Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/90
82 Southern Historical Society Papers.
romantic and daring adventures of her sons in every period of storm and stress, the brave avowals of her great leaders in the cause of the civil and religious liberty; the deep-seated belief that the rights of the government were only derived from the consent of the governed; the position of the parties to the impending conflict the North rich in teeming population, diversified wealth, established government and the prestige of the old flag and the old constitution the South unequal in every point, save in the enthusiasm and determination of her people; all this made the strongest appeal to the imagination and sympathies of her sons. To stand by as a neutral would have been to wear the badge of confessed dishonor. At the thought of invasion either of their homes or their liberties, there sprang to the hearts of these cavaliers and the sturdy yeomanry of the mountain and the plain, the inspiring words of the poet of their fatherland:
" In our halls is hung
Armory of the invincible knights of old; We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spoke; the faith and morals hold Which Milton held In everything we are sprung
Of earth's first blood, have titles manifold."
The prophetic warning of her statesmen as to the terrors which would mark the conflict, were more than realized in her desolated homes, her impoverished people, and the myriad graves of her sons that marked the face of the Commonwealth ; and yet when all was over, and standing in the midst of her desolation, the figure which represented the true life and genius and heroism of the Common- wealth, could but exclaim in the language of Demosthenes:
" I say if the event had been manifest to the world beforehand, not even then ought Athens to have forsaken this course, if Athens had any regard for her glory, or for her past, or for the ages to come."
I have thus, my countrymen, attempted to epitomize some of the causes and motives which influenced the people of Virginia dur- ing the momentous period of the Civil War. If I have presented one fact or suggested one thought which will tend to make clear the truth, then my labor has not been in vain. The great duty of this generation is to present to the world the truth with reference to the causes and motives which actuated our people in that struggle.
To the future we may look with confidence for a vindication of the