Him you set on a high column.
Who is to have a statue?
means, whom shall we consecrate and set apart as one of our sacred men?
Sacred; that all men may see him, be reminded of him, and, by new example added to old perpetual precept, be taught what is real worth in man. Show me the man you honor; I know by that sympton, better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are. For you show me there what your ideal of manhood is; what kind of man you long inexpressibly to be, and would thank the gods, with your whole soul, for being if you could.’
It is all a question of time; and the time is, probably, not quite yet. The wounds of the great war are not altogether healed, its personal memories are still fresh, its passions not wholly allayed.
It would, indeed, be cause for special wonder if they were.
But, I am as convinced as an unillumined man can be of anything future, that when such time does come, a justice, not done now, will be done to those descendants of Washington
, of Jefferson
, of Rutledge
, and of Lee
, who stood opposed to us in a succeeding generation.
That the national spirit is now supreme and the nation cemented, I hold to be unquestionable.
That property in man has vanished from the civilized world is due to our Civil War. The two are worth the great price then paid for them.
But, wrong as he may have been, and as he was proved by events, in these respects the Confederate
had many great and generous qualities; he also was brave, chivalrous, self-sacrificing, sincere, and patriotic.
So I look forward with confidence to the time when they too will be represented in our national Pantheon.
Then the query will be answered here, as the query in regard to Cromwell
's statue put sixty years ago has recently been answered in England
The bronze effigy of Robert E. Lee
, mounted on his charger, and with the insignia of his Confederate rank, will from its pedestal in the nation's capital gaze across the Potomac
at his old home at Arlington
, even as that of Cromwell
dominates the yard of Westminster
upon which his skull once looked down.
When that time comes, Lee
's monument will be educational —it will typify the historical appreciation of all that goes to make up the loftiest type of character, military and civic, exemplified in an opponent, once dreaded, but ever respected; and, above all, it will symbolize and commemorate that loyal acceptance of the consequences of defeat, and the patient upbuilding of a people under new conditions by constitutional means, which I hold to be the greatest educational lesson America has yet taught to a once skeptical, but now silenced world.