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quitter des obligations qu'il vous a ne saurait être votre ami.”— (Cicéron.)
“FRANCE! Our Creditor. He who thinks that he may not discharge his obligations to you, cannot be your friend."-(Cicero.)
M. EUGÉNE SPULLER was introduced, and responded to this toast. He spoke as follows:
SPEECH OF M. SPULLER,
Mr. CHAIRMAN: When our Minister spoke in English, he asked you to excuse his pronunciation. You encouraged him with sympathetic applause. It is not my bad pronunciation that I shall have to ask you to excuse—it is my inability to speak in your language at all. [Laughter.] Unfortunately, I belong to that generation of Frenchmen who have never studied your tongue ; but I take great pleasure in promising you that the generation which we are now educating in France to be the brothers of your children will be able to speak it with ease. [Applause.) And they will need a knowledge of English to express to you their sense of all that they owe you, for, gentlemen, they will owe you much.
It has pleased me to see the beautiful and appropriate sentiment of the great Roman orator which you have coupled with this toast. It is, indeed, one of Cicero's happy thoughts, and the happiest you could have selected for such an occasion as this. France would, indeed, be base if she should betray any ingratitude towards the great Republic of the West; but, Mr. Chairman, there is no fear of that. [Applause.] France owes much to you, and if, with nothing else, she would at least repay you with gratitude—the most noble emotion which can thrill the heart of man, the sweetest, the truest, the most enviable, which one man or one race can manifest towards another. You will not find France ungenerous in her manifestation of this sentiment. You will find, on the contrary, that my country and my countrymen are only too eager to render to you that which is your due. [Applause.]
You have spoken here, to-night, with much earnest sincerity and much passionate eloquence, and many expressions of esteem of the assistance which was rendered to you in the early period of your history, in the dawn of your greatness and might, by the ancient monarchy, where my ancestors and the ancestors of my countrymen have flourished; and the romantic and poetical remembrances you have called up have touched the hearts of us, your guests from that old and beloved land. You have delighted to keep these memories green. You delight to spread out before you, and to peruse with eagerness, the record of that famous epoch in the past, which was such a wonderful epoch for the birth of great ideas. A hundred years ago we did you the service that lay in our power, and to-day you are pleased to read to us the records and the annals of that time. But turn the page of the book. Let us see what
we have done. Alas! we cannot point to a brilliant history of liberty such as that which forms the history of you—our exemplars. We have not been able to show to the world a pattern of that consistent and unfaltering adherence to that noble idea which you have so honorably upheld. But, Mr. Chairman, the times lave changed, and we are changing too. We see ourselves now wherein lies the secret of your greatness, and it is your example which we have followed in becoming a Republic. [Applause.]
That is the debt we owe you—the debt of inspiration and incitement. You have not been backward in acknowledging here, tonight, the services of LAFAYETTE and RocHAMBEAU, and we will not be backward in expressing our gratitude for the splendid ex. ample you have set us in your great Republic, of prudence and moderation and manliness. We bave not been able to follow you yet, gentlemen, it is true, but you must bear in mind that in the old nation of France the institution of monarchy has flourished for fourteen centuries. It bas not been possible to change in a day. Yet we have begun to follow you. [Lond applause.] We are holding the flag of honorable civilization on high, and there is yet a great and a splendid future before us. To your animating sentiment of independence and toleration is due your marvellous activity and prosperity to-day. You have served your great idea with obedience and faithfulness, and to-day you reap the reward. Your Constitution embodies the most lofty principles which have ever sustained a noble race. You have sought in your consciences for the proofs of your Constitution, and as a result you shine before the world with the dazzling light of power and wealth and civilization. [Loud applause.] Most sage and moderate of men ! You, my American fellow-citizens—if you will permit me so to call you-you we hope to follow and emulate in France; and it is your grand example that inspires us, the members of the Third French Republic, in our third essay of that form of government of which you still retain your first. We see that you are a great people, not by the force of arms, but by the force of behavior ; and that statue of BARTIOIDI, which we have to-day unveiled on your shores, we take as typifying that force and that example. (Loud applause.)
There is another thing which we take from America, another thing for which we Frenchmen are your creditors. You bave given us a precedent in political and scientific methods of government, and you have founded schools, to rear up generations of practical and resolute republicans. You have amazed us by the solidity of your action and the rapidity of your affirmations; and we of that old Continent of Europe, watching with admiration your encouragement of intelligence, your devotion to truth, your earnest regard for the well-being of others, will extol and emulate your example for generations yet to come. [Loud and continued applause.]
Tue PRESIDENT.—Gentlemen, the next toast of the evening is “ À LA PRESSE ! L'esprit de tout le monde."
“ The Press : Everybody's wit.” "
This will be responded to by the editor in chief of the Journal of Commerce, Mr. David M. STONE.
SPEECH OF MR. DAVID M. STONE,
Mr. PrESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN : I ought not to say a word at this late hour, but if you will give me your kind attention I will detain you for fewer minutes than you can count on the fingers of your band. It often occurs when one is invited to speak to a toast, that he is also asked to furnish the sentiment which is to be the theme of his remarks. But in this case the epigrammatic sentence came with the invitation, and I had nothing to do with it.
“The Press : Everybody's Wit.” Does this mean that the Press is the butt at which everybody aims its keenest shaft? Or that it is the storehouse from which everybody draws his supply of humor ready made to his hand? We bave been delighted with the brilliant and pithy sayings of the gentlemen who have entertained us this afternoon and evening, supposing that their wit was evolved from their own inner consciousness ; and now comes in he toastmaker with what seems like a suggestion that, scissors in hand, they have been poring for days over a file of old newspapers, or a volume of ancient lore, and made up the carving and coloring of their eloquent addresses out of shreds and patches long ago in type.
“Everybody's wit?” Then that must have been an inspired page which supplied the world-renowned artist with his first conception of Liberty! Or gave to DE LESSEPS his grand idea of uniting the two oceans by a water-way deep enough for the commerce of the world ! In plain terms, do you mean to say, Mr. President, that the Press is the inexhaustible fountain from which all true wit doth proceed? Then I take great pride, as the editor of so large a sheet, in the conjecture from what long columns NewYork's most illustrious Senator, to whom we listened this afternoon with such reverence, borrowed those famous sentences which have made his utterances immortal ! [Cheers.]
If everybody gets his wit from the Press, then the heads of the people must share alike with the rest. In fact, I have been told (although this, of course, is only hearsay!) that there are not wanting those geniuses in secluded editorial sanctums who fancy that they can teach a Governor, or even a President, all that he needs to krow of State-craft !
Perhaps you will say that the Press is merely the record of everybody's wit. That it gathers up from inspired pens and eloquent lips the gems of thought wbich every heart bolds dear, and gives them an immortal life. This is doubtless part of the office of the Press, but I am afraid the cynic will say that the page it prints is
anything but a casket containing only precious things. If it fitly represents the speech of the world it will be a waste of arid sands, with only here and there a diamond to be sifted from the mass. Or a great salt sea, in which the pearls worth setting are hidden as on the ocean floor.
This is Nature's great law; a few grains of gold at the bottom of the miner's pan ; a handful or two of silver out of the ponderous quartz that is crushed ; a weary raking of tons of earth with only here and there a shining gem. And thus you have everybody's wit, even if you count the wealth which the Press las gathered in all the ages, only amid heaps of rubbish and a wilderness of tiresome words. But when the treasure is found it pays for the weary search ; and the great thoughts which are garnered by the Press rise out of the waste like the statue made by Bartholdi at Liberty Island thence evermore to enlighten the world ! [Cheers.]
The inspiration here is in the audience, and not in the speaker. As I look out into the sea of faces before me, I only wish I could gather from these flashing eyes, and the silent lips eloquent with inaudible speech, the wealth of unuttered thoughts which are written there and weave them into words of my own. I am sure if I did, and the reporters took it down, that the columns of to-morrow's Press would fairly sparkle with what would indeed be a good sample of “ Everybody's wit.” These gentlemen who look up from their easy seats, and wonder why some of us who are appointed to speak are so dull and prosy, I have no doubt have said enough bright things to each other before the tables were cleared to make the reputation of a speaker, if he could only catch and reproduce them as his own.
But I think there is another hint in the sentiment of the toast. If the proverb be true, all wit has but one soul, and its name is “ brevity.” That word rings in my ears at this moment with a solemn admonition. Indeed, it is the needed monitor for every life and for all time. Our tasks are great and the hours are fleeting. There is no fair statue, the work of a cunning artist, to hold aloft for us the blazing torch if we come to the evening shadows, our day all spent and our life work still unfinished. Liberty, with her uplifted arm, points for us against the dark background of the midnight sky the noblest lesson man can ever learn : Work while it is day, for the night cometh ! [Cheers.]
Tue PRESIDENT.-Gentlemen, I have now the pleasure of introducing to you Mr. Bigot, a gentleman connected with the French Press. [Applause.] Mr. Bigot spoke as follows:
SPEECH OF MR. CHARLES BIGOT.
MONSIEUR LE PRÉSIDENT, MESSIEURS : Après les nombreux et éloquents discours que nous avons entendus cette après midi et ce soir, ce n'est pas le moment d'ajouter encore un discours. La presse d'ailleurs use assez largement chaque jour de la plume pour être inexcusable si elle abusait encore de la parole. Il faut que je vous dise pourtant, aussi brièvement que je pourrai après avoir d'un mot remercié les journalistes Américains qui ont contribué si puissamment au succes de l'æuvre de BARTHOLDI, après avois remercié ceux qui ont fait, ces jours derniers, un si aimable accueil à notre patrie et à nos personnes,-il faut que je vous dise pourquoi le syndicat de la Presse parisienne a été heureux d'accepter l'invitation qui lui a été adressée par le gouvernement Américain, et m'a fait le grand honneur de me déléguer ici.
Si ce qui fait la superiorité d'une ceuvre d'art c'est l'union de la forme et de la pensée, permettez moi de vous le dire à mon tour, mon cher BARTHOLDI, vous avez fait une belle æuvre; vous avez trouvé un noble symbole et vous avez su l'exprimer puissamment. L'antiquité nous montrait la Vérité sortant d'un puits, un miroir à la main; votre symbole à vous me parait plus complet encore. Un miroir se borne à réfléter la lumière ; mais le phare qui couronne cette statue est plus qu’un miroir ; il est un foyer lumineux, il projète à l'entour ses rayons, il éclaire le sombre horizon.-La liberté n'est pas parelle-même une force.-La force, c'est l'initiative individuelle, l'énergie qui est au fond de chacun de nous ; mais la liberté est la condition indispensable pour que cette initiative puisse se manifester, pour que cette énergie puisse produire son effet.
C'est là ce que nous savons mieux que personne, nous tous écrivains nous adressant au public. Si vous avez des partis différents, vous qui êtes un peuple jeune, s'il est heureux même que vous en ayez, combien est-il plus naturel que nous soyons divisés d'opinions sur tant de matières, nous autres Français qui sommes une vieille nation ; qui, en un siècle seulement, avons traversé tant de révolutions. Chacun de nous a ses opinions ; chacun les croit seules vraies et seules utiles à son pays ; chacun les défend avec conviction, avec passion, avec violence même quelquefois.
Mais si nous sommes divisés sur tout le reste, il est une foi qui nous est commune, c'est la foi dans la puissance triomphante de la vérité, dans la bonté de la raison humaine. Nous sommes tous également convaincus qu'après une lutte plus ou moins longue c'est à la cause juste, aux idées justes que demeurera la victoire. Nous laissons à l'opinion le soin de nous juger, les uns et les autres; à l'avenir celui de prononcer entre nous.
Et en vérité si nous pensions autrement, aurions nous choisi comme instrument d'action cet outil de la plume, si chétif en apparence ?
Je me reprocherais d'insister ici. Qui sait mieux cela que vous tous, citoyens Américains qui n'avez jamais connu d'autres institutions que les institutions de la liberté ? Qui le sait mieux, en particulier, que vous, journalistes du Nouveau Monde, nos confrères, qui avez fait grandir la Presse à mesure que grandissait votre pays; qui avez fait du journalisme la grande école d'instruction de la démocratie ; qui continuez si glorieusement l'æuvre de FRANKLIN, votre vénérable ancêtre ; qui étonnez l'Europe par la rapidité, la variété et la sûreté de vos informations, autant que par la perfection de votre outillage ?
Voila pourquoi, au nom du Syndicat de la Presse parisienne, je