The Poets' Lincoln
TRIBUTES IN VERSE TO THE MARTYRED PRESIDENT
OSBORN H. OLDROYD
AUTHOR OF "THE ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN" AND EDITOR OF THE "WORDS OF LINCOLN"
With many portraits of Lincoln, illustrations of events in his life, etc.
PUBLISHED BY THE EDITOR AT "THE HOUSE WHERE LINCOLN DIED"
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Copyright 1915, by OSBORN H. OLDROYD
The Editor is most grateful to the various authors who have willingly given their consent to the use of their respective poems in the compilation of this volume. It has been a somewhat difficult problem, not only to select the more appropriate productions, but also to find the names of their authors, for in his Lincoln collection there are many hundreds of poems which have appeared from time to time in magazines, newspapers and other productions, some of which are accompanied by more than one name as author of the same poem. In a number of instances it has been difficult to ascertain the name of the actual owner of the copyright, the poems having been printed in so many forms without the copyright mark attached.
The Editor in particular extends his grateful acknowledgment to the Houghton Mifflin Company for permission to reprint the "Emancipation Group" by John G. Whittier; the "Life Mask" by Richard Watson Gilder; "The Hand of Lincoln" by Clarence Stedman; "Commemoration Ode" by James Russell Lowell, and the "Gettysburg Address" by Bayard Taylor; to Charles Scribner's Sons for two "Lincoln" poems by Richard Henry Stoddard; and to the J. B. Lippincott Company for the poem "Lincoln" by George Henry Boker.
The Editor is also grateful to Dr. Marion Mills Miller for his contribution of the introduction and a poem specially written for the collection, and also for assistance in the editorial work.
No great man has ever been spoken of with such tender expressions of high regard as has been Abraham Lincoln. Especially is this true of the tributes of esteem made by the poets to his memory. It is therefore desirable that these should be preserved for future generations, and at this time, the fiftieth anniversary of his untimely death, it is peculiarly proper that they should be presented to the public.
Although they are chiefly the productions of American authors, quite a number are from the pens of appreciative citizens of other countries. From the thousand of meritorious poems which have been written about Lincoln, the compiler, after serious consideration, has selected those within as appearing to be gems; although there were others which he would have been glad to include if space permitted.
The poems and illustrations are arranged largely in the chronological order of their application to the events in the life of Lincoln. The intense sympathy and warm appreciation portrayed therein for our Martyred President, as well as their artistic merit assure the poems a sacred place in the heart of every patriotic American.
The large number of selected portraits and illustrations of events connected with his life, service, death and burial, with brief sketches of authors of the following poems, also forms a compilation of rich material for all readers of Lincoln literature.
The object in publishing this compilation is to assist in preserving the collection of memorials now contained in the house in which Lincoln died, 516 Tenth Street, Washington, D. C.
The volume will be sent postpaid by the Editor at the above address, upon receipt of its price, $1.00.
OSBORN H. OLDROYD.
Washington, D. C., September twelve, Nineteen hundred and fifteen.
PAGE INTRODUCTION—The Poetic Spirit of Lincoln, by Marion Mills Miller .................................................... v MY CHILDHOOD'S HOME I SEE AGAIN, by Abraham Lincoln .......... vi BUT HERE'S AN OBJECT MORE OF DREAD, by Abraham Lincoln ..... viii OH, WHY SHOULD THE SPIRIT OF MORTAL BE PROUD? By William Knox ..................................................... ix SPEECH AT GETTYSBURG (in verse form), by Abraham Lincoln ... xiii SOLILOQUY OF KING CLAUDIUS, by William Shakespeare ......... xvii LINCOLN, by Julia Ward Howe .................................... 14 THE GREAT OAK, by Bennett Chapple .............................. 15 LINCOLN, by Noah Davis ......................................... 17 THE BIRTH OF LINCOLN, by George W. Crofts ...................... 19 MENDELSSOHN, DARWIN, LINCOLN, by Clarence E. Carr .............. 20 THE NATAL DAY OF LINCOLN, by James Phinney Baxter .............. 22 NANCY HANKS, by Harriet Monroe ................................. 25 LINCOLN THE LABORER, by Richard Henry Stoddard ................. 29 A PEACEFUL LIFE, by James Whitcomb Riley ....................... 31 LEADER OF HIS PEOPLE, by William Wilberforce Newton ............ 32 LINCOLN, by Wilbur Hazelton Smith .............................. 35 LINCOLN IN HIS OFFICE CHAIR, by James Riley .................... 37 THE VOICE OF LINCOLN, by Elizabeth Porter Gould ................ 41 THE THOUGHTS OF LINCOLN, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps ............ 43 ON THE LIFE-MASK OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Richard Watson Gilder ................................................... 45 THE HAND OF LINCOLN, by Edmund Clarence Stedman ................ 47 HONEST ABE OF THE WEST, by Edmund Clarence Stedman ............. 51 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, 1860, by William Henry Burleigh ......... 53 LINCOLN, 1809—FEBRUARY 12, 1909, by Madison Cawein ............ 56 THE MATCHLESS LINCOLN, by Isaac Bassett Choate ................. 59 LINCOLN, by Charlotte Becker ................................... 61 LINCOLN AT SPRINGFIELD, 1861, by Anna Bache .................... 65 LINCOLN CALLED TO THE PRESIDENCY, by Henry Wilson Clendenin ................................................ 70 LINCOLN THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE, by Edwin Markham ................ 74 LINCOLN, by John Vance Cheney .................................. 76 LINCOLN'S CHURCH IN WASHINGTON, by Lyman Whitney Allen ......... 80 SONNET IN 1862, by John James Piatt ............................ 83 LINCOLN, SOLDIER OF CHRIST, in Macmillan's Magazine ............ 85 A CHARACTERIZATION OF LINCOLN, by Hamilton Schuyler ............ 87 THE EMANCIPATION GROUP, by John Greenleaf Whittier ............. 91 THE LIBERATOR, by Theron Brown ................................. 94 TO PRESIDENT LINCOLN, by Edmund Ollier ......................... 96 ON FREEDOM'S SUMMIT, by Charles G. Foltz ....................... 98 ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE DEDICATION OF THE CEMETERY AT GETTYSBURG, by Abraham Lincoln .......................... 100 GETTYSBURG ODE, by Bayard Taylor .............................. 102 LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURAL, by Benjamin Franklin Taylor ....... 104 OH, PATIENT EYES! by Herman Hagedorn .......................... 107 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster ............... 109 THE MAN LINCOLN, by Wilbur Dick Nesbit ........................ 113 THE MASTER, by Edwin Arlington Robinson ....................... 116 LINCOLN, by Harriet Monroe .................................... 119 THE EYES OF LINCOLN, by Walt Mason ............................ 121 HE LEADS US STILL, by Arthur Guiterman ........................ 123 LINCOLN, by S. Weir Mitchell .................................. 125 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by George Alfred Townsend .................... 126 LINCOLN, by Paul Lawrence Dunbar .............................. 128 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Alice Cary ................................ 130 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Rose Terry Cooke .......................... 132 LINCOLN, by Frederick Lucian Hosmer ........................... 134 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Charles Monroe Dickinson .................. 136 SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS! by Robert Leighton ....................... 139 ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOULLY ASSASSINATED, by Tom Taylor ............ 140 THE DEATHBED .................................................. 144 LINCOLN AND STANTON, by Marion Mills Miller ................... 146 THE HOUSE WHERE LINCOLN DIED, by Robert Mackay ................ 151 IN TOKEN OF RESPECT, Translation of Latin Verses .............. 152 ENGLAND'S SORROW, from London Fun ........................... 153 THE FUNERAL HYMN OF LINCOLN, by Phineas Densmore Gurley ....... 155 REST, REST FOR HIM, by Harriet McEwen Kimball ................. 157 THE FUNERAL CAR OF LINCOLN, by Richard Henry Stoddard ......... 159 THE DEATH OF LINCOLN, by William Cullen Bryant ................ 161 ODE, by Henry T. Tuckerman .................................... 163 TOLLING, by Lucy Larcom ....................................... 164 REQUIEM OF LINCOLN, by Richard Storrs Willis .................. 167 REQUIEM, by James Nicoll Johnston ............................. 168 SERVICES IN MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Oliver Wendell Holmes .................................................. 170 SPRINGFIELD'S WELCOME TO LINCOLN, by William Allen ............ 173 LINCOLN, by Lucy Hamilton Hooper .............................. 175 LET THE PRESIDENT SLEEP, by James M. Stewart .................. 179 THE CENOTAPH OF LINCOLN, by James Mackay ...................... 181 DEDICATION POEM, by James Judson Lord ......................... 183 THE GRAVE OF LINCOLN, by Edna Dean Proctor .................... 186 COMMEMORATION ODE, by James Russell Lowell .................... 189 AN HORATIAN ODE, by Richard Henry Stoddard .................... 193 O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! by Walt Whitman ........................ 197 ON THE ASSASSINATION OF LINCOLN, by Henry De Garrs ............ 200 POETICAL TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Emily J. Bugbee ...................................... 201 LINCOLN, 1865, by John Nichol ................................. 204 LINCOLN, by Christopher Pearse Cranch ......................... 206 LINCOLN, by George Henry Boker ................................ 208 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Phoebe Cary ............................... 210 LINCOLN, by Charles Graham Halpin ("Miles O'Reilly") .......... 215 THE MARTYR PRESIDENT .......................................... 219 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by Eugene J. Hall ............................ 220 THE TOMB OF LINCOLN, by Samuel Francis Smith .................. 222 LINCOLN, by John Townsend Trowbridge .......................... 227 HOMAGE DUE TO LINCOLN, by Kinahan Cornwallis .................. 229 THE SCOTLAND STATUE, by David K. Watson ....................... 231 THE UNFINISHED WORK, by Joseph Fulford Folsom ................. 234 ONE OF OUR PRESIDENTS, by Wendell Philips Stafford ............ 236 ON A BRONZE MEDAL OF LINCOLN, by Frank Dempster Sherman ....... 239 THE GLORY THAT SLUMBERED IN THE GRANITE ROCK, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox .................................. 241 THE LINCOLN BOULDER, by Louis Bradford Couch .................. 243 WHEN LINCOLN DIED, by James Arthur Edgerton ................... 247 HAD LINCOLN LIVED, by Amos Russell Wells ...................... 250 LET HIS MONUMENT RISE, by Samuel Green Wheeler Benjamin ....... 253
PAGE PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1864 ....... Frontispiece LINCOLN, from a Bust by Johannes Gelert ........................ iv THE LOG CABIN, Birthplace of Lincoln ........................... 13 LINCOLN BY THE CABIN FIRE ...................................... 16 MENDELSSOHN, DARWIN, LINCOLN ................................... 20 MONUMENT TO THE MOTHER OF LINCOLN .............................. 25 THE RAIL SPLITTER .............................................. 28 THE BOY LINCOLN, by Eastman Johnson ............................ 30 LINCOLN THE LAWYER, from an Ambrotype, 1856 .................... 34 LINCOLN'S OFFICE CHAIR ......................................... 36 LINCOLN AS A CANDIDATE FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR, from an Ambrotype by Gilmer, 1858 ................................ 40 LINCOLN AT THE TIME OF DEBATE WITH DOUGLAS, from an Ambrotype, 1858 ..................................................... 42 THE LINCOLN LIFE-MASK, by Leonard W. Volk ...................... 44 THE HAND OF LINCOLN, a Cast by Leonard W. Volk ................. 46 HON. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY, 1860, painted by Hicks ................................... 49 THE "WIGWAM," Convention Hall in Chicago, 1860 ................. 50 LINCOLN AS CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, from an Ambrotype, 1860 .... 52 "HONEST ABE," Campaign Cartoon of 1860 ......................... 55 LINCOLN AS CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, Photograph by Hesler, Chicago, 1860 ............................................ 58 LINCOLN AS CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, Photograph at Springfield, Ill., 1860 .................................. 60 CABIN OF LINCOLN'S PARENTS, on Goose-Nest Prairie, Ill. ........ 62 LINCOLN HOMESTEAD, Springfield, Ill., 1861 ..................... 64 PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND HIS SECRETARIES, JOHN G. NICOLAY AND JOHN HAY, Photograph at Springfield, Ill., 1861 .......... 67 INDEPENDENCE HALL, PHILADELPHIA ................................ 69 LINCOLN IN 1858, Photograph by S. M. Fassett, Chicago .......... 71 THE CAPITOL, at Second Inauguration of Lincoln ................. 73 THE WHITE HOUSE ................................................ 76 WHERE LINCOLN WORSHIPPED, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C. ........................................ 79 LINCOLN IN 1858, Photograph Owned by Stuart Brown, Springfield, Ill. ........................................ 82 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph Autographed for Miss Speed ....... 84 LINCOLN IN FEBRUARY, 1860, Photograph by Brady ................. 86 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner ....................... 88 EMANCIPATION GROUP, in Park Square, Boston ..................... 90 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1863 ................... 93 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner, 1863 ................. 95 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady ......................... 97 LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG ......................................... 100 PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND HIS SON THOMAS ("TAD") .................. 103 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady ........................ 106 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady ........................ 108 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner, 1864 ................ 112 PRESIDENT LINCOLN AT ANTIETAM ................................. 115 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner, 1864 ................ 118 PRESIDENT-ELECT LINCOLN, Photograph at Springfield, Ill., 1861 .................................................... 120 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1862 .................. 122 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1864 .................. 124 STATUE OF LINCOLN in Hodgenville, Ky.; Adolph A. Weinman, sculptor ................................................ 126 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1864 .................. 128 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner, 1865 ................ 130 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Gardner, 1865 ................ 132 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1865 .................. 134 FORD'S THEATRE, WASHINGTON, D. C. ............................. 138 ABRAHAM LINCOLN, FOULLY ASSASSINATED, Cartoon in London Punch ............................... 140 DEATHBED OF LINCOLN ........................................... 144 ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND EDWIN M. STANTON .......................... 146 DEATH OF LINCOLN .............................................. 149 HOUSE IN WHICH LINCOLN DIED ................................... 150 JOSEPHINE OLDROYD TIEFENTHALER ................................ 150 THE FUNERAL OF LINCOLN, in East Room of White House ........... 154 THE FUNERAL CAR ............................................... 158 CITY HALL, NEW YORK, N. Y. .................................... 162 ROTUNDA, CITY HALL ............................................ 166 ST. JAMES HALL, BUFFALO, N. Y. ................................ 168 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1863 .................. 170 LINCOLN HOMESTEAD, May 4, 1865 ................................ 172 STATE CAPITOL, ILLINOIS, 1865 ................................. 175 PUBLIC VAULT, OAK RIDGE CEMETERY, SPRINGFIELD, ILL. ........... 178 FACADE OF PUBLIC VAULT ........................................ 180 LINCOLN MONUMENT, in Springfield, Ill., Larken G. Mead, Architect ............................................... 182 STATUE OF LINCOLN, Lincoln Park, Washington, D. C., Thomas Ball, sculptor ................................... 188 STATUE OF LINCOLN, by Leonard W. Volk ......................... 192 "THE GOOD GRAY POET" (Walt Whitman) ........................... 196 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Washington, D. C.; Lott Flannery, sculptor ................................................ 199 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Muskegon, Mich.; Charles Niehaus, sculptor ................................................ 203 LINCOLN AND CABINET ("First Reading of Emancipation Proclamation"), Painted by Frank B. Carpenter ........... 206 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Randolph Rogers, sculptor ........................................ 208 PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Photograph by Brady, 1864 .................. 210 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Lincoln Park, Chicago; Augustus Saint Gaudens, sculptor ....................................... 214 TABLET AT PHILADELPHIA ........................................ 218 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Rotunda of Capitol; Vinnie Ream, sculptor ................................................ 222 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Lincoln, Neb.; Daniel Chester French, sculptor ................................................ 226 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Burlington, Wis.; George E. Ganiere, sculptor ................................................ 228 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Edinburgh, Scotland; George E. Bissell, sculptor ................................................ 231 STATUE OF LINCOLN, in Newark, N. J.; Gutzon Borglum, sculptor ................................................ 234 CHILDREN ON THE BORGLUM STATUE ................................ 236 HEAD OF LINCOLN, Bronze Medallion in Commemoration of Lincoln Centenary, Struck for the Grand Army of the Republic .... 238 MARBLE HEAD OF LINCOLN, in Statuary Hall, Capitol; Gutzon Borglum, sculptor ....................................... 240 THE LINCOLN BOULDER, at Nyack, N. Y. .......................... 243 BAS-RELIEF HEAD OF LINCOLN, James W. Tuft, sculptor ........... 246 A STUDY OF LINCOLN, Painting by Blendon Campbell .............. 249 THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL, at Washington, D. C., Henry Bacon, architect ............................................... 252
THE POETIC SPIRIT OF LINCOLN
By MARION MILLS MILLER
(See biographical sketch on page 146)
Some years ago, while editing Henry C. Whitney's "Life of Lincoln" I showed a photograph of the bust of Lincoln by Johannes Gelert, the most intellectual to my mind of all the studies of his face, to a little Italian shoeblack, and asked him if he knew who it was. The boy, evidently prompted by a recent lesson at school, said questioningly, "Whittier?—Longfellow?" I replied, "No, it is Lincoln, the great President." He answered, "Well, he looks like a poet, anyway."
This verified a conclusion to which I had already come: Lincoln, had he lived in a region of greater culture, such as New England, might not have adopted the engrossing pursuits of law and politics, but, as did Whittier, have remained longer on the farm and gradually taken up the calling of letters, composing verse of much the same order as our Yankee bards', and poetry of even higher merit than some produced.
It is not generally known that Lincoln, shortly before he went to Congress, wrote verse of a kind to compare favorably with the early attempts of American poets such as those named. Thus the two poems of his which have been preserved, for his early lampoons on his neighbors have happily been lost, are equal in poetic spirit and metrical art to Whittier's "The Prisoner for Debt," to which they are strikingly similar in melancholic mood.
In 1846, at the age of 37, Lincoln conducted a literary correspondence with a friend, William Johnson by name, of like poetic tastes. In April of this year he wrote the following letter to Johnson:
Tremont, April 18, 1846.
FRIEND JOHNSTON: Your letter, written some six weeks since, was received in due course, and also the paper with the parody. It is true, as suggested it might be, that I have never seen Poe's "Raven"; and I very well know that a parody is almost entirely dependent for its interest upon the reader's acquaintance with the original. Still there is enough in the polecat, self-considered, to afford one several hearty laughs. I think four or five of the last stanzas are decidedly funny, particularly where Jeremiah "scrubbed and washed, and prayed and fasted."
I have not your letter now before me; but, from memory, I think you ask me who is the author of the piece I sent you, and that you do so ask as to indicate a slight suspicion that I myself am the author. Beyond all question, I am not the author. I would give all I am worth, and go in debt, to be able to write so fine a piece as I think that is. Neither do I know who is the author. I met it in a straggling form in a newspaper last summer, and I remember to have seen it once before, about fifteen years ago, and this is all I know about it.
The piece of poetry of my own which I alluded to, I was led to write under the following circumstances. In the fall of 1844, thinking I might aid some to carry the State of Indiana for Mr. Clay, I went into the neighborhood in that State in which I was raised, where my mother and only sister were buried, and from which I had been absent about fifteen years.
That part of the country is, within itself, as unpoetical as any spot of the earth; but still, seeing it and its objects and inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were certainly poetry; though whether my expression of those feelings is poetry is quite another question. When I got to writing, the change of subject divided the thing into four little divisions or cantos, the first only of which I send you now, and may send the others hereafter.
Yours truly, A. LINCOLN.
My childhood's home I see again, And sadden with the view; And still, as memory crowds my brain, There's pleasure in it too.
O Memory! thou midway world 'Twixt earth and paradise, Where things decayed and loved ones lost In dreamy shadows rise,
And, freed from all that's earthly vile, Seem hallowed, pure and bright, Like scenes in some enchanted isle All bathed in liquid light.
As dusky mountains please the eye When twilight chases day; As bugle-notes that, passing by, In distance die away;
As leaving some grand waterfall, We, lingering, list its roar— So memory will hallow all We've known but know no more.
Near twenty years have passed away Since here I bid farewell To woods and fields, and scenes of play, And playmates loved so well.
Where many were, but few remain Of old familiar things; But seeing them to mind again The lost and absent brings.
The friends I left that parting day, How changed, as time has sped! Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray; And half of all are dead.
I hear the loved survivors tell How nought from death could save, Till every sound appears a knell, And every spot a grave.
I range the fields with pensive tread, And pace the hollow rooms, And feel (companion of the dead) I'm living in the tombs.
In September he wrote the following letter:
Springfield, September 6, 1846.
FRIEND JOHNSTON: You remember when I wrote you from Tremont last spring, sending you a little canto of what I called poetry, I promised to bore you with another some time. I now fulfil the promise. The subject of the present one is an insane man; his name is Matthew Gentry. He is three years older than I, and when we were boys we went to school together. He was rather a bright lad, and the son of the rich man of a very poor neighborhood. At the age of nineteen he unaccountably became furiously mad, from which condition he gradually settled down into harmless insanity. When, as I told you in my other letter, I visited my old home in the fall of 1844, I found him still lingering in this wretched condition. In my poetizing mood, I could not forget the impression his case made upon me. Here is the result:
But here's an object more of dread Than aught the grave contains— A human form with reason fled, While wretched life remains.
When terror spread, and neighbors ran Your dangerous strength to bind, And soon, a howling, crazy man, Your limbs were fast confined;
How then you strove and shrieked aloud, Your bones and sinews bared; And fiendish on the gazing crowd With burning eyeballs glared;
And begged and swore, and wept and prayed, With maniac laughter joined; How fearful were these signs displayed By pangs that killed the mind!
And when at length the drear and long Time soothed thy fiercer woes, How plaintively thy mournful song Upon the still night rose!
I've heard it oft as if I dreamed, Far distant, sweet and lone, The funeral dirge it ever seemed Of reason dead and gone.
To drink its strains I've stole away, All stealthily and still, Ere yet the rising god of day Had streaked the eastern hill.
Air held her breath; trees with the spell Seemed sorrowing angels round, Whose swelling tears in dewdrops fell Upon the listening ground.
But this is past, and naught remains That raised thee o'er the brute: Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strains Are like, forever mute.
Now fare thee well! More thou the cause Than subject now of woe. All mental pangs by time's kind laws Hast lost the power to know.
O death! thou awe-inspiring prince That keepst the world in fear, Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence, And leave him lingering here?
If I should ever send another, the subject will be a "Bear Hunt."
Yours as ever, A. LINCOLN.
The poem alluded to in the first letter is undoubtedly "Oh, Why Should the Spirit of Mortal Be Proud?", by William Knox, a Scottish poet, known to fame only by its authorship. It remained the favorite of Lincoln until his death, being frequently alluded to by him in conversation with his friends. Because it so aptly presents Lincoln's own spirit it is here presented in full. During his Presidency he said:
"There is a poem which has been a great favorite with me for years, which was first shown me when a young man by a friend, and which I afterwards saw and cut from a newspaper and learned by heart. I would give a good deal to know who wrote it, but I have never been able to ascertain."
Then, half closing his eyes, he repeated the verses:
OH, WHY SHOULD THE SPIRIT OF MORTAL BE PROUD?
By WILLIAM KNOX.
William Knox was born at Firth, in the parish of Lilliesleaf, in the county of Roxburghshire, on the 17th of August, 1789. From his early youth he composed verses. He merited the attention of Sir Walter Scott, who afforded him pecuniary assistance. He died November 12, 1825, at the age of thirty-six.
Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, The flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, Be scattered around and together be laid; And the young and the old, and the low and the high Shall molder to dust and together shall lie.
The infant a mother attended and loved, The mother that infant's affection who proved, The husband that mother and infant who blest, Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest.
The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye, Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by; And the mem'ry of those who loved her and praised Are alike from the minds of the living erased.
The hand of the king that the scepter hath borne, The brow of the priest that the miter hath worn, The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep, The beggar who wandered in search of his bread, Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven, The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven, The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just, Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes like the flower or the weed That withers away to let others succeed, So the multitude comes, even those we behold, To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same that our fathers have been; We see the same sights our fathers have seen; We drink the same streams, and view the same sun, And run the same course our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think, From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink; To the life we are clinging they also would cling, But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.
They loved, but the story we cannot unfold; They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold; They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come; They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
They died, ay, they died. We things that are now, That walk on the turf that lies over their brow, And make in their dwellings a transient abode, Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, Are mingled together in sunshine and rain: And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge, Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath, From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, From the gilded salon to the bier and the shroud,— Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
"The Last Leaf," by Oliver Wendell Holmes, was also a favorite poem of Lincoln, says Henry C. Whitney, his friend and biographer (in his "Life of Lincoln," Vol. I, page 238):
"Over and over again I have heard him repeat:
The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he has prest In their bloom; And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb.
and tears would come unbidden to his eyes, probably at thought of the grave (his mother's) at Gentryville, or that in the bend of the Sangamo" (of Ann Rutledge, his first love, who died shortly before the time set for their wedding, and whose memory Lincoln ever kept sacred).
While Lincoln, so far as can be ascertained, wrote nothing in verse after 1846, he developed in his speeches a literary style which is poetical in the highest sense of that term. More than all American statesmen his utterances and writings possess that classic quality whose supreme expression is found in Greek literature. This is because Lincoln had an essentially Hellenic mind. First of all the architecture of his thought was that of the Greek masters, who, whether as Phidias they built the Parthenon to crown with harmonious beauty the Acropolis, or as Homer they recorded in swelling narrative from its dramatic beginning the strife of the Achaeans before Troy, or even as Euclid, they developed from postulates the relations of space, had a deep insight into the order in which mother nature was striving to express herself, and a reverent impulse to aid her in bodying forth according to her methods the ideal forms of the cosmos, the world of beauty, no less within the soul of man than without it, which was intended by such help to be realized as a whole in the infinity of time, and in part in the vision of every true workman. In short, Lincoln had a profound sense of the fitness of things, that which Aristotle, the scientific analyst of human thought and the philosopher of its proper expression, called "poetic justice." He strove to make his reasoning processes strictly logical, and to this end carried with him as he rode the legal circuit not law-books, but a copy of Euclid's geometry, and passed his time on the way demonstrating to his drivers the theorems therein proposed. "Demonstrate" he said he considered to be the greatest word in the English language. He constructed every one of his later speeches on the plan of a Euclidean solution. His Cooper Union speech on "Slavery as the Fathers Viewed It," which contributed so largely to his Presidential nomination, was such a demonstration, settling what was thereafter never attempted to be controverted: his contention that the makers of the Constitution merely tolerated property in human flesh and blood as a primitive and passing phase of civilization, and never intended that it should be perpetuated by the charter of the Republic.
So, too, the Gettysburg speech, brief as it is, is the statement of a thesis, the principles upon which the Fathers founded the nation, and of the heroic demonstration of the same by the soldiers fallen on the field, and the addition of a moral corollary of this, the high resolve of the living to prosecute the work until the vision of the Fathers was realized.
In substance of thought and in form of its presentation the speech is as perfect a poem as ever was written, and even in the minor qualities of artistic language—rhythm and cadence, phonetic euphony, rhetorical symbolism, and that subtle reminiscence of a great literary and spiritual inheritance, the Bible, which stands to us as Homer did to the ancients—it excels the finest gem to be found in poetic cabinets from the Greek Anthology downward. Only because it was not written in the typography of verse, with capitalized and paragraphed initial words at the beginning of each thought-group of words, has it failed of recognition as a poem by academic minds. Had Walt Whitman composed the address, and printed it in the above manner, it would now appear in every anthology of poetry published since its date. To convince of this those conventional people who must have an ocular demonstration of form in order to compare the address with accepted examples of poetry, I will dare to incur the condemnation of those who rightly look upon such a departure from Lincoln's own manner of writing the speech as profanation, and present it in the shape of vers libre. For the latter class of readers this, the greatest poem by Lincoln, the greatest, indeed, yet produced in America, may be preferably read in the original form on page 100 of this collection. I trust that these, especially if they are teachers of literature, will pardon, for the sake of others less cultivated in poetic taste, what may appear a duplication here, unnecessary to themselves, of the address.
SPEECH AT GETTYSBURG
By ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Four score and seven years ago Our fathers brought forth on this continent A new nation, Conceived in liberty, And dedicated to the proposition That all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, Testing whether that nation, Or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, Can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field As a final resting-place For those who here gave their lives That that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper That we should do this. But, in a larger sense, We cannot dedicate— We cannot consecrate— We cannot hallow— This ground. The brave men, living and dead, Who struggled here, Have consecrated it far above our poor power To add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember What we say here, But it can never forget What they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, To be dedicated here to the unfinished work Which they who fought here have so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated To the great task remaining before us— That from these honored dead We take increased devotion to that cause For which they gave the last full measure of devotion; That we here highly resolve That these dead shall not have died in vain; That this nation, under God, Shall have a new birth of freedom; And that government of the people, By the people, and for the people Shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln attained this classic perfection of ordered thought, and with it, as an inevitable accompaniment this classic beauty of expression, only by great struggle. He became a poet of the first rank only by virtue of his moral spirit. He was continually correcting deficiencies in his character, which were far greater than is generally received, owing to the tendency of American historians of the tribe of Parson Weems to find by force illustrations of moral heroism in the youth of our great men. Thus Lincoln is represented as a noble lad, who, having allowed a borrowed book to be ruined by rain, went to the owner and offered to "pull fodder" to repay him, which the man ungenerously permitted him to do. The truth is, that the neighbor, to whom the book was a cherished possession, required him to do the work in repayment, and that Lincoln not only did it grudgingly, but afterwards lampooned the man so severely in satiric verse that he was ashamed to show himself at neighborhood gatherings. All the people about Gentryville feared Lincoln's caustic wit, and disliked him for it, although they were greatly impressed with his ability exhibited thereby. Lincoln recognized his moral obliquity, and curbed his propensity for satire, which was a case of that "exercise of natural faculty" which affects all gifted persons. And when he left that region he visited all the neighbors, and asked pardon of those whom he had ridiculed. The true Lincoln is a far better example to boys than the fictitious one, in that he had more unlovely traits at first than the average lad, yet he reformed, with the result that, when he went to new scenes, he speedily became the most popular young man in the neighborhood. He was one of those who
"rise on stepping stones Of their dead selves to higher things."
The reformation of his character by self examination and determination not to make the same mistake again seems to have induced similar effects and methods for their attainment in the case of his intellectual development. Whatever the connection, both regenerations proceeded apace. Lincoln at first was a shallow thinker, accepting without examination the views of others, especially popular statesmen, such as Henry Clay, whose magnetic personality was drawing to himself the high-spirited young men of the West. Some of the political doctrines which Lincoln then adopted he retained to the end, these being on subjects such as taxation and finance whose moral bearing was not apparent, and therefore into which he never inquired closely, for Lincoln's mind could not be profoundly interested in any save a moral question. When he found that a revered statesman was weak upon a crucial moral issue, he repressed his innate tendency to loyalty and rejected him. Thus, after a visit to Henry Clay in Kentucky, when the slavery question was arising to vex the country despite the efforts the aged statesman had made to settle it by the compromise of 1850, Lincoln returned disillusioned, having found that the light he himself possessed on the subject was clearer than that of his old leader. The eulogy which he delivered on the death of Clay, which occurred shortly afterward (in 1852), is the most perfunctory of all his addresses.
Indeed, not till the time of the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1854, which brought Lincoln back into politics by its overthrow of what he regarded as the constitutional exclusion of slavery from the Territories, did he rise to his highest powers as a thinker and speaker. Lincoln had been defeated for reelection to Congress because of his opposition, though not highly moral in character, to the popular Mexican war, and, regarding himself as a political failure, he had devoted himself to law. His most notable speech in the House of Representatives, a well composed satirical arraignment of President Polk for throwing the country into war, had failed utterly of its intended effect, probably because of its trimming partisan tone. In 1854 he was relieved of the trammels of party, the Whigs having gone to smash. Anti-slavery had become a great moral movement, and he was drawn into its current. Almost at once he became its Western leader. His speech against the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise which had been effected by his inveterate antagonist, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, was his first classic achievement in argumentative oratory. While in the greater aspect of artistic composition, the form of the address as a whole, his master was Euclid, in minor points the influence of Shakespeare, of whom Lincoln had become a great reader, was apparent, as indicated by a quotation from the dramatist, and an application to Senator Douglas of the scene of Lady Macbeth trying to wash out the indelible stain upon her hand. Also the Bible was the source of strong and telling phrases and figures of speech. Thus he denominated slavery as "the great Behemoth of danger," and asked, "shall the strong grip of the nation be loosened upon him, to intrust him to the hands of his feeble keepers?"
And, in the following passage, characteristic of the new Lincoln, I think that either Shakespeare and the Bible had combined to inspire him with graphic description of character and moral indignation, or they enforced these native powers.
"Again, you have among you a sneaking individual of the class of native tyrants known as the 'Slave-Dealer'. He watches your necessities, and crawls up to buy your slave at a speculative price. If you cannot help it, you sell to him; but if you can help it, you drive him from your door. You despise him utterly. You do not recognize him as a friend, or even as an honest man. Your children must not play with his; they may rollick freely with the little negroes, but not with the slave-dealer's children. If you are obliged to deal with him you try to get through the job without so much as touching him. It is common with you to join hands with the men you meet, but with the slave-dealer you avoid the ceremony—instinctively shrinking from the snaky contact."
Of Lincoln's critical appreciation of Shakespeare Frank B. Carpenter, the artist of the "First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation" (see illustration on page 206), writes in his "Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln" as follows:
"Presently the conversation turned upon Shakspeare, of whom it is well known Mr. Lincoln was very fond. He once remarked, 'It matters not to me whether Shakspeare be well or ill acted; with him the thought suffices.' Edwin Booth was playing an engagement at this time at Grover's Theatre. He had been announced for the coming evening in his famous part of Hamlet. The President had never witnessed his representation of this character, and he proposed being present. The mention of this play, which I afterward learned had at all times a peculiar charm for Mr. Lincoln's mind, waked up a train of thought I was not prepared for. Said he,—and his words have often returned to me with a sad interest since his own assassination,—'There is one passage of the play of "Hamlet" which is very apt to be slurred over by the actor, or omitted altogether, which seems to me the choicest part of the play. It is the soliloquy of the King, after the murder. It always struck me as one of the finest touches of nature in the world.'
"Then, throwing himself into the very spirit of the scene, he took up the words:—
"'O my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder!—Pray can I not, Though inclination be as sharp as will; My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent; And, like a man to double business bound, I stand in pause where I shall first begin, And both neglect. What if this cursed hand Were thicker than itself with brother's blood? Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy But to confront the visage of offence; And what's in prayer but this twofold force— To be forestalled ere we come to fall, Or pardoned, being down? Then I'll look up; My fault is past. But O what form of prayer Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder?— That cannot be; since I am still possessed Of those effects for which I did the murder,— My crown, my own ambition, and my queen. May one be pardoned and retain the offence? In the corrupted currents of this world, Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice, And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself Buys out the law; but 'tis not so above. There is no shuffling; there the action lies In its true nature; and we ourselves compelled, Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, To give in evidence. What then? What rests? Try what repentance can; what can it not? Yet what can it when one cannot repent? O wretched state! O bosom black as death! O bruised soul that, struggling to be free, Art more engaged! Help, angels, make assay! Bow, stubborn knees! And heart with strings of steel, Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe; All may be well!'
"He repeated this entire passage from memory, with a feeling and appreciation unsurpassed by anything I ever witnessed upon the stage. Remaining in thought for a few moments, he continued:—
"'The opening of the play of "King Richard the Third" seems to me often entirely misapprehended. It is quite common for an actor to come upon the stage, and, in a sophomoric style, to begin with a flourish:—
"'Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York, And all the clouds that lowered upon our house, In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.'
"'Now,' said he, 'this is all wrong. Richard, you remember, had been, and was then plotting the destruction of his brothers, to make room for himself. Outwardly, the most loyal to the newly crowned king, secretly he could scarcely contain his impatience at the obstacles still in the way of his own elevation. He appears upon the stage, just after the crowning of Edward, burning with repressed hate and jealousy. The prologue is the utterance of the most intense bitterness and satire.' Then, unconsciously assuming the character, Mr. Lincoln repeated, also from memory, Richard's soliloquy, rendering it with a degree of force and power that made it seem like a new creation to me. Though familiar with the passage from boyhood, I can truly say that never till that moment had I fully appreciated its spirit. I could not refrain from laying down my palette and brushes, and applauding heartily upon his conclusion, saying, at the same time, half in earnest, that I was not sure but that he had made a mistake in the choice of a profession, considerably, as may be imagined, to his amusement. Mr. Sinclair has since repeatedly said to me that he never heard these choice passages of Shakspeare rendered with more effect by the most famous of modern actors."
Lincoln's sense of the classic phrase seems to have been native with him, for we find it in his earliest utterances. Such a phrase appears in homely proverbial form in his first speech: "My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance." Impaired in rhythm of thought and sound by an awkward, though logical, parenthetical expression, another phrase stands out in a "spread-eagle" passage from his first formal address, that on "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions."
"All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of earth (our own excepted) in its military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years."
And in a eulogy on Washington, Lincoln early achieved a line which in phonetic quality, rhetorical figure and rhythmic cadence is pure poetry, though not of an exceptional order.
"In solemn awe we pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor leave it shining on."
In an article entitled "Lincoln's Literary Experiments," by John G. Nicolay, one of Lincoln's two private secretaries, which was published in the Century Magazine for April, 1894, are reproduced Lincoln's notes of one lyceum lecture on "Niagara Falls," and the text of another on "Discoveries, Inventions and Improvements." These, however, detract, if anything, from Lincoln's reputation as a writer, for in choice of subjects and in style of treatment there is seen an almost discreditable stooping of a man of genius, even in his function of teacher, to the low popular taste of the West at the time. In the first lecture Lincoln presented the statistics of the water power of Niagara Falls for each minute, and led his hearers from this base to the "contemplation of the vast power the sun is constantly exerting in the quiet noiseless operation of lifting water up to be rained down again." Yet at this point he stopped short of his duty as an educator, for he made no suggestion as to the utilization of this power. He was satisfied with giving the people what they had come for—the pleasant excitation of a mental faculty, that of the imagination in its primary form of wonder at the grandeur of the material universe. In short, he was acting as a mere entertainer—as so many of our public men do now at "Chautauquas."
In the second lecture he performed this function in a still more discreditable manner, by catering to the unworthy demand of his hearers for obvious and familiar humorous conceptions to grasp which would cause them no mental exertion. Thus, in speaking of the inventions of the locomotive and telegraph, already old enough for the first inevitable similitudes and jocose remarks about them to be current, he said:
"The iron horse is panting and impatient to carry him (man) everywhere in no time; and the lightning stands ready harnessed to take and bring his tidings in a trifle less than no time."
This reveals Lincoln's taste for the characteristic American humor of exaggeration, which was later to afford him relief from the stress and strain of his duties as President in the works of "Petroleum V. Nasby" and "Artemus Ward," writers, however, with a quaint originality which lifted them and their admirers above the plane of humorous composition and appreciation of the preceding decade. Indeed, Lincoln developed his own power of witty expression to a degree excelling that of the writers he admired, and in quality of product, if not in quantity (for the greater part of the "funny stories" attributed to him, thank heaven, are apocryphal) he stands in the front rank of the American humorists of his generation.
And as the poet and the wit are near akin through this common appeal to the imagination, Lincoln, had he overcome the obsession of melancholy in his nature which was the mood in which he resorted to poetry, and which early limited his taste for it to verse of a sad and reflective kind, might have become a literary craftsman of the order of Holmes, whose poetry in the main was bright and joyous, and, even when he occasionally touched upon such subjects as death, was, as we have seen, informed with inspiring Hellenic beauty rather than depressing Hebraic moralization. It was in his sad moments, says Henry C. Whitney, that the mind of Lincoln "gravitated toward the weird, sombre and mystical. In his normal and tranquil state of mind, 'The Last Leaf,' by Oliver Wendell Holmes, was his favorite" (poem). It was Lincoln's happy lot to rise in the realm of oratory by the power of his poetic spirit higher than any American, save probably Emerson, has done in other fields of literature. On the theme of slavery, where his unerring moral sense had free sway, he became our supreme orator, transcending even Webster in grandeur of thought and beauty of its expression. His periods are not as sonorous as the Olympian New England orator's, but their accents will reach as far and resound even longer by the carrying and sustaining power of the ideas which they express. Indeed, it is on the wings supplied by Lincoln that Webster's most significant conception, that of the nature of the Constitution, is even now borne along, because of the uplifting ideality which Lincoln gave it by more broadly applying it to the nation itself as an examplar and preserver to the world of ideal government.
Webster said: "It is, sir, the people's Constitution, the people's Government; made for the people; made by the people; and answerable to the people."
This he made the thesis for an argument which was to be followed by a magnificent peroration ending with a sentiment, calculated for use as a toast at political banquets, and as a patriotic slogan: "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"
Lincoln with purer taste, the expression of which, be it said to Webster's credit, had been made possible by the acceptance of the earlier statesman's contention, assumed the thesis as placed beyond all controversy, and, making it the exhortation of his speech, gave to it the character of a sacred adjuration: "That we here highly resolve ... that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Another example of Lincoln's ability to improve the composition of another writer is the closing paragraph of his first inaugural address. The President-elect had submitted the manuscript of this most important speech, which would be universally scrutinized to find what policy he would adopt toward the seceded States, to Seward, his chosen Secretary of State, for criticism and suggestion. Mr. Seward approved the argument, but advised the addition of a closing paragraph "to meet and remove prejudice and passion in the South; and despondency in the East." He submitted two paragraphs of his own as alternative models. The second was in that poetic vein which occasionally cropped out in Seward's speeches, and over which Lincoln on better acquaintance was wont good-naturedly to rally him. It is evidence of Lincoln's predilection for poetic language, at least at the close of a speech, that he adopted the latter paragraph. It ran:
"I close. We are not, we must not be, aliens or enemies, but fellow-countrymen and brethren. Although passion has strained our bonds of affection too hardly, they must not, I am sure they will not, be broken. The mystic chords which, proceeding from so many battlefields and so many patriot graves, pass through all the hearts and all hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet again harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation."
Lincoln, by deft touches which reveal a literary taste beyond that of any statesman of his time, indeed beyond that which he himself had yet exhibited, transformed this passage into his peroration. His emendations were largely in the way of excision of unnecessary phrases, resolution of sentences broken in construction into several shorter, more direct ones, and change of general and vague terms in rhetorical figure to concrete and picturesque words. He wrote:
"I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth-stone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
More than the persuasive argument and gentle yet determined spirit of the address, it was the chaste beauty and tender feeling of these closing words which convinced the people that Lincoln measured up to the high mental and moral stature demanded of one who was to be their leader through the most critical period that had arisen in the life of the nation.
The second inaugural address, coming so shortly before the President's death, formed unintentionally his farewell address. It has the spirit and tone of prophecy. The Bible, in thought and expression, was its inspiration. The first two of its three paragraphs ring like a chapter from Isaiah, chief of the poet seers of old. The concluding paragraph is an apostolic benediction such as Paul or John might have delivered.
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations."
* * * * *
THE POETS' LINCOLN
* * * * *
Abraham Lincoln was born on the 12th day of February, 1809, on the Big South Fork of Nolin Creek, in what was then known as Hardin, but is now known as La Rue County, Kentucky, about three miles from Hodgensville.
The above illustration represents the cabin in which he was born, as described by his former neighbors.
Out of that old hut came the mighty man of destiny, the matchless man of the Nineteenth Century. The world has no parallel for that transition from the cabin to the White House.
Julia Ward [Howe] was born in New York City, May 27, 1819. At an early age she wrote plays and poems. In 1843 Miss Ward married Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe. In 1861, while on a visit to the camp near Washington, with Governor John A. Andrew and other friends, Mrs. Howe wrote to the air of "John Brown's Body" the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which has become so popular. She also published several books of poems. She espoused the Woman-Suffrage movement in 1869, and devoted much of her time to the cause. She died in 1910.
This poem was written by Mrs. Howe in her ninetieth year and read by her in Symphony Hall, Boston, on the centenary of the martyred President's birthday, February 12, 1909.
Through the dim pageant of the years A wondrous tracery appears: A cabin of the western wild Shelters in sleep a new born child.
Nor nurse nor parent dear can know The way those infant feet must go, And yet a nation's help and hope Are sealed within that horoscope.
Beyond is toil for daily bread, And thought to noble issues led. And courage, arming for the morn For whose behest this man was born.
A man of homely, rustic ways, Yet he achieves the forum's praise And soon earth's highest meed has won, The seat and sway of Washington.
No throne of honors and delights, Distrustful days and sleepless nights, To struggle, suffer and aspire, Like Israel, led by cloud and fire.
A treacherous shot, a sob of rest, A martyr's palm upon his breast, A welcome from the glorious seat Where blameless souls of heroes meet.
And thrilling, through unmeasured days, A song of gratitude and praise, A cry that all the earth shall heed, To God, who gave him for our need.
THE GREAT OAK
Some men are born, while others seem to grow From out the soil, like towering trees that spread Their strong, broad limbs in shelter overhead When tempest storms, protecting all below.
Lincoln, Great Oak of a Nation's life, Rose from the soil, with all its virgin power Emplanted in him for the fateful hour, When he might save a Nation in its strife.
Noah Davis, born in Haverhill, New Hampshire, September 10, 1818. He was educated at Albion, New York, and in the Seminary at Lima, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1841. Appointed in March, 1857, a justice of the New York Supreme Court. He served in Congress from March 4, 1869, till July 20, 1870, when he resigned, having been appointed by President Grant, U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He resigned that office on Dec. 31, 1872, being elected justice of the New York State Supreme Court. In 1874, he became presiding justice. In January, 1887, he was retired from the bench and resumed practice. He died in New York in 1902.
Almost a hundred years ago, in a lonely hut, Of the dark and bloody ground of wild Kentucky, A child was born to poverty and toil, Save in the sweet prophecy of mother's love None dreamed of future fame for him!
'Mid deep privation and in rugged toil, He grew unschooled to vigorous youth, His teaching was an ancient spelling book, The Holy Writ, "The Pilgrim's Progress," Old "AEsop's Fables" and the "Life of Washington"; And out of these, stretched by the hearthstone flame For lack of other light, he garnered lore That filled his soul with faith in God.
The prophet's fire, the psalmist's music deep, The pilgrims' zeal throughout his steadfast march, The love of fellow man as taught by Christ, And all the patriot faith and truth Marked the Father of our Land! And there, in all his after life, in thought And speech and act, resonant concords were in his great soul.
And, God's elect, he calmly rose to awful power, Restored his mighty land to smiling peace, Then, with the martyr blood of his own life, Baptized the millions of the free.
Henceforth, the ages hold his name high writ And deep on their eternal rolls.
Rev. George W. Crofts was born at Leroy, Illinois, April 9, 1842. He was educated at the Illinois State University at Springfield, graduating in the class of 1864. He was ordained to the ministry in 1865. He preached at Sandwich, Illinois; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Beatrice, Nebraska, and West Point. He died at West Point, May 16, 1909.
THE BIRTH OF LINCOLN
No choir celestial sang at Lincoln's birth, No transient star illumined the midnight sky In honor of some ancient prophecy, No augury was given from heaven or earth.
He blossomed like a flower of wondrous worth, A rare, sweet flower of heaven that ne'er should die, Altho' the vase in which it grew should lie Most rudely rent amid the darkling dearth.
There, in that humble cabin, separate From everything the world regarded great, Where wealth had never pressed its greedy feet, Where honor, pomp or fame found no retreat; E'en there was born beneath the eye of God The noblest man His footstool ever trod.
MENDELSSOHN DARWIN LINCOLN
February 12, 1809
Clarence E. Carr, born in Enfield, New Hampshire, January 31, 1853. Received his early education from the common schools and academies of the State, later from Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1875.
Practiced law, was also a manufacturer and farmer. Was president of the New Hampshire Unitarian Conference, director and vice-president of the American Unitarian Association, bank trustee, president of the United Life and Accident Insurance Company of Concord, New Hampshire, and occasionally a wanderer in the Elysian Fields of the Muses.
The Three Birthday Anniversaries is the subject of a highly appreciative article on the subject of Mendelssohn, Darwin and Lincoln, by President Samuel A. Eliot of the American Unitarian Association, in the Christian Register of February 4, 1909. The central thought therein is thus expressed very beautifully by Mr. Carr.
Three lives this day unto the world were given Into whose souls God breathed the air of heaven,— The first He taught the music of the spheres, The next, of worlds, the story of the years; And, loving, wise, and just beyond our dream, The third a pilot made upon the New World's stream.
Their work is done, but ere they crossed "the portal," One, Song; One, Truth; One, Freedom; Made Immortal!
James Phinney Baxter, born at Gorham Maine, March 23, 1831. Academic education; President of Savings Bank; Mayor of Portland, six terms, 1893-97—1904-5. Organized Associated Charities and was its first President; built and donated to the City of Portland its public library in 1888, and to Gorham in 1907; also conveyed to Gorham his family mansion for use as a Museum. President Portland Public Library, Baxter Library (Gorham), Portland Benevolent Society, Overseer of Bowdoin College, President Maine Historical Society since 1890, Northeast Historical Society since 1899. Author: The Trelawney Papers, 1884; The British Invasion From the North, 1887; Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His Province of Maine, 1890; The Pioneers of New France in New England, 1894; edited ten volumes of Documentary History of Maine, etc.
THE NATAL DAY OF LINCOLN
Son of the Western World! whose heritage Was the vast prairie and the boundless sky; Whose callow thoughts with wings untrammeled sought Free scope for growth denied to Ease and Power, Naught couldst thou know of place or precedent, For Freedom's ichor with thy mother's milk Coursing thy veins, would render thee immune To Fashion's dictate, or prescriptive creed, Leaving thy soul unhindered to expand Like Samuel's in Jehovah's tutelage. Hail to thy Natal day!
Like all great souls with vision unobscured Thou wert by Pride unswayed, and so didst tread The gray and sombre way by Duty marked; Seeking the springs of Wisdom, unallured By shallower sources which the witless tempt. Afar o'er arid plains didst thou behold An empty sky, and mountains desolate Barring thy way to fairer scenes beyond; But faith was thine, and patience measureless, Making thee equal to thy destiny. Hail to thy Natal day!
It summons to our vision all thy life, Of strenuous toil; the cabin low and rude; The meagre fare; the blazing logs whose glow Illumed the pages of inspired bards, Shakespeare and Bunyan; prophets, priests and seers; The darkling forest where thy ringing axe Chimed with the music of the waterfall; The eager flood bearing thy rugged raft Swift footed through an ever changing world Unknown to thee save in remembered dreams. Hail to thy Natal day!
We see thee in the mart where Selfishness For Fame ephemeral strives, and sordid gain; Thy ill-requited toil till thou hadst earned The right to raise thy potent voice within A nation's forum, facing all the world; And then, achievement such as few have known, A mighty people placing in thy hand A sceptre swaying half a continent, Making thee peer of kings and potentates; Aye, greater than them all, whate'er their power. Hail to thy Natal day!
But, lo! the martial camp; the bivouac; The rude entrenchment;—the grim fortalice; The tented field;—the flaming battle line, And thy great soul amidst it all unmoved By petty aims, leading with flawless faith Thy people to a promised land of peace; And, then, when thou hadst reached the goal of hope, And the world stood amazed, the heavy crown Of martyrdom was pressed upon thy brow And thy immortal course was consummate. Hail to thy Natal day!
In all great souls God sows with generous hand The seed of martyrdom, for 'twas decreed In Eden, that alone by sacrifice Should sons of men the crown immortal win; And thou, who didst the shining heights attain Of unsurpassed achievement, didst but pay The impartial toll of souls like thine required. And we, who on the narrow marge of Time Standing wondering, shed no tears, but raise to thee The paeans to a martyred hero due, Hail to thy Natal day.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln died October 5, 1818, aged thirty-five years. The design of this monument is by Thompson Stickle, and it was constructed by J. S. Culver of Springfield, Illinois, and dedicated October 2, 1902.
In the construction of the monument in Spencer County, Indiana, Mr. Culver used as much of the granite as possible from the National Lincoln Monument before it was reconstructed.
The face of this block is handsomely hand-carved. As the Scroll of Time unrolls, it reveals the name of "Nancy Hanks Lincoln." The ivy represents affection and the branch of oak nobility.
The public celebration of the centenary of Lincoln's birth was held in the town of North Adams, Massachusetts, February 12, 1909.
Ex-Senator Thomas F. Cassidy, in his address, said: "One hundred years ago today, in Hardin County, Kentucky, there was ushered into being the child, Abraham Lincoln.
"As God selected Mary, the humble girl of Judea, to be the mother of the Saviour of mankind and she gave birth to Him in the stable at Bethlehem, so it was ordained that in the lowly log cabin of the Kentucky wilderness, Nancy Hanks should receive into the protection of her sheltering arms the child who was destined to be the Saviour of the Republic."
Harriet Monroe, born at Chicago, Illinois, December, 23, 1860. Graduated Visitation Academy, Georgetown, District Columbia, 1879. In December, 1889, was appointed to write text for cantata for opening of Chicago Auditorium in March, 1891. Was requested by Committee on Ceremonies of Chicago Exposition to write a poem for the dedication; her Columbia Ode was read and sung at the dedicatory ceremonies on the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, October 21, 1892. Author of Valerie, and other poems, 1892; The Columbia Ode, 1893; John Wellborn, Poet, A Memoir, 1896; The Passing Show—Modern Plays in Verse, 1903, etc.
Prairie Child, Brief as dew, What winds of wonder Nourished you?
Rolling plain Of billowy green, Fair horizons, Blue, serene.
Lofty skies The slow clouds climb, Where burning stars Beat out the time.
These, and the dreams Of fathers bold, Baffled longings Hopes untold.
Gave to you A heart of fire, Love like waters, Brave desire.
Ah, when youth's rapture Went out in pain, And all seemed over, Was all in vain?
O soul obscure, Whose wings life bound, And soft death folded Under the ground.
Wilding lady, Still and true, Who gave us Lincoln And never knew:
To you at last Our praise, our tears, Love and a song Through the nation's years.
Mother of Lincoln, Our tears, our praise; A battle-flag And the victor's bays!
LINCOLN THE LABORER
From an Horatian Ode by Richard Henry Stoddard
A laboring man with horny hands, Who swung the axe, who tilled the lands, Who shrank from nothing new, But did as poor men do.
One of the people. Born to be Their curious epitome, To share, yet rise above, Their shifting hate and love.
Common his mind, it seemed so then, His thoughts the thoughts of other men, Plain were his words, and poor— But now they will endure.
No hasty fool of stubborn will, But prudent, cautious, still— Who, since his work was good, Would do it as he could.
No hero, this, of Roman mold— Nor like our stately sires of old. Perhaps he was not great— But he preserved the state.
O, honest face, which all men knew, O, tender heart, but known to few— O, wonder of the age, Cut off by tragic rage.
James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana, about 1852. He was engaged in various pursuits until 1875, when he began to contribute verses of poetry to local papers in the Western district which gained wide popularity for him. His published works in dialect and his serious poems have also proved very popular.
A PEACEFUL LIFE
A peaceful life;—just toil and rest— All his desire;— To read the books he liked the best Beside the cabin fire. God's word and man's;—to peer sometimes Above the page, in smoldering gleams, And catch, like far heroic rhymes, The onmarch of his dreams.
A peaceful life;—to hear the low Of pastured herds, Or woodman's axe that, blow on blow, Fell sweet as rhythmic words. And yet there stirred within his breast A faithful pulse, that, like a roll Of drums, made high above his rest A tumult in his soul.
A peaceful life!—They hailed him even As One was hailed Whose open palms were nailed toward Heaven When prayers nor aught availed. And lo, he paid the selfsame price To lull a nation's awful strife And will us, through the sacrifice Of self, his peaceful life.
William Wilberforce Newton, born in Alleghany, Pennsylvania, March, 1836. Was graduated at Franklin and Marshall College in 1853. Studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1867. He served as Captain and Assistant Adjutant General of U. S. Volunteers in 1861-5; was Editor of the Philadelphia Press and President of the "Press" Publishing Co., from 1867 till 1878. He is the author of Vignettes of Travel and has been largely engaged in railway building in Mexico.
LEADER OF HIS PEOPLE
Saw you in his boyhood days O'er Kentucky's prairies; Bending to the settler's ways Yon poor youth whom now we praise— Romance like the fairies? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Saw you in the days of youth By the candle's flaring: Lincoln searching for the truth, Splitting rails to gain, forsooth, Knowledge for the daring? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Saw you in his manhood's prime Like a star resplendent, Him we praise with measured rhyme Waiting for the coming time With a faith transcendent? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Saw you in the hour of strife When fierce war was raging, Him who gave the slaves a life Full and rich with freedom rife, All his powers engaging? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Saw you when the war was done (Such is Lincoln's story) Him whose strength the strife had won Sinking like the setting sun Crowned with human glory? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Saw you in our country's roll Midst her saints and sages, Lincoln's name upon the scroll— Standing at the topmost goal On the nation's pages? Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
Hero! Yes! We know thy fame; It will live forever! Thou to us art still the same; Great the glory of thy name, Great thy strong endeavor! Hero! Hero! Sent from God! Leader of his people.
"The charm which invested the life on the Eighth Circuit in the mind and fancy of Mr. Lincoln yet lingered there, even in the most responsible and glorious days of his administration; over and over again has the great President stolen an hour ... from his life of anxious care to live over again those bygone exhilarating and halcyon days ... with Sweet or me."—Henry C. Whitney in his Life of Lincoln.
Wilbur Hazelton Smith was born in the town of Mansfield, New York, March 28, 1860. His early education was obtained from the district school and he began teaching at the age of sixteen. After completing an academic course he went to Cornell University from which he was graduated with the degree of A.B. in 1885.
He at once became a teacher and after a few years started the first Current Topic paper in the state, The Educator. Later he edited a teachers' paper, The World's Review. Perhaps he is best known as publisher of the Regents' Review Books used in nearly every school in the United States. His death occurred October 19, 1913.
Unlearned in the cant and quip of schools, Uncouth, if only city ways refine; Ungodly, if 'tis creeds that make divine; In station poor, as judged by human rules, And yet a giant towering o'er them all; Clean, strong in mind, just, merciful, sublime; The noblest product of the age and time, Invoked of God in answer to men's call.
O simple world, and will you ever learn, Schools can but guide, they cannot mind create? 'Neath roughest rock the choicest treasures wait; In meanest forms we priceless gems discern; Nor time, nor age, condition, rank nor birth, Can hide the truly noble of the earth.
This chair was used by Mr. Lincoln in his law office at Springfield, Illinois, where, before leaving for the City of Washington after his election as President, he wrote his Inaugural Address and formed his Cabinet, frequently conferring with his twenty-year law partner, William H. Herndon, on such matters, and adopting changes as suggested if he considered them advisable. It was presented to O. H. Oldroyd while living in the Lincoln Homestead, Springfield, by Mr. Herndon, March 18, 1886.
James Riley was born in the hamlet of Tang, one mile from the town of Ballymahon, County Longford, Ireland, and two miles from Lissoy, County Westmeath, the home of Oliver Goldsmith—on the road between the two—August 15, 1848. Published Poems, 1888; Songs of Two Peoples, 1898, and Christy of Rathglin, a novel, in 1907. His poem The American Flag, has been rated often as the best poem written to our banner. Four lines on the loss of the Titanic brought from Captain Rostron words in which he said: "With such praise one feels on a higher plane, and must keep so, to be worthy of continuance."
LINCOLN IN HIS OFFICE CHAIR
High-browed, rugged, and swarthy; A picture of pain and care; A lawyer sat with his greatest brief, High in his office chair.
His Country was to him client! Futurity his ward! And he must plead 'fore Fate's high court, With prayer, and pen, and sword.
Elected, by his people! His heart and theirs, one beat! He sees the storm-clouds gather; The waves dash at his feet!
Gloom upon land and water! The Flag no more in the sun! Lights from the South-line flickering, And—dying—one—by one!
November's winds wild shrieking! Night—closed, on a Union rent! And still the lawyer sat dreaming Of its once bright firmament.
Then, '61! Dark! Silent! Only the calling word Of Anderson at Sumter The lawyer, writing, heard.
Writing the Message that ever Shall live in the hearts of men; With cannon to cannon fronting, The lawyer held the pen.
Only thinking of Country And the work that must be done; Nature made in roughest mold Her favored, fated son.
He wrote while the world was waiting Great Freedom's final test. Should, or should not Democracy Be planted in the West?
Should Liberty at last survive And man look straight on man? Law, in its round, its strength and might Be timed unto sense and plan?
He, in his chair there sitting, Had all these things for thought. Now, the Vote unrecognized, Must battles wild be fought?
Alone the Chair is standing, To remind the Land of the time When the Slaver's heart, all passion, He planned, and pursued his crime!
As he rushed Disunion's order, On, on from State to State! And the Pen talked loud down the Message, And bided the Land to wait.
Elizabeth Porter Gould, born June 8, 1848, died July 28, 1906. Essayist, lecturer and author; an early inspirer of woman's clubs and the pioneer of the Current Events and Topics classes in Boston and vicinity; an officer in several educational societies and honorary member of the Webster Historical Society, Castilian Club and other clubs where she had read many historical papers of great research and given many practical suggestions. Among her published works are Gems From Walt Whitman, Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, Ezekial Cheever, Schoolmaster, John Adams and Daniel Webster as Schoolmasters, A Pioneer Doctor, One's Self I Sing and The Brownings and America. She had great energy and force of character, and a capacity for friendship which was a source of great happiness to her and endeared her to all.
THE VOICE OF LINCOLN
In life's great symphony, Above the seeming discord and the pain, A master-voice is ever singing, singing, The plan of God to men.
In young America's song, As threatening tumult pierced the tensioned air, The voice of Lincoln over all was singing The love of brother-man.
And still his voice is heard; 'Twill pierce the din of strife and mystery, Till master-voices cease their singing, singing, In life's great symphony.
His friends advised Lincoln to press his opponent on the Dred Scott decision (of the United States Supreme Court permitting slavery in the Territories), as Douglas would accept it, but argue for nullifying it by anti-slavery legislation in the territorial assemblies, and this would satisfy the people of Illinois, and elect him Senator. "All right," said Lincoln, "then that kills him in 1860. I am gunning for larger game."
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps was born in Andover, Massachusetts, on August 13, 1844. Educated at Andover. Her literary career began at the age of thirteen with contributions to the newspapers. The earlier years of her life were devoted to Christian labors among the poor families in Andover, but failing health finally prevented her from carrying on her labors along that line, and kept her within her study, but her sympathy was always enlisted in the reformatory questions of the day. The Gates Ajar proved very popular, as did also her many juvenile books. She wrote this poem for the Lincoln Memorial Album in 1882. She died January 29, 1911.
THE THOUGHTS OF LINCOLN
The angels of your thoughts are climbing still The shining ladder of his fame, And have not reached the top, nor ever will, While this low life pronounces his high name.
But yonder, where they dream, or dare, or do, The "good" or "great" beyond our reach, To talk of him must make old language new In heavenly, as it did in human, speech.
Mr. Lincoln was engaged in trying a case in the United States Court at Chicago, Illinois, in April, 1860, and Leonard W. Volk, the sculptor, called upon him and said: "I would like to have you sit to me for your bust." "I will, Mr. Volk," replied Lincoln. This was the first time that Lincoln sat to an artist for the reproduction of his physique in this manner. Previous to this he had posed only for daguerreotypes or for photographs.
Richard Watson Gilder was born in Bordentown, New Jersey, February 8, 1844, and was educated at his father's school. He enlisted in Landis' Philadelphia Battery for the emergency call in the campaign of 1863, when the Confederate forces invaded Pennsylvania. Later he was editor of a number of magazines and upon the death of J. G. Holland he was made associate editor of the Century. At the age of twenty-six he had attained high literary standing. His poems are published in five volumes. He rendered valuable service in tenement-house reform over the country. He died on the 18th day of November, 1909.
ON THE LIFE-MASK OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
This bronze doth keep the very form and mold Of our great martyr's face. Yes, this is he: That brow all wisdom, all benignity; That human, humorous mouth; those cheeks that hold Like some harsh landscape all the summer's gold; That spirit fit for sorrow, as the sea For storms to beat on; the lone agony Those silent, patient lips too well foretold. Yes, this is he who ruled a world of men As might some prophet of the elder day— Brooding above the tempest and the fray With deep-eyed thought and more than mortal ken. A power was his beyond the touch of art Or armed strength—his pure and mighty heart.
The Saturday after the nomination of Mr. Lincoln for President of the United States, the Committee appointed to inform him of the said nomination arrived in Springfield and performed this duty in the evening at his home.
The cast of his hand was made the next morning by Mr. Leonard W. Volk. While the sculptor was making the cast of his left hand, Lincoln called his attention to a scar on his thumb. "You have heard me called the 'rail-splitter' haven't you?" he said, "Well, I used to split rails when I was a young man, and one day, while sharpening a wedge on a log, the axe glanced and nearly took off my thumb."
Edmund Clarence Stedman was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on the 8th of October, 1833. He entered Yale College at the age of sixteen and distinguished himself in Greek and English Composition. He was the editor of several papers in Connecticut and in 1856 removed to New York City—a larger field for his literary abilities. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, Putnam's Monthly, Harper's Magazine and other periodicals. His poems: The Diamond Wedding, How Old John Brown Took Harper's Ferry, The Ballad of Lager-Bier, gave him some reputation. He was war-correspondent for the World during the early campaigns of the Army of the Potomac from the Headquarters of General Irwin McDowell and General B. McClellan. He died in 1908.
THE HAND OF LINCOLN
Look on this cast, and know the hand That bore a nation in its hold; From this mute witness understand What Lincoln was—how large of mold.
The man who sped the woodman's team, And deepest sunk the plowman's share, And pushed the laden raft astream, Of fate before him unaware.
This was the hand that knew to swing The axe—since thus would Freedom train Her son—and made the forest ring, And drove the wedge and toiled amain.
Firm hand that loftier office took, A conscious leader's will obeyed, And, when men sought his word and look, With steadfast might the gathering swayed.
No courtier's, toying with a sword, Nor minstrel's, laid across a lute; Chiefs, uplifted to the Lord When all the kings of earth are mute!
The hand of Anak, sinewed strong, The fingers that on greatness clutch, Yet lo! the marks their lines along Of one who strove and suffered much.
For here in mottled cord and vein I trace the varying chart of years, I know the troubled heart, the strain, The weight of Atlas—and the tears.
Again I see the patient brow That palm erewhile was wont to press; And now 'tis furrowed deep, and now Made smooth with hope and tenderness.
For something of a formless grace This molded outline plays about; A pitying flame, beyond our trace, Breathes like a spirit, in and out—
The love that casts an aureole Round one who, longer to endure, Called mirth to cease his ceaseless dole, Yet kept his nobler purpose sure.
Lo, as I gaze, the statured man, Built up from yon large hand, appears; A type that nature wills to plan But once in all a people's years.
What better than this voiceless cast To tell of such a one as he, Since through its living semblance passed The thought that bade a race be free?
The Republicans of Chicago had erected a huge temporary building for the use of the Convention. The "Wigwam," as it was called, covered a space of 600 feet by 180, and the height was between 50 and 60 feet. The building would hold about 10,000 persons, and was divided into platform, ground-floor and gallery. The stage upon which the delegates and members of the press were seated, held about 1,800 persons; the ground-floor and galleries, about 8,000. A large gallery was reserved for ladies, which was filled every day to overflowing. The Convention met on June 16, 1860.
Edmund Clarence Stedman is the author of this poem, and it was published in the Press and Tribune of Chicago, and in Weekly Illinois State Journal, June 13, 1860. It was sung to the air of the "Star Spangled Banner" throughout the campaign.
HONEST ABE OF THE WEST
O Hark! from the pine-crested hills of old Maine, Where the splendor first falls from the wings of the morning, And away in the West, over river and plain, Rings out the grand anthem of Liberty's warning! From green-rolling prairie it swells to the sea, For the people have risen, victorious and free, They have chosen their leaders, and bravest and best Of them all is Old Abe, Honest Abe of the West!
The spirit that fought for the patriots of old Has swept through the land and aroused us forever; In the pure air of heaven a standard unfold Fit to marshal us on to the sacred endeavor! Proudly the banner of freemen we bear; Noble the hopes that encircle it there! And where battle is thickest we follow the crest Of gallant Old Abe, Honest Abe of the West!
There's a triumph in urging a glorious cause, Though the hosts of the foe for a while may be stronger, Pushing on for just rules and holier laws, Till their lessening columns oppose us no longer. But ours the loud paean of men who have passed Through the struggles of years, and are victors at last; So forward the flag! Leave to Heaven the rest, And trust in Old Abe, Honest Abe of the West!
William Henry Burleigh, born at Woodstock, Connecticut, February 2, 1812. In early manhood became an advocate of reforms then unpopular, and an acceptable lecturer on behalf of temperance and the anti-slavery cause. He removed to Pittsburgh in 1837, where he published the Christian Witness, and afterwards the Temperance Banner. As a writer, speaker, editor, poet, reformer, friend and associate, it was the universal testimony of those who knew him best and esteemed him most truly, that he stood in the forefront of his generation. His poetry, animated by deep love of nature and a profound desire to uphold truth and justice, gives him a place with our first minor poets.
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, 1860
Up again for the conflict! Our banner fling out, And rally around it with song and with shout! Stout of heart, firm of hand, should the gallant boys be, Who bear to the battle the Flag of the Free! Like our fathers, when Liberty called to the strife, They should pledge to her cause fortune, honor, and life! And follow wherever she beckons them on, Till Freedom results in a victory won!
They came from the hillside, they came from the glen— From the streets thronged with traffic and surging with men, From loom and from ledger, from workshop and farm, The fearless of heart, and the mighty of arm. As the mountain-born torrents exultingly leap When their ice-fetters melt, to the breast of the deep; As the winds of the prairie, the waves of the sea, They are coming—are coming—the Sons of the Free!
Our Leader is one who, with conquerless will, Has climbed from the base to the brow of the hill; Undaunted in peril, unwavering in strife, He has fought a good fight in the Battle of Life, And we trust as one who—come woe or come weal, Is as firm as the rock and as true as the steel. Right loyal and brave, with no stain on his breast, Then, hurrah, boys, for honest "Old Abe of the West!"
Madison Cawein was born at Louisville, Kentucky, on the 23rd of March, 1865. Was educated in the city and country schools about Louisville and New Albany, Indiana. Graduated from the Male High School, Louisville, in 1886, and the following year published his first volume, called Blooms of the Berry. Since then he published some thirty-odd volumes of prose and poetry, both in the United States and England. He died in 1915.
LINCOLN, 1809—FEBRUARY 12, 1909
Read for the first time at the Lincoln centenary celebration, Temple Adath Israel, Louisville, Ky.
Yea, this is he, whose name is synonym Of all that's noble, though but lowly born; Who took command upon a stormy morn When few had hope. Although uncouth of limb, Homely of face and gaunt, but never grim, Beautiful he was with that which none may scorn— With love of God and man and things forlorn, And freedom mighty as the soul in him. Large at the helm of state he leans and looms With the grave, kindly look of those who die Doing their duty. Stanch, unswervingly Onward he steers beneath portentous glooms, And overwhelming thunders of the sky, Till, safe in port, he sees a people free.
Safe from the storm; the harbor-lights of Peace Before his eyes; the burden of dark fears Cast from him like a cloak; and in his ears The heart-beat music of a great release; Captain and pilot, back upon the seas, Whose wrath he'd weathered, back he looks with tears, Seeing no shadow of the Death that nears, Stealthy and sure, with sudden agonies. So let him stand, brother to every man, Ready for toil or battle; he who held A Nation's destinies within his hand; Type of our greatness; first American, By whom the hearts of all men are compelled, And with whose name Freedom unites our land.
He needs no praise of us, who wrought so well, Who has the Master's praise; who at his post Stood to the last. Yet, now, from coast to coast, Let memory of him peal like some great bell, Of him as woodsman, workman, let it tell! Of him as lawyer, statesman, without boast! And for what qualities we love him most, And recollections that no time can quell. He needs no praise of us, yet let us praise, Albeit his simple soul we may offend, That liked not praise, being most diffident; Still let us praise him, praise him in such ways As his were, and in words that shall transcend Marble, and outlast any monument.
Isaac Bassett Choate, born at South Otis Field, Maine, July 12, 1833. Bachelor of Arts, Bowdoin College, 1862. Author of Wild Birds and Flowers, 1895; Wells of English, 1892; Obeyed the Camel Driver, 1899; Apollo's Guest, 1907.
By special invitation from the faculty of the Alumni Association of said College he read the following poem at their annual banquet held on the centenary of Lincoln's birth, 1909:
THE MATCHLESS LINCOLN
From out the ranks of common men he rose— Himself of common elements, yet fine— As in a wood of different species grows Above all other trees the lordly pine, Upon whose branches rest the winter snows, Upon whose head warm beams of summer shine; His was the heart to feel the people's woes And his the hand to hold the builder's line; Strong, patient, wise and great, Born ruler of the State.
Among a mountain group one sovereign peak Will tower aloft unto commanding height As if more distant view abroad to seek— First one to hail, last one to speed the light; Those granite sides will snows of winter streak E'en in the summer with their purest white;— Silent, serene, that summit yet will speak Of loftiest grandeur to the enraptured sight; So Lincoln's greatness shone Supreme, unmatched, alone.
Charlotte Becker was born and has always lived in Buffalo, New York. She was educated in private schools and in Europe, and has written poems for Harper's Magazine, The Metropolitan, The American, Life, etc., besides a number of songs which have been set to music by Amy Woodfords-Finden, C. B. Hawley, Whitney Coombs and others.
Gaunt, rough-hewn face, that bore the furrowed signs Of days of conflict, nights of agony, And still could soften to the gentler lines Of one whose tenderness and truth went free Beyond the pale of any small confines To understand and help humanity.
Wise, steadfast mind, that grasped a people's need, Counting nor pain nor sacrifice too great To keep the noble purpose of his creed Strong against all buffeting of Fate, Though no least solace sprang of work or deed For him, since triumph came at last—too late.
Brave, weary heart, that beat uncomforted Beneath its heavy load of grief and care; That tears of blood for every battle shed, Yet called on mirth to help his comrades bear The waiting hours of anguish, and that sped With loyal haste each breath of balm to share.
Only his people's griefs were his; no part Had he within their joy; nor his the toll To know the love that made rebellion start, Spurred hosts unnumbered to a higher goal; That his great soul should cleanse a nation's heart, His martyred heart awake a nation's soul.
The last home of the parents of Lincoln. Built by his father, Thomas, in 1831, near Farmington, Coles Co., Ill. The father died here in 1851 and the step-mother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, in 1869. After Lincoln was elected President in 1860, and before leaving for Washington to be inaugurated, he visited his mother in this cabin for the last time. As he was leaving her, she made a prediction of his tragic death. With arms about his neck, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she declared it was the last time she would ever see him alive, and it proved to be so.
Lincoln once said, "I was told that I never would make a lawyer if I did not understand what 'demonstrate' means. I left my situation in Springfield, went to my father's house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I there found out what demonstrate means."
On Monday, February 11, 1861, Mr. Lincoln and family in company with a party left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, D. C. A light rain mixed with snow was falling at the time which made the occasion a somewhat gloomy one. Mr. Lincoln appeared on the rear platform of the car where he bade farewell to his neighbors in the following address:
"My friends, no one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century. Here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried.
"I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me which is greater, perhaps, than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied.
"I feel that I cannot succeed without the same divine aid which sustained him; and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support, and I hope you, my friends, will pray that I may receive the divine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain. Again, I bid you an affectionate farewell."
Mr. Lincoln thought that there is a time to joke and pray; and if, as his detractors affirm, he joked all the way to Washington, if he did not pray also (as we believe he did, and fervently, too) he at least desired the prayers of others, as the circumstances recorded in the following poem will show. It is from the pen of a lady of Philadelphia, Mrs. Anna Bache.