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ORATION AT HIS BROTHER'S GRAVE
DELIVERED AT THE FUNERAL OF EBON C. INGERSOLL, IN
WASHINGTON, JUNE 3, 1879
Y FRIENDS,—I am going to do that which the dead aft promised he would do for me.
The loved, and loving brother, husband, father, friend died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west.
He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point, but, being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world he passed to silence and pathetic dust.
Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For, whether in mid-sea or ’mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.
This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock, but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights
Copied from the New York “ Tribune," June 4, 1879.
and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning of the grander day.
He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form, and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, and with a willing hand gave alms; with loyal heart and with purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts.
He was a worshipper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: “For justice all place a temple, and all seasons, summer.” He believed that happiness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were every one to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers.
Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry 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.
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, and tears and fears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.
And now to you who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust. Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no greater, stronger, manlier man.
BRADL AU GH
NHARLES BRADLAUGH, an English reformer and socialist, was born
in London, September 26, 1833, and until the age of eleven was sent to elementary schools in the East End of London. At fifteen he began to speak before street audiences and at nineteen was a lecturer on Free Thought. After a short experience in the army in Ireland he became a lawyer's clerk in 1853 and for a number of years subsequently lectured in various places, scoring many platform successes in spite of his hard, reckless, aggressive treatment of the themes which he handled. He edited successively “ The Investigator” and “The National Reformer," and in 1868 began his endeavors to enter Parliament. After several unsuccessful contests for the borough of Northampton he was at length returned by that town in 1880, but his difficulties were by no means over. He claimed the right to take his seat by affirmation instead of by taking the oath of allegiance, and the House at once passed a resolution denying his right of entrance by either method. On February 21, 1882, he appeared before the House of Commons, and, taking out a Testament from his pocket, administered the oath to himself. After successive exclusions, ejections, and re-elections, he was allowed in 1886 to take his seat, and in 1888 moved and carried a bill allowing entering members desiring it to affirm instead of taking the oath. Bradlaugh's extreme views moderated very perceptibly after his entrance to Parliament, and he soon gained the respect and liking of his fellow members. He died in London, January 29, 1891, and during his last illness the House of Commons voted to expunge its resolution of June 22, 1880, denying Bradlaugh's right to affirm or take the oath. He published “ The Impeachment of the House of Brunswick " in 1872.
AT THE BAR OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
R. SPEAKER,—I have again to ask the indulgence of the House while I submit to it a few words in
favor of my claim to do that which the law requires me to do.
Perhaps the House will pardon me if I supply an omission, I feel unintentionally made, on the part of the honorable member for Chatham [Mr. John Gorst].
In some words which have just fallen from him I understood him to say that he would use a formal statement made
by me to the Committee against what the Chancellor of the Duchy had said I had said.
I am sure the honorable and learned member for Chatham, who has evidently read the proceedings of the committee with care, would, if he had thought it fair, have stated to the House that the statement only came from me after an objection made by mea positive objection on the ground that it related to matters outside this House, and that the House in the course of its history had never inquired into such matters; but I can hardly understand what the member for Chatham meant when he said that he contrasted what I did say with what the Chancellor of the Duchy said I said; for it is not a matter of memory, it is on the proceedings of this House, that, being examined formally before the committee, I stated " that the essential part of the oath is in the fullest and most complete degree binding upon my honor and conscience, and that the repeating of the words of asseveration does not in the slightest degree weaken the binding of the allegiance on me.*
I now say I would not go through any form-much as I value the right to sit in this House, much as I desire and believe that this House will accord me that right—that I did not mean to be binding upon me without mental reservation, without equivocation. I would go through no form unless it were fully and completely and thoroughly binding upon me as to what it expressed or promised.
Mine has been no easy position for the last twelve months. I have been elected by the free votes of a free constituency. My return is untainted. There is no charge of bribery, no charge of corruption, nor of inducing men to come drunken to the polling-booth. I come here with a pure, untainted return --not won by accident. For thirteen long years have I Orations. Vol. 22-17
fought for this right-through five contested elections, including this. It is now proposed to prevent me from fulfilling the duty my constituents have placed upon me. You have force: on my side is the law.
The honorable and learned member for Plymouth [Mr., afterward Sir, Edward Clarke] spoke the truth when he said he did not ask the House to treat the matter as a question of law; but the constituencies ask me to treat it as a question of law. I, for them, ask you to treat it as a question of law. I could understand the feeling that seems to have been manifested were I some great and powerful personage. I could understand it had I a large influence behind me. I am only one of the people, and you propose to teach them that, on a mere technical question, you will put a barrier in the way of my doing my duty which you have never put in the way of anybody else.
The question is, Has my return on the 9th of April, 1881, anything whatever to impeach it? There is no legal disqualification involved. If there were, it could be raised by petition. The honorable member for Plymouth says the dignity of this House is in question. Do you mean that I can injuro the dignity of this House?—this House which has stood unrivalled for centuries —this House, supreme among the assemblies of the world :—this House, which represents the traditions of liberty? I should not have so libelled you.
How is the dignity of this House to be hurt? If what happened before the 9th of April is less than a legal disqualification, it is a matter for the judgment of the constituency and not for you. The constituency has judged me; it has elected me; I stand here with no legal disqualification upon
The right of the constituency to return me is an unimpeachable right.