Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/197
Unvriling GottfcdcraU Motunm-nt i Uxmtgomery, Ala. 187
'red Women and Fellow Countrymen:
Deep and indefinable emotions and throngs of stern and tender memories stir our hearts, and fill our souls and minds, as we stand upon this sacred and historic spot, and drink in the sublimity and significance of this august hour. No tongue can give fit expression to your exalted thoughts, and my lips had been dumb but for the command laid upon me by those whom no comrade of the dead dare disobey, to speak some words for them, ere this monument is com- mitted to the keeping of time and future generations.
Who to-day can forget that other day, when the man whose only sin was we made him leader, was borne in triumph by the love of his people, from his home by the sea to his old Capitol, while the world looked on, and learned that the people for whom he suffered had neither forgotten nor deserted him, in the hour of adversity. What orator or painter can depict the thrilling moment when the aged prisoner of Fortress Monroe, erect, unfettered, sustained by the love of his people, amidst the thunders of cannon and the acclaim of the multitude, laid the corner-stone of this monument, erected here by authority of a State, while the troops saluted with rolling drums, drooped colors and presented arms, and veterans and people, heads all bare, did him honor.
There was one, above all others, who did him reverence, then. Who that saw her at that supreme moment, can shut out vision of the winsome daughter at his side ? This tender shoot of his own vine, child of his exile and retirement, had not known the people's hearts. As the full meaning of the scene burst upon her, the glo- rious face of this fair young girl, lit with filial love, grew brighter and brighter, until a halo shone about her, and she seemed trans- formed to a seraph, and we forgot that we looked upon a daughter of men. Even yonder dingy old building caught the inspiration, and shone from dome to pit with renewed whiteness, as it reflected back, in the April sun, the purity of that sweet picture of noble womanhood.
There comes before us again the loved form of the man, of big jeart and great brain, who was Alabama's governor during the tormiest years of her existence. We recall his manly face suffused nth tears, when his chief lovingly placing his hands upon him, told
w he had learned to lean upon him, in the sad days at Richmond,
When Alabama took him from me there was none to take his >lace."
There was another knightly soul moved to tears then for beside