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C H A P T E R X I
Heroes of Peace and War
TWO august scenes of national sorrow! -- the thunderous entombment of General Grant on Riverside Heights, with the reunited commanders of the North and South weeping over his coffin; and the burial of Mr. Gladstone in Westminster Abbey, the end of the most majestic period of English democracy.
As I look over my wrinkled note-books I seem to see again the glittering magnificence of these spectacles and to hear the thrilling outbursts of funeral music as the souls of two nations rise to their lips.
One vanished from sight like a god of war, with a shining sea of bayonets sweeping about his grave beneath drifting clouds of cannon smoke -- the peace-compeller, at whose death-bed the greatest war of modern times really ended.
The other was laid in the earth to the sound of organ music, the greatest Englishman of the nineteenth century -- a man who turned a monarchy into a democracy without shedding a drop of human blood.
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LONDON, May 28, 1898.
The century which began with Napoleon and imperialism uttered its last note in the twilight of Westminster Abbey with Gladstone and democracy.
They took the great commoner of England from the vast-vaulted hall, built by the son of William the Conqueror, and bore him in state through mighty multitudes in Parliament Square, laying him under the solemn arches of the old abbey, among the bones of his enemies, while princes and dukes, earls and marquises, counts and barons, the Prince of Wales, and all the upholders of the proud aristocracy which he stripped of power, were gathered at his burial.
Early in the morning the Lords and Commons assembled in the House of Parliament and marched silently into Westminster Hall, where the body of Gladstone, in a plain oaken box made by the village carpenter of Hawarden, lay among huge flaring candles, under the carved beams of the giant roof that once looked down upon the trial and death sentence of Charles I. and the ordeal of Warren Hastings, the plunderer of India. Each of the parliamentary bodies was led by its sergeant-at-arms, bearing a golden mace.
The Earl Marshal and the heralds of the British Empire drew near, and when the Bishop of London had uttered a prayer, the oak box, covered with a pall of white and gold, was lifted from the black platform on which it had rested in state for three days, and the great procession of Lords and Commons, privy councillors, royal magistracy, and all the bright heraldry of Great Britain, moved slowly outward.
On one side of the dead leader of England's democracy walked the Prince of Wales, the Marquis of Salisbury, Mr. Balfour, the Duke of Rutland, and Lord Rendel; on the other side walked the Duke of York, Lord Kimberley, Sir William Harcourt, Lord Rosebery, and George Armistead.
As far as the eye could see, the people of London were gathered, bareheaded and silent. The sky was leaden, and a gentle moisture dropped down from the clouds, but no man covered his head.
In spite of the immensity of the crowd and of the pressure from all the streets leading into Parliament Square, the stillness of the scene was like the hush of a sepulchre. You could see the eyeballs of the people as they moved, but you could hear no sound as the simple funeral car was borne slowly forward.
That silence, that immobility, that unutterable reverence of the common multitude in the open air was the greatest tribute of the English people to England's greatest statesman. Shrill, headlong London was suddenly struck dumb.
Within the gray old abbey the sound of trombones and the deep, rich tumult of the organ mingling in Beethoven's Funeral Equale -- then Schubert's funeral march in D minor and Beethoven's glorious funeral march -- sounded the approach of the procession.
The mighty nave was crowded with men and women, princesses, peeresses, wives of ambassadors, actresses, leaders of every rank and fashion. And rising above them gleamed the sculptured white forms of the heroes, statesmen, and philosophers who made the British Empire.
Another silent company of distinguished spectators sat in the transept and choir before the great altar, with its dim gold carvings and the dusty shield, helmet, and saddle of Henry V. hanging in the shadowy air.
In the south transept rose huge tiers of seats for the Commons, hiding the hallowed tablets of the Poets' Corner, and in the north transept, built over the age-stained monuments of dead prime ministers, were tiers of seats for the Lords.
The ancient pavement of the abbey was covered with dark blue felt, and at one side -- O Death, thou leveller! -- about six feet away from the statue of Lord Beaconsfield, was the open grave -- a deep cavity, coffin-shaped, lined with black cloth and rimmed with a thin line of white. Three strips of brown canvas tape were stretched loosely across the opening, ready for their burden.
In the aisles on either side of the north transept, behind the iron railings, were crowded the newspaper men of almost every civilized country, among them the editors and writers who supported Mr. Gladstone in all his later battles for the people.
There was a hush. The vast audience arose. Mrs. Gladstone, wrinkled and trembling with age and sorrow, leaning on the arms of her sons, Herbert and Henry, advanced to a seat in front of the chancel railing, where she knelt and bowed her head in prayer, while every eye and every heart regarded her.
Suddenly the whole vast space resounded with music. Louder and stronger and richer it swelled against the hoary columns, while the venerable banners hanging over the tombs of kings and conquerors swayed as the waves of sound rolled forth; but still Mrs. Gladstone remained on her knees. It echoed from chamber to chamber, -- the graves of mitred saints, the ashes of murdered princes, the dim tomb of Mary Queen of Scots, the faded shrine of Edward the Confessor -- and swept crumbling walls carven with the crimes and glories of a thousand British years.
Once more there was silence. Again the audience stood up. This time it was to honor the Princess of Wales, who entered clad in deep mourning. Even Mrs. Gladstone involuntarily rose to her feet as her future queen approached, the widow humbling herself in the subject; and again the thrilling organ tones mingled with the crashing brasses.
White spears of light thrust themselves through the lofty windows, save where through the painted glass came the soft radiance of crimson and yellow and green and blue. Far up toward the gray roof appeared eager faces swarming in the sculptured openings and fantastic swirls of the triforium.
The ponderous western doors swung open, and into the old abbey surged the Commons, preceded by the great gold mace and the Speaker in his resplendent robes. On they came, shuffling and jostling, four abreast, the witnesses of Gladstone's triumphs and defeats. And as they moved into the end of the transept and settled into their seats, the aged privy councillors, preceded by heralds, and the House of Lords, led by the little, red-faced lord chancellor in his mighty wig, and followed by his bewigged clerks, advanced solemnly to the gallery erected for the peers.
Then came Sir Robert Collins, representing the Duchess of Albany; Colonel Collins, representing the Marchioness of Lorne; Lord Monson, representing the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; a group of grave men, representing the monarchs of Europe, and much bedizened with gold lace; and then Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the grizzled old Duke of Cambridge, and the Duke of Connaught, and their jaunty equerries.
Meanwhile, the canons and clergy, arranged according to their rank, in white and black and scholastic scarlet, moved with a great choir of boys gathered from the royal chapels into the chancel and the space in front of the altar.
And now came the body of the greatest of Englishmen, borne aloft on the willing shoulders of his humble followers, with the little black-whiskered Earl Marshal of England strutting before it, and the future king and emperor, the prince minister, the heir ultimate to the throne, and the other distinguished pallbearers trudging along on either side, their hands lightly holding the white and gold pall.
Behind them walked Garter King-at-Arms, with his glittering baton, and the other heralds; then the Rev. Stephen Gladstone, Herbert Gladstone, Henry Gladstone, Miss Gladstone, Mrs. Drew, little Dorothy Drew, William Glynne, and Charles Gladstone, the dead man's little heir. With them were a group of villagers from Hawarden, a clumsy, bashful, emotional following, overwhelmed by the mighty spectacle before them.
When the casket was laid in front of the shrine, the scene was suggestive beyond the power of words.
To the right of the altar stretched, row on row, the huddled House of Commons, and on the left were assembled the Lords of England, Ireland, and Scotland, with the lord chancellor, in his wig, sitting in the front row, the gold mace and great seal on the table before him. On either side of the pavement surrounding the open grave, were Lord Chief Justice Russell, John Morley, Lord Spencer, Mr. Bryce, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and the other living members of Gladstone's famous ministries. At the altar was the dead leader and his weeping widow; behind them the ambassadors and ministers of nearly every nation on earth.
As the choir sang, "I am the Resurrection and the Life," the Prince of Wales bent tenderly above the venerable widow in the soft candle-light. He touched her shoulder gently, and whispered words of comfort.
The Commons looked across at the Lords, and the Lords looked down at the open grave of the greatest foe of their order since Cromwell. The grim white statue of Lord Beaconsfield, in his carved robes and chains of office, rose triumphantly beside the Lords, a companion to the rosy Lord Chancellor, in his wig, presiding over the nothingness of heredity.
The hand that had dragged privilege down and lifted humanity up was powerless to do more; the voice that had called manhood to power in England was stilled forever. Ah! well might the little great Lord Chancellor, perk in his gorgeous robes, and the Lords look down upon that grave with dry eyes! Democracy incarnate was about to disappear in the earth of which it was born, the ashes of its mightiest leader to become a part of the common dust of London.
Then there came to the head of the ancient altar stairs the white-haired Dean Bradley, and behind him the Archbishop of Canterbury, the pope of England. After the choir had chanted "Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from one generation to another," and "Turn Thee again, O Lord, at the last, and be gracious unto Thy servant," the venerable dean read the lesson.
The casket was carried over to the grave, while the choir and audience sang "Rock of Ages," to the accompaniment of the organ and the band. It was the hymn Gladstone had turned into Latin.
Mrs. Gladstone tottered over between her sons Herbert and Stephen, and took her seat at the head of the grave. It was the only chair in the place. Around the grave were grouped the Prince of Wales, Lord Salisbury, Lord Rosebery, the Duke of York, and the other pall-bearers, together with the relatives and servants of the Gladstone household. Lord Salisbury's huge form towered up beside his future king, his shaggy head covered with a black skullcap.
While the great multitude sang "Praise to the Holiest in the Heights," Mrs. Gladstone stood up and moved her head feebly to the music. Her lips and hands trembled, while under her veil could be seen her pale face, wet with tears.
There was another pause. The great abbey was suddenly silent. Gladstone was gently lowered into his grave, and the voice of the Archbishop of Canterbury was heard in the final prayer of the burial service -- shrill, harsh, far-reaching.
The supreme moment had come. Mrs. Gladstone knelt on the black floor and leaned far over, with a loving cry, as if she would drop into the grave herself. Tears ran down Lord Salisbury's rugged face, the Prince of Wales wiped his eyes, and the sound of sobbing was heard on every side.
Suddenly there was an outburst from the choir, soft, high, and sweet -- "Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth evermore."
It filled the vast building with rapture; it reached from the wife, kneeling among the great of the earth, to the husband lying in the bottom of the pit.
The archbishop pronounced the benediction, and Mrs. Gladstone was lifted to her feet by her two sons. She swayed to and fro, half fainting, but presently she drew herself up erect, and when the audience sang "O God, our Help in Ages Past," she smiled, and raised her eyes.
And now came a touching scene. As the men, women, boys, and girls of the Gladstone family pressed around the grave, the Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister, and the other great officers of state drew back reverently. Mrs. Gladstone took Dorothy Drew by the hand and pointed into the grave. Then she took Gladstone's little heir and, again pointing to the bottom of the grave, she whispered something to him that no one could hear. She did not point to the future King of England or the Prime Minister or the princes. She did not direct his boyish gaze to the Lord Chancellor, sitting high among the peers behind his ponderous mace of gold. She bade him look into the grave of the man who would not accept a title and yet came to be greater than them all.
Garter King-at-Arms, stepped lightly to the side of the grave and, in a voice that echoed throughout the abbey, proclaimed the civil status of Gladstone, and named the offices he had filled.
Little need for the College of Heralds to tell the Lords what he had done who lay between those oaken boards! The glory of his life shone through half a century of English history, eloquent and useful through all history to come. Rather was tinselled heraldry honored by the opportunity to speak at such a grave.
Presently the Prince of Wales approached Mrs. Gladstone, and all made way for him as he stooped down, and, taking her hand in his, kissed it. Lord Rosebery kissed her face.
That was all. That was the whole story. The Lords and Commons, the princes and privy councillors, the ambassadors and all the greatnesses and littlenesses of England trooped out of the gray abbey into Parliament Square, where the assembled people of London were still standing, silent and motionless.
Gladstone's real funeral was out there in the open air. The common people were shut out of the abbey, but in their minds were the blind stirrings of the passion for equality invoked by their great leader, a dim sense of that peaceful future he would have led England to, out of her bloody past.
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NEW YORK, August 8, 1885.
A hot yellow stretch of newly levelled earth, a fringe of green boughs, a little hill, and, beside it, a small brick vault with a gilded cross; vast, murmuring multitudes covering the landscape -- and on a wooden platform, close to the empty tomb, the writer of these pages (then a young newspaper reporter), -- overwhelmed by the majesty of the impending burial of General Grant in the chief city of the nation he had saved.
Below was the shining Hudson River, and, beyond, the rich green mountains sloping down to the steep gray palisades. Through the trees a fleet of warships with glistening masts lay in the stream, and white sails drifted up and down. White tents stood under the green boughs on the brow of the river bank.
Every hilltop was covered with the multitude. Men and boys climbed the trees and hung on the branches. Every valley swarmed with life. Every rock and every stump was fought for. Monstrous white, wooden stands rose from the level masses, and upon them were seated thousands and thousands of spectators.
Away down the winding road up which the funeral cavalcade was to come were miles of men and women, hot, faint, and weary. Mountains and valleys of umbrellas rose and fell in all directions under the fierce blazing sun.
Suddenly there was a crash, and the crowds reeled as the hills sent back the thunderous announcement of the warships that the dead conqueror was coming up from the black-hung, breathless streets of New York. Clouds of cannon smoke whirled up from the burning decks and the streaming pennants danced in the rigging. All other sounds were swallowed up as sheets of fire and smoke burst from the black gun-ports.
After a few moments the crowds down the roadway moved convulsively, and as they swept backward a line of mounted policemen galloped past. Behind them came General Hancock, in an open carriage, at the head of his staff. A billow of gold lace and white and scarlet plumes rolled after him into the hot square of levelled earth. In the midst of it could be seen General Gordon, of Georgia, who was left for dead on the field by Sheridan's cavalry, and General Fitzhugh Lee, the Southern cavalryman. Slowly they rode past the tomb, and halted their horses on the hill beyond, under a clump of trees, a brilliant patch of color. General Hancock got out of his carriage and walked into the brick vault, where he stood leaning upon his sword for a long time beside an empty steel casket.
Along the road came the regular troops at a swinging march. Artillery, cavalry, marines, and bluejackets moved up to the hill on the right of the tomb. Bugles sounded from all sides, the steady tramp of feet shook the earth, furled banners stood out of the ranks at all angles; steel flashed and brass shone. Miles and miles of soldiers and sailors poured around the hill. The swaying, heaving stretches of armed men grew more gorgeously brilliant as the colors mingled, and the sunlight sparkled on thousands of bayonets.
Magnificently caparisoned horses, with handsome gold-slashed officers, swept about the yellow earth in front of the tomb. The glitter of steel in rising and falling ranks, and the moving masses of colored plumes and gold embroideries intensified the splendor of the scene. Waves of color swam before the eyes.
The dull roar of the cannons on the river, the hoarse clamor of the distant bells of the city churches, the mournful confusion of dirges played by military bands far and near, the shrieking of a thousand steam whistles, the harsh clashing of arms, and the noise of galloping horses' feet -- these were the sounds that swelled on the summer air as the victor of the greatest war in history approached his grave. It was as if the voices of a hundred battlefields had gathered in the throat of the whirlwind.
Near the tomb stood General Hancock, surrounded by the principal officials of New York. A poor negro approached and took off his hat. The general waved his soldiers back from the door, and the negro entered the shadowy vault humbly, reverently. There were tears in his eyes.
Now was heard the distant roll of drums, and instantly the bayonet-lined square yawned with excitement. Horses and riders, flags and banners, were grouped in front of the close ranks of blue and yellow and scarlet and white that fell back and back with ripples of bayonets until the eye could see no farther. Nearer and nearer came the sound of the drums, and the lines of bayonets became straight and rigid.
Under a moving cloud of dust a line of carriages came in view. They were the pall-bearers -- the generals of the Northern and Southern armies. As the carriages entered the shining, brilliant square, the pall-bearers alighted and stood for a moment motionless. The great multitude watched them with emotion. General Sherman gave his arm to General Johnston; General Sheridan gave his arm to General Buckner. Then a hush fell upon the scene as the soldiers who fought each other twenty years before walked arm in arm to the tomb. A spirit of softness began to steal into the place. Through the air swelled a rich, sad chorus from somewhere under the hill, and slowly a great, swaying, plumed darkness came into view, with a dark blue square of musicians in front and lines of bayonets on either side.
It was the funeral car. Great, deep chords of music swelled from every side, and all the troops presented arms. As the car drew nearer the multitude uncovered. The older men were crying. A few white-haired veterans knelt in the hot sand and bowed their heads. Still on the river the crash of the cannons made the air tremble. Rank after rank of soldiers wheeled into the road behind the tomb and joined the silent, shining mass of color that covered the northern hill. The long line of black horses that drew the car seemed to creep.
Then out of a quarter of a mile of carriages came President Cleveland, Vice President Hendricks, and a host of governors, senators, generals, representatives, and men famous in every walk of life. Colonel Frederick Grant came with wife, and behind him were his brothers Jesse and Ulysses, with their wives and children. Little Julia Grant carried a wreath bearing in purple the single word "Grandpapa." Nellie, the toddling brown-haired favorite grandchild of the great soldier, held a tiny sheaf of wheat. The two children seemed to be bewildered by the splendor of the spectacle.
There was a pause. Then the white-faced guard of the Grand Army ascended the black steps of the car and lifted the purple casket. They bore it to the ground, and laid it in the waiting brown shell with tenderness while the bands played solemn dirges.
Now the scene became majestic. On either side of the fallen commander stood the pall-bearers. Sherman and Sheridan looked into the eyes of Johnston and of Buckner. Johnston's venerable face trembled with emotion, and Buckner folded his arms upon his broad chest, while the sun beat hotly down upon his snowy head. A few feet away, former President Hayes and former President Arthur stood together.
No pen could touch the depth of that spectacle. The history of a wonderful quarter of a century was represented there. Whole legislatures from widely separated states were mingled together. Men without whose names the history of America cannot be written, watched the great soldiers of the North and South reunited over the corpse of the foremost warrior of the continent.
Beyond the bareheaded crowd of officials were the glittering troops, and in the river the warships still thundering their salutes. Overhead the bright summer sky. The band at the tomb played a sweet, plaintive psalm, and away over the hills came the chanting of other bands mingled with the steady beating of drums.
Then a long line of veterans, white and black, scarred and lame, feeble and strong, filed past the tomb dipping their tattered battleflags. A new sound of thunderous artillery was heard as the army artillery belched forth the presidential salute.
And all around it was the silent bareheaded multitude, countlessly stretching out until its lines were lost in the blurred distance.
The Grand Army men drew closer to the body of their old comrade, and began their rites for the dead.
"God of Battles!" cried the commander, "Father of all! amidst this mournful assemblage we seek Thee with whom there is no death." The rest was a confused murmur ending in a loud "Amen." A wreath of evergreen was laid upon the purple casket, a spray of white flowers was cast beside it, and last of all, a crown of laurels.
Then a bugler played an army call, and all was silence. Stern old Bishop Harris advanced and read for a few minutes under the shade of an umbrella. Parson Newman, Grant's pastor, repeated a portion of the Methodist burial service.
The end approached. A regular army trumpeter strode forward to the foot of the purple casket and began to play "Lights Out," the last call of the camp. As the sweet notes swelled forth, a tear rolled down the bugler's face, and the music faltered for a moment. Sherman's head fell upon his breast, and he cried like a child. Sheridan covered his face with his hand, and tears stood in Johnston's eyes. The stern lines of Buckner's countenance broke, and he trembled; but still the bugler blew his plaintive call for ears that were deaf, and when he ceased the multitude was in tears.
Peace, silent soldier! Johnston and Sherman are friends to-day. Sheridan and Buckner have shaken hands. The grim face of Gordon looks down from yonder hill in sorrow. War in thy hand, but peace in thy mouth!
Colonel Grant and his family moved to the casket. The children threw their flowers on it and crept backward. Poor little ones! They hardly seemed to realize their loss as they clung to their parents and listened to the throbbing music while the body was lifted up and borne into the tomb.
The door of the little vault closed with a clash; the key was turned and handed to General Hancock.
General Johnston looked around at the crowd, but could not see a familiar face. Then he walked slowly to the only friend he seemed to know, and leaned upon the shoulder of General Sherman. General Buckner shook hands with General Hancock. Johnston lifted up Grant's favorite grandchild and kissed her before the crowd.
Away they went from the shadow of the tomb together. Not as of old, but softly, tenderly, lovingly. Oh blue! Oh gray!
The Seventh Regiment turned about and faced the river, and three volleys of smoke and flame swept over the steep bank. The Twenty-second Regiment turned about and fired three volleys more. The guard was mounted, the dark crowds moved, the cannons were silent, the bands were hushed, and the bells ceased tolling. The tomb of Grant was now the shrine of a reunited nation. The last lingering bitterness of the Civil War had vanished.
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