Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lafayette, the patriot and philanthropist. They could no more mingle than the pure lights of heaven and the unholy fires of hell. Lafayette refused with scorn the dignities proffered by the First Consul. Filled with virtuous indignation at his country's fate, he retired from the capital; and, devoting himself awhile to the pursuits of private life, awaited the return of better times.

Here we cannot but pause to contemplate these two wonderful men, belonging to the same age and to the same nation: Napoleon and Lafayette. Their names excite no kindred emotions; their fates no kindred sympathies. Napoleon—the Child of Destiny—the thunderbolt of war —the victor in a hundred battles—the dispenser of thrones and dominions; he who scaled the Alps and reclined beneath the pyramids, whose word was fate and whose wish was law. Lafayette—the volunteer of Freedom—the advocate of human rights—the defender of civil liberty—the patriot and the philanthropist—the beloved of the good and the free. Napoleon—the vanquished warrior, ignobly flying from the field of Waterloo, the wild beast, ravaging all Europe in his wrath, hunted down by the banded and affrighted nations and caged far away upon an oceangirded rock. Lafayette, a watchword by which men excite each other to deeds of worth and noble daring; whose home has become the Mecca of freedom, toward which the pilgrims of Liberty turn their eyes from every quarter of the globe. Napoleon was the red and fiery comet, shooting wildly through the realms of space and scattering pestilence and terror among the nations. Lafayette was the pure and brilliant planet, beneath whose grateful beams the mariner directs his bark and the shepherd tends his flocks—Napoleon died and a few old warriors—the scattered relics of Marengo and of Austerlitz-bewailed their chief. Lafayette is dead and the tears of a civilized world attest how deep is the mourning for his loss. Such is, and always will be, the difference of feeling toward a benefactor and a conqueror of the human race.

In 1824, on Sunday, a single ship furled her snowy sails in the harbor of New York. Scarcely had her prow touched the shore, when a murmur was heard among the multitudes which gradually deepened into a mighty shout

[ocr errors]

of joy. Again and again were the heavens rent with the inspiring sound. Nor did it cease; for the loud strain was carried from city to city and from State to State, till not a tongue was silent throughout this wide Republic from the lisping infant to the tremulous old man. All were united in one wild shout of gratulation. The voices of more than ten million freemen gushed up towards the sky and broke the stillness of its silent depths. But one note and one tone went to form this acclamation. Up in those pure regions clearly and sweetly did it sound: “Honor to Lafayette !” “Welcome to the Nation's Guest!” It was Lafayette, the war-worn veteran, whose arrival on our shores had caused this widespread, this universal joy. He came among us to behold the independence and the freedom which his young arm had so well assisted in achieving; and never before did eye behold or heart of man conceive, such homage paid to virtue. Every day's march was an ovation. The United States became for months one great festive hall. People forgot the usual occupations of life and crowded to behold the benefactor of mankind. The iron-hearted, gray-haired veterans of the Revolution thronged around him to touch liis hand, to behold his face, and to call down Heaven's benisons upon their old companion-in-arms. Lisping infancy and garrulous old age, beauty, talents, wealth, and power, all, for a while forsook their usual pursuits and united to pay a tribute of gratitude and welcome to the nation's guest. The name of Lafayette was upon every lip, and wherever his name was, there, too, was an invocation for blessings upon his head. What were the triumphs of the classic ages, compared with this unbought love and homage of a mighty people? Take them in Rome's best days, when the invincible generals of the Eternal City returned from their foreign conquests, with captive kings bound to their chariot wheels and the spoils of nations in their train; followed by their stern and bearded warriors and surrounded by the endless multitudes of the seven-hilled city, shouting a fierce welcome home; what was such a triumph compared with Lafayette's? Not a single city, but a whole nation riding as one man and greeting him with an affectionate embrace ! One single day of such spontaneous homage were worth

whole years of courtly adulation; one hour might well reward a man for a whole life of danger and of toil. Then, too, the joy with which he must have viewed the prosperity of the people for whom he had so heroically struggled! To behold the nation which he had left a little child, now grown up in the full proportions of lusty manhood! To see the tender sapling, which he had left with hardly shade enough to cover its own roots, now waxing into the sturdy and unwedgeable oak, beneath whose grateful umbrage the oppressed of all nations find shelter and protection! That oak still grows on in its majestic strength, and wider and wider still extends its mighty branches. But the hand that watered and nourished it while yet a tender plant is now cold; the heart that watched with strong affection its early growth has ceased to beat.

Virtue forms no shield to ward off the arrows of death. Could it have availed even when joined with the prayers of a whole civilized world, then, indeed, this mournful occasion would never have occurred and the life of Lafayette would have been as immortal as his fame. Yet, though he has passed from among us; though that countenance will no more be seen that used to lighten up the van of Freedom's battles as he led her eaglets to their feast; still has he left behind his better part: the legacy of his bright example, the memory of his deeds. The lisping infant will learn to speak his venerated name. The youth of every country will be taught to look upon his career and to follow in his footsteps. When hereafter a gallant people are fighting for freedom against the oppressor and their cause begins to wane before the mercenary bands of tyranny, then will the name of Lafayette become a watchword that will strike with terror on the tyrant's ear and nerve with redoubled vigor the freeman's arm. At that name many a heart before unmoved will wake in the glorious cause; and many a sword, rusting ingloriously in its scabbard, will leap forth to battle. But even amid the mourning with which our souls are shrouded, is there not some room for gratulation? Our departed friend and benefactor has gone down to the grave peacefully and quietly at a good old age. He had performed his appointed work. His virtues were ripe.

He had done nothing to sully his fair fame. No blot or soil of envy or calumny can now affect him. His character will stand upon the pages of history, pure and unsullied as the lilied emblem on his country's banner. He has departed from among us; but he has become again the companion of Washington. He has but left the friends of his old age to associate with the friends of his youth. Peace be to his ashes! Calm and quiet may they rest upon some vine-clad hill of his own beloved land! And it shall be called the Mount Vernon of France. And let no cunning sculpture, no monumental marble, deface with its mock dignity the patriot's grave; but rather let the unpruned vine, the wild Power and the free song of the uncaged bird, all that speaks of freedom and of peace be gathered round it. Lafayette needs no mausoleum. His fame is mingled with the nation's history. His epitaph is engraved upon the hearts of men.

JEAN FRANÇOIS RAFFAELLI

THE UNIVERSALITY OF ART

[Address by Jean François Raffaelli, painter, sculptor, and critic, Chevalier of the Legion oi Honor (born in Paris, April 20, 1850;

-), delivered at the fourth celebration of Founder's Day, at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, Pa., November 2, 1899. President W. N. Frew occupied the chair.]

MR. PRESIDENT AND FRIENDS :- I would have laughed much if I had been told, some twenty years ago, that I would consent to cross the ocean and come to America in order to act as a member of a jury in Pittsburg, and I would have hastened to consult the map about the situation of this city. For in France our geographical knowledge does not extend beyond Switzerland and Belgium, East and North, and Italy and Spain on the South. And, besides, twenty years ago, if I am to believe the most authoritative ci your fellow citizens, Pittsburg did not exist for us; we, the artists, scarcely existed for Pittsburg. This fact was to be regretted both by the people of Pittsburg and by the artists. To speak the truth, if I have agreed to come among you, it was because your city really represents not only that genius of construction and invention which is peculiar to this nation, but because, thanks to Mr. Andrew Carnegie, it represents by the establishment of this Carnegie Institute an idea, a truly great idea.

If France has deserved some consideration in the history of nations, it is because she has, for a long time,-has ever struggled more for ideas than for material interests. Indeed, when Lafayette came to place himself on your side a hundred years ago, it was because you then represented in the human society, an idea, beautiful above all

« PreviousContinue »