Page images

At St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, after the Pontifical Mass was finished, Archbishop McCloskey, from the steps of the altar, spoke as follows:

"You will, I trust, beloved brethren, pardon me if, notwithstanding the length of the services at which you have been assisting, I should ask the privilege of trespassing for a few moments more upon your patience. The privilege I ask is, indeed, a sad and mournful one, a privilege that I have reserved for myself alone, for the reason that I could not, and that I cannot, without injustice to my own feelings, and, I am sure, to your feelings also, allow myself to forego it; and that privilege, as you doubtless already anticipate, is of addressing to you at least a few brief and imperfect words in regard to the great, and, I may say, the awful calamity which has so unexpectedly and so suddenly fallen upon our beloved and now still more than ever afflicted country. But two days ago we beheld the rejoicings of an exultant people, mingling even with the sorrowful memory of our Saviour's crucifixion. To-day we behold that same people's sorrow mingling with the grand rejoicings of our Saviour's resurrection. It is, indeed, a sad and a sudden transformation. It is a mournful—it is even a startling contrast. The Church could not divest herself of her habiliments of woe in Good Friday, neither can she now lay aside her festive robes, nor hush her notes of joy, gladness, and thanksgiving on this, her glorious Easter Sunday. Still, although as children of the Church we must and do participate in all her sentiments of joy, yet, at the same time, as children of the nation, as children of this Republic, we do not less sincerely, or less feelingly, or less largely, share in that nation's grief and sorrow. Oh, no! There is but one feeling that pervades all hearts, without distinction of party or of creed, without distinction of race or of color; one universal sentiment of a great and a fearful bereavement, of the heavy, and I had almost said, crushing suffering, that has just befallen us. All feel, all acknowledge, that in that death which has so recently come to pass, in that sudden and awful death of the Chief Magistrate of this country, the entire nation, North and South, has sustained a great, a very great loss; and if we took counsel of our fears, we might say an almost irreparable loss. But, no! Our hopes are stronger, far stronger, than our fears; our trust and confidence in a good, gracious, and merciful God is stronger than the foreshadowings of what may be awaiting us in the future; and it is to Him to-day, in our trials and adversities, we raise our voices in supplication. Him we beseech to give light to those who are

and who are to be the rulers of the destinies of our nation, that He may give life and safety and peace to our beloved country. We pray that those sentiments of mercy, of clemency, and of conciliation, that filled the heart of the beloved President we have just lost, may animate the breast and guide the actions of him who in this most trying hour is called to fill his place. And we may take comfort, beloved brethren, in the thought that in the latest intelligence which has reached us, the honored Secretary of State (a man full of years and of honors), who was, like his superior, stricken down by the hand of a ruthless assassin, still lives, and wellfounded hopes are entertained of his final recovery. Let us pray, then, that a life always valuable, but in this critical state of affairs dear to every one of us, may be long preserved, and that the new President may have the advantage of the wisdom, the experience, and the prudence of this honored Secretary of State. I need not tell you, my beloved brethren, children of the Catholic Church, to leave nothing undone to show your devotion, your attachment, and your fidelity to the institutions of your country in this great crisis, this trying hour. I need not ask you to omit nothing in joining in every testimonial of respect and honor to the memory of that President, now, alas! no more. On whatever day may be appointed for his obsequies, although the solemn dirge of requiem cannot resound within these walls, yet the dirge of sorrow, of grief, and of bewailing, can echo and re-echo within your hearts. And, on that day, whenever it may be, the doors of this Cathedral shall be thrown open, that you, beloved brethren, may bow down before this altar, adoring the inscrutable decrees of a just and all-wise Providence, beseeching His mercy on us all, and imploring Him, that now at least His anger may be appeased, and that the cruel scourge of war cease, and that those rivers and torrents of human blood, of fratricidal blood, that have been saturating for so long a time the soil of our beloved country may no longer flow over our unhappy land. Yes, let us pray, while almost even in sight of that deed of horror, which, like an electric shock, has come upon and appalled our fellow-citizens in every section of the land-let us pray to Him that we may now forget our enmities, and that we may be enabled to restore that peace which has so long been broken. Let us take care, beloved brethren, that no spirit of retribution or of wicked spite, or of malice, or resentment, shall, at this moment, take possession of our hearts. The hand of God is upon us; let us take care that we do not provoke Him to bow us down with misery and Even over the grave of the illustrious departed who has been taken from us, over the graves of so many enemies and friends,


in every section of the land, fallen in the deadly conflict, let us hope that those who are spared, who are still living, may come and join their hands together in sweet forgiveness; and let us pledge ourselves, one to the other, that we will move and act together in unity and in perpetual and Divine peace."

The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher not arriving in season to pronounce a discourse on that day, delivered at Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, on the ensuing Sunday, this sermon.


"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab, unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho: and the Lord showed him the land of Gilead, unto Dan.

"And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea.

"And the South, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palmtrees, unto Zoar.

"And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

"So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord."

There is no historic figure more noble than that of the Jewish lawgiver. After many thousand years the figure of Moses is not diminished, but stands up against the background of early days, distinct and individual as if he lived but yesterday. There is scarcely another event in history more touching than his death. He had borne the great burdens of state for forty years, shaped the Jews to a nation, filled out their civil and religious polity, administered their laws, and guided their steps, or dwelt with them in all their sojourning in the wilderness, had mourned in their punishment, kept step with their marches, and led them in wars, until the end of their labors drew nigh, the last stages were reached, and Jordan only lay between them and the promised land. The Promised Land! Oh what yearnings had heaved his breast for that Divinely promised place! He had dreamed of it by night, and mused by day; it was holy, and endeared as God's favored spot; it was to be the cradle of an illustrious history. All his long, laborious, and now weary life, he had aimed at this as the consummation of every desire, the reward of every toil and pain. Then came the word of the Lord to him, "Thou must not go over. Get thee up into the mountain, look upon it, and die." From that silent summit the hoary leader gazed to the north, to the south, to the west, with hungry

eyes. The dim outlines rose up, the hazy recesses spoke of quiet valleys. With eager longing, with sad resignation, he looked upon the promised land, that was now the forbidden land. It was a moment of anguish. He forgot all his personal wants and drank in the vision of his people's home. His work was done. There lay God's promise fulfilled. There was the seat of coming Jerusalem— there the city of Jehovah's King, the sphere of judges and prophets, the mount of sorrow and salvation, the country whence were to fly blessings to all mankind. Joy chased sadness from every feature, and the prophet laid him down and died. Again a great leader of the people has passed through toil, sorrow, battle, and war, and came near to the promised land of peace, into which he might not pass over. Who shall recount our martyr's sufferings for this people? Since the November of 1860, his horizon has been black with storms. By day and by night he trod a way of danger and darkness. On his shoulders rested a government, dearer to him than his own life. At its life millions were striking at home; upon it foreign eyes were lowered, and it stood like a lone island in a sea full of storms, and every tide and wave seemed eager to devour it. Upon thousands of hearts great sorrows and anxieties have rested, but upon not one such, and in such measure, as upon that simple, truthful, noble soul, our faithful and sainted Lincoln. Never rising to the enthusiasm of more impassioned natures in hours of hope, and never sinking with the mercurial in hours of defeat to the depths of despondency, he held on with unmovable patience and fortitude, putting caution against hope, that it might not be premature, and hope against caution that it might not yield to dread and danger. He wrestled ceaselessly through four black and dreadful purgatorial years, when God was cleansing the sins of this people as by fire. At last the watchman beheld the gray dawn. The mountains began to give forth their forms from out of the darkness, and the East came rushing towards us with arms full of joy for all our sorrows. Then it was for him to be glad exceedingly that had sorrowed immeasurably. Peace could bring to no other heart such joy, such rest, such honor, such trust, such gratitude. He but looked upon it as Moses looked upon the promised land. Then the wail of a nation proclaimed that he had gone from among us. Not thine the sorrow, but ours.

Sainted soul, thou hast indeed entered the promised rest, while we are yet on the march. To us remains the rocking of the deep, the storm upon the land, days of duty and nights of watching; but thou art sphered above all darkness and fear, beyond all sorrow or weariness. Rest, O weary heart! Rejoice exceedingly, thou that

nast enough suffered. Thou hast beheld Him who invariably led thee in this great wilderness. Thou standest among the elect; around thee are the royal men that have ennobled human life in every age; kingly art thou, with glory on thy brow as a diadem, and joy is upon thee for evermore! Over all this land, over all the little cloud of years that now, from thine infinite horizon, waver back from thee as a spark, thou art lifted up as high as the star is above the clouds that hide us, but never reach it. In the goodly company of Mount Zion thou shalt find that rest which so many have sought in vain, and thy name, an everlasting name in heaven, shall flourish in fragrance and beauty as long as men shall last upon the earth, or hearts remain to revere truth, fidelity, and goodness. Never did two such orbs of experience meet in the same hemisphere as the joy and sorrow of the same week in this land. The joy was as sudden as if no man had expected it, and as entrancing as if it had fallen from heaven. It rose up over sobriety, and swept business from its moorings, and down through the land in irresistible course. Men wept and embraced each other; they sang or prayed, or deeper yet, could only think thanksgiving and weep gladness. That peace was sure-that government was firmer than ever—the land was cleansed of plague that ages were opening to our footsteps, and we were to begin a march of blessings-that blood was stanched, and scowling enmities sinking like spent storms beneath the horizon-that the dear fatherland, nothing lost but much gained, was to rise up in unexampled honor among the nations of the earth-these thoughts, and that undistinguishable throng of fancies, and hopes, and desires, and yearnings, that filled the soul with tremblings like the heated air of midsummer daysall these kindled up such a surge of joy as no words may describe. In an hour, joy lay without a pulse, without a gleam or breath. A sorrow came that swept through the land, as huge storms swept through the forest and field, rolling thunder along the skies, dishevelling the flames and daunting every singer in the thicket or forest, and pouring blackness and darkness across the land and up the mountains.

Did ever so many hearts in so brief a time touch two such boundless feelings? It was the uttermost joy and the uttermost of sorrow -noon and midnight without space between. The blow brought not a sharp pang. It was so terrible that at first it stunned sensibility. Citizens were like men awakened at midnight by an earthquake, and bewildered to find every thing that they were accustomed to trust wavering and falling. The very earth was no longer solid. The first feeling was the least. Men waited to get strength

« PreviousContinue »