Last modified on 8 March 2014, at 14:23

Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord...
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

Julia Ward Howe (27 May 181917 October 1910) was an American writer, poet, and social activist.

QuotesEdit

I have seen him in the watchfires of an hundred circling camps...
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps...
  • Weave no more silks, ye Lyons looms,
    To deck our girls for gay delights!
    The crimson flower of battle blooms,
    And solemn marches fill the nights.
    • "Our Orders" in The Atlantic Monthly (July 1861).
  • The flag of our stately battles, not struggles of wrath and greed,
    Its stripes were a holy lesson, its spangles a deathless creed:
    'T was red with the blood of freemen and white with the fear of the foe;
    And the stars that fight in their courses 'gainst tyrants its symbols know.
    • "The Flag" in The Atlantic Monthly (April 1863).
  • "What is the harvest of thy saints,
    O God! who dost abide?

    Where grow the garlands of thy chiefs
    In blood and sorrow dyed?
    What have thy servants for their pains?"
    "This only — to have tried."
    • "Endeavor" in Godey's Magazine, Vol. 72 (1866), p. 370.
  • The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness.
    • As quoted in Stories Behind the Hymns That Inspire America: Songs That Unite Our Nation (2003) by Ace Collins, p. 36.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic (1861)Edit

I have read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His Day is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, he is succour to the brave...
So the world shall be his footstool, and the soul of Time his slave,
Our God is marching on.
  • Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
    His truth is marching on.
    • First lines of the published version, in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1862); Howe stated that the title “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was devised by the Atlantic editor James T. Fields.
    • Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
      He is trampling out the wine press, where the grapes of wrath are stored,
      He hath loosed the fateful lightnings of his terrible swift sword,
      His truth is marching on.
      • First lines of the first manuscript version (19 November 1861).
  • I have seen him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps
    They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps,
    I have read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
    His Day is marching on.
    • All versions.
  • I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
    "As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
    Since God is marching on."
    • Published version, in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1862).
  • He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat.

    Oh! be swift my soul to answer him, be jubilant my feet!
    Our God is marching on.
    • Published version, in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1862)
    • He has sounded out the trumpet that shall never call retreat,
      He has waked the earth's dull sorrow with a high ecstatic beat...
      • First manuscript version (19 November 1861).
  • In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
    As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on.
    • Published version, in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1862)
    • In the whiteness of the lilies he was born across the sea,
      With a glory in his bosom that shines out on you and me,
      As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
      Our God is marching on.
      • First manuscript version (19 November 1861).
  • He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
    He is wisdom to the mighty, he is succour to the brave,
    So the world shall be his footstool, and the soul of Time his slave,
    Our God is marching on.
    • First manuscript version (19 November 1861).

Mother's Day Proclamation (1870)Edit

Arise, all women who have hearts!
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
  • Arise then... women of this day!
    Arise, all women who have hearts!
  • We, the women of one country,
    Will be too tender of those of another country
    To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
  • From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
    Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
    The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
    Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
    Nor violence indicate possession.

    As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
    At the summons of war,
    Let women now leave all that may be left of home
    For a great and earnest day of counsel.
    Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
    Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
    Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
  • In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
    That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
    May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
    And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
    To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
    The amicable settlement of international questions,
    The great and general interests of peace.

What is Religion? (1893)Edit

I go back to that great Spirit which contemplated a sacrifice for the whole of humanity. That sacrifice is not one of exclusion, but of an infinite and endless and joyous inclusion.
Speech at the "Parliament of World Religions", Columbian Exposition, Chicago World's Fair (1893)
I think nothing is religion which puts one individual absolutely above others, and surely nothing is religion which puts one sex above another.
  • I only hope you may be able not only to listen, but also to hear me. Your charity must multiply my small voice and do some such miracle as was done when the loaves and fishes fed the multitude in the ancient tune which has just been spoken of.
  • Before I say anything on my own account, I want to take the word Christianity back to Christ himself, back to that mighty heart whose pulse seems to throb through the world to-day, that endless fountain of charity out of which I believe has come all true progress and all civilization that deserves the name. As a woman I do not wish to dwell upon any trait of exclusiveness in the letter which belongs to a time when such exclusiveness perhaps could not be helped, and which may have been put in where it was not expressed. I go back to that great Spirit which contemplated a sacrifice for the whole of humanity. That sacrifice is not one of exclusion, but of an infinite and endless and joyous inclusion. And I thank God for it.
  • It has been extremely edifying to hear of the good theories of duty and morality and piety which the various religions advocate. I will put them all on one basis, Christian and Jewish and ethnic, which they all promulgate to mankind. But what I think we want now to do is to inquire why the practice of all nations, our own as well as any other, is so much at variance with these noble precepts? These great founders of religion have made the true sacrifice. They have taken a noble human life, full of every human longing and passion and power and aspiration, and they have taken it all to try and find out something about this question of what God meant man to be and does mean him to be. But while they have made this great sacrifice, how is it with the multitude of us? Are we making any sacrifice at all? We think it was very well that those heroic spirits should study, should agonize and bled for us. But what do we do?
  • I need not stand here to repeat any definition of what religion is. I think you will all say that it is aspiration, the pursuit of the divine in the human; the sacrifice of everything to duty for the sake of God and of humanity and of our own individual dignity.
  • What is it that passes for religion? In some countries magic passes for religion, and that is one thing I wish, in view particularly of the ethnic faiths, could be made very prominent— that religion is not magic. I am very sure that in many countries it is supposed to be so. You do something that will bring you good luck. It is for the interests of the priesthood to cherish that idea. Of course the idea of advantage in this life and in another life is very strong, and rightly very strong in all human breasts. Therefore, it is for the advantage of the priesthoods to make it to be supposed that they have in their possession certain tricks, certain charms, which will give you either some particular prosperity in this world or possibly the privilege of immortal happiness. Now, this is not religion. This is most mischievous irreligion, and I think this Parliament should say, once for all, that the name of God and the names of his saints are not things to conjure with.
  • I think nothing is religion which puts one individual absolutely above others, and surely nothing is religion which puts one sex above another. Religion is primarily our relation to the Supreme, to God himself. It is for him to judge; it is for him to say where we belong, who is highest and who is not; of that we know nothing. And any religion which will sacrifice a certain set of human beings for the enjoyment or aggrandizement or advantage of another is no religion. It is a thing which may be allowed, but it is against true religion. Any religion which sacrifices women to the brutality of men is no religion.
  • From this Parliament let some valorous, new, strong, and courageous influence go forth, and let us have here an agreement of all faiths for one good end, for one good thing— really for the glory of God, really for the sake of humanity from all that is low and animal and unworthy and undivine.

Reminiscences (1899)Edit

I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind.
  • We returned to the city very slowly, of necessity, for the troops nearly filled the road. My dear minister was in the carriage with me, as were several other friends. To beguile the rather tedious drive, we sang from time to time snatches of the army songs so popular at that time, concluding, I think, with
      John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the ground;
      His soul is marching on.

    The soldiers seemed to like this, and answered back, "Good for you!" Mr. Clarke said, "Mrs. Howe, why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?" I replied that I had often wished to do this, but had not as yet found in my mind any leading toward it.
    I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, "I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them." So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper. I had learned to do this when, on previous occasions, attacks of versification had visited me in the night, and I feared to have recourse to a light lest I should wake the baby, who slept near me. I was always obliged to decipher my scrawl before another night should intervene, as it was only legible while the matter was fresh in my mind. At this time, having completed the writing, I returned to bed and fell asleep, saying to myself, "I like this better than most things that I have written."
  • While the war was still in progress, I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, "Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" I had never thought of this before. The august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities now appeared to me in a new aspect, and I could think of no better way of expressing my sense of these than that of sending forth an appeal to womanhood throughout the world, which I then and there composed.
    • On the Franco-Prussian War as the inspiration for her "Mother's Day Proclamation" of 1870 calling for mothers to arise as a social force against war in general.

Beyond the VeilEdit

Essay In After Days : Thoughts on the Future Life (1910) published by Harper & Brothers
On the boundless sea of conjecture we are still afloat, with such mental tools as we possess to guide us, with the skies, the stars, the seasons, seeking a harbor from which no voyager has ever returned.
Life passes, but the conditions of life do not.
  • Have we lost our God ? Never for one moment. Unspeakable, He is; the beneficent parent, the terrible, incorruptible judge, the champion of the innocent, the accuser of the guilty, refuge, hope, redeemer, friend; neither palace walls nor prison cells can keep Him out. Every step of our way from the birth hour He has gone with us. Were we at the gallows' foot, and deservedly, He would leave a sweet drop in the cup of death. He would measure suffering to us, but would forbid despair. The victory of goodness must be complete. The lost sheep must be found — ay, and the lost soul must turn to the way in which the peace of God prevails. We learn the dreadful danger of those who wander from the right path, but we may also learn the redeeming power which recalls and reclaims them.
    So fade our heavens and hells. Christ, if he knew their secrets, did not betray them. On the boundless sea of conjecture we are still afloat, with such mental tools as we possess to guide us, with the skies, the stars, the seasons, seeking a harbor from which no voyager has ever returned.
  • To me has been granted a somewhat unusual experience of life. Ninety full years have been measured off to me, their lessons and opportunities unabridged by wasting disease or gnawing poverty. I have enjoyed general good health, comfortable circumstances, excellent company, and the incitements to personal effort which civilized society offers to its members. For this life and its gifts I am, I hope, devoutly thankful. I came into this world a hopeless and ignorant bit of humanity. I have found in it many helps toward the attainment of my full human stature, material, mental, moral. In this slow process of attainment many features have proved transient. Visions have come and gone. Seasons have bloomed and closed, passions have flamed and faded. Something has never left me. My relation to it has suffered many changes, but it still remains, the foundation of my life, light in darkness, consolation in ill fortune, guide in uncertainty.
    In the nature of things, I must soon lose sight of this sense of constant metamorphosis whose limits bound our human life. How about this unchanging element? Will it die when I shall be laid in earth? The visible world has no answer to this question. For it, dead is dead, and gone is gone. But a deep spring of life within me says: "Look beyond. Thy days numbered hitherto register a divine promise. Thy mortal dissolution leaves this promise unfulfilled, but not abrogated. Thou mayst hope that all that made thy life divine will live for thine immortal part."
    I have quoted Theodore Parker's great word, and have made no attempt, so far, to bring into view considerations which may set before us the fundamental distinction between what in human experience passes and what abides.
  • Life passes, but the conditions of life do not. Air, food, water, the moral sense, the mathematical problem and its solution. These things wait upon one generation much as they did upon its predecessor. What, too, is this wonderful residuum which refuses to disappear when the very features of time seem to succumb to the law of change, and we recognize our world no more ? Whence comes this system in which man walks as in an artificial frame, every weight and lever of which must correspond with the outlines of an eternal pattern?
    Our spiritual life appears to include three terms in one. They are ever with us, this Past which does not pass, this Future which never arrives. They are part and parcel of this conscious existence which we call Present. While Past and Future have each their seasons of predominance, both are contained in the moment which is gone while we say, "It is here."
    So the Eternal is with us, whether we will or not, and the idea of God is inseparable from the persuasion of immortality; the Being which, perfect in itself, can neither grow nor decline, nor indeed undergo any change whatever. The great Static of the universe, the rationale of the steadfast faith of believing souls, the sense of beauty which justifies our high enjoyments, the sense of proportion which upholds all that we can think about ourselves and our world, the sense of permanence which makes the child in very truth parent to the man, able to solve the deepest riddle, the profoundest problem in all that is. Let us then willingly take the Eternal with us in our flight among the suns and stars.
    Experience is our great teacher, and on this point it is wholly wanting.
    No one on the farther side of the great Divide has been able to inform those on the hither side of what lies beyond.
  • The promise of a future life is held to have such prominence in Christ's teaching as to lead Paul to say that the Master "brought life and immortality to light." How did he do this? By filling the life of to-day with the consciousness of eternal things, of truths and principles which would not change if the whole visible universe were to pass away.
    No one to-day, I think, will maintain that Christ created the hope which he aroused to an activity before undreamed of. The majority of the Jews believed in a life after death, as is shown by the segregation of the Sadducees from the orthodox of the synagogue. The new teaching vindicated the spiritual rights and interests of man. From the depths of his own heart was evolved the consciousness of a good that could not die. Man, the creature of a day, has a vested interest in things eternal.
  • The reason which placed the stars, the sense of proportion which we recognize in the planetary system, finds its correspondence in this brain of ours. We question every feature of what we see, think, and feel. We try every link of the chain and find it sound if we ourselves are sound. This power of remotest question and assent is not of to-day nor yesterday.
    It transcends all bounds of time and space.
    It weighs the sun, explores the pathway of the stars, and writes, having first carefully read, the history of earth and heaven. It moves in company with the immortals. How much of it is mortal? Only so much as a small strip of earth can cover. These remains are laid away with reverence, having served their time. But what has become of the wonderful power which made them alive ? It belongs to that in nature which cannot die.

The Walk With God (1919)Edit

Extracts from Ward's journals, edited by her daughter Laura E. Richards
Charity is an unending self-discipline which always looks and leads towards the eternal affection. Therefore, its triumph shall be lasting and everlasting.
  • Here I am, in Quaker surroundings, whose restful simplicity is most congenial to me. I feel here the earnest desire for genuine growth and culture which founds a slow but sure success. I am confirmed in my division of human energies. Ambitious people climb, but faithful people build.
    • 7 June 1874
  • I feel that I must attack this creed of blood, which does much to keep up the cruel and sanguinary views of barbarous ages about God and man. Will take text, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven." Show that Christ brought a new interest into the world; a new vision of God, the loving one; a new view of man, the hopeful and universal one; his death in its character the seal to his perfect life. But we are saved by his doctrine, by the same spirit which animated his life, — we are saved by his life, not by his death, except as it was the necessary moral sequence of his life.
    • 13 June 1875.
  • Charity is an unending self-discipline which always looks and leads towards the eternal affection. Therefore, its triumph shall be lasting and everlasting.
    • 23 July 1875.
  • "We can teach no virtues we do not practice," occurred to me this afternoon; for without learning by experience how a virtue is acquired, how can we teach any one to acquire it? I thought of this in connection with the experience of undutiful children. By the working of this natural cause, they will not make their own children dutiful. Read in Luke of the angel which appeared to Christ in Gethsemane, strengthening Him. We all see this angel when we say truly, "Thy will, not mine, be done."
    • 22 August 1875.
  • There is no hell like that of a selfish heart, and there is no misfortune so great as that of not being able to make a sacrifice. These two thoughts come to me strongly this morning. It is something to have learned these truths so that we can never again doubt them.
    • 22 August 1875.

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