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pressed with many weighty and anxious thoughts. On the day when the news came of his triumph, a strange thing happened to him. Years after, when he had been nominated and elected a second time to the Presidency, he told this story to the writer of
“It was just after my election in 1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great ‘Hurrah, boys!' so that I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau, with a swinging glass upon it”—[and here he got up and placed furniture to illustrate the position]—"and, looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again I saw it a second time-plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off, and in the excitement of the hour forgot all about it—nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened. Later in the day I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when [with a laugh), sure enough, the thing came again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was ‘a sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the
paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”
With his usual good-sense, Lincoln studied this for a while and came to the conclusion that it was an optical illusion caused by a flaw in the mirror. Mrs. Lincoln thought it was “a warning,” and that it signified that her husband would have to be twice President and would not live through his second term. As both of these persons talked with the writer about the matter, and this story was told in an article written by him in Harper's Magazine, in July, 1865, while Mrs. Lincoln was yet alive to see it, the facts are here set down as originally stated.
AFTER THE ELECTION.
The President-Elect and the Office-Seekers-A Policy Demanded
Treason in Buchanan's Cabinet-Organization of the Rebel Confederacy-Alarm in the North—The Star of the West Fired OnA Peace Congress in the Face of War.
IT is difficult for anybody, at this distance of time,
and when all things are at peace throughout the Republic, to realize how great was the burden placed upon Lincoln by his election to the Presidency. There were two great troubles-the office-seekers and the impending war.
The first of these, of course, was the smaller, but it was none the less a grievous trial. For, in addition to the strain that it brought upon his patience, it interfered very seriously with his attempt to think over the greater and far more trying questions that must soon be settled. Lincoln was good-natured, patient, kind, desirous of doing whatever was asked of him, in reason. It was always irksome for him to refuse a favor, even when the petitioner was not altogether reasonable or deserving. He disliked to refer applicants to others, his subordinates. He never turned a deaf ear to any petitioner, however humble, however importunate. It was truly said of him that his patience was almost infinite. It is easy to see, therefore, how difficult it
was for his immediate friends to protect him from the incursions of curiosity-seeking and office-seeking visitors, then and afterwards.
But, with all his good-humored and cheerful manner towards those who came, it soon became evident that he did not intend to promise places as readily as a spendthrift, newly come into an inheritance, might spread abroad his gold. He was sublimely wise in his treatment of all who came to him, listening to their claims” (for all had these) and always manifesting the native kindness that distinguished him. But men who had been on familiar terms with him, who had met him “riding the circuit,” had listened to his unfailing good stories, had done his party real service in the late fight, or had been friendly neighbors, soon learned that these were not sufficient to extort from him the promise of a good office when he should be in the place where offices were to be given out. He manifested his generosity towards his opponents by sketching out a programme that included in the office-holders of his administration many who hac opposed the Republican party in its very latest canvass. He would have, if possible, one or two Southern men of prominence in his Cabinet; and he would not disturb many, then in office, who had proved themselves honest, faithful, and competent public servants. When this outline of policy was disclosed, some of his friends were not only disappointed, but irritated. Not that they wanted offices for themselves or their associates, but it was contrary to the policy and the practice of the time and of all who had occupied the Presiden
tial office in recent years. Nobody had then even suggested that variety of reform that was afterwards known as the Civil-Service Reform. A Democratic Secretary of State, William L. Marcy, had invented the taking phrase, “To the victors belong the spoils,” and Democratic Presidents, from Andrew Jackson down, had rigidly enforced the doctrine taught by that maxim. President Buchanan had been unusually severe in his treatment of office-holders who differed with him and his administration in matters of political policy. During the time when the schism in the Democratic party was widening the breach between “Lecompton Democrats" and "Anti-Lecompton Democrats,” Buchanan and his secretaries had made strict inquisition among all office-holders for those who espoused the cause of Douglas and those who represented what was loosely called Douglas Democracy. In California, for example, David C. Broderick, an Anti-Lecompton Democrat, and a friend of Douglas, had been elected to the United States Senate. The other Senator from that State was William M. Gwin, a Southerner by birth and devoted to the slave-holding interest. All the official patronage of the State was handed over to Gwin, and the recommendations to office by Broderick were treated with contemptuous indifference. In course of time, so furious were the Lecompton Democrats against their opponents within the Democratic party, Broderick was inveigled into a duel by the friends of the Buchanan administration, and was cruelly killed by a judge, who, when the war broke out, became an officer in the Rebel army.