Page images
PDF
EPUB

the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and family; to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance, and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. "Done at the city of Washington, this 15th day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.

"By the President:

"ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."

The documents contained in this chapter form a part of our national history, which no true American will ever ponder but with pride and satisfaction. All of them had immediate results that were glorious and salutary; and one at least of them will exert an influence grand and far-reaching as the march of Time, like to the echo of God's voice of promise and hope amid the bowers of Eden, which will extend till the answering anthem of a redeemed world and a rejoicing universe shall rise "to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever."

CHAPTER IX.

ANECDOTES.

"Thereby hangs a tale.”—SHAKSPEARE.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” - -PROV. XXV. 2.

THERE is a time to laugh, as well as a time to weep, if we may credit the wise man; and, of the two, the smile is to be preferred to the tear, since it will help to send more sunshine abroad in a world where needed spiritual discipline, in consequence of sin, must bring many shad

Ows.

Jacob Abbott has taught his thousands of readers that "cheerfulness is a duty;" and one may well suspect the long face of covering a bad heart. "Other things being equal," the truest Christian is the most cheerful one; and that man or woman is highly favored who has received that inheritance of mirthfulness which enables him without effort to "look on the bright side."

President Lincoln was far from being a mirthful man, in one sense; overflowing with fun and jollity. He had borne too many burdens not to have lost some elasticity of spirit; and the natural buoyancy of youth was, as we know, early lessened by the loss of his almost idolized mother. Moreover, later life had brought those peculiar trials we have mentioned; and one would hardly expect to see in President Lincoln the sportive, careless, mirthful Donatello whom Hawthorne pictured ere he passed away. Nor would we like to see the restless buoyancy of excessive animal spirits in one occupying the position of the nation's head.

"Marble Faun."

President Lincoln had the happy medium. He was cheerful without levity, as he was ofttimes sad without being misanthropic. Emerson says of him, "His broad good humor, running easily into jocular talk, in which he delighted, and in which he excelled, was a rich gift to this wise man. It enabled him to keep his secret; to meet every kind of man, and every rank in society; to take off the edge of the severest decisions; to mask his own purpose, and sound his companion, and to catch with true instinct the temper of every company he addressed. And, more than all, it is to a man of severe labor, in anxious and exhausting crises, the natural restorative, good as sleep, and is the protection of the over-driven brain against rancor and insanity.

"He is the author of a multitude of good sayings, so disguised as pleasantries, that it is certain they had no reputation at first but as jests; and only later, by the very acceptance and adoption they find in the mouths of millions, turn out to be the wisdom of the hour. I am sure, if this man had ruled in a period of less facility of printing, he would have become mythological in a very few years, like Æsop or Pilpay, or one of the Seven Wise Masters, by his fables and proverbs."

His cheerfulness of demeanor, and speech, sometimes led strangers into an error in regard to him. They thought him too careless of the dignity which belonged to his position; but they could not say he neglected the "weightier matters of the law," even if he did sometimes seem to omit the "tithes of mint, anise, and cumin."

One who knew him well* thus renders testimony to the excellence of his character even in these particu lars:

* Col. Deming.

[ocr errors]

"He was not over-careful of his dignity, feeling assured that his dignity would take care of itself; and consenting to rend the web of official formalities, and to waive all ceremony and precedence which might bar his passage to a good deed by the most expeditious route. He has been convicted, in contempt of the divinity which doth hedge a king,' of conferring with his counsellors in a great emergency, and of performing an act of kindness and mercy, enveloped in no robe of state but a cotton night-gown of scanty proportions; and on one memorable occasion he even presumed to solve an enigma, raised in a congress of ambassadors, by the little story of root, hog, or die.' He was what Dr. Johnson calls a thoroughly' clubbable' man; eminently social and familiar; in private interviews, and sometimes in public, overflowing with illustrations of every theme; always apt and racy, and frequently humorous, with a habit, like the doctor himself, of upsetting a pedantry or a sophism by an epigram or an anecdote, and with a story-telling method of reasoning like our own Dr. Franklin. While unrivalled as a raconteur in the pith and variety of his store, he was not half so broad in his narrations as many an unassuming Chesterfield on both sides of the water. ... I can adopt and indorse the precise language of Mr. F. B. Carpenter, who, as an artist, had free access to Mr. Lincoln's presence, and was for several months an inmate of the White House, when he says, 'I feel that it is due to Mr. Lincoln's memory to state, that during my residence in Washington, after witnessing his intercourse with all classes of people, including governors, senators, members of Congress, officers of the army, and familiar friends, I cannot recollect to have heard him relate a circumstance to any one of them all that would have been out of place if uttered in a lady's drawing-room.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The same gentleman speaks of an interview which he had with the President just after Gen. Frémont had declined to run against him for the presidency; and says, "The magnificent Bible which the negroes of Washington had just presented him lay upon the table; and, while we were both examining it, I recited the somewhat remarkable passage from the Chronicles, Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and towards Assuppim two and two, at Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.' He immediately challenged me to find any such passage as that in his Bible. After I had pointed it out to him, and he was satisfied of its genuineness, he asked me if I remembered the text which his friends had recently applied to Frémont; and instantly turned to a verse in the First of Samuel, put on his spectacles, and read, in his slow, peculiar, and waggish tone, 'And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.'”

Here is a story which has been "going the rounds " of the press, entitled

"LINCOLN'S FIRST DOLLAR."-One evening, in the Executive Chamber, there were present a number of gentlemen, among them Mr. Seward.

"A point in the conversation suggesting the thought, Mr. Lincoln said, 'Seward, you never heard, did you, how I earned my first dollar?'—'No,' said Mr. Seward. 'Well,' replied he, 'I was about eighteen years of age. I belonged, you know, to what they call down South "the scrubs:" people who do not own land and slaves are nobody there. But we had succeeded in raising, chiefly by my labor, sufficient produce, as I thought, to justify me in taking it down the river to sell.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »