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where they crawld to die, alone, in bushes, low gullies, or on the sides of hills — (there, in secluded spots, their skeletons, bleach'd bones, tufts of hair, buttons, fragments of clothing, are occasionally found yet) - our young men once so handsome and so joyous, taken from us
- the son from the mother, the husband from the wife, the dear friend from the dear friend the clusters of camp graves, in Georgia, the Carolinas, and in Tennessee - the single graves left in the woods or by the roadside, (hundreds, thousands, obliterated) — the corpses Aoated down the rivers, and caught and lodged, (dozens, scores, Aoated down the upper Potomac, after the cavalry engagements, the pursuit of Lee, following Gettysburgh) — some lie at the bottom of the sea — the general million, and the special cemeteries in almost all the States the infinite dead (the land entire saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes' exhalation in Nature's chemistry distill'd, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that
breath we draw) — not only Northern dead leavening Southern soil - thousands, aye tens of thousands, of Southerners, crumble to-day in Northern earth. And everywhere among these countless graves — everywhere in the many soldier Cemeteries of the Nation, (there are now, I believe, over seventy of them) - as at the time in the vast trenches, the depositories of slain, Northern and Southern, after the great battles — not only where the scathing trail passed those years, but radiating since in all the peaceful quarters of the land -- we see, and ages yet may see, on monuments and gravestones, singly or in masses, to thousands or tens of thousands, the significant word UNKNOWN. (In some of the cemeteries nearly all the dead are unknown. At Salisbury, N. C., for instance, the known are only 85, while the unknown are 12,027, and 11,700 of these are buried in trenches. A national monument has been put up here, by order of Congress, to mark the spot
- but what visible, material monument can ever fittingly commemorate that spot ?)
NO GOOD PORTRAIT OF LINCOLN
Probably the reader has seen physiognomies (often old farmers, sea-captains, and such) that, behind their homeliness, or even ugliness, held superior points so subtle, yet so palpable, making the real life of their faces almost as impossible to depict as a wild perfume or fruit-taste, or a passionate tone of the living voice — and such was Lincoln's face, the peculiar color, the lines of it, the eyes, mouth, expression. Of technical beauty it had nothing — but to the eye of a great artist it furnished a rare study, a feast and fascination. The current portraits are all failures of them caricatures. DEATH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Thus ended the attempted secession of these States; thus the four years' war.
But the main things come subtly and invisibly afterward, perhaps long afterward — neither military, political, nor (great as those are,) historical. I say, certain secondary and indirect results, out of the tragedy of this death, are, in my opinion, greatest. Not the event of the murder itself. Not that Mr. Lincoln strings the principal points and personages of the period, like beads, upon the single string of his career. Not that his idiosyncrasy, in its sudden appearance and disappearance, stamps this Republic with a stamp more mark’d and enduring than any yet given by any one (more even than Washington's ;) — but, join’d with these, the immeasurable value and meaning of that whole tragedy lies, to me, in senses finally dearest to a nation, (and here all our own) — the imaginative and artistic senses - the literary and dramatic ones. Not in any common meaning of those terms, but a meaning precious to the race,
A long and varied series of contradictory events arrives at last at its highest poetic, single, central, pictorial denouement. The whole involved, bafAling, multiform whirl of the secession period comes to head, and is gather’d in one brief Aash of lightning-illumination - one simple, fierce deed. Its sharp culmination, and as it were solution, of so many bloody and angry prob
and to every age.
lems, illustrates those climax-moments on the stage of universal Time, where the historic Muse at one entrance, and the tragic Muse at the other, suddenly ringing down the curtain, close an immense act in the long drama of creative thought, and give it radiation, tableau, stranger than fiction. Fit radiation - fit close! How the imagination - how the student loves these things ! America, too, is to have them. For not in all great deaths, nor far or near
not Cæsar in the Roman senate-house, or Napoleon passing away in the wild night-storm at St. Helena — not Paleologus, falling, desperately fighting, piled over dozens deep with Grecian corpses — not calm old Socrates, drinking the hemlock — outvies that terminus of the secession war, in one man's life, here in our midst, in our own time — that seal of the emancipation of three million slaves — that parturition and delivery of our at last really free Republic, born again, henceforth to commence its career of genuine homogeneous Union, compact, consistent with itself. THE SILENT GENERAL
Sept. 28, '79.–So General Grant, after circumambiating the world, has arrived home again, landed in San Francisco yesterday, from the ship City of Tokio from Japan. What a man he is ! what a history! what an illustration his life — of the capacities of that American individuality common to us all. Cynical critics are wondering “what the people can see in Grant” to make such a hubbub about. They aver (and it is no doubt true) that he has hardly the average of our day's literary and scholastic culture, and absolutely no pronounc'd genius or conventional eminence of any sort.
Correct : but he proves how an average western farmer, mechanic, boatman, carried by tides of circumstances, perhaps caprices, into a position of incredible military or civic responsibilities, (history has presented none more trying, no born monarch's, no mark more shining for attack or envy,) may steer his way fitly and steadily through them al., carrying the country and himself with credit year after year — command over a million armed men fight more than fifty pitch'd battles rule for eight years a land larger than all the kingdoms of Europe combined — and then, retiring, quietly (with a cigar in his mouth) make the promenade of the whole world, through its courts and coteries, and kings and czars and mikados, and splendidest glitters and etiquettes, as phlegmatically as he ever walk'd the portico of a Missouri hotel after dinner. I say all this is what people like and I am sure I like it. Seems to me it transcends Plutarch. How those old Greeks, indeed, would have seized on him! A mere plain man no art, no poetry — only practical sense, ability to do, or try his best to do, what devolv'd upon him. A common trader, money-maker, tanner, farmer of Illinois — general for the republic, in its terrific struggle with itself, in the war of attempted secession — President following, (a task of peace, more difficult than the war itself) — nothing heroic, as the authorities put it — and yet the greatest hero. The gods, the destinies, seem to have concentrated
Even as a boy, I had the fancy, the wish, to write a piece, perhaps a poem, about the sea-shore -- that suggesting, dividing line, contact, junction, the solid marrying the liquid — that curious, lurking something, (as doubtless every objective form finally becomes to the subjective spirit,) which means far more than its mere first sight, grand as that is — blending the real and ideal, and each made portion of the other. Hours, days, in my long Island youth and early manhood, I haunted the shores of Rockaway or Coney island, or away east to the Hamptons or Montauk. Once, at the latter place, (by the old lighthouse, nothing but sea-tossings in sight in every direction as far as the eye could reach,) I remember well, I felt that I must one day write a book expressing this liquid, mystic theme. Afterward, I recollect, how it came to me that instead of any special lyrical or epical or literary attempt, the sea-shore should be an invisible influence, a pervading gauge and tally for me, in my composition. (Let me give a hint here to young writers. I am not sure but I have unwittingly follow'd out the same rule with other powers besides sea and shores — avoiding them, in the way of any dead set at poetizing them, as too big for formal handling quite satisfied if I could indirectly show that we have met and fused, even if only once, but enough — that we have really absorb’d each other and understood each other.) There is a dream, a picture, that for years at intervals, (sometimes quite long ones, but surely again, in time,) has come noiselessly up before me, and I really believe, fiction as it is, has enter'd largely into my practical life — certainly into my writings, and shaped and color'd them. It is nothing more or less than a stretch of interminable white-brown sand, hard and smooth and broad, with the ocean perpetually, grandly, rolling in upon it, with slow-measured sweep, with rustle and hiss and foam, and many a thump