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as well as strength from the practice of clean and naked statements of truth. It was all irregularly done, but strenuously, with the same instinct throughout, and with a steady access of facility and power. There was no sudden leap for this man, any more than for other men, from crudeness to finished power, from an understanding of the people of Illinois to an understanding of the people of the United States. And thus he came at last, with infinite pains and a wonder of endurance, to his great national task with a self-trained capacity which no man could match, and made upon a scale as liberal as the life of the people. You could not then set this athlete a pace in learning or in perceiving that was too hard for him. He knew the people and their life as no other man did or could: and now stands in his place singular in all the annals of mankind, the “brave, sagacious, foreseeing, patient man” of the people, “new birth of our new soil, the first American.”
We have here a national man presiding over sectional men. Lincoln understood the East better than the East understood him or the people from whom he sprung: and this is every way a very noteworthy circumstance. For my part, I read a lesson in the singular career of this great man. Is it possible the East remains sectional while the West broadens to a wider view ?
"Be strong-backed, brown-handed, upright as your pines;
By the scale of a hemisphere shape your designs," is an inspiring programme for the woodsman and the pioneer; but how are you to be brown-handed in a city office? What if you never see the upright pines? How are you to have so big a purpose on so small a part of the hemisphere? As it has grown old, unquestionably, the East has grown sectional. There is no suggestion of the prairie in its city streets, or of the embrowned ranchman and farmer in its well-dressed men. Its ports teem with shipping from Europe and the Indies. Its newspapers run upon the themes of an Old World. It hears of the great plains of the continent as of foreign parts, which it may never think to see except from a car window. Its life is self-centered and selfish. The West, save where special interests center (as in those pockets of silver where men's
eyes catch as it were an eager gleam from the very ore itself): the West is in less danger of sectionalization. Who shall say in that wide country where one region ends and another begins, or, in that free and changing society, where one class ends and another begins ?
This, surely, is the moral of our history. The East has spent and been spent for the West: has given forth her energy, her young men and her substance, for the new regions that have been a-making all the century through. But has she learned as much as she has taught, or taken as much as she has given? Look what it is that has now at last taken place. The westward march has stopped, upon the final slopes of the Pacific; and now the plot thickens. Populations turn upon their old paths, fill in the spaces they passed by neglected in their first journey in search of a land of promise; settle to a life such as the East knows as well as the West,-nay, much better. With the change, the pause, the settlement, our people draw into closer groups, stand face to face, to know each other and be known: and the time has come for the East to learn in her turn; to broaden her understanding of political and economic conditions to the scale of a hemisphere, as her own poet bade. Let us be sure that we get the national temperament; send our minds abroad upon the continent, become neighbors to all the people that live upon it, and lovers of them all, as Lincoln was.
Read but your history aright, and you shall not find the task too rd. Your own local history, look but deep enough, tells the tale you must take to heart. Here upon our own seaboard, as truly as ever in the West, was once a national frontier, with an elder East beyond the seas. Here, too, various peoples combined, and elements separated elsewhere effected a tolerant and wholesome mixture. Here, too, the national stream flowed full and strong, bearing a thousand things upon its currents. Let us resume and keep the vision of that time; know ourselves, our neighbors, our destiny, with lifted and open eyes; see our history truly, in its great proportions; be ourselves liberal as the great principles we profess; and so be the people who might have again the heroic adventures and do again the heroic work of the past. 'Tis thus we shall renew our youth and secure our age against decay.
ROBERT CHARLES WINTHROP
THE DEATH OF JOHN C. CALHOUN
(Address by Robert Charles Winthrop, statesman and orator (born in Boston, May 12, 1809; died there, November 17, 1894), delivered in the House of Representatives, Washington, April 1, 1850, on the announcement of Mr. Calhoun's death.]
I am not unaware, Mr. Speaker, that the voice of New England has already been heard to-day, in its most authentic and most impressive tones, in the other wing of the Capitol. But it has been suggested to me, and the suggestion has met with the promptest assent from my own heart, that here, also, that voice should not be altogether mute on this occasion.
The distinguished person, whose death has been announced to us in the resolutions of the Senate, belongs not, indeed, to us. It is not ours to pronounce his eulogy. It is not ours, certainly, to appropriate his fame. But it is ours to bear witness to his character, to do justice to his virtue, to unite in paying honor to his memory, and to offer our heartfelt sympathies, as I now do, to those who have been called to sustain so great a bereavement.
We have been told, sir, by more than one adventurous navigator, that it was worth all the privations and perils of a protracted voyage beyond the line, to obtain even a passing view of the Southern Cross,—that great constellation of the Southern hemisphere. We can imagine, then, what would be the emotions of those who have always enjoyed the light of that magnificent luminary, and who have taken their daily and their nightly direction from its refulgent rays, if it were suddenly blotted out from the sky.
Such, sir, and so deep, I can conceive to be the emotions at this hour, of not a few of the honored friends and associates whom I see around me. Indeed, no one who has been ever so distant an observer of the course of public affairs for a quarter of a century past can fail to realize that a star of the first magnitude has been struck from our political firmament. Let us hope, sir, that it has only been transferred to a higher and purer sphere, where it may shine on with undimmed brilliancy forever!
Mr. Speaker, it is for others to enter into the details of Mr. Calhoun's life and services. It is for others to illustrate and to vindicate his peculiar opinions and principles. It is for me to speak of him only as he was known to the country at large, and to all, without distinction of party, who have represented the country of late years, in either branch of the National Councils.
And speaking of him thus, sir, I cannot hesitate to say, that, among what may be called the second generation of American statesmen since the adoption of the Federal Constitution, there has been no man of a more marked character, of more pronounced qualities, or of a wider and more deserved distinction.
The mere length and variety of his public services, in almost every branch of the National Government, running through a continuous period of almost forty years,as a member of this House, as Secretary of War, as VicePresident of the United States, as Secretary of State, and as a Senator from his own adored and adoring South Carolina,—would alone have secured him a conspicuous and permanent place upon our public records.
But he has left better titles to remembrance than any which mere office can bestow. There was an unsullied purity in his private life; there was an inflexible integrity in his public conduct; there was an indescribable fascination in his familiar conversation; there was a condensed energy in his formal discourse; there was a quickness of perception, a vigor of deduction, a directness and a devotedness of purpose, in all that he said, or wrote, or did; there was a Roman dignity in his whole Senatorial deportment; which, together, made up a character, which cannot fail to be contemplated and admired to the latest posterity.
I have said, sir, that New England can appropriate no
part of his fame. But we may be permitted to remember, that it was in our schools of learning and of law that he was trained up for the great contests which awaited him in the forum or the Senate chamber. Nor can we forget how long and how intimately he was associated, in the Executive or Legislative branches of the Government, with more than one of our own most cherished statesmen.
The loss of such a man, sir, creates a sensible gap in the public councils. To the State which he represented, and the section of country with which he was so peculiarly identified, no stranger tongue may venture to attempt words of adequate consolation. But let us hope that the event may not be without a wholesome and healing influence upon the troubles of the times. Let us heed the voice, which comes to us all, both as individuals and as public officers, in so solemn and signal a providence of God. Let us remember, that, whatever happens to the Republic, we must die! Let us reflect how vain are the personal strifes and partisan contests in which we daily engage, in view of the great account which we may so soon be called on to render! Well may we exclaim, as Cicero exclaimed, in considering the death of Crassus:
“O fal lacem hominum spem, fragilem que fortunam, et inanes nostras contentiones!”
Finally, sir, let us find fresh bonds of brotherhood and of union in the cherished memories of those who have gone before us; and let us resolve that, in so far as in us lies, the day shall never come, when New England men may not speak of the great names of the South, whether among the dead or the living, as of Americans and fellow countrymen!