Washington, September Seventeenth
AT nine o’clock this morning a trumpet was heard in Lafayette Square.
At this sound a line of mounted troops on one side of the Square
became practically a line of statues. The line extended for a long
distance on that part of Pennsylvania Avenue which separates Lafayette
Square from the White House. Then came a long roll from the drummers,
and then a strain of what has become a new National anthem. For
many years no English-speaking person can hear or sing “Nearer,
my God, to Thee,” that immortal expression of longing for the Eternal,
without remembering that in crucial moments it was the cry of two
great men—Phillips Brooks and William McKinley.
As the stanza comes to an end, a stout
grizzled officer, wearing a broad yellow sash over his gorgeous
uniform, raises his sword. A military command rings out. The cavalry
swing into line. They are to escort from the White House to the
Capitol all that is mortal of their Commander-in-Chief.
Following General Brooke—ranking Major-General
of the army—and the artillery band—which is playing a soul-moving
dirge—come the cavalry squadron, their white and red guidons limp
in the damp air. Then comes a battery of field artillery, and after
it Company A of United States Engineers. These in turn are followed
by two battalions of Coast Artillery, and these by a detachment
of the Hospital Corps.
The Marine Band,
with its inspiring music, appropriately heads the naval contingent,
which consists of a battalion of marines and a battalion of United
States seamen. Of all the men in line, the bluejackets are the most
pleasing. Some of them are from the North American squadron, which
has only just arrived in Hampton Roads. The sailors’ bare brown
necks and easy, swinging step somehow speak more of actual service
than do the trim soldiers marching on ahead.
The new National Guard of the District
of Columbia closes the first part of the procession. All the military
organizations in it have been carrying their arms, but have had
their colors draped and furled. The effect of the whole has been
extremely impressive, so impressive that it would seem as if the
movement of our soldiers through the streets of the National Capital
might oftener be seen without carrying with it any hint of militarism.
And we might oftener see and hear the military band in their brilliant
uniforms. They are a welcome break in the dead monotony of this
raw, rainy day and in the funereal habiliments all about us—such
a dash of color as one comes upon suddenly in Parliament Street,
London, in passing the Horse Guards. Why should not our War Department
also have its red-coated or blue-coated guardsman on horseback,
under some to-be-provided entrance, a living figure typifying in
form and color our genius and our institutions, a figure which would
give to every passer-by a thrill of conscious pride? In our endeavor
to maintain republican simplicity we are getting too much simplicity.
First, there is a stern necessity, never adequately realized, 
for a greater guarding of the lives of our Presidents. Second, the
fact persists that we are not totally different from other peoples
in an instinctive fancy for a certain splendor as distinguishing
National pageants. All humans like color and movement, but on National
great days we rarely have an over-supply.
Now follows the civic section of the
procession. It comprises detachments of fifty men each, from veteran
societies. The White House gates are thrown open, and through them
emerges a plain hearse. A gun-carriage might well have borne the
body of the soldier-statesman; instead, his remains have been placed
in a hearse drawn by six horses, each horse led by a footman. On
either side march six sailors and six artillerymen, and beyond these
on either side is the guard of honor, made up of officers from the
army and the navy. The hearse is followed by carriages containing
the family and relatives of the late President, the ex-President,
the President, the Cabinet, the Diplomatic Corps, Justices of the
Supreme Court, Senators, and Representatives, Governors of States,
and all of the high officials in Washington, together with the officers
of special commissions, the official representatives of the insular
governments, and various organized societies. The civilians comprise
masonic, military, and labor societies.
Both procession and onlookers are
numbering many thousands. Pennsylvania Avenue is densely thronged.
Along this historic thoroughfare have passed the Union armies under
Grant and Sherman, returning from a four years’ contest to save
the State. Amid the plaudits of a crowd of people, brilliant processions
have also swept along, celebrating the inauguration of many Presidents.
Last March such a procession escorted William McKinley as he drove
through Pennsylvania Avenue to enter on his second term as President
of the United States. No President was ever chosen for a second
four years with juster confidence in the country’s future prosperity
as assured by the first term of the incumbent. To-day his remains
are passing along that avenue, escorted by a procession more impressive
than the one of last March, and greeted by a crowd also more impressive.
A great stillness breathes around.
There is a Sunday quiet. The cries of hucksters and fakirs and all
the usual street noises have ceased. Owing to the law passed in
recent years, no mourning drapery is to be seen on any public edifice;
only their flags may be half-masted. On private buildings, however,
there is an abundance of black, though there is a regrettable absence
of purple. There is plenty of individual mourning among the masses,
gathered not so much to witness a pageant as by their presence to
indicate the respect and admiration felt for a man who was the type
of everything we love to call American. Hence they are clinging
to their places, despite the persistent and pelting rain. It is
easy to see that they wear no conventional mourning. The sincerity
and depth of grief betokened by crape on button and badge and armband
is not belied by the faces of the people. It is a mourning by all
the people. If the colored day-laborer cannot afford to buy a bit
of crape, there is some sort of black cloth wound in with the cheap
cotton flag over his door, or he is wearing some old campaign button
with the McKinley portrait thereon.
The sad procession reaches its destination.
Meanwhile some of us, after seeing the procession leave the White
House, had gone rapidly to the Capitol, and from its south porch
had been watching the pageant’s slow approach up the mile-long straight
stretch between us and the Treasury Building. Now we go to our places
in the rotunda. There are but eight hundred-odd such places. The
rotunda bears no sign of mourning, save a plain and repellent-looking
catafalque. The gaunt white mural columns stretch barrenly upwards.
Through the windows, a hundred feet above, comes the untempered
daylight. Away overhead in the vaulted dome there is a fresco glorifying
our National motto, “E Pluribus Unum.” It represents in allegory
the majesty of the people. Freedom and Victory have Washington between
them, and behind stand various figures representing the thirteen
original States. The picture means that a free people may make a
The north doors are flung open, and
a line of military officers enters. Then comes the casket, borne
high on the shoulders of five sailors and five soldiers. 
It is wrapped in a magnificent silk flag, which, glorious in its
sufficiency, should have been its only decoration. The flowers upon
it seem only an intrusion. But not so seem the massive floral decorations
ranged on the north porch and round the rotunda. They represent
offerings from countries and communities as far apart as Buenos
Ayres and Yonkers, and from many societies and personal friends.
They exactly and exquisitely express the love of the whole world
for William McKinley. The flowers also serve to introduce a welcome
note of color, as most of them are a grateful change from too much
funereal white. Purple orchids predominate. Another pleasant interruption
in the monotony of the somber day is found in the Capitol grounds
themselves, which have rarely looked more attractive, the rain having
made the grass and trees particularly green, and some red flowering
shrubs contributing a needed note of cheer.
Upon a platform on which Lincoln’s
remains had once reposed now rests another coffin. In its narrow
embrace lies what but a fortnight since had been the embodiment
of health and life.
To the right of the catafalque are
the members of the late President’s family; to the left, the new
President and Mr. Cleveland and the Cabinet. The occasions must
have been few when the eight hundred seats have accommodated a more
representative or distinguished audience. Of course the new President
and his family are the cynosure of all eyes. No one could have comported
himself with more quiet dignity than Mr. Roosevelt, and his popularity
has been doubled by his bearing during the past week. Every one
has wanted to see him and the new First Lady of the Land. There
is a clear-cut line between toadyism and flunkyism on the one hand,
and, on the other, a perfectly natural interest in the head of our
Government and in those most closely associated with him both in
domestic and political relations. In the latter relation the man
who draws special attention is the one next to Mr. Roosevelt in
the succession to the Presidency. Colonel Hay is one of the most
thoroughly trained Secretaries of State in our history, and has
accomplished more than has any other. He has, however, a further
claim to interest, for his is the one pre-eminently historic figure
of the occasion. He is the only one present who had been a close
friend of our three martyred Presidents, and the only one who had
played a prominent part in the administration of events following
the three assassinations. The appearance of Secretaries Gage and
Root next in succession calls to mind the fact that nowhere had
the dead President displayed greater ability than in choosing these
three Cabinet advisers. That President Roosevelt will insist on
retaining such men is accepted as a matter of course.
After the singing of the first hymn,
the Rev. Dr. Naylor offers a supplication; the entire company joins
at the end in the Lord’s Prayer. After a soprano solo, Bishop Andrews
delivers an unoratorical oration, but one simple, direct, and earnest.
“Nearer, my God, to Thee” is sung as if by common consent by the
entire audience. Lastly, the benediction is pronounced by the Rev.
Dr. Chapman. None of the clergy wear gowns. Owing to the vast cavernous
space of the rotunda, the voices of the speakers can be heard by
only a portion of the auditors, and even to those near the speakers
the echoes are so distressing that a single voice sometimes seems
like a discussion among several.
The day as a whole, however, has been
rendered unforgettable by the people rather than by the procession,
and by the Capitol itself rather than by the religious services
within. We should be thankful to have such a building. In its generous
extent and perfect lines it is an embodiment of American ideals.
It is thus our most genuine National monument. No other structure
can for a moment compare with it in dignity—we think of the Houses
of Parliament on the Thames, or of the Chamber of Deputies on the
Seine, or of the Reichstag on the Spree, but these are miserably
insignificant beside the building which has, first, a site incomparably
better than theirs, and, second, is the most felicitous of all architectural
attempts to express the life of a nation. To-day, in leaving the
mighty dome, more majestic, more meaningful than ever, one instinctively
exclaims, as did Garfield when he heard that Lincoln had been shot,
“God reigns and the Government at Washington still lives.”