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Source: The Convert
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Home Again” [chapter 35]
Author(s): Hudgins, Charles Buckner
Publisher: Neale Publishing Company
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication:
Pagination: 314-21

Hudgins, Charles Buckner. “Home Again” [chapter 35]. The Convert. New York: Neale Publishing, 1908: pp. 314-21.
full text of chapter; excerpt of book
William McKinley (memorial addresses, fictional).
Named persons
William McKinley; Reuben Reinhardt; Solomon.


Home Again

     At his dear old home the Judge and his wife immediately settled down to the duties, comforts, pleasures, and the hallowed privacy of domestic life. As she had cut herself entirely off from her former associates, so much so as not even to acknowledge a speaking acquaintance with any Christian, and the Jews hesitated to show her any attention, she was left to her husband alone for companionship. It was noticed that she never appeared on the streets, or anywhere else, without him at her side. Some people said that it was because the Judge was afraid to trust her again with her Christian friends, for they might persuade her to return to the fold whence she had strayed; others said that he had her so completely hypnotized she had no will of her own. Whatever they thought, she did not know; she was only too thankful to be let alone in working out her own plans for the spiritual welfare of herself and her good husband. Though many secretly criticised the Judge very severely for enticing the young and lovely Christian woman, that she should have risked her very soul to please him, yet all felt [314][315] sorry for her; however, he retained much of his former prestige in the community, and so on the first day of his arrival home, when it was known that he had witnessed the assassination of President McKinley, he was waited on by the committee of arrangements for a mass memorial service in honor of the dead President, and asked to be the orator for the occasion. He accepted the honor, and before a large audience of the best citizens of Rome, assembled in the large First Methodist Church, on the second Sunday night following the death of the President, Judge Reinhardt spoke as follows:
     “My friends, King Solomon of Israel, the wisest and the richest man of his day, said, ‘Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.’ And I believe it, not only because the wisest of men has said it, but also because our experience has taught us so. We are better for having our hearts softened and drawn closer to all who have suffered in the same way. Feeling with each other is not only a sympathetic touch that makes us wondrous kind, but is also that something which makes us like unto the angels of Heaven—like unto those unselfish ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation—yea, like unto those celestial beings who are in such close touch with us earthly creatures that they do verily rejoice [315][316] with us and mourn with us. For the tragic death of our great and good President a mighty people is mourning their sorrowful loss. President McKinley was an honest man, who gladly served God, according to the light given him, with a reverential love, and with the trust of an innocent child. A noble, brave, meek man, who tried to do his duty faithfully, as he saw it, both to God and man. He was an impartial ruler, who recognized the fact that he was only an instrument in the hands of the Supreme Ruler for good to all. He so wisely served his country that all sections have been reunited as an indissoluble band of loyal patriots.
     “A lover of peace, President McKinley did all in his power to avert war. When every other resource was exhausted, every effort to release a long-oppressed and helpless little neighbor from the tyrannical heel of a distant, unmerciful foreign power, he then, and not till then, yielded to the popular voice of his people, and bravely went to the rescue of the poor struggling weaker neighbor. And when, on land and sea, glorious victory crowned the sympathetic efforts to throw off the yoke of oppression, he made the most magnanimous peace settlement with a conquered enemy ever recorded in the history of nations. When, further, as the fruits of that successful and righteous war it became ‘the white man’s bur- [316][317] den’ to civilize the semi-savage tribes of the many isles of the sea fallen into our possession, the great responsibility was not shunned. In spite of so great adverse criticism, because of the enormous cost to our nation, he bravely and patiently persisted in obeying duty’s high call to his country to bear her part of ‘the white man’s burden.’ But as he saw the burden gradually lessening, and all his wise plans working to successful accomplishment, and the grateful and brave people over whom he for a second term of office was so triumphantly chosen; his nation advanced to the foremost rank amongst the great powers of the world; loved by many and respected by all of his own people; at the very zenith of his well-earned glory—he is sacrificed to the malicious teachings of an evil society, whose members are so possessed by Satan and his wicked spirits that even the most righteous head of the freest and most indulgent government is, alas, the innocent victim of its anarchistic madness and folly!
     “Though I do not agree with the many who say that these enemies to peace and all lawful authority should be executed without mercy, I think they should be incarcerated as mad men, caught and shut up as any other dangerous insane man or woman, or any untamed beast; that the good and law-abiding [317][318] people be protected from their diabolical plots and death traps!
     “The book of Job says that ‘Man is born to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.’ Yes, my friends, sorrow is our heritage, but lest we should thereby grow faint-hearted, we have the Scriptural assurance to comfort us, that the heart is made all the better for it. We do not know, we cannot tell why such a useful, good and acceptable man as President McKinley should have been allowed to die at this time. We do not know and, perhaps, never will know, just why any other good and useful citizen is taken away when he seems to be so much needed by his fellow-citizens on earth. We do not understand why the young father, in the vigor and usefulness of his manhood, should be, as it were, snatched away from his loving wife and dependent children, why the good and useful young wife should have to leave her devoted husband and helpless children; or why the sweet, bright child should be taken from the happy home when it was the light of the house. All we do know, is that they are gone, and we are left sorrowing. There is no comfort in such a thought. How sadly we miss the departed dear ones! The sweet consolation is in the belief that all earthly journeys end in happiness eternal. Even out of the encircling gloom a light may be seen. All is not dark- [318][319] ness; and so we catch at the welcome ray, as a drowning man is said to catch at straws. And we learn in the blessed light from heaven that though sorrow may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning—that happy morning when all tears shall be wiped away forever. Then we shall need no more sorrow to make our hearts better; for then we shall be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect, because we shall awake in His likeness and be satisfied. Saith the Psalmist, ‘It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn thy statutes.’
     “Yea, my friends, we learn from the law of God better how to more acceptably serve Him under the rod of affliction. It is sorrow that brings out what is best in man—in loving deeds and words of unselfishness. In a small community like ours, time and again, these better traits of character have shown out so beautifully that we glorify our Father in Heaven for the blessed tie that binds our hearts in divine love. What has been seen here in our hours of sorrow is now witnessed by a sympathetic world; and by those innumerable angelic witnesses in Heaven—a common sorrow shared by seventy-five millions of grief-stricken people over their mutual loss. Statesmen, politicians of all parties, the non-committal diplomat, the much-experienced physician, men, women and child- [319][320] ren, in every station of life—all mingle their tears in the nation’s sorrow, and express loving words of sympathy for the bereaved widow, the wife for whom the President always manifested the tenderest consideration.
     “Death is the common leveller [sic]—it brings us all to the same plane of mystery. No one may look the unwelcome grim visitor in the face without an involuntary shudder. And yet, the inspired wise King tells us, ‘It is better to go to the house of mourning than in the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men: and the living will lay it to his heart.’
     “In times of prosperity and earthly joy the heart is apt to become unmindful of God, and thus the affections are too much concentrated on earthly things—the perishable things of this world, which may hinder us in setting our affections on heaven, where only true joys are to be found. But in adversity we are drawn nearer to each other, and, consequently, nearer to God. Sorrow felt for one another brings out those better traits of love which prove our love toward God. We cannot love God unless we love our neighbor—our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be found. And in keeping the God-given commandment to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself, we must see through our sorrowful tears God’s love for us—even under the chastise- [320][321] ment of affliction; and, therefore, our hearts are made better. The spotless private life of our late President was a shining manifestation of his godliness. I can never forget his saintly smile, and his gentle words, ‘Don’t harm that boy!’ though his life-blood was flowing through the bullet holes shot into his body by that wretch; and as the maddened crowd was about to tear his cruel murderer to pieces. His manly calmness and fortitude under the surgeon’s treatment, during those trying days of slow death; his patient resignation to God’s will, if he must leave the delicate wife so dependent upon him and to whom he ever showed the tenderest devotion; his reciting his favorite hymn, ‘Nearer, my God, to thee’—all these touching incidents of his last days have made an immortal impression for good in the world. My friends, while we bow our heads in sorrow with all our bereaved countrymen, let us follow the good example of him whose memory we love to honor, and for whom we mourn—even the great and good President William McKinley, whose last words were, ‘It is God’s way; His will be done.’
     “In closing, let us bear in mind one of his favorite hymns, ‘Lead, Kindly Light.’”



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