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318 ROBERT G. INGERSOLL
The Republicans of the United States demand as their leader in the great contest of 1876 a man of intelligence, a man of integrity, a man of well-known and approved political opinions. They demand a statesman; they demand a reformer after, as well as before, the election. They demand a politician in the highest, broadest, and best sense—a man of superb moral courage. They demand a man acquainted with public affairs, with the wants of the people, with not only the requirements of the hour, but with the demands of the future. They demand a man broad enough to comprehend the relations of this Government to the other nations of the earth. They demand a man well versed in the powers, duties and prerogatives of each and every department of this Government. They demand a man who will sacredly preserve the financial honor of the United States; one who knows enough to know that the national debt must be paid through the prosperity of this people; one who knows enough to know that all the money must be made, not by law, but by labor; one who knows enough to know that the people of the United States have the industry to make the money and the honor to pay it over just as fast as they make it. The Republicans of the United States demand a man who knows that prosperity and resumption, when they come, must come together; that when they come, they will come hand in hand through the golden harvest fields; hand in hand by the whirling spindles and turning wheels; hand in hand past the open furnace doors; hand in hand by the flaming forges ; hand in hand by the chimneys filled with eager fire—greeted and grasped by the countless sons of toil. This money has to be dug out of the earth. You cannot make it by passing resolutions in a political convention. The Republicans of the United States want a man who knows that this Government should protect every citizen at home and abroad; who knows that any Government that will not defend its defenders and protect its protectors is a disgrace to the map of the world. They demand a man who believes in the eternal separation and divorcement of Church and School. They demand a man whose political reputation is spotless as a star; but they do not demand that their candidate shall have a certificate of moral character signed by a Confederate Congress. The man who has in full, heaped and rounded measure all these splendid qualifications is the present grand and gallant leader of the Republican party—James G. Blaine. Our country, crowned with the vast and marvelous achievements of its first century, asks for a man worthy of the past and prophetic of her future; asks for a man who has the audacity of genius; asks for a man who is the greatest combination of heart, conscience, and brain beneath
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her flag. Such a man is James G. Blaine. For the Republican host, led by this intrepid man, there can be no defeat. This is a grand year; a year filled with the recollections of the Revolution, filled with proud and tender memories of the past, with the sacred legends of liberty; a year in which the sons of Freedom will drink from the fountains of enthusiam ; a year in which the people call for a man who has preserved in Congress what our soldiers won upon the field ; a year in which we call for the man who has torn from the throat of treason the tongue of slander; for the man who has snatched the mask of Democracy from the hideous face of Rebellion ; for the man who, like an intellectual athlete, has stood in the arena of debate and challenged all comers, and who, up to the present moment, is a total stranger to defeat. Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen foreheads of the defamers of his country and the maligners of his honor. For the Republicans to desert this gallant leader now is as though an army should desert their general upon the field of battle. James G. Blaine is now, and has been for years, the bearer of the sacred standard of the Republican party. I call it sacred, because no human being can stand beneath its folds without becoming and without remaining free. Gentlemen of the Convention, in the name of the great Republic, the only Republic that ever existed upon this earth; in the name of all her defenders and of all her supporters; in the name of all her soldiers living ; in the name of all her soldiers dead upon the field of battle; and in the name of those who perished in the skeleton clutch of famine at Andersonville and Libby, whose sufferings he so vividly remembers, Illinois— Illinois nominates for the next President of this country that prince of parliamentarians, that leader of leaders, James G. Blaine.
ORATION AT HIS BROTHER'S GRAVE
[A discourse with the deep feeling and pathos of this is one that would hardly be looked for from a man with the reputation of a contemner of religion. It shows that, despite his ordinary attitude, Ingersoll had a religion of his own, and a trust in the hereafter.]
Friends, I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me.
The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend died, where makhood's morning almost touched noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the West.
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL
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 in love with sife 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 among 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 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 with tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the 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 season, 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 the 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, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead. And now to you who have been chosen, from among the many that she loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.
HENRY ARMITT BROWN (1844-1878)
THE ORATOR OF MUNICIPAL REFORM i
MONG the promising orators of the latter half of the nineteenth century must be named Henry Armitt Brown, a young lawyer of Philadelphia, gifted by nature with rare eloquence, yet cut down by fate before he reached the zenith of his powers. His reputation, which had grown widely before his death, was gained as a political orator in presidential campaigns and in the service of municipal reform in Philadelphia. His early decease was a serious loss to the latter cause, which has moved backward decidedly in the years that have since followed, though it can hardly be hoped that oratory would have materially shaken the retrograde movement.
MAN’S PROGRESS AND PROBLEMS
[Of the public addresses of Mr. Brown perhaps the most admirable, as the most admired, was that delivered at the Valley Forge centennial. The extract given is full of suggestive truth as to the life of man and the conditions surrounding him.]
The century that has gone has changed the face of nature and wrought a revolution in the habits of mankind. We stand to-day at the dawn of an extraordinary age. . Freed from the chains of ancient thought and superstition, man has begun to win most extraordinary victories in the domain of science. One by one he has dispelled the doubts of the ancient world. Nothing is too difficult for his hand to attempt; no region too remote, no place too sacred, for his daring eye to penetrate. He has robbed the earth of her secrets and sought to solve the mysteries of the heavens ! He has secured and chained to his service the elemental forces of nature; he has made the fire his steed, the winds his ministers, the seas his pathway, the lightning his messenger. He has descended into the bowels of the earth, and walked in safety on the bottom of the . sea. He has raised his head above the clouds, and made the impalpable
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air his resting-place. He has tried to analyze the stars, count the constellations, and weigh the sun. He has advanced with such astounding speed that, breathless, we have reached a moment when it seems as if distance had been annihilated, time made as naught, the invisible seen, the inaudible heard, the unspeakable spoken, the intangible felt, the impossible accomplished. And already we knock at the door of a new century which promises to be infinitely brighter and more enlightened and happier than this. But of all this blaze of light which illuminates the present and casts its reflection into the distant recesses of the past, there is not a single ray that shoots into the future. Not one step have we taken toward the mystery of the solution of life. That remains to-day as dark and unfathomable as it was ten thousand years ago. We know that we are more fortunate than our fathers. We believe that our children shall be happier than we. We know that this century is more enlightened than the last. We believe that the time to come will be better and more glorious than this. We think, we believe, we hope, but we do not know. Across that threshold we may not pass; behind that veil we may not penetrate. Into that country it may not be for us to go. It may be vouchsafed to us to behold it, wonderingly, from afar, but never to enter it. It matters not. The age in which we live is but a link in the endless and eternal chain. Our lands are like the sands upon the shore; our voices like the breath of this summer breeze that stirs the leaf for a moment and is forgotten. Whence we have come and whither we shall go, not one of us can tell. And the last survivor of this mighty multitude shall stay but a little while. But in the impenetrable To Be, the endless generations are advancing to take our places as we fall. For them, as for us, shall the earth roll on and the seasons come and go, the snowflakes fall, the flowers bloom, and the harvests be gathered in. For them as for us shall the sun, like the life of man, rise out of darkness in the morning and sink into darkness in the night. For them as for us shall the years march by in the sublime procession of the ages. And here, in this place of sacrifice, in this vale of humiliation, in this valley of the shadow of that death out of which the life of America arose, regenerate and free, let us believe with an abiding faith that, to them, union will seem as dear, and liberty as sweet, and progress as glorious, as they were to our fathers, and are to you and me, and that the institutions that have made us happy, preserved by the virtue of our children, shall bless the remotest generations of the time to come. And unto Him who holds in the hollow of His hand the fate of nations, and yet marks the sparrow's fall, let us lift up our hearts this day, and into his eternal care commend ourselves, our children and our country.