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but as a state paper, to be given prominence through the public archives, it was utterly indiscreet, impudent and unwise.
In all this trouble, two facts shine out with particular and grateful relief. One was the attitude of the Queen and Prince Albert, who were sincerely anxious that the harmony of the two nations should not be disturbed. Arising from a sick-bed, which a fortnight later became the death-bed of the Prince, he wrote, at the instance of Her Majesty, advising a softening of the dispatch demanding the return of Slidell and Mason, and, no doubt, infused into the cab. inet whatever of moderation it exhibited. The other was the admirable action of Lord Lyons in Washington, who, by his courtesy and bearing, rendering compliance with the demand of his government possible. The attitude of England toward us during the war was supported by France, the latter also considering the time opportune for setting up a throne in the neighboring Republic of Mexico. Of course, it was well understood that such a thing would not be permitted by this country if her hands were at liberty, and therefore the wrong was the greater. When this rebellion collapsed the end came there also. Maxamillian fell forward upon his coffin at Queretaro, pierced by a hundred bullets, and a few years later Napoleon himself was a prisoner in the hands of Prussia, and the soldiers of William were singing, “ Die Vacht Von Rhine" in the palaces of Versailles. Retribution marched swiftly when she once opened the gates. All these events showed us just how isolated we were in our struggle. It is an old saying that when a man begins to go down hill everybody gives him a kick. It would seem to be so with nations. England was supported by France, Prussia and Austria in her demand for the surrender of Mason and Slidell, and, indeed, the nations of the world seemed leagued against us. There was one exception. From away off in St. Petersburg came the welcome words : “Russia desires, above all things, the maintenance of the American Union as one indivisible nation.” [Loud applause.]
There was at one time wide-spread reports that the Washington Government was negotiating for peace, and the President was called for the particulars of his conference with Alexander H. Stevens and Messrs. Hunter and Campbell, which he gave. There was little in it.
The rebel commissioners had come through the lines, and General Grant had reported the fact to the President, who met them. The most interesting thing about the conference was Mr. Lincoln's impression of Stevens and his reply to the commissioners, who requested him to recognize the power of Jefferson Davis and to make a treaty. Mr. Lincoln thought one President enough for this country, and Mr. Hunter having pointed him to the precedent of Charles I., treating with the rebels in his own kingdom, Mr. Lincoln replied that the one distinct recollection that he had of Charles I. was that he lost his head.
General Grant relates that on the occasion of this visit Alexander H. Stevens, who was known years before as the smallest man in Congress, appeared quite respectable in size at which Grant marYelled. But he soon found that this was owing to his overcoat, which was made of cloth as thick as a board, and extended from the neck of the rebel Vice-President to his heels. When he took this off Grant was astonished at the transformation. After Lincoln had his interview with the commissioners, he returned to Grant's headquarters. Reflecting awhile, he finally said: “Grant, did you see Stevens' overcoat?” “Yes," said Grant. “Did you see him take it off ?” pursued Lincoln. “Yes," returned Grant. “Well,” said Lincoln,“ wasn't that the biggest shuck for the littlest ear you ever saw?" [Laughter.]
When the President delivered his second inaugural, the march to the sea had been completed, and so grandly as to fill the land with delight and the world with wonder. Johnson was being driven before Sherman, Grant was tightening his grip around Richmond, Thomas had destroyed Hood's army, and the cause of the Union looked bright indeed. The action of the Chicago convention, in the summer, in declaring the war a failure, while at first discouraging and disheartening, soon had the contrary effect. Jubilation over victories which followed was more intense because of that declaration. Fort Morgan was captured while the convention was in session, and the day after its adjournment the telegraph flashed the news that Sherman had taken Atlanta. “Sherman and Farragut have knocked the planks out of the Chicago platform," said Mr. Seward. With victory in the field the election will take care of itself,” said Mr. Lincoln. And the tide swept on.
Sheridan dashed through the Shenadoah valley, and three brilliant victories crowned his progress. north was wild with enthusiasm, and the President issued a proclamation for special thanksgiving. When the election returns were in it was found that Mr. Lincoln had two hundred and
" was as
twelve out of two hundred and thirty-three electoral votes. The people evidently did not believe the war a failure. The prospects were very bright, as before remarked, nevertheless Mr. Lincoln's message was far from jubilant. While speaking hopefully, it had a vein of sadness, which to some minds presaged further disaster to the Union cause. Possibly the shadow of his own great martyrdom, a few weeks later, fell upon him as he wrote, but more probably he shrank from raising the hopes of the people any higher, fearing the effect of the greater disappointment in case of reverses. “ The language,” says a great statesman, majestic as that of the ancient prophets. As if in agony of soul, the President cried out: “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still must it be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.' [Applause.]
But the end came rapidly. Richmond, Savannah, Raleigh, Appomatox -- and the rebellion was dead. But what was of infinitely more importance the Union was alive!
Through what suffering nations rise to glory!
As if we had not yet drank deep enough of the bitter cup, and even while the bells were pealing the glad tidings of mighty victories, their notes were hushed by the portentious news that Lincoln was dead. If anything was needed to complete our sacrifice, surely it was supplied by this tragic death of one who had grown to be the popular idol of the people.
And so “ Johnny came marching home," or at least what was left of Johnny, did. He came back to find his old place filled. He came back to stump around, to be a common man and a hero no longer. He came back with the seed of physical, perhaps mental disorders, fastened in his system, both traceable to hardship, exposure, suffering.
Four years had passed. There had been tears, partings, desolated homes, crippled lives, a pile of slain. - Liberty!
Bear with the old soldiers, my fellow-citizens. Judge them
charitably-treat them generously! Be not too sure that the people will applaud that official who ascertains by dint of hard work and rigid examination that some old soldier, with naught left but glorious memories, is technically debarred from sharing the bounty of the nation. I see thousands of these men in the west, struggling to support themselves and families, without calling for help; building up new homes in a new empire, sometimes feeling neglected and discouraged, but alive to the finger tips with the patriotism of '64. Yearly the memories of the war becomes more precious to them. I their eyes glisten, and their forms grow erect as the story is repeated. And that story cannot grow old.
Forty-four thousand killed in battle, sixty thousand dying in rebel prisons, a quarter of a million lives laid down in field, hospital and prison-that was the sacrifice.
At Arlington is a monument to the unknown dead, and on its sides are written these words: “ Here repose the bones of twentyone hundred and eleven Union soldiers, gathered from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock."
Their very names unknown; their identity lost; their individuality blotted out - all merged in that one mound of earth which stands as the very incarnation of patriotic devotion. The history of their individual prowess shall never be written, but on the Judgment day there shall rise from such consecrated piles as that, the grandest spirits of the resurrection!
Sometimes I fear that we may look to outsiders like a mutual admiration society, and perhaps words spoken in these reunions may sound like boasting. But it must be remembered that we speaking of men at their best, of the deeds of those inspired by a solemn duty and a great purpose, who went into the conflict as the young men of to-day would go into it, as Americans always go into such matters, resolved to win, because without success life was scarcely worth the living. We cannot recall the name of that color sergeant at Kenesaw mountain, who, having advanced beyond the line of his command, was ordered to fetch his colors back to the regiment, and replied, “ bring the regiment up to the colors ”—but the words ring in our ears, and his spirit becomes a model of American gallantry: We remember the names of but few who were conspicuous for special gallantry, and yet we all recall hundreds of instances of cheerful sacrifice-of men going down to death, with smiles of triumph, and that awful but sublime look of
exaltation on their faces which comes but once to mortality: You cannot blot out these memories, and you cannot blot from the minds of the common people the reverence and the love they bear for the survivors of the war. It is exhibited everywhere, and sometimes its manifestation is ludicrous, even while it is touching in the extreme. An old gentleman, in New York, sees a Turk dressed in the costume of his country, peddling his wares on the street.
He modestly appeals to the old gentleman to buy. "No," says the latter, “ I don't want any of your truck, but it's a cold day when I see one of Ellsworth's Zouaves in distress without chipping in something to help him out."
The idols of the world have been soldiers. In history, poetry, romance, it is ever the same. Desdemona loved Othello for the dangers he had passed, and our own poet has placed on record the sentiment that,
“ The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring.” Even religion clothes its devotees in the garb of soldiers. We speak of “soldiers of the cross,” the “army of the Lord,” and one of the most stirring hymns of the century was founded on an incident in which two distinguished officers of this Society were the actors. When Sherman, from a lofty height, signaled far across the valley to the brave defender of Altoona, “Hold the fort, for I am coming."
These were not exactly the words sent, but they express the idea, and the words of the old hymn,
" Though Satan's rage encompass me,
The Powers of Hell I will defy,” were practically the answer that was returned. [Great laughter.]
It is much to know, after all these years, that the heroism of the defenders of the Republic is remembered and appreciated. The open-handed hospitality of this beautiful city testifies to the feeling here, but we see it everywhere, notably on Decoration Day, when men, women and children scatter for-get-me-nots on the graves of our dead. Every year this sentiment is growing, and it seems to me that a prophecy offered by the distinguished President of this Society, at one of its first reunions, twenty years ago, is about fulfilled. Said he, “ I, your old commander, after a lapse of more than two years, tell you, you have your reward, not in lands and