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8. Conscience, and not expediency, not temporary advantage, not popular applause, not the love of power, was the ruling and guiding motive of his life. He was conscientious in his devotion to the Constitution and the laws. In this he was in advance of his people, and in advance of a multitude of his own friends. With every constitutional right he dealt tenderly and carefully, while taunted by his own friends with subserviency to an institution which, in his inmost soul, he hated. His respect for law was as profound and sincere as his respect for God and His will.
9. Uninfluenced by popular clamor, and unbent by his own humane and Christian desire to see all men free, he did not speak the word of emancipation until his duty to the Constitution which he had sworn to protect and defend demanded it. There is no doubt that, if he could have saved the country without destroying slavery, he would have done it, and done it against the most ardent wishes of his heart, through his regard for the Constitution which protected the inhuman institution, and the oath by which he had been invested with power. It was not slowness nor coldness nor indifference, that delayed the emancipation of the slaves. It was loyal, devoted, self-denying virtue.
10. Mr. Lincoln was conscientious in his patience. He knew and felt the weakness of human nature, and appreciated the force of education in molding character and opinion. Hence he was patient with his enemies, and equally patient with equally unreasonable friends. No hasty act of his administration can be traced to his impatience. When such an act was performed, and was followed by its inevitable consequences of evil, it originated in the impatience of those whom he could not control.
11. His steps were taken with the deliberateness of destiny ; and as these steps are retraced by the historian, he can compare them to nothing but those leisurely and irresistible proceedings by which the Great Father in whom the good President trusted works out His will in creation and providence. Step by step, hand in hand with events, he worked and waited patiently, for the great consummation to which all the efforts of his life were devoted. Maligned, misunderstood, abused, cursed, his motives the foot-balls of
malice and envy and pride and foolishness, he waited patiently for history to vindicate him, and permitted no smarting sense of personal injustice to divert him from his duty to his country.
12. He was conscientious in his regard for human rights. His opposition to slavery, and his love of the African, were no mere matters of policy, or means for winning power. He had a tender, brotherly regard for every human being; and the thought of oppression was a torment to him. There was nothing that moved him to such indignation as a wrong committed against the helpless ones of his own kind. He believed that negroes were men, endowed by their Creator with the rights of men; and, thus believing, there was no manly privilege which he enjoyed that he would not have been glad to see conferred upon them. Hence, had he lived, he would logically have numbered himself among those who will agitate the right of universal loyal suffrage until that right shall be secured to every loyal man living under the American flag.
13. In Mr. Lincoln's life and character the American people have received a benefaction not less in permanent importance and value than in the revolution in opinion and policy by which he introduced them to a new national life. He has given them a statesman without a statesman's craftiness, a politician without a politician's meannesses, a great man without a great man's vices, a philanthropist without a philanthropist's impracticable dreams, a Christian without pretensions, a ruler without the pride of place and power, an ambitious man without selfishness, and a successful man without vanity.
14. On the basis of such a manhood as this, all the coming generations of the nation will not fail to build high and beautiful ideals of human excellence, whose attractive power shall raise to a nobler level the moral sense and moral character of the nation. This true manhood-simple, unpretending, sympathetic with all humanity, and reverent toward God—is among the noblest of the nation's treasures; and through it God has breathed, and will continue to breathe into the nation, the elevating and purifying power of His own divine life.
15. Humble child of the backwoods—boatman, ax-man, hired laborer, clerk, surveyor, captain, legislator, lawyer, debater, orator, politician, statesman, President, savior of the republic, emancipator of a race, true Christian, true man-we receive thy life and its immeasurably great results as the choicest gifts that a mortal has ever bestowed upon us ; grateful to thee for thy truth to thyself, to us, to God; and grateful to that ministry of Providence and grace which endowed thee so richly, and bestowed thee upon the nation and mankind.
LVIII.—THE END OF THE GREAT REBELLION.
OLIVER W. HOLMES.
Four wasteful autumns flung them to the gale,
The fourth wan April wept o'er hill and vale,
2. And still the war-clouds scowled on sea and land,
With the red gleams of battle staining through,
They open, and the heavens again are blue !
3. Which is the dream, the present or the past ?
The night of anguish or the joyous morn ?
Or the sweet promise of the day new-born ?
4. Tell us, O father, as thine arms enfold
“Now let me die, for I have seen thy face!” .
5. Tell us, O mother-nay, thou can'st not speak;
But thy fond eyes shall answer, brimmed with joy-
Is this a phantom,—thy returning boy?
6. Tell us, O maiden-ah, what can'st thou tell
That Nature's record is not first to teach,
With its twin crimson pages full of speech?
7. And ye who mourn your dead,-how sternly true
The cruel hour that wrenched their lives away,
For them the dawning of immortal day!
8. Dream-like these years of conflict,—not a dream !
Death, ruin, ashes tell their awful tale,
No dream, but truth that turns the nations pale !
9. For on the pillar raised by martyr-hands
Burns the rekindled beacon of the right,
Thrones look a century older in its light!
10. Rome had her triumphs; round the conqueror's car
The ensigns waved, the brazen clarions blew,
With outspread wings the cruel eagles flew;
11. Arms, treasures, captives, kings in clanking chains
Urged on by trampling cohorts bronzed and scarred, And wild-eyed wonders snared on Lybian plains,
Lion and ostrich and camelopard.
12. Vain all that prætors clutched, that consuls brought
When Rome's returning legions crowned their lord ; Less than the least brave deed these hands have wrought . We clasp, unclenching from the bloody sword !
13. Theirs was the mighty work that seers foretold ;
They know not half their glorious toil has won,
When Athens fought for us at Marathon!
14. Behold a vision none hath understood !
The breaking of the Apocalyptic seal ;
Then the third angel blows his trumpet-peal.
15. Loud wail the dwellers on the myrtled coasts,
The green savannas swell the maddened cry, .
Falls the great star, called Wormwood, from the sky!
16. Bitter it mingles with the poisoned flow
Of the warm rivers winding to the shore,
But the star Wormwood stains the Heaven no more !
17. Peace smiles at last; the Nation calls her sons
To sheathe the sword; her battle-flag she furls,
And hides her rubies under milk-white pearls.
18. O ye that fought for Freedom, living, dead,
One sacred host of God's anointed Queen,
We breathe a welcome to our bowers of green!
19. Welcome, ye living! From the foeman's gripe
Your country's banner it was yours to wrest.-
And stars, once crimson, hallow many a breast.
20. And ye, pale heroes, who from glory's bed
Mark when your old battalions form in line,
And shape unheard the evening countersign,
21. Come with your comrades, the returning brave;
Shoulder to shoulder they await you here;
Living and dead alike forever dear.