Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson, b. January 21, 1824
0 comment Monday, July 7, 2014 |
...How is it that this man, of all others least accustomed to exercise his own fancy, or address that of others, has stimulated the imagination, not only of his countrymen, but of the civilized world, above all the sons of genius among us? How has he, the most unromantic of great men, become the hero of a living romance, the ideal of an inflamed fancy in every mind, even before his life had passed into history!-- How did that calm eye kindle the fire of so passionate a love and admiration in the heart of his people? He was brave, but not the only brave. He revealed transcendant military talent; but the diadem of his country now glows with a galaxy of such talent. He was successful; but we have more than one captain, whose banner never trailed before an enemy. I will tell you the solution. It was, chiefly the singleness, purity, and elevation of his aims. Every one who observed him was as thoroughly convinced of his unselfish devotion to duty as of his courage; as certain that no thought of personal advancement, of ambition or applause, ever for one instant divided the homage of his heart with his great cause, and that "all the ends he aimed at were his country's, his God's, and truth's," as that he was brave.
The love of his countrymen is the spontaneous testimony of the common conscience, to the beauty of holiness. It is the confession of our nature that the virtue of the Sacred Scriptures, which is a virtue purer and loftier than that of philosophy, is the true greatness, grander than knowledge, talent, courage, or success. Here, then, as I believe, is God's chief lesson in his life and death, (and the belief encourages auspicious hopes concerning God's designs towards us.) He would teach us the beauty and power of pure Christianity, as an element of our social life, of our national career. Therefore he took an exemplar of Christian sincerity, as near perfection as the infirmities of our nature would permit, formed and trained in an honorable retirement; he set it in the furnace of trial, at an hour when great events and dangers had awakened the popular heart to most intense action; he illustrated it with that species of distinction which above all others, attracts the popular gaze, military glory; and held it up to the admiring inspection of a country grateful for the deliverances it had wrought for us. Thus he has taught us, how good a thing his fear is. He has made all men see and acknowledge that, in this man, his Christianity was the fountain head of the virtues and talents, which they so rapturously applauded; that it was the fear of God which made him so fearless of all else; that it was the love of God which animated his energies; that it was the singleness of his aims which caused his whole body to be so full of light, that the unerring decisions of his judgement, suggested to the unthinking, the belief in his actual inspiration; and that the lofty chivalry of his nature was but the reflex of the Spirit of Christ. Do not even the profane admit this explanation of his character?
[...] And now, with one more lesson, I leave you to the teachings of the mighty dead. If there was one trait which was eminent in him above the rest, it was determination. This was the power, before whose steady and ardent heat obstacles melted away. This was the force, which caused his battalions to breast the onsets of the enemy like ramparts of stone, or else launched them irresistibly upon their shivered lines; "the unconquerable will, the purpose never to submit or yield!" Every one who was near him felt that defeat was a result wholly excluded from his contemplation. Let us imbibe this spirit. As we visit the soil which drank his blood! or the grave where his body rests in the bosom of his beloved valley, we will adopt them as new seals to our pledge to be free or to die. Let us resolve that as the solemn mountain peaks keep their everlasting watch around the home and the tomb of Jackson, even so immovably will we guard the rights for which he died.''- R.L. Dabney, True Courage: A Discourse Commemorative of Lieut. General Thomas J. Jackson

Labels: , , ,