Abbildungen der Seite

Napoleon, Cæsar, William of Orange, Washington, Luther, and other great leaders of that stamp. He was not that kind of a leader of men. He did not lead by a display of prodigious powers in a state of splendid exhibition. He did not suck up all the vigor of a nation into himself, and use the multitudes only as tools of his imperial reason and will. The time is past, at least in this country, when such a leader can arise. No man was ever great enough to dominate over the twenty millions of freemen in our loyal States, as even Washington ruled the three millions of the first revolution. A few men during the last four years have tried to do it, but where are these men to-day? Jefferson Davis was the ablest leader of that sort on this continent. He succeeded in enslaving twelve millions of people for one year, and then his power began to decline, and what can he do now with his confederacy? Nothing, but get out of it as fast as steam or horse-flesh can carry him. Only a profound ignorance of the character of our people and the nature of our institutions would look for a leader of this character in a revolution like the present.

But he was a leader in the people's new and improved meaning of that word. His was a vast soul all attuned to receive the noblest inspiration of a great nation's life; apt to reconcile, comprehend, combine, suggest, secure all that can be gained, strive after what should be attainable, guide and be guided by the march of events, lie open on one side to God, and on the other to the people, till the greatest ends are achieved, and all men rejoice, and each man honestly thinks himself has done it all. Is not this the perfect proof of the matchless leadership of our Lincoln, that under him the Union and freedom have been saved, and many an able, and how many an unable man thinks himself the saviour? Many a great commander thinks the army and navy have saved us? But who has been the father of all these great commanders, born like Providence with their weaknesses, healed their feuds, reconciled their quarrels, inspired them and the soldiers with increased devotion to the cause, and left us, at the end of a four years' war, with less danger of a military despotism than when it began?

Many a great statesman thinks himself and his clique have saved the country! But who has kept all these statesmen up to their duty, set them an example of self-sacrifice, purity of life, catholicity, patience, love of truth and justice? Who has cheer

fully borne their insults, endured their quarrels, adjusted their rival claims, used them all, or consented to be used by any of them as the country demanded? I would derogate from no man's just claim of services, but I fancy history will paint many of these statesmen in their relation to the President as we see groups of men in the photograph standing about the trunk of the great California tree. He surpassed them all in that massive manhood which is a perfect tower of strength in days like these.

And though the people may claim that they have done this great thing under God Almighty, yet had God denied them such a father on earth as Abraham Lincoln, I fear they would have gone on their way many years yet in the wilderness before they saw the promised land. For he it was, and none other that united and kept together the parties of which the people were composed Republican, Democrat, Radical, Conservative; each by turn his denouncer, but every one at last his follower; he has so impressed them that they all kneel and clasp one another's hands about his bier to-day And the time is yet to come when the children of the rebellious South will bless him who subdued them without ignominy; who blasted all their wild and wicked hopes, yet thereby raised them to the possibility of a new civilization.

Do you talk of such a man as simply "amiable," "goodhearted," "honest?" He was gifted with the rarest kind of greatness known in this world. He was a great, religious, philanthropic, reasonable soul, silently attracting all men to a vast good. His powers were not showy, because so massive, so like nnture itself. His mind was like the nation he ruled-collossal, ever emerging into new and higher developments of life, inexhaustible in its latent capacity, crude and homely in its motions only when it was reaching out to a higher truth than has yet been organized among men. His presidency forms an era in the history of the world. Under him first has there been a prospect of a great people united to perpetuate the liberty and welfare of all men. He can wait for that nation, in some hour of its future glory, to understand fully what he was, and how he toiled, and how weary he became and how he died that it might live.

And of all the rulers of mankind, from the earliest to the latest times, who has lived a purer, more blameless life than he? He is only called a tyrant by the assassins who, failing to shoot the republic to death, wreaked their vengence on his wearied

brain. But who can lay his hand on his heart and accuse him of wilful wrong? I have heard him ridiculed in certain quarters for lack of good manners.. Edward Everett said he was the peer of the noblest representatives of the oldest courts of Europe.

He has been called to order for his humor and love of homely story telling. It was almost his only amusement; and if any prince, king, emperor, or president has had a more innocent way of amusing himself than Mr. Lincoln's "little stories" I have not read of it. The recreations of the great men of the earth have too often been the curse of their subjects. Can any man or woman in America say that Abraham Lincoln has indulged himself to their harm? As well might you criticise the cloudy sky for the levity of its heat lightning, as such a lofty, grave, deep, faithful soul for that playful humor that made him beloved by every child that could reach up and catch his hand as he walked the streets, and saved his powers from premature collapse.

And the grandest thing of all is he has led us up to the point where we can live without him. Why, in this hour of universal mourning, when the tears of millions flow, is the heart of the nation assured and hopeful? Why does commerce hold her sensitive scales to-day with steady hand? Why do we all rejoice amid our woe? The Republic has lost the friend who has taught it how to bear his loss. We shall go right on. Great duties and dangers are yet ahead; but we have learned how to meet them, and we fear no ruin. He has united the loyal North. Let that North not give way now to the voice of wrath and pagan vengeance, but live and act in his lofty spirit, and all men in this broad land shall finally gather about his feet in unity.

Far in the East lies the grave of George Washington, which no sound of war has disturbed. That turf is hallowed ground. To all those thousands who have fought along the Potomac, the Rappahannock and the James, his has been the one remaining honored name-Father of his Country.

In the far West, to-day we build the tomb of Abraham Lincoln. We bury him now as Washington was buried, with thousands of enemies. Bnt time will abolish them all, and year by year the prairies will be thronged by pilgrims to his resting place, till all know him as the Father of the American People, and the American people are one.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »