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Washington. There he was foully murdered. There are circumstances connected with this crime which, I think, aggravate its guilt. President Lincoln was a man who, although he had not been distinguished before his election, had from that time displayed a character of so much integrity, sincerity, and straightforwardness, and, at the same time, of so much kindness, that, if any one could have been able to alleviate the pain and animosity which have prevailed during the civil war, I believe President Lincoln was the man to have done so. It was remarked of him, that he always felt indisposed to resort to any harsh or severe measures; and I am told that the commanders of the army often complained, that, when they passed a sentence which they conceived to be no more than just, the President was always sure to temper its severity. Such was the man required for this particular moment. The conduct of the armies of the United States was intrusted to other hands; and upon these commanders fell chiefly the responsibility of conducting those armies in the field, and making them successful against those with whom they contended. But the moment had come when those armies were victorious; and no doubt the reputation of President Lincoln was greatly increased by the success of those armies. But, though it was not for him to lead those armies, it would have been his to temper the pride of victory, to assuage the misfortunes which had been felt, and especially to show, which he was well qualified to show, that respect for valor on the opposite side which had been so conspicuously displayed; and President Lincoln, I think, showed by the orders he gave to the commanders, that he was well qualified for that office. It was by such qualities, it was to be hoped, that when the conflict of arms was over, that task of conciliation might have been begun; and President Lincoln had an authority which no one else had, to temper that exasperation which always happens in civil strife. Upon another question, the United
States, and those against whom they had lately been in arms, will have a most difficult task to perform, — I allude to the question of slavery, which, according to many, had been the cause of the civil war in America. At the beginning of this war, the House will · remember, President Lincoln declared that he had no right by the Constitution to interfere with slavery. At a later period, he made a kind of decree as Commander-in-chief, in which he proposed, that, in certain States, the slaves should be entirely freed. But, at a later period, he proposed that which he was constitutionally qualified to propose, — that there should be an alteration of the Constitution of the United States, by which the holding of persons to labor by compulsory means was to be for ever hereafter forbidden. Many persons were eager for the immediate abolition of slavery. But I remember Lord Macaulay once observing, that although it would have been a great blessing if the penal laws against Roman Catholics had been abolished in Sir R. Walpole's time, yet he would have been mad to have proposed such a measure. So with regard to President Lincoln. Whatever might have been the horrors of slavery, I believe he was perfectly justified in delaying the time when that great alteration in the law should be proposed. But, whatever we may think on this subject, we must all feel that there again the death of President Lincoln deprives the United States of the man who was the leader on this subject, and the man who, by his temper, would have been disposed to propose such measures as might make this great change acceptable to those by whom he had been elected, and who might have preserved the peace of that great Republic under an entirely new Constitution.
My Lords, – I think we must all feel sympathy with the United States on this deprivation, and also hope that he who succeeds, according to the American Constitution, to the powers of the late President, may be able, both in respect of mercy and
lenity to those who have been conquered, and also in respect to those measures to be adopted for that new organization, that the
abolition of slavery requires, - we must all hope that the new · president may succeed in overcoming those difficulties, and in restoring the Republic to its pristine prosperity. I had, at the commencement of this contest, occasion to say, that I did not believe that that great Republic would perish in the contest; and my noble friend at the head of the Government had lately occasion to disclaim any feeling of animosity or envy at the greatness and prosperity of the United States. The course which Her Majjesty's Government pursued during this civil war has been one of neutrality. There have been difficulties which have occurred to us, there have been difficulties which have occurred to the Government of the United States, in maintaining the peaceful relations of the two countries; but these difficulties have always been treated with temper and moderation on both sides of the Atlantic. I trust that temper and moderation will continue: and I can assure this House, that, as we have always been actuated by the wish that the American Government and the American people should settle their differences without any interference of ours in the conflict of arms, so, likewise, during the attempt that will be made to restore peace and tranquillity to that country, we must equally refrain from any kind of interference or intervention; and we shall trust that the efforts to be made for that purpose will be successful, and that that great Republic will continue to enjoy its career of freedom. I have nothing, of course, to say of the successor of President Lincoln. Time must show how far he is able to conduct those difficult matters which the wisdom of his predecessor was so well calculated to bring to a satisfactory result. All I can say is, that, in sight of this great calamity, in sight of this great crime, the Crown, the Parliament, and the people of this country, feel not only the deepest sympathy with the Government
and people of the United States, but that our relations of kindred with them induce us to feel the misfortunes of the United States more than we should the misfortunes of any country on the face of the globe. The noble lord concluded by moving that an hum- · ble address be presented to Her Majesty, expressing the sorrow and indignation of that House at the assassination of the President of the United States; and praying Her Majesty to communicate these sentiments on the part of that House to the Government of the United States.
CIR, — It is difficult to measure the calamity which the United
States and the world have sustained by the murder of President Lincoln. The assassin has done his best to strike down mercy and moderation, of both of which this good and noble life was the main stay. It is impossible not to feel great misgivings as to the turn which this murder may give, politically and morally, to the course of events. No doubt the powers of evil of all kinds will see their advantage in it. But I have the greatest and most unfeigned confidence in the good sense, the humanity, the self-control, the law-loving and constitutional character of the American people.
The loss of Mr. Seward also, if he is killed, is much to be lamented, strange as the assertion may seem to those who, without knowing any thing of the man, or candidly watching his course, have gone on from day to day repeating the accustomed scoffs and denunciations. Under trying circumstances, and notwithstanding great provocation, he has honorably labored to keep the peace. The world will be fortunate if his successor does the same.
My object in writing to you, however, is not to deplore what is irreparable, but to second you in deprecating exaggerated assumptions and extravagant language as to the character and