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FUNERAL ORATION ON THE DEATH OF .
DELIVERED BEFORE THE MAYOR, citY COUNCIL, AND CITIZENS OF PORTLAND,
APRIL 19, 1865;
BY REV. J. J. CARRUTHERS, D.D.
VR. MAYOR AND FELLOW-CITIZENS, — The memorable days IV of our Republic are multiplying with marvellous rapidity; and amongst the most memorable of them all will be the fourteenth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-five, when the hand of violence fell fatally on all that was mortal of Abraham Lincoln. The dreadful tragedy — more dreadful than any ever represented in the mimicry of the dramatic stage — has sent a thrill of unmitigated horror through the land; and anguish, paralleled only by the sorest domestic grief, has filled the hearts and households of our nation. The second Father of his country
– second, only because he was not the first — has fallen; and, in common with many millions of afflicted mourners, we are met to pay the last tribute of respect to the memory of one whose death is felt by each of all these millions as a personal bereavement. The stroke has fallen unexpectedly and suddenly upon us; but suddenly and unexpectedly only because it is not given to us to foresee the events and issues even of a single day. Divine benevolence and wisdom have thrown over even the nearest future, a curtain so impenetrable, that human sagacity, however trained
and tutored by experience, can but conjecture as to what lies behind it. To God himself, nothing is unknown. He seeth the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the thing that is not yet done." Nor must we withhold the closing part of this inspired declaration, in which he says, " My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Without impairing in the least the free agency of man, without mitigating in the least the guilt or just desert of human crime, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe is ever working out to their designed issues his purposes of judgment and of mercy. Abraham Lincoln was " immortal till his work was done;" and though his purposes were broken off, even the thoughts of his heart, by the hand of the assassin, those of the All-wise and the Almighty are undisturbed and undiverted even by a catastrophe like this. It was in subserviency to his designs, that. Abraham Lincoln first saw the light, and was born with qualities, physical and mental, which, when matured by exercise, observation, and experience, fitted him for the high position he ultimately reached, and for the solemn responsibilities that ever invest the chief magistracy of this great Republic. He who drew the deliverer of Israel from the bulrushes of the Nile, and trained him for his destiny in the wilderness of Midian, took Abraham Lincoln, in his seventh year, from his birthplace in Kentucky, and, till his twentieth, kept him in salutary seclusion amidst the then dense forests of Indiana. Here his naturally strong and stalwart frame gained daily vigor from the work to which penury impelled and honest industry inclined him. Here too his mental faculties were developed and disciplined by the study of men rather than of books; although of books, he had the best in that volume which, beyond all others, yields the most nutritious intellectual aliment, and has, in all ages, given instrumentally the greatest moral heroes to the world. Of these, the Pioneer of Indiana was pre-eminently one; and the keen acumen, the unaf
fected earnestness, the filial fidelity, the untiring industry, the ever unslacked thirst of knowledge, the unimpeached and unimpeachable truthfulness of Abraham Lincoln, were, in no small degree, the natural results of early conversance with the lives and acts and utterances of patriarchs and prophets and apostles. No College claims him as its alumnus. His Alma Mater was fixed by Providence amidst the woods and waters of the then far-West. His days were spent in hard and ill-remunerating toil, and few indeed were the hours that could be spared for what is called intellectual improvement. But what was wanting in classical learning, in philosophical research, in scientific acquisitions, was more than counterbalanced by the reflex action of his own mind, by the close study of his country's history, by the stern necessities of a life admitting of no idleness, and by the dictates of a moral dignity that would not stoop to dissipation. In another and a higher sense than is usually attached to such an epithet, Abraham Lincoln was a learned man. When he moved from Indiana to his adopted State of Illinois, he largely knew hiniself. He knew, by close and careful study, the character of Washington. He knew the constitutional history of his own country, and — best of all — he knew and revered those high and holy principles of right and justice which had come to him in his forest home, with the seal and stamp of divine authority. These principles were incorporated with his mental being, interwoven and blended with his daily thoughts, giving steadiness and direction to the noble ambition that sought eagerly to honor and to serve his country.
True greatness is never unallied with modesty; but modesty in him was something else, and something vastly better, than that mawkish, mopish shamefacedness, which affects a sense of inferiority that is not felt, and creeps and cringes for compliments that are not deserved. When summoned by the citizens of Illinois
to represent them in their legislature, he accepted the office as one to which he was consciously equal, and the responsibilities of which he assumed as entirely coincident with his ability and inclination. He yielded, with graceful dignity, and just confidence in his capacities of counsel and of action, to the appointment of his fellow-citizens as a member of the convention that nominated Zachary Taylor as a candidate for the presidential chair. When those citizens accorded him the higher honor of acting as their representative in Congress, he went as naturally and gracefully to his work, as in his boyhood he did his mother's bidding, and in his early manhood followed his father to the forest. He took his congressional seat as a workman not needing to be ashamed. He had no aspirations towards mere oratorical display. For this he was not fitted, and he knew it; but, in a way not less if not more effective, by acting on important committees, he served the interests of his constituents, and of the country, and justified to the full the confidence reposed in him. He did not in mock modesty shrink subsequently from contesting with an able senator a seat in the higher branch of our national legislature; although, in the well-fought field of friendly emulation, he failed, as any man, with even more ability than he as a debater, would, in like circumstances, certainly have done. "The battle,” in such cases, ce is not always to the strong;” and even Illinois was not yet prepared for the position he then boldly assumed, and ever after resolutely maintained, as the advocate of human rights, and the earnest friend of the oppressed. But that memorable and prolonged debate did something towards facilitating the education of the people in the science of right doing; and it had the effect, besides, of teaching them that, if they should ever want a man of courage, resolution, unswerving honesty, and untiring zeal, to navigate the Ship of State through narrow straits and over tempestuous seas, the required helmsman might be found in Springfield, Illinois.
He was found there. He was intrusted with the mighty enterprise, and nobly has he done his duty. Even he, indeed, with all his natural sagacity, and acquired knowledge of measures and men, but partially understood the magnitude of the task he undertook; and yet, when this was fully seen, when the whole danger and the whole duty opened to his view, this noble man shrunk not, quailed not, nor ever once betrayed the slightest distrust in the successful issue of the fearful struggle. With a depleted treasury; with a fleet insignificantly small, and scattered systematically to the ends of the earth; with the army scarcely more than nominally such; with treason stalking at mid-day even in the capital; with half the States in armed insurrection; with disloyal officers, by scores, transferring their allegiance to the rebel flag; and with volunteer forces wholly inadequate in numbers to meet the domestic foe, – this man of moral might stood firm at his post with undiverted eye, with steady hand, and with a heart ever confident in God and in the right.
It would be doing great injustice, however, to his memory, did we not record it to his honor, that, from first to last of his official career, he never momentarily forgot that he was president of a Republic. The one-man power found in him neither advocacy nor illustration. He rose from amongst the people, and ruled by the people's will, and for the people's benefit. He skilfully surrounded himself with men of tried and tested patriotism; and if any one of them, however personally esteemed, proved untrue to his prestige or unequal to his post, he was forth with and unceremoniously set aside. He had no petty jealousy of obtrusion, by his chosen and trusted associates, on his prerogatives of office, but cheerfully shared with each and all of them the honors as well as the duties of the Government. Though, at first, supposed by some to have too little independence of thought and action, and too easily induced to adopt opinions and measures