“Show me,” said Omar the Caliph to Amru the warrior, “the sword with which you have fought so many battles and slain so many infidels.” “Ah,” replied Amru, “the sword without the arm of the master is no sharper nor heavier than the sword of Farezdak the poet.” So one hundred and fifty pounds of flesh and blood without character is of no great value.
“No man throws away his vote,” says Francis Willard, “when he places it in the ballot-box with his conviction behind it. The party which elected Lincoln in 1860 polled only seven thousand votes in 1840. Revolutions never go backward, and the fanaticisms of to-day are the victories of to-morrow.”
“O sir, we are beaten,” exclaimed the general in command of Sheridan’s army, retreating before the victorious Early. “No, sir,” replied the indignant Sheridan; “you are beaten, but this army is not beaten.” Drawing his sword, he waved it above his head, and pointed it at the pursuing host, while his clarion voice rose above the horrid din in a command to charge once more. The lines paused, turned,–
“And with the ocean’s mighty swing,
When heaving to the tempest’s wing,
They hurled them on the foe;”
and the Confederate army was wildly routed.
When war with France seemed imminent, in 1798, President Adams wrote to George Washington, then a private citizen in retirement at Mount Vernon: “We must have your name, if you will permit us to use it; there will be more efficacy in it than in many an army.” Character is power.
When Pope Paul IV. heard of the death of Calvin he exclaimed with a sigh, “Ah, the strength of that proud heretic lay in–riches? No! Honors? No! But nothing could move him from his course. Holy Virgin! With two such servants, our Church would soon be mistress of both worlds.”
Eighteen hundred years ago, when night closed over the city of Pompeii, a lady sat in her house nursing her son of ten years of age. The child had been ill for some days; his form was wasted, his little limbs were shrunk; and we may imagine with what infinite anxiety she watched every motion of the helpless one, whose existence was so dear. What did take place we know with an exactness very remarkable. That distant mountain which reared its awful head on the shore of the bay, Vesuvius, was troubled that same night with an eruption, and threw into the air such clouds of pumice-stones that the streets and squares of Pompeii became filled, and gradually the stones grew higher and higher, until they reached the level of the windows. There was no chance of escape then by the doors; and those who attempted to get away stepped out of their first floor windows and rushed over the sulphurous stones–a short distance only, for they were quickly overpowered by the poisonous vapors and fell dead. After the stones there fell ashes, and after ashes hot water fell in showers, which changed the ashes into clay. Those who ran out of their houses during the fall of stones were utterly consumed, while those who waited until the ashes began to fall perished likewise, but their bodies were preserved by the ashes and water which fell upon them. The Pompeiian mother we have mentioned opened the window of her house when she thought the fall of stones was over, and with the child in her arms took a few hurried steps forward, when, overpowered by the sulphur, she fell forward, at which moment the shower of ashes began to fall, and quickly buried mother and child. The hot water afterward changed into a mould; the ashes and the sun baked the fatal clay to such a degree of hardness that it has endured to the present day. A short time ago the spot where mother and child lay was found, liquid plaster-of-Paris was poured into the mould formed by the bodies, and then the mould was broken up, leaving the plaster-cast whole. Thus one touching incident in the terrible tragedy of eighteen centuries ago has been preserved for the admiration and respect of posterity. _The arms and legs of the child showed a contraction and emaciation which could only result from illness._ Of the mother only the right arm was preserved; she fell upon the ashes, and the remaining portion of her body was consumed. _But the right hand still clasped the legs of the child_; on her arm were two gold bracelets, and on her fingers were two gold rings–one set with an emerald, the other with a cut amethyst. This touching illustration of _a mother’s love_ now rests in the museum of the celebrated city.
“I was sitting with Grant once,” says General Fisk, “when a major-general entered, dressed in the uniform of his rank, who said: ‘Boys, I have a good story to tell you. I believe there are no ladies present.’ Grant said, ‘No, but there are gentlemen present.'”
Mr. George W. Childs, in referring to this trait, said:
“Another great trait of his character was his purity in every way. I never heard him express or make an indelicate allusion in any way or shape. There is nothing I ever heard that man say that could not be repeated in the presence of women.”
The writer has heard of several incidents illustrating his answer to impure stories. On one occasion, when Grant formed one of a dinner-party of American gentlemen in a foreign city, conversation drifted into references to questionable affairs, when he suddenly rose and said, “Gentlemen, please excuse me; I will retire.”
When Attila, flushed with conquest, appeared with his barbarian horde before the gates of Rome in 452, Pope Leo alone of all the people dared go forth and try to turn his wrath aside. A single magistrate followed him. The Huns were awed by the fearless majesty of the unarmed old man, and led him before their chief, whose respect was so great that he agreed not to enter the city, provided a tribute should be paid to him.