This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 zeal of those noble women of the South to whom in large measure we owe this auspicious day; it will bear its lasting witness as the voluntary offering of the people, not the governments of the Southern States; and, standing as a perpetual memorial of our great leader, it will stand not less as an enduring record of what his fellow-citizens deemed most worthy to be honored. What kind of greatness, then—it may be fitting on this spot to ask-what kind of greatness should men most honor in their fellowmen? Vast and varied is the circle of human excellence—where is our paramount allegiance due? In that ‘temple of silence and reconciliation,’ that Westminster Abbey of Florence, whither so many paths of glory led, you may read one answer to this question on the cenotaph of Dante in the inscription: ‘Honor the sublime poet.’ These words the medieval poet himself applied to his great master, Virgil. After near six centuries they still touch some of the deepest feelings of the heart. And with them come crowding on the mind memories of a long line of poets, artists, historians, orators, thinkers who have sounded all the depths of speculation, princes of science, who have advanced the frontiers of ordered knowledge, of the least of whom it may be said—as Newton's gravestone records of the greatest—that he was an honor to the race of men. Yes, if our life were only thought and emotion, if will and action and courage did not make up its greatest part, men might justly reverence the genius of poets and thinkers above all other greatness. But strong and natural as is the inclination of those given up to the intellectual life thus to exalt the triumphs of the imagination and the reason, such is not the impulse of the great heart of the multitude. And the multitude is right. In a large and true sense conduct is more than intellect, more than art or eloquence—to have done great things is nobler than to have thought or expressed them. Thus, in every land, the most conspicuous monuments commemorate the great actors, not the great thinkers of the world's history; and among these men of action the great soldier has always secured the first place in the affections of his countrymen. What means this universal outburst of the love and admiration of our race for men who have been foremost in war? Is the common sense of mankind blinded by the blaze of military glory? Or does some deep instinct teach us that the character of the ideal commander is the grandest manifestation in which man can show himself to man? The power and the fascination of this ideal are attested by the indulgent admiration
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.