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
"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
"'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
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