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against union; how he could be magnanimous, and yet be true to the great trust confided to him by the people, — true to the best interests of the nation, — has been summoned, without a moment's warning, to appear before his God, the Ruler of the nations!
How few there are of his servants who were better prepared to receive that summons, which it pleased God in his unfathonable wisdom to send by the hands of an assassin!
In the contemplation of this awful and tragic event, it seems as if we were rolled back two thousand years to the barbarous ages; as if the Star of Bethlehem, the golden fruits of the gospel, the civilization and progress of twenty centuries, have been annihilated. We seem no longer Americans; but to stand again in the forum of Rome, with dead Cæsar at our feet.
While our hearts are saddened with this great sorrow; while every feeling of kindness and charity has been outraged by this most infamous of wicked deeds, and blackest of human crimes, we have need of all our virtues and calm self-possession to keep the feelings of revenge against the perpetrators and sympathizers of this horrid tragedy from becoming uppermost in our hearts. We have need of all our faith and religion to see beyond the black evil, which, like a dark cloud, shrouds the present, and read aright the lessons which God intends it shall teach us.
We have, as a nation, reason, in the midst of our mourning, to be devoutly thankful that God in his goodness has withheld the assassin's hand so long. As we stand now we can only see hydra-headed treason rearing his head in the capital. We can only see in this damnable deed, the Devil's black hand. But wait a little, we shall see God's back of it.
Marching along with the armies of the Union, with your prospect and view shut out by the dust of the march, you have found it difficult, if not impossible, to discern the point of your departure, or to correctly discover your future destination.
It is only when you have gained the height of some commanding eminence that you can review the region over which you have journeyed, and see the destination of the long lines of your fellow-soldiers, which were wending their way along the valleys and through the mountain passes; and so now, walking wearily and sorrowfully in the shadow of the great mountain of grief which rises before us, with our eyes dimmed with tears for the nation's loss, we cannot see what lies beyond. When, through toil and suffering, we shall have climbed to the summit of the mountain, with wondering eyes, we shall then see stretched out before us the valleys of peace; and, far beyond, in the blue sky, above the purple hills, the cloud which seems so dark to us now, turning to silver beneath the rays of God's transcendent love.
I have said that in our great sorrow we have, as a nation, reason to be devoutly thankful to God, that in his goodness he has been pleased to withhold the assassin's hand until so much of the great work of annihilating this fiendish rebellion has been accomplished. It is too late now for treason's bullet or the assassin's dagger to stop the wheels of liberty's engine, to arrest the nation in its onward march towards the accomplishment of its glorious destiny. Nay: the assassin's dagger will rather hasten it onward in the accomplishment of its purpose. It may be the age of bullets, but it is also the age of ideas. It will open the eyes of those who have been crying " Peace, peace! when there is no peace,” to the realization that we are fighting to save the life of the nation against a barbarism — the child of slavery - which is not less, but more to be dreaded that it finds its home in educated and cultivated minds. It will strengthen the knees that have knocked together or kneeled down at the mention of slavery. It will give vigor to hands and arms that have hung paralyzed in its presence, and bid them lay hold of the roots of the stump of the tree of slavery, that has fallen beneath the giant blows of the great man whose loss we deplore, and tear them for ever from American soil.
When in the history of nations has one so illustrious been stricken down from so exalted a position? When has so true and honest a patriot – one so enshrined in the hearts of the people — been torn from a nation's heart by a murderous hand? Looking back through the ages, to revolutions that have swept over the earth, and changed the destinies of the world; searching the histories of empires that have risen to power and greatness, and crumbled to dust, — we shall find none of all the great names of those whose lives have been handed down for the admiration of posterity, stamped more indelibly upon the age in which they lived, or that will live longer in the grateful remembrance of future generations.
His colossal proportions will best be seen in after times by the light of history. It is not the dwellers upon the mountain sides that fully realize their magnitude; but to those who are farther removed from them, they appear in all their sublimity and grandeur. But we, to-day, remembering all his greatness in the past; his voice of wisdom, from which all men their omens drew; his firm will, true to the times in which he lived; his great goodness of heart, his broad humanity, his noble honesty, and integrity of purpose, - can weave no wreath of words to crown his brow, or express the universal woe.
America's leader has fallen! The wail of mourning of a mighty nation fills the land. It comes to us from the prairies that stretch in airy undulations far away to the North-west, from the pioneer's rude hut on the frontier, from the crowded mart of every city, from Maine way round to the gulf, from the golden gates of California to where Oregon rolls its waters to the sea, from every ship that unfurls its white sails and starry flag to the breeze. It rises in solemn, sorrowing anthem from the hearts
of four millions of freedmen, whose chains have fallen by his hand, and from the oppressed of every clime. Everywhere the friends of liberty weep.
“Lead out the pageant, sad and slow,
As fits an universal woe.
Yea, let all good things await
Such was he: his work is done;
Daily Union Press, Louisville, Ky., April 21, 1865.
CELLOW-CITIZENS, — With all these outward demonstra
tions surrounding me; with those flags — the flags of our common country—at half-mast; the habiliments of woe, and draperies that surround the balconies and porches of our fair city; the still, steady countenances of this vast assemblage, with the burden that every man feels at his heart, — we are assembled here this day to express our sorrow for the greatest calamity that has ever befallen human progress since the world was. It is well that here, in this city of New Orleans, from the banks of this magnificent river, the child of the Union, the creature of that vast commerce that sweeps back to the Rocky Mountains on the one side, and the Alleghanies on the other, -it is well that you, citizens of this city and this State, the spoiled and petted child of this Union, should recognize here to-day the obligation and duties that fall upon you as citizens of this great Republic, whose head and front has been stricken down by the hand of the assassin. It is well, too, -as the remarks that have fallen from my friend who led us in prayer on this solemn occasion have indicated, -'it is well for us all to peer deeply down into our hearts; for, since the day when unholy men crucified the very Lord of grace, no such crime has been perpetrated, or known in the pages of history, as this which has brought us here to-day. The parallel