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[132] his fellow-soldiers to a Heavenly care, ‘to rest under the trees’ this day, thirty-two years ago—the question recurs: ‘Was he not in the right?’

When I picture the matchless dignity of Robert E. Lee, looking from his charger in grave serenity upon a field tumultuous with every form of effort of horse and man, and incarnadined with human gore; or recall him, as it was my fortune to see him, in the peace and quiet of his headquarters, and mark the signs on his countenance, of the God-given intellect, and regal dignity of spirit, that afterwards refused fortune and honor abroad to share poverty and labor with his own at home, I am forced to declare—if such immortal spirits were wrong, then let me be wrong with them!

In a memorial address twenty-six years ago, the brave and lamented Colonel Robert H. Cowan used this language, when our people were sitting amid the thickest gloom of their great calamity, and patriotic Wilmington was erecting a memorial to our dead. He declared:

In the Pass of classic Thermopylae, there is a monumental pillar reared by the decree of the Amphictyonic Council, to the memory of Leonidas and his devoted three hundred. It bears an inscription, written by the poet of the time, in a style of true Lacedemonian simplicity, and yet it is so tender and touching in its tone, and so lofty in its sentiment, that it appears to me to be sublime:

Oh stranger! tell it to the Lacedemonians,
That we lie here in obedience to their laws.

Let the stranger, whoever he may be, that visits this sacred spot, go and proclaim it to all the world that these brave men lie here in obedience to the laws of North Carolina.

The tongue that spoke these words has long been silent in the grave, but they are forever true. The mother State, conservative in all her history, pondered her steps long and well. What she ordered was done in the plain path of duty, when all other resource had departed. But that duty once ascertained, was performed with a tenacious determination almost without a parallel.

In this transitory life, the most precious things are the spiritual forces—the invisible, but immortal, powers that mould men's lives.

Look about you, in your beautiful Capital City, putting on anew the garniture of spring. Consider the swift passing away of the material objects about us. A century or two, and where are the

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