This poem was recited to great applause to crowds in Philadelphia in 1915 at the Forty-Second Annual Reunion of the Army of the Potomac and included in the published Report of Proceedings.
The poem was created on the scene of the reunion by Captain Jack Crawford and was based on the arrest of an old soldier a “day or two” before the meeting. The soldier who was arrested was quoted as saying “I did it, yes I did it, and I’d do it again.”
Assault with Attempt to Kill
“Benjamin White,” the Court clerk cried, and “Benjamin White” again,
When a man of apparently sixty came out of the prisoners’ pen.
He leaned on a cane of hickory wood, and walked with a limping gait,
And stood at the bar with determined face, and there awaited his fate.
“Benjamin White,” his Honor cried, as the crowd in the court grew still,
“The charge which 1 see against your name, is assault with intent to kill.
How do you plead? ’Tis a serious charge, with a heavy penalty;
The Court would advise that you ponder well before you enter a plea.”
This poem by Elbert Hubbard appeared on the cover of the November 22, 1914 issue of The Sun (NYC).
Elbert Green Hubbard (June 19, 1856 – May 7, 1915) was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Raised in Hudson, Illinois, he had early success as a traveling salesman for the Larkin Soap Company. Among his many publications were the nine-volume work Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great and the short publication A Message to Garcia.
Less than a year after this poem was published, he and his second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the RMS Lusitania, when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.
A Prayer of Gratitude
I believe in the hands that work; in the brains that think ; in the hearts that love.
I am thankful for the blessed light of this day, and I am thankful for all the days that have gone before.
I thank the thinkers, the publishers, the inventors, the poets, the singers, the painters, the sculptors and the business men who have lived and are living.
I thank Pericles and Phidias, who made that most beautiful city the world has ever seen, and were repaid with persecution and death.
I thank Aristotle, the mountain guide and school teacher, who knew how to set bad boys to work.
I thank Immanuel Kant, who was never more than ten miles from his home, for luring the world to his door.
I thank Emerson for brooking the displeasure of his alma mater.
I thank Jamie Watt, the Scotch boy who watched his mother’s teakettle to a purpose.
I thank Volta and Galvani, who fixed their names, as did Watt, in the science that lightens labor and carries the burdens that once bowed human backs.
I thank Benjamin Franklin for his spirit of mirth, his persistency, his patience, his common sense.
I thank Alexander Humboldt and his brother, William Humboldt those great brothers twain who knew that life is opportunity.
I thank Shakespeare for running away from Stratford and holding horses at a theatre entrance — but not forever.
I thank Arkwright, Hargreaves and Crompton, from whose brains leaped the looms that weave with tireless hands the weft and warp that human bodies wear.
I thank Thomas Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence, for founding the public school system, for dreaming of a college where girls and boys would study, learn and work in joy.
I thank Benedict Spinoza, gardener, lens maker, scientist, humanist, for being true to the dictates of the tides of divinity that played through his soul.
I thank Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer for liberating theology from superstition.
I thank Tyndall the Irishman, Draper the American, Herschel the German, Bjornson the Scandinavian and Adam Smith the Scotchman for inspiration and help untold.
These men and others like them, their names less known, have made the world a fit dwelling place for liberty. Their graves are mounds from which flares freedom’s torch.
And I thank and praise too the simple, honest, unpretentious millions who have worked, struggled toiled, carrying heavy burdens, often paid in ingratitude, spurned, misunderstood who still worked on and succeeded, or failed, robbed of recognition and the results of their toil. To all these, who sleep in forgotten graves, my heart goes out in gratitude over the years and the centuries and the ages that have passed.
Amen and Amen!
by Elbert Hubbard