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THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT TAYLOR
(Address by Robert Charles Winthrop, delivered in the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C., July 10, 1850, on the announce. ment of the death of General Taylor.)
It would not be easily excused, Mr. Speaker, by those whom I represent in this Hall, if there were no Massachusetts voice to respond to the eulogy which has been pronounced by Louisiana upon her illustrious and lamented son. Indeed, neither my personal feelings nor my political relations, either to the living or to the dead, would permit me to remain altogether silent on this occasion. And yet, sir, I confess, I know not how to say anything satisfactory to myself, or suitable to the circumstances of the hour.
The event which has just been officially announced, has come upon us so suddenly—has so overwhelmed us with mingled émotions of surprise and sadness—that all ordinary forms of expression seem to lose their significance, and one would fain bow his head to the blow in silence, until its first shock has in some degree passed away.
Certainly, sir, no one can fail to realize that a most momentous and mysterious Providence has been manifested in our midst. At a moment when, more than almost ever before in our history, the destinies of our country seemed, to all human sight, to be inseparably associated with the character and conduct of its Chief Executive Magistrate, that Magistrate has been summoned from his post, by the only messenger whose mandates he might not have defied, and has been withdrawn forever from the sphere of human existence!
There are those of us, I need not say, sir, who had looked to him with affection and reverence as our chosen leader and guide in the difficulties and perplexities by which we are surrounded. There are those of us, who had relied confidently on him, as upon no other man, to uphold the Constitution and maintain the Union of the country in that future, upon which "shadows, clouds, and darkness may well be said to rest. And, as we now behold him,
borne away by the hand of God from our sight, in the very hour of peril, we can hardly repress the exclamation, which was applied to the departing prophet of old: “My father, my father! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof."
Let me not even seem to imply, however, that the death of General Taylor is anything less than a national loss. There may be, and we know there is, in this event, a privileged and pre-eminent grief for his immediate family and relatives, to which we can only offer the assurance of our heartfelt sympathy. There is, too, a peculiar sorrow for his political friends and supporters, which we would not affect to conceal. But the whole people of the United States will feel, and will bear witness, when they receive these melancholy tidings, that they have all been called to sustain a most afflicting national bereavement.
I hazard nothing, sir, in saying, that the roll of our Chief Magistrates, since 1789, illustrious as it is, presents the name of no man who has enjoyed a higher reputation with his contemporaries, or who will enjoy a higher reputation with posterity, than Zachary Taylor, for some of the best and noblest qualities which adorn our nature.
His indomitable courage, his unimpeachable honesty, his Spartan simplicity and sagacity, his frankness, kindness, moderation, and magnanimity, his fidelity to his friends, his generosity and humanity to his enemies, the purity of his private life, the patriotism of his public principles, will never cease to be cherished in the grateful remembrance of all just men and all true-hearted Ameri
As a Soldier and a General, his fame is associated with some of the proudest and most thrilling scenes of our military history. He may be literally said to have conquered every enemy he has met save only that last enemy, to which we must all, in turn, surrender.
As a Civilian and Statesman, during the brief period in which he has been permitted to enjoy the transcendent honors which a grateful country had awarded him, he has given proof of a devotion to duty, of an attachment to the Constitution and the Union, of a patriotic determination to maintain the peace of our country, which no trials or temptations could shake. He has borne his faculties
meekly but firmly. He has been “clear in his great office." He has known no local partialities or prejudices, but has proved himself capable of embracing his whole country, in the comprehensive affections and regards of a large and generous heart.
But he has fallen almost at the threshold of his civil career and at a moment when some of us were looking to him to render services to the country, which we had thought no other man could perform. Certainly, sir, he has died too soon for everybody but himself. We can hardly find it in our hearts to repine that the good old man has gone to his rest. We would not disturb the repose in which the brave old soldier sleeps. His part in life had been long and faithfully performed. In his own last words, “ he had always done his duty, and he was not afraid to die.” But our regrets for ourselves and for our country are deep, strong, and unfeigned. “He should have died hereafter."
Sir, it was a fit and beautiful circumstance in the close of such a career, that his last official appearance was at the celebration of the birthday of our National Independence, and more especially, that his last public act was an act of homage to the memory of him, whose example he had ever revered and followed, and who, as he himself so well said, “was, by so many titles, the Father of his Country.'
And now, Mr. Speaker, let us hope that this event may teach us all how vain is our reliance upon any arm of flesh. Let us hope that it may impress us with a solemn sense of our national as well as individual dependence on a higher than human Power. Let us remember that "the Lord is king, be the people never so impatient! that He sitteth between the cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.” Let us, in language which is now hallowed to us all, as having been the closing and crowning sentiment of the brief but admirable Inaugural Address with which this illustrious Patriot opened his Presidential term, and which it is my privilege to read at this moment from the very copy from which it was originally read by himself to the American people, on the fourth day of March, 1849,“Let us,” in language in which “he, being dead, yet speaketh”_-"let us invoke a continuance of the same
Protecting Care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy; and let us seek to deserve that continuance by prudence and moderation in our councils; by well-directed attempts to assuage the bitterness which too often marks unavoidable differences of opinion; by the promulgation and practice of just and liberal principles; and by an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no limits but those of our own widespread Republic.'
'APPEAL FOR DREYFUS
[Address by Emile Zola, novelist (born in Paris, April 2, 1840;
-), delivered to the jury at his trial for libel in connection with the Dreyfus case, Paris, February 21, 1898.]
In the Chamber at the sitting of January 22, M. Meline, the Prime Minister declared, amid the frantic applause of his complaisant majority, that he had confidence in the twelve citizens to whose hands he intrusted the defense of the army. It was of you, gentlemen, that he spoke. And just as General Billot dictated its decision to the court martial intrusted with the acquittal of Major Esterhazy, by appealing from the tribune for respect for the chose jugée, so likewise M. Meline wished to give you the order to condemn me out of respect for the army which he accuses me of having insulted!
I denounce to the conscience of honest men this pressure brought to bear by the constituted authorities upon the justice of the country. These are abominable political manoeuvres, which dishonor a free nation. We shall see, gentlemen, whether you will obey.
But it is not true that I am here in your presence by the will of M. Meline. He yielded to the necessity of prosecuting me only in great trouble, in terror of the new step which the advancing truth was about to take. This everybody knew. If I am before you, it is because I wished it. I alone decided that this obscure, this abominable affair, should be brought before your jurisdiction, and it is I alone of my free will who chose you, you, the loftiest, the most direct emanation of French justice,-in order that France might at last know all, and give her opinion. My