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profound excitements prolonged through wide periods of time. The excitement of the Kansas struggle was only a preface to the higher glow of the Presidential canvass of 1860. But that was itself inferior to the profound anxiety and feeling of the period between November, 1860, and March, 1861, during which Secessionism developed into civil war. When, in April, 1861, Fort Sumter was assaulted, all feeling before seemed tame, compared with that fire of patriotism which swept the land. That feeling consolidated into a determination which the various defeats and victories of four years had no power to change. The flame-like character of popular feeling was changed, but only as wood that blazes, at length grows even hotter yet when it becomes coals.
In this last year of the war, as victory upon victory, East, West and South, foretokened the glorious consummation, the nation grew more joyful, until, on the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee, it seemed as if the people had expended no vital force in former emotions, but burst with all the freshness of unwasted bearts into the luxuriance of tropical joy. Was it possible that human nature could bear another and greater strain ? No one would believe it who had not seen the grief, horror and indignation of the weeks following Mr. LINCOLN's death. The sorrow was like the rolling in of an ocean tide. It quenched the exultation of victory, and the joy of anticipated peace, as completely as a brand is quenched when thrown into the sea. Men forgot that they had been glad. The banners and decorations of victory were left to mingle with exhibitions of mourning, and one could not tell whether the vast pageantry said,
Victory is swallowed up in Death,” or “ Death is swallowed up in Victory."
No voluntary sign of sorrow was half so striking as the unconscious silence of that ever-roaring city of New York! A half million people thronged the city on Monday and Tuesday, and filled the streets to suffocation. Yet the presence of the Mighty DEAD kept all so still and gentle, that a bird flying over would be unscared by noise, as if it were midnight, or a Sabbath day.
A martyred President was the city's king. His pulseless hand stretched out a sceptre, which awed all men to silence !-Before that Hearse enmities died, jealousies and rivalries coiled and hid, pleasure forgot its rules, avarice its toils, and for more than a week, the imperial city that disdained always before to be subdued to any common sentiment, now silently and humbly watched and waited, in all its streets, to offer homage and affection to him, when dead, for whom alive it would never give a vote!
As a private citizen, Mr. LINCOLN would have lived respected, and died lamented as a kind, faithful and honest man, and slept with hundreds of others, in a few years undistinguishable. He had no such gifts of power as would have raised him, in spite of circumstances, to emi
His was not a brain that dominated. His will was firm, but not executive nor despotic. His mind was broad and strong, but slow and laborious in its methods. Truths did not break upon him with flash and instant revelation. He saw them far off, obscurely, as nebula, and like an astronomer, he resolved them only by patient observation. Thus, he suspected things to be true long before he was sure, and he was sure long before he had made out the whole matter with distinct accuracy. He travailed with truth in long gestation, but when once it was his he loved it with intense parental instinct. His wisdom was moral wisdom. His power and success sprung from moral qualities. It was not intellect but manhood that ennobled him.
Mr. LINCOLN is, perhaps, the most eminent instance since the days of Washington of a man made great by
the inherent wisdom of true goodness. And such a nature can scarcely be delineated apart and separate from the events of that history which called out his virtues. This is particularly true of Mr. LINCOLN for two reasons : First, because his excellence did not assume the form of a few bold qualities, but was the sum of many simpler qualities maintained under great trial and provocation. And secondly, because we are now but just beginning to see the moral character of those bad men against whom he acted.
That so soon in our history the dark crimes which stained the later periods of Roman and mediæval European history should have taken possession of the leading Southern conspirators, could scarcely be imagined by those who have been accustomed to study the effects of slavery upon the masters, in the light of servile apologists, rather than under the guidance of great principles of human nature.
It is now known that a separation of the South from the North was resolved upon as a matter simply of political ambition, without any reference to supposed grievances; that the allegations of injury, of fears for the future, of political injustice, were deliberately framed by Southern leaders as a means of exciting and uniting the common people of the South, while their authors, among themselves, never pretended to believe in the truth of their own representations.
There is, also, the gravest reason to believe that all moral restrictions were yielded, and that crimes the most infamous were deliberately employed as the means of promoting the bad ends of these conspirators. Those who know most of the interior of affairs, scarcely doubt that Harrison was poisoned, that Tyler might fulfil Southern plans of war with Mexico. With even stronger conviction is it affirmed that Taylor was poisoned that a less
stern successor might give a suppler instrument to Southern managers. Who doubts, now, that it was attempted to poison Buchanan at the National Hotel, and leave Breckinridge in his room? It is a matter of verified history that efforts were made to take off Mr. LINCOLN before he should be inaugurated. And now, the whole world is astounded by the hideous crime by which he has been removed from life.
This perspective is needed to reveal the characters of the chief men in this superlative infamy of secession. We do not believe that the Southern people were privy to such crimes, or that all who became conspicuous in the Southern councils and armies knew of such things, but that the real leaders were men steeped in crime, and capable of the utmost infamy, we have not a doubt.
To misguided millions, unconsciously inspired and led by men of such a spirit, Mr. LINCOLN addressed the policy of kindness and conciliation for nearly two years. It was as if a Christian martyr had appealed to the reason and kindness of lions and tigers in a Roman amphitheatre !
But, though now known to have been misplaced, we must study Mr. LINCOLN's forbearance and gentleness, from his own point of view. Never was man less disturbed by passion, by party heats, by anger or rashness. In the wild excitements which raged on every side, amidst treacheries, defeats, and gloom, amid lukewarm patriots, imbecile generals and divided counsellors, he maintained on the whole, a straightforward and elevated course.
After Mr. LINCOLN with long and painful hesitation determined to issue his proclamation of Liberty, a change took place, not only in the general policy of Government, but in the success of his administration.
He relinquished the impractical hope of conciliating the South; he boldly assumed the reserved powers of Government. He called to his aid men of nerve in the field, and, freed from the toils of a doubtful expediency, and of nice practical management, he fell back upon broad moral grounds. There his true nature had full scope; and every hour after he conformed his policy to moral reason rather than to precedent, and political device, and backneyed expedients, Mr. LINCOLN grew strong and successful. Then began those victories which in spite of reverses eat into the Southern power, and consumed its strength. Then Mr. LINCOLN took his place in the estimation of eminent men in all the world, as a true and great statesman. Then, for the first time in two-score years, America had a President that embodied and really represented the principles of her history and her institutions !
Mr. LINCOLN'S re-election, in the midst of a civil war, by a people burdened with taxation, smarting with bereavements, assailed by factious partisans infected by the poison of Southern sympathy, is one of the remarkable events of history! Even more than the sublime homage of universal grief which waits upon his death, it is a monument of honor to his name. The unerring judgment of an intelligent common people passing by the dangerous glitter of military renown, with singular discretion put the State again into the hands of a citizen proved to be honest, discreet, patient, wise and thoroughly good.
The tragedy of Mr. LINCOLN's death gives to his name a heroic renown which his plain and unassuming manners might have missed. He has taken his place among the few great men of history. Not a stain of cruelty rests upon
it. It is all luminous with unquestioned gentleness and lenity. Not one act of his administration can be censured as inspirated by Vanity, Self-interest or Pride. Amidst the disturbances of civil war and the confusion of a vast revolution, he is seen standing always temperate, calm, and wise. All his messages, letters and addresses may now be searched for a line or a word whose spirit can