4 NOVEMBER 1865, Page 14


MR. RAYMOND'S LIFE OF LINCOLN.• THIS would be thought by many a heavy book,—which in a physical point of view undoubtedly it is, and on that account it is a pity that it has not been published in two volumes. Eight hundred closely-printed pages, of which more than seven hundred and fifty are chiefly speeches, proclamations, despatches, State papers of all kinds, referring to a struggle now almost passed away, connected by a very attenuated thread of narrative of the great events to which they refer, would not usually be regarded as light reading. And many are likely, we suspect, to procure the book only for the forty pages of " personal reminiscences " by Mr. Carpenter, which are indeed admirable of their kind. Neverthe- less we have seldom read a book with a profounder and more unflagging interest, for it really contains the history of the greatest revolution in this century, perhaps in any century, com- pressed into, and absolutely identified with, the life of one man. Not a single State paper, scarcely even a telegraphic despatch is to be found that is not stamped deep with the impression of a • Life, Public Services, and Male Papers of Abraham Lincoln. By Henry .1. Ray- mond. To which are added Aiiecdetes and Personal Reminiscences by Frank B. Carpenter. London: Stevens Brothers. seso. mind at once singularly representative and singularly personal. ' Representative men' have usually something cold, pale, and generalized about them. " Organs" of a class, or a nation, or a national intellect, are rarely indeed men of the warmest and most genial individual traits. Their function in the world being to express ideas common to a large number of people, they have not usually those specialties of personal feeling and manner about them which are usually the marks of a highly concentrated and intense rather than a wide and average nature. Strength of course in some measure representative men' must have, at least men representative of practical tendencies and destined to effect a great work ; but practical strength often consists as much in the absence of distracting motives as in the presence ofbindividual force. Washington is the type of such men,—honest, sagacious, business- like, self-denying, patient, but cool-minded, with a touch of formality, a great man, but not an interesting man. All Washington wrote was clear, sensible, well adapted for convincing ordinary people. But it was convincing without being personal, without being winning. With Mr. Lincoln it was quite otherwise. Much more than Washington he would seem to have been created and educated specially for his work. If ever a man could be absolutely identified with a public task, Mr. Lincoln was identified with the suppression of the slaveowners' rebellion. Yet there was nothing of the mere public man about him. Unlike almost all other American statesmen,—who have indeed generally impressed a much less individual stamp upon their work than even English states- men,—Mr. Lincoln's mind was a political transparency, in which the nation could see an individual character of great power work- ing out the problems set before them all, working them out slowly indeed, but upon a method in which they all felt the most perfect confidence, working them, too, with a sincerity that was unmixed with the faintest pretension, and showing evidences of a long and patient rather than passionate grappling of his powerful intellect with the difficulties of each question presented to him, evidences which must have touched as well as convinced the great people who followed so anxiously the slow tentative progress of his thought. To compare Mr. Webster, or Mr. Clay, or Mr. Seward as politicians with Mr. Lincoln, is like comparing the themes of clever boys who have borrowed nine-tenths of their thoughts from their school-books with the essay of one who has slowly and awkwardly, but perti- naciously built up every conviction for himself by the sheer force of his own intellectual strength and moral veracity. No wonder that such a man, thinking intensely, and thinking aloud as it were, for four years in all sorts of public manifestoes and addresses, should have carried the best thought of America with him as no man has ever carried it yet.

Mr. Lincoln's mind had been early fed on two books, the Bible and a life of Washington, of which last he got possession in early youth, partly by accident, when few other books were accessible to him, and which no doubt first retained his imagination in the service of his country, and inspired him with his great fortitude to bear, without flinching, the prolonged strain of responsibilities that at one time seemed to be almost unrelieved by hope. But if this old life of Washington touching something deeply seated in his own temperament and training, turned his thoughts into the apparently dry channel of American constitutional politics, it was the deeper, though for a long time almost latent, current of faith awakened in him by the other favourite study of his childhood, which made his political nature so much deeper and more fitted to reach the heart of a great nation, than the natures of his predecessors and contemporaries. And yet the Bible did not produce on him the effect which we usually connect with Biblical politics. There was little or nothing of the Puritan enthusiasm about bite; nothing of the fiery ardour of the Old Testament politics ever touched him for a moment. The anti-slavery root-and-branch school of Garrison and Theodore Parker were scarcely nearer to him in political prin- ciple than the diplomatic and astute school of Daniel Webster. His training in the backwoods seems to have drawn every feverish element away from his mind, and to have substituted a sort of patient sympathy with the slow processes of nature, which reminds us of the parables of Christ about letting tares and wheat grow together till the harvest, and awaiting the gradual growth of truth, " first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear," rather than of prophetic denunciations. 'In this, as in other characteristics, Mr. Lincoln simply supplied a deeper founda- tion for what was in fact a national quality. Patience is one of the main characteristics—not of the visible talkers, but—of

the invisible voters of the United States, yet it is almost a dis- creditable patience at times, showing a tendency to acquiesce in real evil to save the trouble of fighting it. But there was in Mr. Lincoln's what can scarcely be said of any other eminent American statesman, a profoundly ethical root to this spirit of patience. " If slavery is not wrong," he said, " nothing is wrong," and he said so long before he even suspected that it would be his duty,— that it would be otherwise than a crime in him,—to deal it its death- blow. No great statesman ever harboured purposes in his heart longer, or had a deeper feeling that " the hour was not yet come," than Mr. Lincoln, yet none kept a more tenacious hold of the duty to be aimed at so soon as anything should occur to

release him from his obligation to tolerate the wrong. When asked early in his administration what he would do with sla- very, he told a story of a young Methodist minister, who was harassing himself lest a freshet in Fox River should prevent him from discharging his duties, and who was admonished thus by a brother minister :—" Young man, I always make it a rule not to cross Fox River till I get to it." And he always acted on this rule, first with regard to the war itself, which by his singular patience he did everything to avert, then with regard to the mode of conducting it, trying one general patiently, in spite of many great discouragements, till he had conspicuously failed, and finally with regard to emancipation. He keenly felt that his duty as a constitutional ruler restrained him from striking at slavery, until to do so became an essential condition of fulfilling his other and primary duties as a constitutional ruler. Even when he had decided on his course nothing could exceed his patience in waiting for the right moment, which was partly due no doubt to the force with which he realized all the just objections that could be urged to it. This biography shows that late in July or early in August, 1862, Mr. Lincoln had announced to his Cabinet his fixed resolve to issue the Emancipation proclamation. But even then Mr. Seward persuaded him to wait for a military success before publishing it, in order that, as the President ex- pressed it, it might come with power, and not seem " the last shriek" of a defeated administration. Yet with the proclamation thus lying ready drawn in his desk, and receiving, like a favourite picture, as he said, new touches from his pen from time to time, when a deputation from the religious denominations of Chicago waited upon him on the 13th September, six weeks later, to im- plore him to publish such a proclamation, he quieted their im- patience and his own by the well-known address, in which he urged so much more forcibly than his opponents what was to bo said on the other side. "I do not want to issue a document," he said, " that the whole world will see must necessarily be inopera- tive, like the Pope's bull against the comet." But within ten days after this address—the success of Antietam occurring in the interval —the proclamation was issued. And this is Mr. Chase's account of the last Cabinet upon it:— " Mr. Chase told me that at the Cabinet meeting, immediately after the battle of Antietam, and just prior to the issue of the September Proclamation, the President entered upon tho business before them, by saying that the time for the annunciation of the Emancipation policy could no longer be delayed. Public sentiment,' ho thought, ' would sustain it, many of his warmest friends and supporters demanded it— and he had promised his God that he would do it!' The last part of this was uttered in a low tone, and appeared to be heard by no one but Secretary Chase, who was sitting near him. He asked the Pre- • sident if ho correctly understood him. Mr. Lincoln replied, 'I made a solemn vow before God that, if General Lee were driven back from Pennsylvania, I would crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves ""

Now we should justly call this a superstitious bargaining with God, did we not know that six weeks previous Mr. Lincoln had consulted his Cabinet, not on the policy of the proclamation (for he even then avowed his final determination on that head), but on its form and the time of its issue. But knowing, as we do, that he had considered the subject in all its bearings, that he had answered himself far more powerfully than his opponents had answered him, and that he found the purpose still growing in his mind, and taking a religious depth in spite of the strength of those objections which he always carried about with him in the fore- ground of his intellect, there was nothing of superstition, nothing but the final resolve to be equal to an occasion for which he was patiently waiting the fitting moment of Providence, in the vow to act if victory opened the way to a chance of acting with authority and power.

But besides a political patience deeper because resting on deeper grounds than that of the nation he represented, Mr. Lincoln had a political understanding that was of the same kind as, but more lucid than, the national understanding, also for an ethical reason,— that he never could tolerate the tyranny of mere words, and always pressed through the words to the reality behind them. There are no State papers in history more remarkable for their refutation of mere cries than Mr. Lincoln's. His method is almost always the same,—to assume his adversary's position and use his weapon for him more thoroughly than he dared himself, till he showed that its use led to absurd and inadmissible results. As to " State rights," what can be more striking than the following ?— "By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a State? I speak not of the position assigned to a State in the Union by the Con- stitution ; for that, by the bond, we all recognize. That position, how- ever, a State cannot carry out of tho Union with it. 1 speak of that assumed primary right of a State to rule all which is less than itself; and ruin all which is larger than itself. If a State and a county, in a given case, should be equal in extent of territory, and equal in number of inhabitants, in what, as a matter of principle, is the State better than the county? Would an exchange of names be an exchange of rights upon principle ? On what rightful principle may a State, being not more than one-fiftieth part of the nation, in soil and population, break np the nation, and then coerce a proportionally larger subdivision of itself, in the most arbitrary way ? What mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country, with its people, by merely calling it a State?"

Or take the following, in that first inaugural address, the res- trained force of which was never fully appreciated in this country:— "If all the States save one should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon State rights. But suppose that precisely the same not, instead of being called ' driving the one out,' should be called the seceding of the others from that one,' it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do ; unless, indeed, they make the point that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do."

Of course lucid logic of this kind would have been no title to his countrymen's respect without the moral force to act upon it,—but this is just what gives the special flavour to Mr. Lincoln'sstyle, that it reads like the style of a man who was pressing his way to right action, not merely to right thought. The lucidity is the lucidity of a man scanning narrowly his own duty, facing an emergency, not merely expouurling a theorem. For example, when at the conclusion of the war, people urged him to pronounce whether the seceded States had been really out of the Union, or whether all they had done in the way of rebellion was merely null and void, he refused to decide upon it, saying that it had no practical bearing oa his duty. " We all agree," he said, " that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union, and that the sole object of the Government, civil and military, with regard to those States is again to get them into their proper practical relation." And the same style, never theoretic, except so far as theory is the immediate condition of action,—a style that seems to be hewing its way through the moral obstruc- tions to notion,—marks every State paper.

Mr. Lincoln's humour was really only an offshoot of his realistic logic. All his famous " stories" either clinch arguments or put them into a living and popular form. The essence of them is logical and demonstrative, and the humour only incidental in bringing great things and small into close juxtaposition. Thus when one of his Cabinet, we suppose Mr. Chase,—became his rival for the Presi- dency, Mr. Lincoln made no objection, and wished to keep him in his office, illustrating the advantage which his candidature might produce by one of his stories :—

"Mr. Lincoln said he did not much concern himself about that. It was very important to him and the country that the department over which his rival presided should be administered with vigour and energy, and whatever would stimulate tho Secretary to such action would do good. said he, ' you were brought up on a farm, were you not ? Then you know what a chin-fly is. My brother and I,' he added, were once ploughing corn on a Kentucky farm, I driving the horse and be holding plough. The horse was lazy, but on one occasion rushed across the field so that I, with my long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, I found an enormous chin-{!y fastened upon him, and knocked him off. My brother asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn't want the old horse bitten in that way. "Why," said my brother, "that's all that made him go." Now,' said Mr. Lincoln, 'if Mr. — has a presidential chin-jfy biting him, I'm not going to knock him off, if it will only make his department go.'"

And when somebody wondered why General M'Clellan did not answer the requisition of the Chicago Convention more speedily, he replied, with a twinkle in his eye, "Oh ! he is intrenching." The analogies which Mr. Lincoln used so happily were always logical, and no doubt they added much both to the persuasiveness and the popularity of his administration.

Even the limplicity and tenderness of his nature, combined as they were with so much strength, did much to endear him to the people, who put more confidence in him for feeling like one of them- salves. Mr. Lincoln's disposition was, according to his most inti- mate friends, profoundly melancholy, to which they and he also attributed his love of humour. He was certainly so affectionate that it is strange he was not in some measure disabled for his painful duties. It is related of him that in the gloomy days of 1862, on a visit at Fortress Monroe, when he was reading Shakespeare to a friend, some lines in King John, in which Constance bewails her lost boy, recalled his own recent loss, and the President, asking his companion if he had ever dreamt of talking with a lost friend, and realized at once both the joy and its illusory character, before he had finished the question dropped his head on the table and sobbed aloud. With equal simplicity, when on a visit to Commodore Porter at Fortress Monroe, noticing that the banks of the river were dotted with flowers, he said, "' Commodore, Tad' (the pet name for his youngest son, who had accompanied him on the excursion) is very fond of flowers ; won't you let a couple of men take a boat and go with him for an hour or two, along the banks of the river, and gather the flowers ? ' " Nor was this tenderness of feeling of course at all confined to Mr. Lincoln's own domestic life. The stories of his personal tenderness to persons thrown into affliction by the war are quite numberless; and of the pressure of the war on his own feelings some judgment may be formed by his saying, after the defeat of Fredericksburg, " If there is a man out of perdition that suffers more than I do, I pity him." When some one re- proached him for telling stories in the gloomy days of 1862, he replied, "Sit down ; I respect you as an earnest and sincere man. You cannot be more anxious than I am, constantly, and I say to you now that were it not for this occasional vent I should die." This power of realizing to the full the suffering and grief involved in the great struggle was indeed essential to give to Mr. Lincoln's general bearing and State papers the weight of that solemnity which, in spite of their absolute simplicity, many of them have. To our minds no funeral oration ever exceeded in pathos the few words spoken by the President in dedicating as a national cemetery part of the battle-field of Gettysburg. Nor can the message in which before the issue of the Emancipation proclamation he entreated the Border States to sacrifice slavery not at their own expense, but at the expense of the nation, be easily surpassed in the depth and earnestness of its entreaty :— " The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disinthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honour or dishonour to the latest generation. Wo say that we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We—even we here—hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free—honourable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other moans may succeed; this could not, cannot fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just,—a way which if followed, the world will for ever applaud, and God must for ever bless."

And when the news of Lee's surrender came to Washington, it was received not with the triumph of a successful politician, but with the profound gratitude of a child. The scene as it is reported by Mr. Carpenter (and, though not on his own authority, he must have had ample opportunities of correcting it if it were unauthen- tic), is perhaps one of the most striking and noble in history :-

" On the day of the receipt of the capitulation of Leo, as we learn from a friend intimate with the late President Lincoln, the Cabinet meeting was hold an hour earlier than usual. Neither the President nor any member was able, for a time, to give utterance to his feelings. At the suggestion of Mr. Lincoln all dropped on their knees, and offered in silence and in tears their humble and heartfelt acknowledgments to the Almighty for the triumph He had granted to the National cause."

Perhaps Mr. Lincoln's religious faith and simplicity, are the only traits which still remain unappreciated by the American people at large. For ourselves we cannot read his last inaugural address, delivered only five weeks before his assassination, without a renewed conviction that it is the noblest political document known to history, and should have, for the nation and the states- men he left behind him, something of a sacred and almost prophetic authority. Surely none was ever written under a stronger sense of the reality of God's government, and certainly none written in a period of passionate conflict ever so completely excluded the partiality of victorious faction, and breathed so, pure a strain of mingled mercy and justice.