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I shall not even attempt to picture the consternation which the event has caused throughout the civilized world, nor to describe the anguish which it has excited in my own heart as in that of every loyal American, whether at home or abroad.
The European public spontaneously expresses in every public way its admiration for the character of the murdered President, and its horror at the vile assassin who has taken his life. And if the inhabitants of foreign and distant lands are giving expressions to such deep and unaffected sentiments, wbat must be the emotions now sweeping over our own country? I confess that I shudder at the thought of the despatches and journals now on their way to Europe. As yet we have nothing but the brief telegraphic tale of horror published by the Secretary of War, to Mr. Adams, in London, and by him transmitted to the United States legations on the continent.
Not often in human history has a great nation been subjected to such a sudden couflict of passions.
In the midst-not of triumph nor vulgarexultation—but of deep, religious, grateful joy at the final suppression of a wicked rebellion, the redemption of the land from the perils of death and the certainty of its purification from the great curse of slavery, blessings brought about under God by the genius of our great generals, the courage of our armies, and the sagacity of our statesmen, the American people have seen their beloved and venerated chief magistrate murdered before their eyes.
The eminent statesman who with such surpassing ability has guided our foreigu relations during the most critical and dangerous period of our history seems, tbank God, to have escaped death—if we'may trust the more recent telegrams received last night—but we must await with intense anxiety the arrival of more than one post before we can feel confidence that the cowardly and murderous assault upon him in his sick bed has not after all been successful. May God grant that his invaluable life may be spared, and that the country may long have the benefit of his wise aud faithful counsels. May the life of that excellent son, who has so nearly perished in the attempt to defend his father, also be preserved.
What may be the effect of this sudden revulsion in the national feeling I hardly dare to contemplate.
The benignant heart of the late President was filled, as we have reason to believe, with thoughts of peace and reconciliation and reunion - with feelings of compassion for the criminals, mingled with detestation of the crime, becoming the chief of a great, free, and magnanimous nation in the hour of its victory-when the assassin took his life. And the country itself, conscious of its strength, seemed fully to respond to these sentiments of the President.
Will not these gentler feelings give way to a desire to vengeance, to a conviction of the necessity of terrible severity, now that the great treason has just accomplished its darkest crime, now that the most illustrious of all the innumerable victims of the slaveholders' rebellion has been so basely and wantonly sacrificed ?
I should apologize for giving expression to these thoughts, not suitable to a formal despatch, but in such days as these, and in the midst of such a national sorrow, it is difficult to be formal and impossible to be calm.
Nor can I resist the impulse to add my humble contribution to the universal eulogy which I know is pouring forth at this moment from so many more eloquent tongues than mine, and out of so many millions of sorrowing and affectionate hearts, now that the most virtuous of chief magistrates is no more.
I know that one should avoid the language of exaggeration, of over-excited enthusiasm so natural when a man eminent in station, mental abilities, and lofty characteristics is suddenly taken away; yet I am not afraid to express the opinion that the name of Abraham Lincoln will be cherished, so long as we have a history, as one of the wisest, purest, and noblest magistrates, as one of the greatest benefactors to the human race, that have ever lived.
I believe that the foundation of his whole character was a devotion to duty. To borrow a phrase from his brief and simple but most eloquent inaugural address of this year, it was “his firmness in the right as God gave him to see the right" which enabled him to discharge the functions of his great office, in one of the most terrible periods of the world's history, with such rare sagacity, patience, cheerfulness, and courage, And God, indeed, gave him to see the right, and he needs no nobler epitaph than those simple words from his own lips.
So much firmness with such gentleness of heart, so much logical acuteness with such almost childlike simplicity and ingenuousness of nature, so much candor to weigh the wisdom of others with so much tenacity to retain his own judgment, were rarely before united in one individual.
Never was such vast political power placed in purer hauds; never did a heart remain more humble and more unsophisticated after the highest prizes of earthly ambition had been obtained.
Certainly “government of the people, by the people, for the people"-to quote again his own words—shall never perish from the earth so long as the American people can embody itself in a character so worthy to represent the best qualities of humanity-its courage, generosity, patience, sagacity, and integrity-as these have been personified in him who has been one of the best of rulers, and is now one of the noblest of martyrs.
If it seems superfluous and almost presumptuous that I, a comparative stranger to Mr. Lincoln, although honored with his commission, should speak of him thus at length to those who shared his counsels and enjoyed his intimacy, I can only reply that the grief which, in common with every loyal American, I most profoundly feel at his death, demands an expression, and that at this distance from my country it is a consolation for me to speak of his virtues to those who knew him best.
I have followed his career, and have studied every public act and utterance of his with an ever-increasing veneration for a character and an intellect which seemed to expand and to grow more vigorous the greater the demand that was made upon their strength.
And this feeling, I believe, is shared not only by all Americans worthy of the name, but by all the inhabitants of foreign lands who have given themselves the trouble to study our history in this its most eventful period.
I wish to conclude this despatch by requesting you to convey my most respectful compliments to President Johnson, together with my prayers for his success in administering the affairs of his great office.
That he is animated with the warmest patriotism, and by a determination to meet wisely and manfully the great responsibility which has devolved upon him, we are all convinced, and I am sure that the best wishes of every patriotic heart and the counsels of the wisest minds will be ever ready to support him in the great task of reconstructing that blessed Union which traitor hands have failed, with all their efforts, to destroy. I have the honor to remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. LOTHROP MOTLEY. Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, Washington.
Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Vienna, April 30, 1865. Sir: The impression created in this capital by the horrible murder and attempts to murder just committed in Washington has been intense.
The whole diplomatic corps, with scarcely an exception, have called upon me as representative of the United States, and their warm and sincere expressions of sympathy at our national loss, of cordial good-will for the Union, and, more important than all, of decided respect and admiration for the character of our lamented President, have been most grateful to my heart.
The journals of the capital—all of them, as I have often had occasion to remark, conducted with great ability-have vied with each other in eloquent tributes to the virtues of Mr. Lincoln, in expressions of unaffected sympathy for the great cause of which he was the impersonation, and of horror at the accursed crime by which one of the best of men has been taken from the world.
I enclose, marked A and B, the correspondence between the minister of foreign affairs and myself in relation to this event.
I send, further, a translation, marked C, of the report taken from the journals of the day of the action taken on the subject in the Reichsrath.
Dr. Berger, the member who pronounced the brief but feeling enlogy upon
J. LOTHROP MOTLEY. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Buenos Ayres, May 27, 1865. Sir : I have the honor to enclose your excellency a copy of the resolutions issued by the government, ordering all flags of the republic to be put at halfmast, as sign of mourning for the death of the illustrious citizen President of the United States of America.
The Argentine government laments with the most profound sorrow the irreparable loss that deprives the United States of their noble President, Abraham Lincoln, whose persevering efforts were just being crowned by victory in favor of the cause of the Union.
In communicating this resolution to your excellency, I take pleasure in offering my most distinguished regards.
RUFINO DE ELIZALDE,
Minister of Foreign Affairs. Hon. ROBERT C. KIRK,
Minister Resident of the United States of America.
Buenos Ayres, May 27, 1865. Resolved, The illustrious President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, having been assassinated just as the cause so nobly sustained by the American people was being crowned by the most splendid triumph, the Argentine government and people, sorrow stricken by the loss that deprives that great republic of the distinguished and important services of so illustrious a citizen, resolve, that in testimony of their deep regret for so irreparable a loss, the offices and other public establishments on which the national flag flies, as also the national vessels-of-war in port, kecp, during the day of to-morrow, the 28th instant, their respective flags at half-mast. The present resolution to be communicated to whom it may concern for its accomplishment.
JOHN A. GELLY Y OBES. A correct copy :
Buenos Ayres, June 3, 1865. Marcos Paz, president of the congress of the Argentine nation, to the presi
dent of the Congress of the United States of America, greeting : Conscious of the loss that liberty and democracy have suffered by the death of Abraham Lincoln, the great republican, the Argentine congress joins the
people of the United States in their mourning, by a resolution that its members shall wear mourning for three days, as you will see by the accompanying authentic copy of the resolution, which you will please transmit to the Congress of the Union.
MARCOS PAZ. Hon. PRESIDENT of the Congress of the United States of America.
[Translation.] The senate and chamber of deputies of the Argentine nation, in general assembly convened, resolve:
ARTICLE 1. The senators and deputies of the Argentine people shall wear mourning for Abraham Lincoln for three days after the adoption of this resolution.
ART. 2. The national banner shall remain at half-mast over the house of sessions for the three days.
ART. 3. The president of the Argentine congress shall address a letter of condolence, with a copy of this resolution, to the president of the Congress of the United States.
ART. 4. Let this be promulgated, &c.
Given in the hall of congress, in Buenos Ayres, on the second day of June, the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five.
JOSÉ E. URIBURU.
Secretary of the Senate.
Secretary of the House of Deputies.
A true copy :
Secretary of the House of Deputies. CARLOS MARIA SARAVIA,
Secretary of the Senate.
Buenos AYRES, May 28, 1865. SIR : The assassination of the illustrious republican, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, has caused in Buenos Ayres the most profound regret.
The governor of this province the same as all his countrymen, moved by this execrable crime, sympathizes most heartily with your excellency for the misfortune that casts into mourning that joy caused by the recent victories obtained, that would secure the union and liberty of the great republic you so nobly represent.
May it please your excellency to accept the sympathy of this province, and the respect tbat I have always had for the eminent citizen that the country of your excellency has just lost. I salute your excellency with most distinguished esteem.
Governor of the Province of Buenos Ayres. His Excellency Hon. Robert C. KIRK,
Minister Resident of the United States of America.