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“STAND BY THE FLAG!”
THE STORY OF A PATRIOTIC SONG.
FORTY YEARS ago the Fourth of July oration, , country, was at its best. The great men of the day contributed their services by delivering orations commemorative of American Independence: Webster Clay and Benton, and, in our own state, Silas Wright, Governor Wm. L. Marcy, Governor Seymour and Wm. H. Seward had delivered orations worthy of the cause and worthy of themselves. One of these patriotic meetings was held in the city of Albany, this state, in the year 1858, in the largest public building in the city. But who the orator was on that occasion I have forgotten, and I imagine the oration itself left no permanent impression. But one feature of that gathering has not been forgotten nor soon will be. When the orator had lapsed into silence and the plaudits had ceased, a poem by Mr. John' N. Wilder was announced by the chairman. Mr. Wilder at that time, I think, had scarcely reached 40 years. He was known as a rising lawyer, as a poet who had contributed a number of verses which had been published in the newspapers of the day ; and he was known as a man of high character and an American through and through. Mr. Wilder possessed a very flexible and sympathetic voice with very clear enunciation, which he could use with fine effect.
From the recital of the very first stanza the interest of the audience was at once aroused. “Stand by the Flag !" was the legend, the inspiring motto of his poem. First the stars, then the stripes, came in review; then the appeal to “Old Glory” in history, so vitally connected with our national life; and as he slowly and effectively recited the poem the interest of the audience, attested by the perfect stillness that prevailed, increased, until when he closed with the fine couplet of the concluding stanza the enthusiasm of the people broke out in prolonged cheering, handkerchiefs were waved, and the entire audience seemed lifted to its feet as the cheering continued. I never saw a finer exhibition of an aroused patriotic feeling than was manifested at that time; it made the celebration, the poet and his poem memorable in old Albany's annals. A sad and additional impressiveness was given the occasion by the fact that just eleven days after delivering his poem-on the 15th of July, 1858, – Mr. Wilder died in the full promise of his early manhood.
Five years later, in December, 1863, the writer of this, then serving on the staff of that grand old soldier, General George H. Thomas, was on duty at Chattanooga, occupying with General A. J. Mackay, Chief Quartermaster of the army, a house on Cameron Hill as headquarters. The army was re
MR. JOHN N. WILDER. (Photographed from cameo.)
cuperating after the hard fought, brilliantly won battle, when Thomas and his army covered themselves with glory. Officers and men were being ordered to the front to take the places of those killed in battle or lying in the hospitals. One day there strolled into our headquarters Captain Wm. F. Hartz, assistant quartermaster in the regular army, and a graduate of West Point Military Academy. He had just arrived, having been ordered to report to General Thomas, and by him to General Mackay, for assignment to duty. After the usual salutations had been exchanged Hartz proceeded to give us an in. teresting account of himself. He was in Texas when war was declared, and before he could get out of the state was captured by the forces of Earl Van Dorn and held a prisoner until he had been exchanged. Then, having finished the account of his experience, he started up and said, “Now I will give you a song;” and in a clear sonorous tenor—for he had a fine voice-to the well-known English air “ Cheer, boys, cheer,” Hartz proceeded to sing“ Stand by the Flag! Its stars, like meteors gleaming,
Have lighted Arctic icebergs, Southern seas, And shone responsive to the stormy beaming
Of old Arcturus and the Pleiades."
Its Stripes have stream'din glo - ry, To foes fear, to friends a fes tal - robe;
- roes bore it Thro' sul-ph'rous smoke,deepmoat,and armed de-fence; all doubt and dan - ger scorn-ing! Be - lieve, with cour-age firm and faith sub - lime,
Stand by the Flag! Its stars, like meteors gleaming,
Have lighted Arctic icebergs, Southern seas, And shone responsive to the stormy beaming
Of old Arcturus and the Pleiades.
Stand by the Flag! Its stripes have streamed in glory,
To foes a fear, to friends a festal robe,
Of Freedom's triumphs over all the globe.
Stand by the Flag! Immortal heroes bore it
A guard celestial from Omnipotence.
And underneath its waving folds have met
The quivering lance and glittering bayonet !
Believe, with courage firm and faith sublime,
Pales in its glories all the lights of Time !
Stand by the Flag ! on land and ocean billow,
By it your fathers stood, unmoved and true ; Living, defended ; dying, from their pillow
With their last blessing passed it on to you !
When he had finished his singing-and he gave us all the verses, my surprise and interest increasing to the end-he said, “Isn't that a good song to write ?"
“Yes," I replied, “it is; and I thought so when I heard it recited by its author, Mr. John N. Wilder, in Albany, five years ago." And then I gave the little company there assembled an account of Mr. Wilder's recital of his poem, as given above, Subsequently it was again and again sung in that little headquarters house, and on one occasion, as I recall, by Mr. Harrison Millard, the well-known composer of this city, who was then on staff duty in Chattanooga. Mr. Millard died in this city a few years ago. How Captain Hartz became familiar with the poem I do not know. The many readers of Mrs. Maud Wilder Goodwin's delightful books will be interested in learning that she is the daughter of Mr. John N. Wilder, and that she has kindly
allowed the REVIEW to reproduce the cameo portrait of her father.
It has been felt by the writer of these lines that so fine a poem, especially at this time of the revival of patriotism, should be better known to the public, and that it should not be dependent upon an English melody for its expression. And I am very glad to avail myself of an opportunity supplied by the editor of the REVIEW OF REVIEWS to give it wide circulation in all parts of the country through the medium of his magazine. It is hoped that the music on the page preceding will not be found ill-adapted to the expression of the spirit of the noble ode, whose distinctively American character, with the total absence of any sectionalism, will surely comimend it to the favor of intelligent, patriotic Americans everywhere.
MARSHAL H. BRIGHT. TARRYTOWN-ON-HUDSON, June, 1896.
DR. GRAY'S TRIBUTE TO MAJOR BRIGHT.
The other day the editor of the Chicago Interior have noticed, during the near quarter of a century. The paid his respects to Major Marshal H. Bright in the Christian Work has long been a great paper, Mr. Halfollowing characteristic sentences :
lock, the proprietor, holding the same editorial relation
to it that Mr. Bowen held to the Independent. For many We do not know the military history of the editor of the Christian Work, only that he was in the war, and came out of it with the rank of Major. Then we learned that he was employed in a place of trust and responsibility in a New York bank. But he had the fatal gift of-literary beauty, and it led him into the by and forbidden paths of religious journalism. We suppose he amused himself out of banking hours by writing. At any rate his talent attracted attention, and he fol. lowed his inclination. It was quite a surprise for him when he was called for—but it was one of those military surprises which usually result in a capture. We cannot locate the date of his entrance upon religious journalism accurately, but think it was in the year 1873 ; and very soon every journalist knew that a new, original, forcible and very bright pen had reinforced the craft. In 1875 we met the Major in New York, and found him as taking personally as he was in literature. His widowed mother was one of the most refined and lovely of ladies, and to her he was devoting his life. Never was a mother more blest in a son, and never was a son more devoted to a mother. They were, both of them, charming people, and one would look far for a more pleasing picture than of a mother whose every wish was anticipated by a son. She died two or three years ago at the close of a serene and beautiful old age. We remember an incident, perhaps, fifteen or eighteen years ago, when one of the religious papers disparaged Major Bright personally. Then came a testimonial which had not before, in our years Major Bright has only been responsible for the observation, been given to a religious editor. The at editorial columns. His home and study are in Tarrytown, tack was sharply and simultaneously resented by about on the Hudson. There he does his work in a sunny a dozen religious papers ; and a prompt and ample apol room, into the open windows of which, in summer, float ogy was made. This demonstrated, in an unexpected the breezes, the rustle of leaves and bird-song. The way, the hearty good-will in which the Major was held walls are lined with book-shelves. He keeps a neat and by his contemporaries—and yet nobody is more capable orderly table—a rarity among editors—and so gets more of taking care of himself in a literary scrimmage than than the usual share of brightness out of life for himself he. He has come off decidedly first best in all that we and for his readers.
MARSHAL H. BRIGHT.
THE SOUTH AMERICAN POETS.
BY HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH.
OME of the most beautiful and sympathetic in.
terpretations of life in verse that have been made during recent years have come from the pens of the Latin American poets, and yet these writers are but little read outside of their own countries. The list of those who have written inspired poems in the present generation in the mellow and melodious language of Calderon and Cervantes is long, and it includes those whose personal history has been as remarkable and picturesque as the work that they have produced; in South America the poems that have found favor have been voices of life; the experience has been the soil of the orchid, and the reason for it; in the land of picture and bloom, of
the Chilian exposition, one of the few of the poetic interpretations of art and science that in recent times have been adequate to really great occasions. In this ode one hears the music of the march of machinery, and finds his heart in the new triumphant progress, and sees the soul of the living and inspiring age:
A abrirse va el palenque ;
Salve : triunfal Industria
Apréstanos las alas
Venid, naciones todas!
Amigas desplegad, In this musical verse one feels the agitated machinery, and its harmonious rhythms, and is pre. pared for the noble exclamation:
Hail, Triumphal Industry !
Resplendent ! The wings of the condor are made to gleam over the great workshop of human progress, and with this vision in his imagination, the reader is pre.pared for the force of the line:
Come, all nations ! I met in Buenos Ayres Señor Carlos Guido y Spano, the Longfellow of Argentina, a most lovely and beautiful character, whose identification his work with his life is as marked. He won the heart of the Argentines by his sympathy with the public suffering during the yellow fever epidemic in 1871. He is an old man now ; he has come out of life in public service with clean hands, and like many who have lived for others, has not accumulated a fortune for himself. But he has gained that which is more than material wealth. The people of the purple republic are very proud of their venerable poet, of his philanthropy and integrity, as well as his verse, and they are about to present to him a home and a tribute out of their ample purses, that he who has loved them may pass his serene old age amid the evidences of their grateful affection. He
has a beautiful face, refined by the sympathies of American poems, and those forms are well worthy his thought and heart, and one that recalls Longfel of study and imitation. The South American poets low at seventy years of age. There are few poets usually make their rhythms after the inspiration of whose lives have been more ideal.
the compelling theme; they sing as the joy of the I shall never forget some of his thoughts when he graciously allowed some Americans to make him a visit.
“I do not know," he said, with a face of illumi. nation, “what the value of my verse may be, but this I do know, that the people love me, and in that I am content." The words have the spirit of a poem, and they could have been spoken only by one who had made a noble poem of his own life.
He was born in 1829. His father was one of the great leaders of the liberation. Looking up to the picture of San Martin, the liberator of Argentina, Chili and Peru, and to that of his father, who was an inspiration in the great struggle for liberty, he said: “My father was an eminent man in his day; he was better than that, he was a good man."
He called himself a child of the people." He has modestly named his poetical works“ Hojas al Viento ?? (Leaves to the Wind).
The South American verse is largely confined to three subjects, patriotism, love and the soul. Señor
STATUE OF SAN MARTIN AT BUENOS AYRES,
day makes the vibration of the wing of the bird, as
Not here-but far, far, far away!
Güemes no ha muerto ! su heroismo aun late !
Don de la Barra has written a notable work, published in Santiago de Chili, 1787, on “ Elementos de Metrica Castellana" (Elements of Castilian Metres), in which he illustrates the art of the Iberian tongue. There is great beauty in the forms of many South