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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2020-09-24 21:40:25
Typefacelarge in Small

His companion in the street car has often wondered since then what Mr. Lincoln thought about during the remainder of his ride that night to the Astor House. The Cooper Institute had, owing to a snowstorm, not been full, and its intelligent, respectable, non-partisan audience had not rung out enthusiastic applause like a concourse of Western auditors magnetised by their own enthusiasm. Had the address—the most carefully prepared, the most elaborately investigated and demonstrated and verified of all the work of his life—been a failure? But in the matter of quality and ability, if not of quantity and enthusiasm, he had never addressed such an audience; and some of the ablest men in the Northern States had expressed their opinion of the address in terms which left no doubt of the highest appreciation. Did Mr. Lincoln regard the address which he had just delivered to a small and critical audience as a success? Did he have the faintest glimmer of the brilliant effect which was to follow? Did he feel the loneliness of the situation—the want of his loyal Illinois adherents? Did his sinking heart infer that he was but a speck of humanity to which the great city would never again give a thought? He was a plain man, an ungainly man; unadorned, apparently uncultivated, showing the awkwardness of self-conscious rusticity. His dress that night before a New York audience was the most unbecoming that a fiend's ingenuity could have devised for a tall, gaunt man—a black frock coat, ill-setting and too short for him in the body, skirt, and arms—a rolling collar, low-down, disclosing his long thin, shrivelled throat uncovered and exposed. No man in all New York appeared that night more simple, more unassuming, more modest, more unpretentious, more conscious of his own defects than Abraham Lincoln; and yet we now know that within his soul there burned the fires of an unbounded ambition, sustained by a self-reliance and self-esteem that bade him fix his gaze upon the very pinnacle of American fame and aspire to it in a time so troubled that its dangers appalled the soul of every American. What were this man's thoughts when he was left alone? Did a faint shadow of the future rest upon his soul? Did he feel in some mysterious way that on that night he had crossed the Rubicon of his life-march—that care and trouble and political discord, and slander and misrepresentation and ridicule and public responsibilities, such as hardly ever before burdened a conscientious soul, coupled with war and defeat and disaster, were to be thenceforth his portion nearly to his life's end, and that his end was to be a bloody act which would appall the world and send a thrill of horror through the hearts of friends and enemies alike, so that when the woeful tidings came the bravest of the Southern brave should burst into tears and cry aloud, "Oh! the unhappy South, the unhappy South!"

"Well, there were a thousand when they started," said Sherman.

We rest in peace where his sad eyes

In March, 1862, Lincoln received the news of the victory won at Pea Ridge, in Arkansas, by Curtis and Sigel, a battle which had lasted three days. The first day was a defeat and our troops were forced back; the fighting of the second resulted in what might be called a drawn battle; but on the third, our army broke its way through the enclosing lines, bringing the heavier loss to the Confederates, and regained its base. This battle was in a sense typical of much of the fighting of the War. It was one of a long series of fights which continued for more than one day. The history of the War presents many instances of battles that lasted two days, three days, four days, and in one case seven days. It was difficult to convince the American soldier, on either side of the line, that he was beaten. The general might lose his head, but the soldiers, in the larger number of cases, went on fighting until, with a new leader or with more intelligent dispositions on the part of the original leader, a first disaster had been repaired. There is no example in modern history of fighting of such stubborn character, or it is fairer to say, there was no example until the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria. The record shows that European armies, when outgeneralled or outmanoeuvred, had the habit of retiring from the field, sometimes in good order, more frequently in a state of demoralisation. The American soldier fought the thing out because he thought the thing out. The patience and persistence of the soldier in the field was characteristic of, and, it may fairly be claimed, was in part due to, the patience and persistence of the great leader in Washington.

Our children shall behold his fame,


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