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CHAUNCEY M. DEPEW
Englander, within himself, had got up a dispute that the 21st was the day. I watched it with interest, because I always knew that when a Yankee got up a controversy with anybody else, it was for his profit; and I wondered how he could make anything by having a quarrel with himself. Then I found that he ate both the dinners with serene satisfaction ! But why should a Dutchman, a man of Holland descent, bring “ coals to Newcastle'' by coming here among the Pennsylvania Dutch for the purpose of attending a New England dinner? It is simply another tribute extorted by the conqueror from the conquered people, in compelling him not only to part with his possessions, his farms, his sisters, his daughters, but to attend the feast, to see devoured the things raised upon his own farm, and then to assist the conqueror to digest them by telling him stories.
My familiarity with the Boston mind and its peculiarities was when I was a small boy, in that little Dutch hamlet on the Hudson where I was born, when we were electrified by the State Superintendant of Massachusetts coming to deliver us an address. He said : “My children, there was a little flaxen-haired boy in a school that I addressed last year; and when I came over this year he was gone. Where do you suppose he had gone?" One of our little Dutch innocents replied, “To heaven."
"Oh, no, my boy," the Superintendent said, “he is a clerk in a store in Boston.”
OUR ENGLISH VISITORS [The selection here given is from a speech by Mr. Depew at a dinner given by the Lotus Club, of New York, January 10, 1885, in honor of George Augustus Sala, who had stopped in that city on his way to a lecture in Australia.]
A modern Briton, when he feels that he has a mission to reveal to the world, goes out, not to the country which needs it most, his own, but comes over here and in the spirit of the purest philanthropy lets us have it at $200 a night. And that is the reason why Mr. Sala, notwithstanding his modest declaimer that he is a traveler sojourning through the land, goes to San Francisco by way of Portland and Boston. Now, then, the present commercial difficulties in this country—lack of prosperity, the closing of the mills and all that which we are accustomed to ascribe to the fact that a Democratic Administration has come into power—are due to this horde of English lecturers. But like the Chinaman who comes here, to accumulate and not to stay, he carries away with him all our surplus and leaves nothing but ideas.
I well remember, as do you, Mr. President, when this system of insidious English attack upon our institutions was begun. Thackeray, that grand-hearted and genial critic, began it; Dickens, with his magnificent dramatic talent, continued it, and then what have we suffered since !
CHAUNCEY M. DEPEW
Look at Sergeant Ballantyne, who brought to us jokes so old that they fall within the provisions of the penal act, and carried away stories which have since convulsed the British Empire. Look at Herbert Spencer, the dyspeptic-lean, hungry, sleepless, emaciated, prostrated with nervous prostration—he appeared before us looking for all the world like Pickwick gone to seed, and lectured us upon overwork. Look at Matthew Arnold, that apostle of light and sunshine, who came here and had an experience which might excite the compassion of all. He found himself in that region from which Mr. Pulitzer hails, in the midst of what is termed a lecture corpse.
The lecture manager made this introductory speech : “ Ladies and gentlemen, next week we shall have here those beautiful singers, the Johnson sisters ; two weeks from to-night Professor ForceWind will give us magnificent views of Europe upon the magic lantern ; and to-night I have the pleasure of introducing to you that distinguished philosopher who has passed most of his life in India, who is the author of that great poem, The Light of Asia.'”
LIBERTY ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD [As an example of Depew's graver vein, we select the following extract from his remarks in 1886, during the dedication of the famous statue in New York harbor.]
American liberty has been for a century a beacon light for the nations. Under its teachings and by the force of its example, the Italians have expelled their petty and arbitrary princelings and united under a parliamentary government; the gloomy despotism of Spain has been expelled by the representatives of the people and a free press; the great German race has demonstrated its power for empire and its ability to govern itself. The Austrian monarch who, when, a hundred years ago, Washington pleaded with him across the seas for the release of Lafayette from the dungeon of Olmutz, replied that “ he had not the power,” because the safety of his throne and his pledges to his royal brethren of Europe compelled him to keep confined the one man who represented infranchisement of the people of every race and country, is to-day, in the person of his successor, rejoicing with his subjects in the limitations of a constitution which guarantees liberties, and a congress which protects and enlarges them. Magna Charta, won at Runnymede for Englismen, and developed into the principles of the Declaration of Independence with their descendants, has returned to the mother country to bear fruit in an open parliament, a free press, the loss of royal perogative, and the passage of power from the classes to the masses,
HE New York Tribune has for many years been a power in
Republican politics and a weight in national affairs, and its
destinies, since its establishment more than sixty years ago, have remained in the hands of two men; Horace Greeley, who made it what it is, and Whitelaw Reid, who has faithfully maintained the policy of his able former chief. During and after the Civil War Reid was a correspondent of the Gazette, of Cincinnati, and for several years served as librarian of the House of Representatives. He joined the staff of the Tribune in 1868, and made such notable progress in this new field of labor that in 1872, on the death of Greeley, he succceded him as chief editor and principal proprietor. Since then he has played some part in national politics and diplomacy. From 1889 to 1892 he was United States Minister to France. After the war with Spain, in 1898, he was a member of the Peace Commission which handled the aftermath of that brief conflict.
THE PRESS-RIGHT OR WRONG [On the occasion of the one hundred and eighth annual banquet of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York,-May 4, 1876—Mr. Reid was one of the guests and orators, responding to the toast, “ The Press--right or wrong; when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be set right.” We quote from his remarks on this appropriately placed topic.]
MR. PRESIDENT: The Press is without clergymen or counsel; and you doubtless wish it were without voice. At this hour none of you have the least desire to hear anything or to say anything about the press. There are a number of very able gentlemen who were ranged along that platform -I utterly refuse to say whether I refer to Presidential candidates or not --but there were a number of very able gentlemen who were ranged along
that table, who are very much more anxious to know what the press to-morrow morning will have to say about them, and I know it because I saw the care with which they handed up to the reporters the manuscript copies of their entirely unprepared and extempore remarks.
Gentlemen, the Press is a mild-spoken and truly modest institution which never chants its own praises. Unlike Walt Whitman, it never celebrates itself. Even if it did become me one of the youngest of its conductors in New York—to undertake at this late hour to inflict upon you its eulogy, there are two circumstances which might well make me pause. It is an absurdity for me—an absurdity, indeed, for any of us—to assume to speak for the Press of New York at a table where William Cullen Bryant sits silent. Besides, I have been reminded since I came here, by Dr. Chapin, that the pithiest eulogy ever pronounced upon the first editor of America, was pronounced in this very room and from that very platform by the man who at that time was the first of living editors in this country, when he said that he honored the memory of Benjamin Franklin because he was a journeyman printer who did not drink, a philosopher who wrote common sense, and an office-holder who did not steal.
One word only of any seriousness about your toast; it says: “The Press-right or wrong; when right, to be kept right, when wrong, to be set right.” Gentlemen, this is your affair. A stream will not rise higher than its fountain. The Hudson River will not flow backward over the Adirondacks. The Press of New York is fed and sustained by the commerce of New York, and the Press of New York to-day, bad as it is in many respects—and I take my full share of the blame it fairly deservesis just what the merchants of New York choose to have it. If you want it better, you can make it better. So long as you are satisfied with it as it is, sustain it as it is, take it into your families and into your countingrooms as it is, and encourage it as it is, it will remain what it is.
If, for instance, the venerable leader of your Bar, conspicuous through a long life for the practice of every virtue that adorns his profession and his race, is met on his return from the very jaws of the grave, as he re-enters the Court-room to undertake again the gratuitous championship of your cause against thieves who robbed you, with the slander that he is himself a thief of the meanest kind, a robber of defenceless women-I say, if such a man is subject to such persistent repetition of such a calumny in the very city he has honored and served, and at the very end and crown of his life, it is because you do not choose to object to it and make your objection felt. A score of similar instances will readily occur to anyone who runs over in his memory the course of our municipal history for the last dozen years, but there is no time to repeat or even refer to them here.
EDWARD EVERETT HALE (1822
(1822-) AUTHOR, LECTURER AND PULPIT ORATOR
N 1861, the opening year of the Civil War, a decided sensation
was produced by the appearance of a remarkable work, entitled
“ The Man Without a Country.” It came at an opportune time, when millions of our people seemed bent upon discarding the country of the Stars and Stripes, and detailed the melancholy experience of one man whose sentence for treason against the United States was that he should thenceforth live in utter oblivion of the land of his birth and allegiance. As worked up by the skillful pen of the writer, the Rev. Edward Everett Hale, the fate of this exile was most vividly portrayed, and the work became one of the literary phenomena of its day.
NEW ENGLAND CULTURE [Mr. Hale may be held to possess excellent standing before the American people as an orator as well as a writer; as a lecturer as well as a pulpit speaker. Whatever he writes is fresh and spicy, and much that he says has the same quality. As a guest of the New England Society in the City of New York, on the occasion of its seventyfirst annual banquet, December 22, 1876, he responded as follows to the toast: New England Culture—the Open Secret of Her Greatuess."']
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN : You seem to have a very frank way of talking about each other among yourselves here. I observe that I am the first stranger who has crossed the river which, I recollect Edward Winslow says, divides the Continent of New England from the Continent of America, and, as a stranger, it is my pleasure and duty at onee to express the thanks and congratulations of the invited guests here for the distinguished care which has been taken on this occasion outdoors to make us feel entirely at home. As I came down in the snow-storm I could not help feeling that Elder Brewster, and William Bradford, and Carver, and Winslow could not have done better than this in Plymouth; and indeed, as I ate my pork and beans just now, I felt that the Gospel of New England is extending beyond the Connecticut to other nations, and that what