Portrait Gallery

The Washington Post

Dec 03, 1921 Page 6.

Eloquence to the Rescue.

Let no one say that the art of oratory is dead or that eloquence has lost its force in molding the thoughts and directing the actions of men. The scene at Meridian Hill park on Thursday on the occasion of the unveiling of the Dante statue was made memorable by the impassioned address of M. Rene Viviani, as timely as it was effective. Stories emanating from the conference on the limitation of armaments concerning a split between the French and Italian delegations and representing that the French had cast slurs on the part taken by Italy in the war had unfortunately gained a wide circulation and, losing nothing in the retelling, were producing, as was to be expected, the most mischievous results. There was, in fact, grave danger of a lasting enmity springing up between the two leading Latin nations of Europe, to, the evident jeopardizing of world peace; despite the fact that but yesterday they had been banded together in a friendly and victorious alliance against a common foe.

Into the breach thus rapidly forming M. Viviani hurled himself with characteristic impetuosity. To the thousands of Italians from Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York assembled to do honor, to the memory of their great national poet the French orator delivered a panegyric on Italy which left nothing to be desired in generosity and which was applauded to the echo by his impressionable, audience. He reminded them of their kindred ancestry:

We are of the same race, of the same blood. Through a common culture and through the same processes of thought we descend from that ancient Rome which was the mother of right before being the mother of grace and the mother of beauty. Let us not forget our common origin if we wish to achieve our manifest destiny.

He paid tribute to “The gracious and virile nation which had donned its armor eager to meet the foe” and to the Italian legions, sharers in the sufferings and triumphs of the soldiers of France:

I saluted and I salute now again these alert and vigorous heroes who, to reach the field of battle, marched through a countryside twentyfold illustrious, where every stone bears the weight of history, where the blood of the sons of France and of the sons of Italy had flowed, planting a seed which we believe durable and which has been shown to be Immortal.

After testimony so wholehearted, the handclasp exchanged between the former French premier and the Italian Ambassador was the most natural thing in the world. It was symbolic of, the re-cementing of an international friendship which was in danger of being wrecked, but which is destined henceforward to flourish more vigorously than ever.

Eloquence to the Rescue, The Washington Post, Dec 03, 1921 Page 6.