Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Enjoying his appetites to the highest, he has preserved the power of enjoying them. As he drains the cup of life, there are no lees at the bottom. His organs will reach the goal of existence together. Painlessly as the candle burns down in its socket, so will he expire; and a little imagination would convert him into another Enoch, translated from earth to a better world without the sting of death.

But look at an opposite extreme, where an opposite history is recorded. What wreck so shocking to behold as the wreck of a dissolute man ;-—the vigor of life exhausted, and yet the first steps in an honorable career not taken; in himself a lazar-house of diseases; dead, but, by a heathenish custom of society, not buried ! Rogues have had the initial letter of their title burnt into the palms of their hands; even for murder Cain was only branded on the forehead; but over the whole person of the debauchee or the inebriate, the signatures of infamy are written. How nature brands him with stigma and opprobrium! How she hangs labels all over him, to testify her disgust at his existence, and to admonish others to beware of his example? How she loosens all his joints, sends tremors along his muscles, and bends forward his frame, as if to bring him on all fours with kindred brutes, or to degrade him to the reptile's crawling ! How she disfigures his countenance, as if intent upon obliterating all traces of her own image, so that she may swear that she never made him! How she pours rheum over his eyes, sends foul spirits to inhabit his breath, and shrieks, as with a trumpet, from every pore of his body,“ BEHOLD A BEAST!” Such a man may be seen in the streets of our cities every day; if rich enough, he may be found in the saloons, and at the tables of the “ Upper Ten;" but surely, to every man of purity and honor, to every man whose heart is unblemished, the wretch who comes cropped and bleeding from the pillory, and redolent with the appropriate perfumes, would be a guest or a companion far less offensive and disgusting.

Now let the young man, rejoicing in his manly proportions, and in his comeliness, look on this picture, and then on this, and then say, after the likeness of which model he intends his own erect stature and sublime countenance shall be configured.

LXXI.

THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

1

REV. C. H. FOWLER --APRIL, 1865. I stand to-day in the shadow of the coffin of Abraham Lincoln What best can I say concerning his character ? The analysis of his character is difficult on account of its symmetry; its comprehension is impossible, on account of its greatness. The foundation upon which this character. was built was his moral sense, coming out in absolute truthfulness. This gave him marvelous moral uprightness, kept him unseduced by the temptations of his profession, untainted by the corruptions of politics, and unblamable in public administration. The ruling, all-controlling characteristic of his mind was his accurate, massive, iron-armed reason. Every element of his being, even his passion and compassion, and every act of his life was in most rigid submission to his moral sense and reason. He arrived at his conclusions not by intuition, but by argument. This made him appear slow in difficult questions, but it gave him all the certainty of logic. Once arrived at a decision, he could not be moved from it. His mental constitution and habits of thought underlaid his felt consciousness of honor. This made inevitable that firmness which was more equal to every emergency, and which has so amazed the world. His imaginative and speculative faculties were of great native strength; but they were so subjected to his reason that they only served to suggest causes of action in unprecedented difficulties, and illustrate by condensed, incarnated argument the correctness of his position. His caution, that might have been a fault, was balanced by the certainty of his reason and produced only a wise prudence. His whole character was rounded out into remarkable practical common sense. Thus his moral sense, his reason, and his common sense were the three fixed points through which the perfect circle of his character was drawn, the sacred trinity of his great manhood. He incarnated the ideal Republic and was the living personification of the divine idea of free government. No other man

so fully realized the people's idea of a ruler. He was our President--the great Commander. The classics of the schools

ever

us.

might have polished him, but they would have separated him from

A child of the people, he was as accessible in the splendors of the White House as in the lowly cabin. He stands before us as no man ever stood, the embodiment of the people. Coming among us President in troublous times, the grasp, the accuracy, the activity of his intellect, soon placed him at the head of the world's statesmen. He rallied about him the strong men of the land and showed them he was their master. Everywhere he controlled men according to his

purpose. Once arrived at a decision he was there forever. He was firm because he knew he was right. He put men up or down regardless of their popularity. Congress had always referred to his judgment, and the end in every event justified his decisions. As a statesman he was without a peer in the world or in history.

His goodness is said to have made him weak. It was the highest exhibition of his strength. He was mercy mailed in justice. He was the most magnanimous man of the time. Yesterday he said of inevitable defeat, “ I am responsible.” To-day he said of triumph, “The glory is not mine." He was the noblest man that ever came in the tide of time.

*

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Whence came those shrieks, so wild and shrill,

That like an arrow cleave the air,
Causing the blood to creep and thrill

With such sharp cadence of despair ?
Once more they come! as if a heart

Were cleft in twain by one quick blow,
And every string had voice apart

To utter its peculiar woe!

Whence came they? From yon temple, where

An altar raised for private prayer,
Now forms the warrior's marble bed,

Who Warsaw's gallant armies led.

The dim funereal tapers threw

A holy lustre o'er his brow,
And burnish with their rays of light

The mass of curls that gather bright
Above the haughty brow and eye

Of a young boy that's kneeling by.

What hand is that whose icy press

Clings to the dead with death's own grasp, But meets no answering caress--

No thrilling fingers seek its clasp? As is the hand of her whose cry

Rang wildly late upon the air, When the dead warrior met her eye,

Outstretched upon the altar there. .

Now with white lips and broken moan
She sinks beside the altar stone;
But hark! the heavy tramp of feet,
Is heard along the gloomy street,
Nearer and nearer yet they come,
With clanking arms and noiseless drum.
They leave the pavement. Flowers that spread
Their beauties by the path they tread,
Are crushed and broken. Crimson hands
Rend brutally their blooming bands.
Now whispered curses, low and deep,
Around the holy temple creep.
The gate is burst. A ruffian band
Rush in and savagely demand,
With brutal voice and oath profane,
The startled boy for exile's chain.

The mother sprang with gesture wild,
And to her bosom snatched the child ;
Then with pale cheek and flashing eye,
Shouted with fearful energy, -

Back, ruffians, back! nor dare to tread
Too near the body of my dead!
Nor touch the living boy-I stand
Between him and your lawless band !

No traitor he-But listen! I
Have cursed your master's tyranny,
I cheered my lord to join the band
Of those who swore to free our land,
Or fighting, die; and when he pressed
Me for the last time to his breast,
I knew that soon his form would be
Low as it is, or Poland free.
He went and grappled with the foe,
Laid many a haughty Russian low;
But he is dead—the good--the brave-
And I, his wife, am worse-a slave.!
Take me, and bind these arms, these hands,
With Russia's heaviest iron bands,
And drag me to Siberia's wild
To perish, if 'twill save my child!"

“Peace, woman, peace!” the leader cried,
Tearing the pale boy from her side;
And in his ruffian grasp he bore
His victim to the temple door.

66 One moment !" shrieked the mother, “one;
Can land or gold redeem my son ?
If so, I bend my Polish knee,
And, Russia, ask a boon of thee.
Take palaces, take lands, take all,
But leave him free from Russian thrall.
Take these," and her white ;arms and hands
She stripped of rings and diamond bands,
And tore from braids of long black hair
The gems that gleamed like star-light there;
Unclasped the brilliant coronal
And carcanet of orient pearl;
Her cross of blazing rubies last
Down to the Russian's feet she cast.

He stooped to seize the glittering store;
Upspringing from the marble floor,
The mother with a cry of joy,
Snatched to her leaping heart the boy!

« ElőzőTovább »