Source: Speeches and Writings of Wm. H. Wallace
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “McKinley Memorial Address”
Author(s): Wallace, William H.
Publisher: Western Baptist Publishing Co.
Place of publication: Kansas City, Missouri
Year of publication: 1914
|Wallace, William H. “McKinley Memorial Address.” Speeches and Writings of Wm. H. Wallace. Kansas City: Western Baptist Publishing, 1914: pp. 40-42.|
|full text of address; excerpt of book|
|William H. Wallace (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); William McKinley (death); William McKinley (death: religious response).|
|Jesus Christ; William McKinley; Prometheus.|
“From Address at Memorial Services of President McKinley” (p. 40).
A photograph of McKinley appears in the book on an unnumbered plate between pages 40 and 41.
From title page: Speeches and Writings of Wm. H. Wallace: With Autobiography.
McKinley Memorial Address
MY friends, I am an active, enthusiastic Democrat. But with men
of all parties, North and South, I stand today as an American at the grave of
the Nation’s Chief.
Another sun that shone so long in our national skies has gone down and death is enshrouding us with his chilly shadows. As a great nation, we are again halted here along life’s mysterious highway and in the silent gloaming, stand gazing into the dark beyond. We are all come once more to the great parting of the ways. A distinguished fellow traveler, warm in heart, resplendent in intellect, but mortally wounded and worn out and exhausted by the awful march, has taken his last faltering step, made his last gasp for life and then dropped dead in the weary road. We cluster close about him. We see his familiar form, the clayey tenement in which he dwelt, but he himself is absent. In silent wonder we gaze at one another and each reads in his fellow’s face the dread question, “Whither has our brother gone?” But no answer comes from there. In the deepening twilight we look all about us to see naught else save a single sign board [sic] on which is painted the iron finger of death, pointing immovably into the black and pathless abyss beyond, and the great question presses down upon our hearts—for reason now lags behind—“If a man die, shall he live again?”
From out this stilly hush there come three voices giving answer to this momentous question.
The first voice says: “As to whether your brother’s spirit is dead or still alive, we have not sufficient evidence; we do not know; we cannot decide. It may be that a brighter day has dawned, and in the warming sunlight the bud has burst and died that a fadeless flower may grow, or it may be that unending night has come and the bud is wrapped in the icy frost of eternal death; we have not sufficient evidence; we do not know; we cannot decide. It may be that he who loved  companionship so well is now in the rich fruition of his fondest hopes ’midst spirits just and angels bright, or it may be that like some luckless star suddenly losing his moorings, he has plunged out into boundless space, there to wander on forever, lone and unattended in the pathless void. We have not sufficient evidence; we do not know; we cannot decide.”
Oh! Agnosticism, is this the only solace thou canst bring? Is this the only drink thou canst give to a soul athirst? Is this the cold rock to which hapless Prometheus must be forever bound, whilst the ever forming vitals of hope are in turn to be plucked out by the eagle of despair? In the dread solitude of an hour like this is indecision, the nervous old parent of mental torment, the only companion thou canst suggest?
There comes another voice, more cheerless than the first. It says: “Your brother, mind and body, is dead. As the lighted candle burns itself out and as a candle is obliterated forever, so he has passed away. He will never think, or love, or feel again. Reason ever fresh with conquest shall still march on, but he who fought so knightly amidst her quivering plumes shall never poise his lance again; your brother’s intellect is dead. Love, sweet goddess, filling human hearts with bliss, shall still abide, but he who loved so truly shall never love again; your brother’s heart is dead. Music, harmony of the universe, shall still roll on, but he whose soul was stirred so deeply by its rapturous swell, will ne’er be thrilled again; your brother’s soul, if soul it could be called, is dead.”
We may not know just why, but whatever we may have said at other times, some resistless power deep within us, now cries out, “Stand aside, Atheism; oh, stand aside! Thou shalt not place the black cap of annihilation upon the noble brow that sleeps before us.”
“Blessed be that great and Holy Spirit who breathed us into being and made us immortal like Himself,” there comes another voice. It is nature’s voice, prompted to speak by nature’s God. In this night of life, in which we have lost our way, it is the caged bird of paradise singing darkling in every human breast and telling us that anon the morn shall rise. Yes, it is more than this. To us, athwart whose favored skies the beckoning lights of revelation have been swung, it is the “still small voice” of the religion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This voice says, “William McKinley still lives—lives where clouds shall never lower and suns shall set no more.” 
With uncovered heads, we bend today above his open grave. These yearnings for immortality for him and for ourselves, burning now within our breasts like undying fires, assure us that more of life than of death is here, while this awe unspeakable remids [sic] us that the boundaries of two worlds have well nigh touched, and that the winged attendants of the King of Glory are not far away. In life’s awful battle, fought where dusky twilight holds perpetual sway, heaven’s messengers of mercy cease not to search the pallid field of death, pressing the water of life to the lips of the dying and bearing the ransomed dead to their eternal home. As visitors from the unseen world lingered about the Savior’s tomb, so some voice is whispering now that God’s convoys are tarrying here while we say good-bye to our brother’s soul. Midst this holy hush we almost feel upon our tear-wet cheeks the downy fanning of angel wings. Ere we know it, our hearts have left us and are mounting upward, following Jehovah’s chariots through the skies. As young eagles reared where the sunlight never comes, when tossed by the parent bird from out their craggy nest beside some murky mountain gorge and left to fly or perish on the rocks beneath, follow their instincts and on intrepid wing mount upward till they look the blazing king of day directly in the face; so we, thrown out today above the black vortex of the unknowable, will follow that holy instinct, common to our race, and mount upward to that loving God whose radiant face our sins have hidden from our view. And we can rest assured that He who deceives not the young eagles, but brings them to the blazing realms for which their eyes were formed, will never deceive us. If we will but trust Him, not only with nature’s lamp, but by His Word and Holy Spirit, He will bring us to the light for which we yearn and for which our souls were made.
Oh, yes, yes; if we will but trust in God and in His Holy Son as William McKinley did, some day we shall meet him on the bright shore to which he’s gone—that Beulah land where sin and assassination and suffering and death shall come no more. Some day, some sweet day, we shall walk with him the golden streets of that Eternal City, where bells never toll, but are chiming and chiming on forever. Some day, some rapturous day, we shall enjoy with him the endless rest of unending activity, for disembodied spirits shall never tire. Some day, some glorious day, we also “shall be satisfied” when we shall “awake in his likeness.”