« PreviousContinue »
United States Senator, having been elected and his seat refused him in 1870. His death occurred in Washington City, and he is buried in Asheville. His State is now preparing to erect a monument expressing her honor and devotion to her illustrious son.
Speeches (in Congress and on Public Occasions.)
CHANGES WROUGHT BY THE WAR.
(From All About it-an address before the young men of Raleigh, N. C.; published in "Land We Love," January, 1867.)
Virginia to the north of us was settled by English Cavaliers; South Carolina, mainly by French Huguenots; both among the noblest stocks of Western Europe. North Carolina, with but a slight infusion of each, was settled by a sturdier—and in some respects—a better race than either. She was emphatically the offspring of religious and political persecution, and the vital stream of her infant life was of Scotch-Irish origin. A cross of those two noble races has produced a breed of men as renowned for great deeds and modest worth as perhaps any other in this world. Two instances will suffice for this. Perhaps the most manly and glorious feat of arms in modern times was the defence of Londonderry, as the boldest and most remarkable state paper was the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Both were the work mainly of men such as settled North Carolina.
The Country Gentlemen.-Perhaps one of the most remarkable changes which we may expect, is one that will soon be apparent on the face of our country society. The abolition of slavery will do wonders here. It puts an end to the reign of those lordly-landed proprietors, planters, and farmers, who constituted so striking and
so pleasant a feature in our rural population. No longer the masters of hundreds of slaves wherewith to cultivate their thousands of acres, the general cheapness of lands in the South will prevent their forming around them a system of dependent tenantry, since every industrious man will be able to plough his own farm. They will therefore gradually sell off their paternal acres, no longer within the scope of prudent management, and seek homes in the towns and villages, or contract their establishments to their means and altered condition. Agriculture will then pass gradually into the hands of small farmers, and the great farms will forever disappear.
I can scarcely imagine it possible for any one to view the steady disappearance of the race of Southern country gentlemen without genuine sorrow
the high-toned, educated, chivalrous, intelligent, and hospitable Southern gentlemen, of whom each one who hears me has at least a dozen in his mind's eye in Virginia and the Carolinas whose broad fields were cultivated by their own faithful and devoted slaves, whose rudely splendid mansions stand where their fathers reared them, among the oaks and the pines which greeted the canoe of John Smith, weicomed the ships of Raleigh, and sheltered the wild cavaliers of De Soto; whose hall doors stood wide open, and were never shut except against a retreating guest;* whose cellar and table abounded with the richest products of the richest lands in the world, and whose hospitality was yet unstained by unrefined excess; whose parlors and fire-sides were adorned by a courtly female grace which might vie with any that ever lighted and blessed the home of man;
* As in the case of the gentleman for whom Senator Vance's native county was named He had over his front door the inscription:
whose hands were taught from infancy to fly open to every generous and charitable appeal, and whose minds were inured to all self-respect and toleration, and whose strong brains were sudden death to humbuggery, all the isms, and the whole family of mean and pestilential fanaticism.
The Negroes.-There is also a great change at hand for the negro. Who that knew him as a contented, well-treated slave, did not learn to love and admire the negro character? I, for one, confess to almost an enthusiasm on the subject. The cheerful ring of their songs at their daily tasks, their love for their masters and their families, their politeness and good manners, their easily bought but sincere gratitude, their deep-seated aristocracy—for your genuine negro was a terrible aristocrat,—their pride in their own and their master's dignity, together with their overflowing and never-failing animal spirits, both during hours of labor and leisure, altogether, made up an aggregation of joyous simplicity and fidelity-when not perverted by harsh treatment that to me was irresistible!
A remembrance of the seasons spent among them will perish only with life. From the time of the ingathering of the crops, until after the ushering in of the new year, was wont to be with them a season of greater joy and festivity than with any other people on earth, of whom it has been my lot to hear. In the glorious November nights of our beneficent clime, after the first frosts had given a bracing sharpness and a ringing clearness to the air, and lent that transparent blue to the heavens through which the stars gleam like globes of sapphire, when I have seen a hundred or more of them around the swelling piles of corn, and heard their tuneful voices ringing with the chorus of some wild refrain, I have thought I would rather far listen to them than to any music ever sung to mortal ears; for it
was the outpouring of the hearts of happy and contented men, rejoicing over the abundance which rewarded the labor of the closing year! And the listening, too, has many a time and oft filled my bosom with emotions, and opened my heart with charity and love toward this subject and dependent race, such as no oratory, no rhetoric or minstrelsy in all this wide earth could impart!
Nature ceased almost to feel fatigue in the joyous scenes which followed. The fiddle and the banjo, animated as it would seem like living things, literally knew no rest, night or day; while Terpichore covered her face in absolute despair in the presence of that famous double-shuffle with which the long nights and "master's shoes" were worn away together!
Who can forget the cook by whom his youthful appetite was fed? The fussy, consequential old lady to whom I now refer, has often, during my vagrant inroads into her rightful domains, boxed my infant jaws, with an imperious, "Bress de Lord, git out of de way: dat chile never kin git enuff”: and as often relenting at sight of my hungry tears, has fairly bribed me into her love again with the very choicest bits of the savory messes of her art. She was haughty as Juno, and aristocratic as though her naked ancestors had come over with the Conqueror, or "drawn a good bow at Hastings,"
and yet her pride invariably melted at the sight of certain surreptitious quantities of tobacco, with which I made my court to this high priestess of the region sacred to the stomach.
And there, too, plainest of all, I can see the fat and chubby form of my dear old nurse, whose encircling arms of love fondled and supported me from the time whereof the memory of this man runneth not to the contrary. All the strong love of her simple and faithful nature seemed bestowed on