Toasts and Forms of Public Address

Laughable incidents either from history or illustrations from any source, must not be forgotten, for if the speech be more than a few minutes long they are absolutely indispensable.


The Fourth of July has been a great day ever since 1776. Before that year the Fourth of this month came and went like other days. But then a great event happened: an event which made a great difference to the entire world; the boundaries of many countries would be very different to-day if the important event of that day had not transpired. It was a terrible blow to the foes of humanity and even to many weak-kneed friends. The exhortation of one of the signers of the Declaration on that day, “We must all hang together,” with the grim but very reasonable rejoinder, “If we do not, we will assuredly hang separately.” The bloodshed and suffering which followed and which seem to be the only price at which human liberty and advancement can be procured. We had to deal with our old friends the English very much as the peace-loving Quaker did with the pirate who boarded his ship; taking him by the collar Broad-brim dropped him over the ship’s side into the water, saying, “Friend, thee has no business on this ship.” We have shown that we own and can navigate the ship of State ourselves, and now we are willing to welcome here not only John Bull but all nations of the world when they have any friendly business with us.

The gunpowder that has been consumed. First, during the Revolutionary war and the second war with England; and then the powder that has been exploded by small and large boys in the hundred and odd Fourths that have followed.


We are so far from home that we can’t hear the eagle scream or see the lightning in his eye. Only from the almanac do we know that this is the day of all days on which he disports himself. He was a small bird when born, more than a hundred years ago, but has grown lively till his wings reach from ocean to ocean, and it only requires a little faith to see him stretch himself clear over the Western Hemisphere and the adjacent islands. Other birds despised him on the first great Fourth, but these birds of prey, vultures, condors and such like, with crows, as well as the smaller Republican eagles born since, are humble enough to him now. The British lion himself having been so often scratched and clawed by this fowl, has learned to shake his mane and wag his tail rather amiably in our eagle’s presence, even if he has to give an occasional growl to keep his hand in. We are proud of this bird, though we are far from home, and to-day send our heartiest good wishes across the sea to the land we love the best.


The field here is very wide. All the history of the country is appropriate, but can only be glanced at, though a good speech might be made by dwelling at length on some romantic incident in its history. The size and richness of the country from the green pine forests of Maine to the golden orange groves of California; or the prophecy of the manifest greatness of coming destiny. Here the old but laughable story can be brought in easily about the raw Irishman who saw a pumpkin for the first time, and was told that it was a mare’s egg, and generously given one. He had the misfortune, however, to drop it out of his cart, when it rolled down-hill, struck a stump, burst and frightened a rabbit, which bounded away followed by Pat, shouting: “Shtop my colt; sure and if he is so big and can run so fast now, when just born, what a rousing horse he will be when grown up!”

But our country has more than merely a vast area. She has made advances in science, art, literature, and culture of all kinds, and is destined to play a chief part in the drama of the world’s progress.

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The celebration of this day has become general and has assumed a special and beautiful character. It might have been feared that angry passions engendered by civil strife would predominate, but the very reverse of this is true. Kindness and charity, tender memories of the sacrifices of patriotism, the duty of caring for the living and of avoiding all that might lead again to the sad necessity of war, are the sentiments nearly always inculcated.

The following are a few of the toasts that may be given at celebrations, or banquets, or at the exercises that form a part of the annual decorating of soldiers’ graves:

The Martyred Dead–the Regiments locally represented–the Army and Navy–any Dead Soldier especially prominent–the Union Forever–the Whole Country–Victory always for the Right–the Surviving Soldiers and Sailors–Unbroken Peace–the Commander-in-Chief, and other officers locally honored–any special battle whose field is near at hand–the Flag with all its Stars undimmed.


Time in its rapid flight tests many things. Thirty years ago the Southern Confederacy, like a dark cloud full of storm and thunderings, covered the Southern heavens. Statesmen planned, preachers prayed, women wept, and armies as brave as ever formed in line fought, for its establishment. Blood flowed freely, and the roar of battle filled the whole land. Many wise men thought it would continue for ages, but lo! it has disappeared. Nothing remains to its adherents but a memory–mournful, pathetic, and bitter.