made the trouble. The children followed them, hooting them through the streets!"


"Yes; you know children repeat what they hear at home—they echo the thoughts of their elders. The children hooted them, then some one threw a stone through a window. A crowd gathered, and here you are!"

The Colonel shook himself loose from the lawyer and followed the mob. The Mayor's counsel prevailed: "Give the prisoner to me—I will see that he is punished!"

[Pg 392]And so he was dragged to the City Hall and there locked up.

The crowd lingered, then thinned out. The shouts grew less, and soon the police were able to rout the loiterers.

The young lawyer went back to his law-office, but not to study. The law looked different to him now—the whole legal aspect of things had changed in an hour.

It was a pivotal point.

He had heard much of the majesty of the law, and here he had seen the entire machinery of justice brushed aside.

Law! It is the thing we make with our hands and then fall down and worship. Men want to do things, so they do them, and afterward they legalize them, just as we believe things first and later hunt for reasons. Or we illegalize the thing we do not want others to do.

Boston, standing for law and order, will not even allow a few women to meet and discuss an economic proposition!

Abolition is a fool idea, but we must have free speech—that is what our Constitution is built upon! Law is supposed to protect free speech, even to voicing wrong ideas! Surely a man has a legal right to a wrong opinion! A mob in Boston to put down free speech!

This young lawyer was not an Abolitionist—not he, but he was an American, descended from the Puritans, with ancestors who fought in the War of the Revolution—he believed in fair play.

His cheeks burned with shame.

[Pg 393]Seen from Mount Olympus, how small and pitiful must seem the antics of Earth—all these churches and little sects—our laws, our arguments, our courts of justice, our elections, our wars!

Viewed across the years, the Abolition Movement seems a small thing. It is so thoroughly dead—so far removed from our present interests! We hear a Virginian praise John Brown, listen to Henry Watterson as he says, "The South never had a better friend than Lincoln," or brave General Gordon, as he declares, "We now know that slavery was a gigantic mistake, and that Emerson was right when he said, 'One end of the slave's chain is always riveted to the wrist of the master.'"

We can scarcely comprehend that fifty years ago the trinity of money, fashion and religion combined in the hot endeavor to make human slavery a perpetuity; that the man of the North who hinted at resisting the return of a runaway slave was in danger of financial ruin, social ostracism, and open rebuke from the pulpit. The ears of Boston were so stuffed with South Carolina cotton that they could not hear the cry of the oppressed. Commerce was fettered by self-interest, and law ever finds precedents and sanctions for what commerce most desires. And as for the pulpit, it is like the law, in that Scriptural warrant is always forthcoming for what the pew wishes to do.

Slavery, theoretically, might be an error, but in America[Pg 394] it was a commercial, political, social and religious necessity, and any man who said otherwise was an enemy of the State.

William Lloyd Garrison said otherwise. But who was William Lloyd Garrison? Only an ignorant and fanatical freethinker from the country town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. He had started four or five newspapers, and all had failed, because he would not keep his pen quiet on the subject of slavery.

New England must have cotton, and cotton could not be produced without slaves. Garrison was a fool. All good Christians refused to read his vile sheet, and businessmen declined to advertise with him or to subscribe to his paper.

However, he continued to print things, telling what he thought of slavery. In Eighteen Hundred Thirty-one, he was issuing a periodical called, "The Liberator."

I saw a partial file of "The Liberator" recently at the Boston Public Library. They say it is very precious, and a custodian stood by and tenderly turned the leaves for me. I was not allowed even to touch it, and when I was through looking at the tattered pages, they locked it up in a fireproof safe.

The sheets of different issues were of various sizes, and the paper was of several grades in quality, showing that stock was scarce, and that there was no system in the office.

There surely was not much of a subscription-list, and[Pg 395] we hear of Garrison's going around and asking for contributions. But interviews were what he really wished, as much as subscribers. He let the preachers defend the peculiar institution—to print a man's fool remarks is the most cruel way of indicting him. Among those Garrison called on was Doctor Lyman Beecher, then thundering against Unitarianism.

Garrison got various clergymen to commit themselves in favor of slavery, and he quoted them verbatim, whereas on this subject the clergy of the North wished to remain silent—very silent.

Doctor Beecher was wary—all he would say was, "I have too many irons in the fire now!"

"You had better take them all out and put this one in," said the seedy editor.

But Doctor Beecher made full amends later—he supplied a son and a daughter to the Abolition Movement, and this caused Carlos Martyn to say, "The old man's loins were wiser than his head."

Garrison had gotten himself thoroughly disliked in Boston. The Mayor once replied to a letter inquiring about him, "He is a nobody and lives in a rat-hole."

But Garrison managed to print his paper—rather irregularly, to be sure, but he printed it. From one room he moved into two, and a straggling company, calling themselves "The Anti-Slavery Society," used his office for a meeting-place.

And now, behold the office mobbed, the type pitched[Pg 396] into the street, the Society driven out, and the fanatical editor, bruised and battered, safely lodged in jail—writing editorials with a calm resolution and a will that never faltered.

And Wendell Phillips? He was pacing the streets, wondering whether it was worth while to be respectable and prosperous in a city where violence took the place of law when logic failed.

To him, Garrison had won—Garrison had not been answered: only beaten, bullied, abused and thrust behind prison-bars.

Wendell Phillips' cheeks burned with shame.

[Pg 397]Garrison was held a prisoner for several days.

The Mayor would have punished the man, Pilate-like, to appease public opinion, but there was no law to cover the case—no illegal offense had been committed. Garrison demanded a trial, but the officials said that they had locked him up merely to protect him, and that he was a base ingrate. Official Boston now looked at the whole matter as a good thing to forget. The prisoner's cell-door was left open, in the hope that he would escape, just as, later, George Francis Train enjoyed the distinction of being the only man who was literally kicked down the stone steps of the Tombs.

Garrison was thrust out of limbo, with a warning, and a hint that Boston-town was a good place for him to emigrate from.

But Garrison neither ran away nor went into hiding—he calmly began a canvass to collect money to refit his printing-office. Boston had treated him well—the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church—he would stay. Men who fatten on difficulties are hard to subdue. Phillips met Garrison shortly after his release, quite by chance, at the house of Henry G. Chapman. Garrison was six years older than Phillips—tall, angular, intellectual, and lacked humor. He also lacked culture. Phillips looked at him and smiled grimly.

But in the Chapman household was still another person,[Pg 398] more or less interesting—a Miss Ann Terry Greene. She was an orphan and an heiress—a ward of Chapman's. Young Phillips had never before met Miss Greene, but she had seen him. She was one of the women who had come down the stairs from "The Liberator" office, when the mob collected. She had seen the tall form of Phillips, and had noticed that he used his elbows to good advantage in opening up the gangway.

"It was a little like a cane-rush—your campus practise served you in good stead," said the lady, and smiled.

And Phillips listened, perplexed—that a young woman like this, frail, intellectual, of good family, should mix up in fanatical schemes for liberating black men. He could not understand it!

"But you were there—you helped get us out of the difficulty. And if worse had come to worst, I might have appealed to you personally for protection!"

And the young lawyer stammered, "I should have been only too happy," or something like that. The lady had the best of the logic, and a thin attempt to pity her on account of the unfortunate occurrence went off by the right oblique and was lost in space.

These Abolitionists were a queer lot!

Not long after that meeting at the Chapmans, the young lawyer had legal business at Greenfield that must be looked after. Now, Greenfield is one hundred miles from Boston, but then it was the same distance from tidewater that Omaha is now—that is to say, a two-days'[Pg 399] journey.

The day was set. The stage left every morning at nine o'clock from the Bowdoin Tavern in Bowdoin Square. A young fellow by the name of Charles Sumner was going with Phillips, but at the last moment was detained by other business. That his chum could not go was a disappointment to Phillips—he paced the stone-paved courtway of the tavern with clouded brow. All around was the bustle of travel, and tearful friends bidding folks good-by, and the romantic rush of stagecoach land.

The ease and luxury of travel have robbed it of its poetry—Ruskin was right!

But it didn't look romantic to Wendell Phillips just then—his chum had failed him—the weather was cold, two days of hard jolting lay ahead. And—"Ah! yes—it is Miss Greene! and Miss Grew, and Mr. Alvord. To Greenfield? why, how fortunate!"

Obliging strangers exchanged seats, so that our friends could be together—passengers found their places on top or inside, bundles and bandboxes were packed away, harness-chains rattled, a long whip sang through the air, and the driver, holding a big bunch of lines in one hand, swung the six horses, with careless grace, out of Bowdoin Square, and turned the leaders' heads toward Cambridge. The post-horn tooted merrily, dogs barked, and stableboys raised a good-by cheer!

Out past Harvard Square they went, through Arlington and storied Lexington—on to Concord—through[Pg 400] Fitchburg, to Greenfield.

It doesn't take long to tell it, but that was a wonderful trip for Phillips—the greatest and most important journey of his life, he said forty years later.

Miss Grew lived in Greenfield and had been down to visit Miss Greene. Mr. Alvord was engaged to Miss Grew, and wanted to accompany her home, but he couldn't exactly, you know, unless Miss Greene went along.

So Miss Greene obliged them. The girls knew the day Phillips was going, and hastened their plans a trifle, so as to take the same stage—at least that is what Charles Sumner said.

They didn't tell Phillips, because a planned excursion on the part of these young folks wouldn't have been just right—Beacon Hill would not have approved. But when they had bought their seats and met at the stage-yard—why, that was a different matter.

Besides, Mr. Alvord and Miss Grew were engaged, and Miss Greene was a cousin of Miss Grew—there!

Let me here say that I am quite aware that long after Miss Grew became Mrs. Alvord, she wrote a most charming little book about Ann Terry Greene, in which she defends the woman against any suspicion that she plotted and planned to snare the heart of Wendell Phillips, on the road to Greenfield. The defense was done in love, but was unnecessary. Ann Terry Greene needs no vindication. As for her snaring the[Pg 401] heart of Wendell Phillips, I rest solidly on this: She did.

Whether Miss Greene coolly planned that trip to Greenfield, I can not say, but I hope so.

And, anyway, it was destiny—it had to be.

This man and this woman were made for each other—they were "elected" before the foundations of Earth were laid.

The first few hours out, they were very gay. Later, they fell into serious conversation. The subject was Abolition. Miss Greene knew the theme in all of its ramifications and parts—its history, its difficulties, its dangers, its ultimate hopes. Phillips soon saw that all of his tame objections had been made before and answered. Gradually the horror of human bondage swept over him, and against this came the magnificence of freedom and of giving freedom. By evening, it came to him that all of the immortal names in history were those of men who had fought liberty's battle. That evening, as they sat around the crackling fire at the Fitchburg Tavern, they did not talk—a point had been reached where words were superfluous—the silence sufficed. At daybreak the next morning the journey was continued. There was conversation, but voices were keyed lower. When the stage mounted a steep hill they got out and walked. Melancholy had taken the place of mirth. Both felt that a great and mysterious change had come over their spirits—their thought was fused. Miss Greene had suffered social obloquy on[Pg 402] account of her attitude on the question of slavery—to share this obloquy seemed now the one thing desirable to Phillips. It is a great joy to share disgrace with the right person. The woman had intellect, education, self-reliance—and passion. There was an understanding between them. And yet no word of tenderness had been spoken. An avowal formulated in words is a cheap thing, and a spoken proposal goes with a cheap passion. The love that makes the silence eloquent and fills the heart with a melody too sacred to voice is the true token. O God! we thank thee for the thoughts and feelings that are beyond speech!

[Pg 403]When it became known that Wendell Phillips, the most promising of Boston's young sons, had turned Abolitionist, Beacon Hill rent its clothes and put ashes on its head.

On the question of slavery, the first families of the North stood with the first families of the South—the rights of property were involved, as well as the question of caste.

Let one of the scions of Wall Street avow himself an anarchist and the outcry of horror would not be greater than it was when young Phillips openly declared himself an Abolitionist. His immediate family were in tears; the relatives said they were disgraced; cousins cut him dead on the street, and his name was stricken from the list of "invited guests." The social-column editors ignored him, and worst of all, his clients fled.

The biographers are too intensely partisan to believe, literally; and when one says, "He left a large and lucrative practise that he might devote himself," etc., we'd better reach for the Syracuse product.

Wendell Phillips never had a large and lucrative practise, and if he had, he would not have left it. His little law business was the kind that all fledglings get—the kind that big lawyers do not want, and so they pass it over to the boys. Doctors are always turning pauper patients over to the youngsters, and so in successful law-offices there is more or less of this semi-charitable work to do. Business houses also have fag-end work[Pg 404] that they give to beginners, as kind folks give bones to Fido. Wendell Phillips' law-work was exactly of this contingent kind—big business and big fees only go to big men and tried.

Law is a business, and lawyers who succeed are businessmen. Social distinction has its pull in all professions and all arts, and the man who can afford to affront society and hope to succeed is as one in a million.

Lawyers and businessmen were not so troubled about Wendell Phillips' inward beliefs as they were in the fact that he was a fool—he had flung away his chances of getting on in the world. They ceased to send him business—he had no work—no callers—folks he used to know were now strangely nearsighted.

Phillips didn't quit the practise of law, any more than he withdrew from society—both law and society quit him. And then he made a virtue of necessity and boldly resigned his commission as a lawyer—he would not longer be bound to protect the Constitution that upheld the right of a slave-owner to capture his "property" in Massachusetts.

He and Ann talked this over at length—they had little else to do. They excommunicated society, and Wendell Phillips became an outlaw, in the same way that the James boys became outlaws—through accident, and not through choice. Social disgrace is never sought, and obloquy is not a thing to covet—these things may come, and usually they mean a smother-blanket to all worldly[Pg 405] success. But Ann and Wendell had their love; and each had a bank-account, and then they had a pride that proved a prophylactic 'gainst the clutch of oblivion.

On October Twelfth, Eighteen Hundred Thirty-seven, the outlaws, Ann and Wendell, were married. It was a quiet wedding—guests were not invited because it was not pleasant to court cynical regrets, and kinsmen were noticeable by their absence.

Proscription has its advantages—for one thing, it binds human hearts like hoops of steel. Yet it was not necessary here, for there was no waning of the honeymoon during that forty-odd years of married life.

But scarcely had the petals fallen from the orange-blossoms before an event occurred that marked another milestone in the career of Phillips.

At Saint Louis, the Reverend E. P. Lovejoy, a Presbyterian clergyman, had been mobbed and his printing-office sacked, because he had expressed himself on the subject of slavery. Lovejoy then moved up to Alton, Illinois, on the other side of the river, on free soil, and here he sought to re-establish his newspaper.

But he was to benefit the cause in another way than by printing editorials. The place was attacked, the presses broken into fragments, the type flung into the Mississippi River, and Lovejoy was killed.

A tremor of horror ran through the North—it was not the question of slavery—no, it was the right of free speech.

[Pg 406]A meeting was called at Faneuil Hall to consider the matter and pass fitting resolutions. There was something beautifully ironical in Boston interesting herself concerning the doings of a mob a thousand miles away, especially when Boston, herself, had done about the same thing only two years before.

Boston preferred to forget—but somebody would not let her. Just who called the meeting, no one seemed to know. The word "Abolition" was not used on the placards—"free speech" was the shibboleth. The hall had been leased, and the assembly was to occur in the forenoon. The principal actors evidently anticipated serious trouble if the meeting was at night.

The authorities sought to discourage the gathering, but this only advertised it. At the hour set, the place—the "Cradle of Liberty"—was packed.

The crowd was made up of three classes, the Abolitionists—and they were in the minority—the mob who hotly opposed them, and the curious and indifferent people who wanted to see the fireworks.

Many women were in the audience, and a dozen clergymen on the platform—this gave respectability to the assemblage. The meeting opened tamely enough with a trite talk by a Unitarian clergyman, and followed along until the resolutions were read. Then there were cries of, "Table them!"—the matter was of no importance.

A portly figure was seen making its way to the platform.

[Pg 407]It was the Honorable James T. Austin, Attorney-General of the State. He was stout, florid, ready of tongue—a practical stump speaker and withal a good deal of a popular favorite. The crowd cheered him—he caught them from the start. His intent was to explode the whole thing in a laugh, or else end it in a row—he didn't care which.

He pooh-poohed the whole affair, and referred to the slaves as a menagerie of lions, tigers, hyenas—a jackass or two—and a host of monkeys, which the fool Abolitionists were trying to turn loose. He regretted the death of Lovejoy, but his taking-off should be a warning to all good people—they should be law-abiding and mind their own business. He moved that the resolutions be tabled.

The applause that followed showed that if a vote were then taken the Attorney-General's motion would have prevailed.

"Answer him, Wendell, answer him!" whispered Ann, excitedly, and before the Attorney-General had bowed himself from the platform, Wendell Phillips had sprung upon the stage and stood facing the audience. There were cries of, "Vote! Vote!"—the mobocrats wanted to cut the matter short. Still others shouted: "Fair play! Let us hear the boy!" The young man stood there, calm, composed—handsome in the strength of youth. He waited until the audience came to him and then he spoke in that dulcet voice—deliberate, measured,[Pg 408] faultless—every sentence spaced. The charm of his speech caught the curiosity of the crowd. People did not know whether he was going to sustain the Attorney-General or assail him. From compliments and generalities he moved off into bitter sarcasm. He riddled the cheap wit of his opponent, tore his logic to tatters, and held the pitiful rags of reason up before the audience. There were cries of: "Treason!" "Put him out!" Phillips simply smiled and waited for the frenzy to subside. The speaker who has aroused his hearers into a tumult of either dissent or approbation has won—and Phillips did both. He spoke for thirty minutes and finished in a whirlwind of applause. The Attorney-General had disappeared, and those of his followers who remained were strangely silent. The resolutions were passed in a shout of acclamation.

The fame of Wendell Phillips as an orator was made. Father Taylor once said, "If Emerson goes to hell, he will start emigration in that direction." And from the day of that first Faneuil Hall speech Wendell Phillips gradually caused Abolitionism in New England to become respectable.

[Pg 409]Phillips was twenty-seven years old when he gave that first, great speech, and for just twenty-seven years he continued to speak on the subject of slavery. He was an agitator—he was a man who divided men. He supplied courage to the weak, arguments to the many, and sent a chill of hate and fear through the hearts of the enemy. And just here is a good place to say that your radical—your fire-eater, agitator, and revolutionary who dips his pen in aqua fortis, and punctuates with blood—is almost without exception, met socially, a very gentle, modest and suave individual. William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Horace Greeley, Fred. Douglas, George William Curtis, and even John Brown, were all men with low, musical voices and modest ways—men who would not tread on an insect nor harm a toad.

When the fight had been won—the Emancipation Proclamation issued—there were still other fights ahead. The habit of Phillips' life had become fixed.

He and Ann lived in that plain little home on Exeter Street, and to this home of love he constantly turned for rest and inspiration.

At the close of the War he found his fortune much impaired, and he looked to the Lyceum Stage—the one thing for which he was so eminently fitted.

It was about the year Eighteen Hundred Eighty that a callow interviewer asked him who his closest associates were. The answer was: "My colleagues are hackmen and[Pg 410] hotel-clerks; and I also know every conductor, brakeman and engineer on every railroad in America. My home is in the caboose, and my business is establishing trains."

I heard Wendell Phillips speak but once. I was about twelve years of age, and my father and I had ridden ten miles across the wind-swept prairie in the face of a winter storm.

It was midnight when we reached home, but I could not sleep until I had told my mother all about it. I remember the hall was packed, and there were many gaslights, and on the stage were a dozen men—all very great, my father said. One man arose and spoke. He lifted his hands, raised his voice, stamped his foot, and I thought he surely was a very great man. He was just introducing the real speaker.

Then the Real Speaker walked slowly down to the front of the stage and stood very still. And everybody was awful quiet—no one coughed, nor shuffled his feet, nor whispered—I never knew a thousand folks could be so still. I could hear my heart beat—I leaned over to listen and I wondered what his first words would be, for I had promised to remember them for my mother. And the words were these—"My dear friends: We have met here tonight to talk about the Lost Arts."... That is just what he said—I'll not deceive you—and it wasn't a speech at all—he just talked to us. We were his dear friends—he said so, and[Pg 411] a man with a gentle, quiet voice like that would not call us his friends if he wasn't our friend.

He had found out some wonderful things and he had just come to tell us about them; about how thousands of years ago men worked in gold and silver and ivory; how they dug canals, sailed strange seas, built wonderful palaces, carved statues and wrote books on the skins of animals. He just stood there and told us about these things—he stood still, with one hand behind him, or resting on his hip, or at his side, and the other hand motioned a little—that was all. We expected every minute he would burst out and make a speech, but he didn't—he just talked. There was a big, yellow pitcher and a tumbler on the table, but he didn't drink once, because you see he didn't work very hard—he just talked—he talked for two hours. I know it was two hours, because we left home at six o'clock, got to the hall at eight, and reached home at midnight. We came home as fast as we went, and if it took us two hours to come home, and he began at eight, he must have been talking for two hours. I didn't go to sleep—didn't nod once.

We hoped he would make a speech before he got through, but he didn't. He just talked, and I understood it all. Father held my hand: we laughed a little in places, at others we wanted to cry, but didn't—but most of the time we just listened. We were going to applaud, but forgot it. He called us his dear friends.

[Pg 412]I have heard thousands of speeches since that winter night in Illinois. Very few indeed can I recall, and beyond the general theme, that speech by Wendell Phillips has gone from my memory. But I remember the presence and attitude and voice of the man as though it were but yesterday. The calm courage, deliberation, beauty and strength of the speaker—his knowledge, his gentleness, his friendliness! I had heard many sermons, and some had terrified me. This time I had expected to be thrilled, too, and so I sat very close to my father and felt for his hand. And here it was all just quiet joy—I understood it all. I was pleased with myself; and being pleased with myself, I was pleased with the speaker. He was the biggest and best man I had ever seen—the first real man.

It is no small thing: to be a man!

[Pg 413]In Eighteen Hundred Fifty-three, Emerson said the reason Phillips was the best public speaker in America was because he had spoken every day for fourteen years.

This observation didn't apply to Phillips at all, but Emerson used Phillips to hammer home a great general truth, which was that practise makes perfect.

Emerson, like all the rest of us, had certain pet theories, which he was constantly bolstering by analogy and example. He had Phillips in mind when he said that the best drill for an orator was a course of mobs.

But the cold fact remains that Phillips never made a better speech, even after fourteen years' daily practise, than that reply to Attorney-General Austin, at Faneuil Hall.

He gave himself, and it was himself full-armed and at his best. All the conditions were exactly right—there was hot opposition; and there also was love and encouragement.

His opponent, with brag, bluster, pomposity, cheap wit, and insincerity, served him as a magnificent foil. Never again were wind and tide so in his favor.

It is opportunity that brings out the great man, but he only is great who prepares for the opportunity—who knows it will come—and who seizes upon it when it arrives.

In this speech, Wendell Phillips reveals himself at his best—it has the same ring of combined courage,[Pg 414] culture and sincerity that he showed to the last. Clear thinking and clear speaking marked the man. Taine says the style is the man—the Phillips style was all in that first speech, and here is a sample:

To draw the conduct of our ancestors into a precedent for mobs, for a right to resist laws we ourselves have enacted, is an insult to their memory. The difference between the excitement of those days and our own, which this gentleman in kindness to the latter has overlooked, is simply this: the men of that day went for the right, as secured by laws. They were the people rising to sustain the laws and the constitution of the province. The rioters of our day go for their own wills, right or wrong. Sir, when I heard the gentleman lay down principles which place the murderers of Alton side by side with Otis and Hancock, with Quincy and Adams, I thought those pictured lips [pointing to the portraits in the hall] would have broken into voice to rebuke the recreant American—the slanderer of the dead!

The gentleman said he should sink into insignificance if he condescended to gainsay the principles of these resolutions. For the sentiments he has uttered, on soil consecrated by the prayers of Puritans and the blood of patriots, the earth should have yawned and swallowed him up!

Allusion has been made to what lawyers understand very well—the "conflict of laws." We are told that nothing but the Mississippi River runs between Saint Louis and Alton; and the conflict of laws somehow or other gives the citizens of the former a right to find[Pg 415] fault with the defender of the press for publishing his opinions so near their limits. Will the gentleman venture that argument before lawyers? How the laws of the two States could be said to come into conflict in such circumstances, I question whether any lawyer in this audience can explain or understand. No matter whether the line that divides one sovereign State from another be an imaginary one or ocean-wide, the moment you cross it, the State you leave is blotted out of existence, so far as you are concerned. The Czar might as well claim to control the deliberations of Faneuil Hall, as the laws of Missouri demand reverence, or the shadow of obedience, from an inhabitant of Illinois.

Sir, as I understand this affair, it was not an individual protecting his property; it was not one body of armed men assaulting another, and making the streets of a peaceful city run blood with their contentions. It did not bring back the scenes in some old Italian cities, where family met family, and faction met faction, and mutually trampled the laws underfoot. No; the men in that house were regularly enrolled under the sanction of the mayor. There being no militia in Alton, about seventy men were enrolled with the approbation of the mayor. These relieved each other every other night. About thirty men were in arms on the night of the Sixth, when the press was landed. The next evening it was not thought necessary to summon more than half that number; among these was Lovejoy. It was, therefore, you perceive, Sir, the police of the city resisting rioters—civil government breasting itself to the shock of lawless men. Here is no question about the right of self-defense. It is, in fact,[Pg 416] simply this: Has the civil magistrate a right to put down a riot? Some persons seem to imagine that anarchy existed at Alton from the commencement of these disputes. Not at all. "No one of us," says an eye-witness and a comrade of Lovejoy, "has taken up arms during these disturbances but at the command of the mayor." Anarchy did not settle down on that devoted city till Lovejoy breathed his last. Till then the law, represented in his person, sustained itself against its foes. When he fell, civil authority was trampled underfoot. He had "planted himself on his constitutional rights"—appealed to the laws—claimed the protection of the civil authority—taken refuge under "the broad shield of the Constitution. When through that he was pierced and fell, he fell but one sufferer in a common catastrophe." He took refuge under the banner of liberty—amid its folds; and when he fell, its glorious stars and stripes, the emblem of free constitutions, around which cluster so many heart-stirring memories, were blotted out in the martyr's blood.

If, Sir, I had adopted what are called peace principles, I might lament the circumstances of this case. But all of you who believe, as I do, in the right and duty of magistrates to execute the laws, join with me and brand as base hypocrisy the conduct of those who assemble year after year on the Fourth of July, to fight over battles of the Revolution, and yet "damn with faint praise," or load with obloquy, the memory of this man, who shed his blood in defense of life, liberty, and the freedom of the press!

Imprudent to defend the freedom of the press! Why? Because the defense was unsuccessful? Does success[Pg 417] gild crime into patriotism, and want of it change heroic self-devotion to imprudence? Was Hampden imprudent when he drew the sword and threw away the scabbard? Yet he, judged by that single hour, was unsuccessful. After a short exile, the race he hated sat again upon the throne.

Imagine yourself present when the first news of Bunker Hill battle reached a New England town. The tale would have run thus: "The patriots are routed; the redcoats victorious; Warren lies dead upon the field." With what scorn would that Tory have been received, who should have charged Warren with imprudence! who should have said that, bred as a physician, he was "out of place" in the battle, and "died as the fool dieth!" [Great applause.] How would the intimation have been received that Warren and his associates should have waited a better time? But, if success be indeed the only criterion of prudence, "Respice finem"—wait till the end.

Presumptuous to assert the freedom of the press on American ground! Is the assertion of such freedom before the age? So much before the age as to leave one no right to make it because it displeases the community? Who invents this libel on his country? It is this very thing which entitles Lovejoy to greater praise: the disputed right which provoked the Revolution—taxation without representation—is far beneath that for which he died. [Here there was a strong and general expression of disapprobation.] One word, gentlemen! As much as Thought is better than Money, so much is the cause in which Lovejoy died nobler than a mere question of taxes. James Otis thundered in this[Pg 418] hall when the king did but touch his Pocket. Imagine, if you can, his indignant eloquence had England offered to put a gag upon his Lips. [Great applause.]

The question that stirred the Revolution touched our civil interests. This concerns us not only as citizens, but as immortal beings. Wrapped up in its fate, saved or lost with it, are not only the voice of the statesman, but the instructions of the pulpit and the progress of our faith.

Is the clergy "marvelously out of place" where free speech is battled for—liberty of speech on national sins? Does the gentleman remember that freedom to preach was first gained, dragging in its train freedom to print? I thank the clergy here present, as I reverence their predecessors, who did not so far forget their country in their immediate profession as to deem it duty to separate themselves from the struggle of Seventy-six—the Mayhews and the Coopers—who remembered they were citizens before they were clergymen....

I am glad, Sir, to see this crowded house. It is good for us to be here. When liberty is in danger, Faneuil Hall has the right, it is her duty, to strike the keynote of these United States. I am glad, for one reason, that remarks such as those to which I have alluded have been uttered here. The passage of these resolutions, in spite of this opposition, led by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, will show more clearly, more decisively, the deep indignation with which Boston regards this outrage.


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