Quotes Suitable for Framing: Benjamin H. Hill on Robert E. Lee

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An interesting character in his own right, a Confederate senator from Georgia during the Civil War and a powerhouse in Georgia politics his entire life, Benjamin H. Hill in a speech in 1874  uttered this statement on Robert E. Lee that captures that very great man perfectly:

“When the future historian shall come to survey the character of Lee he will find it rising like a huge mountain above the undulating plane of humanity, and he must lift his eyes high toward heaven to catch its summit. He possessed every virtue of other great commanders without their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression; and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy and a man without guile. He was a Caesar without his ambition; Frederick without his tyranny; Napoleon without his selfishness; and Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and royal in authority as a true king. He was gentle as a woman in life; modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vestal in duty; submissive to law as Socrates; and grand in battle as Achilles.”

3 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Benjamin H. Hill on Robert E. Lee

  • Nobody is good, except only God. Lee seems to have come close.

    The following quotes are from letters to Gen’l Lee’s son:

    “You must study to be frank with the world: Frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion and take it for granted you mean to do the right thing. If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot: you will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind.”

    “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly, with all your classmates…Above all, do not appear to others what you are not. If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back. We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it is the path to peace and honor. ”

    “Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.”

  • I received this bow tie the other day as an early Father’s Day present:

    http://buffalojackson.com/bow-tie-robert-e-lee-gentleman-red.html

    The Definition of a Gentleman
    “The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He can not only forgive; he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be but the past” – Robert E Lee

  • Certainly a gentleman. John Terraine called him one of “the last of the great old-fashioned generals” along with Foch and MacArthur in two later conflicts, in contrast to “great moderns” – Grant, Haig and Zhukov.

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