Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/96

This page needs to be proofread.

92 Southern Historical Society Papers.

was cast that quiet professor who once did his duty here; that silent stranger whom no man knew until " the fire of God fell upon him in the battlefield," as it did upon Arthur the fire by which Sir Launce- lot knew him for his king the fire that like the "live coal from off the altar touched the lips ' ' of Jackson and brought from them that kingly voice which the eagle of victory knew and obeyed. For a king was Stonewall Jackson, if ever royalty, anointed as by fire, appeared among men.

When Egypt, or Persia, or Greece, or Rome was the world ; when the fame of a king reached the borders of his own dominion, but scarcely crossed them; when a great conqueror was known as far as his banners could fly; friends (or enemies) could assign a warrior's rank amongst mankind and his place in history. These latter ages have agreed that a Rameses, a Cyrus, an Alexander, or a Constantine shall be styled "The Great" accepting therein the estimate put upon them by the contracted times in which they lived, supported, perchance, by the story of their deeds as laboriously chiseled on some long buried slab, recorded on some hardly recovered sheets of ancient parchment, or written on some dozen pages of a literature, the language of which serves the purposes of the ghost along the Styx, as they tell each other of glories long departed.

To-day the world is wide, and before the world's tribunal each candidate for historic honors must appear. The world's estimate, and that alone, posterity will accept, and even that it will hereafter most carefully revise.

The young Emperor of Germany, seeking to decree his grand- father's place in history, would have him styled "William the Great." Here and there, in one nation and another, press and people combine to deify some popular hero and offer him for the plaudits or the wor- ship of the age. It is a vain endeavor. The universal judgment cannot be forestalled. No force or artifice can make mankind accept as final the false estimate instead of the true. Money, powerful, dangerous and threatening as it now is in this republic, cannot for long buy a verdict. The unbiased world alone is capable of stamp- ing upon the forehead of man that mark which neither the injustice of adverse interest, nor envy's gnawing tooth, nor the ceaseless flow of the river of time are able to efface.

Therefore, it was with swelling heart and deep thankfulness that I recently heard some of the first soldiers and military students of England declare that within the past two hundred years the English speaking race has produced but five soldiers of the first class Marl-