Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett) Reed.

Modern eloquence; (Volume 11) online

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But instead of that, we were met, especially by England
and by Germany, with an absolute refusal even to consider
the question.

If we have free coinage of silver now we are in this
position: We are in the position to control the metals of
this country in our own interests. Instead of London
being the great center where you find gold and silver ex-
changed, and instead of England controlling the value of
the two metals, New York will become the exchange of the
world as between gold and silver. France that occupied
that position for over seventy years, with the coinage be-
tween the two metals at a fixed ratio of 15^ to I, was the
clearing-house of the world for the money metals, and has
to-day more metallic money within its borders than any
country in the world, this country not excepted. There
you could go and exchange your gold for silver and silver
for gold at a fixed ratio of 15]^ to I; and if we had
that ratio and free coinage here to-day, this country would


simply be the clearing-house of the world upon the metallic
question, and would stand in the position of controlling the
value of gold and the value of silver, as established by law
for the whole world. Because, Mr. Speaker, having, as we
do, the South American countries, and China, and India,
constituting over five-sevenths, or about that number, of
the people of this world using silver, and the other part using
gold, we would simply be the clearing-house for the gold-
using and the silver-using countries of the world, and stand
in the position of masters of the situation, instead of being,
as we are to-day, simply a tail to the London kite.



[Napoleon Bonaparte was born at Ajaccio, 1769. He entered the
military school at Brienne on April 23, 1779, leaving that institution in
1784 for a military academy in Paris. In 1793 he was placed in com-
mand of a battalion of artillery, and for his success at Toulon was
made general of brigade. Under Barras, in command of the garrison
of Paris, he swept the city with grape-shot, overwhelming the Terror-
ists and bringing to an end the French Revolution October 5, 1794.
In 1796 he married Josephine de Beauharnais, ne'e Tasher, having been
appointed on the same day to the command of the army in Italy.
The coup d'e"tat, November 9, 1799, placed Napoleon in power as
First Consul. During the consulate he made many reforms. He
stopped the persecution of the priests, opened the churches, changed
the system of internal government, framed the code, aided education,
reestablished the ecclesiastical hierarchy, instituted the Legion of
Honor, and arranged the financial system of the country on a proper
basis. War was renewed over Malta. Obliged to give up the inva-
sion of England he attacked the Austrians, and on December 2,
1805, the Austro-Russian army was defeated at Austerlitz. At Tra-
falgar Nelson annihilated Napoleon's still cherished plan of invading
England. The Peninsular war resulted disastrously, and the French
were driven across the Pyrenees in 1814. After divorce from Josephine
his marriage with Marie Louise took place, and the King of Rome was
born March 20, 1811. The Russian invasion and defeat exhausted the
army by the loss of half a million men, and prepared the way for Elba
and Waterloo. The battle of Leipsic was the beginning of the end,
and the few following victories did not prevent the allies from marching
on Paris and taking possession of it. The emperor was forced to abdi-
cate April 6, 1814, and was banished to Elba. Alter an interval of ten
months, during which he laid crafty plots, he escaped from the island
of Elba, in 1815, and appealed again to France. He succeeded in driv-
ing out Louis XVIII. , and again took the field against the allies.
Waterloo was lost June 18, 1815, and Napoleon was held as a prisoner
at St. Helena by the British until his death, May 15, 1821. His body
was removed to Paris in 1840.]



SOLDIERS: You are naked and ill-fed! Government
owes you much and can give you nothing. The
patience and courage you have shown in the midst of this
rocky wilderness are admirable ; but they gain you no re-
nown ; no glory results to you from your endurance. It is
my design to lead you into the most fertile plains of the
world. Rich provinces and great cities will be in your
power; there you will find honor, glory, and wealth. Sol-
diers of Italy, will you be wanting in courage or persever-


Soldiers: You have in fifteen days gained six victories,
taken twenty-one stand of colors, fifty-five pieces of can-
non, and several fortresses, and overrun the richest part of
Piedmont; you have made 15,000 prisoners and killed or
wounded upward of 10,000 men.

Hitherto you have been fighting for barren rocks, made
memorable by your valor, though useless to your country,
but your exploits now equal those of the armies of Holland
and the Rhine. You were utterly destitute, and you have
supplied all your wants. You have gained battles without
cannon, passed rivers without bridges, performed forced
marches without shoes; and bivouacked without strong
liquors, and often without bread.

None but republican phalanxes, the soldiers of liberty,
could have endured what you have done; thanks to you,
soldiers, for youi perseverance! Your grateful country
owes its safety to you ; and if the taking of Toulon was an
earnest of the immortal campaign of 1794, your present
victories foretell one more glorious.

The two armies which lately attacked you in full con-
fidence now flee before you in consternation ; the perverse
men who laughed at your distress and inwardly rejoiced at
the triumph of your enemies are now confounded and


But, soldiers, you have as yet done nothing, for there
still remains much to do. Neither Turin nor Milan is
yours; the ashes of the conquerors of Tonquin are still
trodden under foot by the assassins of Basseville. Tt is
said that there are some among you whose courage is
shaken, and who would prefer returning to the summits of
the Alps and Apennines. No, I cannot believe it. The
victors of Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego, and Mondovi are
eager to extend the glory of the French name!


Soldiers: You have rushed like a torrent from the top
of the Apennines; you have overthrown and scattered all
that opposed your march. Piedmont, delivered from Aus-
trian tyranny, indulges her natural sentiments of peace and
friendship toward France. Milan is yours, and the republi-
can flag waves throughout Lombardy. The dukes of
Parma and Modena owe their political existence to your
generosity alone.

The army which so proudly threatened you can find no
barrier to protect it against your courage; neither the Po,
the Ticino, nor the Adda could stop you for a single day.
These vaunted bulwarks of Italy opposed you in vain ; you
passed them as rapidly as the Apennines.

These great successes have filled the heart of your coun-
try with joy. Your representatives have ordered a festival
to commemorate your victories, which has been held in
every district of the republic. There your fathers, your
mothers, your wives, sisters, and mistresses rejoiced in your
good fortune and proudly boasted of belonging to you.

Yes, soldiers, you have done much but remains there
nothing more to do? Shall it be said of us that we knew
how to conquer, but not how to make use of victory? Shall
posterity reproach us with having found Capua in Lom-

But I see you already hasten to arms. An effeminate
repose is tedious to you ; the days which are lost to glory
are lost to your happiness. Well, then, let us set forth!


We have still forced marches to make, enemies to subdue,
laurels to gather, injuries to revenge. Let those who have
sharpened the daggers of civil war in France, who have
basely murdered our ministers and burnt our ships at
Toulon, tremble!

The hour of vengeance has struck; but let the people of
all countries be free from apprehension ; we are the friends
of the people everywhere, and those great men whom we
have taken for our models. To restore the Capitol, to
replace the statues of the heroes who rendered it illustrious,
to rouse the Roman people, stupefied by several ages of
slavery such will be the fruit of our victories; they will
form an era for posterity; you will have the immortal glory
of changing the face of the finest part of Europe. The
French people, free and respected by the whole world, will
give to Europe a glorious peace, which will indemnify them
for the sacrifices of every kind which for the last six years
they have been making. You will then return to your
homes and your country. Men will say, as they point you
out, "He belonged to the army of Italy."


Soldiers: The campaign just ended has given you im-
perishable renown. You have been victorious in fourteen
pitched battles and seventy actions. You have taken more
than a hundred thousand prisoners, five hundred field-
pieces, two thousand heavy guns, and four pontoon trains.
You have maintained the army during the whole campaign.
In addition to this you have sent six millions of dollars to
the public treasury, and have enriched the National Museum
with three hundred masterpieces of the arts of ancient and
modern Italy, which it has required thirty centuries to pro-
duce. You have conquered the finest countries in Europe.

The French flag waves for the first time upon the Adri-
atic opposite to Macedon, the native country of Alexander.
Still higher destinies await you. I know that you will not
prove unworthy of them. Of all the foes that conspired to
stifle the republic in its birth, the Austrian emperor alone


remains before you. To obtain peace we must seek it in
the heart of his hereditary state. You will find there a
brave people, whose religion and customs you will respect,
and whose prosperity you will hold sacred. Remember
that it is liberty you carry to the great Hungarian nation.



Soldiers : I am not satisfied with you ; you have shown
neither bravery, discipline, nor perseverance; no position
could rally you ; you abandoned yourselves to a panic terror;
you suffered yourselves to be driven from situations where
a handful of brave men might have stopped an army. Sol-
diers of the Thirty-ninth and Eighty-fifth, you are not
French soldiers. Quartermaster-General, let it be inscribed
on their colors, "They no longer form part of the army of


Soldiers of the Grand Army: In a fortnight we have
finished the entire campaign. What we proposed to do has
been done. We have driven the Austrian troops from
Bavaria and restored our ally to the sovereignty of his

That army which with equal presumption and impru-
dence marched upon our frontiers is annihilated.

But what does this signify to England? She has gained
her object. We are no longer at Boulogne, and her subsidy
will be neither more nor less.

Of a hundred thousand men who composed that army
sixty thousand are prisoners. They will replace our con-
scripts in the labors of agriculture.

Two hundred pieces of cannon, the whole park of artil-
lery, ninety flags, and all their generals are in our power.
Fifteen thousand men only have escaped.


Soldiers : I announced to you the result of a great battle ;
but, thanks to the ill-advised schemes of the enemy, I was
enabled to secure the wished-for result without incurring
any danger, and, what is unexampled in the history of na-
tions, that result has been gained at the sacrifice of scarcely
fifteen hundred men killed and wounded.

Soldiers: This success is due to your unlimited con-
fidence in your emperor, to your patience in enduring
fatigues and privations of every kind, and to your singular
courage and intrepidity.

But we will not stop here. You are impatient to com-
mence another campaign.

The Russian army, which English gold has brought
from the extremities of the universe, shall experience the
same fate as that which we have just defeated.

In the conflict in which we are about to engage, the
honor of the French infantry is especially concerned. We
shall now see another decision of the question which has
already been determined in Switzerland and Holland,
namely, whether the French infantry is the first or the
second in Europe.

Among the Russians there are no generals in contend-
ing against whom I can acquire any glory. All I wish is to
obtain the victory with the least possible bloodshed. My
soldiers are my children.


Soldiers : The second war of Poland has begun. The
first war terminated at Friedland and Tilsit. At Tilsit
Russia swore eternal alliance with France and war with
England. She has openly violated her oath, and refuses to
offer any explanation of her strange conduct till the French
eagle shall have passed the Rhine, and consequently shall
have left her allies at her discretion. Russia is impelled
onward by fatality. Her destiny is about to be accom-
plished. Does she believe that we have degenerated that
we are no longer the soldiers of Austerlitz? She has placed


us between dishonor and war. The choice cannot for an
instant be doubtful.

Let us march forward, then, and, crossing the Niemen,
carry the war into her territories. The second war of
Poland will be to the French army as glorious as the first,
But our next peace must carry with it its own guaranty
and put an end to that arrogant influence which for the last
fifty years Russia has exercised over the affairs of Europe.


Soldiers of my Old Guard : I bid you farewell. For
twenty years I have constantly accompanied you on the
road to honor and glory. In these latter times, as in the
days of our prosperity, you have invariably been models of
courage and fidelity. With men such as you our cause
could not be lost; but the war would have been intermi-
nable ; it would have been civil war, and that would have
entailed deeper misfortunes on France.

I have sacrificed all my interests to those of the country.

I go, but you, my friends, will continue to serve France.
Her happiness was my only thought. It will still be the
object of my wishes. Do not regret my fate; if I have
consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. I intend to
write the history of the great achievements we have per-
formed together. Adieu, my friends. Would I could press
you all to my heart.

[Napoleon then ordered the eagles to be brought, and,
having embraced them he added :]

I embrace you all in the person of your general. Adieu,
soldiers. Be always gallant and good.



[John Cabell Breckinridge, an American soldier and statesman,
who spoke in public with much effect, was born in Kentucky in 1821.
He was engaged in the practice of law in his native state when elected
to Congress. Later he was Vice-President of the United States, and
in 1860 was made the Presidential candidate of the southern wing of
the Democratic party, carrying a number of states. When the Civil
War came he had been chosen to the United States Senate, but he went
with Kentucky into the Confederacy and rose to high command in the
Southern army. He was also for a time the Confederate Secretary of
War. He died in 1875. The occasion on which the following speech
was delivered, in 1858, was the last gathering of the United States
Senate in the old senate chamber.]

ON the sixth of December 1819 the Senate assembled
for the first time in this chamber, which has been the
theater of their deliberations for more than thirty-nine

And now the strife and uncertainties of the past are
finished. We see around us on every side the proofs of
stability and improvement. The capitol is worthy of the
republic. Noble public buildings meet the view on every
hand. Treasures of science and the arts begin to accumu-
late. As this flourishing city enlarges it testifies to the
wisdom and forecast that dictated the plan of it. Future
generations will not be disturbed with questions concerning
the center of population, or of territory, since the steam-
boat, the railroad, and the telegraph have made communi-
cation almost instantaneous. The spot is sacred by a
thousand memories, which are so many pledges that the
city of Washington, founded by him and bearing his re-
vered name, with its beautiful site, bounded by picturesque
eminences, and the broad Potomac, and lying within view


of his home and his tomb, shall remain forever the political
capital of the United States.

It would be interesting to note the gradual changes
which have occurred in the practical working of the govern-
ment since the adoption of the Constitution ; and it may
be appropriate to this occasion to remark one of the most
striking of them.

At the origin of the government the Senate seemed to
be regarded chiefly as an executive council. The President
often visited the chamber and conferred personally with this
body; most of its business was transacted with closed
doors, and it took comparatively little part in the legisla-
tive debates. The rising and vigorous intellects of the
country sought the arena of the House of Representatives
as the appropriate theater for the display of their powers.
Mr. Madison observed, on some occasion, that being a
young man and desiring to increase his reputation, he could
not afford to enter the Senate; and it will be remembered
that so late as 1812 the great debates which preceded the
war and aroused the country to the assertion of its rights
took place in the other branch of Congress. To such an
extent was the idea of seclusion carried that when this
chamber was completed no seats were prepared for the
accommodation of the public; and it was not until many
years afterward that the semi-circular gallery was erected
which admits the people to be witnesses of your proceed-
ings. But now, the Senate, besides its peculiar relations to
the executive department of the government, assumes its
full share of duty as a co-equal branch of the legislature;
indeed, from the limited number of its members and for
other obvious reasons the most important questions, espe-
cially of foreign policy, are apt to pass first under discussion
in this body, and to be a member of it is justly regarded as
one of the highest honors which can be conferred on an
American statesman.

It is scarcely necessary to point out the causes of this
change, or to say that it is a concession both to the impor-
tance and to the individuality of the states, and to the free
and open character of the government.

In connection with this easy but thorough transition, it
is worthy of remark that it has been effected without a


charge from any quarter that the Senate has transcended its
constitutional sphere a tribute at once to the moderation
of the Senate, and another proof to thoughtful men of the
comprehensive wisdom with which the framers of the Con -
stitution secured essential principles without inconveniently
embarrassing the action of the government.

The progress of this popular movement in one aspect of
it has been steady and marked. As the origin of the gov-
ernment, no arrangements in the Senate were made for
spectators; in this chamber about one-third of the space is
allotted to the public; and in the new apartment the gal-
leries cover two-thirds of its area. In all free countries the
admission of the people to witness legislative proceedings is
an essential element of public confidence; and it is not to
be anticipated that this wholesome principle will ever be
abused by the substitution of partial and interested demon-
strations for the expression of a matured and enlightened
public opinion. Yet it should never be forgotten that not
France, but the turbulent spectators within the hall, awed
and controlled the French Assembly. With this lesson and
its consequences before us, the time will never come when
the deliberations of the Senate shall be swayed by the
blandishments or the thunders of the galleries.

It is impossible to disconnect from an occasion like this
a crowd of reflections on our past history and of specula-
tions on the future. The most meager account of the Sen-
ate involves a summary of the progress of our country.
From year to year you have seen your representation en-
large ; again and again you have proudly welcomed a new
sister into the confederacy; and the occurrences of this
day are a material and impressive proof of the growth and
prosperity of the United States. Three periods in the his-
tory of the Senate mark in striking contrast three epochs in
the history of the Union.

On the third of March, 1789, when the government was
organized under the Constitution, the Senate was composed
of the representatives of eleven states, containing three
millions of people.

On the sixth of December, 1819, when the Senate met for
the first time in this room, it was composed of the representa-
tives of twenty-one states, containing nine millions of people.


To-day it is composed of the representatives of thirty-
two states, containing more than twenty-eight millions of
people, prosperous, happy, and still devoted to constitu-
tional liberty. Let these great facts speak for themselves
to all the world.

The career of the United States cannot be measured by
that of any other people of whom history gives account ;
and the mind is almost appalled at the contemplation of
the prodigious force which has marked their progress.
Sixty-nine years ago thirteen states, containing three mil-
lions of inhabitants, burdened with debt, and exhausted by
the long war of independence, established for their common
good a free constitution on principles new to mankind, and
began their experiment with the good wishes of a few
doubting friends and the derision of the world. Look at
the result to-day: twenty-eight millions of people, in every
way happier than an equal number in any other part of the
globe ; the center of population and political power de-
scending the western slopes of the Alleghany Mountains,
and the original thirteen states forming but the eastern
margin on the map of our vast possessions.

See besides, Christianity, civilization, and the arts given
to a continent; the despised colonies grown into a power of
the first class, representing and protecting ideas that involve
the progress of the human race; a commerce greater than
that of any other nation; free interchange between states;
every variety of climate, soil, and production, to make a
people powerful and happy in a word, behold present
greatness, and in the future an empire to which the ancient
mistress of the world in the height of her glory could not
be compared. Such is our country; aye, and more far
more than my mind could conceive or my tongue could
utter. Is there an American who regrets the past? Is
there one who will deride his country's laws, pervert her
Constitution, or alienate her people? If there be such a
man, let his memory descend to posterity laden with the
execrations of all mankind.

So happy is the political and social condition of the
United States, and so accustomed are we to the secure en-
joyment of a freedom elsewhere unknown, that we are apt
to undervalue the treasures we possess, and to lose in some


degree the sense of obligation to our forefathers. But
when the strifes of faction shake the government, and even
threaten it, we may pause with advantage long enough to
remember that AVC are reaping the reward of other men's
labors. This liberty we inherit; this admirable Constitu-
tion, which has survived peace and war, prosperity and
adversity, this double scheme of government, state and
federal, so peculiar and so little understood by other
powers, yet which protects the earnings of industry and
makes the largest personal freedom compatible with public
order these great results were not achieved without wis-
dom and toil and blood ; the touching and heroic record is
before the world. But to all this we were born, and, like
heirs upon whom has been cast a great inheritance, have

Online LibraryThomas B. (Thomas Brackett) ReedModern eloquence; (Volume 11) → online text (page 29 of 43)