Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/40
Southern Historical Society Papers.
with Rupert or Cromwell—did he fall while riding with leveled point in the grim wall of advancing Ironsides, or go hopelessly down in death beneath their thundering hoofs—what descendant of any Englishman who there met his end, but with pride would read the name of Naseby on his regimental flag? What Frenchman would consent to the erasure of Ivry or Moncontour? Thus, in all these matters, time is the great magician. It both mellows and transforms. The Englishman of to-day does not apply to Cromwell the standard of loyalty or treason, of right and wrong, applied after the Restoration; nor again, does the twentieth century confirm the nineteenth's verdicts. Even slavery we may come to regard as a phase, pardonable as passing, in the evolution of a race.
I hold it will certainly be so with our Civil War. The year 1965 will look upon its causes, its incidents, and its men with different eyes from those with which we see them now—eyes wholly different from those with which we saw forty years ago. They—for we by that time will have rejoined the generation to which we belonged—will recognize the somewhat essential fact, indubitably true, that all the honest conviction, all the loyalty, all the patriotic devotion and self-sacrifice were not then, any more than all the courage, on the victor's side. True! the moral right, the spirit of nationality, the sacred cause of humanity even, were on our side, but among those opposed, and who in the end went down, were men not less sincere, not less devoted, not less truly patriotic according to their lights, than he who among us was first in all those qualities. Men of whom it was and is a cause of pride and confidence to say: "They, too, were countrymen!"Typical of those men—most typical—was Lee. He represented, individualized, all that was highest and best in the southern mind and the Confederate cause—the loyalty to State, the keen sense of honor and personal obligation, the slightly archaic, the almost patriarchal, love of dependent, family and home. As I have more than once said, he was a Virginian of the Virginians. He represents a type which is gone—hardly less extinct than that of the great English nobleman of the feudal times, or the ideal head of the Scotch clan of a later period; but, just so long as men admire courage, devotion, patriotism, the high sense of duty and personal honor—all, in a word, which go to make up what we know as character—just so long will that type of man be held in affectionate, reverential memory. They have in them all the elements of the heroic. As Carlyle wrote more than half a century ago, so now: "Whom do you wish