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for it. The affairs of state were managed by Mr. Seward, and not by Mr. Lincoln. The Treasury was almost as much in the hands of. Mr. Chase, during his occupation of office, as if he were irresponsible to the head of the government. The same fact held concerning all the other secretaries. He was more intimate with the Secretary of War, probably, than with any other member of the cabinet, because operations in the field were the leading affairs of interest and importance; and it is probable, also, that his influence was more felt in the war office than in any other of the departments. Mr. Chase has said that he never attended a meeting of the cabinet without taking with him the figures that showed the exact condition of the Treasury at the time, and that, during the whole of his official life, he was not once called upon to show these figures. Mr. Lincoln contented himself with such knowledge as he gained in a general way concerning the affairs entrusted to him. The tenacity with which he clung to his chosen advisers and official family, throughout all the attempts of politicians and the public to unseat them, was remarkable; and illustrated not only the faithfulness of his friendship but the inflexibleness of his will.
If any action was ever taken by one of his secretaries that seemed to him ill-advised, he did not hesitate to interfere; but, sitting in his place, and performing what seemed to him to be his special duties, he intended that his associates in the government should sit in their places, and perform their duties ; and he left them free to win such honor as they could, by the administration of the affairs of their respective departments.
The first three years of the war, with all their excitements, responsibilities and anxieties, produced a powerful effect upon his physical constitution. He entered the White House, a healthy man, with a frame of iron; and, without indulgence in a single debilitating vice, he became a feeble man, weary and worn beyond the reach of rest. The tired feeling very rarely left him. His relief was in story-telling, in books of humor, in theatrical representations, and in music. A lady who was, for a time, a member of his family, related to the
writer an incident touching his love of music and its effect upon him. One evening he was prevailed upon to attend the opera. He was very tired, and quite inclined to remain at home; but, at the close of the evening's entertainment, he declared himself so much rested that he felt as if he could go home and work a month. Simple heart-songs pleased him, however, much more than the elaborate music of the opera. The poetry of Burns, and the class of verse to which it belonged, were subjects of his special admiration; and the music that was their fitting expression was to him the most delightful of all.
With the soldiers who were fighting the battles of the country, he had the deepest sympathy. Whenever he was congratulated upon a success in the field, he never failed to allude gratefully to the noble men who had won it. The trials of these men—their sacrifices of comfort and health, of limb and life-touched him with a sympathy that really sapped the foundations of his constitution. They were constantly in his thoughts; and not a battle was fought to whose sacrifices his own vitality did not contribute. He admired the fighting man, and looked upon him as, in one sense, his superior. Although he did not plead guilty to the weakness of moral cowardice, he felt that the battle-field was a fearful place, from which, unaided by its special inspirations, he should run. Indeed, Mr. Lincoln did not give himself credit for the physical courage which he really possessed, though he had probably grown timid with his failing strength.
This sympathy with the soldiers he manifested in many ways, and in none more than in his treatment of their offenses against military law. In a letter to the author, a personal friend of the President says: “I called on him one day in the early part of the war, He had just written a pardon for a young man who had been sentenced to be shot, for sleeping at his post, as a sentinel. He remarked as he read it to me: •I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of the poor young man on my skirts.' Then he added: 'It is not to be wondered at that a boy, raised on a farm, probably
in the habit of going to bed at dark, should, when required to watch, fall asleep; and. I cannot consent to shoot him for such an act.'” This story, with its moral, is made complete by Rev. Newman Hall of London, who, in a sermon preached after and upon Mr. Lincoln's death, says that the dead body of this youth was found among the slain on the field of Fredericksburg, wearing next his heart a photograph of his preserver, beneath which the grateful fellow had written, “God bless President Lincoln!” From the same sermon, another anecdote is gleaned, of a similar character, which is evidently authentic. An officer of the army, in conversation with the preacher, said: “The first week of my command, there were twenty-four deserters sentenced by court martial to be shot, and the warrants for their execution were sent to the President to be signed. He refused. I went to Washington, and had an interview. I said: "Mr. President, unless these men are made an example of, the army itself is in danger. Mercy to the few is cruelty to the many.' He replied: “Mr. General, there are already too many weeping widows in the United States. For God's sake, do n't ask me to add to the number, for I won't do it.'"
Whole chapters might be occupied by the record of such incidents as these. The woe that the war brought upon the people kept his sympathetic heart always bleeding. One of the last acts of his official life was the granting of a pardon for a military offense. A friend from Illinois called to plead for the life of a neighbor-a soldier who was on his way with his regiment through Washington, and, falling out of the ranks, entered a drinking saloon, was overcome with liquor, and failed to join his regiment before it left the city. He was arrested for desertion, and sentenced to be shot. The soldier's friend found Mr. Lincoln with a table before him literally covered with documents, which were all to be signed by him. There was not room enough on the table to hold the paper for a pardon. Mr. Lincoln heard the explanation of the case, and remarked: “Well, I think the boy can do us more good above ground than under ground;" and then he proceeded to another table to write his pardon. Afterwards, laughingly regarding the table from which the mass of papers had driven him, he said: “By the way, do you know how the Patagonians eat oysters? They open them, and throw the shells out of the window, till the pile gets higher than the house, and then they move!” He could not omit his “little story,” even in a case of life and death.
There never lived a man more considerate of human weakness than Abraham Lincoln. He always found so many apologies for the sins of others that he could cherish no resentments against them, even when those sins were maliciously committed against himself. When his friends went to him with the remarks of ill-natured and inimical persons, he preferred not to have them repeated, and turned off his indignant informers with a story, or the remark: “I guess we won't talk about that now." He never read the public abuse of himself in the newspapers; and of one of the most virulent attacks upon him he simply remarked that it was “ill-timed.” Of one of his bitter political enemies, he said: “I've been told that insanity is hereditary in his family, and I think we will admit the plea in his case." Charity, pity, mercy, sympathy—these were virtues which reigned in the White House during Mr. Lincoln's occupation of it.
Yet Mr. Lincoln could be severe. Toward crimes resulting from sudden anger, or untoward circumstances and sharp temptations,—the long catalogue of vices growing out of 'human weakness,—toward these, he was always lenient; but toward a cool, calculating crime against the race, or any member of it, from ambitious or mercenary motives, he was severe. The systematic, heartless oppression of one man by another man, always aroused his indignation to the highest pitch. An incident occurred soon after his inauguration which forcibly illustrates this point. Hon. John B. Alley of Lynn, Massachusetts, was made the bearer to the President of a petition for pardon, by a person confined in the Newburyport jail for being engaged in the slave-trade. He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment, and the payment of a fine of one thousand dollars. The petition was accompanied by a letter to Mr. Alley, in which the prisoner acknowledged his guilt and the justice of his sentence. He was very penitent,—at least, on paper,—and had received the full measure of his punishment, so far as it related to the term of his imprisonment; but he was still held because he could not pay his fine. Mr. Alley read the letter to the President, who was much moved by its pathetic appeals; and when he had himself read the petition, he looked up, and said: “My friend, that is a very touching appeal to our feelings. You know my weakness is to be, if possible, too easily moved by appeals for mercy, and, if this man were guilty of the foulest murder that the arm of man could perpetrate, I might forgive him on such an appeal; but the man who could go to Africa, and rob her of her children, and sell them into interminable bondage, with no other motive than that which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved murderer, that he can never receive pardon at my hands. No! He may rot in jail before he shall have liberty by any act of mine.” A sudden crime, committed under strong temptation, was venial in his eyes, on evidence of repentance; but the calculating, mercenary crime of man-stealing and man-selling, with all the cruelties that are essential accompaniments of the business, could win from him, as an officer of the people, no pardon.
Two ladies, wives of rebel officers imprisoned on Johnson's Island, applied for their release, with great importunity, one of them urging that her husband was a very religious man. As he granted their request, he said to the lady who had testified to her husband's religion: “You say your husband is a religious man: tell him, when you meet him, that I say I am not much of a judge of religion; but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their government, because, as they think, that government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread in the sweat of other men's faces, is not the sort of religion upon which men can get to heaven."
Certainly Mr. Lincoln's religion was very different from