Farragut, David Glasgow by Faye Huntington

The portrait of Admiral Farragut presents to view one of the finest faces I have ever seen; it is a face I would choose to hang upon the walls where you boys could look upon it every day of your lives. Even the pictures upon our walls are our educators; they help to make us what we are; then let us hang up the faces of the good, the noble and the true. Let us choose carefully, that only pure and ennobling influences may be thus shed into our hearts.

David Glasgow Farragut was descended from an old Spanish family, one of the conquerors of earlier times, a Don Pedro. His mother was of a good old Scotch family, and it may be that he inherited from one side that adventurous, fearless nature which carried him through so many victories, and from the other side that sturdy independence and grand faith which was so characteristic of him. When quite a boy he entered the United States Navy as a midshipman. His father was an army officer, and Admiral Farragut tells the story of his own greatest victory in life in this way. He had accompanied his father upon one occasion as cabin boy. He says:

"I had some qualities which I thought made a man of me. I could swear, drink a glass of grog, smoke, and was great at a game of cards. One day my father said to me, as we were alone in the cabin, 'David, what do you intend to be?'

"'I mean to follow the sea!'

"'Follow the sea! Yes, be a poor miserable drunken sailor before the mast, kicked and cuffed about the world, and die in some fever hospital in a foreign clime.'

"'No,' I said, 'I'll tread the quarter deck and command as you do.'

"'No, David; no boy ever trod the quarter deck with such principles as you have and such habits as you exhibit. You'll have to change your whole course of life if you become a man.'

"My father left me and went on deck. I was stung with the rebuke and the mortification—was that to be my fate, as he had pictured it? I said, 'I'll never utter another oath! I'll never drink another drop of intoxicating liquor! I'll never gamble!'"

And those vows he kept until his dying day. This was when he was ten years old, and though he lived to be a great naval commander and won many victories, I think you will agree with me that this was the greatest of all. You know that "he that ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city." And, too, without this triumph over his own spirit, do you think he would have won those other battles which have made him famous?

During the Civil War he was put in command of an expedition against New Orleans and soon compelled that city to surrender. For this service he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral. It was two years later that, as has been said, "he tilled up the measure of his fame by the victory of Mobile Bay." In the heat of the conflict the admiral lashed himself high in the rigging of his flag ship, so that he could overlook the scene and direct the movements of his fleet. If you wish to see the brave old man in the supreme moment of his life, you must read the account of that battle. He himself said, in speaking of the moment when to hesitate was to lose all and to go forward seemed destruction, and he had prayed, "O, thou Creator of man who gave him reason, guide me now. Shall I continue on, or must I go back? A voice then thundered in my ear, 'Go on!' and I felt myself relieved from further responsibility, for I knew that God himself was leading me on to victory."

He was honored by receiving the thanks of Congress for his services and by promotion. But worn out with his severe labors in the service of his country he was soon called to the higher reward. His work was done. His last victory was the victory over death, for he died the death of the Christian; the God whose guidance he invoked in the midst of the smoke and din of battle, gave dying grace to the old hero. He was born in East Tennessee, in 1801, and died at Portsmouth, N.H., in 1870. We are told that from boyhood he was thoughtful, earnest and studious. He was one of the best linguists in the Navy, and whenever his duties took him to foreign ports he spent his spare moments in acquiring the language of the natives. His eyes were somewhat weak and the members of his family were kept busy reading to him, in those times when he was off duty. He was thoroughly versed in all matters relating to his profession. The study of the character of a man like Admiral Farragut will be a help to any boy in the formation of his own character. The grandeur and nobility of mind, the bravery and steadfastness of soul manifested in his public life are an example to the boys of the present day.