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JAMES G. BLAINE

(1830–1893)

R. BLAINE's great strength lies in his naturalness and in his LVL perfect control of himself. In his studied efforts he strains

e after effect seldomer than almost any other man in Amer. ican history who has exercised great power over popular assemblies. Burke goes from one climax to another in rapid succession, regard. less of the risk of bathos. Blaine rises steadily to his final climax as if it were part of his nature to increase his strength at every step of his progress. He described himself and his own naturalness of method in saying of Garfield: “He never did so well but that it seemed he could easily have done better. » Whether he rises with the first impetus of his subject, or circles with easy grace and assured wing-sweep after having risen, we see that what he does is essentially part of his nature.

It is said that Whitfield once preached to an audience of sailors in New York city and described the wreck of a vessel on a lee shore with such effect that at the climax the entire audience rose to its feet crying, “The long boat — take to the long boat! » Blaine had something of the same faculty of compelling his audience to forget him, to lose sight of his individuality, to cease to hear his voice, and to become wholly engrossed in the subject itself. This and his intense nervous energy, so controlled that it does not display itself in passion, show in his greatest oratorical efforts as the probable secret of what was called his «magnetism.” In his oration over Garfield he sinks himself wholly in the character of the man he eulogizes, and without once confessing himself voices his own deepest nature in defining the intellectual and moral nature of his friend. The rapid flow of its limpid sentences make the oration over Garfield a model for all who hate exaggeration and love above everything else the sima plicity of that continuous and sustained statement which feels no need of tropes and metaphors. Mr. Blaine's great strength is the purity of his English, the power of sustained effort, the ability to keep the end in view from the beginning, and the power to make every subordinate part fit into the whole. Lacking this faculty, the greatest orator of England, forgetting in his own strength the weakness of his audiences, made almost as great a reputation for emptying the benches before the close of his speeches as he did for the genius which filled them at his openings. But Blaine never failed to control the attention of his audience. The expectation he excited at the beginning he knew how to sustain to the close, gratifying it finally in such bursts of poetry as that which forms the climax of the oration over Garfield.

Henry Clay was the model on whom Blaine formed himself. His admiration for the great Kentuckian shaped his political course in early life and remained strong in his maturity. His admirers loved to call him a second Clay,” and it is not at all improbable that when the passage of time has been great enough to make possible the true perspective of history, the best examples of Blaine's eloquence will be ranked with those of Clay as powerful factors in changing the general trend of American oratory from the mere imitation of the Latin style to the development of the Anglo-Saxon.

ORATION ON GARFIELD (In the Hall of the House of Representatives, February 27th, 1882) Mr. President :For the second time in this generation the great departments T of the Government of the United States are assembled in

the Hall of Representatives, to do honor to the memory of a murdered President. / Lincoln fell at the close of a mighty struggle, in which the passions of men had been deeply stirred. The tragical termination of his great life added but another to the lengthened succession of horrors which had marked so many lintels with the blood of the firstborn. Garfield was slain in a day of peace, when brother had been reconciled to brother, and when anger and hate had been banished from the land.

“Whoever shall hereafter draw a portrait of murder, if he will show it as it has been exhibited where such example was last to have been looked for, let him not give it the grim visage of Moloch, the brow knitted by revenge, the face black with settled hate. Let him draw, rather, a decorous, smooth-faced, bloodless demon; not so much an example of human nature in its depravity and in its paroxysms of crime, as an infernal being, a fiend in the ordinary display and development of his character.”

From the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth till the uprising against Charles I., about twenty thousand emigrants came from old England to New England. As they came in pursuit of intellectual freedom and ecclesiastical independence, rather than for worldly honor and profit, the emigration naturally ceased when the contest for religious liberty began in earnest at home. The man who struck his most effective blow for freedom of conscience, by sailing for the colonies in 1620, would have been accounted a deserter to leave after 1640. The opportunity had then come on the soil of England for that great contest which established the authority of Parliament, gave religious freedom to the people, sent Charles to the block, and committed to the hands of Oliver Cromwell the supreme executive authority of England. The English emigration was never renewed, and from these twenty thousand men, with a small emigration from Scotland and from France, are descended the vast numbers who have New England blood in their veins.

In 1685 the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XVI., scattered to other countries four hundred thousand Protestants, who were among the most intelligent and enterprising of French subjects - merchants of capital, skilled manufacturers, and handicraftsmen superior at the time to all others in Europe. A considerable number of these Huguenot French came to America; a few landed in New England and became honorably prominent in its history. Their names have in large part become Anglicized, or have disappeared, but their blood is traceable in many of the most reputable families and their fame is perpetuated in honor. able memorials and useful institutions.

From these two sources, the English-Puritan and the FrenchHuguenot, came the late President - his father, Abram Garfield, being descended from the one, and his mother, Eliza Ballou, from the other.

It was good stock on both sides — none better, none braver, none truer. There was in it an inheritance of courage, of manliness, of imperishable love of liberty, of undying adherence to principle. Garfield was proud of his blood; and, with as much satisfaction as if he were a British nobleman reading his stately ancestral record in Burke's Peerage,' he spoke of himself as ninth in descent from those who would not endure the oppression of the Stuarts, and seventh in descent from the brave French Prot. estants who refused to submit to tyranny even from the Grand Monarque.

General Garfield delighted to dwell on these traits, and during his only visit to England he busied himself in discovering every trace of his forefathers in parish registers and on ancient army rolls. Sitting with a friend in the gallery of the House of Commons one night after a long day's labor in this field of research, he said with evident elation that in every war in which for three centuries patriots of English blood had struck sturdy blows for constitutional government and human liberty, his family had been represented. They were at Marston Moor, at Naseby, and at Preston; they were at Bunker Hill, at Saratoga, and at Monmouth, and in his own person had battled for the same great cause in the war which preserved the Union of the States.

Losing his father before he was two years old, the early life of Garfield was one of privation, but its poverty has been made indelicately and unjustly prominent. Thousands of readers have imagined him as the ragged, starving child, whose reality too often greets the eye in the squalid sections of our large cities. General Garfield's infancy and youth had none of their destitution, none of their pitiful features appealing to the tender heart and to the open hand of charity. He was a poor boy in the same sense in which Henry Clay was a poor boy; in which An. drew Jackson was a poor boy; in which Daniel Webster was a poor boy; in the sense in which the large majority of the emi. nent men of America in all generations have been poor boys. ' Before a great multitude of men, in a public speech, Mr. Webster bore this testimony:

“It did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin, but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin raised amid the snowdrifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early that when the smoke rose first from its rude chimney and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children to it to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections, and the touching narratives and incidents which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode.”

With the requisite change of scene the same words would aptly portray the early days of Garfield. The poverty of the frontier, where all are engaged in a common struggle, and where a common sympathy and hearty co-operation lighten the burdens of each, is a very different poverty - different in kind, different

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