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In August, 1864, the President called for five hundred thousand more men. The country was much depressed. The rebels had, in comparatively small force, only a short time before, been to the very gates of Washington, and returned almost unharmed.
The Presidential election was impending. Many thought another call for men at such a time would injure, if not destroy, Mr. Lincoln's chances for re-election. A friend said as much to him one day, after the President had told him of his purpose to make such a call. “As to my re-election,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “it matters not. We must have the men. If I go down, I intend to go, like the Cumherland, with my colors flying !”
A gentleman was one day finding fault with the constant agitation in Congress of the slavery question. He remarked that, after the adoption of the Emancipation policy, he had hoped for something new.
“There was a man down in Maine,” said the President, in reply, “who kept a grocery-store, and a lot of fellows used to loaf around that for their toddy. He only gave 'em New England rum, and they drank pretty considerable of it. But after a while they began to get tired of that, and kept asking for something new—something new—all the time. Well, one night, when the whole crowd were around, the grocer brought out his glasses, and says he, “I’ve got something New for you to drink, boys, now.’ “Honor bright?' said they. “Honor bright,' says he, and with that he sets out a jug. ‘Thar,’ says he, ‘that's something new; it's New England rum !" says he. Now,” remarked Mr. Lincoln, “I guess we're a good deal like that crowd, and Congress is a good deal like that store-keeper!”
About a week after the Chicago Convention, a gentleman from New York called upon the President, in company with the Assistant Secretary of War, Mr. Dana. In the course of conversation, the gentleman said: “What do you think, Mr. President, is the reason General McClellan does not reply to the letter from the Chicago Convention f"
“Oh!” replied Mr. Lincoln, with a characteristic twinkle of the eye, “he is intrenching!”
On the occasion when the telegram from Cumberland Gap reached Mr. Lincoln that “firing was heard in the direction of Knoxville,” he remarked that he was “glad of it.” Some person present, who had the perils of Burnside's position uppermost in his mind, could not see why Mr. Lincoln should be glad of it, and so expressed himself. “Why, you see,” responded the President, “it reminds me of Mistress Sallie Ward, a neighbor of mine, who had a very large family. Occa. sionally one of her numerous progeny would be heard crying in some out-of-the-way place, upon which Mrs. Ward would exclaim, ‘There's one of my children that isn't dead yet!'”
“On Mr. Lincoln's reception-day, after the nomination,” wrote Theodore Tilton, in a letter to the Independent, “his face wore an expression of satisfaction rather than elation. His reception of Mr. Garrison was an equal honor to host and guest. In alluding to our failure to find the old jail, he said, ‘Well, Mr. Garrison, when you first went to Baltimore, you couldn't get out ; but the second time, yon couldn't get in.' When one of us mentioned the great enthusiasm at the convention after Senator Morgan's proposition to amend the Constitution, abolishing slavery, Mr. Lincoln instantly said, ‘It was I who suggested to Mr. Morgan that he should put that idea into his opening speech.” This was the very best word he has said since the proclamation of freedom.”
In the spring of 1862, the President spent several days at Fortress Monroe, awaiting military operations upon the Peninsula. As a pottion of the Cabinet were with him, that was temporarily the seat of government, and he bore with him constantly the burden of public affairs. His favorite diversion was reading Shakspeare, whom he rendered with fine discrimination of emphasis and feeling. One day (it chanced to be the day before the taking of Norfolk), as he sat read: ing alone, he called to his aide * in the adjoining room—“You have been writing long enough, Colonel, come in here; I want to read you a passage in Hamlet.” He read the discussion on ambition between Hamlet and his courtiers, and the soliloquy, in which conscience debates of a future state. This was followed by passages from Macbeth. Then opening to King John, he read from the third act the passage in which Constance bewails her imprisoned, lost boy.
Then closing the book, and recalling the words—
“And, father cardinal, I have heard you say
Mr. Lincoln said: “Colonel, did you ever dream of a lost friend, and feel that you were holding sweet communion with that friend, and yet have a sad consciousness that it was not a reality ?—just so I dream of my boy Willie.” Overcome with emotion, he dropped his head on the table, and sobbed aloud.
* Colonel Le Grand B. Cannon, of General Wool's staff.
A few days before the President's death, Secretary Stanton tendered his resignation of the War Department. He accompanied the act with a most heart-felt tribute to Mr. Lincoln's constant friendship and faithful devotion to the country, saying, also, that he, as Secretary, had accepted the position to hold it only until the war should end, and that now he felt his work was done, and his duty was to resign.
Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the Secretary's words, and tearing in pieces the paper containing the resignation, and throwing his arms about the Secretary, he said: “Stanton, you have been a good friend and a faithful public servant, and it is not for you to say when you will no longer be needed here.” Several friends of both partics were present on the occasion, and there was not a dry eye that wit. nessed the scene.
One of the last, if not the very last story told by President Lincoln, was to one of his Cabinet who came to see him, to ask if it would be proper to permit Jake Thompson to slip through Maine in disguiso and embark for Portland. The President, as usual, was disposed to be merciful, and to permit the arch-rebel to pass unmolested, but the Secretary urged that he should be arrested as a traitor. “By permitting him to escape the penalties of treason,” persistently remarked the Secretary, “you sanction it.” “Well,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “let me tell you a story. There was an Irish soldier here last summer, who wanted something to drink stronger than water, and stopped at a drugshop, where he espied a soda-fountain. “Mr. Doctor,’ said he, ‘give me, plase, a glass of soda-wather, an' if yes can put in a few drops of whiskey unbeknown to any one, I'll be obleeged.' Now,” continued Mr. Lincoln, “if Jake Thompson is permitted to go through Maine unbeknown to any one, what's the harm So don't have him arrested.”
It will be remembered that an extra session of Congress was called in July following Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. In the message then sent in, speaking of secession, and the measures taken by the Southern leaders to bring it about, there occurs the following remark:— “With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government,” &c. Mr. Defrees, the Government printer, told me that, when the message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use of the term “sugar-coated,” and finally went to the President about it. Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told Mr. Lincoln frankly, that he ought to remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a speech at a mass-meeting in Illinois—that the messages became a part of history, and should be written accordingly. “What is the matter now f" inquired the President. “Why,” said Mr. Defrees, “you have used an undignified expres. sion in the message;” and then, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, “I would alter the structure of that, if I were you.” “Defrees,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “that word expresses precisely my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what sugar-coated means !” On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Defrees told me, a certain sentence of another message was very awkwardly constructed. Calling the President's attention to it in the proof-copy, the latter acknowledged the force of the objection raised, and said, “Go home, Defrees, and see if you can better it." The next day Mr. Defrees took in to him his amendment. Mr. Lincoln met him by saying: “Seward found the same fault that you did, and he has been rewriting the paragraph also.” Then reading Mr. Defrees's version, he said: “I believe you have beat Seward; but, “I jings” (a common expression with him), “I think I can beat you both.” Then taking up his pen, he wrote the sentence as it was finally printed. A Congressman elect, from New York State, was once pressing a matter of considerable importance upon Mr. Lincoln, urging his official action. “You must see Raymond about this,” said the President (re. ferring to the editor of the New York Times); “he is my Lieutenant. General in politics. Whatever he says is right in the premises, shall be done.”
The evening before I left Washington, an incident occurred, illus. trating very perfectly the character of the man. For two days my large painting had been on exhibition, upon its completion, in the East Room, which had been thronged with visitors. Late in the asternoon of the second day, the “black-horse cavalry” escort drew up as usual in front of the portico, preparatory to the President's leaving for the “Soldiers' Home,” where he spent the midsummer nights. While the carriage was waiting, I looked around for him, wishing to say a farewell word, knowing that I should have no other opportunity, Presently I saw him standing half-way between the portico and the gateway leading to the War Department, leaning against the iron fence-—one arm thrown over the railing, and one foot on the stone coping which supports it, evidently having been intercepted, on his way in, from the War Department, by a plain-looking man, who was giving him, very diffidently, an account of a difficulty which he had been unable to have rectified. While waiting, I walked out leisurely to the President's side. He said very little to the man, but was intently studying the expression of his face while he was narrating his trouble. When he had finished, Mr. Lincoln said to him, “Have you a blank card?” The man searched his pockets, but finding none, a gentleman standing near, who had overheard the question, came forward, and said, “Here is one, Mr. President.” Several persons had, in the mean time, gathered around. Taking the card and a pencil, Mr. Lincoln sat down upon the stone coping, which is not more than five or six inches above the pavement, presenting almost the appearance of sitting upon the pavement itself, and wrote an order upon the card to the proper official to “examine this man's case.” While writing this, I observed several persons passing down the promenade, smiling at each other, at what I presume they thought the undignified appearanec of the Head cf the Nation, who, however secmed utterly unconscious, either of any impropriety in the action, or of attracting any attention. To me it was not only a touching picture of the native goodness of the man, but of innate nobility of character, exemplified not so much by a disregard of conventionalities, as in unconsciousness that there could be any breach of etiquette, or dignity, in the manner of an honest at. tempt to serve, or secure justice to a citizen of the Republic, however
humble he may be.
THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
On the afternoon of Friday, February 5, 1864, I rang the bell of Mr. Lovejoy's boarding-house, on Fifteenth street, Washington. He was then very ill, though his friends did not apprehend that he was so near the close of his noble and faithful career. It is a sad satisfaction to me now to remember that one of the last acts of this good man's life was the writing, while sitting up in his bed, of the note introducing me to Mr. Lincoln. My first interview with the President took place the next day, at the customary Saturday afternoon public reception. Never shall I forget the thrill which went through my whole being as I first caught sight of that tall, gaunt form through a distant door, bowed down, it seemed to me, even then, with the weight of the nation he carried upon his heart, as a mother carries her suffering child, and thought of the place he held in the affections of the people, and the prayers ascending constantly, day after day, in his behalf! The crowd was passing through the rooms, and presently it was my