Page images
[blocks in formation]

between these earthly coasts and those invisible shores—we do not know.

Whether on that August morning after death he saw a more glorious sun rise with unimaginable splendor above a celestial horizon, or whether his apathetic and unconscious ashes still sleep in cold obstruction and insensible oblivion—we do not know.

Whether his strong and subtle energies found instant exercise in another form, whether his dexterous and disciplined faculties are now contending in another senate than ours for supremacy, or whether his powers were dissipated and dispersed with his parting breath-we do not know.

These are the unsolved, the insoluble problems of mortal life and human destiny, which prompted the troubled patriarch to ask that momentous question for which the centuries have given no answer,—" If a man die, shall he live again ?"

Every man is the centre of a circle whose fatal circumference he cannot pass.

Within its narrow confines he is potential, beyond it he perishes; and if immortality is a splendid but delusive dream, if the incompleteness of every career, even the longest and most fortunate, be not supplemented and perfected after its termination here, then he who áreads to die should fear to live, for life is a tragedy more desolate and inexplicable than death.

Of all the dead whose obsequies we have paused to solemnize in this Chamber, I recall no one whose untimely fate seems so lamentable and yet so rich in prophecy as that of Senator Hill. He had reached the meridian of his years. He stood upon the high plateau of middle life, in that serene atmosphere where temptation no longer assails, where the clamorous passions no more distract, and where the conditions are most favorable for noble and enduring achievement. His upward path had been through stormy adversity and contention such as infrequently falls to the lot of men. Though not without the tendency to meditation, reverie, and introspection which accompanies genius, his temperament was palestric. He was competitive and unpeaceful. He was born a polemic and controversialist, intellectually pugnacious and combative, so that he was impelled to defend any position that might be assailed or to attack any position that might be intrenched, not because the defence or the assault was essential, but because the positions were maintained and that those who held them became by that fact alone his adversaries. This tendency of his nature made his orbit erratic. He was meteoric rather than planetary, and flashed with irregular splendor rather than shone with steady and penetrating rays. His advocacy of any cause was fearless to the verge of temerity. He appeared to be indifferent to applause or censure

[merged small][subsumed][ocr errors]

HENRY CABOT LODGE THE POLITICAL ORATOR This picture shows Henry Cabot Lodge delivering one of his most eloquent addresses at a National Convention. At the right of the picture are seen President Roosevelt and Senator Platt of New York. Mr. Lodge is a well-known author and statesman, a man of great powers and influence. ";


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Carl Schurz, John B. Gordon, Joseph Choate, William J. Bryan, George F. Hoar, Henry W, Watterson
Chauncey M. Depew, Albert J. Beveridge, John W. Daniel and Joseph B. Foraker will be recognized
if you read from the left of this picture in the order named.

[blocks in formation]

for their own sake. He accepted intrepidly any conclusions that he reached, without inquiring whether they were politic or expedient.

To such a spirit partisanship was unavoidable, but with Senator Hill it did not degenerate into bigotry. He was capable of broad generosity, and extended to his opponents the same unreserved candor which he demanded for himself. His oratory was impetuous and devoid of artifice. He was not a posturer or phrasemonger. He was too intense, too earnest, to employ the cheap and paltry decorations of discourse. He never reconnoitered a hostile position, nor approached it by stealthy parallels. He could not lay siege to an enemy, nor beleaguer him ; nor open trenches, and sap and mine. His method was the charge and the onset. He was the Murat of senatorial debate. Not many men of this generation have been better equipped for parliamentary warfare than he, with his commanding presence, his sinewy diction, his confidence, and imperturbable self-control.

But in the maturity of his powers and his fame, with unmeasured opportunities for achievement apparently before him, with great designs unaccomplished, surrounded by the proud and affectionate solicitude of a great constituency, the pallid messenger with the inverted torch beckoned him to depart. There are few scenes in history more tragic than that protracted combat with death. No man had greater inducements to live. But in the long struggle against the inexorable advance of an insidious and mortal malady, he did not falter nor repine. He retreated with the aspect of a victor; and though he succumbed, he seemed to conquer. His sun went down at noon, but it sank among the prophetic splendors of an eternal dawn.

With more than a hero's courage, with more than a martyr's fortitude, he waited the approach of the inevitable hour and went to the undiscovered country.



[ocr errors]

N 1881, when President Garfield took his seat as Executive of the

American nation, he did so in large measure as the representa

tive of a new principle in American governmental economy, that of Civil Service Reform. Since the days of Jackson, fifty years before, the discreditable idea that “ to the victors belong the spoils” had ruled in the political world, and the official positions in the government had been filled from the partisans of the ruling party, instead of from those adapted by training and education properly to perform the duties confided to them. Garfield made a vigorous effort to effect a reform in this system, with the result of arousing an energetic resistance in Congress, whose members had been accustomed to use the offices of the nation to reward the controllers of votes. This resistance came to a head when Roscoe Conkling and Thomas C. Platt resigned from the Senate through anger at being unable to control the appointments in New York City. The lamentable result of the excitement thus produced is well known, for the assassination of the President by a disappointed office-seeker may fairly be ascribed to it. As for Conkling, the legislature and people of New York failed to support him in his recusant action, and his political career ended with his retirement from the Senate in 1881. He had been a member of Congress from New York State since 1858, and of the Senate since 1867. His later life was passed in the practice of the law. He was an effective speaker both in and out of the Senate Hall."

THE NOMINATION OF GRANT [What many look upon as the most effective nomination speech ever made at a party convention was that made by Roscoe Conkling in 1880 before the National Republican Convention, when nominating Ex-President Grant for a third term. This

« PreviousContinue »