Page images
PDF
EPUB

tear-stained road, to the gate of the cemetery, where the body passed beneath the prophetic words of the most eloquent soul, 'Hither, in the future ages, they shall bring,' &c.

"When I spoke of the California apostle, Starr King, I saw how strong a chord I had touched in the great appreciative heart I addressed; and, giving a weak dilution of that wondrous draught of soul-lit eloquence, — that funeral hymn uttered by the priest of God over the sacred ashes of the advocate and soldier of liberty, whose thrilling threnody seems yet to linger in the sighing wind that waves the grass upon the soil made sacred by the treasure it received that day,—I felt strangely impressed as to the power and grandeur of that mind whose thoughts at second-hand, and haltingly given from memory, should move and touch the soul of such a man as Abraham Lincoln, as I saw it touched when he listened. It is the electric chain with which all genius and grandeur of soul whatsoever is bound; the free-masonry by which spirit hails spirit, though unseen. Now they all three meet where it is not seeing through a glass darkly,' but in the light of a perfect day."

The President was also and earlier personally afflicted, when,

"Down where the patriot-army,

Near Potomac's tide,

Guards the glorious cause of Freedom,

Gallant Ellsworth died."

This brave and remarkably efficient young officer had been associated with the President when in Illinois; and at his funeral, which took place at the White House, the President was the chief mourner.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

But there was one stroke nearer home than all which were among the peculiar trials of our beloved Chief Magistrate. Once before, the nation sympathized with a father and mother who must tread the halls of the White House without the echoes of familiar footsteps at their side. President Pierce and President Lincoln both knew what it was to wear the robe of royalty, as it were, over a bleeding heart. The nation sympathized when little Willie Lincoln died; and on the day when, all over the land, citizens assembled, in response to the President's request, that the "Farewell Address" of Washington might be read, the head of the nation sat bowed with grief over the dear remains of his darling

son.

The following was addressed to the Senate and House; but Congress had adjourned before it was delivered:

"The President of the United States was last evening plunged into affliction by the death of a beloved child. The heads of departments, in consideration of this distressing event, have thought it would be agreeable to Congress and to the American people that the official and private buildings occupied by them should not be illuminated on the evening of the 22d inst.

"WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

SALMON P. CHASE.

E. M. STANTON.

GIDEON WELLES.

EDWARD P. BATES.

M. BLAIR."

* Mary Webb.

[ocr errors]

And this official communication was but one among many tokens that the people felt deep sympathy with their beloved President in his paternal grief.

One of the leading newspapers thus refers to the last sad rites over the early-called:

"The funeral of Master William Wallace Lincoln occurred yesterday at the White House, at two, P.M. His friends and acquaintances were previously allowed the sad pleasure of a last look in the Green Room, where lay his remains, clothed in accustomed pants and jacket, with white stockings and low shoes, with white collar and wristbands turned over the dark cloth of the jacket. "On his breast rested a wreath of flowers; another lay near his feet; while a beautiful bouquet was held in his hand: the flowers composing the wreaths and bouquet being the queenly camellias; while azalias, and sprigs of mignonette, were disposed about the body.

"The beautiful bouquet in his hand was reserved for his sorrowing mother. A plain, metallic case of imitation rosewood was inscribed, 'William Wallace Lincoln, born Dec. 21, 1850; died Feb. 20, 1862.' The frames of the mirrors in the east and green rooms were covered with black crape; and the glass, with white crape. The funeral-service was performed by the pastor of the President, Rev. Dr. Gurley, in a very impressive manner.

"There were present members of the Cabinet, foreign ministers, members of Congress, army and navy officers, and many citizens and ladies. After the services, the body was placed in a vault at the Oak-Hill Cemetery, at Georgetown." *

Little did any then assembled think, as they looked upon the motionless form of the departed son, that, ere

*"National Republican."

many months, that precious dust would be removed and borne in a funeral procession, the like of which was never seen before; and that the father's form, now convulsed with grief, would then be lying cold and still in the sarcophagus where a nation had tearfully laid him, and move, side by side with the son, in an almost triumphal march, to a final resting-place in the Western land they loved, and from whence they came to the Nation's capitol and the Nation's heart.

At that far-off grave-side, the voice of the living preacher proclaimed the fact, which all men had learned by the rich experiences of four sad years, that the heart of the martyred President was tenderness itself; and it was pierced by the arrow of bereavement at the death of "Little Willie." Said the bishop then officiating,

"In his domestic life, he was exceedingly kind and affectionate. He was a devoted husband and father. During his presidential term, he lost his second son Willie. To an officer of the army he said, not long since, 'Do you ever find yourself talking with the dead?' and added, 'Since Willie's death, I catch myself every day involuntarily talking with him, as if he were with me.''

Even that trial was a blessing to his spirit. Heaven seemed nearer, doubtless, because Willie had passed through the gate. And, most assuredly, all the trials which our President was called to endure, though they were "not joyous, but grievous," yet they wrought in him "the peaceable fruits of righteousness," and day by day he was ripening for the immortality into which he was so soon to enter.

CHAPTER VIII.

REMARKABLE DOCUMENTS.

"Now Onward to Freedom!' let this be the cry;
For justice and truth are born never to die:
Go, say to the minions of slavery's thrall
That all men are brothers, and God over all!

Though stern be the struggle, the triumph we'll tell

In the jubilant peal of the Liberty-bell!"

MARY WEBB.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away."-THE LORD JESUS (Luke xxi. 33).

THERE are some documents that will never be forgotten, whose words will never lose their power. England's "Magna Charta" and America's "Declaration of Independence" are among them. So also is the "Emanci pation Proclamation" of Abraham Lincoln. While this volume is not to be crowded with official documents, a chapter must, at least, be given to some papers written by the hand that held the sceptre and the sword in this nation during the stormy period of the Rebellion, and which are unmistakably stamped with his own nobleness of soul.

First in order of time comes President Lincoln's

FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS.

"FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES,-In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President before he enters on the execution of his office.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »