New England Society in the City of New York.

Annual report .. online

. (page 13 of 34)
Online LibraryNew England Society in the City of New YorkAnnual report .. → online text (page 13 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

heads, ye men from Connecticut, do not forget this, that it
was Connecticut, not Plymouth, not Massachusetts Bay,
but it was Coimecticut that gave to the world the first ex-
ample of a free government tmder a written Constitution,
the Ftmdamental Orders of Connecticut, the first example
that we have among civilized people of anything of that

So that here is the significant fact, that when that long
step ahead in defense of the principles of the ftmdamental
Orders of Connecticut, the Mayfl^nver Compact — ^when that
step was to be taken, the voice of a son of New England is
ringing out, sotmding the challenge, aye, New England
blamed the way.

And then I am thinking of another scene not far from
that. It was in the Old South Church, just a few years later.
The challenge had been made, the tea ships were there. A
great town meeting had been held, lasting well into the night.
The subject had been discussed. And there then appeared
upon the platform a tall figure, the figure of the man who
deserves better than any other man the title of Father of
the American Revolution. He stood upon that platform
at the Old South and said, "This meeting can do nothing
more to save the cotmtry." Then there was heard the war
whoop out in the street. He had planned it all, timed it
ju$t so that the war whoop should come just then. That
was the man who, by aU odds, is the most majestic figure
before the Revolution as Washington, of course, is after it.
That was Samuel Adams, the son of New England. Again
New England is pointing the way.

Aye, and then my mind loves to linger on another


Digitized by


spectacle. The Revolution has long since gone. The
Constitution has been written and has been in ^ect for
ntiany years, but now its sanctity has been challenged by the
announcement of the doctrine that a State can of its own
motion set aside the act of Congress and thus become
supreme over the Federal Government. And I am looking
now with you at another scene, yonder in the Senate Cham-
ber, 1829-30, the room now occupied by the Supreme Court
of the United States, and I am thinking of the words that
were then uttered: "When myeyesshallbe turned to behold
for the last time the glorious sun in heaven, may I not see
him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a
once glorious Union." Who is sotmding that challenge, who
is summoning the spirit of America to the defense of the
nation? It is the voice of New England finding expression
through the silver-lipped oratory of Daniel Webster.

A great historian has well said, "The guns of General
Meade at Gettysburg were shotted with the reply to Hayne."
That is only a picturesque way of saying that after aU the
battle was a battle of ideas. New England was blazing the
way. And then when, a generation later, these ideas that
had been set forth in that debate were fought out on the
field of battle, were yielded for adjudication to the stem
arbitrament of war, when down yonder at Gettysburg, on
the third day of the great fight, men are coming across from
Seminary Ridge in that wonderful charge where Ameri-
can met American, and the commanding officer of the on-
coming host divides his men at the Cadori buildings; many
of you are familiar with the battlefield — ^who was it that,
quick as lightning, saw that opening and threw his brigade
into that opening, divided the advancing host and made
possible the winning of the victory at Gettysburg? It was
Stannard, and a Vermont regiment that was again at the

How does it come that these folks from little New
England are able so to work, and so to serve, and so to
lead? Well, I don't know, but I have a stiggestion. I


Digitized by


think here is one reason why New England people some-
how have the ability to do things and to solve problems, and
do the world's work. First, their forebears at Plymouth,
at Cape Aim, at Boston, and all the little settlements there,
and then down further at Providence, at Newport, at Stam-
ford, at Guilford and Milf ord and New Haven and Hartford,
and Windsor, and Weathersfield, those little self-governing
commmiities that afterwards were welded together into
mighty States, symbolic of what was to take place later
when the Union was made, these people lived up therein a
land seemingly sterile, where Nattire was unfriendly, these
people were educated in the school of adversity. They
learned early as a matter of necessity the lesson of industry.
And do you know, my fellow-cotmtrymen, that after all, it
is the toil and the battle and the struggle that brings out
the things in men and women that are most worth while.

You take a tree that is growing out in the midsi
of the forest, where the soil is deep and dank and dark and
rich, where the trees about it are thick, it is a beautiful
tree. Take the other trees away from it and the first storm
that comes along it goes crashing down. But take yonder
oak that grows alone up on the summit of a hill, where
from its infancy it has been torn and strained and twisted
and wrenched by every storm that blew, the fibre of that
tree is strong. It will stand the stress.

Take the coral insect, improperly so-called, plant
him down at the mouth of a river where the water is warm
and apparently freighted with all the elements of plant
growth, where the currents are gentle, and the stmshine is
warm. Put him down there and he will pine away and die.
But put him down upon the ledge of granite where the
waves beat down with an everlasting power that would
grind rock to powder, put him there and he will grow and
thrive and build up his tiny palace to the surface of the sea.
It is even so with man. It takes the toil and the
battle and the struggle to bring out the strongest elements
of human character. So our people early learned the


Digitized by


lesson of industry, and it is the salvation of the world eco-

One of the troubles of this world jtist now — do not
get alarmed, I am not going to start and enumerate them
or prescribe remedies for them — ^but one of the troubles in
recent years is that so many of us and so many of our
fellows in the other nations have been thinking so much
about politics and other things that the nations have al-
most forgotten the habits of indtistry. If the world would
simply get down to business and go to work again it would
be one of the very best things that could happen to us.
New England people learned that lesson of industry. That
is one reason why they have succeeded and are succeeding.
Here is another one. The Vice-President called attention
to it, so did the Chairman, solemnly let us not forget it,
men and women; these forebears of otirs succeeded, first,
because they were industrious, and, second, because they
always had faith, faith in themselves and faith in God.

And mark you, the nation that loses respect for divine
things and loses its faith in God, will ultimately go down
into the black disaster and defeat that justly awaits it.
These men were religious men. They did not fear. They
did not leave the matter of defense or of solution of their
problems entirely to the Deity. No, no, they were rather
practical people; they never lost sight of this fact, that
they intended to do all they could, but that they were
pinning their faith on a Power above, not themselves, that
made for righteousness. Let us preserve the faith of the

Industry, faith. Here is another, courage, courage.
Just courage will solve some of the problems of this hour.
It is one of the things so much needed in public life as well
as in private. These men of Plymouth and Connecticut
and Massachusetts Bay and Rhode Island and Vermont
and Hampshire — ^these men had, and thank God have
courage. You cannot get anywhere without it.

I pulled out of a New England paper the other day


Digitized by


something that, like enotigh, all you folks know. I always
hesitate to quote anything or read anything to a New
England audience, because they either wrote it themselves
or know it anyhow. I was very greatly embarrassed, in
speaking before an audience a few years ago, and I quoted
some very beautiful poetry; not beautiftd in ray quotation
of it, but it was fine poetry. There were three or four
stanzas of it, and as I got to the end of the first stanza I
noticed them nudging each other arotmd; but I went on,
they could not head rae oflE with anything like that, and
finally I managed to finish my speech, and I said to the
man, "Well, what was the matter? They were all nudging
each other when I was quoting this poetry." "Why,"
he said, "that fellow sitting there wrote it."

Well, like enotigh some of you fellows wrote this;
I don't care if you did, I like the jingle of it, and it illus-
trates just what I am trjdng to say here, anyway, talking
about courage. It illustrates the idea that we have in
mind. It is good for us seriously to think about these
courageous old Pilgrims and Puritans; good for us, makes
us better and stronger, we can grapple better with the
problems of to-morrow.

Somebody wrote this. I don't know who it was, I

don't care. He said:

I want to walk by the side of the man who has suffered and seen and

Who has measured his pace on the battle line and given and taken

the blows,
Who has never whined when the scheme went wrong nor scoflEed at

the failing plan —
But taken his dose with a heart of trust and the faith of a gentleman;
Who has parried and struck and sought and given and scarred with a

thousand spears —
Can lift his head to the stars of heaven and isn't ashamed of his tears.

I want to grasp the hand of the man who has been through it all and seen ;
Who has walked with the night of an unseen dread and stuck to the

Who has beaten his breast to the winds of dawn and thirsted and

starved and felt
The sting and the bite of the bitter blasts that the mouths of the

foul have dealt.


Digitized by


Not all of the courage is required on the field of battle.
It takes courage to solve some of these problems in time of
peace. Let me read that again:

Who has beaten his breast to the winds of dawn and thirsted and

starved and felt
The sting and the bite of the bitter blasts that the mouths of the foul

have dealt;
Who was tempted and fell, and rose again, and has gone on trusty

and true,
With God supreme in his manly heart and his courage burning anew.

I'd give my all — ^be it little or great — ^to walk by his side to-day,
To stand up there with the man who has known the bite of the btim-

Who has gritted his teeth and clenched his fist, and gone on doing his

Because of the love for his fellow-man and the faith in his manly


I would love to walk with him, hand in hand, together journey along.
For the man who has fought and struggled and won is the man who
can n:iake men strong.

That is why it is good for us to think about the Pilgrim
and about the Puritan. First, industry; second, faith,
which would not fail; and third, cotirage. As somebody
else has expressed it in another way:

Out of the night which covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever Gods there be
For my unconquerable soul.

Under the stress of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.

That is the spirit of Plymouth. That is the spirit of
the Pilgrim and the Puritan.

Sons and Daughters of New England, in these critical
hours of the world's life let us hope and pray that we may
cherish these homely virtues of industry and faith and
courage, not that we will thereby simply honor the memory
of our forefathers; that is not it, because "The world will
little note nor long remember," said Lincoln — "The world


Digitized by


will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it
can never forget what they did here."

No, it is not because they need eloquent encomium,
not at aU; but it is good for us to think of their toil
and sacrifice. Do you ever think of it, men and women?
How many hearts have bled and how many fingers have
toiled tmtil the joints were swollen, how many tired mus-
cles there were to conquer a great continent and change
a wilderness into this mighty repubUc. We ought to
pause with bated breath and tear-dimmed eye once in
a while to think of the sacrifices of the men that have made
our present comfort possible. But they need not our
praise. No, no, it is rather for us, the Uving, as Lincoln
said on another occasion — "Rather for us to be dedicated
to their unfinished work."

No, the work is not all done yet. There are prob-
lems yet ahead. And this meeting would be, in my judg-
ment, to no purpose if we did not go out from this place
with a higher sense of devotion to the things that the Pil-
grim and the Puritan stood for, unless we should dedicate
ourselves afresh to that work we shall have failed very
largely. But if we shall do that, if we shall keep alive that
faith which was theirs, and the homely virtues of industry
and courage, then we shall be assured that the ideals for
which they strove shall not fail and that government of
the people and by the people and for the people will not
perish. I thank you.

President Bowen: At the house of the first President
of the Society, which, as has been stated, is still standing
at the Battery, and which I visited to-day, there was a
prelintiinary meeting of those who were interested in f otmd-
ing the New England Society held before the public meeting
for formal organization, at which preliminary meeting was
present the father of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, President
of Yale College, William Walton Woolsey by name, one of


Digitized by


whose sisters was married to Timothy Dwight, President of
Yale College, and another of whose sisters, Sarah Woolsey,
was marriai to Moses Rogers. William Walton Woolsey
and Moses Rogers were partners in business and both
attended the preliminary meeting as did their brother-in-
law, President Timothy Dwight, who came down from New
Haven in a sloop to visit his relatives. President Dwight,
President Woolsey's father, and the husband of President
Woolsey's atmt may also be called founders of our Society.
It is appropriate, therefore, that the successor in office of
President Dwight and President Woolsey should speak
before the New England Society. He was graduated from
the University of Michigan, studied at Harvard and was a
Professor at the University of Chicago. But in spite of
all that the members of the Yale Corporation, two of whom
I see before me to-night (one of the two being the senior
lay member of the corporation), did wisely in electing him
President of Yale University. His father was President
of the University of Michigan, his grandfather was President
of Brown University. Of what college his great grand-
father was President I do not know. I cannot remember
as far back as that.

It gives me pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, and fellow-
members of the New England Society, to introduce to you
Dr. James Rowland Angell, President of Yale University.


Digitized by



Mr. President, Mr. Vice-President, Ladies and Gentle-
men: I suspect that the migration which is now going on
has been somewhat accentuated among the Harvard and
Princeton and Amherst graduates by what was intended,
no doubt, as the kindly introduction which I have received.
K the toastmaster had proceeded a little further I feel
quite certain that I should have had only Yale men to ad-

The high tone which the two previous speakers have
struck, representing our leaders in the state, is a little
difl&cult for a mere civilian instantly to catch and keep up.
I venture, Mr. Chairman, to exercise my right, as myself a
New Englander, and I may say a Vermonter — I was very
much pleased at the figure which Vermont has cut this
evening — ^the Vice-President, as you know, is himself a
Vermonter, and I remarked that after living for some
years in Massachusetts he returned to Vermont to get a
wife; in fact, returned to my native town — I wish, I say,
to exercise, Mr. Chairman, my prerogatives as a New
Englander, before speaking very briefly in more serious
tone, to criticize just one or two points about this occasion.

In the first place I remark at the back of the speakers'
table a picture of the Mayflower, an alleged picture of the
Mayflower. Now, I ask you, if you see in this picture any
bedsteads or any rocking chairs or any tables or any of what
we know to be that inexhaustible store of furniture which
that great ship brought over? Most of you are too far
away to observe the small craft leaving the larger ship.
If you were where you could see the costumes in which
what we must suppose to be the Pilgrim Fathers are in
this portrait portrayed, I am sure you would share with
me the deep sense of injury done to those worthy men.
One of these gentlemen is apparently wearing a red flannel


Digitized by


shirt; but I will not longer dwell on this painful subject.

I wish, however, to comment on one other slight de-
parture from my own conception of Puritan simplicity, and
it has been suggested that this voices a sense of jealousy.
I should like to inquire, sir, in all respect, however, whence
came to our Ptiritan ancestors these placques of royalty
which adorn your chest, not to mention the colored gew-
gaws which I notice upon the shirt bosoms of the distin-
guished gentlemen further down the table. I find it, sir,
as a descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers, difficult to adjust
myself to these expressions of modem frivolity.

Mr. Choate, to whom you yourself alluded, on one
occasion I believe addressed a remark to you to the effect
that one of the great purposes of these dinners was to ad-
mire yourselves and your virtues in the mirror of history.
I venture, sir, for just an instant, to admire my own ances-
try in the mirror of history.

I suppose that few living persons have by so small a
margin become New England ancestors as I. If my dear
mother had not persuaded my father to remain for a year
or two after his first invitation to go into the remote west,
I should myself no doubt have been able to look back upon
New England ancestors, but not myself to have been a
New England ancestor. I was for two very brief years
resident in Vermont. I feel that it can not be alleged
that at least I have seriously injtired New England by my

I was brought up to believe that my mother's ancestry
traces back to Peregrine White, the first white child, so-
called, bom in the New England colony. I have never been
quite stire whether Peregrine was male or female, but I am
proud to trace my descent from him or her, and I have
always had and cherished a little supercilious feeling for
those tmfortimate persons whose ancestors came in with
Endicott and with Winthrop, not to mention those who
came with that great migration from 1845 to 1850, which
nearly reduced the Emerald Isle to a desolate wilderness, of


Digitized by


whom so many descendants are now discernible among us.
New York seems to have fallen chronically in love with one,
and I observe that Boston has just taken to her bosom

And on my father's side I trace back nine generations
to Roger Williams* party. Roger, like certain other
strong-minded gentlemen, Mr. Chairman, fotmd it quite
impossible to live in the Massachusetts Zion, and he re-
paired to Rhode Island, where apparently many other dis-
senters and separatists and individualists and cranks
retired. And it is not imcommon in the domestic circles
in which I move, to find that certain traits in my own char-
acter are sometimes referred to this ancestry.

At all events, I cherish with great pride my connection
with Vermont, a state in which, as you well know, a rela-
tively larger proportion of the landscape is vertical, or at
least on edge, than any other New England state; a state
which also, besides the credit which has been given it to-
night, enjoys the credit of having first written into its
constitution the absolute interdict of slavery. And now I
have the very great honor of finding myself a resident of
Connecticut, the state which, as you will well recall, first
discerned the great economic possibilities of the nutmeg.
So I feel, Mr. Toastmaster, that perhaps I may present
myself among you with some conviction that my claims
to New England connections are bona fidcj and that even
as concerns the Pilgrim fathers I need not stay far in the
rear of your placque.

Now, if the hotir were earlier, I shotdd venttire to
enter upon an extemporaneous exposition of the more
seriotis thoughts which I had designed for this occasion,
and I might perhaps have followed the procedtire which a
dear teacher of mine used to be alleged by his better half to
follow. She described his performance in this way. She
said, "Mr. R., when he speaks, first tells you what it is he
is going to say. Then he says it. Then he tells you what
it is he has said, and he concludes his address with great


Digitized by


satisfaction to himself by out pointing to you that he has
now said what he said he was going to say." I think I
shall confine myself merely to saying it. And having put
down on a few brief sheets these thoughts, I proceed to
deliver them at you, hoping that your endurance will be
equal to the occasion, and assuring you that they are really
brief. If I were to allow myself to oflEer these same observa-
tions without this control, my terminal facilities being a
trifle unreliable, I might find that I had lost all of my audience.

If I seem in these few comments to traverse the his-
torical accuracy of some of my distinguished predecessors
on the program this evening, I trust you will attribute it
to my purely academic point of view. When the college
professor meets the statesman, we know always what the
result will be. I wish to say, however, that the distingtdshed
senator, in intimating to you that some of the remarks which
the chairman made about him were tmtrue, did not deny the
assertion that he had been a college professor. Now, next
to being a member of the Senate, that is perhaps as serious
a charge as cotdd well be made.

Twentieth Century America takes but a languid in-
terest in the golden age of antiquity. In the face of a
torn and agitated world it is complacently disposed to
believe that life is to-day fuller, more interesting and more
agreeable than at any previous time in the history of man,
and that to-morrow is likely to reveal still further promise.
And yet at these dinners, and similar ceremonies held else-
where, the Pilgrim Fathers are extolled in terms which
wotdd have brought the blush of shame to their tanned and
sallow cheeks; and this despite the fact that their descend-
ants could by no possible means be induced to exchange
their present lot for that of these heroic ancestors. We
praise, but we do not envy.

Not only is praise lavished upon the Pilgrims, but often
it is ludicrously misconceived and misdirected, as who
should praise Napoleon for his modesty, or Henry VIII for
his domestic virtues. It has been said that it is better


Digitized by


not to know so much than to know so much which is not
true, and similarly it may be advisable to praise our fore-
bears less or to praise them more justly.

The Pilgrim is often lauded as the f otmder of religious
liberty; and it is true that by his struggle to sectire oppor-
tunity to worship according to his conscience he contrib-
uted to this great cause. But the liberty he sought for
himself he was reluctant to grant to others. A witty com-
mentator has observed in regard to the Massachusetts Bay
Colony, that after ten years its members had so far secured
rdigious liberty that anyone who agreed with the Elders
was at perfect liberty to say so.

Others were irresistibly urged to return to England or
to cultivate their heresies among the savages. As the In-
dians commonly scalped the heretic first and examined his
theology afterward, few dissenters elected this alternative.
Again there is often much tmf otmded accrediting to these
glorious forbears of ours of the establishment of demo-
cratic government. It is true that in Connecticut there
was at the outset a form of democratic town government,
but it was hardly more than a form, and for many a long
year democracy, as we now know it, was not only wholly

Online LibraryNew England Society in the City of New YorkAnnual report .. → online text (page 13 of 34)