Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/141
Robert Edward Lee. 141
prince; but when the people heard that Lee had laid down his sword in the midst of its own overwhelming grief the great heart of the South beat with tenfold sympathy and love for its fallen chief.
Sedan was the grave of the Third Napoleon; Appomattox was for the paroled prisoner Lee the beginning of a new life, illustrated by a victory in peace more glorious than any that had crowned his arms in war; for he lived to conquer the prejudice and hate of all honorable foes and compel the homage of mankind itself by the exhibition of such moral grandeur, such unsurpassed patience in suffering, such fortitude in misfortune, such unequalled self-command, and such Christ-like self-abnegation, that when at last he was borne to rest under the shadows of the blue hills of old Virginia, the wild wail of sorrow that went up to Heaven from the sorely-tried and sorely- stricken South found a responsive echo in every land where men honor the brave and love the good.
And still we
41 Mourn for the man of amplest influence, Yet clearest of ambition's crime ; Our greatest, yet with least pretence. Great in council and great in war ; Rich in saving common sense; .
And, as the greatest only are, In his simplicity sublime."
The cause we celebrate to-night ! Not the cause of sedition or treason, not that of vaulting ambition, nor yet of secession or disunion, but the cause of the statehood of the States, of the Constitution and union of the fathers; the cause that Lee battled for with a giant's might; the cause for which Sydney Johnston and Stonewall Jackson gave their glorious lives, and for which their hero soldiers were con- tent to bleed and die and sleep in unmarked graves on an hundred fields; the cause of constitutional limitations and constitutional law. That is the cause we commemorate to-night.
THE CAUSE WILL LIVE.
It did not perish utterly at Appomattox. It did not die with Lee. It will survive the passions of the hour and live when sneering hypo- crites and brazen demagogues with their force bills and their unholy schemes of public plunder and private gain shall only be remembered to arouse the scorn and execration of all patriotic men. It cannot die, for it is the cause of liberty itself, and
"Freedom's battle once begun, Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son, Though baffled oft is ever won."