Judge Duke’s Welcome
Transcription of Article Inserted in Diary of 1922 (MSS 9521-i; Box 1)
To me has been assigned the very pleasant task of bidding you welcome in this old County and City; this County of mountains and rolling hills; of upland meadows and whose venerable trees stand old fashioned homes—in which, whether as mansions or cottages the old home spirit with all of its lovely traits yet survives: To bid you welcome to our little City which nestles in the cup of this lovely valley, like a diamond in emerald and sapphire settings, and which has waked up out of a long but pleasant sleep, and like a giant refreshed—dare I say with wine?—is taking great strides towards a higher usefulness and greater prosperity.
I welcome you not as strangers, albeit many of you ‘come from far,’ but rather as sons and daughters long absent from the dear old root tree and returning with love and abiding affection to the ancestral home.
Some of you may have forgotten—as alas! we all forget, what this old home of ours has been in the past: The mother of great men—of the greatest statesman of all time, whose Declaration is read today in every hamlet or mansion in this Union and whose far-seeing spirit yet dominates the governing policy of nations unborn at his death; of great explorers—great warriors—senators, ambassadors; and whose old red soil has not lost its fertility, and whose physical beauty yet keeps its eternal charm.
We want you to come back to catch something of the spirit that yet broods in our vallies and lingers amidst the oaks and pines of our ancient hills; the spirit of a contentment that is not entirely satisfied with itself, so as to stagnate, but recognizes that life is more than mere selfseeking or a mad rush for gold and pleasure, and believes that honest toil and earnest endeavor for all good things is the goal for which humanity should ever strive. We want you to carry back with you the love of home that has ever characterized your ancestors and mine, and which looked upon that home as something worth living for, and if needs be, worth dying for—the only earthly heaven. I have not doubt you have all these things wherever you are, but we want you to add to them a bit of your old home’s quiet nature, which it seems to me cannot exist anywhere until the years have consecrated it. We wish you to kindle at the altar fires of your ancestors’ hearthstones a bit of the old flame which burns with love of country and friends whose light has been to enlighten mankind and burn out the dross of selfishness, leaving the pure gold of our better natures.
There are many loves in this world—loves pure and impure—loves touched with sense and with sense alone. Loves so deprived of sense as to belong well nigh to divinity; loves to elevate to the skies; loves to drag down and degrade. Of all these loves I know of few purer and sweeter and more conducive to high thinking and high living than the love of home. Home! What word in the English language expresses more? How it calls back to you the spot where you were nurtured; the youthful days spent! Dear old word which brings back memories of the lowly roof, the old oaks and the orchard, the wainscotted rooms, the gables; the brook by the gate whose prattle comes to you now in dreams sweeter than any music. And with it all come a thousand tender recollections of a father’s kindly hand and voice; of a mother’s love—of friends, and brothers and sisters. Who, once separated from it does not long to return to it again? and when the long, dreary march of the years brings s in sight of the end, how the though[t] of Heaven is always the thought of a home!
And so with the thought that your love of home—even if it be that of your fathers—has brought you here, I bid you thrice welcome. Would we had more to offer you! “Our board is frugal but our hearts are great,” and with them—not in mere perfunctory words, I bid you welcome. I bid you come in and occupy the land, and having come once, come again and again, so that we may know you and claim you and join in fraternal affection the East and the West—the one with its dreams and traditions—the other with its resistless energy and sterling manhood. When these are united they shall conquer the world.