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From a speech before the New England Society of New York, December, 1886


I must not introduce a new habit into these New England dinners, and confine myself to the one theme. For eightyone years your speakers have been accustomed to make the toast announced the point from which they start, but to which they never return. So I shall not stick to my text, but only be particular to have all I say my own, and not make the mistake of a minister whose sermon was a patchwork from a variety of authors, to whom he gave no credit. There was an intoxicated wag in the audience who had read about everything, and he announced the authors as the minister went on. The clergyman gave an extract without any credit to the author, and the man in the audience cried out: "That's Jeremy Taylor." The speaker went on and gave an extract from another author without credit for it, and the man in the audience said: "That is John Wesley." The minister gave an extract from another without credit for it, and the man in the audience said: "That is George Whitefield." When the minister lost his patience and cried out, "Shut up, you old fool!" the man in the audience replied: "That is your own."

Well, what about this Forefathers' Day? In Brooklyn

they say the Landing of the Pilgrims was December the 21st; in New York you say it was December the 22d. You are both right. Not through the specious and artful reasoning you have sometimes indulged in, but by a little historical incident that seems to have escaped your attention. You see, the Forefathers landed in the morning of December the 21st, but about noon that day a pack of hungry wolves swept down the bleak American beach looking for a New England dinner and a band of savages out for a tomahawk picnic hove in sight, and the Pilgrim Fathers thought it best for safety and warmth to go on board the Mayflower and pass the night. And during the night there came up a strong wind blowing off shore that swept the Mayflower from its moorings clear out to sea, and there was a prospect that our Forefathers, having escaped oppression in foreign lands, would yet go down under an oceanic tempest. But the next day they fortunately got control of their ship and steered her in, and the second time the Forefathers stepped ashore.

Brooklyn celebrated the first landing; New York the second landing. So I say Hail! Hail! to both celebrations, for one day, anyhow, could not do justice to such a subject; and I only wish I could have kissed the blarney stone of America, which is Plymouth Rock, so that I might have done justice to this subject. Ah, gentlemen, that Mayflower was the ark that floated the deluge of oppression, and Plymouth Rock was the Ararat on which it landed.

But let me say that these Forefathers were of no more importance than the Foremothers. As I understand it, there were eight of them—that is, four fathers and four mothersfrom whom all these illustrious New Englanders descended.

Now I was not born in New England, but though not born in New England, in my boyhood I had a New England schoolmaster, whom I shall never forget. He taught us our A, B, C's. "What is that?" "I don't know, sir." "That's A" (with a slap). "What is that?" "I don't know, sir." (With a slap) — “That is B.” I tell you, a boy that learned his letters in that way never forgot them; and if the boy was particularly dull, then this New England schoolmaster would take him over his knee, and then the boy got his information from both directions.

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But all these things aside, no one sitting at these tables has higher admiration for the Pilgrim Fathers than I have the men who believed in two great doctrines, which are the foundation of every religion that is worth anything: namely, the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of Man these men of backbone and endowed with that great and magnificent attribute of stick-to-it-iveness.


From "Julius Cæsar”


I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favor.
Well, honor is the subject of my story. -
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be

In awe of such a thing as I myself.

I was born free as Cæsar; so were you:


We both have fed as well; and we can both
Endure the winter's cold as well as he:
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,

The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Cæsar said to me, "Dar'st thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?" Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plunged in,

And bade him follow: so, indeed, he did.
The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside

And stemming it with hearts of controversy;
But ere we could arrive the point propos'd,
Cæsar cried, "Help me, Cassius, or I sink!"
I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,

Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Cæsar. And this man

Is now become a god; and Cassius is

A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.

He had a fever when he was in Spain,

And, when the fit was on him, I did mark

How he did shake: 'tis true, this god did shake:
His coward lips did from their color fly;

And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world,
Did lose his luster: I did hear him groan:

Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
Alas, it cried, "Give me some drink, Titinius,”
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me

A man of such a feeble temper should

So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.


Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Brutus and Cæsar: what should be in that "Cæsar"?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;

Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Cæsar.
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,

Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed,

That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was fam'd with more than with one man?
When could they say till now, that talked of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass'd but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man.

O, you and I have heard our fathers say,

There was a Brutus once that would have brook'd

The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome

As easily as a king.

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