« AnteriorContinuar »
as used for political ammunition. Here are some later touches of his wit: “The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle.” “If you think you can slander a woman into loving you, or a man into voting for you, try it till you are satisfied.” Again : “Has Douglas the exclusive right in this country to be on all sides of all questions?” Again : “In his numerous speeches now being made in Illinois, Senator Douglas regularly argues against the doctrine of the equality of men;
and while he does not draw the conclusion that the superiors ought to enslave the inferiors, he evidently wishes his hearers to draw that conclusion. He shirks the responsibility of pulling the house down, but he digs under it that it may fall of its own weight.” “The enemy would fight,” said
the President once, a letter to General Hooker, “in intrenchments, and have you at a disadvantage, and so, man for man, worst you at that point, while his main force would in some way be getting an advantage of you northward. In one word, I would not take any risk of being entangled upon the river like an ox jumped half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs front and rear without a fair chance to gore one way or kick the other.” It was also to Hooker that he wrote: "Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”
In a letter written in 1859 to a Boston committee he said, in describing a change in party standards: “I remember being once
much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their greatcoats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.” And this is from his very last public address : “Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it.”
A specimen of his spoken wit is the story told of his reply to the countryman who at a reception said,- in the prepared speech
that patriots so often shoot at the President as they plunge past him in the processions through the White House,-“I believe in God Almighty and Abraham Lincoln.” “You 're more than half right," quickly answered the President. When, at a conference with Confederate leaders, he was reminded by the Southern commissioner, Mr. Hunter, that Charles I entered into an agreement with “parties in against the government,” Lincoln said: “I do not profess to be posted in history. In all such matters I will turn you over to Seward. All I distinctly recollect about the case of Charles I is that he lost his head.”
Lincoln was elected to the Presidency of a country on the verge of civil war. In his farewell to
his fellow-townsmen sounds again that musical “motive” of which I have spoken, recurring like the refrain of a sad but heroic poem.
Remember the passage quoted before. It occurred in his speech of 1858: “The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail - if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come."
In parting from his old neighbors he said:
Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in