We, who have just emerged, shattered indeed and reeling, from another and yet more awful combat for freedom, can the better extend our sympathy to those forefathers of ours situated in like case, and can imagine with what beating hearts they must have listened to so magnificent a call to arms as this; commingling prayer, exhortation, and benediction.
Napoleon, after all, waged his wars with us according to the laws of nations, the rules of civilised peoples, and the dictates of decent humanity. But never since Christianity has been established has one man committed so dread and awful an accumulation of public iniquities as stand for ever against the base and cowardly name of William Hohenzollern, Emperor in Germany. He spat upon the ancient chivalries of battle; he prostituted the decent amenities of diplomacy; he polluted with infamy and murder the splendid comradeship of the sea. When the captain of one of his submarines placed upon his deck the captured crew of an unarmed merchant vessel which he had sunk, destroyed their boats, took from them their life-belts, carried them miles away from any floating wreckage, and then projected them into the sea to drown, this unspeakable monarch approved the awful deed and decorated the ruffian for his infamous cruelty.
When gallant Fryatt, fulfilling every duty a captain owes to his unarmed crew and helpless passengers, turned the bows of his peaceful packet-boat upon the submarine which was being used to murder them all in cold blood, he fell into this Kaiser's hands, and the coward wreaked his vengeance upon nobility that was beyond his comprehension and valour that rendered him insignificant. Of these horrible acts the proofs stand unchallenged, and for such deeds as these the world has cast him out: thrown him down from one of the greatest thrones in history; and left him in the place to which, white with terror, he ignominiously fled, stripped of all his power and splendour, his crowns, his crosses, and his diadems.
It was his custom in the plenitude of his power to declare himself answerable for his actions only to God and himself. Then let the judgment of God be upon him. When we recall the awful and unnumbered horrors with which he covered Europe, I doubt whether all history can furnish a parallel to him.
By his authority helpless Belgium was invaded, treaties treacherously broken, and her people slaughtered.
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By his authority her priests were murdered in cold blood and her nuns violated by his vile soldiery. By his authority poison gases were first projected with low cunning upon brave and honourable adversaries. By his authority hospital ships at sea were sent to the bottom. But time and the might of free nations have, after fearful sufferings, dissipated his invincible armies, and they have shrivelled before the wrath of mankind. The whole world rose up in its offended majesty and tore from him that shining armour of which it was his custom to boast; and, with the brand of Cain upon him, he now lies obscurely in Holland, bereft of all the trappings of his sinister power.
There were times in the past when justice would have avenged such awful crimes as lie at this man's door with the torture of his living body and the desecration of his lifeless remains, but his conquerors disdained to debase themselves by imitating his own abominations; and they left him to afford a spectacle to posterity as the supreme example of human ignominy! When you are old, Antony, and this greatest of all wars has become part of England's history, you will be proud and happy to remember that your own father, at the first call for volunteers, laid down the pencil and scale of his peaceful profession, went out to fight for his country in the trenches in France, was wounded almost to death, and was saved only by the skill and devotion of one of the greatest surgeons of the day.
May such a call never come to our beloved country again! But if it does, Antony, I know where you will be found without need of exhortations from me. Grattan, of whom I have already written, had in the first Lord Plunket a successor and a compatriot very little his inferior in the gift of oratory.
He was born in , and was therefore some fourteen years younger than Grattan, whom he survived by thirty-four years. Like Grattan, he displayed a burning patriotism and, like him, fiercely opposed the Act of Union. Few orators have displayed greater powers of clear reason and convincing logic than Plunket.
General James G. Blunt : Tarnished Glory by Robert Collins (2005, Hardcover)
It may be admitted that he seldom rose to great heights of eloquence, but tradition credits his delivery with a quality of dignity amounting almost to majesty. The gift of oratory consists in how things are said as much as in what things are said, and the voice, gesture, and manner of Plunket were commanding and magnificent. When Attorney-General in Ireland, in , in a speech prosecuting the leaders of the riot known as "the Bottle Riot," Plunket uttered the following fine tribute to the character of William the Third:—.
Perhaps no person has ever appeared on the theatre of the world who has conferred more essential or more lasting benefits on mankind; on these countries, certainly none. When I look at the abstract merits of his character, I contemplate him with admiration and reverence. Lord of a petty principality—destitute of all resources but those with which nature had endowed him—regarded with jealousy and envy by those whose battles he fought; thwarted in all his counsels; embarrassed in all his movements; deserted in his most critical enterprises—he continued to mould all those discordant materials, to govern all these warring interests, and merely by the force of his genius, the ascendancy of his integrity, and the immovable firmness and constancy of his nature, to combine them into an indissoluble alliance against the schemes of despotism and universal domination of the most powerful monarch in Europe, seconded by the ablest generals, at the head of the bravest and best disciplined armies in the world, and wielding, without check or control, the unlimited resources of his empire.
He was not a consummate general; military men will point out his errors; in that respect Fortune did not favour him, save by throwing the lustre of adversity over all his virtues. He sustained defeat after defeat, but always rose adversa rerum immersabilis unda. Looking merely at his shining qualities and achievements, I admire him as I do a Scipio, a Regulus, a Fabius; a model of tranquil courage, undeviating probity, and armed with a resoluteness and constancy in the cause of truth and freedom, which rendered him superior to the accidents that control the fate of ordinary men.
This is not so magnificent a panegyric as that of Grattan in his written tribute to Chatham, but, enhanced by the gesture and voice of the great orator, it was reputed to have left a deep impression upon all who heard it. But few speeches, however eloquent, survive, while the printed work of the writer may long endure; but to the orator is given what the writer never experiences—the fierce enjoyment, amounting almost to rapture, of holding an audience entranced under the spell of the spoken cadences; and English, Antony, has a splendour all its own when uttered by a master of its august music.
To-day I will write about Robert Southey, and, as he and Coleridge married sisters, you may claim a distant relationship with him. His personal character was beautiful and unselfish, and his dwelling at Keswick was the home that for years sheltered Coleridge's children. With hardly an exception the poets of England have had an easy and royal mastery of prose; and in the case of Robert Southey there are some, and they are not the worst critics, who anticipate that his prose will long outlast his poetry in the Temple of Fame.
We may suppose that to a man whose whole private life was stainlessly dedicated to a noble rectitude of conduct, and whose every act was sternly subjected to the judgment of an unbending conscience, some circumstances of the private life of Nelson must have been distasteful and open to censure; but no such reservations dimmed the splendour of Southey's tribute to the public hero who gave his life in the act of establishing, beyond reach of dispute or cavil, the throne of England as Queen of the Sea.
An object of our admiration and affection, of our pride and of our hopes, was suddenly taken from us, and it seemed as if we had never, till then, known how deeply we loved and reverenced him.
General James Blunt: Tarnished Glory
So perfectly, indeed, had he performed his part, that the maritime war, after the battle of Trafalgar, was considered at an end; the fleets of the enemy were not merely defeated, but destroyed; new navies must be built, and a new race of seamen reared for them, before the possibility of their invading our shores could again be contemplated. The people of England grieved that funeral ceremonies, public monuments and posthumous rewards, were all which they could now bestow upon him whom the king, the legislature, and the nation, would alike have delighted to honour; whom every tongue would have blessed; whose presence in every village through which he might have passed would have wakened the church bells, have given schoolboys a holiday, have drawn children from their sports to gaze upon him, and 'old men from the chimney corner' to look upon Nelson ere they died.
Yet he cannot be said to have fallen prematurely whose work was done; nor ought he to be lamented, who died so full of honours, and at the height of human fame. The most triumphant death is that of a martyr; the most awful, that of the martyred patriot; the most splendid, that of the hero in the hour of victory; and if the chariot and the horses of fire had been vouchsafed for Nelson's translation, he could scarcely have departed in a brighter blaze of glory. Nelson left England the Queen of the Sea, and the great war with Germany has failed to displace her from that splendid throne.
For the plain fact of history remains that, after the battle of Jutland, the German High Seas Fleet never ventured out of port again till the end of the war; and when it did emerge from its ignominious security, it sailed to captivity at Scapa Flow, there ultimately to repose on the bottom of the sea. There are four very celebrated lines written by Walter Savage Landor which you may have heard quoted; they were written towards the close of his life, and are certainly distinguished and memorable:—.
It does not detract from the merit of the lines that as a fact Landor was of a fiery disposition, and strove a great deal with many adversaries, often of his own creation, throughout his long life  ; and although he was of a fierce and combative nature he displayed in his writings a classical restraint and tender beauty hardly achieved by his contemporaries. There is an exquisite delicacy in this dialogue that places it among the wonders of literature:—.
Shakespeare Quotes. James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations
Never shall I forget the morning when my father, sitting in the coolest part of the house, exchanged his last measure of grain for a chlamys of scarlet cloth, fringed with silver. He watched the merchant out of the door, and then looked wistfully into the cornchest. I, who thought there was something worth seeing, looked in also, and finding it empty, expressed my disappointment, not thinking, however, about the corn.
A faint and transient smile came over his countenance at the sight of mine. He unfolded the chlamys, stretched it out with both hands before me, and then cast it over my shoulders.
In the United States Army
I looked down on the glittering fringe and screamed with joy. He then went out; and I know not what flowers he gathered, but he gathered many; and some he placed in my bosom, and some in my hair. But I told him with captious pride, first that I could arrange them better, and again that I would have only the white.
However, when he had selected all the white and I had placed a few of them according to my fancy, I told him rising in my slipper he might crown me with the remainder. Soon as the flowers had taken their station on my head, I expressed a dignified satisfaction at the taste displayed by my father, just as if I could have seen how they appeared! But he knew that there was at least as much pleasure as pride in it, and perhaps we divided the latter alas!
Merchants came and looked at me; some commending, others disparaging; but all agreeing that I was slender and delicate, that I could not live long, and that I should give much trouble. Many would have bought the chlamys, but there was something less saleable in the child and flowers. Had thy features been coarse and thy voice rustic, they would all have patted thy cheeks and found no fault in thee. As it was, every one had bought exactly such another in time past, and been a loser by it.
The Hon. Stephen Coleridge
At these speeches, I perceived the flowers tremble slightly on my bosom, from my father's agitation. Although he scoffed at them, knowing my healthiness, he was troubled internally, and said many short prayers, not very unlike imprecations, turning his head aside. Proud was I, prouder than ever, when at last several talents were offered for me, and by the very man who in the beginning had undervalued me most, and prophesied the worst of me.
My father scowled at him and refused the money. I thought he was playing a game, and began to wonder what it could be, since I had never seen it played before. Then I fancied it might be some celebration because plenty had returned to the city, insomuch that my father had bartered the last of the corn he hoarded.
But soon there advanced an elderly man, who said gravely, 'Thou hast stolen this child; her vesture alone is worth a hundred drachmas. Carry her home again to her parents, and do it directly, or Nemesis and the Eumenides will overtake thee. He, although naturally choleric, burst forth into no resentment at these reproaches, but said calmly, 'I think I know thee by name, O guest!
Surely thou art Xanthus, the Samian.