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‘ [333] past, or for the ages to come.’ But, facing the duty of the hour, Lee saw that the question submitted to the arbitrament of war had been finally answered. He recognized that the unity of the American people had been irrevocably established. He felt that it would be impiety and crime to dishonor by the petty strife of faction that pure and unselfish struggle for constitutional rights, which, while a single hope remained, had been loyally fought out by great armies, led by heroic captains, and sustained by the patriotic sacrifices of a noble and resolute people. He, therefore, promptly counselled his old soldiers to look upon the great country thus reunited by blood and iron as their own, and to live and labor for its honor and welfare. His own conduct was in accord with these teachings. Day by day his example illustrated what his manly words declared, ‘that human virtue should be equal to human calamity.’

For five years he was now permitted to exhibit to his countrymen, in the discharge of the duties of President of Washington College, the best qualities of citizen, sage and patriot. In Plato's account of the education of a Persian king, four tutors are chosen from among the Persian nobles—one the wisest, another the most just, a third the most temperate, and a fourth the bravest. It was the unique fortune of the students of Washington College to find these four great characters united in one man—their peerless Lee. As the people saw him fulfilling these modest, but noble functions—as they saw him with antique simplicity putting aside every temptation to use his great fame for vulgar gain; as they saw him, in self respecting contentment with the frugal earnings of his personal labor, refusing every offer of pecuniary assistance; as they realized his unselfish devotion of all that remained of strength and life to the nurture of the Southern youth in knowledge and morals, a new conviction of his wisdom and virtue gathered force and volume, and spread abroad into all lands.

The failure of the righteous cause for which he fought denied him that eminence of civil station, in which his great qualities in their happy mixture might well have afforded a parallel to the strength and the moderation of Washington. But what failure could obscure that mortal perfection which places him as easily by the side of the best men that have ever lived, as the heroic actions make him the peer of the greatest? There are men whose influence on mankind neither worldly success nor worldly failure can affect.

The greatest gift the hero leaves his race
Is to have been a hero.

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