The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

By William Jennings Bryan; Mary Baird Bryan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
SOME SELECTIONS FROM HIS SPEECHES

NO review of Mr. Bryan's life would be complete without the addition of certain passages from his speeches which may convey an impression of the form in which he presented his ideas to his audiences.

I have made these selections because I believe they will convey, in so far as printed words can convey, the simplicity of his expression. The first quotation is from his valedictory oration at Illinois College, where as a youth of twenty-one he took leave of his alma mater--with this exception the speeches represent his maturer years.

"We launch our vessels upon the uncertain sea of life alone, yet not alone, for around us are friends who anxiously and prayerfully watch our course. They will rejoice if we arrive safely at our respective havens, or weep with bitter tears, if one by one, our weather-beaten barks are lost forever in the surges of the deep.

"We have esteemed each other, loved each other, and now must from each other part. God grant that we may all so live as to meet in the better world, where parting is unknown.

"Halls of learning, fond Alma Mater, farewell. We turn to take one 'last, long, lingering look' at thy receding walls. We leave thee now to be ushered out into the varied duties of active life.

"However high our names may be inscribed upon the gilded scroll of fame, to thee we all honor give, to thee all praises bring. And when, in after years, we're wearied by the bustle of a busy world, our hearts will often long to turn and seek repose beneath thy sheltering shade."

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