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[28] overwhelming foe, the chieftain of your armies, gentlemen, feared lest the examples of knightly valour and splendid fortitude, which you have exhibited to the ages, might, through the incapacity or incredulity, or venal mendacity of the historian, be finally lost to the human race.

And there is, I will venture to say, scarcely a soldier of the Confederacy who does not share this apprehension that posterity may not do justice to the cause in which he fought. Soldiers, you cannot bear to think that your children's children shall have forgotten the fields on which you have shed your blood. You cannot think with equanimity that a day will come when Virginia shall have suffered the fame of her heroes to be lost in obscurity, and the valorous achievements of her sons to fade from memory. And if you thought, to-night, that the muse of history would turn traitor to your cause, misrepresent the principles for which you fought, and deny to you those attributes of valour, fortitude and heroic devotion you have grandly won, your souls would rise up within you in immediate and bitter and protesting indignation.

This apprehension is thought by some to be not altogether groundless. The North, it is said, is making the literature of these times, has secured the ear of the age and will not fail to make an impression, unfavorable to you, which time will deepen rather than obliterate. Diligent fingers are carving the statues of the heroes of the Northern armies, writing partizan and distorted versions of their achievements, altering, even in this generation, the perspective of history, until, at no distant day, they shall have succeeded in crowding out every other aspirant of fame and beguiled posterity into believing that the laurels of honor should rest, alone and undisturbed, upon the brows of your adversaries.

It is to dispel this apprehension that I am here to-night. I am here to tell you that the muse of history will not turn traitor to your cause, that your fame shall not be forgotten—no, not so long as unwearied time shall count out the years to mortal man!

There is a law which governs the compilation of history, gentlemen,—a law which is succinctly stated in this sentiment to which I am responding: ‘The triumphs of might are transient—they pass and are forgotten—the sufferings of right are graven deepest on the chronicles of nations.’

Rome made the literature of her day; Carthage made none; Rome was the victorious power; Carthage was obliterated:—and yet, the figure of Hannibal stands out, luminously clear, from the misty background


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