Ratcliffe Hicks.

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When Henry Grattan, the foremost representative
of the Irish people and one of the noblest repre-
sentatives of the human race, spoke for the last
time in the Irish parliament, at the old Parliament
House in Dublin he proclaimed to the world these
lofty sentiments, which may well serve as a rallying
cry for the unconquered and unconquerable spirits
of all the true sons of Ireland, and which will go
resounding through the cycle of the ages. Listen
to his memorable words : —
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RATCLIFFE HICKS

" The constitution of Irelapd may for a time be
lost, but the character of the people cannot be lost.
The ministers of the Crown may perhaps at length
find out that it is not so easy to put down forever an
ancient and respectable nation by abilities however
great, or by corruption however irresistible. Liberty
will repair her golden beams, and, with redoubled
heat, animate the country. The cry of loyalty will
not long continue against the principles of liberty.
Loyalty is a noble, a judicious, and a capacious princi-
ple : but in these countries loyalty distinct from liberty
is corruption, not loyalty. Yet I do not give up my
country. I see her in a swoon ; but she is not dead.
Though in her tomb she lies helpless and motionless,
still there is on her lips a spirit of life and on her
cheek a glow of beauty.

"' Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson on thy lips and on thy cheeks.
And Death's pale flag is not advanced there.' "

And closing, he said : " While a plank of the
vessel stands together I will not leave her. Let
the courtier present his flimsy sail, and carry the
light bark of his faith with every new breath of
wind ; I will remain anchored here, with fidelity
to the fortunes of my country, faithful to her
freedom, faithful to her fall."



224



A TRIBUTE TO LINCOLN

speech delivered at a Methodist Church.

Friends, — It is fitting that we should assemble
to-night in this temple of the living God to com-
memorate the heroic deeds of the brave and fallen
soldiers of the Union. For six thousand years no
government has been raised up by human hands
which has done so much to advance the cause of
the Christian religion as this free government of
America. In all the history of man from the time
of his inception upon the globe down to the pres-
ent hour, you fail to find any government that so
truly represents the grand principle of our religion
— the equality of man to man — as does the
American Republic. It knows no distinction of
race or color, rank or birth.

This great doctrine first burst upon a startled
world nineteen centuries ago, when the Saviour of
mankind proclaimed upon the hills of Judea to the
Jews, who thought themselves the chosen sons of
Heaven, that in the sight of Almighty God one
man is as good as another. That magnificent idea
grew slowly through the ages, and only reached its
perfect fruit when in 1862, amid the throes of a
gigantic rebellion, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed
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RATCLIFFE HICKS

that thereafter and forever there should be no dis-
tinction known in law in America between one
man and another. Our forefathers, fleeing from
the despotism of the Old World, sought to found
upon the wild and inhospitable shores of America
a nation where every man might worship God
according to the dictates of his own conscience,
and where he might enjoy under the least possible
restraints the great sum of human existence, " life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This na-
tion, born amid tears and sufferings, has for three
hundred years been the vanguard nation in the
march of civilization, and is now the proud hope
of liberty-loving men in every quarter of the civil-
ized world. And, to-day, it is the only govern-
ment in the wide world where the mass of mankind
are not toiling to support in a pernicious and
unmerited luxuriance a favored few.

Look at the two great rival nations. In Eng-
land, with all its boasted progress and develop-
ment, all men are taxed to support a church at
whose altar they may never worship, and to main-
tain a clergy oftentimes indolent and unworthy.
Besides, they are taxed millions on millions to sup-
port a royalty and an aristocracy whose only claim
is the accident of birth. The toiling millions are
thus robbed every year of countless hours which
they might otherwise spend in ministering to the
development and happiness of themselves, and of
those near and dear to them.
226



A TRIBUTE TO LINCOLN

Germany, of which we hear so much in these
days, on account of her struggles with the Roman
Church, is only just breaking from the shackles
which were welded in the Middle Ages. Her
government is following in the onward march of
civilization two hundred years behind America.
Within the past year an otherwise respectable
clergyman has been sent to jail in Germany for
thirty days because he said that in his opinion the
Bible contains some errors. The free press of
Germany is crushed under the iron heel of a re-
lentless government. King WiUiam wars not so
much against the Roman Church as against every-
thing that threatens the overthrow of his one-man
despotism ; and the Pope at Rome is, wittingly or
unwittingly, fighting the battles of liberty.

The enemies of the liberty of conscience and of
the rights of human nature all round the inhabited
globe hoped with satanic jealousy for the over-
throw of the American Union, — the last, best
hope of mankind. To whom are we indebted
for the preservation of the Union except to the
Union soldiers? And no person owes them a
deeper debt of gratitude than the American Chris-
tian. While we have met here to-night to cele-
brate the brave deeds of the fallen soldiers of the
Union, by whose heroic struggles we are enabled
to transmit to coming generations the priceless
heritage of American liberty, we have met in no
spirit of animosity toward any section of our com-



RATCLIFFE HICKS

mon country. Inspired by that same spirit of
charity and forgiveness by which we hope finally
to secure an entrance into the mansions of the
blessed, we are here, ready to rejoice with every
man and woman who call themselves Americans,
over the grandest triumph that has been won in
nineteen centuries for the cause of religion and
justice.



228



HORACE GREELEY

Speech in Memory of the Great Journalist.

Mr. President, —

It is more appropriate on this festive occasion
that those men should fill the happy hours of this
gathering who had been long in sympathy with
the political views of the lamented statesman in
honor of whose memory we have assembled
to-night. For it was only recently that I found
myself acting in consort and fighting under the
leadership of the great man whose transcendent
virtues will live as long as time shall last.

But now that I am up, I have one sentiment to
offer, and then I have done. It is that, through
the fifty years of bitter political controversy and
through all the varying tides of party through
which he passed, our lamented friend, .whatever
else may have been said against him, ever bore the
name of an honest man. And all who read his
life in the years to come, differing with him though
they may, will find stamped upon his every act,
as clear as the sun at midday, those heavenly
virtues, purity of purpose and kindness of heart.
Not one dollar of di^onest money, obtained either
in private life or in public station, ever soiled his
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RATCLIFFE HICKS

hands. He could say better than any other man
that ever lived upon the American soil, in the lan-
guage of Wolsey, " Let all the ends thou aim'st at
be thy Country's, thy God's, and Truth's."

There was one thing in the life of Horace
Greeley which interested me more than anything
that has transpired in these many years, — the last
great act of his life. He went from city to city,
from State to State, from ocean to ocean, pro-
claiming the glad news of reform in the adminis-
tration of public affairs ; and from the days of
Patrick Henry down to the present hour, no man
ever walked upon the American rostrum who
excelled our lamented friend in the matchless
eloquence, in the nobility of the sentiments pro-
claimed, and in the variety of topics touched upon
in those prophetic addresses. It seemed like the
singing of the dying swan, like the expiring effort
of a great and noble genius. Through all those
addresses ran a sentiment so pure, so noble, it
seemed born of something better than earth.

In my judgment, any man who steadily toils
and sacrifices to make men better and purer is in
the highest and best sense a follower of Him who
went about doing good.

Peace be to the memory of Horace Greeley !



230



IN MEMORY OF E. K. FOSTER

Mr. President, —

It is with feelings of hesitancy that I, one of the
younger members of this Bar, rise to address this
meeting ; but I should be false to every feeling of
my heart if I did not pay my tribute of respect to
the memory of our departed friend and member,
E. K. Foster.

His gentle demeanor and unfailing kindness,
especially towards the younger members of this
Bar, have won from them all their undying love.
No man ever extended so kind a greeting to a
young man just entering upon the arduous struggles
of a professional life ; and in his death the younger
members of this Bar have lost a friend indeed, the
Bar of New Haven County one of its brightest
jewels, and the commonwealth of Connecticut one
of her noblest citizens.

Peace be to his ashes, and sweet be his memory !



231



SPEECH

Delivered at Town Hall, October, \S6%, introducing
JAMES F. BABCOCK.

Ladies and Gentlemen :

I REiTJRN to you my sincere thanks for the honor
which you have done me to-night in appointing
me the presiding officer of this meeting.

I am proud to be with you to-night ; I am
proud to belong to the great national Democratic
party, — that party which ever carries the flag and
keeps step to the music of the Union.

When Pericles paused upon the opening thresh-
old of eternity, and in his dying moment reviewed
the events of his great life, he consoled his parting
spirit and rested the chief glory of his reign upon
the fact that he had never caused a citizen of
Athens to shed a tear. The Democratic party
was cradled at the commencement of this govern-
ment, and in its subsequent growth it has kept
pace with the rise and progress of the great
American republic ; and in the elevation of the
Democratic party to power once more we look for
the restoration of peace and harmony to this dis-
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INTRODUCING JAMES F. BABCOCK

tracted land, — for the return of those halcyon
days when once again all the people of this coun-
try, North and South, East and West, shall rejoice
in one another's successes, striving to alleviate one
another's woes, and struggling together to bear
upward and onward the emblem of freedom, the
standard of the Union.

During the past three years not a hostile arm
has been raised from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
from the Lakes to the Rio Grande ; not a rebel-
lious son of the great republic has been found any-
where. And why, during these three years, have
we not had peace, — benign, heaven-bom peace ;
that peace for which the people have labored ;
that peace for which our soldiers fought and died,
— peace, which should reunite the people of thirty-
seven States in the bonds of love and friendship, —
peace with its accompanying blessings, prosperity
and plenty? Ah, I will tell you. Because the
men in Washington preferred war to peace ; be-
cause they were determined to keep one-half of
this country under military rule : yes, to do just
what Jefferson Davis had failed to do, — to blot
out ten States from this Union. And why? For
fear that they might lose their offices ; for fear that
their party might soon be in a minority.

" God grant swift safety to the land I
God haste the peace-returning mom,
When our great Mother yet shall stand
Triumphant with her second born I "

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RATCLIFFE HICKS

There is present with us to-night a distinguished
citizen of this State, — a man who in the dark
days through which we have passed, when the
radical leaders in Congress took up the secession
doctrine ; when they declared that ten States had
seceded from the Union and were no longer
members of the great Confederacy; when Con-
gress passed laws to prevent the Supreme Court
from deciding upon the constitutionality of the
acts of Congress ; when, finally, these radicals
attempted to impeach the lawful President of these
United States, and to thrust him from his high
position and put in his place a swearing brag-
gart, Ben Wade of Ohio ; when they attempted
this consummate act of infamy, this stain and
disgrace on the American nation, because, for-
sooth, they could not bend Andrew Johnson to
their wicked purposes, — then it was that our
fellow-citizen said to his poUtical associates, " I
can go with you no longer. My voice and my
vote are for the Union."

I have the pleasure of introducing to you
to-night Hon. James F. Babcock, of New Haven.



234



REMARKS

Made at the Fireynan's Dinner, Meriden,
May 1 8, 1869.

Mr, Mayor and Gentlemen :

It is with extreme reluctance that I rise this
day to respond to the sentiment of " His honor
the Mayor." But although I am a young man,
and have been only for a year or two a resident
of this city, I take a deep interest in everything
that concerns this young and rising municipality.

As a citizen of this city, I never felt prouder of
Meriden than I did to-day, when I witnessed the
parade of our fire department. I venture to say
that there is not in this State a better disciplined,
a more efficient fire department than that of the
city of Meriden. Great praise is certainly due to
the officers and members of the fire department
for its successful organization ; and some praise is
certainly due to those members of the Common
Council who have given to this subject no little
thought and consideration.

We meet to-day, gentlemen, to dedicate a
building, erected by the Common Council of this
city, for the convenience of the different depart-
235



RATCLIFFE HICKS

ments of the city government. I trust this build-
ing will long stand, a monument of the good sense
and judgment of the Common Council of 1868-69.
Not only in the erection of this building, but on
every hand, — in improved streets, in new side-
walks, in the erection of street-lamps, in the
organization of a police and fire department, in
the building of public water-works, — in these,
and in a hundred different ways, have the Common
Council of this city shown their faithfulness and
devotion to the public interests ; and the time will
soon come when all the people of this city will be
ready to give to these gentlemen — the mayor, the
aldermen, and the Common Councilmen — the
praise and the thanks to which they are justly
entitled. And I can only express the wish that
that same good feeling and that same earnest
devotion to the public interests which has thus far
since the organization of the city united men of all
parties, and without which this city government
would never have been organized, and without
which it would not have been so honestly, faith-
fully, and successfully managed as it has been for
the past two years, — I say I can only express the
wish that that same good feeling and that same
earnest devotion to the public interests may still
continue to unite men of all parties and to rule in
the councils of our city.



236



A TRIBUTE TO TOLLAND

From the ^^ Stafford Press, ^^ Dec. 6, 1894.

A UNION gathering of the voters of all political
parties of the town of Tolland was held at the town
hall, Monday evening, November 26, by invitation
of the Hon. Edward E. Fuller, Senator-elect, and
Representatives-elect William Sumner and Ratcliffe
Hicks. Every voter in the town was asked to par-
ticipate in the festivities of the occasion; and about
two hundred sat down to the tables, which were gen-
erously supplied. The meeting was called to order
by Frank T. Newcomb, one of the town committee,
and E. S. Agard was chosen chairman. After supper,
the chairman introduced the Hon. Edward E. Fuller,
Senator-elect, who responded in a very excellent
speech. Representative-elect Sumner was next in-
troduced. He made some pleasing and well-appre-
ciated remarks ; and then his colleague, Mr. Hicks,
was called on, and spoke as follows : —

Fellow-Citizens :

It is with feelings of pleasure, tinged with some
little sorrow, that I am here to-night to attend
this festive gathering of the voters of the town
of Tolland.

It is a pleasure to me to come back to the place
where I was bornj where I spent the happiest
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RATCLIFFE HICKS

twenty years of my life ; where my ancestors have
lived for one hundred and fifty years and more ;
where are buried my nearest and dearest of kith
and kin; and where, in the good order of
Providence, I expect to be finally laid away at
rest.

If there is any spot in this wide, wide world that
I feel I can call, and that I have a right to call, my
home, it is this little town of Tolland, nestled up
here among the rock-ribbed hills of Tolland
County. But, as I have already said, it is with
some feelings of sorrow that I always come back
to Tolland ; for I miss the famihar faces and the
kindly greetings of many noble men and women
whose lives are a part of the history of this grand
old town, and who have passed on to their final
reward. In thinking of them I am reminded of
those beautiful lines of one of New England's
sweetest poets : —

" Dear souls, who left us lonely here,

Bound on their last, long voyage, to whom
We, day by day, are drawing near
Where every bark has sailing room."

It may possibly be true, my friends, that I am
open to the criticism that I am not always with
you in the body ; but it is true that I am always
with you in the spirit. However far I may have
wandered from my ancestral home in my travels
round this broad earth, — whether in the crowded
238



A TRIBUTE TO TOLLAND

cities of the Old World, London, Paris, or Rome,
or among the snow-capped mountains of the
Alps, — wherever I may have happened to be,
there has hardly been a day of my life that my
thoughts have not come back to beautiful Tolland,
and to the scenes through which I have passed
here, and to the dear friends I had left behind.

If by any act or word of mine, either in public
or in private life, I have ever contributed in the
least towards the prosperity, the stability, the repu-
tation, and the fair fame of the town of Tolland,
my highest ambition is satisfied. As for what I
am willing to do in the future, in all the things
that may tend to promote the welfare of this town
and of its inhabitants, I must let the past speak
and make for me my pledges. For all the kind-
nesses and favors that you have extended to me
in the days and years that are gone, I return to
you, one and all, my most sincere thanks.

And now, in bidding you all a very good night,
I pray that Heaven will shower upon you, and
upon all the homes in goodly Tolland, its sweetest
and its choicest blessings, — health, happiness, and
prosperity.



239



SPEECH

Delivered at Meriden, March 25, 1871, opening the
Connecticut Ca?npaign.

Fellow-Citizens :

I SINCERELY thank you for the honor you have
done me, by appointing me the presiding officer of
this meeting. The question this spring, my friends,
is not who shall be the next governor of Con-
necticut, but how great shall be his majority. The
people of this State have already elected in their
hearts as their next governor, the Hon. James E.
English, and the only question to be decided on
the first Monday in April is how large shall be his
majority; and hundreds of Republicans in this
State are saying that James E. English is good
enough Governor for them, and that they have no
desire, and much more no expectation, of seeing
him defeated.

A most bitter feud has sprung up in the ranks
of the Republican party, and Ulysses S. Grant is
surely and steadily tolling the death-knell of his
party. He has descended from his proper posi-
tion as President of the United States, and lobbied
with Congressmen to disgrace and degrade some
240



CONNECTICUT CAMPAIGN

of the oldest, most spotless, and faithful members
of the Republican party. He has secured the
removal of Charles Sumner from the chairmanship
of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, — a place
which he has held for twelve years with great credit
to his country, — and has secured the appointment
in his place of the most corrupt politician in
America, Simon Cameron, who, the " Springfield
Republican " says, twice bought his election to the
United States Senate, and whom Abraham Lincoln
removed from his Cabinet for corruption in office.
General Grant has also lost the support of the
whole German element of the West by his refusal
even to see Carl Schurz, the eloquent and gifted
Senator from Missouri, when he called at the White
House upon official business. And all this, gentle-
men, because these men would not bow the knee
to Ulysses Grant, and vote for the annexation of
San Domingo. I hope that the people of this
Congressional District will send to the next Con-
gress a gentleman who, caring nothing for Presi-
dential frowns, will have the courage to speak, as
Stephen W. Kellogg has not, the true sentiment of
a vast majority of the people of this district in oppo-
sition to that infamous scheme, urged by a White
House lobby, for the annexation of the remote and
worthless island of San Domingo, whose inhabitants
are in no way fitted for a successful and happy
union with the people of the American republic.
To annex it would be a worthless expenditure of
i6 241



RATCLIFFE HICKS

the people's money, and dangerous to the per-
petuity of the institutions of our common country.
The people of New Hampshire on Tuesday last
proclaimed in thunder notes their disapproval of
the annexation of San Domingo. It only remains
for Connecticut to imitate the glorious example of
New Hampshire, by electing as Governor, by three
thousand majority, that honored gentleman, James
E. English, and by sending to Congress four true
Democrats.



242



SPEECH

At the Meeting of the Committee on Humane
Institutions.

As briefly stated in Tuesday's "Republican,"
the Committee on Humane Institutions met in the
afternoon at two o'clock, in room No. i6. Insur-
ance Building, Hartford, to take action regarding
the petition for an investigation into the affairs of
the State Reform School. The full committee
were present, Senator Charles W. Yale, of the Sixth
district, being in the chair. Ratcliffe Hicks, Esq.,
appeared for the petitioners, and addressed the
committee.

Mr. Hicks began by calling the attention of the
committee to many changes that ought to be made
in the laws relating to the Reform School, and
pointed out the great superiority of the laws of
Massachusetts relative to such institutions over our
own laws ; among others, that the office of super-
intendent and treasurer should be separated, and
not held as at present by the same person ; the
law should be so changed that the teachers and all
officers should be alone appointed and removed
by the board of trustees. In support of these
243



RATCLIFFE HICKS

propositions, Mr. Hicks claimed that these powers
vested in one man clothed him with too much
authority, deprived under officers of their inde-
pendence, and made them fearful of asserting their
rights.

After dwelling at length on these points, Mr.
Hicks took up the question of contracts, and
claimed that these should be put in writing, as
otherwise the State might suffer great loss by the
death, removal, or resignation of the superinten-
dent or other officer. A detailed report of the
expenses and receipts should be made, so that
each item would explain itself. The reports should
state in separate items the amount of salary paid
each officer, — something never done here, al-
though it has been the custom in other States.
The tax-payers have a right to know how much
their public officers are paid.

The attention of the committee was then directed
to the report of the superintendent for the past
year, and Mr. Hicks claimed that there were many
items of expenses which had for some reason been
omitted from the report. There were ^1,200 for
flour, ^600 for cattle purchased, and $2,200 for the
superintendent's salary. Mr. Hicks next dwelt
upon the fact that the superintendent is the best-
paid officer in the State of Connecticut, as, accord-


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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 13 of 18)