Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell) Depew.

Addresses and literary contributions on the threshold of eighty-two online

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Comj)lim'(''nts of




Addresses AND
Literary Contributions

ON THE threshold OF



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"Keep A-Goin'." Poem by Frank L. Stanton 9

At the Twenty-third Annual Dinner given by the Mon-
tauk Club of Brooklyn, in Honor of Senator Depew's
Eightieth Birthday, April 25, 1914 11

At the Twenty-fourth Annual Dinner given by the Mon-
tauk Club of Brooklyn, in Honor of Senator Depew's
Eighty-first Birthday, May 1, 1915 35

At the Dinner given to Senator Depew by his Railroad
Associates, in Honor of his Eightieth Birthday, The
University Club, New York City, May 5, 1914 .. .. 63

At the Reception given by the Union League Club of
New York City, in Honor of Senator Depew's Eight-
ieth Birthday, May 8, 1914 75

As Presiding Officer of the Meeting of the Building of the
Railroad Branch, Young Men's Christian Association,
on the Occasion of Closing of the Old BuUding for
Removal to the New, May 28, 1914 84

At the Grave of Lafayette on the Morning of July 4, 1914 98

At the Fourth of July Banquet of the American Chamber
of Commerce, Paris, on the Evening of July 4, 1914 .. 102

The Tercentenary of the Chartered Commerce of the City
of New York, Telling Its Story Since the Early Days of
the Dutch and the Lesson that may be Learned from It
for the Future. Written for the New York Times,
November 1, 1914 113

The World War. Reminiscences and Remarks at the
Meeting of the New York Genealogical and Biograph-
ical Society, January 8, 1915 136

At the Dinner given by the Lotus Club in Honor of
Ambassador Myron T. Herrick, January 9, 1915 .. .. 174

As Presiding Officer at the Dinner given by the Union
League Club of New York City to Mr. Samuel W.


Contents — Continued


Fairchild, on hie Retirement from the Presidency of
the Club, January 20, 1915 185

Letter Written to Class '90, Wellesley College, at its 25th
Anniversary, June 7, 1915 192

The Lesson of Two Great Wars. Written for Leslie's
Weekly, June 17, 1915 195

Has Bryan Stepped Into ObUvion? Written for Leslie's
Weekly, June 17, 1915 202

At the Celebration of the Fourth of July, 1915, at White
Sulphur Springs, W. Va 213

At the Dinner given by the Pilgrim Society of New York
to the Allies' Loan Envoys from Great Britain and
France at Sherry's, September 30, 1915 226

"The Art of PubUc Speaking," before the West Side
Young Men's Christian Association, New York City,
October 15, 1915 239

At the Yale Club, New York City, in Celebration of the
Opening of the New Club House, November 18, 1915 252

At the Annual Dinner of the "Amen Comer," being the
15th Anniversary of the Society, Waldorf-Astoria, New
York City, December 3, 1915 260

"Keep A-Goin'." Interview from the New York
Tribune, December 6, 1915 267

Preface Written to Arthur Wallace Dunn's "Gridiron
Nights" 270

At the Luncheon given by the Pilgrim Society of New
York to Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada,
Ritz-Carlton, December 23, 1915 272

Christmas at Yale Sixty-odd Years Ago and Now .. 280

At the Dinner given by the Repubhcan Club of the City
of New York, in Honor of its President, Mr. James R.
Sheffield, January 6, 1916 287


" Keep A-Goin' "

If you strike a thorn or rose,
If it hails or if it snows,

Keep a-goin' !
'Tain't no use to sit and whine
When the fish ain't on your line,
Bait your hook and keep a-tryin',

Keep a-goin'!

When the weather kills your crop,
When you tumble from the top.

Keep a-goin'!
S'pose you're out o' every dime,
Bein' so ain't any crime.
Tell the world you're feehn' prime,

Keep a-goin' !

When it looks like all is up.
Drain the sweetness from the cup,

Keep a-goin' !
See the wild birds on the wing.
Hear the bells that sweetly sing,
When you feel like sighin', sing.

Keep a-goin' I

By 'permission of the avihor, Mr. Frank L. StarUon


Speech at the Twenty-third Annual Dinner
of the Montauk Club of Brooklyn, in
Celebration of Mr. Depew's Eightieth
Birthday, April 25, 1914.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the
Montauk Club:

It is self-evident that these celebrations must
find me eighty. That period has arrived and
as they reckoned in the ancient times on the
twenty-third day of April in the year of our
Lord one thousand nine hundred and fourteen
(this is an incident) and the twenty-third of
the annual dinners by the Montauk Club in
honor of his birthday (this is important) —
Chauncey M. Depew became eighty years of
age. The club chronicler will record that he
was in all respects in as good condition as on
the first of these happy events nearly a quarter
of a century ago. There is only one minor note
in our joy, and that is the absence of so many
who were in that original charming company.
But their places have been taken by their sons,
and to me the first of these remarkable gather-
ings is so recreated that I seem to be greeted and
welcomed by the same good fellows and cordial

Eighty seems to be universally regarded as a



sort of almost impossible climateric. In all
countries and among all peoples it is an event,
and as everybody is hoping to reach the same
age, the days of the man of eighty are shortened
by everybody anxiously asking, "How did you
do it? Give us the combination."

The Psalmist gave distinction to this age by
his declaration in the ninetieth psalm, "The
days of our age are three score and ten and
though men be so strong that they come to
four score years, yet is their strength then but
labor and sorrow; so soon passeth it away and
we are gone." But times were far different
when the Psalmist wrote. The sanitation of
to-day, the methods for preserving health, the
wonderful discoveries in medicine and surgery,
the elimination of perils to Ufe and eugenics
were then unknown. It is a tribute to their
outdoor life that any of them hved to seventy.
No one, even with all the knowledge and skill
in our day, could hope to reach eighty if he en-
joyed all the pleasures of David, nor would we
even at seventy be improved by the remedy
King David's physicians devised to keep him
warm. John Bigelow writing his memoirs at
ninety-two was as cheerful, hopeful, charming
and inspiring a man as I knew of any age, and
for ten years showed no sign that beyond eighty
"his strength was but labor and sorrow."
Neither did Gladstone, whom I met in the flush
of his great victory at eighty-three. The Ger-
f 121


man Ambassador records that Thiers at eighty-
four in his discussions with him, which saved
France, was the Uvehest and ablest Frenchman
whom he had met. I found Lord Halsbury,
ex-Lord Chancellor of England, one of the most
active and interesting of men at eighty-five,
and now at eighty-seven he is writing a monu-
mental work, the revision and codification of
the laws of England. Lord Palmerston, when
Prime Minister at eighty-three, said that the
prime of life was seventy-nine, and Sir William
Crooks, the scientist, says he has at eighty-one
been so absorbed in the marvels of science and
its possibihties that age has never occurred to
him and he has laid out work which will require
fifty years to complete. As an example from
the industrial world, I was associated as an
Attorney with Commodore Vanderbilt during
the later years of his life. He was more alert,
wise and efficient at eighty than at any period
and the acknowledged leader in the railway en-
terprises of that time.

A few years ago gray hairs were a fatal handi-
cap to employment. Professor Osier did a
good service for the unemployed when he de-
clared that at sixty we should be chloroformed.
It led to wide and universal discussion and de-
veloped the fact that the best work in every
department of human endeavor is done by
men over fifty. Our Presidents are vigorous
illustrations. Taft was never so active as now.


Colonel Roosevelt is hailed as the most active
and resourceful man of our time, and Wilson
leads his Party and Congress, with the same
obedience from both, as Napoleon had from
the Old Guard. Edison told me twenty-odd
years ago that he intended to bring grand
opera within the reach and enjoyment of the
masses in city and country. The cinemato-
graph would put upon the film the moving pic-
ture of Melba, Patti or Caruso in action, while
the phonograph would at the moment record
the voice. He thought he could make the
illusion so perfect that there would be no differ-
ence in expression, gesture, action and voice be-
tween the living presentation at the opera and
its mimic reproduction on the village stage.
Since that conversation the great wizard has
given to the world many inventions of ines-
timable value, but always working on his orig-
inal idea, he celebrated his sixty-seventh birth-
day last month by laboring in his laboratory to
perfect this marvel.

The Supreme Court of the United States is
the most powerful judicial body in the world.
Its Judges were never worked so hard nor more
efficient than now. Chief Justice White is
brilhantly meeting the responsibilities and per-
forming the duties of his great office at sixty-
seven, and the Associate Justices illustrate the
value of maturity with wisdom, discretion and
fearless patience.

[14 1


The seven wonders of the world which en-
grossed the admiration of the ancients, and
the seven wonders of the Renaissance period
seem trivial compared with the achievements
of the period in which it has been my privilege
to hve and work. I was thirteen years old
when the Hudson River Railroad completed its
first forty miles from New York to Peekskill.
I remember as if it were yesterday the great
crowds from fifty miles around, the wild ex-
citement of the people as the train rolled into
the station grounds and the shouts and screams
as the whistle blew, while drivers could not
control their horses. In describing the scene
at a dinner in Europe last sunmier, I said that
the last seen or heard of a prosperous farmer
whose blooded team bolted when the whistle
of the locomotive blew was his hair flying in the
wind as his horses were running away over the
hill, and they doubtless were running still. ''That
is impossible, sir," said a grave banker. "That
happened sixty-six years ago." That forty-
four miles of railroad has expanded into a sys-
tem of twenty thousand, and that boy became
and was for thirteen years its President. It
was one of the first of the network of rails which
ties the West, the Northwest and the Pacific to
New York, and which have developed the
wilderness into populous and prosperous com-
munities and made the City of New York the
metropolis of the western hemisphere and a


financial and industrial center second to none
in the world.

We have become so famiUar with the tele-
phone and it has become such a necessity in our
family, social and business life, that we seem
always to have had it, but Graham Bell's in-
vention was made only thirty-seven years ago,
and the phonograph was revealed to the world
by Edison one year later in 1877. Roentgen
discovered the X-rays in 1895, only seventeen
years ago, and their use in surgery has been
one of the blessings of the age. It is only re-
cently that we have photographs of daring
operators, who are encountering perils unknown
to the hunter or explorer, in reveaUng to the
world wild beasts at rest and in attack, vol-
canoes in eruption, and shells exploding on
battlefields with the photographer on the firing
line. It is reported that Villa is accompanied
by a cinematograph operator with whom he is
in partnership, and that the charge may be
halted with men dropping dead or wounded all
about if the films need adjustment. It is only
within ten years that Marconi has perfected the
most beneficent invention of aU time — the wire-
less telegraph. Within the same short period
radium has revolutionized science, and added
incalculable resources to the equipment of the
physician in combating diseases which have
heretofore baffled his skill. Dr. Carrel, within
the year, at the Rockefeller Institute by



demonstrating that tissues can be kept alive
almost indefinitely and successfully grafted,
has proved that there is certainty in the specu-
lations of the possibiUty of prolonging Ufe.
In February of this year President Wilson
pressed the button of the electric wire which
blew up the Gamboa dam and united the
waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The aspirations of Columbus had been attained,
the dream of Charles the Fifth of Spain real-
ized, but not under the Spanish flag. In the
month of February four hundred and ninety
years before, Balboa saw the Pacific from the
heights of Darien. He descended to the shore,
and wading into the sea raised his sword, pro-
claiming that the Pacific ocean and all lands
adjoining were annexed to Spain. Eight years
after, Magellan found and added to the crown
of Spain the PhiUppine Islands. Now, this
achievement of the greatest of enterprises by a
new people with institutions and Hberties which
Charles the Fifth and his successors fought for
five hundred years, and with a world power and
prestige far surpassing that of this mighty
monarch, and that same people governing and
preparing the Philippines for self-government,
makes us reverently repeat what Morse said on
the success of the telegraph, "What God hath

Times have greatly changed during my
recollections of seventy and intense activities


of sixty years. We are not happier, but have
more opportunities for happiness. Unrest has
kept pace with progress. The atmosphere of
the village in those earlier days was ideal.
There were no very rich or very poor. Church-
going was universal and there was a genuine
Christian democracy. There was much more
admiration than envy of the prosperous. Most
of the famihes had lived in the village for gen-
erations and knowledge of family origin and
history was destructive of snobbery. The repro-
ductions of family traits in children and grand-
children cultivated respect for heredity, and
the bracing influence of honest and enterprising
ancestors was recognized. One hundred thou-
sand dollars was the limit of the hopes of the
most successful. There was neither complaint
nor discussion of the high cost of living, for
there was no high living. The Lyceum lecture
brought to appreciative audiences the best
writers and thinkers. While I was a youth on
the lecture committee, we had Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theodore
Parker, Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Storrs, Dr.
Chapin, Wendell Phillips and nearly every fam-
ous writer and orator in the country. Literary
and dramatic societies flourished among the
young people, and an excellent circulating
hbrary was universally patronized. There was
little reading or interest on sociological ques-
tions, and the subject of sex was not permitted


in literature or conversation. But the classic
authors of the Elizabethan and Queen Anne
periods, now unknown to the general reader^
were eagerly devoured. Sir Walter Scott, Feni-
more Cooper and Hawthorne were favorites,
while the oncoming volumes of Dickens and
Thackeray were eagerly welcomed. The girls
could not tango or turkey trot, but were grace-
ful in square dances and the waltz, and in the
intervals on the piazza, the staircase or the con-
servatory were equally charming to the college
graduate or the village swain. They were ex-
perts as well in the art of the cook, the skill of
the dressmaker and the milliner, and the econ-
omies which get much out of Httle in comfort
and show in the early struggUng and rising days
of the young married professional or business
man. When he had won his way as so many
did, she was equal to the responsibihties of the
wife of the statesman or milHonaire, and her
husband gratefully acknowledged the large
measure of his success which was due to his

Samuel Woodworth's famous song,

"The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hangs in the

was true then in poetry and fact. It was com-
mon all over Westchester County. Its cool



waters had refreshed Washington and Rocham-
beau as well as the British soldiers. Its vital-
izing properties have carried to vigorous old age
multitudes of men and women.

Driving home after a hot day in Court, I
have often jumped over a farmer's fence, swung
the long pole, dipped the old bucket into the
well, drew it out and drank from the brim. I
have never since had a draught of any fluid of
any kind from anywhere so good and refreshing.
Now both well and bucket are condenmed by
the Board of Health, and the bucket is found
only in the museum with this label on, "An
antique microbe breeder."

I heard Dickens lecture, or rather recite his
novels. The characters were as hving reaHties
and as close friends of mine as the members of
my family. Dickens had rare talents both as
a speaker and actor. Micawber, Captain Cut-
tle, Dick Sawyer, you saw all in his inimitable
impersonations. I had for my companion a
young lady, a leader of the fashionable set.
"How did you like it?" I said, entranced and
deUghted. "Oh," she remarked coldly, "such
common people are not in my set, and I never
expect to meet them." Three husbands, a
scandal and a divorce were her contributions to
a novel of society. When a dinner was given
to Dickens at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, Horace
Greeley presided. As he rose to toast the
guest, he was the personification of Pickwick,


and the crowd, including Dickens, shouted with
joy. I heard Thackeray dehver his lectures —
The Four Georges. His big head and massive
figure were very impressive. To hear him was
an intellectual treat, and at the clubs he be-
came one of the most popular of visitors. He
wanted to do everything Americans did, and
when his host had a plate of saddle rock oysters
each as large as his hand put before him, Thack-
eray asked, "What am I to do with these?"
''Swallow them whole in our way," said his
host. Thackeray closed his eyes, and when
the bivalve disappeared, remarked, "I feel as
if I had swallowed a baby."

One remarkable change in popular opinion
since fifty or sixty years ago is the attitude
toward rich men. The first State Convention
I attended as a delegate was in 1858. Edwin
D. Morgan was nominated for Governor, be-
cause he was the wealthiest merchant in New
York. It was considered most commendable
that he was wilhng to devote to the service of
the public the talents which had made him
successful in business, and he was triumphantly
elected. There were few millionaires. They
were well known and could be enumerated on
the fingers on one hand. Then they were pub-
he-spirited citizens, now they are malefactors
of great wealth. Then the people wanted rail-
roads and the building of railroads was a
hazardous speculation. They wanted more



and finer steamboats. They wanted factories
in their towns and offered every inducement to
secure them. They wanted water powers im-
proved and natural resources developed. They
were totally unwilUng to tax themselves for
these objects, but vigorously applauded the
men of wealth and enterprise who were willing
to take the risks. Many failed and lost every-
thing. Success was an illustration of the sur-
vival of the fittest. They were held to be en-
titled to their wealth and became popular idols.
There has been no greater change in this half
century than in the attitude of government to
business. Business is the methods by which
the individual alone or in combination with
others secures the means for the support of
himself and his family, provides for his old age
and its infirmities, and accumulates the prop-
•erty which will care for those dependent upon
him when he is incapacitated or dies. Accord-
ing as he is gifted in the use of the money he
makes, he adds in various degrees wealth to
independence. Every step of his advance re-
quires help of more people and adds to the
amount of employment available for their sup-
port of other members of the conamunity. That
•there were limitless opportunities for the indi-
vidual has been the pride of our people. Our
•institutions were founded on the individual and
the genius of our government was to give him
diberty and encouragement. He organized and



engineered the peopling and development of
new territories and developed them into sover-
eign States of the American Union. He carried
with him the church and the schoolhouse.
Under his inspiration the miits of the State, its
counties and its towns became miniature com-
monwealths, ruled in their smaller dimensions
by the town meeting and the more populous by-
representative government. All admit that
this process has made the United States the
most powerful, the freest, the happiest and the
most prosperous nation the world has ever
known. Now there is acute antagonism by
the government to business. The calendars of
the courts are crowded with suits under existing
laws and the calendars of Congress and of the
States Legislatures with bills for new laws
against business. The assembling of legislative
bodies is viewed with alarm, and the declara-
tion of the President of the United States, in
his recent message, that he would be "kind to
business," was hailed as a declaration of eman-

The highly organized industrial nations are
engaged in the fiercest rivalry in their compe-
tition for the world's markets. This vast inter-
change has risen in value and volume from less
than ten thousand millions of dollars fifty years
ago to twenty-five thousand millions ten years
ago, and thirty-five thousand millions last
year. Our mercantile marine fifty years ago



had sixty-six per cent, of the tonnage of the
ocean, and now in overseas or foreign freight
trade it has less than nine per cent.

Germany has increased her navy and mer-
cantile marine by leaps and bounds to add to
her foreign commerce and give employment to
her people at home. The government through
special rates on its State-owned railways, its
subsidies and other favors, is practically a
partner in its industrial development and ex-
ploitation. Great Britain and France are active
rivals. They encourage big business at home
and its exportation abroad, and the commanders
of their ships and their diplomatic and consular
representatives are eager agents for the sale of
the products of their factories and the penetra-
tion of their merchants with their merchandise
into every competitive market in the world.
The attitude of our government may not be
hostile to American citizens and enterprises in
other lands, but it is not cordial. The doctrine
of caveat emptor, or in other words at their own
risk, is in the position of Americans who are
thus courageous and enterprising, and some of
us think also patriotic. But this will not last.
Theories yield to necessities. A congested pop-
ulation finding the home market insufficient for
the consumption of the products of its indus-
tries, will invade other continents and force our
government to respond to the needs of Ameri-
can enterprise.



The exemption of our coastwise shipping
from tolls on the Panama Canal was made
under the pretext of a right which is denied by
the statesmen and diplomats who made the
treaty and most of our ablest lawyers who have
studied it. The demand of the President for a

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Online LibraryChauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell) DepewAddresses and literary contributions on the threshold of eighty-two → online text (page 1 of 16)