Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

I once

Plain farmers would not only travel life. I wish that I and my church memlong distances to hear him, but they bers were more like him.” would stand for hours under a burning I was very intimate with Mr. Beecher sun, or in a pelting rain, seemingly ob- as long as he lived in Indianapolis. He livious of everything but the speeches was frequently at my house. by which their attention was absorbed. travelled with him on horseback from Nor was his fame as an orator confined Fort Wayne to Indianapolis, when it to Ohio. By his speeches in Congress took full three days to make the trip; he acquired a national reputation. Made stopped with him at the same taverns, upon subjects which have long ceased and slept in the same rooms with him. to be interesting, no one can read them To me he was an open book. If there now without feeling that they place him had been anything wrong about him I in the front rank of American orators. should have discovered it. He was in

capable of disguise, and I never heard a One of the earliest, and in many re- sentiment from him that the strictest spects the pleasantest, of the acquaint- moralist could object to. His vitality ances which I formed in Indiana was was immense ; his jollity at times irthat of Henry Ward Beecher, who in repressible. He was physically very 1839, on the invitation of Samuel Mer- strong. His health was perfect, his rill

, president of the State Bank, and a buoyancy of spirits unflagging. I recolfew other prominent citizens of Indian- lect how he sang and shouted as we rode apolis, left Lawrenceburgh, where he through the woods together-how adhad been preaching for two or three mirably he mimicked preachers who years, to become the first pastor of a New- seemed to think that sanctimonious School Presbyterian church at the capi- countenances and whining tones were tal of the State. There were not more the indications of zealous faith. To Mr. than a dozen members when he took Beecher religion was joyousness—Chrischarge of it, but it grew rapidly in tianity the agency by which men were membership until 1847, when he ac- to be made not only better but happier. cepted a call to Brooklyn.

“Some people,” said he, “think that I Mr. Beecher was not only the most am not solemn enough in the pulpit, popular but the most influential preacher nor staid or reverent enough out of it. that this country has produced. He I wonder what they would think if I did more than any other man to liberal- should act just as I feel !” ize religious sentiment-to lift orthodox Mr. Beecher gave proof of his pluck theology out of the ruts in which it had in his encounters with secessionists and been running from the days of the Puri- sympathizers of the South in Liverpool tans. His sermons

were very rarely and London. It was sometimes tested doctrinal. He was in no respect a the- in a different way. The people of Indiologian. He cared little for creeds. Be- ana before the war, if not pro-slavery in lief with him was a matter of secondary sentiment, were, with few exceptions, importance ; conduct was everything. opposed to all anti-slavery movements, He had a decided taste for horticult- and the negroes who came to the State ure, and one of his most intimate ac were frequently the subjects of barbarquaintances was a man (Aldrich, I think ous treatment. One day there was what his name was) who had a fine nursery was called a negro riot in Indianapolis, and garden near Indianapolis. “I like in which some inoffensive colored peohim," said Mr. Beecher to me one day; ple were driven from their homes and “I like him because he loves flowers as treated with

savage inhumanity.

A I do, and I have a great admiration of leader of the rioters, whose behavior tohim because he is one of the honestest ward these people was especially infamen I have ever met. I have made him mous, was a constable. Mr. Beecher, & study. He is always what he appears upon being informed of his conduct, to be, a perfectly upright man. Noth- denounced it in his usual emphatic ing would induce him to swerve from manner. This came to the ears of the the truth, and yet he is an infidel, a constable, who expressed his determidisbeliever in the Bible and a future nation to hold Mr. Beecher responsible.

“Beecher must take back what he has what might be called finished producsaid about me, or I'll lick him within an tions, but they abounded in eloquent inch of his life.” The next day as Mr. passages and striking illustrations and Beecher was walking leisurely by the original ideas. They were instructive as constable's office, the constable opened well as captivating. No man has ever the door and asked Mr. Beecher to step been heard by so many people ; no man in. The office was near the principal of the present century has expressed hotel of the city, and some young men so many loving thoughts, or touched who had heard of the constable's threats, so many hearts, or influenced so many and happened to be standing on the lives, or done so much to soften theosidewalk, gathered around the door to logical austerities and liberalize religsee, as they said, the fun. The consta- ious sentiment as Henry Ward Beecher. ble was a big, brawny fellow, and as Mr. Beecher entered, he advanced to meet Although I had gone West with the him, and said in a rough voice : "I un- full intention of practising law, and, inderstand, Mr. Beecher, that you said so deed, met with gratifying success in my and so about me,” repeating the offen- early efforts, I was diverted from my sive language. “Did you say that, sir?” profession in 1835, when I was appointed “I don't think I said exactly that, but cashier and manager of the Fort Wayne it was about what I meant to say,” re- Branch of the State Bank of Indiana. plied Mr. Beecher as he looked the con- I liked the business of banking so much stable steadily in the face. “ You're a that I had no disposition to resume the damned liar, sir; and if you weren't a practice of law, and so it happened that preacher I'd lick you like a dog," said when the new Bank of the State of Inthe constable. “Don't mind that; I ask diana was organized, in 1857, I was electno favor on that score,” responded Mr. ed its president. In 1862 I went to Beecher. The constable looked at the Washington to oppose the passage of stoutly built, sturdy man that stood be- the bill to establish a National Banking fore him without flinching, and con- System, which, if it passed, might be cluded that it was safer to threaten than greatly prejudicial to the State Banksto strike. Mr. Beecher listened for a the one of which I was president being moment to the constable’s oaths, then among the largest of them. In March, left the office, saying, as he went out, 1863, I was again in Washington. I “Good-bye, Mr. Constable ; you will feel had left home with my wife, to be absent better when you cool off.” The bystand- for a couple of weeks on a pleasure trip. ers clapped their hands as Mr. Beecher I had been a hard worker without interstepped upon the sidewalk, and it was a mission for nearly a quarter of a cenlong time before the constable heard the tury, and so we decided that we would last of his interview with Mr. Beecher. make a flying visit to the Eastern cities,

What would you have done,” I asked letting no one at home know where letMr. Beecher, “if the constable had at- ters would reach us, in order that we tempted to make good his threats ?” might enjoy a few genuine holidays. “I should have warded off his blows and In the afternoon of the day before we laid him upon his back in no time. I left Washington we went through the knew if I was not stronger that I was Treasury Department. As I had no busiquicker and a better wrestler than he ness to transact, and was not acquainted was, and I was sure that he could not with Secretary Chase, I did not feel at have stood before me for an instant. I liberty to call upon him, but as we should have been sorry to have had a passed by the door of his room I handed contest with such a fellow, but I could my card to his messenger. The next not stand and be whipped,” was Mr. morning we were on our way to BaltiBeecher's reply.

more, where we spent a day very pleasMr. Beecher wrote a great deal, and antly. Thence we went to Philadelphia, usually with great ability ; but it is New York, and Plattsburgh, where we upon his talents and accomplishments were married twenty-five years before, as a preacher that his fame will most and were at home again within the time securely rest.

Few of his sermons were fixed for our return. Here, to my sur

cept it.

prise, I found a number of telegrams, without intolerance. He was strong in some of which had followed me from his convictions and steadfast in his prinplace to place, requesting me to return ciples. Hostile to slavery, and a strict to Washington, and a letter from Mr. constructionist, he was willing to grant Chase, offering to me the position of to the slave power just what was granted Controller of the Currency, and express- by the Constitution, not an iota more. ing an earnest wish that I should ac The movements of the armies, the

I had been forced to admit great battles that were fought with that there was a necessity for a National varying successes on both sides, so abBanking System, and I felt that the sorbed the public attention that comGovernment had a right to any services paratively little interest was felt in the that I might be able to render in the measures that were adopted to provide tremendous_struggle in which it was the means to meet the enormous and engaged. Being in a strait, I did daily increasing demands upon the treaswhat all men who have sensible wives ury. It was the successful general who ought to do when important questions was the recipient of honors, not the are to be considered and acted upon man by whose agency the sinews of war I consulted my wife. The conclusion (money) were supplied, and yet but for was that I should resign the presidency the successful administration of the of the bank and go to Washington to Treasury Department during the war, organize the National Currency Bureau, the Union would have been riven asunwith the understanding, however, that I der. If I were asked to designate the man should remain in Washington no longer whose services next to Mr. Lincoln's were than might be necessary to give the new of the greatest value to the country from banking system a successful start. As March, 1861, to July, 1864, I should unsoon as this conclusion was reached, I hesitatingly name Salmon P. Chase. informed Mr. Chase that I would accept When Mr. Chase was appointed Secrethe office which he had so kindly ten- tary, the public credit was lower than dered to me.

that of any other great nation. The Mr. Chase was one of the most extra- Treasury was empty. The annual exordinary men that our country has pro- penditures had for some years exceeded duced. In 1837 he was pointed out to the revenues. To meet the deficiencies me in the Cincinnati court-house as the shifts were resorted to which, while they rising young lawyer at the bar, which gave present relief to the Treasury, was even then distinguished by the high added to its embarrassment. character of its lawyers. Had he con It is not necessary for me to speak of tinued in the practice he would have the various loans that were negotiated, been the peer of Henry Stansberry in the taxes that were impo , to raise legal accomplishments, and have come the immense sums that were needed in up to the standard of Thomas Ewing, the prosecution of the most expensive the ablest lawyer who has appeared west war that the world has ever known. It of the Alleghanies. His mind was clear is enough for me merely to refer to the and logical, comprehensive in its grasp, extraordinary fact that the people were and certain in its conclusions. He was patient under very burdensome taxesa fine scholar, a master of the English taxes to which they were entirely unactongue. He spoke with ease and dis- customed, taxes direct and indirect, tinctness. He was not what might be taxes upon almost everything that they called a fuent, nor, according to the consumed, taxes which before the war American idea (which is rapidly chang- it would have been considered imposing), an eloquent speaker ; but he had sible to collect; and to the still more few equals in analyzing difficult ques- extraordinary fact that the public credit tions and making abstruse subjects in- steadily improved, notwithstanding the telligible. Inclined to be dogmatic and rapid increase of the public debt, and over bearing, he was, nevertheless, genial was higher when it reached the enorin social intercourse, and at times fasci- mous sum of $2,757,803,686, as it did in nating. In manners he was courtly with- August, 1865, than it was when the out assumption; in opinion tenacious Government did not owe a dollar.

Not alone to Mr. Chase is the honor of legal questions and in the preparadue of the financial success of the Gov- tion of opinions than either of his assoernment in its desperate struggle for the ciates. It was undoubtedly this hard maintenance of its integrity, but a very work and the disappointment of his large share of it certainly belongs to political ambition that shortened his him. It was by his advice that taxes life. were imposed and loans were authorized. Mr. Lincoln's high appreciation of It was by him that the most important Mr. Chase's ability and character was negotiations were accomplished, and it exhibited by his appointing him to be was in accordance with his general fi- Chief Justice. Ho hesitated for some nancial policy that the department was days, while the matter was under conadministered after his resignation. He sideration, to send his name to the Senwas the manager of the finances from ate, under the apprehension that he March, 1861, to July, 1864, and by their might be somewhat rigorous in his judgsuccessful management during that ment of some of the executive acts, and gloomy and momentous period he estab- especially those of the Secretary of War, lished a lasting claim upon the respect if suit should be brought involving quesand gratitude of his countrymen. tions that could only be settled by the

Nothing is so captivating and yet so Supreme Court. Knowing that my redangerous to our public men as the lations with Mr. Chase were intimate, he whisperings of the “siren " exciting as- sent for me one day, and after explaining pirations for the presidency, which are the nature of his fears, asked me what I never realized and which never die. In thought about them. Why, Mr. Presia conversation which I had with Mr. dent," I replied, "you have no reason Chase in 1863, he remarked that there for fears on that score. Mr. Chase is in was only one office which he had heart- the same box with you and Mr. Stanily desired—the office of Chief Justice ton. He favored and advised, as he of the Supreme Court. I dined with has himself informed me, the disperhim a couple of weeks after the coveted sion by force of the Maryland Legishonor had been conferred upon him, lature, and if anything more illegal than and I was pained by discovering that he that has been done, I have not heard of was far from being satisfied. As a Jus- it.” The President did not say that tice of the Supreme Court, he had no that reminded him of a story, but he favors to grant, no patronage to wield. laughed heartily, and the interview was High as the position was, it was not the ended. one to which he had really aspired. To It may be proper for me to remark him it seemed like retirement from pub- here that the personal relations between lic life. There was another thing that Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Chase were never was undoubtedly weighing upon him, cordial. They were about as unlike in although he did not suggest it. He had appearance, in education, in manners, in not been in the active practice of the taste, and in temperament, as two emilaw for twenty years, nor had he been nent men could be. Mr. Chase had reable during that period to devote any ceived a classical education, and until time to legal studies. As an active poli- he entered the political field and became tician, the leader of the anti-slavery party the leader of the anti-slavery party of in Ohio, as Governor, United States Sen- Ohio, he had been a student of general ator, and Secretary of the Treasury, he literature ; in appearance he was imhad been otherwise fully employed; so pressive, in manners stately, in taste that when he went upon the bench he refined, in temperament cold. Although was unfamiliar with the work which he the larger part of his early life was was called upon to perform. He per- passed in the West, he was not “westceived therefore that, unless he shrank ernized.” He cracked no jokes, and he from a proper share of the duties of the had no aptitude for story telling. He Court (and that he was not disposed to did not and could not appreciate those do), he would for a time labor under qualities which brought Mr. Lincoln so great disadvantages. He did have to close to the hearts of the people. Selfwork much harder in the investigation reliant, rapid in conclusions, and prompt in action, he would not, had he been the loyal States. It was, as I have rePresident in the spring of 1861, have marked, like an electric shock to a seemwaited for South Carolina to strike the ingly inanimate body, which, however, first blow: it was therefore fortunate was full of life. It vitalized the dormant that he was not in Mr. Lincoln's place. patriotism of the people, it hushed party

Mr. Lincoln had no educational ad- strife, it united Republicans and Demovantages in his early life. In appear- crats in a common cause—the defence ance he was unprepossessing, in man- of the Union.

Thenceforward many ners ungraceful, in taste unrefined, or who had been the opponents of coercion at least peculiar, but he was warm- were its strongest advocates. Some of hearted and genial. In knowledge of them attained high distinction in the men, in strong common sense, in sound field. judgment, in sagacity, Mr. Lincoln had Throughout his administration Mr. no superior. He was unassuming, pa- Lincoln was wiser than his assailants, tient, hopeful, far-seeing. He was also wiser than his friends. Beside the atone of the

vest of men. In saying tacks of his political enemies, to which this I do not refer to personal courage he was indifferent, he was constantly -in which he was by no means defi- charged by those who claimed to be cient, but to bravery of a higher and friendly with hesitation, when hesitararer kind, bravery which was stead- tion was dangerous. They were, for fast under the criticism of his friends instance, impatient at his tardiness in and the assaults of his enemies. His using his war power to free the slaves, inaction for some weeks after his inau- and they censured him without stint. guration greatly disappointed many of He was troubled by these censures, but his most devoted political adherents, his purposes were not shaken by them. who became fearful that it indicated in- Although one of the mildest of men, he decision;

and the feeling became wide- was unyielding to efforts which were spread that he lacked nerve-one of the made to force him to acts which he conmost essential qualities in a statesman sidered erroneous in themselves, or erwho is called upon to act when danger roneous because untimely. His aim was is imminent and great interests are at to keep abreast with the public sentistake. In these respects he was mis- ment, with which no man was better acjudged. He was anxious to prevent a quainted, and not to go too fast to avoid decided rupture of the relations of the the charge of going too slow. He issued Government with the Southern States, his celebrated Emancipation Proclamaand he was determined, if a rupture tion when he thought the people were should occur, that the administration prepared for it and when the military should not be responsible for it. It was condition of the country seemed to jushis duty to enforce obedience to the tify it. It came at the right time; it Federal authority throughout the Union, breathed the right spirit, and it was but he hoped that this might be accom- hailed with almost universal satisfaction plished in the Southern States without in almost all the loyal States. I a resort to arms. He knew how strong think of the manner in which Mr. Linthe opposition was in the West to what coln fulfilled the most difficult and rewas called coercion, the coercion of sov- sponsible duties which ever devolved ereign States; and he foresaw that if a upon mortal man, of the enormous laconflict should occur, and the govern- bors which he performed, of his faith ment should be regarded as the ag- in the right, his constancy, his hopegressor, it would fail to command hearty fulness, his sagacity, and his patience support in that section, and how impor- under unmerited and bitter criticism, tant it therefore was, if war was to be without feelings of admiration akin to the result of attempts to execute the reverence. law, that the first blow should not be struck by the Government. His wis- When Mr. Chase resigned as Secredom was vindicated by the manner in tary of the Treasury) the eyes of the peowhich the report of the cannonade upon ple turned to Mr. Fessenden as the Fort Sumter was received throughout right man to be his successor.

Mr.

never

« AnkstesnisTęsti »