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person who now hears me that would be willing to bear in his bosom these dark recollections of the thousands thus abandoned, for all the glories of Marengo, the campaign of Wagram, and the sun of Austerlitz?
You may truthfully say that Napoleon was a guilty man and could not be happy. Then look to George Washington, who, by the universal judgment of the world, for the eminence of his moral worth, and the great results accomplished by him, stands as the most foremost and the most fortunate of men. Pass by the toils and disappointments of his earlier years, trace him through the entire period of the Revolution as the most anxious, the most thoughtful, and the gravest man in the American army. He, above all men who have lived, perhaps, seems most to remind one of the demeanor of the Saviour of the world, melancholy even to sadness. And during his administration of the Federal Government, he appeared to be oppressed with care and weighed down by anxieties. His whole life was like that of one to whom had been entrusted the carrying of a casket of precious jewels, on a perilous journey, which could only be preserved by sleepless vigilance. To make amends for his extraordinary toils and sufferings, he had the consolation of having done his duty, under trying cir
Were these great men peculiar, or exceptional in their career? The gifted Alexander, after his conquest of the world, died in a fit of drunkenness, while Julius Cæsar, probably the first of men, in genius, talent, courage, magnanimity, accomplishments and achievements, fell by the daggers of trusted friends. Nor was the puritanical Cromwell more happy than the voluptuous Grand Monarch of France. We imagine great men to be happy, because we see only their prominent features, which glare before the public eye, while their inner life is hidden from us. Their brightness is but the enchantment which distance lends. On a near approach it fades away as the blue of the mountain becomes rugged rock, its smooth and green slopes are converted into thickets of tangled shrubs and brambles, and its cloud, so white in the sunlight as to dazzle the eye, is seen to be only dark mist.
It was once my fortune to witness a remarkable spectacle, the review of the army of Italy, on its return to Paris, on the 14th of August, 1859. The entire area of the magnificent Place Vendome was converted into an immense amphitheatre, with velvet-cushioned seats, and graceful hangings of crimson and gold, and gay festoons and countless flags, and ornate columns, surmounted with gilded statues of victory. Between the great triumphal column of Napoleon the First and the balcony of the Empress, formed of cloth of crimson and gold, and alike tasteful and splendid, there was barely left space enough for the army to pass. And as the eighty thousand picked men, covered with the fresh green laurels of Magenta and Solferino, with elastic step, came along down the Rue de la Paix, their glittering bayonets, gilded by the sunbeams, reminded me of a field of ripe grain gently waving in the breeze. With rapid pace they swept by, with cheering shouts, and the music of an hundred bands, and their
varied equipments and arms, infantry, Voltiguers, Zouaves, Turcos, Guards Imperial, artillery, mailed and crested cavalry, with captured cannon and banners, dinted or torn, fitting trophies of victory. roundings, and that immense assemblage of intelligent and polished Loking at their splendid array, with its imposing and gorgeous surspectators, such as the modern civilization of Europe and America could alone furnish, I felt confident that that day's pageant surpassed any that had hitherto been presented to the eye of man. The Roman triumphs came up in fancy before me, and remembering that Cæsar had won the empire of the world at Pharsalia, with only twenty two thousand men, a victory which any one of the batteries then passing would, if used against him, have converted into a defeat, I compared the display before me with that which the narrow streets and comparatively rude population of Rome would have furnished.
As the strains from one of the martial bands filled the air, my mind went back suddenly to the first Roman triumph, when Romulus, in his robe of state, and with laurel crown on his brow, singing a song of triumph, marched along on foot, and carried on bis right shoulder, suspended on an oaken trophy, the arms of King Acron, whom he had slain in single combat. How much did the small band of desperate outlaws admire the Great Romulus, as with stalwart frame and mart.al tread, he strode along to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius? Was he not elated and happy in the thought that he had attained the highest reward of human ambition? Was Napoleon, the arbiter of Europe, more happy? Of all the spectators in that bright throng, he alone was deeply thoughtful and melancholy. Why was this? A man, confident of his own destiny, and at all times void of personal fear, he could not, on that day, apprehend the sharp shot, or the explosive shell of the assassin. Was he depressed by the sad thought that his career had been interrupted, and that he had failed to make Italy free from the Alps to the Adriatic? Or was he meditating on the fickleness of the breath of popular applause, and dreading the upheaval of some new revolutionary earthquake? Did he fear to fall from the giddy height he had attained, or did he simply realize the truth, that he who has climbed to the topmost round of the ladder of ambition, often seems to the public to sink because he does not continue to rise still higher? Or, did the shadows of coming events, mysteriously, and, by strange anticipation, darken his mind? I know not; but neither the gorgeous display around, nor the triumphal march, nor the spirit-stirring trump or drum, nor even the gladsome shouts of his soldiers, as they cheered their victorious commander, could change that thoughtful countenance. Only once was it lit for a moment with a smile, when his little son, in the uniform of corporal, was brought from the side of the Empress, and placed on his horse before him.
Twelve years have passed by, and that majestic column of more durable material, and grander height than those of Trajan, or Antoninus, had fallen to the earth by the hands and amid the shouts of a beastly multitude, who were far more vociferous than they had been on the day when they cheered the imperial arbiter of Europe.
armies were all captured and vanquished, and he a prisoner in a foreign land, dying with as much pain and gloom as did his greater uncle. Pharaoh, in the Red Sea; Nebuchadnezzar among the cattle; Alexander, the Macedonian, dying in a drunken debauch; Hannibal, in exile, by poison; Julius Cæsar, stabbed by his friends; the two Napoleons, captives, sinking under gloomy defeat and painful disease; these are, by consent of all mankind, the chiefest representatives of human greatness and glory. Which of them, young gentlemen, do you envy the most, and which will you choose for your model? As in the case of the Babylonian monarch, may not all these examples have been provided, "to the intent that the living may know, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth over it the basest of men?"
If, then, it is evident that high positions do not ensure happiness, let us at once recognize the truth that all honest occupations are equally capable of giving satisfaction to those who are engaged in them. But whatever one finds to do, let him do it with all his might. This injunction is the more necessary to us in our present condition as North Carolinians. Within the past ten years, two-thirds of all the property in the State has been destroyed, and, therefore, it is difficult for us, with the remaining third, to support such a state of civilization as we have been accustomed to enjoy, and educate properly the rising generation. The tendency of young men to crowd what is called the learned professions, is most unfortunate. Our systems of education are perhaps partially responsible for this. They direct the attention of the student too much to the ideas and opinions of men, rather than to things. The best knowledge is not that obtained second-hand or through a medium. When one examines for himself a house, or an animal, or a landscape, he knows far more of it than any mere description could give him. The opinions of others should be regarded only as aids to us, and not as the ends to be sought. Small minds are merely able to take hold of the declarations of others. They may make dialecticians, mislead the superficial, and often acquire a great reputation for learning and wisdom, with the multitude; but when they are placed in positions where conduct and real ability are demanded, they usually show themselves childishly imbecile. It requires more breadth and strength of mind to enable one to deal with men and events. If the young men of the day wish to be practically useful, and to become really great, their studies must take a wide range, they must investigate material things, and by acquainting themselves with the forces of inanimate nature, as well as the impulses which move men, they will be better able to effect great and useful enterprises.
But the task before us, I know, seems difficult. When our great armies were beaten, our people with one accord, decided to abandon the contest. As the lion when his spring has failed, does not pursue, so they were too wise to prolong a petty and vexatious struggle as a semi-civilized community would have done, and too great-hearted to manifest hostile feelings or mortification under defeat On the contrary, it was gratifying to see with what diligence and alacrity our citizens went to work to repair their losses. Not only was great mate
rial improvement everywhere in progress, but it was astonishing to observe how suddenly our people settled down into the routine of quiet life. Probably in no period of our history, were the laws more successfully administered, and private rights better protected, and the community as a whole, more peaceful, than throughout the year 1866. The United States, however, thought proper to abolish our State government, to disfranchise most of those citizens whose capacity and training fitted them to discharge public business, and also conferred the right of suffrage and to hold office on a large class without experience or knowledge. That to effect these objects, the Reconstruction Acts were necessary, I do not question, for our own people would not of themselves have either disfranchised their leading men, nor given, universally the right to vote and hold office to the liberated colored men. It would be out of place at this time, for us to enquire whether we might not have so acted, as to have greatly lessened the mischief caused by these proceedings.
Their immediate effect has been, for the last six years, to afflict us with governments which, to use the mildest terms, have, whether we consider their legislative, executive or judicial action, proven themselves utterly incapable of properly transacting the business of the State. Our credit has been completely destroyed, and our people have been demoralized, politically and financially, though not as yet socially. As a State, we cannot at present do much, directly, to advance our material prosperity, and as individuals, we have to struggle against great odds. The influx of capital and emigrants is prevented. When abroad, I often hear such questions as these: "What are you going to do about your State debt? will you repudiate? I am not willing to live in a repudiating State. Is not your taxation oppressive? When can you have a better system of government? I would like to invest in your State, or move there, but I am afraid." The present tariff and internal revenue systems, which are onerous even to the Northern States, fall with oppressive weight on our crippled and feeble community.
These burthens, however, great as they are, may all be borne. The fact that no one who was true to the State in the late great struggle can, during the present generation, hope to become President, or attain any similar high position under the government, is not a serious evil. The less the love of office be stimulated, perhaps the better for our people in their present condition. The Jews under political baus, in every country in Europe, during the middle ages, became the wealthiest and the most enlightened people of those days. It will be time enough for us after we have restored our own material prosperity, again to aspire to control the destinies of our common country. To our young men who may think of embarking in public life, I would say, that the chief defect I found among the members of Congress in former times, was the want of moral or political courage. An hundred times has it been said to me "this measure is right and ought to pass, but my constituents do not understand it, and if I were to vote for it they would beat me." Or, perhaps, this would be stated, "this thing is all wrong, and I hope you will be able to get it defeated, but
my people are in favor of it, and if I don't go for it I will not be able to get a nomination again." Several members from North Carolina took positions on an important issue against what was regarded as the popular feeling. Some of them afterwards, to break the force of the opposition they feared, modified their positions. They were all beaten, while the two members who stood firmly by their opinions, were triumphantly returned.
Nothing gives a man so much force in discussion as the conviction that he is in the right, nor is any adversary so dangerous as one honestly in error. I would rather fight against the most ingenious sophist than such a person. If I think a man right, I embark in no contest with him, for I know that any partial advantage gained would be only like the fruit of the Dead Sea. If a man will take invariably that course on public questions which he sees to be right, he will always feel proud of his position, and will be able to defend it with an earnestness and force that will generally carry his hearers along with him. The conviction of being right, ever present, is worth more to him than the erroneous opinions of a thousand.
Again, the result of the late civil war does not of itself prove that we were, as a people, less worthy than our opponents. The Philistines, who for forty years at a time made the Israelites hewers of wood and drawers of water, were not themselves less idolatrous and wicked. No man in England did so much to promote the reformation as Henry VIII, sensual, bloody and brutal tyrant as he was. The locusts that came out of the bottomless pit to punish wicked men for five months, were themselves but the subjects of Apollyon, and returned again to his dominion. "The ways of Providence are past finding out, and are wiser than the imaginations of men." It will be for us by our actions. hereafter to show whether we are better or worse than our late opponents. There should be no hesitation on our part, in conceding to the Northern men the same sincerity and public spirit we claim for ourselves. It is evident from the debates in the convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, that there were certain great questions at issue, on which no agreement could be effected, and they were, therefore, by common consent, left to take the chances for settlement in the future. While constitutional guarantees, and present pecuniary and social interests were largely on our side, the general feeling of the civilized world, ignoring the distinction of races, was in favor of personal liberty, and thus against us. Hence, when the war was begun, it was but natural and proper that each citizen should stand with the community in which he lived, as when a war occurs between separate nations.
For the great war itself North Carolina was not, as a State, nor were her sons responsible. Soon after its close, in December, 1865, I met the present Vice-President of the United States in Washington, and he said to me, "I am glad the war is over; it could not have been avoided; the people of the North were determined to abolish slavery, and you, in the South, had too great an interest in it to give it up without a fight." A few weeks later, in New York, Governor Seymour, certainly intellectually equal to any statesman of the day, remarked to