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W. F. BARTLETT.
Speech at Harvard Commencement Dinner.1
June 24, 1874.
["On the 23rd of June the dedication of Memorial Hall, the great building erected to commemorate the services in the war of the Sons of Harvard College, took place at Cambridge. The next day was Commencement Day, and the commencement dinner was served, for the first time, in Memorial Hall. General Bartlett was the chief marshall of the day. . . . A mid-summer's day at Cambridge is apt to be hot, and this day was not an exception. By the time the dignitaries have made their speeches, the guests are getting weary and uncomfortable, and the thought of the fresher air without grows more and more tempting. It is not a favorable moment for the début of an orator. And 10 yet when Bartlett arose, and the first words uttered by his deep and manly voice were heard, and the audience became aware that they came from the shattered soldier whose tall and slender form and wasted face they had seen at the head of the procession as he painfully marshalled it that day, a great silence fell upon the multitude, and he continued and 15 finished his speech in the midst of silence, except when it was broken, as it was more than once, by spontaneous bursts of cheering. When he took his seat, enthusiastic cheering followed, and all felt that an event had taken place. It is within bounds to say that it is many years since any speech made in New England has produced so great an 20 effect."]
MR. PRESIDENT, The first meeting of the Alumni around the table in this hall, which we yesterday dedicated to the memory of our brothers, is one of no common interest to us; and I think I speak for all their comrades in arms 25 when I say that the thoughtfulness which assigns to us the honorable duties of this day is recognized and appreciated. The day is not without sadness as we read the beloved names on those marble tablets, and yet not without gladness as we
1 Reprinted by permission of Houghton, Mifflin & Co, from Memoir of W. F. Bartlett, F. W. Palfrey, 1878.
reflect that whatever change of fortune may come to us as the years roll on, their fame is secure-immutable — immortal. We shall grow old and wear out, but they will always keep for us their glorious, spotless youth. I was glad 5 to hear from the lips of your distinguished orator yesterday such testimony to the absence of natural bitterness among the mass of the people of the South; that it was due in great part to the energetic cultivation of hot-brained leaders for selfish ends. I think that the natural instinct of the people Io everywhere is toward peace and good will, and were it never
thwarted by party intrigue, we should be much nearer to a perfect union, such as these men fought for, than we are today. The occasional fire-brands thrown in the path of reconciliation are from the hands of those who, while the battle 15 lasted, sought "bomb-proof" positions in the rear, and they no more represent the fighting men of the South than the plundering politicians who have spoiled them represent the true hearts at the North. I firmly believe that when the gallant men of Lee's army surrendered at Appomattox 20 (touched by the delicate generosity of Grant, who, obeying the dictates of his own honest heart, showed no less magnanimity than political sagacity), they followed the example of their heroic chief, and, with their arms, laid down forever their disloyalty to the Union. Take care, then, lest you 25 repel, by injustice, or suspicion, or even by indifference, the returning love of men who now speak with pride of that flag as our flag." It was to make this a happy, reunited country, where every man should be in reality free and equal before the law, that our comrades fought, our brothers fell. 30 They died not that New England might prosper or that the West might thrive. They died not to defend the northern capitol or preserve those marble halls where the polished statesmen of the period conduct their dignified debates! They died for their country—for the South no less than for 35 the North. And the southern youth, in the days to come, will see this, and as he stands in these hallowed halls and
reads those names, realizing the grandeur and power of a country which, thanks to them, is still his, will exclaim, "These men fought for my salvation as well as for their They died to preserve not merely the unity of a nation, but the destinies of a continent."
G. W. CURTIS.
The Puritan Principle: Liberty under the Law.1
A Speech made at the Dinner of the New England Society of the City of New York, December 22, 1876.
["The following account, by the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, of the circumstances attending the delivery of the speech, and of the effect produced by it, appeared in the Boston Commonwealth, Sept. 10, 1892.
'I have said a hundred times, and am glad here to put on record my opinion, that at a great moment in our history George William Cur- 10 tis spoke the word which was most needed to save the nation from terrible calamity. It was at the annual dinner of the Forefathers' Society of the city of New York, at Delmonico's Hotel, in 1876. That society embodies some of the very best of the leaders of business and of social life in New York, and it is the pride of its managers to assemble on 15 Forefathers' Day the very best of the leaders, who are not of New England blood, who represent the highest and most important interests in that city. On the anniversary of 1876 I had the honor and pleasure of representing at their dinner party Boston and the New Englanders who had not emigrated. It was at the moment when the Hayes- 20 Tilden difficulty was at its very worst. Intelligent men and even decent newspapers spoke freely of the possibility of civil war. The deadlock seemed absolute, and even men perfectly loyal to the principles of American government turned pale as they looked forward to the issue. In the distinguished company of perhaps three hundred representative 25 men, at Delmonico's, about half believed to the bottom of their hearts
1 Reprinted by permission from Essays and Addresses. G. W. Curtis, Vol. I, p. 243. Copyright, 1894, Harper & Brothers.
that Mr. Tilden was chosen President. The other half believed with equal certainty that Mr. Hayes was chosen. I myself had no more doubt then than I have now that Mr. Hayes was fairly chosen. I sat by a mayor of New York, a man of high character and level head, who 5 told me that he had postponed his journey to Cuba that he might be present at Mr. Tilden's inauguration. He was as sure of that inauguration as he was that he lived.
'Before such an audience Mr. Curtis rose to speak. Instantly as always he held them in rapt attention. It would have been per10 fectly easy for a timid man or even a person of historic taste, to avoid the great subject of the hour. Mr. Curtis might have talked well about Brewster and Carver, Leyden and Delfthaven, and have left Washington and the White House alone. But he was not a timid man. He was much more than a man of delicate taste, well-trained and elegant. 15 And therefore he plunged right into the terrible subject. Terrible is the only word. He passed from point to point of its intricacies, of which he did not underrate the difficulty. He then used the privilege of the occasion, citing the common-sense of the conscientious statesmen of our race; and he came out with his expression of his certain confi20 dence that the good sense of the sons of such an ancestry would devise a tribunal impartial enough and august enough to determine the question to the unanimous assent of the nation.
'He said this so clearly and certainly that he carried with him every man in the assembly. Almost on the moment every man was on his 25 feet, cheering the sentiment. I know that the Mayor of New York and I, who had but just before been absolutely at cross-purposes in our talk, were standing side by side, each with one foot in his chair and the other foot on the table, cheering and waving our handkerchiefs. was every other man of the twenty guests at the table.
'Those three hundred men of mark in New York went home that night, and went to their business the next day, to say that a court of arbitration must be established to settle that controversy. In that moment of Mr. Curtis's triumph, as I believe, it was settled. This is certain: that from that moment, as every careful reader may find to-day, 35 the whole tone of the press of all parties in the city of New York expressed the belief which he expressed then, and which that assembly of leaders approved by their cheers. And from that moment to this moment there has been no more talk of civil war." "
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE NEW ENG40 LAND SOCIETY: It was Isaac Walton, in his Angler, who said that Dr. Botelier was accustomed to remark "that doubtless God might have made a better berry than the strawberry, but
doubtless he never did." And I suppose I speak the secret feeling of this festive company when I say that doubtless there might have been a better place to be born in than New England, but doubtless no such place exists. [Applause and laughter.] And if any sceptic should reply that our very pres- 5 ence here would seem to indicate that doubtless, also, New England is as good a place to leave as to stay in [laughter], I should reply to him that, on the contrary, our presence is but an added glory of our mother. It is an illustration of the devout missionary spirit, of the willingness in which she 10 has trained us to share with others the blessings that we have received, and to circle the continent, to girdle the globe, with the strength of New England character and the purity of New England principles. [Applause.] Even the Knickerbockers, Mr. President-in whose stately and 15 splendid city we are at this moment assembled, and assembled of right because it is our home - even they would doubtless concede that much of the state and splendor of this city is due to the enterprise, the industry, and the genius of those whom their first historian describes as "losel 20 Yankees." [Laughter.] Sir, they grace our feast with their presence; they will enliven it, I am sure, with their eloquence and wit. Our tables are rich with the flowers grown in their soil; but there is one flower that we do not see, one flower whose perfume fills a continent, which has blossomed for 25 more than two centuries and a half with ever-increasing and deepening beauty-a flower which blooms at this moment, on this wintry night, in never-fading freshness in a million of true hearts, from the snow-clad Katahdin to the warm Golden Gate of the South Sea, and over its waters to the isles of the 30 East and the land of Prester John — the flower of flowers, the Pilgrim's Mayflower. [Applause.]
Well, sir, holding that flower in my hand at this moment, I say that the day we celebrate commemorates the introduction upon this continent of the master principle of its 35 civilization. I do not forget that we are a nation of many