Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1

by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.' He has stood by these principles during his life, and he had completed the most triumphant defence of these principles when called on to die; but dying he bequeathes a new life to the nation, and being dead he yet speaketh.

Mr. Lincoln's policy was to woo the south to submission to the constitutionally expressed will of the people by every argument which would be supposed to have weight with American citizens. His inaugural address was a pleading with them to give up their mad design to break up the nation, and it was thus he conjured them to think well upon the fatal step they were about to take: 'I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth stone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.' His appeal was vain.

The men to whom it was addressed for a long series of years had been educating themselves into the monstrous delusion that slavery was a Divine institution; that it was the natural basis for society; that a slave empire could be established so powerful, that abolitionism would for ever be abashed, and southern interests reign supreme. The politicians

[ocr errors]

clamored for war, the editors wrote up war, the clergy preached up a war for slavery, until the poor deluded common people rushed blindly into the conflict. The north had no choice; Mr. Lincoln as the President had no choice but to enforce the laws, and to use whatever powers the constitution gave him for the suppression of the rebellion. This is not the place to recount the varied fortunes of the field. In the west the national arms were almost uniformly successful, in the east the forces of the Union failed to capture Richmond until weary years of effort had been wasted and several successive generals tried and removed. But the elasticity of free institutions permitted of these changes of commanders, and the patriotism of the people supported the President in whatever appointments he deemed best for the furtherance of the cause until by his happy selection of Grant, who had proved victorious in the west, and Grant's no less admirable appointments of Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas and others, the power of the south has been completely crushed. President Lincoln at first incurred much odium among many sincere friends of the slave in this country, and was taunted by the supporters of the slave confederacy because he did not from the outset inaugurate an anti-slavery

But his true position began to be appreciated. Some of the border slave states remained loyal, and he could not at once attack slavery without encroaching upon the rights of these loyal people to regulate

war.

He re

their own affairs. The northern democrats, moreover, polled more than one million of votes, while the purely abolitionist element among his own supporters was comparatively small. Had he at once raised an anti-slavery banner in all likelihood he would have retarded in place of advancing the cause. pressed all attempts prematurely to proclaim emancipation until perfectly satisfied in his own mind that he had the constitutional power during a state of war to do so, and that the proclamation would tend to lessen the power of the rebels and more speedily bring peace to his torn and bleeding country. The policy has been the saving of the Union. The slaves crowded the federal lines in order to gain their freedom, and eagerly availed themselves of the privilege to enlist under the federal banners to aid in the freedom of their friends and brethren of the negro race. The emancipation proclamation of Abraham Lincoln was a grand and sublime act; and when, in announcing his policy to Congress, he declared that they who were at the head of affairs in those times could not escape history, he truly shadowed forth that all who had in any way contributed to that crowning act of justice would occupy in history a most conspicuous and enviable place. The cause of the Union has prospered from the day the proclamation was issued until at length the greatest army of the rebels has surrendered to the great soldier · whom President Lincoln's sagacity selected as the fit man to lead the armies of the republic.

The personal appearance of Mr. Lincoln has often been described. He was six feet four in height, and of that thin, wiry build which is somewhat characteristic of Americans. But all observers unite in describing his countenance as singularly pleasing, and the eye mild and gentle. One English observer, not particularly prepossessed in his favour, describes his countenance as peculiarly soft, with an almost feminine expression of melancholy. While all observers unite in thus describing the late President, those who knew him more intimately are equally of one opinion as to his disposition being as kind, courteous, and gentle as his mild expression denoted. He was never heard to say a bitter word against the rebels, but invariably in his public proclamations and by his acts he sought to win them back to that fealty without undue shedding of blood. But with all this gentleness he was inexorably firm. Men of all parties have gone to him to attempt to move him from some of his positions; but while listening courteously to their statements he never failed to indicate that what he had himself re solved, after careful consideration, he should abide by until he saw that it was unsuited to the circumstances of his country. He had an overflowing and ready humor. This trait in his character has given many shafts to the venomous slanderers of the great man who has been so suddenly removed from his proud position ; but it is scarcely necessary to say that all the bon-mots attributed to the President are not genuine. One slander which has been often repeated by his enemies it may be as well to contradict here once for all. It has been asserted and re-asserted, and now apparently deemed to be beyond the reach of cavil, that Mr. Lincoln, when riding over the field of Gettysburg, called for a comic song to drive away serious thoughts. The statement is a gratuitous and baseless calumny, invented by those who would as readily destroy a reputation as the southern assassins would wreak their vengeance upon a helpless victim. These have, indeed, accomplished the death of a noblehearted patriot; but while they have killed the body, they cannot touch his deathless fame, they cannot mar his glorious work, they cannot rob him of his immortal reward."

In full accord with the sentiments of the English press as set forth in these extracts, was the expression of the feelings of Englishmen in the various meetings of sympathy held in London and at other places. At the meeting held in St. James's Hall in London, under the auspices of the Emancipation society, on the evening of Saturday, the twenty-ninth day of April, at which William Evans, Esq., the president of that society, was chairman, the platform was filled with members of parliament and the leaders of the popular party in the metropolis; the hall was crowded with people who were unanimously in sympathy with the speakers and the object of the meeting; while the sombre drapery of the hall, surmounted by the Ameri

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »