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And hark! the deep voices replying,
'Swear! oh, swear !'” To add to the solemnity of the occasion, General Robert McCook's brother, George, was present, and was much affected by the unexpected mention of his murdered brother's name. "The Oath,” rehearsed by Murdoch, is a drama in itself. Those present when, at the request of the lamented Lincoln, he repeated it in the House of Representatives during the war, can vividly recall its effect. I have on more than one occasion witnessed the involuntary answer of thousands to this electric invocation. It is easy to imagine how it must have been received by the soldiers in the field when the enthusiastic histrion visited their camps. Identified with the war, he was particularly attached to Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Lincoln to him, so it happened that many of his productions had reference to the Martyr. One of the most prophetic of these were the allusions in "The New Pastoral," a poem written by Buchanan Read in 1850, which Murdoch read for the first time in the Hall of the House of Representatives, 1864, at a benefit for the sick and wounded soldiers. Just as he uttered the following prophecy concerning the future, Lincoln entered the chamber and took a seat on the right of the Speaker's stand :
"Let Contemplation view the future scene :
Here shall the city spread its noisy streets,
Hold thy grand posture with unswerving mien,
Lincoln was not observed at first. Gradually his presence was felt and applauded, which quickly became general, as the application to him of the poet's language was made apparent. This poem, written eleven years before the rebellion, was remarkable. Recalling it as a portrait of the coming man, Read wrote during the war the following, on the occasion of the presentation to Mr. Lincoln of three ancient relics, consisting of a piece of Penn's Treaty Elm, of the old frigate Alliance, and of the halyards of the sloop-of-war Cumberland, nobly apostrophized by Boker in his great poem :
Thee, doubly great, the land's embodied will ;
Heroic chimes on Fame's immortal hill.
Since I beheld and pictured with my pen
By traitorous demons in the forms of men.
“And I foresaw thy coming-even pointed
The region where the day would find its man
While Wisdom taught thee all her noblest plan.
A holy trine, were Faith and Hope and Love-
Around thy path, wherever thou dost move.
Can fill the places of these heavenly three;
Love tempers all with her sublime decree.
Telling ancestral tales of land and sea-
Should be consigned, great patriot, unto thee.” I could fill a volume with reminiscences of Thomas Buchanan Read. One of the giants of American literature said, “His poetry is the embodiment of nature's fanciful creation, of the exquisitely bright and the delicately beautiful, as expressed in the loves of the fairies and the poetry of the stars, in maiden purity and youthful heroism. His pictures are poems, and his poems are pictures.”
[May 19, 1872.]
MORE than fifty colored delegates in the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia, June 5, 1872! Shades of John C. Calhoun, Barnwell Rhett, Dixon H. Lewis, John Slidell, and
W. L. Yancey, is this to be permitted? Little did the lords of slavery twenty years ago think that such an offense would ever be dared. When I recall Dawson, of Louisiana, with his curls and jewels and gold-headed cane; Ashe, of North Carolina, with his jolly yet imperious style; John S. Barbour, of Virginia, with his plantation manners; Governor Manning, of South Carolina, as handsome as Mrs. Stowe's best picture of the old Southern school in “Uncle Tom's Cabin ;" Pierre Soulé, with his handsome, haughty face, true types and apostles of the peculiar institution, I wonder how they would feel to see the South represented in a National Convention by their former slaves. A little more than ten years have sufficed to disprove all the predictions against the colored race, but in nothing so much as in the intelligence of their representative leaders, and in their own general improvement. If you were to compare the chiefs of the freedmen with the chief slaveholders, knowing them as I knew them, you would soon realize that John M. Langston, professor of the Law Department of the Howard University, is as thorough a lawyer as Pierre Soulé in his best days; that Robert Brown Elliott is a better scholar and speaker than Laurence M. Keitt, who, having helped to create the rebellion, died in fighting for it; and that Benjamin Sterling Turner, of Selma, Alabama, a self-educated slave, and now a freedman in Congress, is as practical a business man as John Forsyth or George S. Houston.
Frederick Douglass was famous as an orator before the war. With the fall of slavery, however, he rose to the highest position. His eloquence is formed on the best models. Captivating, persuasive, and often profound, he wields an increasing influence in both races.
But among the colored delegates in the Republican National Convention none will attract more attention than Robert Purvis, of Philadelphia. I hope some day to relate the romance of his life. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, he left it fifty