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was let loose upon us, at the beginning of the last administration, the wild outbreakings of turbulence and treason, the development of opinion went forward with gigantic strides, corresponding in some degree to the violence and magnitude of the contest. Any policy which a Republican President might have adopted with decision in the spring of 1861, and adhered to with steadiness during the four years, would have exposed the government to be shivered into fragments by the shocks of changing opinion. What was wanting in the flexibility of our political system was made up in the character of Mr. Lincoln. Whatever may be thought of the absolute merits of the late President's administration-on which it would not be decorous to express our views on this occasion-it cannot well be denied that it has been, throughout, a tolerably faithful reflex of the predominent public opinion of the country. Whether that opinion was, at any particular stage, right and wise, is a different question; but it cannot be doubtful that the predominant opinion carries with it the predominance of physical strength. A government against which this is arrayed in gathering force, must yield to it or go to pieces. Had Mr. Lincoln started with his emancipation policy in the spring of 1861, his administration would have been wrecked by the moral aid which would have been given the South by the northern conservatives, including a large part of the Republican party. Had he refused to adopt the emancipation policy much beyond the autumn of 1862, the Republican party would have refused public support to the war, and the South would have gained its independence by their aid. With a stiff Republican Senate, the government would have been at a dead-lock, and the violence of opinion would have wrenched its conflicting parts asunder. Regarding the growth of opinion simply in the light of a fact, we must concede that Mr. Lincoln's slowness, indecision, and reluctant changes of policy have been in skillful, or at least fortunate, adaptation to the prevailing public sentiment of the country. Some have changed more rapidly, some more slowly than he; but there are few of his countrymen who have not changed at all.
If we look for the elements of character which have contributed to the extraordinary and constantly growing popularity of Mr. Lincoln, they are not far to seek. The kindly, companionable, jovial turn of his disposition, free from every taint of affectation, puerile vanity, or parvenu insolence, conveyed a strong impression of worth, sense, and solidity, as well as goodness of heart. He never disclosed the slightest symptom that he was dazzled or elated by his great position, or that it was incumbent upon him to be any
body but plain Abraham Lincoln. This was in infinitely better taste than would have been any attempt to put on manners that did not sit easily upon training and habits, under the false notion that he would be supporting the dignity of his office. No offense in manners is so intolerable as affectation; nor any thing so vulgar as a soul haunted by an uneasy consciousness of vulgarity. Mr. Lincoln's freedom from any such upstart affectations was one of the good points of his character; it betokened his genuineness and sincerity.
The conspicuous weakness of Mr. Lincoln's mind on the side of imagination, taste, and refined sensibility, has rather helped him in the estimation of the multitude. Except so far as they contribute something to dignity of character, these qualities have little scope in the pursuits of a statesman; and their misplaced obtrusion is always offensive. They are a great aid, to be sure, in electric appeals to the passions; but in times like these through which we have been living, the passions have needed sedatives, not incentives; and the cool mastery of emotion has deserved to rank among the chief virtues. Mr. Lincoln had no need of this virtue, because the sluggishness of his emotional nature shielded him against the corresponding temptation; but this defect has served him as well as the virtue amid the more inflammable natures with which he has been in contact. His character was entirely relieved from repulsive matter-of-fact hardness by the unaffected kindliness of his disposition and the flow of his homely and somewhat grotesque mother-wit -the most popular of all the minor mental endowments.
The total absence from Mr. Lincoln's sentiments and bearing of anything lofty or chivalric, and the hesitating slowness of his decisions, did not denote any feebleness of character. He has given a signal proof of a strong and manly nature in the fact that although he surrounded himself with the most considerable and experienced statesmen of his party, none of them were able to take advantage of his inexperience and gain any conspicuous ascendency over him. All his chief designs have been his own; formed indeed, after much anxious and brooding consultation, but, in the final result, the fruit of his own independent volition. He has changed or retained particular members of his cabinet, and indorsed or rejected particular dogmas of his party, with the same ultimate reliance on the decisions of his own judgment. It is this feature of his character, which was gradually disclosed to the public view, together with the cautious and paternal cast of his disposition, that gave his strong and increasing hold on the confidence of the
Among the sources of Mr. Lincoln's influemce, we must not omit to mention the quaint and peculiar character of his written and spoken eloquence. It was as completely his own, as much the natural outgrowth of his character, as his personal manners. Formed on no model, and aiming only at the most convincing statement of what he wished to say, it was terse, shrewd, clear, with a peculiar twist in the phraseology which more than made up in point what it sometimes lost by its uncouthness. On the multitude, who do not appreciate literary refinement, and despise literary affectation, its effect was as great as the same ideas and arguments could have produced by any form of presentation. His style had the great redeeming excellence of that air of straightforward sincerity which is worth all the arts of the rhetorician.
The loss of such a man, in such a crisis; of a man who possessed so large and growing a share of the public confidence, and whose administration had recently borrowed new lustre from the crowning achievements of our armies; of a ruler whom victory was inspiring with the wise and paternal magnanimity which sought to make the conciliation as cordial as the strife has been deadly; the loss of such a President, at such a conjuncture, is an afflicting dispensation which bows a disappointed and stricken nation in sorrow more deep, sincere, and universal than ever before supplicated the compassion of pitying Heaven.
In New York City, Wall street became a public meeting, in which resolutions were passed, and among other addresses the following were delivered:
SPEECH OF GEN. BUTLER.
FELLOW CITIZENS: But a day or two since we assembled throughout the nation in joy, gladness, and triumph, at the success of the armies of the republic, which opened to us the promise of a glorious peace and a happy country in the future. These flags, now the token of mourning, were then raised in gladness. To-day, in a short hour, Abraham Lincoln has been struck down by the hand of an assassin, and we assemble to mingle our grief with that of the loved ones at home, who mourn the honest man, the incorruptible patriot, the great statesman, the saviour of his country in its crisis. And while we reverently pray to God to overrule this dispensation for our good, we mingle our tears together as a nation for the loss, and we find the hearts of those around him melted in sadness. Yet, to us there are higher, sterner duties, and that is to
see that his death is not lost to the country. Other rebellions in other countries have heretofore almost ever been inaugurated by the assassin's knife. It is left for us to exhibit the spectacle of a rebellion crushed in its body, crushed in its strength, crushed in its blood, crushed in its bones, revivifying its soul by assassination and death. And, with a blind hate which has ever characterized its purpose, it has struck down in cold silence the most forgiving, the most lenient, the most gracious friend that the misguided rebel ever had in this country. If rebellion can do this to the good, the wise, the kind, the beneficent, what does it teach us we ought to do to those who, from high places, incite the assassin's mind and guide the assassin's knife. Shall we content ourselves with merely crushing out the strength, the power, the material resources of the rebellion? Shall we leave its spirit and soul unsubdued, to light the torch in this city, and fire the pistol in the capital at all the good and great? Are we to have peace in fact or only in name? Is this nation hereafter to be peaceable? Are the avocations of life to go on, each man going about without fear and without dread, or are we to rival hereafter the tales we have heard of the old world, where every man feared his neighbor, and no man went about except armed to the teeth or in panoply of steel? This is the question that is to be decided this day, ay, this hour, by the American people. And perhaps I may say, reverently, that this dispensation of God's good providence is sent to teach us that the spirit of the rebellion has not been broken by the surrender of its armies. And, my friends, echoing the words of the last speaker, I would say, be of good heart. There is no occasion of despondency. A great, a good man has gone, in the fullness of his fame, in the height of his glory, to join the sages and patriots of the revolutionary days. His life was saved four years ago when it was needed, and he went through Baltimore, and the waves of the rebellion were beating around him. But now his work was done; and it remains for us to do that which is left for us to do in the same direction. He has driven out the life and the spirit, and it is for us to take care of the soul of the rebellion. And I am glad to speak here, to assure you, what I know to be the sentiment of the present President of the United States, who has succeeded by this great dispensation of Providence to the highest place on earth, that he feels as you and I do, I know it, on the subject, that the rebellion is to be put down. He has had a nearer view of it than we have had. It has been at his hearth-stone, and he has had almost his roof-tree blazing over
him. And every one ought to know that he is not only able but willing and desirous that it should be dealt with as we would have it dealt with. And therefore, let every man be of cheer. It may be said, I hear it has been said, that those who recommend condign punishment for treason and other wrongs are blood-thirsty -that we desire to shed blood for the shedding of blood. But, fellow-citizens, could he who has gone before us have foreseen what would have been the end of his policy-of his clemency and forgiveness-it might have soured his heart, but it might have informed his judgment, and we had him spared to us this hour. If he could have seen that forgiveness meant assassination—that clemency meant death, that even the sick man whom the providence of God had spared for a season, was to be murdered on his sick-bed as a result of the rebellion-perhaps he would have nerved his heart against these men, and forgot the goodness of his nature. But he has gone before us, the first victim of this clemency; with words of forgiveness upon his tongue, even, has he died, and it is left for us to review the course, and see whether or not we are to be instructed by his death. And therefore I say it to you my friends—not in the spirit of revenge, not in the spirit of vengeance, not, I trust, in any spirit of destruction, God forbid! but in the spirit of mercy for thousands I ask that punishment should be visited upon those who have caused this great wrong. The nation demands it. The widowed wives of those of our fallen soldiers sleeping in southern soil cry out for it. The insulted majesty of the nation has determined upon it, and woe be to him that gets in the path of justice and of the execution of the law.
SPEECH OF HON. DANIEL S. DICKINSON.
The spirit of the rebellion, my friends and fellow-citizens, has finally culminated in the assassination of the President of the United States. The spirit of rebellion and of slavery has finally whet its knife, and finding it could not accomplish the death of this nation, has wreaked its vengeance in the heart's blood of the Chief Magistrate. In all the history of men, savage and civilized; in the history of nations, ancient and modern; you can find nothing in the annals of the French Revolution, or elsewhere, equal to this in atrocity and abomination. The only criticisms that were ever passed upon that great and good man were that he had been too lenient, too forgiving in his spirit, too moderate against rebellion. The assassin, not at midnight, but in the midst of a public assembly