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valuable thing in literature is nothing but a record of the thought of the world and of its emotions. Now, it is quite possible that on the highest plane of literary performance Mr. Curtis may take a place somewhere lower than we estimate him, in the warmth of our affection; but there is one thing which is perfectly certain, and that is, that the best, the most enduring literature, is that which most concerns and has the strongest relation to life. The noticeable thing about Mr. Curtis is, that all the time his literature, without ever ceasing to be high-class literature, in whatever way he turned his pen, or his tongue, became more and more intimately and radicably blended with the deepest interests of human life. And so, whether the first efforts of Mr. Curtis endure, as some lyrics, as some pieces of old literature, will endure, the real essence and substance of the literature which he so thoroughly put into everything that he did, is one of our most enduring and valuable national possessions. Mr. Curtis never ceased to be a literary man. You all know the story—you know what “The Potiphar Papers” cost him; you know what his early stand in anti-slavery matters cost him. They cost him what they cost Phillips, and what they cost everybody who was manly enough to stand up in that day and brave social opinion. But Mr. Curtis went on without any break at all in the use of that literary gift; and when he went up there to Middletown, in the early days of the anti-Nebraska excitement, and made an oration to the young students there it was a trumpet-call to the young men of the country, to go out and join in the great movement which this nation was bound to make for its emancipation from evil and from slavery. When he made that effort it was just as distinctly a literary performance as was "Prue and I,” or “The Potiphar Papers," or as any Egyptian paper that he ever wrote. It was, in the first place, eloquent—and if you read it to-day you will find that it was eloquent in the highest sense of finished literary effort. I remember the effect it had; it was not merely the nature of the appeal; others were making that appeal in a thousand newspapers; but it was the clean, high, commanding literary note in that oration, which called the young men up to a higher plane of action and of life than they had ever been on before.
I could talk a great while (but it is useless) about Mr. Curtis in various ways. I think that no one ever went to him that did not feel that his greeting of him was somehow a benediction. On the most trivial matters, if you went to speak to him, or if you went to consult him about any serious thing, there was always the same-never any condescension-but always the same recognition of your dignity, and always the same affability, grace and charm of manner. I do not know but it increased our selfesteem-perhaps that was it; we felt that we were so much finer than we thought we were before, or so graceful a person would not treat us with so much consideration. But whatever it was, I always came away from a little or a long talk with Mr. Curtis with the feeling that I had somehow been refreshed, cleansed, purified and very often baptized with a new purpose in well-doing. [Applause.]
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
PROGRESS OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO
(Address by Professor Booker Taliaferro Washington, principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Tuskegee, Ala., since 1881 (born near Hale's Ford, Virginia, 1859; — -), delivered at the opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition at Atlanta, Ga., September 18, 1895.)
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND CITIZENS:—One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom. Not only this, but the opportunity here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the State Legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy-farm or truck-garden.
A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water; we die of thirst!”
The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are." A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are ”-cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.
Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man's chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is, that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.
To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat, what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.
Cast it down among the 8,000,
000 Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labor wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.
There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen.
Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent. interest. These efforts will be twiceblessed—“ blessing him that gives and him that takes."
There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable:
The laws of changeless justice bind
Oppressor with oppressed;
We march to fate abreast.