A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE.
BY JOHN ESTEN COOKE.
"Duty is the sublimest word in our language."
"Human virtue should be equal to human calamity." LEE. 1876
II. Tributes to General Lee
In the deep emotion with which the death of General Lee has filled all classes of our people--says the _Southern Magazine_, from whose pages this interesting summary is taken--we have thought that a selection of the most eloquent or otherwise interesting addresses delivered at the various memorial meetings may not be unacceptable.
On October 15th nearly the whole city was draped in mourning, and business was suspended. A funeral service was held at St. Paul's Church. In the evening an immense meeting assembled at Weissiger Hall, and, after an opening address by Mayor Baxter, the following resolutions were adopted:
"_Resolved_, That, in the death of Robert E. Lee, the American people, without regard to States or sections, or antecedents, or opinions, lose a great and good man, a distinguished and useful citizen, renowned not less in arms than in the arts of peace; and that the cause of public instruction and popular culture is deprived of a representative whose influence and example will be felt by the youth of our country for long ages after the passions in the midst of which he was engaged, but which he did not share, have passed into history, and the peace and fraternity of the American Republic are cemented and restored by the broadest and purest American sentiment."
"_Resolved_, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the family of General Lee, to the Trustees of Washington College, and to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia."
ADDRESS OF GENERAL BRECKINRIDGE.
"_Mr. President, Ladies, and Gentlemen_: In the humble part which it falls to me to take in these interesting ceremonies, if for any cause it has been supposed that I am to deliver a lengthy address, I am not responsible for the origination of that supposition. I came here to-night simply to mingle my grief with yours at the loss of one of our most distinguished citizens, and, indeed, I feel more like silence than like words. I am awe-stricken in the presence of this vast assemblage, and my mind goes back to the past. It is preoccupied by memories coming in prominent review of the frequent and ever-varying vicissitudes which have characterized the last ten years. I find myself in the presence of a vast assemblage of the people of this great and growing city, who meet together, without distinction of party, and presided over by your chief officer, for the purpose of expressing respect to the memory of the man who was the leader of the Confederate armies in the late war between the States. It is in itself the omen of reunion. I am not surprised at the spectacle presented here. Throughout the entire South one universal cry of grief has broken forth at the death of General Lee, and in a very large portion of the North manly and noble tributes have been paid to his memory.
"My words shall be brief but plain. Why is it that at the South we see this universal, spontaneous demonstration? First, because most of the people mourn the loss of a leader and a friend, but beyond that I must say they seem to enter an unconscious protest against the ascription either to him or them of treason or personal dishonor. It may be an unconscious protest against the employment by a portion of the public press of those epithets which have ceased to be used in social intercourse. It is an invitation on their part to the people of the North and South, East and West, if there be any remaining rancor in their bosoms, to bury it in the grave forever. I will not recall the past. I will not enter upon any considerations of the cause of that great struggle. This demonstration we see around us gives the plainest evidence that there is no disposition to indulge in useless repinings at the results of that great struggle. It is for the pen of the historian to declare the cause, progress, and probable consequences of it. In regard to those who followed General Lee, who gloried in his successes and shared his misfortunes, I have but this to say: the world watched the contest in which they were engaged, and yet gives testimony to their gallantry,
"The magnanimity with which they accepted the results of their defeat, the obedience they have yielded to the laws of the Federal Government, give an exhibition so rare that they are ennobled by their calm yet noble submission. For the rest their escutcheon is unstained. The conquerors themselves, for their own glory, must confess that they were brave. Neither, my friends, do I come here to-night to speak of the military career of General Lee. I need not speak of it this evening. I believe that this is universally recognized, not only in the United States, but in Europe; it has made the circuit of the world. I come but to utter my tribute to him as a man and as a citizen. As a man he will be remembered in history as a man of the epoch. How little need I to speak of his character after listening to the thrilling delineation of it which we had this morning! We all know that he was great, noble, and self-poised. He was just and moderate, but was, perhaps, misunderstood by those who were not personally acquainted with him. He was supposed to be just, but cold. Far from it. He had a warm, affectionate heart. During the last year of that unfortunate struggle it was my good fortune to spend a great deal of time with him. I was almost constantly by his side, and it was during the two months immediately preceding the fall of Richmond that I came to know and fully understand the true nobility of his character. In all those long vigils he was considerate and kind, gentle, firm, and self-poised. I can give no better idea of the impression it made upon me than to say it inspired me with an ardent love of the man and a profound veneration of his character. It was so massive and noble, so grand in its proportions, that all men must admire its heroism and gallantry, yet so gentle and tender that a woman might adopt and claim it as her own. If the spirit which animates the assembly before me to-night shall become general and permeate the whole country, then may we say the wounds of the late war are truly healed. We ask for him only what we give to others. Among the more eminent of the departed Federal generals who were distinguished for their gallantry, their nobility of character, and their patriotism, may be mentioned Thomas and
McPherson. What Confederate is there who would refuse to raise his cap as their funeral-train went by or hesitate to drop a flower upon their graves? Why? Because they were men of courage, honor, and nobility; because they were true to their convictions of right, and soldiers whose hands were unstained by cruelty or pillage.
"Those of us who were so fortunate as to know him, and who have appeared before this assemblage, composed of all shades of opinion, claim for him your veneration, because he was pure and noble, and it is because of this that we see the cities and towns of the South in mourning. This has been the expression throughout the whole South, without distinction of party, and also of a large portion of the North. Is not this why these tributes have been paid to his memory? Is it not because his piety was humble and sincere? Because he accorded in victory; because he filled his position with admirable dignity; because he taught his prostrate comrades how to suffer and be strong? In a word, because he was one of the noblest products of this hemisphere, a fit object to sit in the niche which he created in the Temple of Fame.
"But he failed. The result is in the future. It may be for better or for worse. We hope for the better. But this is not the test for his greatness and goodness. Success often gilds the shallow man, but it is disaster alone that reveals the qualities of true greatness. Was his life a failure? Is only that man successful who erects a material monument of greatness by the enforcement of his ideas? Is not that man successful also, who, by his valor, moderation, and courage, with all their associate virtues, presents to the world such a specimen of true manhood as his children and children's children will be proud to imitate? In this sense he was not a failure.
"Pardon me for having detained you so long. I know there are here and there those who will reach out and attempt to pluck from his name the glory which surrounds it, and strike with malignant fury at the honors awarded to him; yet history will declare that the remains which repose in the vault beneath the little chapel in the lovely Virginia Valley are not only those of a valorous soldier, but those of a great and good American."
General John W. Finnell next addressed the audience briefly, and was followed by.
GENERAL WILLIAM PRESTON.
"_Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentlemen_: I feel that it would be very difficult for me to add any eulogy to those which are contained in the resolutions of the committee, or a more merited tribute of praise than those which have already fallen from the lips of the gentlemen who have preceded me. Yet, on an occasion like this, I am willing to come forward and add a word to testify my appreciation of the great virtues and admirable character of one that commands, not only our admiration, but that of the entire country. Not alone of the entire country, but his character has excited more admiration in Europe than among ourselves. In coming ages his name will be marked with lustre, and will be one of the richest treasures of the future. I speak of one just gone down to death; ripe in all the noble attributes of manhood, and illustrious by deeds the most remarkable in character that have occurred in the history of America since its discovery. It is now some two-and-twenty years since I first made the acquaintance of General Lee. He was then in the prime of manhood, in
Mexico, and I first saw him as the chief-engineer of
General Scott in the Valley of Mexico. I see around me two old comrades who then saw General Lee. He was a man of remarkable personal beauty and great grace of body. He had a finished form, delicate hands, graceful in person, while here and there a gray hair streaked with silver the dark locks with which Nature had clothed his noble brow. There were discerning minds that appreciated his genius, and saw in him the coming Captain of America. His commander and his comrades appreciated his ability. To a club which was then organized he belonged, together with General McClellan,
General Albert Sydney Johnston,
General Beauregard, and a host of others. They recognized in Lee a master-spirit..
"He was never violent; he never wrangled. He was averse to quarrelling, and not a single difficulty marked his career; but all acknowledged his justness and wonderful evenness of mind. Rare intelligence, combined with these qualities, served to make him a fit representative of his great prototype, General Washington. He had been accomplished by every finish that a military education could bestow.
"I remember when General Lee was appointed lieutenant-colonel, at the same time that Sydney Johnston was appointed colonel, and General Scott thought that Lee should have been colonel. I was talking with General Scott on the subject long before the late struggle between the North and South took place, and he then said that Lee was the greatest living soldier in America. He did not object to the other commission, but he thought Lee should have been first promoted. Finally, he said to me with emphasis, which you will pardon me for relating, 'I tell you that, if I were on my death-bed to-morrow, and the President of the United States should tell me that a great battle was to be fought for the liberty or
slavery of the country, and asked my judgment as to the ability of a commander, I would say with my dying breath, let it be Robert E. Lee.' Ah! great soldier that he was, princely general that he was, he has fulfilled his mission, and borne it so that no invidious tongue can level the shafts of calumny at the great character which he has left behind him.
"But, ladies and gentlemen, it was not in this that the matchless attributes of his character were found. You have assembled here, not so much to do honor to General Lee, but to testify your appreciation of the worth of the principles governing his character; and if the minds of this assemblage were explored, you would find there was a gentleness and a grace in his character which had won your love and brought forth testimonials of universal admiration. Take but a single instance. At the battle of Gettysburg, after the attack on the cemetery, when his troops were repulsed and beaten, the men threw up their
muskets and said, 'General, we have failed, and it is our fault.' 'No, my men,' said he, knowing the style of fighting of General
Stonewall Jackson, 'you have done well; 'tis my fault; I am to blame, and no one but me.' What man is there that would not have gone to renewed death for such a leader? So, when we examine his whole character, it is in his private life that you find his true greatness--the Christian simplicity of his character and his great veneration for truth and nobility, the grand elements of his greatness. What man could have laid down his sword at the feet of a victorious general with greater dignity than did he at Appomattox Court-House? He laid down his sword with grace and dignity, and secured for his soldiers the best terms that fortune would permit. In that he shows marked greatness seldom shown by great captains.
"After the battle of Sedan, the wild cries of the citizens of Paris went out for the blood of the emperor; but at Appomattox, veneration and love only met the eyes of the troops who looked upon their commander. I will not trespass upon your time much farther. When I last saw him the raven hair had turned white. In a small village church his reverent head was bowed in prayer. The humblest step was that of Robert E. Lee, as he entered the portals of the temple erected to God. In broken responses he answered to the services of the Church. Noble, sincere, and humble in his religion, he showed forth his true character in laying aside his sword to educate the youth of his country. Never did he appear more noble than at that time. He is now gone, and rests in peace, and has crossed that mysterious stream that
Stonewall Jackson saw with inspired eyes when he asked that he might be permitted to take his troops across the river and forever rest beneath the shadows of the trees."
After a few remarks from Hon. D.Y. Lyttle, the meeting adjourned.
A meeting was held at Augusta, on October 18th, at the City Hall. The preamble and resolutions adopted were as follows:
"_Whereas_, This day, throughout all this Southern land, sorrow, many-tongued, is ascending to heaven for the death of Robert E. Lee, and communities everywhere are honoring themselves in striving to do honor to that great name; and we, the people of Augusta, who were not laggards in upholding his glorious banner while it floated to the breeze, would swell the general lamentation of his departure:
therefore be it
"_Resolved_, That no people in the tide of time has been bereaved as we are bereaved; for no other people has had such a man to lose. Greece, rich in heroes; Rome, prolific mother of great citizens, so that the name of Roman is the synonyme of all that is noblest in citizenship--had no man coming up to the full measure of this great departed. On scores of battle-fields, consummate commander; everywhere, bravest soldier; in failure, sublimest hero; in disbanding his army, most pathetic of writers; in persecution, most patient of power's victims; in private life, purest of men--he was such that all Christendom, with one consent, named him GREAT. We, recalling that so also mankind have styled Alexander, Caesar, Frederick, and Napoleon, and beholding in the Confederate leader qualities higher and better than theirs, find that language poor indeed which only enables us to call him 'great'--him standing among the great of all ages preeminent.
"_Resolved_, That our admiration of the man is not the partial judgment of his adherents only; but so clear stand his greatness and his goodness, that even the bitterest of foes has not ventured to asperse him. While the air has been filled with calumnies and revilings of his cause, none have been aimed at him. If there are spirits so base that they cannot discover and reverence his greatness and his goodness, they have at least shrunk from encountering the certain indignation of mankind. This day--disfranchised by stupid power as he was; branded, as he was, in the perverted vocabulary of usurpers as rebel and traitor--his death has even in distant lands moved more tongues and stirred more hearts than the siege of a mighty city and the triumphs of a great king.
"_Resolved_, That, while he died far too soon for his country, he had lived long enough for his fame. This was complete, and the future could unfold nothing to add to it. In this age of startling changes, imagination might have pictured him, even in the years which he yet lacked of the allotted period of human life, once more at the head of devoted armies and the conqueror of glorious fields; but none could have been more glorious than those he had already won. Wrong, too, might again have triumphed over Right, and he have borne defeat with sublimest resignation; but this he had already done at Appomattox. Unrelenting hate to his lost cause might have again consigned him to the walks of private life, and he have become an exemplar of all the virtues of a private station; but this he had already been in the shades of Lexington. The contingencies of the future could only have revealed him greatest soldier, sublimest hero, best of men; and he was already all of these. The years to come were barren of any thing which could add to his perfect name and fame. He had nothing to lose; but, alas! we, his people, every thing by his departure from this world, which was unworthy of him, to that other where the good and the pure of all ages will welcome him. Thither follow him the undying love of every true Southern man and woman, and the admiration of all the world."
ADDRESS OF GENERAL A.R. WRIGHT.
"_Mr. Chairman_: I rise simply to move the adoption of the resolutions which have just been read to the meeting by Major Cumming. You have heard, and the people here assembled have heard, these resolutions. They are truthful, eloquent, and expressive. Although announced as a speaker on this sad occasion, I had determined to forego any such attempt; but an allusion, a passing reference to one of the sublime virtues of the illustrious dead, made in the resolutions which have just been read in your hearing, has induced me to add a word or two. Your resolutions speak of General Lee's patience under the persecutions of power. It was this virtue which ennobled the character, as it was one of the most prominent traits in the life, of him for whose death a whole nation, grief-stricken, mourns, and to pay a tribute to the memory of whom this multitude has assembled here this morning. While General Lee was all, and more than has been said of him--the great general, the true Christian, and the valiant soldier--there was another character in which he appeared more conspicuously than in any of the rest--the quiet dignity with which he encountered defeat, and the patience with which he met the persecution of malignant power. We may search the pages of all history, both sacred and profane, and there seems to be but one character who possessed in so large a degree this remarkable trait. Take General Lee's whole life and examine it; observe his skill and courage as a soldier, his patriotism and his fidelity to principle, the purity of his private life, and then remember the disasters which he faced and the persecutions to which he was subjected, and it would seem that _no one_ ever endured so much--not even David, the sweet singer of Israel. Job has been handed down to posterity by the pages of sacred history as the embodiment of patience, as the man who, overwhelmed with the most numerous and bitter afflictions, never lost his fortitude, and who endured every fresh trial with uncomplaining resignation; but it seems to me that even Job displayed not the patience of our own loved hero; for, while Job suffered much, he endured less than General Lee. Job was compelled to lose his children, his friends, and his property, but he was never required to give up country; General Lee was, and, with more than the persecutions of Job, he stands revealed to the world the truest and the most sublime hero whom the ages have produced. To a patriot like Lee the loss of country was the greatest evil which could be experienced, and it was this last blow which has caused us to assemble here to-day to mourn his departure. He lost friends and kindred and property in the struggle, and yet, according to the news which the telegraph brought us this morning, it was the loss of his cause which finally sundered the heart-strings of the hero, and drew him from earth to heaven. Yes, the weight of this great sorrow which first fell upon him under the fatal apple-tree at Appomattox, has dwelt with him, growing heavier and more unendurable with each succeeding year, from that time until last Wednesday morn when the soul of Lee passed away.
"As I said before, Mr. Chairman, I only rose to move the adoption of the resolutions; and if I have said more than I ought to have said, it is because I knew the illustrious dead, because I loved him, and because I mourn his loss."
ADDRESS OF JUDGE HILLIARD.
"It is proper that the people should pay a public tribute to the memory of a great man when he dies. Not a ruler, not one who merely holds a great public position, but a great man, one who has served his day and generation. It cannot benefit the dead, but it is eminently profitable to the living. The consciousness than when we cease to live our memory will be cherished, is a noble incentive to live well. This great popular demonstration is due to General Lee's life and character. It is not ordered by the Government--the Government ignored him; but is rendered as a spontaneous tribute to the memory of an illustrious man--good, true, and great. He held no place in the Government, and since the war has had no military rank; but he was a true man. After all, that is the noblest tribute you can pay to any man, to say of him he was a true man.
"General Lee's character was eminently American. In Europe they have their ideas, their standards of merit, their rewards for great exploits. They cover one with decorations; they give him a great place in the government; they make him a marshal. Wellington began his career with humble rank. He was young Wellesley; he rose to be the Duke of Wellington. In our country we have no such rewards for great deeds. One must enjoy the patronage of the Government, or he must take the fortunes of private life.
"General Lee was educated at the great Military Academy, West Point. He entered the army; was promoted from time to time for brilliant services; in Mexico fought gallantly under the flag of the United States; and was still advancing in his military career in
1861, when Virginia became involved in the great contest that then grew up between the States. Virginia was his mother; she called him to her side to defend her, and, resigning his commission in the Army of the United States, not for a moment looking for advancement there, not counting the cost, not offering his sword to the service of power, nor yet laying it down at the feet of the Government--he unsheathed it and took his stand in defence of the great principles asserted by Virginia in the Revolution, when she contended with Great Britain the right of every people to choose their own form of government. Lost or won, to him the cause was always the same--it was the cause of constitutional liberty. He stood by it to the last. What must have been the convictions of a man like General Lee, when, mounted on the same horse that had borne him in battle, upon which he was seated when the lines of battle formed by his own heroic men wavered, and he seized the standard to lead the charge; but his soldiers rushed to him, and laying their hands on his bridle, said, 'General, we cannot fire a gun unless you retire?' What must have been his emotions as he rode, through his own lines at Appomattox, to the commander of the opposing army, and tendered his sword? Search the annals of history, ancient and modern; consult the lives of heroes; study the examples of greatness recorded in Greece leading the way on the triumphs of popular liberty, or in Rome in the best days of her imperial rule; take statesmen, generals, or men of patient thought who outwatched the stars in exploring knowledge, and I declare to you that I do not find anywhere a sublimer sentiment than General Lee uttered when he said, 'Human virtue ought to be equal to human calamity.' It will live forever.
"General Lee died at the right time. His sun did not go down in the strife of battle, in the midst of the thunder of cannon, dimmed by the lurid smoke of war. He survived all this: lived with so much dignity; silent, yet thoughtful; unseduced by the offers of gain or of advancement however tempting; disdaining to enter into contests for small objects, until the broad disk went down behind the Virginia hills, shedding its departing lustre not only upon this country but upon the whole world. His memory is as much respected in England as it is here; and at the North as well as at the South true hearts honor it.
"There is one thing I wish to say before I take my seat. General Lee's fame ought to rest on the true base. He did not draw his sword to perpetuate human slavery, whatever may have been his opinions in regard to it; he did not seek to overthrow the Government of the United States. He drew it in defence of constitutional liberty. That cause is not dead, but will live forever. The result of the war established the authority of the United States; the Union will stand--let it stand forever. The flag floats over the whole country from the Atlantic to the Pacific; let it increase in lustre, and let the power of the Government grow; still the cause for which General Lee struck is not a lost cause. It is conceded that these States must continue united under a common government. We do not wish to sunder it, nor to disturb it. But the great principle that underlies the Government of the United States--the principle that the people have a right to choose their own form of government, and to have their liberties protected by the provisions of the Constitution--is an indestructible principle. You cannot destroy it. Like Milton's angels, it is immortal; you may wound, but you cannot kill it. It is like the volcanic fires that flame in the depths of the earth; it will yet upheave the ocean and the land, and flame up to heaven.
"Young Emmett said, 'Let no man write my epitaph until my country is free, and takes her place among the nations of the earth.' But you may write General Lee's epitaph now. The principle for which he fought will survive him. His evening was in perfect harmony with his life. He had time to think, to recall the past, to prepare for the future. An offer, originating in Georgia, and I believe in this very city, was made to him to place an immense sum of money at his disposal if he would consent to reside in the city of New York and represent Southern commerce. Millions would have flowed to him. But he declined. He said: 'No; I am grateful, but I have a self-imposed task which I must accomplish. I have led the young men of the South in battle; I have seen many of them fall under my standard. I shall devote my life now to training young men to do their duty in life.' And he did. It was beautiful to see him in that glorious valley where Lexington stands, the lofty mountains throwing their protecting shadows over its quiet home. General Lee's fame is not bounded by the limits of the South, nor by the continent. I rejoice that the South gave him birth; I rejoice that the South will hold his ashes. But his fame belongs to the human race. Washington, too, was born in the South and sleeps in the South. But his great fame is not to be appropriated by this country; it is the inheritance of mankind. We place the name of Lee by that of Washington. They both belong to the world."
A meeting was held in the
St. Charles Theatre, as the largest building in the city. The Hon. W.M. Burwell delivered an eloquent address, of which we regret that we have been able to obtain no report. The meeting was then addressed by the
HON. THOMAS J. SEMMES.
"Robert E. Lee is dead. The Potomac, overlooked by the home of the hero, once dividing contending peoples, but now no longer a boundary, conveys to the ocean a nation's tears. South of the Potomac is mourning; profound grief pervades every heart, lamentation is heard from every hearth, for Lee sleeps among the slain whose memory is so dear to us. In the language of Moina:
'They were slain for us, And their blood flowed out in a rain for us, Red, rich, and pure, on the plain for us; And years may go, But our tears shall flow O'er the dead who have died in vain for us.'
"North of the Potomac not only sympathizes with its widowed sister, but, with respectful homage, the brave and generous, clustering around the corpse of the great Virginian, with one accord exclaim:
'This earth that bears thee dead, Bears not alive so stout a gentleman.'
"Sympathetic nations, to whom our lamentations have been transmitted on the wings of lightning, will with pious jealousy envy our grief, because Robert E. Lee was an American. Seven cities claimed the honor of having given birth to the great pagan poet; but all Christian nations, while revering America as the mother of Robert E. Lee, will claim for the nineteenth century the honor of his birth. There was but one Lee, the great Christian captain, and his fame justly belongs to Christendom. The nineteenth century has attacked every thing--it has attacked God, the soul, reason, morals, society, the distinction between good and evil. Christianity is vindicated by the virtues of Lee. He is the most brilliant and cogent argument in favor of a system illustrated by such a man; he is the type of the reign of law in the moral order--that reign of law which the philosophic Duke of Argyll has so recently and so ably discussed as pervading the natural as well as the supernatural world. One of the chief characteristics of the Christian is duty. Throughout a checkered life the conscientious performance of duty seems to have been the mainspring of the actions of General Lee. In his relations of father, son, husband, soldier, citizen, duty shines conspicuous in all his acts. His agency as he advanced to more elevated stations attracts more attention, and surrounds him with a brighter halo of glory; but he is unchanged; from first to last it is Robert E. Lee.
"The most momentous act of his life was the selection of sides at the commencement of the political troubles which immediately preceded the recent conflict. High in military rank, caressed by General Scott, courted by those possessed of influence and authority, no politician, happy in his domestic relations, and in the enjoyment of competent fortune, consisting in the main of property situated on the borders of Virginia--nevertheless impelled by a sense of duty, as he himself testified before a Congressional committee since the war, General Lee determined to risk all and unite his fortunes with those of his native State, whose ordinances as one of her citizens he considered himself bound to obey.
"Having joined the Confederate army, he complained not that he was assigned to the obscure duty of constructing coast-defences for South Carolina and Georgia, nor that he was subsequently relegated to unambitious commands in Western Virginia. The accidental circumstance that General Joseph E. Johnston was wounded at the battle of Seven Pines in May, 1862, placed Lee in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. As commander of that army he achieved world-wide reputation, without giving occasion during a period of three years to any complaint on the part of officers, men, or citizens, or enemies, that he had been guilty of any act, illegal, oppressive, unjust, or inhuman in its character. This is the highest tribute possible to the wisdom and virtue of General Lee; for, as a general rule, law was degraded; officers, whether justly or unjustly, were constantly the subject of complaint and discord, and jealousy prevailed in camp and in the Senate-chamber. There was a fraction of our people represented by an unavailing minority in Congress, who either felt, or professed to feel, a jealousy whose theory was just, but whose application, at such a time, was unsound. They wished to give as little power as possible because they dreaded a military despotism, and thus desired to send our armies forth with half a shield and broken swords to protect the government from its enemies, lest, if the bucklers were entire and the swords perfect, they might be tempted, in the heyday of victory, to smite their employers. But this want of confidence never manifested itself toward General Lee, whose conduct satisfied the most suspicious that his ambition was not of glory but of the performance of duty. The army always felt this: the fact that he sacrificed no masses of human beings in desperate charges that he might gather laurels from the spot enriched by their gore. A year or more before he was appointed commander-in-chief of all the Confederate forces, a bill passed Congress creating that office. It failed to become a law, the President having withheld his approval. Lee made no complaints; his friends solicited no votes to counteract the veto. When a bill for the same purpose was passed at a subsequent period, it was whispered about that he could not accept the position. To a committee of Virginians who had called on him to ascertain the truth, his reply was, that he felt bound to accept any post the duties of which his country believed him competent to perform. After the battle of Gettysburg he tendered his resignation to President Davis, because he was apprehensive his failure, the responsibility for which he did not pretend to throw on his troops or officers, would produce distrust of his abilities and destroy his usefulness. I am informed the President, in a beautiful and touching letter, declined to listen to such a proposition. During the whole period of the war he steadily declined all presents, and when, on one occasion, a gentleman sent him several dozen of wine, he turned it over to the hospitals in Richmond, saying the wounded and sick needed it more than he. He was extremely simple and unostentatious in his habits, and shared with his soldiers their privations as well as their dangers. Toward the close of the war, meat was very scarce within the Confederate lines in the neighborhood of the contending armies. An aide of the President, having occasion to visit General Lee en official business in the field, was invited to dinner. The meal spread on the table consisted of corn-bread and a small piece of bacon buried in a large dish of greens. The quick-eyed aide discovered that none of the company, which was composed of the general's personal staff, partook of the meat, though requested to do so in the most urbane manner by the general, who presided; he, therefore, also declined, and noticed that the meat was carried off untouched. After the meal was over, he inquired of one of the officers present what was the reason for this extraordinary conduct. His reply was, 'We had borrowed the meat for the occasion, and promised to return it.'
"Duty alone induced this great soldier to submit to such privation, for the slightest intimation given to friends in Richmond would have filled his tent with all the luxuries that blockade-runners and speculators had introduced for the favored few able to purchase.
"This performance of duty was accompanied by no harsh manner or cynical expressions; for the man whose soul is ennobled by true heroism, possesses a heart as tender as it is firm. His calmness under the most trying circumstances, and his uniform sweetness of manner, were almost poetical. They manifested 'the most sustained tenderness of soul that ever caressed the chords of a lyre.' In council he was temperate and patient, and his words fell softly and evenly as snow-flakes, like the sentences that fell from the lips of Ulysses.
"On the termination of the war, his conduct until his death has challenged the admiration of friends and foes; he honestly acquiesced in the inevitable result of the struggle; no discontent, sourness, or complaint, has marred his tranquil life at Washington College, where death found him at his post of duty, engaged in fitting the young men of his country, by proper discipline and education, for the performance of the varied duties of life. It is somewhat singular that both Lee and his great lieutenant, Jackson, should in their last moments have referred to Hill. It is reported that General Lee said, 'Let my tent be struck; send for Hill;' while the lamented Jackson in his delirium cried out, 'Let A.P. Hill prepare for action; march the infantry rapidly to the front. Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.' Both heroes died with commands for military movements on their lips; both the noblest specimens of the Christian soldier produced by any country or any age; both now rest under the shade of the trees of heaven."
REV. DR. PALMER
Then spoke as follows:
"_Ladies and Gentlemen_: I should have been better pleased had I been permitted to sit a simple listener to the eloquent tribute paid to the immortal chieftain who now reposes in death, by the speaker who has just taken his seat. The nature of my calling so far separates me from public life that I am scarcely competent for the office of alluding to the elements which naturally gather around his career. When informed that other artists would draw the picture of the warrior and the hero, I yielded a cheerful compliance, in the belief that nothing was left but to describe the Christian and the man. You are entirely familiar with the early life of him over whose grave you this night shed tears; with his grave and sedate boyhood giving promise of the reserved force of mature manhood; with his academic career at West Point, where he received the highest honors of a class brilliant with such names as
General Joseph E. Johnston; his seizure of the highest honors of a long apprenticeship in that institution, and his abrupt ascension in the
Mexican War from obscurity to fame--all are too firmly stamped in the minds of his admirers to require even an allusion. You are too familiar to need a repetition from my lips of that great mental and spiritual struggle passed, not one night, but many, when, abandoning the service in which he had gathered so much of honor and reputation, he determined to lay his heart upon the altar of his native State, and swear to live or die in her defence.
"It would be a somewhat singular subject of speculation to discover how it is that national character so often remarkably expresses itself in single individuals who are born as representatives of a class. It is wonderful, for it has been the remark of ages, how the great are born in clusters; sometimes, indeed, one star shining with solitary splendor in the firmament above, but generally gathered in grand constellations, filling the sky with glory. What is that combination of influences, partly physical, partly intellectual, but somewhat more moral, which should make a particular country productive of men great over all others on earth and to all ages of time? Ancient Greece, with her indented coast, inviting to maritime adventures, from her earliest period was the mother of heroes in war, of poets in song, of sculptors and artists, and stands up after the lapse of centuries the educator of mankind, living in the grandeur of her works and in the immortal productions of minds which modern civilization with all its cultivation and refinement and science never surpassed and scarcely equalled. And why in the three hundred years of American history it should be given to the Old Dominion to be the grand mother, not only of States, but of the men by whom States and empires are formed, it might be curious were it possible for us to inquire. Unquestionably, Mr. President, there is in this problem the element of race; for he is blind to all the truths of history, to all the revelations of the past, who does not recognize a select race as we recognize a select individual of a race, to make all history; but pretermitting all speculation of that sort, when Virginia unfolds the scroll of her immortal sons--not because illustrious men did not precede him gathering in constellations and clusters, but because the name shines out through those constellations and clusters in all its peerless grandeur--we read the name of
George Washington. And then, Mr. President, after the interval of three-quarters of a century, when your jealous eye has ranged down the record and traced the names that history will never let die, you come to the name--the only name in all the annals of history that can be named in the perilous connection--of Robert E. Lee, the second Washington. Well may old Virginia be proud of her twin sons! born almost a century apart, but shining like those binary stars which open their glory and shed their splendor on the darkness of the world.
"Sir, it is not an artifice of rhetoric which suggests this parallel between two great names in American history; for the suggestion springs spontaneously to every mind, and men scarcely speak of Lee without thinking of a mysterious connection that binds the two together. They were alike in the presage of their early history--the history of their boyhood. Both earnest, grave, studious; both alike in that peculiar purity which belongs only to a noble boy, and which makes him a brave and noble man, filling the page of a history spotless until closed in death; alike in that commanding presence which seems to be the signature of Heaven sometimes placed on a great soul when to that soul is given a fit dwelling-place; alike in that noble carriage and commanding dignity, exercising a mesmeric influence and a hidden power which could not be repressed, upon all who came within its charm; alike in the remarkable combination and symmetry of their intellectual attributes, all brought up to the same equal level, no faculty of the mind overlapping any other--all so equal, so well developed, the judgment, the reason, the memory, the fancy, that you are almost disposed to deny them greatness, because no single attribute of the mind was projected upon itself, just as objects appear sometimes smaller to the eye from the exact symmetry and beauty of their proportions; alike, above all, in that soul-greatness, that Christian virtue to which so beautiful a tribute has been rendered by my friend whose high privilege it was to be a compeer and comrade with the immortal dead, although in another department and sphere; and yet alike, Mr. President, in their external fortune, so strangely dissimilar--the one the representative and the agent of a stupendous revolution which it pleased Heaven to bless and give birth to one of the mightiest nations on the globe; the other the representative and agent of a similar revolution, upon which it pleased high Heaven to throw the darkness of its frown; so that, bearing upon his generous heart the weight of this crushed cause, he was at length overwhelmed; and the nation whom he led in battle gathers with spontaneity of grief over all this land which is ploughed with graves and reddened with blood, and the tears of a widowed nation in her bereavement are shed over his honored grave.
"But these crude suggestions, which fall almost impromptu from my lips, suggest that which I desire to offer before this audience to-night. I accept Robert E. Lee as the true type of the American man and the Southern gentleman. A brilliant English writer has well remarked, with a touch of sound philosophy, that when a nation has rushed upon its fate, the whole force of the national life will sometimes shoot up in one grand character, like the aloe which blooms at the end of a hundred years, shooting up in one single spike of glory, and then expires. And wherever philosophy, refinement, and culture, have gone upon the globe, it is possible to place the finger upon individual men who are the exemplars of a nation's character, those typical forms under which others less noble, less expanded, have manifested themselves. That gentle, that perfect moderation, that self-command which enabled him to be so self-possessed amid the most trying difficulties of his public career, a refinement almost such as that which marks the character of the purest woman, were blended in him with that massive strength, that mighty endurance, that consistency and power which gave him and the people whom he led such momentum under the disadvantages of the struggle through which he passed. Born from the general level of American society, blood of a noble ancestry flowed in his veins, and he was a type of the race from which he sprang. Such was the grandeur and urbaneness of his manner, the dignity and majesty of his carriage, that his only peer in social life could be found in courts and among those educated amid the refinements of courts and thrones. In that regard there was something beautiful and appropriate that he should become, in the later years of his life, the educator of the young. Sir, it is a cause for mourning before high Heaven to-night that he was not spared thirty years to educate a generation for the time that is to come; for, as in the days when the red banner streamed over the land, the South sent her sons to fight under his flag and beneath the wave of his sword, these sons have been sent again to sit at his feet when he was the disciple of the Muses and the teacher of philosophy. Oh, that he might have brought his more than regal character, his majestic fame, all his intellectual and moral endowments, to the task of fitting those that should come in the crisis of the future to take the mantle that had fallen from his shoulders and bear it to the generations that are unborn!
"General Lee I accept as the representative of his people, and of the temper with which this whole Southland entered into that gigantic, that prolonged, and that disastrous struggle which has closed, but closed as to us in grief. Sir, they wrong us who say that the South was ever impatient to rupture the bonds of the American Union. The war of 1776, which, sir, has no more yet a written history than has the war of 1861 to 1865, tells us that it was this Southland that wrought the Revolution of 1776. We were the heirs of all the glory of that immortal struggle. It was purchased with our blood, with the blood of our fathers which yet flows in these veins, and which we desire to transmit, pure and consecrated, to the sons that are born to our loins. The traditions of the past sixty years were a portion of our heritage, and it never was easy for any great heart and reflective mind even to seem to part with that heritage to enter upon the perilous effort of establishing a new nationality.
"Mr. President, it was my privilege once to be thrilled in a short speech, uttered by one of the noblest names clustering upon the roll of South Carolina; for, sir, South Carolina was Virginia's sister, and South Carolina stood by Virginia in the old struggle, as Virginia stood by South Carolina in the new, and the little State, small as Greece, barren in resources but great only in the grandeur of the men, in their gigantic proportions, whom she, like Virginia, was permitted to produce--I heard, sir, one of South Carolina's noblest sons speak once thus: 'I walked through the Tower of London, that grand repository where are gathered the memorials of England's martial prowess; and when the guide, in the pride of his English heart, pointed to the spoils of war collected through centuries of the past,' said this speaker, lifting himself upon tiptoe that he might reach to his greatest height, 'I said, "You cannot point to one single trophy from my people, or my country, though England engaged in two disastrous wars with her."' Sir, this was the sentiment. We loved every inch of American soil, and loved every part of that canvas [pointing to the
Stars and Stripes above him], which, as a symbol of power and authority, floated from the spires and from the mast-head of our vessels; and it was after the anguish of a woman in birth that this land, that now lies in her sorrow and ruin, took upon herself that great peril; but it is all emblematized in the regret experienced by him whose praises are upon our lips, and who, like the English Nelson, recognized duty engraved in letters of light as the only ensign he could follow, and who, tearing away from all the associations of his early life, and, abandoning the reputation gained in the old service, made up his mind to embark in the new, and, with that modesty and that firmness belonging only to the truly great, expressed his willingness to live and die in the position assigned to him.
"And I accept this noble chieftain equally as the representative of this Southland in the spirit of his retirement from struggle. It could not escape any speaker upon this platform to allude to the dignity of that retirement; how, from the moment he surrendered he withdrew from observation, holding aloof from all political complications, and devoting his entire energies to the great work he had undertaken to discharge. In this he represents--an the true attitude of the South since the close of the war attitude of quiet submission to the conquering power and of obedience to all exactions; but without resiling from those great principles which were embalmed in the struggle, and which, as the convictions of a lifetime, no honest mind could release.
"All over this land of ours there are men like Lee--not as great, not as symmetrical in the development of character, not as grand in the proportions which they have reached, but who, like him, are sleeping upon memories that are holy as death, and who, amid all reproach, appeal to the future, and to the tribunal of History, when she shall render her final verdict in reference to the struggle closed, for the vindication of the people embarked in that struggle. We are silent, resigned, obedient, and thoughtful, sleeping upon solemn memories, Mr. President; but, as said by the poet-preacher in the Good Book, 'I sleep, but my heart waketh,' looking upon the future that is to come, and powerless in every thing except to pray to Almighty God, who rules the destinies of nations, that those who have the power may at least have the grace given them to preserve the constitutional principles which we have endeavored to maintain. And, sir, were it my privilege to speak in the hearing of the entire nation, I would utter with the profoundest emphasis this pregnant truth: that no people ever traversed those moral ideas which underlie its character, its constitution, its institutions, and its laws, that did not in the end perish in disaster, in shame, and in dishonor. Whatever be the glory, the material civilization, of which such a nation may boast, it still holds true that the truth is immortal, and that ideas rule the world.
"And now I have but a single word to say, and that is, that the grave of this noble hero is bedewed with the most tender and sacred tears ever shed upon a human tomb. I was thinking in my study this afternoon, striving to strike out something I might utter on this platform, and this parallel between the first Washington and the second occurred to me. I asked my own heart the question, 'Would you not accept the fame and the glory and the career of Robert E. Lee just as soon as accept the glory and career of the immortal man who was his predecessor?' Sir, there is a pathos in fallen fortunes which stirs the sensibilities, and touches the very fountain of human feeling. I am not sure that at this moment Napoleon, the enforced guest of the Prussian king, is not grander than when he ascended the throne of France. There is a grandeur in misfortune when that misfortune is borne by a noble heart, with the strength of will to endure, and endure without complaining or breaking. Perhaps I slip easily into this train of remarks, for it is my peculiar office to speak of that chastening with which a gracious Providence visits men on this earth, and by which He prepares them for heaven hereafter; and what is true of individuals in a state of adversity, is true of nations when clothed in sorrow. Sir, the men in these galleries that once wore the gray are here to-night that they may bend the knee in reverence at the grave of him whose voice and hand they obeyed amid the storms of battle: the young widow, who but as yesterday leaned upon the arm of her soldier-husband, but now clasps wildly to her breast the young child that never beheld its father's face, comes here to shed her tears over this grave to-night; and the aged matron, with the tears streaming from her eyes as she recalls her unforgotten dead, lying on the plains of Gettysburg, or on the heights of Fredericksburg, now, to-night, joins in our dirge over him who was that son's chieftain and counsellor and friend. A whole nation has risen up in the spontaneity of its grief to render the tribute of its love. Sir, there is a unity in the grapes when they grow together in the clusters upon the vine, and holding the bunch in your hand you speak of it as one; but there is another unity when you throw these grapes into the wine-press, and the feet of those that bruise these grapes trample them almost profanely beneath their feet together in the communion of pure wine; and such is the union and communion of hearts that have been fused by tribulation and sorrow, and that meet together in the true feeling of an honest grief to express the homage of their affection, as well as to render a tribute of praise to him upon whose face we shall never look until on that immortal day when we shall behold it transfigured before the throne of God."
The meeting then adopted the following preamble and resolutions:
"_Whereas_, Like orphans at the grave of a parent untimely snatched away, our hearts have lingered and brooded, with a grief that no cunning of speech could interpret, over the thought that Robert Edward Lee exists no more, in bodily life, in sensible form, in visible presence, for our love and veneration, for our edification and guidance, for our comfort and solace; and--
"_Whereas_, We have invoked all mute funeral emblems to aid us with their utmost eloquence of woe, and we cannot content ourselves with contemplating, from the depth and the gloom of our bereavement, the exalted and radiant virtues of the dead:
"_Resolved_, That we, the people of New Orleans, have come together under one common impulse to render united homage to the memory which holds mastery in our minds, whether we turn with bitter regard to the past, or with prayerful and chastened aspirations to the future.
"_Resolved_, That as Louisianians, as Southerners, as Americans, we proudly claim our share in the fame of Lee as an inheritance rightfully belonging to us, and endowed with which we shall piously cherish, though all calamities should rain upon us, true poverty--the poverty indeed that abases and starves the spirit can never approach us with its noisome breath and withering look.
"_Resolved_, That it is infinitely more bitter to have to mourn the loss of our Lee, than not to have learned to prize him as the noblest gift which could have been allotted to a people and an epoch; a grand man, rounded to the symmetry of equal moral and intellectual powers, graces, and accomplishments; a man whose masterly and heroic energy left nothing undone in defending a just cause while there was a possibility of striking for it a rational and hopeful blow, and whose sublime resignation when the last blow was struck in vain, and when human virtue was challenged to match itself with the consummation of human adversity, taught wiser, more convincing, more reassuring, more soul-sustaining lessons than were to be found in all the philosophies of all books.
"_Resolved_, That worthily to show our veneration for this majestic and beautiful character, we must revolve it habitually in our thoughts, and try to appropriate it to the purification and elevation of our lives, and so educate our children that they shall, if possible, grow up into its likeness.
"_Resolved_, That while it is honorable for a people to deeply lament the death of such a man, it would be glorious for a generation to mould itself after his model; for it would be a generation fraught with all high manly qualities, tempered with all gentle and Christian virtues; for truth, love, goodness, health, strength, would be with it, and consequently victory, liberty, majesty, and beauty.
"_Resolved_, That we would hail the erection of the proposed monument as well adapted to the purpose of preserving this admirable and most precious memory as a vital and beneficent influence for all time to come, and we will therefore cordially aid in promoting the Lee Monument which has just been inaugurated."
A crowded meeting assembled in this city on October 15th. After an impressive prayer from the Rev. Dr. Brantly, the meeting was addressed by
GENERAL JOHN B. GORDON.
" My Friends: We have met to weep, to mingle our tears, and give vent to our bursting hearts. The sorrowing South, already clad in mourners' weeds, bows her head afresh to-day in a heart-stricken orphanage; and if I could have been permitted to indulge the sensibilities of my heart, I would have fled this most honorable task, and in solitude and silence have wept the loss of the great and good man whose death we so deplore. I loved General Lee; for it was my proud privilege to know him well. I loved him with a profound and all-filial love, with a sincere and unfaded affection. I say I would have retired from this flattering task which your kindness has imposed, but remembering that his words, his deeds, his great example, has taught us that duty was the most commanding obligation, I yield this morning to your wishes.
"We have met to honor General Lee, to honor him dead whom we loved while living. Honor General Lee! How utterly vain, what a mockery of language do these words seem! Honor Lee! Why, my countrymen, his deeds have honored him! The very trump of Fame itself is proud to honor him! Europe and the civilized world have united to honor him supremely, and History itself has caught the echo and made it immortal. Honor Lee! Why, sir, as the sad news of his death is with the speed of thought communicated to the world, it will carry a pang even to the hearts of marshals and of monarchs; and I can easily fancy that, amid the din and clash and carnage of war, the cannon itself, in mute pause at the whispering news, will briefly cease its roar around the walls of Paris. The task is not without pain, while yet his manly frame lies stretched upon his bier, to attempt to analyze the elements that made him truly great. It has been my fortune in life from circumstances to have come in contact with some whom the world pronounced great--some of the earth's celebrated and distinguished; but I declare it here to-day that, of any mortal man whom it has ever been my privilege to approach, he was the greatest; and I assert here that, grand as might be your conceptions of the man before, he arose in incomparable majesty on more familiar acquaintance. This can be affirmed of few men who have ever lived or died, and of no other man whom it has ever been my fortune to approach. Like Niagara, the more you gazed the more his grandeur grew upon you, the more his majesty expanded and filled your spirit with a full satisfaction that left a perfect delight without the slightest feeling of oppression. Grandly majestic and dignified in all his deportment, he was genial as the sunlight of this beautiful day, and not a ray of that cordial, social intercourse but brought warmth to the heart as it did light to the understanding.
"But as one of the great captains will General Lee first pass review and inspection before the criticism of history. We will not compare him with Washington. The mind will halt instinctively at the comparison of two such men, so equally and gloriously great. But with modest, yet calm and unflinching confidence we place him by the side of the Marlboroughs and Wellingtons who take high niches in the pantheon of immortality. Let us dwell for a moment, my friends, on this thought. Marlborough never met defeat, it is true. Victory marked every step of his triumphant march; but when, where, and whom did Marlborough fight? The ambitious and vain but able Louis XIV. But he had already exhausted the resources of his kingdom before Marlborough stepped upon the stage. The great marshals Turenne and Conde were no more, and Luxembourg the beloved had vanished from the scene. Marlborough, preeminently great as he certainly was, nevertheless led the combined forces of England and of Holland, in the freshness of their strength and the fulness of their financial ability, against prostrate France, with a treasury depleted, a people worn out, discouraged, and dejected. But let us turn to another comparison. The great Von Moltke, who now rides upon the whirlwind and commands the storm of Prussian invasion, has recently declared that General Lee, in all respects, was fully the equal of Wellington, and you may the better appreciate this admission when you remember that Wellington was the benefactor of Prussia, and probably Von Moltke's special idol. But let us examine the arguments ourselves. France was already prostrate when Wellington met Napoleon. That great emperor had seemed to make war upon the very elements themselves, to have contended with Nature, and to have almost defeated Providence itself. The enemies of the North, more savage than Goth or Vandal, mounting the swift gales of a Russian winter, had carried death, desolation, and ruin, to the very gates of Paris. Wellington fought at Waterloo a bleeding and broken nation--a nation electrified, it is true, to almost superhuman energy by the genius of Napoleon, but a nation prostrate and bleeding nevertheless. Compare this, my friends, the condition of France and the condition of the United States, in the freshness of her strength, in the luxuriance of her resources, in the lustihood of her gigantic youth. Tell me whether to place the chaplet of military superiority with him, or with Marlborough, or Wellington? Even the greatest of captains, in his Italian campaigns, flashing fame in lightning splendor over the world, even Bonaparte met and crushed in battle but three or four (I think) Austrian armies; while our Lee, with one army badly equipped, in time incredibly short, met and hurled back in broken and shattered fragments five of the greatest prepared and most magnificently appointed invasions. Yea, more! He discrowned, in rapid succession, one after another of the United States' most, accomplished and admirable commanders.
"Lee was never really defeated. Lee could not be defeated! Overpowered, foiled in his efforts, he might be; but never defeated until the props which supported him gave way. Never, until the platform sank beneath him, did any enemy ever dare pursue. On that melancholy occasion, the downfall of the Confederacy, no Leipsic, no Waterloo, no Sedan, can ever be recorded.
"General Lee is known to the world as a military man; but it is easy to divine from his history how mindful of all just authority, how observant of all constitutional restriction, would have been his career as a civilian. When, near the conclusion of the war, darkness was thickening about the falling fortunes of the Confederacy, when its very life was in the sword of Lee, it was my proud privilege to know with a special admiration the modest demeanor, the manly decorum, respectful homage, which marked all his dealings with the constituted authorities of his country. Clothed with all power, he hid its very symbol behind a genial modesty, and refused ever to exert it save in obedience to law. And even in his triumphant entry into the territory of the enemy, so regardful was he of civilized warfare, that the observance of his general orders as to private property and private rights left the line of his march marked and marred by no devastated fields, charred ruins, or desolated homes. But it is in his private character, or rather I should say his personal emotion and virtue, which his countrymen will most delight to consider and dwell upon. His magnanimity, transcending all historic precedent, seemed to form a new chapter in the book of humanity. Witness that letter to Jackson, after his wounds at Chancellorsville, in which he said: 'I am praying for you with more fervor than I have ever prayed for myself;' and that other, more disinterested and pathetic: 'I could, for the good of my country, wish that the wounds which you have received had been inflicted upon my own body;' or that of the latter message, saying to General Jackson that 'his wounds were not so severe as mine, for he loses but his left arm, while I, in my loss, lose my right;' or that other expression of unequalled magnanimity which enabled him to ascribe the glory of their joint victory to the sole credit of the dying hero. Did I say unequalled? Yes, that was an avowal of unequalled magnanimity, until it met its parallel in his own grander self-negation in assuming the sole responsibility for the defeat at Gettysburg. Ay, my countrymen, Alexander had his Arbela, Caesar his Pharsalia, Napoleon his Austerlitz; but it was reserved for Lee to grow grander and more illustrious in defeat than even in victory--grander, because in defeat he showed a spirit greater than in the heroism of battles or all the achievements of war, a spirit which crowns him with a chaplet grander far than ever mighty conqueror wore.
"I turn me now to that last closing scene at Appomattox, and I will draw thence a picture of that man as he laid aside the sword, the unrivalled soldier, to become the most exemplary of citizens.
"I can never forget the deferential homage paid this great citizen by even the Federal soldiers, as with uncovered heads they contemplated in mute admiration this now captive hero as he rode through their ranks. Impressed forever, daguerreotyped on my heart is that last parting scene with that handful of heroes still crowding around him. Few indeed were the words then spoken, but the quivering lip and the tearful eye told of the love they bore him, in symphonies more eloquent than any language can describe. Can I ever forget? No, never can I forget the words which fell from his lips as I rode beside him amid the defeated, dejected, and weeping soldiery, when, turning to me, he said, 'I could wish that I was numbered among the fallen in the last battle;' but oh! as he thought of the loss of the cause--of the many dead scattered over so many fields, who, sleeping neglected, with no governmental arms to gather up their remains--sleeping neglected, isolated, and alone, beneath the weeping stars, with naught but their soldiers' blankets about them!--oh! as these emotions swept over his great soul, he felt that he would have laid him down to rest in the same grave where lay buried the common hope of his people. But Providence willed it otherwise. He rests now forever, my countrymen, his spirit in the bosom of that Father whom he so faithfully served, his body beside the river whose banks are forever memorable, and whose waters are vocal with the glories of his triumphs. No sound shall ever wake him to martial glory again; no more shall he lead his invincible lines to victory; no more shall we gaze upon him and draw from his quiet demeanor lessons of life. But oh! it is a sweet consolation to us, my countrymen, who loved him, that no more shall his bright spirit be bowed down to earth with the burdens of the people's wrongs. It is sweet consolation to us that his last victory, through faith in his crucified Redeemer, is the most transcendently glorious of all his triumphs. At this very hour, while we mourn here, kind friends are consigning the last that remains of our hero to his quiet sleeping-place, surrounded by the mountains of his native State--mountains the autumnal glory of whose magnificent forests to-day seem but habiliments of mourning. In the Valley, the pearly dew-drops seem but tears of sadness upon the grasses and flowers. Let him rest! And now as he has gone from us, and as we regard him in all the aspects of his career and character and attainments as a great captain, ranking among the first of any age; as a patriot, whose sacrificing devotion to his country ranks him with Washington; as a Christian, like Havelock, recognizing his duty to his God above every other earthly consideration, with a native modesty that refused to appropriate the glory of his own, and which surrounds now his entire character and career with a halo of unfading light; with an integrity of life and a sacred regard for truth which no man dare assail; with a fidelity to principle which no misfortune could shake--he must ever stand peerless among men in the estimation of Christendom, this representative son of the South, Robert E. Lee, of Virginia."
A meeting was held on November 3d, presided over by Mr.
Jefferson Davis. Mr. Davis delivered an address, of which we regret that we have received no complete copy. We give it as reported in the Richmond _Dispatch_.
REMARKS OF PRESIDENT DAVIS.
As Mr. Davis arose to walk to the stand, every person in the house stood, and there followed such a storm of applause as seemed to shake the very foundations of the building, while cheer upon cheer was echoed from the throats of veterans saluting one whom they delighted to honor.
Mr. Davis spoke at length, and with his accustomed thrilling, moving eloquence. We shall not attempt, at the late hour at which we write, to give a full report of his address.
He addressed his hearers as "Soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy, comrades and friends: Assembled on this sad occasion, with hearts oppressed with the grief that follows the loss of him who was our leader on many a bloody battle-field, a pleasing though melancholy spectacle is presented. Hitherto, and in all times, men have been honored when successful; but here is the case of one who amid disaster went down to his grave, and those who were his companions in misfortune have assembled to honor his memory. It is as much an honor to you who give as to him who receives; for, above the vulgar test of merit, you show yourselves competent to discriminate between him who enjoys and him who deserves success.
"Robert E. Lee was my associate and friend in the Military Academy, and we were friends until the hour of his death. We were associates and friends when he was a soldier and I a Congressman; and associates and friends when he led the armies of the Confederacy and I presided in its
cabinet. We passed through many sad scenes together, but I cannot remember that there was ever aught but perfect harmony between us. If ever there was difference of opinion, it was dissipated by discussion, and harmony was the result. I repeat, _we never disagreed_; and I may add that I never in my life saw in him the slightest tendency to self-seeking. It was not his to make a record, it was not his to shift blame to other shoulders; but it was his, with an eye fixed upon the welfare of his country, never faltering, to follow the line of duty to the end. His was the heart that braved every difficulty; his was the mind that wrought victory out of defeat.
"He has been charged with 'want of dash.' I wish to say that I never knew Lee to falter to attempt any thing ever man could dare. An attempt has also been made to throw a cloud upon his character because he left the Army of the United States to join in the struggle for the liberty of his State. Without trenching at all upon politics, I deem it my duty to say one word in reference to this charge. Virginian born, descended from a family illustrious in Virginia's annals, given by Virginia to the service of the United States, he represented her in the Military Academy at West Point. He was not educated by the Federal Government, but by Virginia; for she paid her full share for the support of that institution, and was entitled to demand in return the services of her sons. Entering the Army of the United States, he represented Virginia there also, and nobly. On many a hard-fought field Lee was conspicuous, battling for his native State as much as for the Union. He came from Mexico crowned with honors, covered by brevets, and recognized, young as he was, as one of the ablest of his country's soldiers. And, to prove that he was estimated then as such, let me tell you that when Lee was a captain of engineers stationed in Baltimore, the Cuban Junta in New York selected him to be their leader in the struggle for the independence of their native country. They were anxious to secure his services, and offered him every temptation that ambition could desire. He thought the matter over, and, I remember, came to Washington to consult me as to what he should do; and when I began to discuss the complications which might arise from his acceptance of the trust, he gently rebuked me, saying that this was not the line upon which he wished my advice: the simple question was, 'Whether it was right or not?' He had been educated by the United States, and felt wrong to accept a place in the army of a foreign power. Such was his extreme delicacy, such was the nice sense of honor of the gallant gentleman whose death we deplore. But when Virginia withdrew, the State to whom he owed his first and last allegiance, the same nice sense of honor led him to draw his sword and throw it in the scale for good or for evil. Pardon me for this brief defence of my illustrious friend.
"When Virginia joined the Confederacy, Robert Lee, the highest officer in the little army of Virginia, came to Richmond; and, not pausing to inquire what would be his rank in the service of the Confederacy, went to Western Virginia under the belief that he was still an officer of the State. He came back, carrying the heavy weight of defeat, and unappreciated by the people whom he served, for they could not know, as I knew, that if his plans and orders had been carried out the result would have been victory rather than retreat. You did not know, for I would not have known it had he not breathed it in my ear only at my earnest request, and begging that nothing be said about it. The clamor which then arose followed him when he went to South Carolina, so that it became necessary on his going to South Carolina to write a letter to the Governor of that State, telling him what manner of man he was. Yet, through all this, with a magnanimity rarely equalled, he stood in silence without defending himself or allowing others to defend him, for he was unwilling to offend any one who was wearing a sword and striking blows for the Confederacy."
Mr. Davis then spoke of the straits to which the Confederacy was reduced, and of the danger to which her capital was exposed, just after the battle of Seven Pines, and told how General Lee had conceived and executed the desperate plan to turn their flank and rear, which, after seven days of bloody battle, was crowned with the protection of Richmond, while the enemy was driven far from the city.
The speaker referred also to the circumstances attending General Lee's crossing the Potomac on the march into Pennsylvania. He (Mr. Davis) assumed the responsibility of that movement. The enemy had long been concentrating his force, and it was evident that if he continued his steady progress the Confederacy would be overwhelmed. Our only hope was to drive him to the defence of his own capital, we being enabled in the mean time to reenforce our shattered army. How well General Lee carried out that dangerous experiment need not be told. Richmond was relieved, the Confederacy was relieved, and time was obtained, if other things had favored, to reenforce the army.
"But," said Mr. Davis, "I shall not attempt to review the military career of our fallen chieftain. Of the man, how shall I speak? He was my friend, and in that word is included all that I could say of any man. His moral qualities rose to the height of his genius. Self-denying; always intent upon the one idea of duty; self-controlled to an extent that many thought him cold, his feelings were really warm, and his heart melted freely at the sight of a wounded soldier, or the story of the sufferings of the widow and orphan. During the war he was ever conscious of the inequality of the means at his control; but it was never his to complain or to utter a doubt; it was always his to do. When, in the last campaign, he was beleaguered at Petersburg, and painfully aware of the straits to which we were reduced, he said: 'With my army in the mountains of Virginia, I could carry on this war for twenty years longer.' His men exhausted, and his supplies failing, he was unable to carry out his plans. An untoward event caused him to anticipate the movement, and the Army of Northern Virginia was overwhelmed. But, in the surrender, he anticipated conditions that have not been fulfilled; he expected his army to be respected, and his paroled soldiers to be allowed the enjoyments of life and property. Whether these conditions have been fulfilled, let others say.
"Here he now sleeps in the land he loved so well; and that land is not Virginia only, for they do injustice to Lee who believe he fought only for Virginia. He was ready to go anywhere, on any service, for the good of his country; and his heart was as broad as the fifteen States struggling for the principles that our forefathers fought for in the Revolution of 1776. He is sleeping in the same soil with the thousands who fought under the same flag, but first offered up their lives. Here, the living are assembled to honor his memory, and there the skeleton sentinels keep watch over his grave. This citizen, this soldier, this great general, this true patriot, left behind him the crowning glory of a true Christian. His Christianity ennobled him in life, and affords us grounds for the belief that he is happy beyond the grave.
"But, while we mourn the loss of the great and the true, drop we also tears of sympathy with her who was his helpmeet--the noble woman who, while her husband was in the field leading the army of the Confederacy, though an invalid herself, passed the time in knitting socks for the marching soldiers! A woman fit to be the mother of heroes; and heroes are descended from her. Mourning with her, we can only offer the consolation of a Christian. Our loss is not his; but he now enjoys the rewards of a life well spent, and a never-wavering trust in a risen Saviour. This day we unite our words of sorrow with those of the good and great throughout Christendom, for his fame is gone over the water; his deeds will be remembered, and when the monument we build shall have crumbled into dust, his virtues will still live, a high model for the imitation of generations yet unborn."
We have given but a faint idea of the eloquent thoughts and chaste oratory of the speaker. His words were heard with profound attention, and received with frequent applause.
Colonel C.S. Venable then presented the following report of the Committee on Resolutions:
"_Whereas_, It is a high and holy duty, as well as a noble privilege, to perpetuate the honors of those who have displayed eminent virtues and performed great achievements, that they may serve as incentives and examples to the latest generation of their countrymen, and attest the reverential admiration and affectionate regard of their compatriots; and--
"_Whereas_, This duty and privilege devolve on all who love and admire General Robert E. Lee throughout this country and the world, and in an especial manner upon those who followed him in the field, or who fought in the same cause, who shared in his glories, partook of his trials, and were united with him in the same sorrows and adversity, who were devoted to him in war by the baptism of fire and blood, and bound to him in peace by the still higher homage due to the rare and grand exhibition of a character pure and lofty and gentle and true, under all changes of fortune, and serene amid the greatest disasters:
therefore, be it
"_Resolved_, That we favor an association to erect a monument at Richmond to the memory of Robert E. Lee, as an enduring testimonial of our love and respect, and devotion to his fame.
"_Resolved_, That, while donations will be gladly received from all who recognize in the excellences of General Lee's character an honor and an encouragement to our common humanity, and an abiding hope that coming generations may be found to imitate his virtues, it is desirable that every Confederate soldier and sailor should make some contribution, however small, to the proposed monument.
"_Resolved_, That, for the purpose of securing efficiency and dispatch in the erection of the monument, an executive committee of seventy-five, with a president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, etc., be appointed, to invite and collect subscriptions, to procure designs for said monument, to select the best, to provide for the organization of central executive committees in other States, which may serve as mediums of communication between the executive committee of the Association and the local associations of these States.
"_Resolved_, That we respectfully invite the ladies of the Hollywood Association to lend us their assistance and cooeperation in the collection of subscriptions.
"_Resolved_, That we cordially approve of the local monument now proposed to be erected by other associations at Atlanta, and at Lexington, his last home, whose people were so closely united with him in the last sad years of his life.
"_Resolved_, That, while we cordially thank the Governor and Legislature of Virginia, for the steps they have taken to do honor to the memory of General Lee, yet in deference to the wishes of his loved and venerated widow, with whom we mourn, we will not discuss the question of the most fitting resting-place for his ever-glorious remains, but will content ourselves with expressing the earnest desire and hope that at some future proper time they will be committed to the charge of this Association."
Generals John S. Preston,
John B. Gordon, Henry A. Wise, and William Henry Preston, and Colonels Robert E. Withers and Charles Marshall, delivered eloquent and appropriate speeches, and argued that Richmond is the proper place for the final interment of the remains of General Lee.
The resolutions were adopted, and the meeting adjourned.
At a meeting in this city the following remarks were made by--
GENERAL WADE HAMPTON.
"_Fellow-Citizens_: We are called together to-day by an announcement which will cause profound sorrow throughout the civilized world, and which comes to us bearing the additional grief of a personal and private bereavement. The foremost man in all the world is no more; and, as that news is carried by the speed of lightning through every town, village, and hamlet of this land which he loved so well, and among those people who loved and honored and venerated him so profoundly, every true heart in the stricken South will feel that the country has lost its pride and glory, and that the citizens of that country have lost a father. I dare not venture to speak of him as I feel. Nor do we come to eulogize him. Not only wherever the English language is spoken, but wherever civilization extends, the sorrow--a part at least of the sorrow--we feel will be felt, and more eloquent tongues than mine will tell the fame and recount the virtues of Robert E. Lee. We need not come to praise him. We come only to express our sympathy, our grief, our bereavement. We come not to mourn him, for we know that it is well with him. We come only to extend our sympathy to those who are bereaved.
"Now that he is fallen, I may mention what I have never spoken of before, to show you not only what were the feelings that actuated him in the duty to which his beloved countrymen called him, but what noble sentiments inspired him when he saw the cause for which he had been fighting so long about to perish. Just before the surrender, after a night devoted to the most arduous duties, as one of his staff came in to see him in the morning, he found him worn and weary and disheartened, and the general said to him, 'How easily I could get rid of this and be at rest! I have only to ride along the line, and all will be over. But,' said he--and there spoke the Christian patriot--'it is our duty to _live_, for what will become of the women and children of the South if we are not here to protect them?' That same spirit of duty which had actuated him through all the perils and all the hardships of that unequalled conflict which he had waged so heroically, that same high spirit of duty told him that he must live to show that he was great--greater, if that were possible, in peace than in war; live to teach the people whom he had before led to victory how to bear defeat; live to show what a great and good man can accomplish; live to set an example to his people for all time; live to bear, if nothing else, his share of the sorrows, and the afflictions, and the troubles, which had come upon his people. He is now at rest; and surely we of the South can say of him, as we say of his great exemplar, the 'Father of his Country,' that 'he was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.'"
At a meeting of the officers and soldiers who served under General Lee, held in this city on October 15th, a number of addresses were made, which we are compelled to somewhat condense. That of Colonel Marshall, General Lee's chief of staff, was as follows:
COLONEL CHARLES MARSHALL.
"In presenting the resolutions of the committee, I cannot refrain from expressing the feelings inspired by the memories that crowd upon my mind when I reflect that these resolutions are intended to express what General Lee's surviving soldiers feel toward General Lee. The committee are fully aware of their inability to do justice to the sentiments that inspire the hearts of those for whom they speak. How can we portray in words the gratitude, the pride, the veneration, the anguish, that now fill the hearts of those who shared his victories and his reverses, his triumphs and his defeats? How can we tell the world what we can only feel ourselves? How can we give expression to the crowding memories called forth by the sad event we are met to deplore?
"We recall him as he appeared in the hour of victory, grand, imposing, awe-inspiring, yet self-forgetful and humble. We recall the great scenes of his triumph, when we hailed him victor on many a bloody field, and when above the paeans of victory we listened with reverence to his voice as he ascribed 'all glory to the Lord of hosts, from whom all glories are.' We remember that grand magnanimity that never stooped to pluck those meaner things that grew nearest the earth upon the tree of victory, but which, with eyes turned toward the stars, and hands raised toward heaven, gathered the golden fruits of mercy, pity, and holy charity, that ripen on its topmost boughs beneath the approving smile of the great God of battles. We remember the sublime self-abnegation of Chancellorsville, when, in the midst of his victorious legions, who, with the light of battle yet on their faces, hailed him conqueror, he thought only of his great lieutenant lying wounded on the field, and transferred to him all the honor of that illustrious day.
"I will be pardoned, I am sure, for referring to an incident which affords to my mind a most striking illustration of one of the grandest features of his character. On the morning of May 3, 1863, as many of you will remember, the final assault was made upon the Federal lines at Chancellorsville. General Lee accompanied the troops in person, and as they emerged from the fierce combat they had waged in 'the depths of that tangled wilderness,' driving the superior forces of the enemy before them across the open ground, he rode into their midst. The scene is one that can never be effaced from the minds of those who witnessed it. The troops were pressing forward with all the ardor and enthusiasm of combat. The white smoke of musketry fringed the front of the line of battle, while the artillery on the hills in the rear of the infantry shook the earth with its thunder, and filled the air with the wild shrieks of the shells that plunged into the masses of the retreating foe. To add greater horror and sublimity to the scene, the Chancellorsville House and the woods surrounding it were wrapped in flames. In the midst of this awful scene, General Lee, mounted upon that horse which we all remember so well, rode to the front of his advancing battalions. His presence was the signal for one of those uncontrollable outbursts of enthusiasm which none can appreciate who have not witnessed them. The fierce soldiers, with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle; the wounded, crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a common impulse. One long, unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle and hailed the presence of the victorious chief. He sat in the full realization of all that soldiers dream of--triumph; and, as I looked upon him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army, had won, I thought it must have been from some such scene that men in ancient days ascended to the dignity of the gods. His first care was for the wounded of both armies, and he was among the foremost at the burning mansion where some of them lay. But at that moment, when the transports of his victorious troops were drowning the roar of battle with acclamations, a note was brought to him from General Jackson. It was brought to General Lee as he sat on his horse near the Chancellorsville House, and, unable to open it with his gauntleted hands, he passed it to me with directions to read it to him. The note made no mention of the wound that General Jackson had received, but congratulated General Lee upon the great victory. I shall never forget the look of pain and anguish that passed over his face as he listened. With a voice broken with emotion he bade me say to General Jackson that the victory was his, and that the congratulations were due to him. I know not how others may regard this incident, but, for myself, as I gave expression to the thoughts of his exalted mind, I forgot the genius that won the day in my reverence for the generosity that refused its glory.
"There is one other incident to which I beg permission to refer, that I may perfect the picture. On the 3d day of July, 1863, the last assault of the Confederate troops upon the heights of Gettysburg failed, and again General Lee was among his baffled and shattered battalions as they sullenly retired from their brave attempt. The history of that battle is yet to be written, and the responsibility for the result is yet to be fixed. But there, with the painful consciousness that his plans had been frustrated by others, and that defeat and humiliation had overtaken his army, in the presence of his troops he openly assumed the entire responsibility of the campaign and of the lost battle. One word from him would have relieved him of this responsibility, but that word he refused to utter until it could be spoken without fear of doing the least injustice.
"Thus, my fellow-soldiers, I have presented to you our great commander in the supreme moments of triumph and defeat. I cannot more strongly illustrate his character. Has it been surpassed in history? Is there another instance of such self-abnegation among men? The man rose high above victory in one instance; and, harder still, the man rose superior to disaster in the other. It was such incidents as these that gave General Lee the absolute and undoubting confidence and affection of his soldiers. Need I speak of the many exhibitions of that confidence? You all remember them, my comrades. Have you not seen a wavering line restored by the magic of his presence? Have you not seen the few forget that they were fighting against the many, because he was among the few?
"But I pass from the contemplation of his greatness in war, to look to his example under the oppressive circumstances of final failure--to look to that example to which it is most useful for us now to refer for our guidance and instruction. When the attempt to establish the Southern Confederacy had failed, and the event of the war seemed to have established the indivisibility of the Federal Union, General Lee gave his adhesion to the new order of things. His was no hollow truce; but, with the pure faith and honor that marked every act of his illustrious career, he immediately devoted himself to the restoration of peace, harmony, and concord. He entered zealously into the subject of education, believing, as he often declared, that popular education is the only sure foundation of free government. He gave his earnest support to all plans of internal improvements designed to bind more firmly together the social and commercial interests of the country, and among the last acts of his life was the effort to secure the construction of a line of railway communication of incalculable importance as a connecting link between the North and the South. He devoted all his great energies to the advancement of the welfare of his countrymen while shrinking from public notice, and sought to lay deep and strong the foundations of government which it was supposed would rise from the ruins of the old. But I need not repeat to you, my comrades, the history of his life since the war. You have watched it to its close, and you know how faithfully and truly he performed every duty of his position. Let us take to heart the lesson of his bright example. Disregarding all that malice may impute to us, with an eye single to the faithful performance of our duties as American citizens, and with an honest and sincere resolution to support with heart and hand the honor, the safety, and the true liberties of our country, let us invoke our fellow-citizens to forget the animosities of the past by the side of this honored grave, and, 'joining hands around this royal corpse, friends now, enemies no more, proclaim perpetual truce to battle.'"
The following are among the resolutions:
"The officers, soldiers, and sailors, of the Southern Confederacy, residing in Maryland, who served under General Lee, desiring to record their grief for his death, their admiration for his exalted virtues, and their affectionate veneration for his illustrious memory--
"_Resolved_, That, leaving with pride the name and fame of our illustrious commander to the judgment of history, we, who followed him through the trials, dangers, and hardships of a sanguinary and protracted war; who have felt the inspiration of his genius and valor in the time of trial; who have witnessed his magnanimity and moderation in the hour of victory, and his firmness and fortitude in defeat, claim the privilege of laying the tribute of our heart-felt sorrow upon his honored grave.
"_Resolved_, That the confidence and admiration which his eminent achievements deserved and received were strengthened by the noble example of his constancy in adversity, and that we honored and revered him in his retirement as we trusted and followed him on the field of battle.
"_Resolved_, That, as a token of respect and sorrow, we will wear the customary badge of mourning for thirty days.
"_Resolved_, That a copy of these resolutions and of the proceedings of this meeting be transmitted to the family of our lamented chief."
On the 29th of October a meeting was held to appoint delegates to represent the State of Maryland at the Richmond Lee Monumental Convention. After some brief remarks by General I.R. Trimble, and the adoption of resolutions constituting the Lee Monument Association of Maryland, the Hon. Reverdy Johnson addressed the meeting as follows:
HON. REVERDY JOHNSON.
"_Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen_: I am here in compliance with the request of many gentlemen present, and I not only willingly complied with that request, but I am willing to do all I am able, to show my appreciation of the character, civil and military, of Robert E. Lee. It was my good fortune to know him before the Mexican War, in those better days before the commencement of the sad struggle through which we have recently passed. I saw in him every thing that could command the respect and admiration of men, and I watched with peculiar interest his course in the Mexican War. It was also my good fortune to know the late Lieutenant-General Scott. In the commencement of the struggle to which I have alluded, I occupied in Washington the position of _quasi_ military adviser to him, and was, in that capacity, intimately associated with him. I have heard him often declare that the glorious and continued success which crowned our arms in the
war with Mexico was owing, in a large measure, to the skill, valor, and undaunted courage of Robert E. Lee. He entertained for him the warmest personal friendship, and it was his purpose to recommend him as his successor in the event of his death or inability to perform the duties of his high position. In April, 1861, after the commencement of hostilities between the two great sections of our country, General Lee, then lieutenant-colonel of cavalry in the Army of the United States, offered his resignation. I was with General Scott when he was handed the letter of resignation, and I saw what pain the fact caused him. While he regretted the step his most valuable officer had taken, he never failed to say emphatically, and over and over again, that he believed he had taken it from _an imperative sense of duty_. He was also consoled by the belief that if he was placed at the head of the armies of the then Confederation, he would have in him a foeman in every way worthy of him, and one who would conduct the war upon the highest principles of civilized warfare, and that he would not suffer encroachments to be made upon the rights of private property and the rights of unoffending citizens.
"Some may be surprised that I am here to eulogize Robert E. Lee. It is well known that I did not agree with him in his political views. At the beginning of the late war, and for many years preceding it, even from the foundation of this Government, two great questions agitated the greatest minds of this country. Many believed that the allegiance of the citizen was due first to his State, and many were of the opinion that, according to the true reading of the Constitution, a State had no right to leave the Union and claim sovereign rights and the perpetual allegiance of her citizens. I did not agree in the first-named opinion, but I knew it was honestly entertained. I knew men of the purest character, of the highest ability, and of the most liberal and patriotic feelings, who conscientiously believed it. Now the war is over, thank God! and to that thank I am sure this meeting will respond, it is the duty of every citizen of this land to seek to heal the wounds of the war, to forget past differences, and to forgive, as far as possible, the faults to which the war gave rise. In no other way can the Union be truly and permanently restored. We are now together as a band of brothers. The soldiers of the Confederacy, headed by the great chief we now mourn, have expressed their willingness to abide by the issue of the contest. What a spectacle to the world! After years of military devastation, with tens of thousands dead on her battle-fields, with the flower of her children slain, with her wealth destroyed, her commerce swept away, her agricultural and mechanical pursuits almost ruined, the South yielded. The North, victorious and strong, could not forget what she owed to liberty and human rights. We may well swear now that as long as liberty is virtuous we will be brothers.
"Robert E. Lee is worthy of all praise. As a man, he was peerless; as a soldier, he had no equal and no superior; as a humane and Christian soldier, he towers high in the political horizon. You cannot imagine with what delight, when I had the honor to represent this country at the court of Great Britain, I heard the praises of his fame and character which came from soldiers and statesmen. I need not speak of the comparative merits of General Lee and the
Union generals who opposed him; this is not the place or time for a discussion of their respective successes and defeats; but I may say that, as far as I was able to judge of the sentiments of the military men of Great Britain, they thought none of the Union officers superior to General Robert E. Lee. Their admiration for him was not only on account of his skill on the battle-field, and the skilful manner with which he planned and executed his campaigns, but the humane manner in which he performed his sad duty. They alluded specially to his conduct when invading the territory of his enemy--his restraint upon his men, telling them that the honor of the army depended upon the manner of conducting the war in the enemy's country--and his refusal to resort to retaliatory measures. I know that great influences were brought to bear upon him, when he invaded Pennsylvania, to induce him to consent to extreme measures. His answer, however, was, 'No; if I suffer my army to pursue the course recommended, I cannot invoke the blessing of God upon my arms.' He would not allow his troops to destroy private property or to violate the rights of the citizens. When the necessities of his army compelled the taking of commissary stores, by his orders his officers paid for them in Confederate money at its then valuation. No burning homesteads illumined his march, no shivering and helpless children were turned out of their homes to witness their destruction by the torch. With him all the rules of civilized war, having the higher sanction of God, were strictly observed. The manly fortitude with which he yielded at Appomattox to three times his numbers showed that he was worthy of the honors and the fame the South had given him. This is not the first time since the termination of the war I have expressed admiration and friendship for Robert E. Lee. When I heard that he was about to be prosecuted in a Virginia court for the alleged crime of treason, I wrote to him at once, and with all my heart, that if he believed I could be of any service to him, professionally, I was at his command. All the ability I possess, increased by more than fifty years of study and experience, would have been cheerfully exerted to have saved him, for in saving him I believe I would have been saving the honor of my country. I received a characteristic reply in terms of friendship and grateful thanks. He wrote that he did not think the prosecution would take place. Hearing, however, some time after, that the prosecution would commence at Richmond, I went at once to that city and saw his legal adviser, Hon. William H. McFarland, one of the ablest men of the bar of Virginia. Mr. McFarland showed me a copy of a letter from General Lee to General Grant, enclosing an application for a pardon which he desired General Grant to present to the President, but telling him not to present it if any steps had been taken for his prosecution, as he was willing to stand the test. He wrote that he had understood by the terms of surrender at Appomattox that he and all his officers and men were to be protected. That letter, I am glad to say, raised General Lee higher in my esteem. General Grant at once replied, and he showed his reply to me. He wrote that he had seen the President, and protested against any steps being taken against General Lee, and had informed him that he considered his honor and the honor of the nation pledged to him. The President became satisfied, and no proceedings were ever taken. General Grant transmitted to the President the application of General Lee for pardon, indorsed with his most earnest approval. No pardon was granted. He did not need it here, and, when he appears before that great tribunal before which we must all be called, he will find he has no account to settle there. No soldier who followed General Lee could have felt more grief and sympathy at his grave than I would, could I have been present upon the mournful occasion of his burial. I lamented his loss as a private loss, and still more as a public loss. I knew that his example would continue to allay the passions aroused by the war, and which I was not surprised were excited by some acts in that war. I love my country; I am jealous of her honor. I cherish her good name, and I am proud of the land of my birth. I forbear to criticise the lives and characters of her high officers and servants, but I can say with truth that, during the late war, the laws of humanity were forgotten, and the higher orders of God were trodden under foot.
"The resolutions need no support which human lips can by human language give. Their subject is their support. The name of Lee appeals at once, and strongly, to every true heart in this land and throughout the world. Let political partisans, influenced by fanaticism and the hope of political plunder, find fault with and condemn us. They will be forgotten when the name of Lee will be resplendent with immortal glory.
"Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, in the course of Nature my career upon earth must soon terminate. God grant that when the day of my death comes, I may look up to Heaven with that confidence and faith which the life and character of Robert E. Lee gave him! He died trusting in God, as a good man, with a good life and a pure conscience. He was consoled with the knowledge that the religion of Christ had ordered all his ways, and he knew that the verdict of God upon the account he would have to render in heaven would be one of judgment seasoned with mercy. He had a right to believe that when God passed judgment upon the account of his life, though He would find him an erring human being, He would find virtue enough and religious faith enough to save him from any other verdict than that of 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' The monument will be raised; and when it is raised many a man will visit Richmond to stand beside it, to do reverence to the remains it may cover, and to say, 'Here lie the remains of one of the noblest men who ever lived or died in America.'"
HON. GEORGE WILLIAM BROWN
"_Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen_: The able and eloquent gentlemen who have preceded me have left but little for me to say. I rise, however, to express my hearty assent to the resolutions. Their broad and liberal views are worthy of the great and good man whose virtues and fame we seek to commemorate. He has passed away from earth, and our blame or censure is nothing to him now. The most eloquent eulogies that human lips can utter, and the loftiest monuments that human hands can build, cannot affect him now. But it is a satisfaction to us to know that expressions of the love for him which lives in every Southern heart--ay, in many a Northern heart--were heard long before his death, and that honor shed noble lustre around the last years of his life. He was the representative of a lost cause; he had sheathed his sword forever; he had surrendered his army to superior numbers; he was broken in fortune and in health, and was only president of a Virginia college, yet he was one of the foremost men of all the world.
"It has been said of General Lee, as it has been said of Washington, that he was deficient in genius. His character was so complete that what would have seemed evidences of genius with other men, were lost in the combination of his character and mind. He was always, and especially in every great crisis, a leader among men. During the four years of his education at West Point he did not receive a single reprimand. As a cavalry-officer, wherever he went he was a marked man; and when General Scott made his wonderful march to the capital of Mexico, Captain Lee was his right arm. At the commencement of the late war, though only a lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, he was offered the command of the armies of the United States. What a prize for ambition! Fortune, fame, and honors, awaited him. Where would he have been to-day? Probably in the presidential chair of this great nation. But he rejected all to take his chance with his own people, and to unite with them in their resistance to the vast numbers and resources which he knew the North was able to bring against them. There is nothing more remarkable in the annals of warfare than the success with which General Lee defeated for years the armies of the United States. Consider the six-days' battles around Richmond; the second battle of Manassas; the battles at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg; the wonderful contest at Chancellorsville; then again the remarkable battle of the Wilderness, in which it has been said by Federal authority that General Lee actually killed as many men as he had under his command; the defence at Cold Harbor, the prolonged defence of Richmond and Petersburg, and the admirably-conducted retreat with but a handful before an immense army. Well has he been spoken of as 'the incomparable strategist.' Did any man ever fight against more desperate odds or resources?
"But not merely as a great general is General Lee to be admired. He claims our admiration as a great man--great in adversity. I think there is nothing more admirable in all his life than his conduct in assuming the sole responsibility at Gettysburg. In the midst of defeat Lee was calm, unmoved, showing no fear where despair would have been in the heart of any other general, and saying to his officers and men, 'The fault is all mine.' Let the monument be raised, not merely by soldiers of General Lee, but by all men, no matter of what political feelings, who appreciate and honor that which is manly, great, and patriotic. The monument at Richmond will be the resort of pilgrims from the North as well as from the South, and the grave of Lee will be second only in the hearts of the people to the grave of Washington."
At the meeting at Lexington, resolutions were adopted similar to those already given. The meeting was addressed by General Preston and others.
GENERAL W. PRESTON.
"I am permitted to accompany the report with a few remarks, although I deem it unnecessary to use one word of commendation on the character of such a man. These resolutions are no doubt very short, but they will testify the feelings of every right-minded, noble-hearted man, no matter what may have been his opinions as to the past. Every true and generous soul feels that these resolutions are expressive of the sorrow entertained by the whole country. We speak not only the common voice of America, but of the world at this hour. It is no ordinary case of eulogy over an ordinary being, but over one who was the man of the century; a man who, by mighty armies commanded with admirable skill; by great victories achieved, and yet never stained by exultation; by mighty misfortunes met with a calm eye, and submitted to with all the dignity that belongs to elevated intelligence, and by his simplicity and grandeur, challenged the admiration of civilized mankind; and still more remarkable, after yielding to the greatest vicissitudes that the world ever saw, resigned himself to the improvement of the youth of the country, to the last moment of his mortal life, looking to the glorious life which he contemplated beyond the tomb. I must confess that, notwithstanding the splendor and glory of his career, I envy him the dignity of the pacific close of his life. Nothing more gentle, nothing more great, nothing more uncomplaining, has ever been recorded in the history of the world. By returning to Napoleon, we find he murmured, we find all the marks of mortality and mortal anger; but in Lee we find a man perfect in Christian principles--dignified, yet simple.
"I knew him first when he was a captain. I was then a young man connected with one of the regiments of this State, in Mexico, the Fourth Kentucky; and when I first saw him he was a man of extreme physical beauty, remarkable for his great gentleness of manner, and for his freedom from all military and social vices. At that time, General Scott, by common consent, had fixed upon General Lee as the man who would make his mark if ever the country needed his services. He never swore an oath, he never drank, he never wrangled, but there was not a single dispute between gentlemen that his voice was not more potent than any other; his rare calmness, serenity, and dignity, were above all. When the war came on, he followed his native State, Virginia, for he was the true representative of the great Virginia family at Washington. He was the real type of his race. He was possessed of all the most perfect points of Washington's character, with all the noble traits of his own.
"Scott maintained that Lee was the greatest soldier in the army. His discerning eye compared men; and I remember when, in some respects, I thought General Lee's military education had not fitted him for the great talents which he was destined to display. I remember when General Scott made use of these remarkable words: 'I tell you one thing, if I was on my death-bed, and knew there was a battle to be fought for the liberties of my country, and the President was to say to me, "Scott, who shall command?" I tell you that, with my dying breath, I should say Robert Lee. Nobody but Robert Lee! Robert Lee, and nobody but Lee!' That impressed me very much, because, at the beginning of the campaign, Lee was not prosperous; and why? because he was building up his men with that science which he possessed. His great qualities were discerned not after his remarkable campaigns; but, long before it, his name was regarded with that respected preeminence to which it did rise under that campaign. And I now say, and even opposite officers will admit, that no man has displayed greater power, more military ability, or more noble traits of character, than Robert E. Lee. Therefore it is that America has lost much. Europe will testify this as well as ourselves in this local community. Europe will weigh this, but after-ages will weigh him with Moltke and Bazaine, with the Duke of Magenta, and with all military men, and, in my judgment, those ages will say that the greatest fame and ability belonged to Robert Lee. But let us look to his moral character, to which I have already alluded. Through his whole life he had been a fervent and simple Christian; throughout his campaigns he was a brave and splendid soldier. If you ask of his friends, you will find that they adore him. If you ask his character from his enemies, you will find that they respect him, and respect is the involuntary tribute which friend and enemy alike have to pay to elevated worth; and, to-day, as the bells toll, their sounds will vibrate with the tenderest feelings through every noble heart. Public confessions of his worth and his greatness will be made through thousands of the towns and cities throughout this broad land; and, even where they are silent, monitors within will tell that a great spirit hath fled. This secret monitor will tell that a great and good man has passed away, who has left, in my opinion, no equal behind him."
REV. DR. HENDERSON.
"Since the announcement of the death of Robert E. Lee, I have been momentarily expecting the appearance of a call to pay some tribute to his splendid memory; but, if a notice had been given of this meeting, it altogether escaped my attention, else I would have been here freely and voluntarily. If I am a stranger in Lexington, and my lot has been cast here only during the last three weeks, yet I am happy that my fellow-citizens here have paid me such great respect as to call on me, on such an occasion as the present, to testify to the greatness and glory of General Robert E. Lee. Some public calamity is required to bring us into one great brotherhood. 'One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.' Though you are all strangers to me, yet, in that common sympathy which we all feel, we are mourners together at the bier of departed worth.
"It does not become one of my profession to take any partisan view of the life of such a man, although it was my fortune to follow the same flag which he carried to victory upon so many fields. When it was furled, it was done with such calm magnificence as to win the admiration of his enemies and of the world. Yet I do not stand here to make any reference to that cause which has passed from the theatre of earth's activity, and taken its place only in history. But I do claim the right, from the stand-point which I occupy, of pointing to a man worthy of the emulation of all who love the true nobility of humanity; a man who was magnanimous to his enemies; who would weep at the calamities of his foes; who, throughout the sanguinary struggle, could preserve in himself the fullest share of human sympathy. History will challenge the world to produce a single instance in which this great man ever wantonly inflicted a blow, or ever wilfully imposed punishment upon any of his captives, or ever pushed his victory upon an enemy to gain unnecessary results--a man who, in all his campaigns, showed the same bright example to all the battalions that followed the lead of his sword. And now, since that flag which he carried has been furled, what a magnificent example has been presented to the world! It was said of Washington that he was first in war and first in peace, but, in the latter regard, Robert E. Lee showed more greatness than even the Father of his Country. He was struck down; the sun that had brightened up the horizon of hopes sank in dark eclipse to set in the shadow of disappointment. Calm and magnificent in the repose of conscious strength, he felt that he had lived and struggled for a principle that was dear to him. Though dead, it only remained for him to be our example to the stricken and suffering people for whom he labored, and to show how magnanimously a brave and true Christian could act even when all he held sacred and dear was shattered by the hand of calamity. And, at the close of his career, he devoted his splendid capacity to the culture of the minds of his country's youth. He came down from the summit on which he had won the world's admiration, to the steady, regular duties of the school-room, to take his place in the vestry of a Christian church, and to administer the affairs of a country parish in the interest of Christianity. A man who, by his dignity and simplicity, preserved the constant admiration of his enemies, without even giving offence to his friends, such a man should receive a niche in the Pantheon of Fame.
"He stood in that great struggle of which as a star he was the leader, of unclouded brightness, drawing over its mournful history a splendor which is reflected from every sentence of its chronicle. He was an example of a man, who, though branded because of defeat, still, by his exalted character, gave a dignity and nobility to a cause which, doubtless, is forever dead, yet still is rendered immortal by the achievements of Robert E. Lee's sword and character."
"Services were held last evening," says a New-York journal, "in the large hall of the
Cooper Institute, in commemoration of the life and character of the late General Robert E. Lee, of the
Confederate States Army, with especial reference to his civic and Christian virtues. The call for the meeting stated that, although it was inaugurated by the Southern residents in the city of New York, it was 'yet to be regarded as in no sense born of partisan feeling, but solely from the desire to do honor to the memory of a great and good man--an illustrious American.' The attendance therefore of all, without reference to section or nationality, was cordially invited.
"There was no special decoration of the hall. Grafulla's band was in attendance, and, prior to the opening of the meeting, played several fine dirges. The choir of St. Stephen's Church also appeared upon the platform and opened the proceedings by singing 'Come, Holy Spirit.' The choir consisted of Madame de Luzan, Mrs. Jennie Kempton, Dr. Bauos, and Herr Weinlich. Mr. H.B. Denforth presided at the piano.
"Among the gentlemen present on the platform were General Imboden, ex-Governor Lowe, General Walker, Colonel Hunter, General Daniel W. Adams, Dr. Van Avery, Mr. M.B. Fielding, Colonel Fellows, General Cabell, Colonel T.L. Gnead, Mr. McCormick, Mr. T.A. Hoyt, etc.
"Mr. M.B. Fielding called the meeting to order, and requested the Rev. Dr. Carter to offer prayer.
"The Hon. John E. Ward was then called to preside, and delivered the following address--all the marked passages of which were loudly applauded:
"We meet to pay a tribute of respect to the memory of one whom the whole South revered with more than filial affection. The kind manifestations of sympathy expressed through the press of this great metropolis, this assemblage, the presence of these distinguished men, who join with us this evening, testify that the afflicted voice of his bereaved people has charmed down with sweet persuasion the angry passions kindled by the conflict in which he was their chosen leader. This is not the occasion either for an elaborate review of his life or a eulogy of his character. I propose to attempt neither. Born of one of the oldest and most distinguished families of our country--one so renowned in the field and in the cabinet that it seemed almost impossible to give brighter lustre to it--General Robert E. Lee rendered that family name even more illustrious, and by his genius and virtues extended its fame to regions of the globe where it had never before been mentioned. There is no cause for envy or hatred left now. His soldiers adored him most, not in the glare of his brilliant victories, but in the hour of his deepest humiliation, when his last great battle had been fought and lost--when the government for which he had struggled was crumbling about him--when his staff, asking, in despair, 'What can now be done?' he gave that memorable reply, 'It were strange indeed if human virtue were not at least as strong as human calamity.' This is the key to his life--the belief that trials and strength, suffering and consolation, come alike from God. Obedience to duty was ever his ruling principle. Infallibility is not claimed for him in the exercise of his judgment in deciding what duty was. But what he believed duty to command, that he performed without thought of how he would appear in the performance. In the judgment of many he may have mistaken his duty when he decided that it did not require him to draw his sword 'against his home, his kindred, and his children.' But Lee was no casuist or politician; he was a soldier. 'All that he would do highly that would he do holily.' He taught the world that the Christian and the gentleman could be united in the warrior. It was not when in pomp and power--when he commanded successful legions and led armies to victories--but when in sorrow and privation he assumed the instruction and guidance of the youth of Virginia, laying the only true foundation upon which a republic can rest, the Christian education of its youth--that he reaped the rich harvest of a people's love. Goodness was the chief attribute of Lee's greatness. Uniting in himself the rigid piety of the Puritan with the genial, generous impulses of the cavalier, he won the love of all with whom he came in contact, from the thoughtless child, with whom it was ever his delight to sport, to the great captain of the age, with whom he fought all the hard-won battles of Mexico. Some may believe that the world has given birth to warriors more renowned, to rulers more skilled in statecraft, but all must concede that a purer, nobler man never lived. What successful warrior or ruler, in ancient or modern times, has descended to his grave amid such universal grief and lamentation as our Lee? Caesar fell by the hands of his own beloved Brutus, because, by his tyranny, he would have enslaved Rome. Frederick the Great, the founder of an empire, became so hated of men, and learned so to despise them, that he ordered his 'poor carcass,' as he called it, to be buried with his favorite dogs at Potsdam. Napoleon reached his giddy height by paths which Lee would have scorned to tread, only to be hurled from his eminence by all the powers of Europe which his insatiate ambition had combined against him. Wellington, the conqueror of Napoleon, became the leader of a political party, and lived to need the protection of police from a mob. Even our own Washington, whose character was as high above that of the mere warrior and conqueror as is the blue vault of heaven above us to the low earth we tread beneath our feet, was libelled in life and slandered in death. Such were the fates of the most successful captains and warriors of the world. For four long years Lee occupied a position not less prominent than that of the most distinguished among them. The eyes of the civilized world watched his every movement and scanned his every motive. His cause was lost. He was unsuccessful. Yet he lived to illustrate to the world how, despite failure and defeat, a soldier could command honor and love from those for whom he struggled, and admiration and respect from his foes, such as no success had ever before won for warrior, prince, or potentate. And, when his life was ended, the whole population of the South, forming one mighty funeral procession, followed him to his grave. His obsequies modestly performed by those most tenderly allied to him, he sleeps in the bosom of the land he loved so well. His spotless fame will gather new vigor and freshness from the lapse of time, and the day is not distant when that fame will be claimed, not as the property of a section, but as the heritage of a united people. His soul, now forever freed from earth's defilements, basks in the sunlight of God.' _Pro tumulo ponas patriam, pro tegmine caelum, sidera pro facibus, pro lachrymis maria_.'" (Great applause.)
Rose and said:
"It is with emotions of infinite grief I rise to perform one of the saddest duties of my life. The committee who have arranged the ceremonies on this occasion, deemed it expedient and proper to select a Virginian as their organ to present to this large assembly of the people of New York a formal preamble and resolutions, which give expression to their feelings in regard to the death of General Robert E. Lee. This distinction has been conferred by the committee upon me; and I shall proceed to read their report, without offering to submit any remarks as to the feelings excited in my own heart by this, mournful intelligence:"
"In this great metropolitan city of America, where men of every clime and of all nationalities mingle in the daily intercourse of pleasure and of business, no great public calamity can befall any people in the world without touching a sympathetic chord in the hearts of thousands. When, therefore, tidings reached us that General Robert E. Lee, of Virginia, was dead, and that the people of that and all the other
Southern States of the Union were stricken with grief, the great public heart of New York was moved with a generous sympathy, which found kindly and spontaneous expression through the columns of the city press of every shade of opinion.
"All differences of the past, all bitter memories, all the feuds that have kept two great sections of our country in angry strife and controversy for so long, have been forgotten in the presence of the awe-inspiring fact that no virtues, no deeds, no honors, nor any position, can save any member of the human family from the common lot of all.
"The universal and profound grief of our Southern countrymen is natural and honorable alike to themselves and to him whom they mourn, and is respected throughout the world; for Robert E. Lee was allied and endeared to them by all the most sacred ties that can unite an individual to a community. He was born and reared in their midst, and shared their local peculiarities, opinions, and traditional characteristics; and his preeminent abilities and exalted personal integrity and Christian character made him, by common consent, their leader and representative in a great national conflict in which they had staked life, fortune, and honor; and in Virginia his family was coeval with the existence of the State, and its name was emblazoned upon those bright pages of her early civil and military annals which record the patriotic deeds of Washington and his compeers.
"By no act of his did he ever forfeit or impair the confidence thus reposed in him by his own peculiar people; and when he had, through years of heroic trial and suffering, done all that mortal man could do in discharge of the high trust confided by them to his hands, and failed, he bowed with dignified submission to the decree of Providence; and from the day he gave his parole at Appomattox to the hour of his death, he so lived and acted as to deprive enmity of its malignity, and became to his defeated soldiers and countrymen a bright example of unqualified obedience to the laws of the land, and of support to its established government. Nay, more. With a spirit of Christian and affectionate duty to his impoverished and suffering people, and with a high estimate of the importance of mental and moral culture to a generation of youth whose earlier years were attended by war's rough teachings, he went from the tented field and the command of armies to the quiet shades of a scholastic institution in the secluded valleys of his own native Virginia, and entered with all the earnestness of his nature upon the duties of instruction, and there spent the closing years of his life in training the minds and hearts of young men from all parts of the country for the highest usefulness 'in their day and generation.' By these pursuits, and his exemplary and unobtrusive life since the close of the great war in America, he won the respect and admiration of the enlightened and the good of the whole world. It is meet and natural, therefore, that his own people should bewail his death as a sore personal bereavement to each one of them. Those of us here assembled who were his soldiers, friends, and supporters, sharing all the trials and many of the responsibilities of that period of his life which brought him so prominently before the world, honored and trusted him then, have loved and admired him, have been guided by his example since; and now that he is dead, we should be unworthy of ourselves, and unworthy to be called his countrymen, did we not feel and express the same poignant grief which now afflicts those among whom he lived and died.
"Those of us who were not his soldiers, friends, and supporters, when war raged throughout the land, but who have nevertheless met here to-day with those who were our enemies then, but are now our friends and countrymen, and appreciate with them the character of Lee, and admire his rare accomplishments as an American citizen, whose fame and name are the property of the nation, we all unite over his hallowed sepulchre in an earnest prayer that old divisions may be composed, and that a complete and perfect reconciliation of all estrangements may be effected at the tomb, where all alike, in a feeling of common humanity and universal Christian brotherhood, may drop their tears of heart-felt sorrow.
"Therefore, without regard to our former relations toward each other, but meeting as Americans by birth or adoption, and in the broadest sense of national unity, and in the spirit above indicated, to do honor to a great man and Christian gentleman who has gone down to the grave, we do
"_Resolve_, That we have received with feelings of profound sorrow intelligence of the death of General Robert E. Lee. We can and do fully appreciate the grief of our Southern countrymen at the death of one so honored by and so dear to them, and we tender to them this expression of our sympathy, with the assurance that we feel in the contemplation of so sad an event that we are and ought to be, henceforth and forever, one great and harmonious national family, sharing on all occasions each others' joys and sympathizing in each others' sorrows.
"_Resolved_, That a copy of the foregoing preamble, and these resolutions, signed by the president and secretary, be transmitted to the Governor of Virginia, with a request that the same be preserved in the archives of the State; and that another copy be sent to the family of General Lee.
"J.D. IMBODEN, Ex. NORTON, JOHN MITCHEL, C.K. MARSHALL, T.L. SNEAD, NORMAN D. SAMPSON, Wm. H. APPLETON, _Committee on Resolutions_"
"On motion, the resolutions were unanimously adopted by a standing and silent vote, which was followed by a spontaneous outburst of hearty applause."
We have given but a small portion of the addresses which were called forth by this national calamity, and these, no doubt, have suffered injustice by imperfect reporting. But we have shown, as we wished to show, the standard by which our people estimate an heroic character, and how the South loves and honors the memory of her great leader.
A few extracts from the English press will show the feeling in that country:
THE PALL MALL GAZETTE.
"Even amid the turmoil of the great European struggle, the intelligence from America announcing that General Robert E. Lee is dead, will be received with deep sorrow by many in this country, as well as by his followers and fellow-soldiers in America. It is but a few years since Robert E. Lee ranked among the great men of the present time. He was the able soldier of the Southern Confederacy, the bulwark of her northern frontier, the obstacle to the advance of the Federal armies, and the leader who twice threatened, by the capture of Washington, to turn the tide of success, and to accomplish a revolution which would have changed the destiny of the United States. Six years passed by, and then we heard that he was dying at an obscure town in Virginia, where, since the collapse of the Confederacy, he had been acting as a school-master. When, at the head of the last eight thousand of his valiant army, the remnants which battle, sickness, and famine had left him, he delivered up his sword to General Grant at Appomattox Court-House, his public career ended; he passed away from men's thoughts; and few in Europe cared to inquire the fate of the general whose exploits had aroused the wonder of neutrals and belligerents, and whose noble character had excited the admiration of even the most bitter of his political enemies. If, however, success is not always to be accounted as the sole foundation of renown, General Lee's life and career deserve to be held in reverence by all who admire the talents of a general and the noblest qualities of a soldier. His family were well known in Virginia. Descended from the Cavaliers who first colonized that State, they had produced more than one man who fought with distinction for their country. They were allied by marriage to Washington, and, previous to the recent war, were possessed of much wealth; General (then Colonel) Robert Lee residing, when not employed with his regiment, at
Arlington Heights, one of the most beautiful places in the neighborhood of Washington. When the civil war first broke out, he was a colonel in the United States Army, who had served with distinction in Mexico, and was accounted among the best of the American officers. To him, as to others, the difficult choice presented itself, whether to take the side of his State, which had joined in the secession of the South, or to support the central Government. It is said that Lee debated the matter with General Scott, then Commander-in-chief, that both agreed that their first duty lay with their State, but that the former only put the theory into practice.
"It was not until the second year of the war that Lee came prominently forward, when, at the indecisive battle of Fair Oaks, in front of Richmond, General Johnston having been wounded, he took command of the army; and subsequently drove McClellan, with great loss, to the
banks of the James River. From that time he became the recognized leader of the Confederate army of Virginia. He repulsed wave after wave of invasion, army after army being hurled against him only to be thrown back, beaten and in disorder. The Government at Washington were kept in constant alarm by the near vicinity of his troops, and witnessed more than once the entry into their intrenchments of a defeated and disorganized rabble, which a few days previous had left them a confident host. Twice he entered the Northern States at the head of a successful army, and twice indecisive battles alone preserved from destruction the Federal Government, and turned the fortune of the war. He impressed his character on those who acted under him. Ambition for him had no charms, duty alone was his guide. His simplicity of life checked luxury and display among his officers, while his disregard of hardships silenced the murmurs of his harassed soldiery. By the troops he was loved as a father, as well as admired as a general; and his deeply-religious character impressed itself on all who were brought in contact with him, and made itself felt through the ranks of the Virginian army. It is said that, during four years of war, he never slept in a house, but in winter and summer shared the hardships of his soldiers. Such was the man who, in mature age, at a period of life when few generals have acquired renown, fought against overwhelming odds for the cause which he believed just. He saw many of his bravest generals and dearest friends fall around him, but, although constantly exposed to fire, escaped without a wound. "The battles which prolonged and finally decided the issue of the contest are now little more than names. Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, are forgotten in Europe by all excepting those who study recent wars as lessons for the future, and would collect from the deeds of other armies experience which they may apply to their own. To them the boldness of Lee's tactics at Chancellorsville will ever be a subject of admiration; while even those who least sympathize with his cause will feel for the general who saw the repulse of Longstreet's charge at Gettysburg, and beheld the failure of an attempt to convert a defensive war into one of attack, together with the consequent abandonment of the bold stroke which he had hoped would terminate the contest. Quietly he rallied the broken troops; taking all the blame on himself, he encouraged the officers, dispirited by the reverse, and in person formed up the scattered detachments. Again, when Fortune had turned against the Confederacy, when overwhelming forces from all sides pressed back her defenders, Lee for a year held his ground with a constantly-diminishing army, fighting battle after battle in the forests and swamps around Richmond. No reverses seemed to dispirit him, no misfortune appeared to ruffle his calm, brave temperament. Only at last, when he saw the remnants of his noble army about to be ridden down by
Sheridan's cavalry, when eight thousand men, half-starved and broken with fatigue, were surrounded by the net which Grant and
Sherman had spread around them, did he yield; his fortitude for the moment gave way; he took farewell of his soldiers, and, giving himself up as a prisoner, retired a ruined man into private life, gaining his bread by the hard and uncongenial work of governing Lexington College.
"When political animosity has calmed down, and when Americans can look back on those years of war with feelings unbiassed by party strife, then will General Lee's character be appreciated by all his countrymen as it now is by a part, and his name will be honored as that of one of the noblest soldiers who have ever drawn a sword in a cause which they believed just, and at the sacrifice of all personal considerations have fought manfully a losing battle."
THE SATURDAY REVIEW.
This journal, after some remarks on the death of
Admiral Farragut, continues:
"A still more famous leader in the war has lately closed a blameless life. There may be a difference of opinion on the military qualities of the generals who fought on either side in the civil war; but it is no disparagement to the capacity of Grant or of Sherman to say that they had no opportunity of rivalling the achievements of General Lee. Assuming the chief command in the Confederate army in the second campaign of the war, he repelled three or four invasions of Virginia, winning as many pitched battles over an enemy of enormously superior resources. After driving McClellan from the Peninsula, he inflicted on
Pope defeats which would have been ruinous if the belligerents had been on equal terms; but twenty millions of men, with the absolute command of the sea and the rivers, eventually overpowered a third of their number. The drawn battle of Gettysburg proved that the invasion of the Northern States was a blunder; and in 1863 it became evident that the fall of the Confederacy could not be much longer delayed. Nevertheless General Lee kept Grant's swarming legions at bay for the whole summer and autumn, and the loss of the Northern armies in the final campaign exceeded the entire strength of the gallant defenders of Richmond. When General Lee, outnumbered, cut off from his communications, and almost surrounded by his enemies, surrendered at Appomattox Court-House, he might console himself with the thought that he had only failed where success was impossible. From that moment he used his unequalled and merited authority to reconcile the Southern people to the new order of affairs. He had originally dissented from the policy of secession; and he followed the banner of his State exclusively from a sense of duty, in disregard of his professional and private interests. He might at pleasure have been Commander-in-Chief of the Northern army, for he was second in rank to General Scott. His ancient home and his ample estate on the Potomac were ravaged by the enemy; but he never expressed a regret for the sacrifice of his fortune. There can be no doubt that he was often thwarted by political superiors and by incompetent subordinates, but his equable temper and lofty nature never inclined him to complaint. The regret for his loss which is felt throughout the vast regions of the South is a just tribute to one of the greatest and purest characters in American history."
It will not be inappropriate to reproduce here the tribute which appeared in the London _Standard_, on the receipt of the news of General Lee's illness:
"The announcement that General R.E. Lee has been struck down by paralysis and is not expected to recover, will be received, even at this crisis, with universal interest, and will everywhere excite a sympathy and regret which testify to the deep impression made on the world at large by his character and achievements. Few are the generals who have earned, since history began, a greater military reputation; still fewer are the men of similar eminence, civil or military, whose personal qualities would bear comparison with his. The bitterest enemies of his country hardly dared to whisper a word against the character of her most distinguished general, while neutrals regarded him with an admiration for his deeds and a respect for his lofty and unselfish nature which almost grew into veneration, and his own countrymen learned to look up to him with as much confidence and esteem as they ever felt for Washington, and with an affection which the cold demeanor and austere temper of Washington could never inspire. The death of such a man, even at a moment so exciting as the present, when all thoughts are absorbed by a nearer and present conflict, would be felt as a misfortune by all who still retain any recollection of the interest with which they watched the Virginian campaigns, and by thousands who have almost forgotten the names of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania. By the South it would be recognized as a national calamity--as the loss of a man not only inexpressibly dear to an unfortunate people by his intimate association with their fallen hopes and their proudest recollections, but still able to render services such as no other man could perform, and to give counsel whose value is enhanced tenfold by the source from which it comes. We hope, even yet, that a life so honorable and so useful, so pure and noble in itself, so valuable to a country that has much need of men like him, may be spared and prolonged for further enjoyment of domestic peace and comfort, for further service to his country; we cannot bear to think of a career so singularly admirable and so singularly unfortunate, should close so soon and so sadly. By the tens of thousands who will feel as we do when they read the news that now lies before us, may be measured the impressions made upon the world by the life and the deeds of the great chief of the Army of Virginia.
"Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the merits of the generals against whom he had to contend, and especially of the antagonist by whom he was at last overcome, no one pretending to understand in the least either the general principles of military science or the particular conditions of the American War, doubts that General Lee gave higher proofs of military genius and soldiership than any of his opponents. He was outnumbered from first to last; and all his victories were gained against greatly superior forces, and with troops greatly deficient in every necessary of war except courage and discipline. Never, perhaps, was so much achieved against odds so terrible. The Southern soldiers--'that incomparable Southern infantry' to which a late Northern writer renders due tribute of respect--were no doubt as splendid troops as a general could desire; but the different fortune of the East and the West proves that the Virginian army owed something of its excellence to its chief. Always outnumbered, always opposed to a foe abundantly supplied with food, transport, ammunition, clothing, all that was wanting to his own men, he was always able to make courage and skill supply the deficiency of strength and of supplies; and from the day when he assumed the command after the battle of Seven Pines, where General Joseph Johnston was disabled, to the morning of the final surrender at Appomattox Court-House, he was almost invariably victorious in the field. At Gettysburg only he was defeated in a pitched battle; on the offensive at the Chickahominy, at
Centreville, and at Chancellorsville, on the defensive at Antietam, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, and Spottsylvania, he was still successful. But no success could avail him any thing from the moment that General Grant brought to bear upon the Virginian army the inexhaustible population of the North, and, employing Sherman to cut them off from the rest of the Confederacy, set himself to work to wear them out by the simple process of exchanging two lives for one. From that moment the fate of Richmond and of the South was sealed. When General Lee commenced the campaign of the Wilderness he had, we believe, about fifty thousand men; his adversary had thrice that number at hand, and a still larger force in reserve. When the army of Virginia marched out of Richmond it still numbered some twenty-six thousand men; after a retreat of six days, in the face of an overwhelming enemy, with a crushing artillery--a retreat impeded by constant fighting, and harassed by countless hordes of cavalry--eight thousand were given up by the capitulation of Appomattox Court-House. Brilliant as were General Lee's earlier triumphs, we believe that he gave higher proofs of genius in his last campaign, and that hardly any of his victories were so honorable to himself and his army as that six-days' retreat.
"There have, however, been other generals of genius as brilliant, of courage and endurance hardly less distinguished. How many men have ever displayed the perfect simplicity of nature, the utter absence of vanity or affectation, which belongs to the truest and purest greatness, in triumph or in defeat, as General Lee has done? When Commander-in-Chief of the Southern armies, he moved from point to point, as duty required, with less parade than a European general of division, wearing no sword, attended by no other staff than the immediate occasion demanded, and chatting with a comrade or a visitor with a simple courtesy which had in it no shade of condescension. Only on one occasion does he seem to have, been accoutred with the slightest regard to military display or personal dignity; and that, characteristically, was the last occasion on which he wore the Confederate uniform--the occasion of his interview with General Grant on April 9, 1865. After the war he retired without a word into privacy and obscurity. Ruined by the seizure and destruction of his property, which McClellan protected, and which his successors gave up to ravage and pillage, the late Commander-in-Chief of the Southern armies accepted the presidency of a Virginia college, and devoted himself as simply and earnestly to its duties as if he had never filled a higher station or performed more exciting functions. Well aware of the jealous temper of the party dominant in the North, and anxious, above all things, to avoid exasperating that temper against his conquered countrymen, he carefully abstained from appearing in any public ceremony or taking any overt part in political questions. His influence has been exerted, quietly but steadily, in one direction, with a single view to restore harmony and good-will between the two sections, and to reconcile the oppressed Southerners to the Union from which he fought so gallantly to free them. He has discountenanced all regretful longings after the lost visions of Southern independence; all demonstrations in honor of the 'conquered banner;' and has encouraged the South to seek the restoration of her material prosperity and the satisfaction of her national feelings in a frank acceptance of the result of the war, and a loyal adhesion to the Federal bond. It was characteristic and worthy of the man that he was among the first to sue for a formal pardon from
President Johnson; not for any advantage which he personally could obtain thence, but to set the example of submission to his comrades-in-arms, and to reconcile them to a humiliation without which the conquerors refused them that restitution to civil rights necessary to any effort to retrieve their own or their country's fortunes. Truer greatness, a loftier nature, a spirit more unselfish, a character purer, more chivalrous, the world has rarely, if ever known. Of stainless life and deep religious feeling, yet free from all taint of cant and fanaticism, and as dear and congenial to the Cavalier Stuart as to the Puritan
Stonewall Jackson; unambitious, but ready to sacrifice all at the call of duty; devoted to his cause, yet never moved by his feelings beyond the line prescribed by his judgment; never provoked by just resentment to punish wanton cruelty by reprisals which would have given a character of needless savagery to the war--both North and South owe a deep debt of gratitude to him, and the time will come when both will be equally proud of him. And well they may, for his character and his life afford a complete answer to the reproaches commonly cast on money-grubbing, mechanical America. A country which has given birth to men like him, and those who followed him, may look the chivalry of Europe in the face without shame; for the fatherlands of Sidney and of Bayard never produced a nobler soldier, gentleman, and Christian, than General Robert E. Lee."
We may add to these the following just remarks upon the occupation to which General Lee devoted himself at the close of his military career, from
THE OLD DOMINION.
"Surely it should be a cause of thankfulness and encouragement for those who are teachers, that their profession has received this reflection of glory and honor from this choice of his, from this life, and from this death. And it is enduring honor for all the colleges of the South, and for all our schools--an honor in which all may share alike without jealousy--that this pure and bright name is inseparably connected by the will of him that bore it with the cause of education, and is blended now with that of Washington in the name of one of our own institutions of learning. We think that so long as the name of Lee is honored and loved among us, our Southern teachers may rejoice and grow stronger in their work, when they remember that he was one of their number, and that his great heart, that had so bravely borne the fortunes of a great empire, bore also, amid its latest aspirations, the interests, the anxieties, and the hopes of the unpretending but noble profession of teaching.
"To leave this out of the account would be, indeed, to do sad injustice to General Lee's own memory. And that, not only because his position in this profession was of his own choice, and was steadily maintained with unchanging purpose to the end of his life, but also because the acknowledgment of his service here is necessary to the completeness of his fame. In no position of his life did he more signally develop the great qualities of his character than in this; and it may truly be said that some of the greatest can only be fully understood in the light of the serene patience and of the simple and quiet self-consecration of his latest years. It was then that, far from the tumult of arms and from the great passions of public life, with no great ambition to nerve his heart, nor any great events to obscure the public criticism of his conduct, he displayed in calm and steady light the grandest features of his character, and by this crucial test, added certain confirmation to the highest estimate that could have been formed of his character and of his abilities. It was indeed a 'crucial test' for such a man; and that he sustained it as he did is not among the smallest of his claims to the admiration of his countrymen. No tribute to his memory can be just that does not take this last great service into the account; and no history of his life can be fairly written that shall not place in the strongest light his career and influence as President of Washington College."
And we may appropriately close with the following thoughtful words from the pen of
ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.
"In the darkest hour of our trials, in the very midst of our deepest affliction, mourning over the loss of the noble Lee, Heaven sends to us as consolation the best sign of the times vouchsafed in many a day. It addresses the heart, rent as it is in surveying the desolations around us, as the rainbow upon the breast of the receding storm-cloud when its power and fury are over.
"That sign is the unmistakable estimation in which the real merits and worth of this illustrious chieftain of the cause of the Southern States is held by all classes of persons, not only in the South, but in the North.
"Partisans and leaders, aiming at the overthrow of our institutions, may, while temporarily in high places, by fraud and usurpation, keep up the false cry of _rebel_ and _traitor_; but these irrepressible outburstings of popular sentiment, regarding no restraints on great-occasions which cause _Nature_ to speak, show clearly how this cry and charge are regarded and looked upon by the masses of the people everywhere.
"Everywhere Lee is honored; not only as a _hero_, but as a _patriot_. This is but the foreshadowing of the general judgment of the people of the whole United States, and of the world, not only upon Lee, but upon all of his associates who fought, bled, and died in that glorious cause in which he won his immortality. That cause was the sovereign right of local self-government by the people of the several States of this continent. _That_ cause is not dead! Let it never be abandoned; but let its friends rally to its standard in the forum of reason and justice, with the renewed hope and energy from this soul-inspiriting sign that it lies deeply impressed upon the hearts of the great majority of the people in all sections of this country.
"In these popular manifestations of respect and veneration for the man who won all his glory in maintaining this cause, present usurpers should read their doom, and all friends of constitutional liberty should take fresh courage in all political conflicts, never to lower their standard of principles."