Newspaper Page Text
BY JULIAN A. SELBY.
Cen. Preston's Address.
By special request, we publish the fol?
lowing extracts from the "address" of
Gen. John S. Preston before tho alumni
of tho Unvorsity of Virginia:
The whole brood of nurselings?tho
offspring of fifty years inuual parturition
of the foremost school of letters, science
and philosophy, in this new world?have
called me, one of the first-born but
humblest of the flock, to stand here by
our nursery cradio and speak to them
and you. It iB a very notable honor, the
most notable of my life, and I undertake
it with a tremulous reverence for tho
high responsibility it imposes. My fos?
ter-brothers are the learned, tho wise, the
heroic, elders and teaahers of the land;
the intellectual and social "conscript
fathers," the "Socraf tei ciri." Coming
out from the obscurity of age and a lost
country, what theme can I assume to
celebrate in the presence of the alumni of
the Univeristy of Virginia? The litera?
ture, the science, the philosophy, together
with the embodied thought of these fifty
years, have spread before us a world full
of themes bo various, that your speaker
may well be more troubled in selection
than in treatment Were I to take any
of a thousand, appropriate to this day
and occasion, I might succeed in win?
ning your sympathies and awakening
your interest. Standing here, as it were,
on the portico of our own academy,
where for fifty years wisdow has talked
with her sons, we can see the great book
and volume of nature unfolding like a
scroll to draw our wondering, upturned
gaze, or we can wander to and fro in
shaded avenuos amid the graceful forms
' 'And seo how Apollo, fair-haired god,
Draws in and bends his golden bow,
While on the left fair Dian waves her
And there let the sweet allurements of
fancy woo onr hearts and minds to float
along in tho bright enchantment of her
flowery pathways. Or better, higher,
nobler still, gozo upon that picture?
"Athens, tho eye of Greece, mother of
And eloquence." With her
"Schools of ancient sages. His who
Great Alexander to subdno the world."
? ? ? * ? And?
? "Blind Mecigencs, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his
Thenco what the lofty, grave tragedians
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence,with delightreccived,
In brief, sententious precepts, while they
Of fate, and chance, and change in hu?
High actions and high passions best
Thence to the famous orators repair,
Those ancients whoso resistless elo?
Wielded at will that fierce democratic,
Shook tho arsenal, and fulmined over
To Mace don, and Artaxorxes throne."
Or, coming back from tho school
where wisdom taught h?r Athenian sons,
to the day and the hour, I might with
nimble lingers unweavo our thread of
fifty years from she warp and woof of the
world's history, and hang our joys on its
golden tissues, like rich jowels, or our
griefs and woo on its torn and jagged
shreds. But, my young friends, theso
theme's are for your sympathies; they are
the fond words of lullaby?"loquela
bUtnda atqne infracia"?sung hero at onr
mother's cradle to soothe and charm
those who still cling to her breast. They
are for tho coming world?the after to?
day. Science and philosophy own no
past. When Gallileo died, Newton was
born, and the soul of tho Italian impreg?
nated the spirit of the Englishman.
They gather up the past, carry it forward
and with prophetic calculation toss "it
into tho future, to mould new laws and
new forms. Year by year they gather
here at the store-houses oil for their
lamps, or faggots for their torches, or
snatch Promothenn flro, only to guide
their footsteps onward to an undefined
and boundless future, to which they are
beckoning and wooing your young devo?
tion. But with us grey beards, "stand?
ing on tho silent, solemn shore of that
vast ocean wo must sail so soon," who
see the harvest sickle glittering near, in
the unlifted hand of the reaper, to whom
time is calling every hour to another birth,
the stern present and tho rigid, immuta?
ble past now prevails. For us I must soek
for other themes, sterner than the dic?
tates of scholastic science, broador than
that which spans the earth, stronger than
that which binds the ocean, higher than
that which measures the stars of heaven.
It is that theme which burdens ovcry
soul, which worships eternal truth and
right, to whioh philosophy, science, art
poetry?all you are taught in this glo
B rions sohool, with its men of mighty
thought and learning?are but humble
hand-maidens and servitors, It is the
theme whose purport is to measnro the
deep relations of right and wrong, of
justice and liberty, and I will talk of it
here to-day before these altars and under
this sky,, though cautions philosophy
may be offended, and timid policy may
tremble to approve. I cannot stand in
the shadow of Montieello with my heart
overflowing with sacred memories and
"Let our Just Censures
not ease it by utterance. God docs not |
grant me the mercy of blind oblivion to j
forget tbe past, and the duty of filial
piety will not let me be silent concerning
the present I tremble to lose your es?
teem and approval. Be charitable to
these grey hairs, and to one who offered
his life, and gave all tho rest, that you
might bo free, and lost all, save this
woeful remnant of that life. I must ease
my heart. From my speech I must drop
the fond records, the forms and pressure
my youth and observation gathered here,
and dare speak to you of that which,
bursting wide from tho womb of time,
rules the hour in which wo livo here to?
day, and wraps in lurid gloom the veiled
mystery of its future. I propose to speak
to you of tho very hour in which we are
here to-day, face to face with it?"latus
cum latere'?in all its movements and
demands, and thus to try to tell of its
relation to the past, and with deep hu?
mility and earnest prayer to prophesy of
its connection with tho future. My
brothers here, who have passed tho
"improvida aslas puerorum"?tho unsus?
pecting age of boyhood?will happily
join me if I praise the past, and weep
with me if I recite the woes of tho pre
aont; and if, when you have your fifty
years, and ours are a hundred, any of
you be here anr remember this day, you
will not curse my memory for tho lesson
and the prayer I have dared to offer you.
Yon are hero to gather the fruits of tho
past, to feed upon them, that in the
future you may have strength to regain
tho waste and loss we havo made: to add
to tho treasure, to increase its power and
carry it onward to your own redemption,
and for a pledge of security, and for tho
perpetual advantage of those who come
Two or three vears after tho close of that
war which, in the language of that great
lawyer, wise statesman and bravo gentle
[ man, Charles O'Conor, of New York, de
I stroyed constitutional liberty in Anieri
| ca?that heroic and mortal struggle for
truth and right?I was invited by the
trustees, faculty and students of a Me?
thodist College in South Carolina to
make the commencement -address. The
college, like this, is in tho beautiful
Piedmont region, not far from Cowpens
and King's Mountain, the turning points,
as Bancroft tells us, of the first struggle
for American liborty and independence.,
determined by the joint and knightly
gallantry of Carolina and Virginia. Tho
j professors were men of eminent piety
and ripe culture?scholars, gentlemen,
patriots and Christians. The students, a
line, manly band of youths, some with
one arm, some with one leg, some with
j one eye only?for most of these boys bad
been soldiers in that mortal struggle for
truth and liberty. Around mo were
grouped the bishops, ciders and many
clergymen, grave, good, bravo men,
worthy successors of that sublime evan?
gelist of the eighteenth century, John
Wesley, who conquered men's con?
sciences by the blood of the Lamb of
God, and not by tho sacrifice of human
victims. These, his disciples and minis?
ters, had been ministers and servants of
the meek and lowly Jesus in the armies
of tho Confederate States. In my ad?
dress to this mutilated remnant of those
armies--after urging them to keep in
mind the seemingly fruitless struggle for
liberty, and thereby bo prepared for an?
other which, in the just providence of
God, must surely come?1 asked them,
"Will not a God of truth forbid that
your liberties shall be judged forever by
Other men's consciences?" As I uttered
this question, or affirmation, or you may
call it petition, I was startled by hearing
from the bishops, the elders and clergy?
men, a loud, devout, solemn "amen." It
embarrassed mo for a moment, conjec?
turing why this heart-full response
should be made by these servants of the
meek and lowly Jesus. I soon remem?
bered that I had, unconsciously repeat?
ed, almost literally, the recorded words
of a chief apostle, sent by tho Son of
God to toll His ways to the world, and
these His ministers of to-day recognized
their divine power, and on this devout
aspiration wafted to His throne tho
prayer?that our liberties may not be
judged by other men's consciences. I
will not dare to encroach on tho func?
tions of those holy men in my form of
speech. I shrink from tho shadow of
blasphemy, if it be ono; but I know I do
not offend the pure majesty of a God of
truth, if, in addressing the offspring of
that university which the commonwealth
of Virginia has devoted to tho nurture
and preservation of hor truth, her
honor and her liborty, I use meekly, for
my argument, the words of that apostlo
sent by tho Son of God to toll His ways
to the struggling people of tho earth:
"For why is my liberty judged of an?
other man's conscience?"
Tho peoplo of that portion of North
America which contributed tho Ameri?
can ropnblio to the history of modern*
civilization, derived thoir profound est
sentiment and principle of civil liberty
from the prccopts of that blessod religion
which thus proclaimed all men free and
equal ^before the tribunals of eternal
iustico, and gave tho fullest sanctions of
heir Christian revelations to the regula?
tions of this liborty. It was the impor?
tunate and devoted zeal of the Christian
which moved our English ancestry to
sacrifice all mere human attributes to
the attainment of the freedom of eon
science, regarding that as the criterion
C SUNDAY MORNING, JI
of all human truth, ns well as tho fecun-'
dating power of the "Kator thonntv,"
tho pure rightness of action iu this life,
and thus confirming it for nil time as tho
royalty and sovereign prerogative of
mankind. By a short and purely na?
tural process, they mado the attributes
of freedom of person, the protection of
propcrtv, and tho pursuits of happiness,
of vital import in maintaining that
freedom of conscience. Thus tho souls
of men, their divine faculty imbibed,
nnd sanctified tho resistless and indomi?
table desire for civil liberty, and tho es?
sential part of divino aspiration and im?
mortal hope, based on tho Christian
faith, became the chief purpose and mo?
tive of patriotic duty, and men were
divinely taught tho solid rules of civil
government in their purest nnd most
majestic forms. This indeed was the
basis and the essence of their order of
governmental economy. It waB just
when this essential spirit was brooding,
immature, over the institutions of Christ?
endom, that its disciples came to America
to attempt the political realization of its
hopeful promises. And hero when,
after many generations, it ripened to its
fullness, the people of the English colo?
nial provinces rose in its might, asserted
its high behests and prerogative, nnd by
a sacrifice of blood, instituted tho con
| joined principles of religious and civil
freedom of conscience. It was a tem?
pestuous era of tho world's history, but
our forefathers, under the impulse and
guidance of the mighty principle, wea?
thered the storm, bafiling the fatal blasts
of despotism and shunning tho quick?
sands of Democracy and tho lurid and
delusive glare of fanaticism. They con?
verted dependent colonies into sove?
reign States, which, by their inherent
sacred and innliennble sovereignty guar?
anteed the principle on which they wero
based, the freedom of religious and civil
conscience. On that guarantee, broad
as tho widest scope of human want on
earth, by a consequent system of natural
logic grew up tho incidents of self-go?
vernment, and the right of representa?
tion, in the exercise of law-making pow?
ers. Tho piety, the wisdom and the
Jalor displayed in achieving this empire
nd effecting this organism, marked tho
culmin&tion of that order of civilization
to which we have been allotted by tho
I providence of God. . It has boon be?
queathed to us, and His commandment
is that we shall keep this charge of His
puro and undented before the world
and in his service, according to tho dic?
tate of HiB word nnd of our own service.
Under this dread responsibility, have we
done our best to keep this commnnd?
Have we done this piously, wisely nnd
valiantly, in full measure of its magni?
tude and appreciation of its transcend
ant value? "Have we done all these
things.we were commanded to do? Have
we done that which was our duty to do?"
Let us see. We are celebrating to-day
tho fifty years life of this University,
which began this life fifty years after our
forefathers went forth to the sacrifice of
blood under that dread command. In
that warfare they acquired a continent
and a perfect .liberty, and transmitted
them to us. For the first ten years they
were panting for breath after the strug?
gle, under the majestic sway of Washing?
ton, and were thus brought to the begin?
ning of a new century, apparently set
apart and dedicated to their exaltation?
something over three-score and ten vears
ago. Three-score, and ten years! What
of this allotment of time to tho natural
span of human life, in its relation to the
life of liberty, under the nurture of our j
own fathers, and of our duty and devo?
tion to its sacrod behests? Three-fourths
of the nineteenth century of grace; have
gone into tho boundless abysm of the
past, and already lime is casting its re- j
cords and traditions into the waste of
oblivion, dimming his ghastly and swift- j
moving phantoms, leaving to us their |
dark trail, only to warn or to mislead us.
It has been an erastmngcly commingling
good and evil to the human family; espe?
cially that portion assigned to the Ame?
rican continent and most notably to the
people who derived their political exist?
ences from the English colonies, in
Europe, the first decade was signalized
and emblazoned by the over-mastering
genius of Napoleon subverting the sys?
tems nnd ruling over tho continent, and
the mighty intellect of Pitt defying that
rulo, nnd hurling it back from England.
In. America, Washington was dead. Bis
robes of unsmirched purple, misfitted
for a time, wero again worthily on the
shoulders of Jefferson; and bore white
handed hope waved her sceptre of faith,
and liberty sat smiling beneath tho
bright enchantment, or serenely and
grandly seemed to move onward to the
anointing and the coronation.
Tenderer and moro devoted, Btronger
and purer, higher and holier, than aught
on earth save a mother's love for her
child, is tho almost divine sentiment
which makes us love and live for the
land of our birth. Bnt above this,
above all of earth?more heavenward
stiU?is that feeling whioh makes us
reverence with worship, and oherish
by devotion, tho trnth whioh is trans?
mitted to us by our fathers; for that is
the filial obedience shining in the same
sphere with immortal love. This holy
sentiment, in all its most heroic, forms,
developed into action all the virtuous
energies of the men who had won the
liberties of America, and with wise, ard
Attend the True Event."
JLY 11, 1875. VO
out and valorous devotion, they went on
building up a grand and glorious struct
uro on that foundation, strengthening
and adorning it with the pillars and mu?
niments of the right of self-government
and tho mighty prerogative of the freed?
om of conscience. They were grandly
inspired architects, those master-build?
ers, who came out of the first war for
civil independence in this new world,
and in fifty years they completed an edi?
fice dedicated to civil freedom nnd free
conscience, whose foundation was a con?
tinent, whose boundaries were boundless
seas, and whoso turrets aspired to heaven
to catch the light and blessing from a
God of Truth. This was tho temple
which was to become tho pride of his?
tory, tho joy of a great and happy people
?"the joy, the pride, tho glory of man?
kind"?in which no man's liberty was to
be judged by another man's conscience
For this sacred purpose tho covenants
wero placed upon the altar, the gates
were opened to the people, and they
went in and prayed, with thanksgivings
and hymns of praise, and renewed the
covenants, and the world began to know
them and call them blessed:
"In one loud, applauding sound,
Tho nations shout to her around,
How supremely art thou blessed."
How awful the holy purity, how wonder?
ful the grandeur of this temple, dedi?
cated to truth, to liberty, and to free con?
science?a temple fitted for the crowned
truth to dwell in forever.
Brothers, it was the design, tho struct?
ure, the offering of our very fathers?our
fathers who drank tho waters of the Che?
sapeake and tho South Atlantic, and
built the University of Virginia. The
men who begat us wero tho royal priest?
hood, who sanctified themselves to bear
the ark with its covenants, and placo it
securely as they prayed on their Zion;
and they were thoso who called on tho
earth to rejoice, and on the nations to
say that liberty again dwelleth on tho
earth, and on us, their sons, in humblo
faith to cry "Amen!" And what is our
answer? It was in this supreme hour
that there sprung from tho god-like brain
of tho high-priest of that hierarchy this
our saintly ond benignant nurse-mother,
whose generous breasts havo nurtured
this generation, who have renewed all
that covenant by sprinkling that altar
! with their blood?with our blood, young
men. We are that generation?wc are
the men who have hazarded our lives tor
that covenant. Here they are, to-day, at
their mother's knees, their palm branches
covered with cypress; but they are tho
sons of the master-builders of the temple
of liberty, who drank the waters of tho
Chesapeake and the South Atlantic?the
very sous of those sires who, three-score
and ten years ago, standing at James?
town, by the waters of the Chesapeake,
with tho voice of God's own patriot
priest, offered this pravcr to Almighty
God. [Bishop Madison, 1?09:]
"Hallowed be this place where Thou
didst manifest Thy goodness to our
forefathers, and where Thy heavenly
plan for spreading Thy blessings?the
blessings of social right?first beamed
forth. It was here, oh God! it was here,
on this chosen ground, that Thou didst
first lay the sure foundations of civil
happiness. Here didst Thou say to our
forefathers, who, under Thy guidance,
had defied the perils of an untried
ocean, 'Hero fix your abode forever.
Here shall the great work of political
salvation begin. Here I will strike deep
the roots of an everlasting empire, where
justice, and liberty, and peace shall
flourish in immortal vigor, to the d. ty
of My name and the happiness of man.
Here ye shall sleep? but your sons a: '
your daughters shall possess the land
which stretcheth wide bet?re you. They
shall convert the wilderness and the
solitary places into fields smiling with
plenty. They shall, in ages to come, ex?
ceed the sands of the sea-shore in num?
ber. They shall, when 200 years have
gone, here resort, here recall to mind
your sufferings and yonr valor; and here,
in a lively sense of the blessings vouch?
safed to them, they shall exalt and adore
My name, and acknowledge that the
mightiness of My arm, and the over?
shadowing of My spirit, hath done these
great and excellent things for them and
! for their children forever.'"
Such wis tin; prayer, and such the
promise made by the immutable God to
those from whose loins we sprung, as
they worshipped on the shores of the
Chesapeake, those shores now "obedient
to the stranger ami the slave."
An age illustrated by travail of patriot?
ism, truth and justice, ever bears in its
womb a generation ready to defcnil and
maintain these attributes, with nil the
valor it has inherited; nnd histe>ry re?
cords this <lny two of her gr?ndest proofs
in view of the shores of the Chesapeake ?
proofs of equal blazonry-under the aus?
pices of George Washington and Robert
Oh, immutable God! will not the
i mightiness of Thy arm, ami tho over?
shadowing of Thy Spirit, again do these
grent and excellent things for onr ohil
| dren and their children's children for
Brothers, I have recitod in brief the
schedule of our inheritance, and our di?
vine title and indenture to the franchise,
that onr liberty should not bo judged by
other men's consciences. R is not all
! the story of this threc-Bcoro and ten
years and of to-day. With bated breath
iLUMB XI?NUMBER 95.
I will present the converse of this talc of
^3:o;toi2 O. HULL,
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June 25 lino
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