Friday, February 24, 2017

President Lincoln's assassination

Since the day when Henry IV. was stabbed by Ravaillac, a fouler, or more detestable, or more deplorable event than the assassination of President Lincoln was never committed in this world.  The loss itself is unspeakably great, not only to the United States, but to ourselves.  For four years Mr. Lincoln discharged the most difficult duties which could fall to the lot of a human being, not indeed in a way to strike the imagination of those who care for mere external show, but with a degree of substantial judgment and good sense which it would be almost impossible to over-rate.  He was our best friend.  He never lent himself to the purposes of that foolish and wicked minority which tried to set enmity between America and England.  It would be hard to show that he made one false step in the management of the great trust committed to him.  He is gone and is to be succeeded by Mr. Andrew Johnson, who for the next four years will be the greatest potentate in the world, except perhaps the Czar.  It is impossible to estimate, it is not even easy to exaggerate, the calamity.

In the absence of all details on this subject, it is idle to guess at the authors of this execrable crime.  The act, indeed, is so hideous and so pernicious to the interests of the North, the South, and Europe at large, that the author of it must either be a madman or a devil.  If there is the least reason to suspect the Southern leaders of any sort of complicity with this awful wickedness, it will damn their cause for ever, and justify the harshest things said against them.  We may hope and believe, for the honour of human nature, that it is the act of one individual wretch, who had not the sense or calmness to guess at the full extent of the consequences of the act which he did.

The attack on Mr. Seward makes the matter even more surprising and horrible.  His position was not so important as Mr. Lincoln’s, nor had he personally the same claims on our sympathy; but in the presence of assassination all other feelings are hushed.  We can only hope earnestly that he may recover, and declare that whoever has been connected, directly or indirectly, with these crimes, has done what may cost thousands of lives and involve millions in misery.  He or they will occupy for many an age the first place in the calendar of criminals against the whole human race.

Pall Mall Gazette, April 26, 1865.

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