osopher, Lavater, had said: "He who can at all times sacrifice pleasure to duty, approaches sublimity." And nearly a century ago, the English essayist, De Quincey, had written: "It is an impressive truth that sometimes, in the very lowest forms of duty, less than which would mark a man as a villain, there is, nevertheless, the sublimest ascent of self-sacrifice."
2. And now what words of General Lee can compensate us for the loss of the cherished sentence, "Duty, then, is the sublimest word in our language"?
Soon after General Lee's death there was found in his army satchel, which had not been opened since the war, a sheet of paper on which he had written these noble words, which fall on the ear with the solemn tones, and majestic roll, of some great cathedral organ:
"There is a true glory, and a true honor; the glory of duty done, the honor of integrity of principle."
These words were written during that dreadful winter in the trenches at Petersburg, when Lee, like a wounded lion at bay, confronted Grant for the last time. He must have seen the shadow of the black pall of Appomattox already creeping over the doomed Confederacy; and he must have felt that soon he would be called on, in his own person, to exemplify the truth of his words: "Human virtue should be equal to human calamity."
In this hour of failure, in this wreck of a nation's hopes, General Lee asked himself what would be the verdict of history on the Lost Cause; and on those who loved it, and fought for it to the bitter end. And he found comfort and courage in the words which have been quoted, which are worthy to be inscribed on his monument, and to the world's epitaph on the Southern Confederacy, and on its heroic defenders. And these words of General Lee come as his [] to all who nobly strive for the right as they see it, whether in peace or in war, whether in victory or in defeat:"There is a true glory and a true honor; the glory of duty done, the honor of integrity of principle."
- Aphorisms on Man (ed. 1793) by Johann Caspar Lavater.