Sedgwick smiled faintly, and said: “You mistake me, Miss Rose, and you too, Jack. That Abbey is the only thing I have seen in England that I am jealous or envious of. I see your great works and say to myself, ’We will rival all that.’ I read your best books and say of myself, ’they are a part of our inheritance as well as yours.’ But that Abbey is a monument, sufficient to itself, it seems to me, to make every Englishman afraid to ever falter in manhood or to fail in honor. It is filled with lessons of splendor. There slumber great kings and princes, and queens who were beautiful in life, but there under the seal of death a higher royalty is recognized—the royalty of great hearts and brains; the royalty that comes to the soldier when in the face of death he saves his country; the royalty of the statesman who turns aside the sword and opens new paths and possibilities to his countrymen; the royalty of the poet when he sets immortal thoughts to words, which once spoken, go sounding down the ages in music forever. And these should have their final couches spread beside the couches of kings, for each when called can answer, ’I, too, was royal.’
“And when other nations dispute for recognition with Englishmen, your countrymen have but to point to that consecrated spot and say: ’There is our country’s record. It is chiseled there by the old sculptor, Death; go and study it; it will carry you through thirty generations of men; from it you will learn how Englishmen were strong enough, while subduing the world, to subdue themselves; to create to themselves laws and a literature of their own, until they at last held aloft the banners of civilization when nearly all the world beside was dark; there is the record of England’s soldiers, statesmen, poets, scholars; read the immortal list, and then if you will, come back and renew the argument.’
“That pile ought to be enough to make every Englishman a true man, a brave man, a gentleman, for to me the names there make the most august scroll ever written.
“Listening within those walls, it seemed to me I could hear mingling all the voices of the mighty dead; the battle-cry of soldiers, the appeals of statesmen; the edicts of kings; the hymns of churchmen, the rhythm of immortal numbers as from poets’ harps they were flung off; the glory of a thousand years shone before my eyes; the splendor of almost everything that is immortal in English history was before me.
“That place ought to impress all who visit it with what mortals must do, if they would embalm their memories upon the world.
“You are right to reverence and to feel a solemn joy at that place; it is one of the few real splendors of this old world.”
“Forgive me, Mr. Sedgwick,” said Rose; “I should have known your thoughts.” While she was speaking, Grace, under the lap-robe, pressed her lover’s hand.