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tact were, in reality, sadly applicable to his friend Sumner :
“What boots it, thy virtue,
What profit thy parts,
The art of all arts ?”
Again, he lacked those important equipments of a great orator : wit, and the power to see and to make visible all sides of a subject. His speeches, even the great argument for peace, called “ The True Grandeur of Nations,” sometimes seem heavy and dull, save when he spoke in anger. But his words would last in the literature of oratory, if only because, with all their faults, they expressed and vindicated the right of free speech at a time when too many were timid.
The last of the Abolitionists—the one to whom it fell to write the Proclamation of Emancipation--was
Abraham Lincoln. Lacking a collegiate Lincoln, 1809-1865. education, taught by his own efforts, Lincoln made good use of such opportunities for reading as he had possessed. He, "a plain blunt man, could say : “ I only speak right on ”; but some of his later speeches are models of terse and forcible expression, and undoubtedly deserve mention here. His Gettysburg address has been already quoted; it, and his second inaugural address, March 4, 1865, are pearls of American literature. Re-read the mighty sentences — worthy of a Hebrew prophet — with which the inaugural closes :
The Almighty has his own purposes. Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern there any departure from those Divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Elsewhere in this volume are discussed the conditions which failed to promote the cultivation and spread of literature in the South. The power of politics in the social and intellectual life of that section produced—especially in the first fifty years of the country's history-great statesmen, the names of several of whom have been considered in this chapter. Much of the later oratory of the South, represented by such men as Robert Y. Hayne (Webster's opponent in the great Union debate), William C. Preston, John J. Crittenden, John C.
Breckinridge, Thomas L. Clingman, and Robert Toombs, is no longer studied or esteemed, save, perhaps, in the States where they lived. The " South” is slowly
is slowly giving up its provincialism, taking its place in the general literary work of the country, and becoming willing to measure its great men and its small by just canons of comparative criticism. Its “past at least is secure,” but so is its future, if it act wisely. The downfall of its casteand manorial-system, with the spread of education, will supply it with orators enough.
Two names belonging to the bygone South deserve brief mention at the close of this chronicle of American Jefferson political literature. By an interesting coinciDavis,
dence, Jefferson Davis, the only president, and Alexander H. Stephens, the only vice-president, of the “ Confederate States of America," made large and full records of the times, all of which they saw, and a great part of which they were. Mr. Davis' “Rise and Fall of the Confederate States of America” cannot claim very high literary rank. If it is readable, it is so on account of the important events described, and of the relations of the writer to those events; and not because of any inherent attractive
ss or excellence of style. Furthermore, it cannot be praised for the historical quality of judicial impartiality, which it assuredly does not possess. It would perhaps have been too much to expect that Mr. Davis, with his well-known temper of mind, could show any special fairness toward his victorious opponents at the North. But his treatment of those whom he disliked, in the military and civil councils
of the Confederacy itself, is neither serene nor gen
The work, however, is an important historical treasury, which, in its relations to its producer, can hardly be ignored by the literary student. After all, merely artistic canons do not determine the fame, influence, and place of all printed books; and a literary-political chronicle of America should not ignore the personal records produced by the head of the greatest “lost cause" in American history.
Other reasons, and stronger ones, turn the reader's attention to the important work of Mr. Stephens. His history of the war between the States is by Alexander far the most important historical treatise pro
Stephens, duced in the South itself on this theme. No- 1812–1883. where else are the nature, growth, and application of the States'-rights theory so well reviewed as in these able, candid, and full chapters. When the final warhistory shall be written from the great available mass of material, the author will probably find these two volumes of more service, as an original authority, than the useful histories by Horace Greeley, Benson J. Lossing, or John William Draper, on the Northern side ; or E. A. Pollard, on the Southern. The many books with reference to the lives and labors of abolitionists, “ fire-eaters," Union-lovers, war statesmen, military campaigners, and private soldiers will, in due time, leave their quintessence in the library of pure
WASHINGTON IRVING was the author who first gave American literature a place in the European Washington mind. Readers in England and on the Irving, 1783-1859. Continent had heard an occasional faint echo of American theological controversies; few students of philosophy had taken the trouble to read Jonathan Edwards; many had followed the course of transatlantic oratory and political writing; and Benjamin Franklin had been received by scholars, scientists, and diplomatists as their peer, perhaps their superior. But before Irving no American writer had been read as a representative of literature, pure and simple. Irving wrote books, not theological treatises, political arguments, speeches, or scientific papers; and these books were accepted by English readers at even more than their real value. Their writer possessed the qualities which well fitted him to be a literary pioneer. He was loyal to the soil and traditions of his own country, yet quick to assimilate the customs and characteristics of other lands; he first made distinctly American themes familiar to the world of letters, and he, also, in England and Spain, collected romantic treas