Графични страници
PDF файл

gifted, ever rested so securely in the affections of the whole community. No: these tears are shed for one, who, standing on an eminence so high that few would not be made dizzy by it, walked humbly, honestly, and faithfully, doing the greatest work of many a century, as a servant of the people and a servant of God. We felt that the Republic was safe while he stood at its head. In those scasons of intense public excitement when great and important questions were to be decided, - questions affecting our welfare in the distant future, and our relations to foreign powers, - he was the calmest man in the country; and many and many a time, when we have rebelled against his judgment, and given way to passionate criticism, we have learned to regret our own heat, and wonder at his serenity. Ah! where shall we not miss him ? His influence was potent within the halls of Congress, shaping the legislation which is to affect the country when the glad morrow of peace comes ; it was felt in all the ramifications of our foreign and domestic policy, tempering all decrees by a statesmanship not more remarkable for its sagacity than for its kind consideration of all parties; and it will be felt by every soldier in the field in whose heart the destinies of his native land and the name of Abraham Lincoln have been so intimately interwoven.

In 1809, in a little village in Kentucky, beneath the thatched roof of a poor man's cottage, was born a child, whose prospects for the future seemed very limited. He received from his parents nothing but poverty and a good name. His childhood was in no degree remarkable. There were no foreshadowings of the greatness to be

achieved, and very few of those traditions of wonderful precocity, which, in some mysterious way, cluster about every eminent name. His library consisted of a wellthumbed Bible, and his fortune of an empty purse. He spent the first thirty years of his life upon that monotonous plane on which every poor farmer's boy lives. He spent his days in driving the team afield, in caring for the little flock as it wound slowly o'er the lea, and in the common drudgery which marks the lowly position he occupied.

When he was on the threshold of middle life, a resident of a village in Illinois, he was intrusted with some slight responsibility by his fellow-citizens. He was regarded with kindness because he had been something of a traveller, and an observer of men and things having made a voyage down the lordly Mississippi - and because he had given his services to the Government in the Black Hawk war, and shown no lack of courage, but rather a quiet persistency and fearlessness which added to the lustre of the shoulder-straps which made him a captain. Having served his constituents faithfully in a minor position, he began that slow and toilsome journey of promotion, which is marked at every step by honesty of purpose; and which ended, when, obedient to the vill of the North, he assumed the position of President of the United States.

Never have I been more proud of my country than when, gazing upon the lowly spot on which he was born, and the straitened circumstances of his youth, and then upward to the proud position he won for himself, I remembered that in America we have no royal


circle from whose narrow limits the rulers of tl are chosen, while the gaping multitude look o. mouthed wonder ; but that every boy on tbe continent has royal blood in his veins, and, if he but will it, he shall rise, forgetful of his humble origin, — nay, nay, forgive me, proud of his humble origin, - to the most responsible positions in the land. Happy country, which sees the brilliant light of promise and of hope in the eye of every boy! Blessed institutions, which instead of veneering the top of society, sends the school-book and the prayer book to the lowliest, and electrifies the great body of the people with an honorable ambition !

If a stranger were to offer his criticism upon Mr. Lincoln, I think the first characteristic of which he would speak would be the extreme and charming Simplicity of the man. This is so marked a peculiarity, that no one can have failed to notice it. It is to be observed not only in his daily talk, and in his always courteous bearing, but also in his public speeches, and in those documents, some of which are to become a part of our national literature. He is the most truly Republican President we have ever had. Occupying a position as important and as influential as that of the Emperor of France, he carried to the White House the rigid simplicity of his Illinois home; and in his endeavor to do the work, — the arduous work of the hour, - he forgot to put on any of the trappings or pomp of royalty.

So noticeable was this peculiarity, that many of us regretted what we called a certain want of refinement. We would have had him keep in remembrance that he was President of the United States; but he could never



ignore the fact, that he was simply Abraham Lincoln.
To say what he meant, was his ambition ; and to mean
what he said, was a matter of honor. Perhaps he did
not always indulge in court language; perhaps he was
not as graceful as some lesser men have been ; but he
always acted the wise, prudent, and manly part. He
claims our forbearance for telling an apt story; for wit
and sarcasm, which sometimes seem out of place; but
he has no need to seek our forgiveness for connivance
against the honor of the Republic. Grace of bearing is
a good thing ; but unswerving integrity is sublime, even
when it is awkward. For my own part, I am glad that
we have at last had a President who scorned to use the
privileges of his position for the study of the rules of
politeness; and who, a yeoman, would not ape
courts of Europe, but set himself at work to do a real
service for his country, at a time when she had been
robbed by so-called gentlemen of the first families, and
must be set right, if at all, by the great mass of the
common people and their representative.

should look this broad continent over to find a man who came from the people, who knew their wants and their troubles by experience; who had been educated only in the schools of the people; who possessed their confidence; who was proud of his ability to do them good; who had been led neither by scholarship nor ambition to a forgetfulness of their exact condition : in other words, if you should search this nation through to find a man who should be a true type of the America of to-day, you could not discover one so fit for the

purpose as Abraham Lincoln. In his earnestness and in

his wit; in his persistency and in his good humor; in all the angles of mind, character, and life, he was the best man of this generation to show the strength and the peculiarities of the American.

He was pure-minded, seeking not for himself with unhallowed ambition of conquest, but rather for his country, with the holy ambition of the patriot. He was pure-hearted, governed in all his dealings by a pervading sense of moral responsibility. He was unsuspicious,alas, alas, brethren, he was too unsuspicious! he believed too much in the honor of those around him, and for this reason he sleeps upon his bier, while a nation bends in tears because his slumber knows no waking.

Another marked characteristic of the man was his Religious Faith, his often avowed belief that this people are in the especial keeping of Providence, and that it was his duty as President to await the expressed will of God, and then to act. He was not of that company of heroes who win the sympathy of many by electing themselves men of destiny; but he firmly believed that this nation is a nation of destiny, and was modest enough, aye, humble enough to forget himself in his honest endeavor to obey the people's will. I delight to linger on this part of our great leader's character; for our public men have so often been mere politicians, winning their way to position by those various arts which are recognized as legitimate in the circles where they are used, but hardly looked upon with favor by an impartial religion, that it is exceedingly efreshing to know that in the time of our country's dire necessity the highest officer of the nation was the humblest of us all, and sought to know the will of God

« ПредишнаНапред »