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DRAPE the banner, toll the bell!
Light the altar, hide the bier!
R. H. Newell.
AY, let the nation weep,
For the funeral knoll
Of his mighty soul!
Ye cannot break the slumber deep
That wraps his lints in quiet sleep;
He cannot hear
The crowds that tread
Around his bier,
Nor see the tears they shed;
For he nevermore shall dwell
With the people that he loved so well.
THE EFFECT ON THE COUNTRY.
NEVER in our national history did a blow fall with more terrible earnestness than the news of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, as it flashed along the telegraph through the land, and penetrated from stations to more distant points. A general gloom pervaded all men. Every face wore a look of deepest sorrow at the loss of one who, wise and beyond reproach, had just carried the country through its terrible struggle.
In the greatest cities of the land, men streamed down from their homes to the centres of business and labor; but as with one accord, when the certainty of the President's death was announced, all places of business began to close. At the earliest tidings, the flags and streamers which, in exultation over Sumter's restoration, had, the day before, been fluttering so victoriously in the breeze, had been silently lowered. When Mr. Lincoln breathed his last, the flags hung draped at halfmast, and the fronts of public buildings and of stores were draped in black. Before sunset, almost every dwelling showed the same habiliments of woe.
Meanwhile the heads of departments, the commanders of our armies, governors of States, mayors of cities, issued their orders expressing their sense of the loss, and calling on those under their direction to join in the universal sorrow. Except where a few madmen exulted, to be cut down with an indignation that acted swiftly and sure, all party feeling was forgotten. The papers everywhere paid their tribute to the worth of Mr. Lincoln.
Most appreciative perhaps of all was the editorial in the New York World, ever opposed to the course and policy of the murdered President.
THE LATE PRESIDENT LINCOLN.
Never before in history has there been an occasion so fraught with public consequence that was, at the same time, so like an overwhelming domestic affliction. This portentions national calamity, conscious as we all are of its weighty and inscrutable significance in the future politics of the country, is also so full of affecting pathos and tragic horror that a smitten people are overborne by a flood of sensibility, like a bereaved family who have no heart to think on their estate and prospects when the tide of sudden affliction has swept away the supporting prop of the household. By no other single achievement could Death have carried such a feeling of desolation into every dwelling, and have caused this whole land to mourn as over the sundering of some dear domestic tie.
The terrible deed which has filled the national heart with grief and consternation, lacks no conceivable accessory of tragic horror. When the storm which has gone over us seemed to have spent its force, there is suddenly shot from an unexpected quarter, without warning or preparation, a swift thunderbolt which strikes away the chief pillar of the state and shakes the whole edifice to its foundations. Death, always affecting, becomes horrible when dealt by the hand of an assassin; even though the victim be but a private individual, the deed of violence spreads a feeling of uneasiness and alarm through an excited community. The demise of the chief magistrate of a great nation, even though he die calmly in his bed, in the most tranquil times, is an awful and affecting event; when an assassin deals the blow, the surcharge of horror is naturally as great in proportion as in the case of a murdered individual; but if the calamity comes in a crisis when that particular life is unusually felt to be of supreme value to a nation's hopes and prospects, the awfulness of the tragedy is heightened by all the considerations that can give overwhelming poignancy to a nation's grief. Even the unimportant circumstances and surroundings of this foul deed have a tragic complexion. Perpetrated on the anniversary of the opening of the war; in a place of public amusement; in the presence of a paralyzed multitude who had come clustering together to witness a spectacle; the murderer an actor by profession, trained to an exaggerated admiration of certain historic characters, whose suggestive names had become prefixes in his family; his escape from a crowded assembly by leaping upon the stage and disappearing behind the scenes with a Latin motto in his mouth, while the consort of his illustrious victim was swooning in an agony of which no imagination can measure the depth;-and then the cry that arose at mid
night in all the cities of this afflicted land, and the horror and consternation that fell upon all hearts as the sun heaved up his orb into the morning sky-all this together completes a spectacle for the horror-strack imagination such as history, even with the trappings of the tragic muse to set it off, has seldom or never approached. What has the Eternal Mind, that presides over and shapes out the course of human history, in store for us, that He has thus permitted to be spread upon the canvas allotted to this country and this century a scene so affecting and awful that none of its colors can fade till both continents are ingulfed in the all-effacing ocean?
Whatever a wise and unsearchable Providence may bring out of this appalling visitation, we can, as yet, see nothing in it but calamity. It is a terrible proof of the depth, intensity, and danger of those passions which have been awakened into such fearful vigor by the events of the war. An ardent young man, not personally predisposed to crime; brought up to an art which stands aloof from political associations; accustomed to view the events of history only on their pathetic or their scenic side; trained to regulate every gesture and mold every lineament of his face to court public admiration; this young man, with this imaginative training, is not transformed into an assassin by the vulgar impulses of an ordinary murderer. In this terrible deed, as in the ordinary exercise of his profession, he has been a candidate for sympathy and approbation. It was his instinctive and sympathetic knowledge of what lurks in the hearts. of the baffled secessionists, which made him see that this unavailing act of vengeance would enshrine him in their affections, and make his a dear and canonized name. His dreadful act is an awful commentary on the consequences of party passions when they are fanned into such rage that they strip the most odious crimes of their horror and clothe them in the seductive drapery of public virtue. While the disabled half of the country is yet a caldron of unsubdued and seething passions, it is lamentable that there should be taken from us a mild and paternal chief magistrate who was preparing to pour over these agitated passions the soothing influence of his natural clemency. As soon as the war-cloud visibly lifted, he set himself to the performance of acts which commanded the approval even of his former opponents; and the day which preceded his death was passed in employments more full of promise than any other in the calendar of this momentous era. There will fall into his opening and honored grave no warmer or more plentiful tribute of honest sensibility than is shed by those of his loyal fellow-citizens who did not contribute to his re-election.
Of the career brought thus suddenly to this tragic close it is
yet too early to make any estimate that will not require revision. It is probable that the judgment of history will differ in many respects from that of Mr. Lincoln's contemporaries; and in no respect, perhaps, more than in reversing the current tenor of the public thinking on what has been considered the vacillation of his character. It must never be overlooked that Mr. Lincoln was elevated to the presidency without previous training; that he was a novice in the discharge of high executive functions. Confronted at the very threshold with problems of a novelty, magnitude, and difficulty which would have caused the most experienced statesman to quail, beset on all sides by the most conflicting advice, it would not have been wisdom, but shallow and foolhardy presumption, indicating unseemly levity of character, if he had affected a display of the same kind of confident decision with which an old sailor manages a cockboat in fair weather. If, under such circumstances, he had played the role of a man of decision, he would have forfeited all title to be considered a man of sense. When the most experienced and reputable statesmen of the country came to opposite conclusions, it is creditable to the strength, solidity, and modesty of Mr. Lincoln's mind, that he acted with a cautious and hesitating deliberation, proportioned rather to a sense of his great responsibilities, than to a theatrical notion of political stage effect.
Had the country, previous to Mr. Lincoln's first election, foreseen what was coming it would not have chosen for President a man of Mr. Lincoln's inexperience and peculiar type of character. But if his party was to succeed, we doubt whether foresight and deliberation would have made so good choice. With the Republican party in power, this terrible struggle was inevitable; and, with a man of fixed views and inflexible purpose at the head of the Government, it would probably have resulted either in a dissolution of the Union or civil war in the North. In either event, we should have lost our institutions. The stability of a republican government, and, indeed, of any form of free government, depends upon its possessing that kind of flexibility which yields easily to the control of public opinion. In this respect, the English Government is more pliable than our own, the administration being at all times subject to immediate change by losing the confidence of the representatives of the people; whereas, under our Constitution, an iron inflexibility can maintain itself in office for the full period of four years, without any possibilty of displacing it except by revolution.
In ordinary times, this works well enough; for the growth of opinion in any ordinary four years, could not be so rapid as to indispose the people to await the presidential election. But when there