Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Not the least touching among these expressions of national mourning was the dismay and anguish of that poor oppressed race for whose rights he died.

A southern correspondent of the New York Tribune, the week following the assassination, wrote: "I never saw such sad faces, or heard such heavy heart-beatings, as here in Charleston the day the news

The colored people were like children bereaved of a parent. I saw one old woman going up the streets, wringing her hands, and saying aloud as she walked, looking straight before her, so absorbed in her grief that she noticed no one ;

O Lord! Oh Lord! O Lord! Massa Sam's dead! Massa Sam's dead !' • Who's dead, Aunty?'

Massa Sam's dead!' she said, not looking at me, and renewing her lamentations.

Who's Massa Sam?' said I. “Uncle Sam,' she said, O Lord! O Lord !

Not quite sure that she meant the President, I spoke · again :

Who's Massa Sam, Aunty ?' 'Mr. Lincum!' she said, and resumed wringing her hands, mourning in atter hopelessness of sorrow.'

The poor negroes on the distant plantations had formed a conception of Lincoln, much akin to that of a Divine Being. Their masters fled on the approach of our soldiers, and this gave the slaves the conception of a great Invisible Power which they called Massa Lincum. An old negro exhorter once, rising in an assembly of them, was heard solemnly instructing his fellows in the nature of this great unknown: " Bred

[ocr errors]

ren," he said solemnly, “ Massa Lincum, he be eberywhere. He knows ebery ting;” and looking up solemnly, “ He walk de earf like de Lord.”

To them the stroke was almost as if we could possibly conceive death as happening to the God we worship; a mingled shock of grief, surprise and terror.

No death of a public man ever entered so deep into the life of individual families, so as to seem like a personal domestic sorrow. The assumption of mourning badges and garments, the hanging out of mourning tokens, was immediate in thousands of families, each obeying the same spontaneous impulse without stopping to consult the other. It seemed almost as if the funeral bells tolled of themselves and without hands. Wherever the news travelled, so immediately and without waiting for public consultation, were these tributes of mourning given.

One fact alone, proves the depth and strength of these feelings more than volumes of description. It is, the vast extent of the publications in which the history of Mr. Lincoln's life and times, his individual biography and real or written utterances, or his personal appearance, were in one way or another commemorated. A gentleman who has begun a collection of such materials had some time ago gathered two hundred different books on Mr. Lincoln, a hundred and twenty-five portraits, besides badges, mourning cards, autographs and manuscripts, as he reports, “almost without number.” And in the list of publications about the rebellion compiled by Mr. Bartlett, are enumerated three hundred and eighty books, sermons, eulogies or addresses upon his life or death.



[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

A com

There is an astonishing contrast between the per-
fect sweetness and kindness of Mr. Lincoln's senti-
ments and utterances, whether private or public, indi-
vidual or official, in reference to the rebels and the re-
bellion, and theirs about him. Doubtless no loyal cit-
izen of the United States was so uniformly kind in
feeling and decorous and even courteous in expres-
sion, about the rebels; and doubtless no such citizen
was so odiously bespattered with the most hateful and
vulgar and ferocious insult and abuse, both public and
private. To give the quotations to prove the point
would be simply disgusting. They were sprinkled
through the newspapers and the public documents of
the rebellion from beginning to end of it.
pend and a proof at once of the whole of them was
that private bundle of letters threatening death,
marked in Mr. Lincoln's own handwriting “Assassina-
tion,” and kept in his private cabinet. And the assas-
sination itself and the circumstances connected with
it, constituted another proof and specimen, still more
overwhelming. Never since the times of the Chris-
tian martyrs has history recorded a contrast more hu-
miliating to humanity, between his kind words and kind
intentions on the one hand, and infamous abusive-
ness and deliberate bloodthirsty ferocity in those who
thus slew the best and kindest friend they had in the

Scarcely less striking was the contrast between the
habitual tone of the foreign utterances about Presi-
dent Lincoln before his death and that of those after
it; a change, moreover, whose promptness and evi-
dent manly good faith


in some measure atope for



[merged small][ocr errors]

the unreasonable and even indecent character of

many things said and printed in Europe. It is unnecessary to reproduce the offences : it is a more grateful task to quote a few specimens of the feelings and expressions with which the news of his death and of the manner of it was received abroad.

It may be premised, that some few persons of foreign birth and good position, had already discerned the truth of the character of Mr. Lincoln. A correspondent of the N. Y. Times wrote that paper from Washington, on one occasion, the following narrative:

“One day, as President Lincoln drove past a Washington hotel, sitting alone in his carriage, three gentlemen stood talking in front of the hotel. One of them, a foreigner of high cultivation and great distinction, with a gesture quite involuntary, raised his hat and remained uncovered until Mr. Lincoln had passed by. One of his companions, surprised at so much ceremony, observed, “You forget that you are in republican America and not in Russia.” “Not at all, sir-not at all,” was the reply, given with a certain indignation; " that is the only living ruler whom I sincerely reverence.

I could not avoid showing the feeling, if I would. He is a patriot, a statesman, a great-hearted honest man. You Americans reverence nothing in the present.” And after a few more sentences to the like effect, he ended by saying : “Not only your posterity, but the posterity of all the peoples which love honesty and revere patriotism, will declare that the part which President Lincoln was called to perform, required the exercise of as noble qualities as the 'Father of his Country' ever pos



that you

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sessed. It is any thing but a credit to you
do not better appreciate the man whom God has sent
in these perilous times to rule the people of this re-

The rebuke was received in silence. But such
cases were very few. The general tone of foreign
opinion about him was thoroughly unjust. Not so the
obituary testimonials from across the sea.

On the first of May, 1865, Sir George Grey, in the English House of Commons, moved an address to the Crown, to express the feelings of the House upon the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. In this address he said that he was convinced that Mr. Lincoln "in the hour of victory, and in the triumph of victory, would have shown that wise forbearance, and that generous consideration, which would have added tenfold lustre to the fame that he had already acquired, amidst the varying fortunes of the war."

In seconding the same address, at the same time and place, Mr. Benjamin Disraeli said: “But in the character of the victim, and in the very accessories of his almost latest moments, there is something so homely and so innocent that it takes the subject, as it were, out of the

pomp of history, and out of the ceremonial of diplomacy. It touches the heart of nations, and appeals to the domestic sentiments of mankind."

In the House of Lords, Lord John Russell, in moving a similar address, observed: “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

« AnteriorContinuar »