Imagens das páginas

possible manner, the inaugural and other addresses of Abraham Lincoln, his proclamations, messages and public letters, indeed all that he has written as President, and you will contribute to the mournful celebrations of the American people your share of lasting value, and of far more impressive eloquence than the most fervent orator could utter."

The publishers acted instantly on the suggestion, and prepared a volume of 297 pages, which was entitled "The Martyr's Monument. It was followed a few weeks or months later by a smaller volume of selections, entitled "President Lincoln Self-Portrayed" compiled by John Malcolm Ludlow, the proceeds of which were used for the freedmen, and this by a well selected group of Lincoln's writings entitled "The President's Words." The title page bears no name of compiler, but it is known that this selection was made and edited by Edward Everett Hale.

These were followed by larger and yet larger collections of the writings of Lincoln until Nicolay and Hay published their supposedly exhaustive work, and other diligent compilers added other and valuable sets of the "complete" writings of Lincoln. All "complete" sets, however, have need to be supplemented.

It must not be supposed that at the time of Lincoln's death the nation held any such view of the beauty of Lincoln's writings as now obtains. His wonderfully lucid and pure style had only begun to impress the mind of the reading public. Even the Gettysburg address came somewhat slowly to recognition. At the time many were disappointed in it. At least one New York paper spoke slightingly of it. The "Patriot and Union" of Harrisburg spoke what many felt:

"The President succeeded on this occasion because he acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of the party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead. We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall de dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of."

They have been repeated, however, and will be repeated and thought of, as long as the English language endures.

Quotations such as this remind us that in the thought of very many, including some members of the committee of invitation, the President

intruded himself upon an occasion where he was unwelcome, and where his appearance was in bad taste, using the occasion with a view to its effect upon the approaching political convention. It was a cruel and unjust judgment, but it colored the impression which not a few editors had when they commented upon Lincoln's immortal address at Gettysburg. To them it was not a masterpiece in language, in oratory and in nobility of sentiment, but a commonplace and vapid performance intended to advertise the fact that Abraham Lincoln was a candidate for reelection.

Perhaps we should count among the books which Lincoln helped to make, the campaign attacks upon him. They were numerous, and are at this day among the most interesting items for collectors.

Perhaps the most dignified and logical of these documents were those issued by "The Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge." This was organized at Delmonico's on February 6, 1864, and was composed of the silk-stockinged opponents of Lincoln. The President was Prof. Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, and among its members were many able and prominent men. "The fanatic is on the

throne," said Prof. Morse in his speech of acceptance of the presidency, and he inveighed against the ursurpation of the throne, or perhaps we should say the conversion of the presidential chair into a throne; and he was nowhere more emphatic than in denouncing those ministers of the gospel who praised Lincoln from the pulpit, and in his rejoicing that there still were in the pulpit of the North some who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

The McClellan Club of Philadelphia issued some documents, though not as many as Prof. Morse's society, attempting to show that the American people were "being reduced to mere serfs to a despot tyrant.

A New York publishing house issued a well written pamphlet showing that Mr. Lincoln was engaged with the Republican party in “a conspiracy to destroy the American Union" and erect a monarchy.

These booklets lie before me as I write, and also others entitled "Shall America Be Ruled by a Monarch or by the People"? "The United States Converted Into a Military Despotism," "Grounds for the Impeachment of the President," "The Trial of Abraham Lincoln by the Great Statesmen of the Republic," a trial which

resulted, in the booklet, in his condemnation for despotism and cruelty and violation of the Constitution, demanding his impeachment, and consigning him to eternal disgrace.

We have no present occasion to dwell upon these documents. America has never had a great man in public life who was not shamefully abused while he was living and almost as shamefully eulogized after he was dead. But our present interest is not political or biographical, but bibliographical; and we mention these matters as things of interest to the book lover. They add very interesting items to the collection of any man who is inclined to seek for them; and they are not without value to those, if there be such among us, who would learn to value our great men while they still are living.

« AnteriorContinuar »