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not wholly accordant with personal convictions, experience effectually corrected this erroneous estimate of the noble man, and taught all other men that Abraham Lincoln had his own individual conscience, and was guided by it. By slow degrees of popular enlightenment, and the surest proofs of adminstrative wisdom, it became apparent to the most obtuse observer, that, though he was neither the commander nor the creature of his Cabinet, he had a will of his own, and would yield it only to conviction, or to the force of circumstances not to be controlled. The plastic ease with which he met the exigencies of each occasion as it rose, the bland and genial courtesy which made every man approaching him feel perfectly at home, the winning smile that came like the sparkling ebullition of a natural fountain from the deep recesses of a loving heart, were found by manifold experiments to be combined with a courage that no danger could intimidate, a constancy which no vicissitude could shake, a confidence that rested on no precarious or problematic basis, but on the solid and immutable principles of truth and justice. From these principles, no force of adverse reasoning could remove him, and no fulsome adulation could seduce him. Even the wisest of his counsellors knew full well from the beginning, and the enemies of equity learnt to their hearts' content, that Abraham Lincoln, in his panoply of honesty, was proof against all attempts to gain him over even to a seeming recognition of constructive falsehood, or the practical adoption of a treacherous expediency.
The Constitution of our country, as expounded by the greatest jurist of modern times, and as understood by many of the most intelligent lovers of their country and mankind, seemed at least to admit of such construction as was favorable to a system of iniquitous oppression. By guarding jealously the rights of States, it appeared to place this system, as such, beyond the jurisdiction
of the Union, and leave to this, as its only legitimate sphere in that direction, the power of confining within or extending beyond actual State organizations, the great crime and grievous curse of human bondage. There can be no doubt that Abraham Lincoln so interpreted his oath of office, as to feel himself bound, in honor and justice, to abstain from influencing by any act of power the legislation or executive action of any of the States when seen to be, or seeming to be, strictly constitutional. Then conscience and Constitution were at variance; but, as he had sworn to maintain the latter, conscience demanded a rigid adherence to his oath. He did adhere to it; and it was in perfect accordance with the spirit and terms of that oath, that, when a military necessity arose for his intervention, as Commander-inchief, in the way of liberating a portion of the colored people of the land, he embraced the providential opportunity, and sent forth that glorious proclamation of emancipation which alone would have immortalized his name.
A military necessity was the immediate occasion of that measure; but there are other necessities, higher, holier, and still more imperative, — necessities to which the demon-power of slavery must succumb, — necessities involved in the principles of God's word, admonitions interwoven with the instincts of humanity, and demanding with an authority that calls heaven and earth to witness, in these days of civil commotion and convulsion, the expulsion of the slaveholding demon from the body politic, and an interdict strong, enduring, and irrevocable, against its return. That interdict will soon be pronounced by the American people; and the imperishable record of the amended Constitution be embodied in the epitaph of our late noble President.
We have said that Abraham Lincoln could not die before his work was done. Beautifully symmetrical as were the intellectual and moral qualities by which he was distinguished, it is no dis
paragement of the man or of the ruler to say that he could not have met, as another may, the solemn responsibilities of the crisis at which, as a nation, we have now arrived. That heart of love was not to be trusted with the work of dealing with the authors and abettors of gigantic treason. Himself so absolutely free from guile, he was but ill qualified to look through those disguises by which wicked men conceal their deep designs, and, when these designs are thwarted, put on an air of ingenious regret, and even of injured innocence. That recent visit of our noble Chief to Richmond, which many lamented, and not a few feared might lead to a catastrophe like that which has filled the land with mourning, — that visit, with its immediate and possible results, may reconcile us to an event in itself most deplorable and sad, but, in its issues, not incompatible with the honor, safety, and well-being of the nation. We sympathize most deeply and sincerely in their affliction with the widow and the orphan sons of our great and good Chief Magistrate. We estimate, at its highest worth, the homage paid this day, through the whole land, to his distinguished virtues; but we will not, even at the tomb of Abraham Lincoln, "e despair of the Republic.” Despair! The very whisper of despair might re-animate that corpse which has this day been carried to the tomb, might re-open those meek and lustrous eyes, dispart those lips of mildness and decision, and draw forth a withering rebuke of the godless unbelief and craven cowardice that could despair of a Republic such as ours. No man, however great, however good, is essential to the welfare of our country. He who gave us this great chief can give us, has already given us, another, who will meet the responsibilities of a trust so suddenly and solemnly imposed upon him. He cannot yet divide with his lamented predecessor the love and homage of his fellow-citizens; but he is sure to gain them, if the practical pledges of his past life shall be redeemed, and if the incipient promise of his administration shall be verified by its progressive development and prospective issues. Let us not, then, dishonor the memory of him whom we so sincerely mourn, by questioning the future stability of our institutions; the progress of civilization through the entire undivided land; the moral greatness of a nation emerging, in athletic vigor, from a furnace that would have consumed any other; the glorious moral destiny of a people set for the defence and the diffusion, through the world, of rational liberty, secured by the unfailing guarantees of high intelligence, mutual forbearance, and unaffected piety. We bid a long farewell to the man whom we this day honor; we follow, in imagination, his remains with the retinue of domestic and public mourners to its temporary depository, and thence again to the place of final sepulture; but we will not forget, amidst our personal sorrow and sympathetic grief, that our nation holds its life by a higher tenure than that of frail mortality, and that, whatever rulers rise or fall, ' In God we trust.”
DELIVERED AT JEFFERSONVILLE, INDIANA, APRIL 19, 1865;
BY SURGEON R. H. GILBERT, U.S. VOLS.,
L OW solemn and how eloquent is this occasion! The purest 11 man, the noblest patriot, the foremost man of the nation, Abraham Lincoln, is dead!
He in whom were centred the hopes of thirty millions of people has been stricken down, and is no more. The nation mourns his loss! From the rocks of the Atlantic to the sands of the Pacific, from the great lakes to the gulf, on every sea wherever the flag floats, in every land wherever the spirit of liberty breathes, grief weighs down the heart, and sorrow fills the air. How imperfectly can words express a grief so deep, a sorrow so profound!
Hearts that beat with joyous pride a few days since, for the victories which our arms have achieved, now beat heavily with grief. Eyes that beamed with joy at the prospect of returning peace are now dimmed with tears.
A good and a great man, ripe in wisdom, in the meridian of his glory, when he was contemplating how he could best be magnanimous to those who for four years have been- until compelled by our victories to lay them down — in arms against liberty and