James Bryce Bryce.

University and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain online

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 15 of 24)
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to forget that we have duties to the other peoples also,
and those duties are doubly urgent if in any case we
think that justice is as much on their side as on ours.
True patriotism consists not in waving a flag, not in
shouting " our country, right or wrong," but hi so
valuing our country and respecting its best traditions
as to desire and to strive that our country shall be
righteous as well as strong. A State is none the less
strong for being resolved to use its strength in a tem-
perate and pacific spirit and for putting justice and
honour above all its other interests. Ought not the
patriot to say to his country what the poet said to his
lady :

" I could not love thee, Dear, so much
Loved I not honour more."

It was well observed not long ago by Mr. Root that
there ought to be, and there was gradually coming to
be, a public opinion of nations which favored arbitration
and would condemn any government which plunged
into war when amicable means of settlement were
available. May we not go even farther and desire
and work for the creation of a public opinion of the
world which has regard to the general interests of the
world, raising its view above the special interests of
each people ? Sixty years ago the progress of human-
ity was held to be marked and measured by the
growth of a cosmopolitan spirit which extended its
benevolence and sympathy over the earth. The


strengthening of the sentiment of nationality was then
welcomed as a means of helping oppressed or divided
nationalities to assert themselves and secure union.
No one then supposed that national feeling would
reach its present height. It is surely carried to excess
when men think only of the glory and the power of their
State and forget what they owe to mankind at large.

A very distinguished man, one of the keenest observers
in this country, observed to me lately that he found
there was to-day less of a kindly feeling towards mem-
bers of the non-European races who settle here, such
as Japanese, Chinese, and Hindoos, less indignation
when they are ill treated, less anxiety to secure fair
and just treatment for them, than used to be extended
to those races forty years ago. My own observations
have shown me that there has been during recent years
in Europe less sympathy with those who are struggling
against the tyranny or cruelty of their rulers in other
countries than was extended fifty years ago to the
patriots who then fought and suffered for freedom in
Italy, Poland, and Hungary.

Have we then gone back hi this generation? Has
the sentiment of race antagonism grown stronger and
the love of liberty where others are concerned grown
weaker with the growth of nationalism in each country
and with the absorption of our thoughts by the social
problems which we are trying to solve at home ? If
so, it is time that we reverted to the broader and
more kindly attitude of the generation of Lincoln and


Mazzini and Gladstone, when the best minds did not
limit their good-will by colour, or by creed, or by
country, but sought to labour for the world as well as
for themselves.

All over the earth the fortunes of each people are to-
day more involved with those of other peoples than was
ever the case before. As the possibilities of strife are
increased by closer contact, so also the opportunities
for mutually helpful intercourse are also increased, and
the welfare of each is more clearly than ever before
the welfare of all. I do not mean to undervalue any
machinery that can be provided for settling disputes
and furthering the desire we all feel to attain our
common aim in a practical way. But something more
is needed. We need a spirit which will not merely
hate war because the realities of war are hideous and
hellish or because war means waste and destruction,
but will love and seek peace because it desires the
welfare of other peoples and finds the same sort of
happiness in seeing them happy which each of us en-
joys in the happiness of his own friends. Is it not
the mark of a truly philosophic as well as of a truly
pious mind to extend its sympathy and its hopes to all
mankind ? Would not the diffusion of such a feeling
and an appreciation of the truth that every nation
gains by the prosperity and happiness of other peoples
be a force working for peace and good-will among the
nations more powerfully and more steadily than the
best arbitration treaties statesmanship can frame?







You are met to-day to commemorate in Vermont a
great event, which it is fitting that you should com-
memorate the discovery three centuries ago of that
noble lake which forms the western boundary of your
State, and is one of its greatest charms. When we
think of what this region was three hundred years
ago, one can hardly believe that such great changes
can have passed hi so short a time. Short it is, if one
compares three centuries with the long ages that it
took to effect similar changes in the countries of the
Old World. In 1609 the spot on which we are standing
in the centre of a flourishing city was in the midst of
a solemn and awe-inspiring wilderness. What daring
it must have needed to explore those vast and soli-
tary forests, solitary because the Indian tribes, al-
ways at war with one another, had desolated them
by continual strife, leaving hardly a man alive through
enormous tracts; and how venturesome a spirit that
have been of the men who traversing in frail canoes



long stretches of rivers and lakes, shooting dangerous
rapids, following difficult trails through dense woods
with no guide except the savages, on whom they
could not always rely, woods filled with wild beasts
and with tribes more dangerous than any beasts;
what hearts of steel the men must have had who,
far away from all hope of succour, made those dis-
coveries the fruits of which you now enjoy!

When Champlain's Indian guides first paddled his
canoe over the shining waters of your lake, there was
no European settlement nearer this spot than the
little English colony planted two years before on the
James River in Virginia, and you may be sure that
Champlain did not wish that the English were any
nearer, for the settlers whom he had left on Mount
Desert Island fared ill at the hands of English enemies.
It was in this same year 1609 that Henry Hudson first
steered his Dutch ship up the waters of that Hudson
River with which your lake is now connected by a
canal. And if Hudson had travelled north through the
woods from Albany and Champlain had travelled south
through the woods from the southern end of this lake,
they might have met. Let us hope they would have
met in friendship, whatever were the jealousies of
their respective nations, because each was worthy of
the respect of the other, for in both there dwelt a
valiant and unconquerable spirit.

The men who discovered and explored the con-
tinents of North and South America make a wonderful


line of heroes. If you begin with Christopher Colum-
bus and go on to a man who was in some ways quite
as great, certainly as great both in nautical skill and
in courage, as Christopher Columbus himself, the
Portuguese Magellan, and if you include in that line
John and Sebastian Cabot, Vasco Nunez de Balboa,
the discoverer of the Pacific, and De Soto, who first
reached the Mississippi, and Cortes and Pizarro and
Pedro de Valdivia, and such great Frenchmen as
Cartier and La Salle and Pere Marquette and Cham-
plain himself, you have a line of daring and gallant
men to whom the history of the world forms no parallel.
And among all those Samuel de Champlain, a native
of the seafaring land of La Rochelle, first of the great
Frenchmen who explored in the north, was not only
one of the ablest but also one of the most upright.
He was equally skilful and resourceful on sea and
on shore. He knew not only how to discover, but also
how to govern, as his management of his colony of
Quebec showed. He was able to describe with wonder-
ful accuracy the places which he visited. The French
Ambassador has told you how well he narrated the
events of his voyage here, and described the features
of this lake ; and the people of Mount Desert Island
will tell you that the accounts he has left of their shores
are so accurate that you may still navigate the sea along
that coast by the description he gave of the bays and
promontories with their fringing isles. He was ready
to fight when the time came for fighting, but he had


no wish to shed blood. He inspired confidence in
his followers, for he was not only brave but also gentle
and considerate much more considerate of his follow-
ers than was the not less daring La Salle. And he
thought first of France and of the faith which he came
to propagate, and last of himself. Samuel de Champlain
was, take him all round, what we call a fine fellow.
He was a man of whom his country does well to be
proud, and you do well to be glad that your lake
should bear his name. I like to picture him with his
Indians paddling up the long stretches of the river
and coming out upon a summer evening upon the glit-
tering waters of your lake, seeing it stretch farther to
the south than the eye could reach, and above, on each
side of these deep waters, the long ranges of steep blue
mountains, in which is framed, like some exquisite pic-
ture, the beauty of this inland sea. We are told that
the name of your lake in Indian is " Caniaderi-guar-
unte." Now " Caniaderi-guarunte " is said to mean,
in the Indian language, "the gate of the country"; i.e.
the opening by which men can pass northward and south-
ward through this rugged region. Everywhere else, to
East and to West, the drainage basin of the St. Lawrence
is divided from the basins of the Hudson and the Con-
necticut rivers by lofty mountains and forests which
were in the days of the discoverers all but impassable.
It is a natural highway for commerce ; and what hopes
for dominion and for trade must have thrilled the
heart of Champlain when he saw this splendid sheet


of water stretching away to some unknown extremity
between the lines of the mountains.

It was an age when the growth of the great Spanish
Empire in the southern parts of North America and
over most of South America had fired the imagination
of other nations to emulate what Spain had done, so
Holland and France and England all sought to create
for themselves dominions similar to that which Spain
had acquired so easily. So the example of Champlain,
who came to found an empire here for the King of
France, fired many another bold French pioneer after
him, until Du Luth reached the farthest corner of
Lake Superior at the spot where a great city now bears
his name, and until La Salle, passing up Lake Michi-
gan, and by the spot where now Chicago stands,
crossed over to the Illinois River, and then descended,
right down to its mouth, the mighty stream of the

Of all that has happened since those days of Samuel
de Champlain, I have no time to speak. I cannot tell
you of the long process by which Vermont was built
up and filled with the stalwart race of the Green
Mountain boys. Those sturdy men of your moun-
tain land were in the middle of the eighteenth cen-
tury what the Western backwoodsmen were eighty
years later, the active and hardy men who had the
qualities which, in your later days, you associate with
the pioneers of the Far West. But in one respect they
were perhaps better company than the men of the Far


West, for they were not so free and easy in their use
of shooting-irons. Perhaps, however, that is so only
because in those days the revolver had not yet been
invented. Neither must I attempt to describe the pro-
tracted strife that raged along the shores of your lake
between the Vermonters and the men of New York, a
strife so bitter that it is said to have driven Ethan
Allen, your local hero, to contemplate returning to the
allegiance of King George. Those contests gave an
occasion for the display of that admirable quality in
which the citizens of the United States, and particu-
larly of the northern part of the United States, stand
preeminent, a strong sense of justice and individual
right, and a pertinacious determination to assert
individual right by every method and device known to
the law. These long differences have now been happily
settled, so we see the Governors of Vermont and
New York meeting here in an amity not likely to be
again disturbed. You have no interstate controversy
now, and the only question that might have grown into
an international controversy, one regarding fishing
rights in the lake, has just been peacefully disposed of
by a treaty which Mr. Root (who was with us yester-
day) and I signed last year establishing a joint
American and Canadian Commission, with power to
adjust all fishery matters arising in boundary waters.

How different have been the fortunes of this lake
and its shores from what its discoverers or your fore-
fathers expected or foretold. How wonderfully does


Fortune make sport of the purposes of man; how
little can the explorer himself tell to what uses settlers
will put the lands to which he has cleared the path.
Champlain, besides seeking, like Henry Hudson, for
a Northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean, came to
establish the dominion of the royal House of France,
to spread the Gospel, to open up a profitable trade
in furs, and to make the river St. Lawrence and this
lake great highways of commerce. The monarchy of
France is gone, the Indians whom he sought to convert
are gone, the furs are gone; and except for a short
time when the trade in furs was active along Lake
Champlain, the lake has never yet been a thorough-
fare of trade. It promised to become one when, im-
mediately after the first steamboat of Fulton was
launched upon the Hudson, a second steamboat was
launched to ply here. But soon after came the rail-
road, and by the time that the lands to the north and
south had been so filled up that there were plenty of
passengers and freight to carry to and fro, the swifter
transportation by rail had superseded water carriage,
and it is now the railroads and not the steamers that
bear the crowd of passengers to and fro between New
York and Montreal. However, if the hopes entertained
by some enterprising Vermonters are realized and the
now projected deep water line of navigation is opened
up, it may be that the dream of Champlain will at
last be realized and that your lake will at last become
that highway of commerce he desired.


But now it has become at last a dwelling of peace
and quiet. No more warships are seen upon your
waters, no more forts stand armed upon your shores,
no shouts from war canoes awaken the echoes of your
cliffs. We have been celebrating for the last two days
on the other side of the lake, first at Ticonderoga
where Frenchmen and Englishmen fought on land, and
then at Plattsburg where Colonial Americans and Eng-
lishmen fought on water, and you are to-day celebrat-
ing here in Vermont, a veritable festival of peace, to
which my dear friend and colleague, the representative
of France, has come to mingle his thoughts of peace with
ours, and hi which the soldiers of Canada have come to
parade beside your soldiers, to be reviewed by your
genial President, and to be welcomed, as they were
yesterday, with an enthusiasm which thrilled every
British and Canadian heart. One wonders what the
future has in store for a lake whose history has been
so strangely unlike what was predicted for it.

When one remembers the failures of prophets in
the past, one ought to be shy of making any prophecies
for the future ; yet a man may be tempted to prophesy
when he knows that the truth or falsity of his predic-
tion cannot be known until long after he and those
who hear him have all disappeared from this scene.
So I will venture to make one prophecy. It does not
seem likely that your shores either on this side or in
New York State on the other side of the lake will
ever be the scene of any startling or sudden develop-


ment of material wealth. You have indeed some
fertile lands in southern Vermont, and some mines and
marble quarries, but you have not here the coal that
many other parts of the country possess, and your soil
is not as fertile as are the regions along the Mississippi
and its great tributaries. It is indeed possible that
mineral wealth as yet unrevealed may lie hidden deep
in the recesses of your mountains. Science so startles
us nowadays with strange discoveries that we can
never tell what store of minerals possibly, though
so far as we know, not probably, of radium, far
more costly than gold may be discovered in the
bosom of some kind of rock not hitherto known to
contain it. But, as far as we can look into the future
at present, it would seem that the great assets of
these hills and valleys of Vermont are neither minerals
nor fertility of soil. But there are two other assets.

One is the race of men and women that inhabit it.

You men of northern Vermont and northern New
Hampshire and Maine, living among the Appalachian
rocks and mountains in a region which may be called
the Switzerland of America you are the people who
have had hearts full of the love of freedom which burns
with the brightest flame among mountain peoples,
and who have the restless energy and indomitable
spirit which we always associate with such lake and
mountain lands as those of Switzerland and Scotland.
This bold spirit and force of character have been evident
in the large number of distinguished men that you


have given to the United States, and in the hardy
pioneers and settlers which you have sent forth from
northern New England to reclaim from the wilderness
and colonize and develop western New York and Ohio
and the rich prairies of the farther West.

The other asset is the beauty and variety of the
scenery with which Providence has blessed you. No
other part of eastern America can compare for the
varied charms of a wild and romantic nature with the
regions that lie around Lake Champlain and the White
Mountains. And as wealth increases in other parts
of the country, as the gigantic cities of the Eastern
States grow still vaster, as population thickens in the
agricultural and manufacturing parts of Ohio and Penn-
sylvania, of Indiana and Illinois, one may foresee a
time when the love of nature and the desire for health-
giving recreation will draw more and more of the popu-
lation of those cities and states, which will then be
overcrowded, to seek the delights of nature in these
spots where nature shows at her loveliest. It would
need the imagination of a poet, or rather perhaps the
glowing pen of a real estate agent, to figure out to what
heights the value of landed property, and especially
of villa sites on these shores, will have risen half a
century 'hence. But this can be confidently said: The
people of all eastern and north-central America will
come more and more to resort to this region of moun-
tains and lakes as the place in which relief will have
to be sought from the constantly growing strain and


stress of our modern life. And one who values nature
and loves nature, and who foresees such a future for
this part of North America, cannot refrain from taking
this and every opportunity of begging you to do all you
can to safeguard and preserve those beauties and
charms of nature which have here been lavished upon
you in such -abundant measure. Do not suffer any of
these charms to be lost by any want of foresight on
your part now. Save your woods, not only because
they are one of your great natural resources that
ought to be conserved, but also because they are a
source of beauty which can never be recovered if they
are lost. Do not permit any unsightly buildings to
deform a beautiful bit of scenery which can be a joy
to those who visit you. Just as cultivated fields and
meadows add to the variety of a landscape by giving
it a sense of human presence and useful labour, so also
does the modest farmhouse, and the village church,
and even the mansion looking out of its woods, if it be
tasteful in form and colour. But the big, square brick
factory and the tall chimney pouring forth a black
smoke cloud are enough to destroy the charm of the
sweetest landscape. In many another spot where they
can be set up they will do no harm, but these exquisite
shores are no place for them. So, too, preserve the
purity of your streams and your lakes, not merely for
the sake of the angler, but also for the sake of those
who live on the banks, and of those who come to seek
the freshness and delight of an unspoiled nature by


the river sides. Keep open the long grassy ridges
that lead up to the rocky summits of those picturesque
ranges which stretch themselves out before us. Let no
man debar you from free access to the tops of your
mountains and from the pleasure of wandering along
their sides and enjoying the wide prospects they afford.
I am sorry to say that in my own country there are
persons who, in the interests of what they call their
sporting rights, have endeavoured, and too often with
success, to prevent the pedestrian, and the artist, and
the geologist, and the botanist, and anyone who loves
nature and seeks her in her remote and least accessible
recesses, from climbing the mountains and enjoying the
views they afford. We, who on our side of the Atlantic
deplore the exclusion of the people from the hills of
Scotland, warn you here not to suffer any such en-
croachments to be made on the natural right of every
people to enjoy the scenery of their country. Men
may for the sake of the whole community be debarred
from trespassing on land dedicated to agriculture,
but the bare hillsides and moorlands which cannot be
used for tillage ought to remain free and open,
available for the pleasure of everyone who seeks
health and recreation there. I am glad to hear that
you have in Vermont a club of mountain climbers who
are making foot trails along the glens and ridges, and
placing shelters below the highest peaks where the
climber may find night quarters on his ascent through
uplands far from any house. Such a club will doubt-


less help to watch over public rights. See to it,
therefore, that you keep open for the enjoyment of all
the people, for the humblest of the people, as well as
for those who can hire villas and sail about in yachts of
their own, the scenic beauties with which Providence
has blessed you.

Some means you will surely find by which this
noble lake, the most various in its beauty of all the many
lakes of this Appalachian region, can be preserved for
the enjoyment of your whole American people with
some of that wild simplicity and romantic charm which
it possessed when the canoe of Champlain the Dis-
coverer first clove its silent waters.

It was then a deep solitude girt in by primeval
forest. To-day its shores are studded by thriving
towns and villages and "the rich works of men," as
Homer calls them, give it a cheerful air. Beautiful it
always was and is, for the long ridges of the Green
Mountains look across to the bold Adirondack peaks,
and between them the wide expanse smiles under the
sun in myriad wavelets.

On one of the rocky headlands of Mount Desert
Island a tablet of iron let into a mass of granite
records the name of the man who first touched its
coast. Here no monument is needed. The lake itself
and its engirdling mountains are the best memorial
to the heroic explorer, one of the first and greatest of
those who won for France the glory of discovery, and
whose own fame has now gone out over all the western
world, Samuel de Champlain.





EIGHTY years ago Thomas Carlyle preached the gospel

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 15 of 24)