Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/306

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296 Southern Historical Nor/V///


As Governor Tyler uttered these words the audience rose and cheered to the echo. So great was enthusiasm that it was fully two minutes before General Wheeler could make himself heard.

Enthusiasm at length gave way to curiosity, and then General Wheeler, in clear, penetrating tones, said:

Mr. Commander, Governor Tyler, Members of

General Lee' Camp of Veterans :

It affords me great pleasure that I am permitted to be with you on this interesting occasion. It is especially a pleasure to find here an interest in those days and scenes which cause the soil of Virginia to be held in such veneration, and to find that that interest is not di- minished by time. It is also a pleasure to find the sons of Virginia taking such deep interest in those things which commanded the at- tention of their fathers. It might be expected that we would find that sentiment in Virginia, the birthplace of patriots, the home of heroes, the grave of liberty's martyrs! It is a privilege to stand upon her historic soil. How overwhelmingly rush upon us thoughts of her past! Here Washington first saw the light, and Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, as they grew to manhood's prime, learned to be great, and here is enshrined their hallowed dust.

Virginia gave to the world Gaines, Harrison, Taylor, Scott, John- ston, Stonewall Jackson, Stuart and the long roll of the chivalric Lees, above all, the one colossal Lee, whose fame challenges the ages from the topmost heights of glorious renown; the gallant, superb, chivalrous Robert. Edward Lee, a general whose victories have no parallel in history, a man whose unblemished character stands before the world as a model of the purest virtue and highest type of manhood. Blessed be this beautiful historic city, so closely identified with his chivalrous life.

" But Lee has a thousand graves

In a thousand hearts, I ween; And teardrops fall from our eyes in waves

That will keep his memory green. Ah, Muse! you dare not claim

A nobler man than he, Nor nobler man has less of blame, Nor blameless man hath purer name, Nor purer name hath grander fame,

Nor Fame another Lee."