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Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (of 2) by Herndon

With headquarters at Fort Monroe


"Weary with the stories of state, he goes to seek the relaxation of amusement at the theatre; sees the gay crowd as he passes in; is cheered and graciously smiled upon by fair women and brave men; beholds the gorgeous paraphernalia of the stage, the brilliantly lighted scene, the arched ceiling, with its grotesque and inimitable figuring to heighten the effect and make the occasion one of unalloyed pleasure. The hearts of the people beat in unison with his over a redeemed and ransomed land. A pause in the play--a faint pistol shot is heard. No one knows its significance save the hellish few who are in the plot. A wild shriek, such as murder wrings from the heart of woman, follows: the proud form of Mr. Lincoln has sunk in death. The scene is changed to a wild confusion such as no poet can describe, no painter delineate. Well might the murdered have said and oft repeated:

"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 saloon to the bier and the shroud,-- Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?"

[From a speech by Hon. Lawrence Weldon, at a bar-meeting held in the United States Court at Springfield, Ills., in June, 1865.]

LINCOLN AT FORT MONROE.

An interesting recollection of Lincoln comes from the pen of Colonel LeGrand B. Cannon, of New York. One cannot fail to be impressed with the strength of the side-light thrown by these reminiscences on a life as peculiar, in some respects, as it was grand and unique in others:

"It was my great good fortune," relates Colonel Cannon, "to know something of Mr. Lincoln distinct from his official life. Intensely in earnest I entered the service at the opening of the Rebellion as a staff officer in the regular army and was assigned to the Department of Virginia, with headquarters at Fort Monroe. Major-General Wool was in command of the Department, and I was honored by him as his chief of-staff, and enjoyed his entire confidence. It was the only gate open for communication with the rebel government, and General Wool was the agent for such intercourse.

"In the early stages of the war there was a want of harmony between the army and navy about us which seriously embarrassed military operations, resulting in the President and Secretaries Chase and Stanton coming to Fort Monroe to adjust matters. Domestic comforts were limited at headquarters, and the President occupied my room. I was (in accordance with military etiquette) assigned to him as 'Aide-in-Waiting' and Secretary. Although I had frequently met the President as 'Bearer of Dispatches,' I was not a little prejudiced, and a good deal irritated, at the levity which he was charged with indulging in. In grave matters, jesting and frolicking seemed to me shocking, with such vital matters at stake, and I confess to thinking of Nero.

"But all this changed when I came to know him; and I very soon discerned that he had a sad nature; but that, although a terrible burden, his sadness did not originate in his great official responsibilities. I had heard that his home was not pleasant, but did not know that there was more beyond it.


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