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ages were opening to our footsteps, and we were to begin a march of blessing; that blood was staunched, and scowling enemities were sinking like storms beneath the horizon; that the dear fatherland, nothing lost, 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 days all these kindled up such a surge of joy as no words may describe.
In one hour joy lay without a pulse, without a gleam, or breath. A sorrow came that swept through the land as huge storms sweep through the forest and field, rolling thunder along the sky, disheveling the flowers, daunting every singer in 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 of joy; it was the uttermost of sorrows-noon and midnight, without a 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 everything that they were accustomed to trust waver
ing and falling. The very earth was no longer solid. The first feeling was the least. Men waited to get straight to feel. They wandered in the streets as if groping after some impending dread, or undeveloped sorrow, or some one to tell them what ailed them. They met each other as if each would ask the other, "Am I awake or do I dream?" There was a piteous helplessness. Strong men bowed down and wept. Other and common griefs belonged to some one in chief: this belonged to all. It was each and every man's. Every virtuous household in the land felt as if its first-born were gone. Men were bereaved and walked for days as if a corpse lay unburied in their dwellings. There was nothing else to think of. They could speak of nothing but that; and yet, of that they could speak only falteringly. All business was laid aside. Pleasure forgot to smile. The city for nearly a week ceased to roar. The great Leviathan lay down, and was still. Even avarice stood still, and greed was strangely moved to generous sympathy and universal sorrow. Rear to his name monuments, found charitable institutions, and write his name above their lintels; but no monument will ever equal the universal, spontaneous, and sublime sorrow that in a moment swept down lines and parties, and covered up animosities, and in an hour brought a
divided people into unity of grief and indivisible fellowship of anguish.
For myself, I cannot yet command that quietness of spirit needed for a just and temperate delineation of a man whom goodness has made great. Leaving that, if it please God, to some other occasion, I pass to some considerations, aside from the martyr President's character, which may be fit for this hour's instruction.
Let us not mourn that his departure was so sudden, nor fill our imagination with horror at its method. Men, long eluding and evading sorrow, when at last they are overtaken by it, seem enchanted, and seek to make their sorrow sorrowful to the very uttermost, and to bring out every drop of suffering which they possibly can. This is not Christian, though it may be natural. When good men pray for deliverance from sudden death, it is only that they may not be plunged without preparation, all disrobed, into the presence of their Judge.
When one is ready to depart, suddenness of death is a blessing. It is a painful sight to see a tree overthrown by a tornado, wrenched from its foundations, and broken down like a weed; but it is yet more painful to see a vast and venerable tree lingering with vain strife against decay, which age and infirmity have marked for 'destruction. The process by which strength
wastes, and the mind is obscured, and the tabernacle is taken down, is humiliating and painful; and it is good and grand when a man departs to his rest from out of the midst of duty, fullarmed and strong, with pulse beating time. For such an one to go suddenly, if he be prepared to go, is but to terminate a most noble life in its most noble manner. Mark the words of the
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching.
Not that they go in a stupor, but they that go with all their powers about them, and wideawake, to meet their Master, as to a wedding, are blessed. He died watching. He died with his armor on. In the midst of hours of labors, in the very heart of patriotic consultations, just returned from camps and councils, he was stricken down. No fever dried his blood. No slow waste consumed him. All at once, in full strength and manhood, with his girdle tight about him, he departed, and walks with God.
Nor was the manner of his death more shocking, if we divest it of the malignity of the
motives which caused it. The mere instrument itself is not one that we should shrink from contemplating. Have not thousands of soldiers fallen on the field of battle by the bullets of the enemy? Is being killed in battle counted to be a dreadful mode of dying? It was as if he had died in battle. Do not all soldiers that must fall ask to depart in the hour of battle and victory? He went in the hour of victory.
There has not been a poor drummer-boy in all this war that has fallen for whom the great heart of Lincoln would not have bled; there has not been one private soldier, without note or name, slain among thousands, and hid in the pit among hundreds, without even the memorial of a separate burial, for whom the President would not have wept. He was a man from the common people that never forgot his kind. And now that he who might not bear the march, and toil, and battles with these humble citizens has been called to die by the bullet, as they were, do you not feel that there was a peculiar fitness to his nature and life, that he should in death be joined with them, in a final common experience, to whom he had been joined in all his sympathies.
For myself, when any event is susceptible of a higher and nobler garnishing, I know not what that disposition is that would seek to drag it down to the depths of gloom, and write it all