Page images


I return for a moment to the historic parallel just cited. William of Orange was assassinated in the quietude of his own home, and just as he had established the emancipated Commonwealth upon a secure foundation. But here the parallel fails: the death of William frustrated the just-approaching union of all the Netherlands; but the restored unity of these United States, which Abraham Lincoln had almost accomplished, is made, if possible, more certain by his death. Through the gloom of this morning, there flashed upon me an almost instantaneous ray of light, revealing the possible purpose of divine Providence in this event. We had reached a moment more critical even, more thickly set with perils, than were the doubtful issues of the battle-field. The political aspect of Virginia foreshadowed serious complications; and there was danger that the very virtues of the President would be so circumvented and abused that the authors of this conspiracy

would go "unwhipped of justice.” God meant not so; and, therefore, when he had led Abraham Lincoln up to the full height of his sublime, immortal mission, he took him to himself. And now, from the thick cloud that drapes his body, there reaches · forth the red right arm, not of vengeance, but of justice. For justice there must be, if the nation is to live in peace. This rebellion drew its life from these two roots, — pride of social caste, and lust of political domination, — both springing from the great tap-root, slavery. We must exterminate these, every fibre of them, from our soil. The perpetual alienation of the estates of the conspirators, the perpetual disfranchisement of the conspirators themselves, cutting them up root and branch, is indispensable to the peace, yes, to the life, of the nation. And for that work of inexorable justice we have a man who hates the rebellion and hates slavery with a perfect hatred; who has had that hatred burnt into his soul; who himself has been hunted by assassins; who knows the rebel leaders, their crime, and their cunning, and

[ocr errors]

who will not be balked of justice by their devices. At Nashville I was shown the estates of two rebels, one of whom offered the Confederacy a site for its Capitol, the other gave it fifty thousand dollars, and offered to mortgage his property for its support; and both these had sneaked back under the amnesty proclamation. Andrew Johnson knows such men, and their perjury. With nothing vindictive in our spirit, we must save the masses of the South itself by annihilating the slave oligarchy.

I am happy to say here, that, on careful inquiry at competent. sources, I believe that the infirmity which so distressed us a few weeks ago was not the indication of a habit, but the fault of an hour. Let us rally with a generous confidence about the new President, strengthening him, not only against his enemies and ours, but, if need be, against himself.

Less than a year ago, I expressed to Andrew Johnson, in his own home, the gratitude of a Northern man for the sacrifices he had made for the country. " Sir,” said he, " there have been hours in this dark and terrible struggle when nothing sustained me but faith. I had seen my property seized, my friends scattered, my life in jeopardy, my State in chaos; reason failed me, experience failed me, and I should have given over in despair had I not believed that somewhere in the universe there is a right, and that behind it there is a God who will maintain it.” That God, I doubt not, will maintain Andrew Johnson in the path of rectitude. Let none of us be wanting in fidelity.

Friends, it is night, - a dark and dreary night; a fit close of such a day of gloom. The clouds drop sympathetic tears. But to-morrow comes the morning of the resurrection; and, even now, I see Him who is the resurrection and the life summoning this nation to a higher and a holier life, for our salvation and to his glory.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ADIES AND GENTLEMEN, - I have been desired to

call you together, for the sake of giving some common form of expression to our emotions, stirred up as they have been by the late fearful calamity. In presence of such an awful event, we are forcibly impressed, not merely with the commonplace idea of mortal vicissitude, but with the more solemn duty of keeping ourselves wholly free from the indulgence of any unworthy passion. The ordinary jars of human life are hushed before such a catastrophe. A great Virginian statesman once said, that he trembled for his country when he reflected that God is just.” The dreaded visitation appears to have come upon us in the third and fourth generation. Let us endeavor to bear ourselves with patience and humility. But, whilst acknowledging our shortcomings, let us draw closer and closer together, whilst we unite in one earnest wail of sorrow for our loss; for I may be permitted to observe that, in this loss, the bereavement is wholly our own. We are entirely to bear the responsibility of it. The man who has fallen was immolated for no act of his own. It may well be doubted whether, during his whole career, he ever made a single personal enemy. In this peculiarity he shone prominent among statesmen. No: he who perpetrated the crime had no narrow

It was


It was because Abraham Lincoln was a faithful exponent of the sentiments of a whole people that he was stricken down. The blow that was aimed at him was meant to fall on them. The ball that penetrated his brain was addressed to the heart of each and every one of us.

It was a fancied short way of paralyzing the Government which we have striven so hard to maintain. It was, then, for our cause that Abraham Lincoln

, died, and not his own. If he was called a tyrant, who was elevated to his high post by the spontaneous voices of a greater number of men than had ever been given in any republic before, it was only because he was obeying the wishes of those who elected him. It is we who must stand responsible for his deeds. It is he who has paid the penalty for executing our will. Surely, then, this is the strongest of reasons why all of us should join, as with one voice, in a chorus of lamentation for his fall. one of the peculiar merits of Mr. Lincoln, that he knew how to give shape in action to the popular feelings as they developed themselves under his observation. He never sought to lead, but rather to follow; and thus he succeeded in the difficult task of successfully combining conservatism with progress. This, surely, was not like tyranny. His labor was always to improve. Hence it was that he conducted a war of unexampled magnitude, always bearing in mind the primary purpose for which it had been commenced, at the same time that he associated with it broader ones as the opportunity came. He had pledged himself, at the outset, to accomplish certain objects; and he never forgot that pledge. The time had at last arrived when he might honestly claim that it would be fulfilled. It was in that very moment he was taken away. On the very same day of the year when the national flag, which just four years before had been lowered to triumphant enemies at Fort Sumter, was once more lifted to its original position by the hand of the same officer who had suffered the indignity

Go up,

that commenced the war, Abraham Lincoln fell. His euthanasia is complete. For him we ought not to mourn. His work was done; he had fought the good fight; he had finished his course. The grief is all for ourselves alone. And now, we who stand around his body may well cry, "Go up, go up, with your gory

, temples twined with the evergreen symbols of a patriot's wreath, and bearing the double glory of a martyr's crown. whilst for us here remaining on earth your memory shall be garnered in the hearts of us and our latest posterity, in common with the priceless treasures heaped up by the great fathers of the Republic, and close by that of the matchless Washington." But although we profoundly lament this loss, it must not be presumed that we do so as having no hope. We have parted with a most faithful servant. But the nation has not lost with him one atom of the will which animated others of its servants as fully as it did him. It is one of the notable features of this great struggle, that it is not particular men who have attempted to lead on the people, but rather that the people have first given the tone, to the level of which their servants must come up, or else sink out of sight and be forgotten. They have uniformly designated to them their wishes. To one man they have said, " Come up," and to another, "Give way,” and in either case they have been as implicitly obeyed. Whoever it be that is employed, the spirit that must animate him comes from a higher source.

The cause of the country, then, does not depend on any man or any set of

It has now called to the front the individual whom it had already elevated to the second post in the Government. He had been pointed out for that place by a sense of his approved fidelity to the Union, at the moment when all around him were faltering or falling away. In the national Senate he stood, Abdiel like, firm and determined, in encountering with truth and force the fatal sophistry of Jefferson Davis and his associates, and in denouncing


« PreviousContinue »