Read CHAPTER XIX - STRATFORD. SHAKSPERE’S DEATH. PATRIOTISM DOWN THE AGES. of Shakspere‚ Personal Recollections , free online book, by John A. Joyce, on ReadCentral.com.

"The sands are numbered that make up my life;
Here must I stay, and here my life must end."

"Time is the King of man,
For he is their parent, and he is their grave,
And gives them what he will, not what they crave."

During the years 1614, 1615 and 1616 Shakspere sauntered about for pleasure and business among the bohemians and nobility of London, Oxford and Stratford, piecing and renewing his personal and real estate for the benefit of his two daughters, Susannah and Judith, and thus making every preparation for that eternal sleep that never fails to shut down the pale and bloodless eyelids of meandering, melancholy man.

The spectacular play of “King Henry the Eighth” was given at the Globe Theatre on the evening of the 29th of June, 1613.

It had been largely advertised as a royal historical dramatic treat, and the nobility were there in great force.

William and myself before leaving London occupied a private box as spectators on the left of the great stage. The audience numbered nearly two thousand, pit, gallery and cockloft being filled to overflowing.

During the third act of the play a cannon was fired, giving a grand salute to the mimic King Henry and his royal train as they appeared before the assembled multitude.

Part of the gun wadding fired by the mock cannon was thrown on the open roof of the Globe, and immediately ignited the thatch, spreading flames around the top rim of the great octagonal playhouse.

Shakspere saw at once the danger of stampeding the audience through the two great, high doors, and with his natural calmness and imperial courage rushed in front of the footlights and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is no danger if you be calm and brave, and file out of the building in good order.”

“Those near the right and left doors will please go out slowly, and all the actors will remain on the stage until the people disappear.” At this juncture, at the suggestion of William, the actors were ordered to sing “God Save the King,” and every mortal escaped unhurt from the building. Yet two hours after it was a mass of blazing cinders and ashes.

Burbage, Jonson, Fletcher, Drayton, Condell, Heming and Peele continued to furnish rare sports and masks for theatrical and court edification, but the brilliant star that had shone with undimmed luster for thirty years on the dramatic stage of London was only glowing with a lambent light, throwing its last rays over the world as it went down in crimson glory over the western hills of Warwickshire.

Yet, while the great poet and dramatist himself would never again tread the play platform, or throw his sonorous, magic voice over a London audience, the great children and characters of his matchless brain would hold the dramatic boards and thrill the heart and soul of mankind as long as human nature laughed and suffered on the globe.

Shakspere had more self-control than any man I ever met, and his reason was ever holding court in his conscience.

He, who reigns within himself, and rules
His passions, desires and fears, is ever King!

After thirty years of a wandering battle with Dame Fortune, testing her griefs and glories, it was a sweet consolation for William and myself to drift back to the scenes of childhood and tread again the streets, roads, fields and hills that blessed our boyhood hours.

In the spring of 1614 William and myself wandered over the fields and ridges to Coventry, and visited Warwick Castle. The young Earl of Leicester gave us a hearty welcome; for the praise that William had received at court and the light that dazzled from his lamp of literary fame made him an honored guest in cot or palace, strewing about his pathway the flowers of faith and affection.

Returning to Stratford one evening in May we stood on the same old hill top beyond the Clopton Bridge, looking at the sparkling spires and steeples of the town; and all seemed as natural as when we left them in the morning of life.

The hills and fields were blooming as of old, the Avon wound its serpentine course to the sea, the song of the ploughman and shepherd swelled from the vale, the lowing of cattle, strolling homeward for the night echoed among the hills, the blackbird, thrush and vagrant crow sang and croaked as they hastened with their mates to their feathered families, and the daisies, wild roses, hedge rows, hawthorn bushes, and grand old elms and oaks bloomed in their everlasting garments of variegated beauty.

As the cardinal colors of the dying day threw their last rays over the placid bosom of the Avon, and the murmur of laughing voices floated up from the town to mingle, as it were, with the curling smoke from glistening chimney tops, William and I scampered down the hill, over the bridge, on by the old mill, and entered the open gate of “New Place,” as Judith, his intellectual daughter, welcomed her famous father with exuberant affection.

Here was rest indeed. For like weather-beaten mariners or soldiers of fortune, each of us had been buffeted by the billows of Fate; and yet with all the scars she gave, we never knew a day, though cloudy and stormy, that we could not see rifts of sunshine breaking through the entanglements of adversity.

Our mind, a kingdom was, in every clime, With souls triumphant over tide and time; And though the world might frown upon our way We believed in God and sunshine every day!

The strolling players, literary guild and traveling nobles never failed in passing through Stratford to visit Shakspere at his beautiful and comfortable home at “New Place.” It was Liberty Hall to every guest that passed the threshold of the retired Bard, where like a full-rigged ship on a summer sea, he moved down in peace, through the sunset beams of a brilliant life, accompanied by his friends and affectionate daughters into the harbor of rest beneath the walls of old Trinity Church.

Susannah, the oldest daughter, had married Dr. John Hall several years before the poet’s death, and occupied the old Shakspere house on Henley street, and her mother lived with the family, a solace to her daughter and beautiful granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall.

Mrs. Shakspere, the buxom Anne Hathaway of vanished years, was entirely subdued and found consolation in her devoted daughters and religious duties. She could be found at every prayer meeting and Sunday sermon in the Shakspere pew of Trinity Church.

William seldom attended Puritan meetings, Episcopal conclaves, or Papist masses. He paid formal respect, at long range, to all sacerdotal ceremonies, not bothering himself about dogmas, creeds and bulls, put forth by little, cunning man for earthly power and financial benefit.

He believed in God and in himself, Ignoring those who lived for pelf, And through his age and verdant youth He ever worshiped naked Truth!

Judith, the beautiful and intellectual daughter, kept house for her illustrious father, and entered heartily into all his social and business schemes for the improvement of the town of Stratford.

Thus days, weeks, months and years were passed in pleasant conclave with literary and neighboring friends, until the winter of 1615 and 1616, when a severe throat trouble afflicted the Bard, in conjunction with acute pains in the head, that prevented the solace of sleep, and which turned into chronic insomnia.

In January, Shakspere, in anticipation of his temporary exit from this world, determined to make his will and bequeath his property in detail to his daughter, relatives and friends. He called in Francis Collins, a solicitor of Warwick, who drew the important document, but it was not finally signed and witnessed until the 25th of March, 1616.

William, knowing that his wife would inherit legal dower, one-third of his real property, and being cared for by her daughter Susannah, only bequeathed to the “former Anne Hathaway,” the personal gift of his “second best bed.”

I asked Shakspere one evening about a month before his death if he intended the piece of bed furniture for his wife as a rebuke or a compliment.

He replied: “Jack, if you were not so inquisitive you would not have so much knowledge!”

I thanked him for his lucid explanation, and let the incident go at that remark.

As he was in a good-natured, facetious mood, I asked him why it was that in all his dramatic plays of forty years composition he had never placed on the boards a great Irish character, although he had created Egyptian, Grecian, Italian, French, German, Danish, Scotch and English representatives that would go down the ages in eloquent glory.

I said, “William, you only formulated in Henry the Fifth Captain MacMorris, a Scotch-Irish bastard-renegade character, who bears about as much relation to a true Irish gentleman as does a shark to a whale, a hawk to an eagle, or a lynx to a lion.”

“Well, Jack, you know as well as I do that the ‘eloquent,’ ‘brave,’ ’Irish rebel,’ against monarchy and tyrannical power has been the sharpest thorn in the sides of English royalty, and that with the enmity of Henry the Eighth, Queen Elizabeth, King James, and the London Protestants, a great, lofty Irish Catholic character would not have been popular, and ministered to our daily desire for pence, shillings and pounds!

“Yet posterity will notice the brave wit and greatness of the Irish race by their absence from my business plays.”

While writing for the sake of Truth, From my wild, daring, earliest youth, You knew I never acted rash Or failed to fill my purse with cash;

For, after all is past and told Among the foolish, wise and old The plot of life is to enfold Within your grasp, Imperial Gold!

On the 10th of January, 1616, Judith impulsively married Thomas Quincy, without the publication of the church banns, to the scandal of the community, but love cared naught for rules or creeds when Nature stood as monitor.

Seated one April morning in his private apartment, looking over his beautiful garden of vegetables, fruit, flowers, vines and waving elms, margined by the murmuring waters of the silver Avon, I asked him if he had any special message before leaving life to communicate to the ages.

“Yes, my dear Jack, you, by nature’s law must, like the Wandering Jew, fulfill your destiny, and ‘tramp’ out your thousand years ere you join me on the ‘Island of Immortality.’ These precepts I enjoin:

The Love and Truth that in my plays abide Shall teach the lesson of equal justice; Nothing that’s wrong can prosper on this earth, And though your crime-secret be hid in mounts Of adamant, kissing, loftiest sky, The worm of detection and exposure Shall gnaw its way through rugged, granite ribs And blow your foul wickedness around the world. Men, states and empires, rise and flash like bubbles On the rolling ocean of existence, And then like the false, shimmering vision Of a dream, pass into nameless oblivion. The hours, days, years and ages, lost and gone Are only a moment from the ticking clock Of eternity. And all future time, Incalculable as drops of ocean Or leaves of grass, come and go incessant, Like the balmy airs; or whistling winds That blow o’er tropic or arctic lands. I know and feel that myriad spirits People the vast, circumambient air, And as my soul within knocks at heart and lips For exit from this crumbling house of corruption, Methinks I see and hear a chorus of Angel spirits beckoning my tired soul Onward and upward to omnipotence. Every blade of grass and flower beautiful; Every star that twinkles in the moonlit sky; Every white-crested billow of the sea; Every child that dreams, laughs and sings in glee; Every thought, pinioned with eternal Hope Guarantees assurance of Immortality!"

On the 13th of April, 1616, ten days before the death of Shakspere, Burbage, Jonson, Drayton, Florio, Field, Condell, Heming and Jo Taylor came down from London by special invitation to enjoy the hospitality of the Bard.

Judith made every preparation for their social entertainment, and the “New Place” was ablaze with hospitality and dramatic glory for a week.

I shall not enter into the pleasant and eccentric details of these authors and actors, but leave it to the imagination of the intelligent reader to know what a crowd of brilliant bohemians might do in the evening of life talking, laughing and drinking to the memory of friends and days that are no more!

Three days before the death of the great luminary of dramatic and poetic letters, he called me into his bedroom. He was resting in a reclining chair by an oaken desk, looking out on his garden, while the birds of spring were chirping, singing and courting among the blooming bushes and trees of his beautiful home.

Addressing me in the old familiar way, he said: “Jack, my throat and head give me great pain. I long to rest beneath the walls of Old Trinity Church, never again to gaze upon its glinting spire through sunrise or sunset beams.

“You know I feel a horror at the thought of having my poor old bones tumbled out of their grave in future years by vulgar sextons, and to prevent disturbance I scribbled off a few weeks ago these poetic lines, that I wish you would place above my remains. Promise me this last request, and I’ll die in the hope of Immortality!”

Gazing intently on the melancholy, dying man, my eyes filled with tears, I made the sacred promise, and more than that, I here give the manuscript imprint of the original epitaph:

STRATFORD, APRIL 1st, 1616.

For Jesus’ sake, good friends, pass by, While here in peace I lowly lie; Disturb not these cold, tongueless stones That shield my bleaching, crumbling bones, In life I took Dame Nature’s part Exemplifying soul and heart, And all my plays were heaven sent To be my lasting monument!

On the morning of the 23d of April, at six o’clock, Judith came rushing into my room, and said that her father was dying. I jumped into my clothes and quickly knelt by his bedside, where I found Dr. Hall, Susannah, Mr. Quincy, Mrs. Hart, Ben Jonson, and Michael Drayton.

I grasped his hand as he made dying lurches, and asked him how he felt, and then opening his great bluish gray eyes for the last time on earth, I could hear only his death gurgle expression: “God, Truth and Country!”

Thus passed away the noblest and greatest man that ever graced this earthly globe.

The news of his death spread like a prairie fire among the people of Stratford and the surrounding villages, and on to Oxford and London, where the melancholy wail of his obsequies resounded in the halls of the highest court circles, and found the deepest sorrow and regret in the heart of King James.

At twelve o’clock on the 25th of April the remains of the Bard were followed to Trinity Church by an immense concourse of mourning humanity; and there, under the north wall of the old cathedral he was buried, seventeen feet below the surface, and left forever with his earthly glory and his God.

That very night, as the sun went down, Drayton, Jonson, Burbage and myself bade farewell to the daughters and personal friends of the Bard, going by fast mail car to Oxford and London.

It was one of the saddest nights I had ever experienced, for my dearest friend and lofty teacher would no more humor my lunatic impulses, or guide me in the even, broad road of universal truth. With his voice and form forever gone, there was nothing left to me but to wander over the cheerless, mighty world as a literary pioneer and soldier of fortune, using my pen and sword wherever Love and Liberty displayed their banners.

In the great literary whirlpool of London life I drowned for a season my soul-felt sorrow in the enchanting fumes of the wine cup, and its consequent allurements of variegated, fantastic society.

My destiny of a thousand years of life from birth, looked alternately, bleak and glorious, yet Fate being my master, and being endowed with an irrepressible, forgiving, laughing and progressive disposition, I called up the spirits of the air one midnight hour at the Boar’s Head Tavern, and exacted from them a promise that wherever I wandered over the earth to witness the rise and fall of men and nations, like bubbles on a stormy sea, they would strictly obey my command.

Ariel, Puck and Oberon Lent me their wings to sail upon Over the land and stormy sea To aid the cause of Liberty. A thousand years from date of birth, Destined to wander over the earth, I’ll roll with the ages brave and free, Till I round the capes of eternity!

I have witnessed the greatest events of the centuries in Europe, Asia and Africa, and on the spiritual wings of Truth, rapid as the lightning flash, I have sailed; and fought the battles of the people in every land and clime, being the compeer and critic of the most illustrious poets, philosophers, statesmen and warriors for the past three hundred years. I move forward for the liberty of man!

Before leaving old Albion for my investigating flight of centuries, I was a painful witness to the decapitation of my great friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, whose heroic conduct at the block melted the spectators into tears, and brought down loud malédictions on the corrupt head of Lord Bacon, who was the principal villain in the final destruction of the great navigator, warrior and philosopher.

I listened to the great Raleigh on the 29th of October, 1618, standing by the block, addressing the executioner and the multitude, when handling the shining axe: “This is a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases!” Lying down and fitting himself to the block, the executioner asked him to alter the position of his head, when he replied: “It is no matter which way the head lies, so the heart be right! Why dost thou not strike? Strike, man!” And, then, quick as a flash the glittering axe split the head from the shoulders of one of the noblest men of England.

I turned away from the gloomy precincts of the terrible Tower, and cursed the falsehood and iniquity of Elizabeth, James and Lord Bacon, jealous plotters against growing, illustrious men.

Raleigh in his poem “The Soul’s Errand,” pictures thus this lying world:

"Go, soul, the body’s guest, Upon a thankless arrant; Fear not to touch the best, The truth shall be thy warrant; Go, since I needs must die, And give the world the lie!

"Go, tell the court it glows And shines like rotten wood; Go tell the church it shows What’s good, and doth no good. If church and court reply, Then give them both the lie!

"Tell men of high condition That manage home and state, Their purpose is ambition, Their practice only hate; And if they once reply Then give them all the lie!"

Disgusted with the growing cruelties of monarchy and state “reformers,” I joined a band of Puritans who proposed to leave old Albion, and find in North America a home and country where they could worship God in their own way, and secure freedom for themselves and children for a thousand years to come.

I stood on the prow of the Mayflower as the sun rose over the harbor of Plymouth on the 17th of September, 1620, as the good ship sailed away from England to the west, with one hundred and one passengers, filled with the great spirit of religious and material liberty.

After a very stormy passage of sixty-three days, touching at Cape Cod, we made final anchor at Plymouth Rock, on the evening of the 16th of December, 1620.

That rock-bound, stormy, snowy, forest coast, filled with fierce animals and fiercer red men, gave the lonely emigrants a cold and terrible winter reception.

"The breaking waves dashed high On a stern and rock bound coast, And the woods against a stormy sky Their giant branches tossed. And the heavy night hung dark, The hills and waters o’er When a band of exiles moored their bark On the wild New England shore. Amidst the storm they sang, And the stars heard, and the sea; And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang To the anthem of the free!"

I stood behind the screens of the royal palace on the 30th of January, 1649, in the presence of the cruel Cromwell, Ireton, Bradshaw, and the fanatical Milton, and saw their glee when the axe of the executioner severed the head of King Charles the First, for the delectation of the beastly and vulgar multitude that howled approbation of the bloody scene; and yet, only twelve years after, I saw the crumbling, dead, naked bodies of Oliver Cromwell, his son, Ireton and Bradshaw, trundled along the streets of London, grappled by Parliamentary order from their graves, and hung on the gallows of Tyburn, their broken bones buried at the foot of the scaffold, while their withered, rotten heads were placed on the southern coping of Westminster Hall.

Thus, the compensating balances of life and death, right and wrong, forever tip the beam of justice.

The prince and the pauper, The serf and the slave, Are equal at last In the dust of the grave!

I saw the wonderful Muscovite monarch,

PETER THE GREAT,

as he rose out of the huge, brutal giant of Russian force, flash on the world like a zigzag meteor, lighting up his imperial dominions with barbaric splendor.

At the age of twenty-six, 1698, I saw him working with hammer, chisel, saw and axe as a common ship carpenter at Amsterdam and Deptford, entertaining ambassadors and kings, while he sat on the crosstrees of a new built ship. I met him again on the barren swamps of the Neva and icy shores of the Baltic, giving orders for the building of his new capital, St. Petersburg, in May, 1703, and in June, 1708, watched the compact columns of the great Czar rush down upon Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, and on the plains of Pultowa, scatter forever the hitherto unconquerable hosts of Scandinavia; and then after a great reign he crowned the peasant girl, Catherine of Livonia, Empress of all the Russias, the most energetic and remarkable female ruler since the days of Semiramis, Isabella and Elizabeth.

I watched the star of

NAPOLEON

as it first flickered over the rock-rimmed island of Corsica, foam fringed by the green waters of the Mediterranean. I saw it glitter over the mathematical charity scholar of France, the “puss in boots” at royal receptions, the artillery officer at the Bridge of Lodi, the general of the French-Italian army, scaling the cloud-kissing Alps in mid winter, bearing the eagles of liberty over the plains of Lombardy, on to Milan and Rome, until the tramp of the unconquerable Frank echoed through the streets and halls of the Caesars, and re-echoed in the lofty aisles and arches of the Vatican!

I beheld again the star of this “man of destiny” shine in glorious splendor at Maringo, Wagram, Austerlitz, Jena, Leipsic and Ulm, and then as First Consul and Emperor, sweeping with his unconquerable columns over the sands of Egypt and snows of Russia, until at last the fires and smoke of Moscow bedimmed the horizon of his glory, and lit up the funeral pyre of five hundred thousand of the best soldiers of France, led to their doom by the crazy ambition of a selfish tyrant!

Again I saw him escape from Elba, bare his breast to the guns of his former legions and rout royalty from its palace portals, and sweeping for a hundred days over the vineclad hills of France, he finally on the 18th of June, 1815, marshaled his magnificent army around the plains and hills of Waterloo, defying the Austrian, Prussian, Russian and British allied armies to the death grapple of the century, and went down to irretrievable defeat.

And then after five long years of an exile imprisonment on the barren isle of St. Helena, I heard his last gasp, “Head of the Army!”

“With no friend but his sword and no fortune but his talents, he rushed in the lists, where rank and wealth and genius had arrayed themselves; and competition fled from him as from the glance of destiny.

“A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot, he impoverished the country; and in the name of Brutus, he grasped without remorse and wore without shame the diadem of the Caesars!

“Such a medley of contradictions, and at the same time such an individual consistency were never united in the same character; a Royalist, a Republican and an Emperor; a Mahometan, a Catholic, and a patron of the synagogue, a subaltern and a sovereign, a traitor and a tyrant, a Christian and infidel, he was through all his vicissitudes, the same stern, impatient, inflexible original, the same mysterious, incomprehensible self the man without a model and without a shadow!”

A wreck of ambition, deserted, alone, He rode o’er the bones of mankind to a throne; The star of his destiny sunk out of view, Eclipsed in the blood of the famed Waterloo. A marvelous meteor that flashed o’er the wave, To darkle at last in the gloom of the grave. Vain, vain all the pomp of Napoleon’s pride, Broken-hearted, alone, disappointed he died, And left to the world but the sound of his name The fool of ambition, the football of fame!

I sat at the second story corner window of a wine house in Paris on the 14th of July, 1789, and gazed on the infuriated, surging mob of a hundred thousand Frenchmen, as they stormed the

BASTILE,

and struck a grand and lasting blow against the cruel minions of monarchy, raising the banner of equal right, and God-given liberty for all mankind.

Five hundred years of royal wrong and imperial lordly wickedness were avenged in an hour, and the liberty cap of the people thrown high in the air of freedom to bid defiance to government by tyranny.

Then for four bloody years the surging sea of wealth and power against the common people, muscle and manhood, defying royalty, I saw thousands of heads go to the block, the executioner of to-day being the executed of to-morrow, until a river of blood drenched the gutters of Paris, with the people at last on top and triumphant as they shall ever be adown the circling ages!

I stood near the guillotine of

LOUIS THE SIXTEENTH

as his head went off on the 31st of January, 1793, and then alternately, royalist and commoner were imprisoned and killed by the “committee of safety!”

Marie Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Marat, Madame Roland, Danton, Robespierre and one hundred thousand other mortals, rich and poor, went down in the insane, frantic effort for equal rights and eternal justice.

The French Revolution following so soon upon the great American Revolution, shouldered the people’s cause ahead more than a thousand years, and was worth every drop of blood spilled in the triumphal march of freedom!

The blood of the martyr has always watered the roots of the tree of Liberty; and in a few more years the devilish hoards of “Divine Right” robbers and murderers will be swept into the rubbish heaps of oblivion. God grant their speedy destruction! Wolves devouring the provender of the people!

On the 22d of February, 1732, I saw rise out of the rolling hills of Virginia, a glowing light that sparkled and spread, as it shone in the heaven of Colonial advancement.

WASHINGTON,

“first in war, first in peace and in the hearts of his countrymen,” was the God-given vidette of American freedom; and from the time he took command of the Continental Army at Boston on the 3d of July, 1775, until he laid down his commission, after nine years of trial and blood, with Cornwallis and King George defeated forever, he was the same great and good man and President, without a stain on his sword or character.

Standing by his bedside at Mount Vernon, on the 31st of December, 1799, I watched his great soul as it took flight for heaven, and heard his last words on earth, “’Tis well!”

Like some grand mountain shining from afar, Or like the radiance of the morning star, Spreading its silver light throughout the gloom, That gilds the glory of his classic tomb; Mount Vernon keeps his loved and sacred dust An urn of grief that holds a nation’s trust, Where pilgrims bend along the waning years, To gaze upon his grave through pearly tears. His monument in coming years shall stand A Mecca for the brave of every land, And while Potomac waters flash and flow, The fame of Washington shall gain and grow, Adown the ages through the aisles of time A patriot forever in his prime! Age after age will sweep its course away The work of man will crumble and decay; Yet, on the tide of time from sun to sun, Shall shine the glory of our Washington; And all the stars that in their orbit roll, Around the world from pole to pole, Shall keep his name and fame as true and bright, As yonder sparkling jewels of the night!

The greatest pioneer of Colonial patriotism and independence, the Demosthenes of the American Continent, was the eloquent orator,

PATRICK HENRY,

whose meteors of thought dazzled the nations and made tyrants tremble on their thrones.

How well I remember that March morning in 1775, as he rose in the legislative halls of Virginia, and uttered that impassioned oration against tyranny and the minions of King George.

Even now those eloquent phrases sound in mine ears, and waft me back to the scenes and men that made the Republic:

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past, and judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the brutal British ministry for the past ten years to justify the hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house.

“Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced
violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded, and we
have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne.

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Our chains are forged; their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable; and let it come. I repeat it, let it come.

“Our brethren are already in the field; why stand we here idle? What
is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or
peace so sweet, as to be purchased by the price of chains and slavery?

“Forbid it, Almighty God!

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me
Liberty or give me Death!”

The patriotism of the cavaliers of Virginia was fermenting to overflowing, while that of the Puritans of Massachusetts was boiling with intense heat as the stamp-stampers and tea-tossers of Boston prepared for a deadly reception to the robbers and murders of King George on the plains of Lexington and Concord on the 19th of April, 1775.

Never can I forget the midnight ride I took with

PAUL REVERE,

on beholding the two lanterns displayed on the belfry of the “Old North Church”; I told the tale to Mr. Longfellow, and he forthwith immortalized the heroic Paul:

"A hurry of hoofs in a village street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet; That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light The fate of a nation was riding that night, And the spark struck out by that steed in his flight Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

"You know the rest, in the books you have read, How the British regulars fired and fled How the farmers gave them ball for ball, From behind each fence and farm yard wall, Chasing the ‘Red Coats’ down the lane, Then crossing the fields to emerge again, Under the trees at the turn of the road, And only pausing to fire and load.

"So through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm; A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door And a word that shall echo forevermore! For born on the night wind of the past, Through all our history to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere."

How my soul thrills with recollection when I think where I stood in Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia, on the 4th of July, 1776, among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and heard that grandest of human productions proclaimed to the world.

Each of the fifty-six signers was a modern Moses in himself, and to-day their heroic statues, in imperishable bronze, should stand aloft on the shining marble copings of the National Capitol.

The glowing features and earnest, eloquent tones of

HANCOCK, JEFFERSON, FRANKLIN, AND ADAMS

come back to me now, in the sunlight and zenith of republican glory; and as the old bell in the tower rang out Liberty to all the people of the land, the city of Brotherly Love took up the acclaim, while on the wings of the wind it echoed and reached from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, and from the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, sounding across the seas, and reverberating among the sparkling halls of royalty, shivering the idols of “Divine Right,” and forcing the plain, common people of the world into their long-neglected heritage of Freedom!

And there, side by side with Franklin and Jefferson, sat one of the Secretaries of the Continental Congress,

TOM PAINE,

the great deist, patriot and philosopher; whose elementary proclamations, “The Crisis,” “Rights of Man,” “Common Sense,” and “Age of Reason,” did more for the promulgation of freedom during and after the American and French revolutions than any other utterance of man.

The logic and philosophy of the great deist and agnostic was worth more to the Colonies, and did more injury to King George and his murdering minions, than all the purblind, bigoted, saphead pulpit thumpers who ever preached for ready cash.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries produced no nobler or better man than the brave Tom Paine, the personal and political compeer and friend of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams.

The

DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

was the greatest event in the history of mankind since the creation of Adam and the birth of Christ.

It was a lofty and true indictment against the crimes of monarchy, and was the entering wedge in splitting the rotten log of robber royalty.

These words and phrases keep ever sounding in my soaring soul:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!”

“The history of the King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States.”

“The King has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns
and destroyed the lives of our people.”

“The road to happiness and glory is open to us; we will climb it apart from the British Government, and acquiesce our eternal separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.”

“And for the support of this Declaration, with reliance in Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes
and our sacred honor!”

Moving along with the martyrs who have died for progress and liberty:

I stood in the English Court September 20th, 1803, beside the heroic

ROBERT EMMET,

and heard him hurl these javelins of defiant patriotic eloquence against the brazen brutality of British judicial tyranny:

“When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port; when my shade shall have joined the bands of those martyred heroes who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field, in defense of their country and virtue, this is my hope: I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of this perfidious Government, which upholds its dominion by blasphemy of the Most High.

“The blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are bent to destroy for purposes so grievous that they cry to Heaven!

“Let no man write my epitaph; for, as no one who knows my motives dares now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed until other times and other men can do justice to my character and memory. When my country shall take her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”

Again, in my peripatetic tour of nations, seeking and aiding the hosts of Liberty, I stood with

GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON,

the greatest Irish-American citizen, soldier and President, behind the cotton bales and swamps of New Orleans, and on the 8th of January, 1815, I saw him hurl more than two thousand “Red Coats” into eternity, with only a loss of seven men, three killed and four wounded.

Kentucky and Tennessee “Bushwhackers,” with a lot of New Orleans shopkeepers, armed with squirrel rifles, killed and defeated General Pakenham, and the veteran troops of John Bull, in their raids over the globe for land, loot and human blood.

And still moving across the Gulf of Mexico, to Vera Cruz; and by land to Buena Vista, with

SCOTT AND TAYLOR,

I heard the scream of the American eagle as it swooped down on the tyrant troops of Santa Ana, and with the Stars and Stripes waving in the breeze, beheld the United States soldiers charge the castellated heights of Chapultepec, and the next day, the 14th of September, 1847, saw General Scott plant his colors over the “National Palace,” with his conquering army marching in glory through the city and halls of the Montezumas.

Yet, with all the woes of Mexico, I saw it in after years, rise out of the toils of foreign monarchy, when General Juarez, the native liberator, captured and killed the Archduke Maximilian, the representative of the Little Napoleon of France.

The “Monroe Doctrine” triumphed in the death gurgle of Maximilian.

Sic semper tyrannis!

Treason to tyrants is truth to the people!

Off with the heads of Charles the First, Louis the Sixteenth and
Robespierre!

I stood by the side of

GENERAL BEAUREGARD

on the 12th of April, 1861, at the city of Charleston, South Carolina, and heard him give the order to “fire” on the flag at Fort Sumter.

Slavery and “State Rights” threw down the gauntlet to Freedom and “National Rights!” A million of men were destroyed in the great American Rebellion, and after four years of the bloodiest civil war in history, the Stars and Stripes arose in all its glory at Appomattox, and fluttered again over the fort in Charleston Harbor, so nobly defended by the illustrious Major Anderson.

Alternate success and defeat came to the Union army and the Confederate forces. Bull Run, Donelson, Shiloh, Antietam, Stone River, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Spottsylvania, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, and Gettysburg, are battle milestones of the Republic that shall never be forgotten so long as valor and manhood find a lodgment in the human heart.

Gettysburg is the mausoleum of the American Marathon and the Thermopylae of Liberty. The grandest heroes of the world died here.

"They fell, devoted, but undying; The very gales their names seem sighing; The waters murmur of their name; The woods are peopled with their fame; The silent pillars, lone and gray, Claim kindred with their silent clay; Their spirits wrap the dusky mountain, Their memory sparkles o’er the fountain; The meanest rill, the mightiest river Rolls mingling with their fame forever!"

What soldier at Gettysburg will ever forget the terrible battles of the 1st, 2d and 3d of July, 1863, when

GENERAL MEAD AND GENERAL LEE,

with two hundred thousand Americans met in deadly conflict for the salvation or destruction of the Great Republic?

The vales and rills and rocks and hills for twenty miles around trembled with the onslaught of the contending hosts, and from Culp’s Hill to Cemetery Heights and Round Top the smoke and blaze of the rifle and the cannon lit up the bloody scene with the concussion of an earthquake and volcano, and the climax charge of Pickett’s Division punctured the bravest and most unavailing assault ever made by heroic soldiers; and although these warriors in “gray” were doomed to defeat by the defenders of the Union, they deserve a crown of unfading glory for imperishable American valor.

Standing by the side of

PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN

on the heights of Gettysburg, on the 19th of November, 1863, I heard him deliver before a multitude of people the following eloquent and philosophic address in dedicating the great National Cemetery:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have so far nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain: and that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

I saw

GENERAL GRANT

at Appomattox on the 9th of April, 1865, I hear again these phrases of the silent soldier to General Lee:

“I am equally anxious for peace with yourself and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed.”

“The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands.

“The surrender of all munitions of war will not embrace the side arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. Each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.”

Still marching onward in my mission of my love for freedom and keeping close and quick step to the music of the Great Republic, I rose again in soul, heart and pride, as I stood on the deck of the Olympia, fronting Manila and the Spanish navy, and heard the great

ADMIRAL GEORGE DEWEY

say: “When you are ready, fire, Gridley!”

In an hour the royal navy of Spain was at the bottom of the sea, and over the citadel of Manila waved the Stars and Stripes, a hope and a blessing to the Philippine Islands.

I stood on the turrets of Morro Castle, Havana, as the devilish Weyler sailed away from the beautiful “Queen of the Antilles,” and wondered that the cruel, infernal, tyrannical wretch was not ignominiously slaughtered by some of the victims of his starvation reign. A rattlesnake-cobra-tarantula human deformity!

It is not the plutocracy of wealth, or the aristocracy of learning, but the democracy of the heart that makes the world better and greater.

Selfishness, cupidity and greed lead to tyranny, and tyranny finally destroys itself.

Down with the villains who would enslave the people!

Dose them, quick, with leaden pills
Only cure for tyrant ills!

And on the heights of San Juan I beheld the American troops, white and black, shoot the cruel Spaniard into defeat, and last, but not least, I stood on the prow of the Oregon and beheld the most destructive naval engagement of the century.

“Santiago was a captains’ fight,” and, as Admiral Schley said: “There is glory enough for all.”

Schley, Sampson, Cook, Clarke, Evans, Taylor and Wainwright shall be remembered down the ages with Paul Jones, Decatur, Porter and Farragut; and with them the great Arctic hero, Admiral George W. Melville.

The monarchy of Spain that once ruled the western world has been swept off the seas, and does not own an inch of land on the American Continent.

I personally participated, with my soldier comrades, in the inauguration ceremonies of the lofty Lincoln, the glorious Garfield and the magnanimous McKinley, and heard their burning words of patriotism delivered from the east front of the National Capitol.

And again it was my melancholy duty to march with the Grand Army of the Republic in the funeral train that took their assassinated remains to lie in state under the dome of the Capitol for the last view of the people upon the calm countenance of these illustrious Americans.

The greatest characters of earth vanish away and are forgotten like the mists of the morning.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth ere gave, Await alike the inevitable hour The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

And now bestriding the Isthmus beneath the Stars and Stripes, with my right foot at Colon and left foot at Panama, I watch the digging of the interocean canal, with the High Priest Roosevelt joining the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in eternal wedlock, where the commerce of the globe shall float equal and free forever!

Congregated at the World’s Fair at St. Louis, the grandest exposition of the globe, I see passing in review the men and women of all nations, where art, science, letters, manufacture, commerce and government power reveal the wonders of man’s handiwork.

And now, navigating the circumambient air in an electric ship, I’ll sail away to the “Island of Immortality,” and dream a season from my multifarious labors.

I’ll go swinging round the
circle Through six hundred future years, With
the roses and the myrtle Growing in celestial
spheres; And sweet Freedom, heaven slated Round
my footsteps, night and day, When I am incarnated
Shall still hold its deathless sway! And
great Shakspere then shall meet me To renew our
former youth, And exclaim with honest fervor
“Jack, you always told the truth!"