Page images

inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are 5 desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendment, I fully recognize the full authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself, and I should,

under existing circumstances, favor, rather than oppose, a fair op10 portunity being afforded to the people to act upon it.

I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propo

sitions originated by others not especially chosen for the purpose, 15 and which might not be precisely such as they would wish either

to accept or refuse. I understand that a proposed amendment to the Constitution (which amendment, however, I have never seen) has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall

never interfere with the domestic institutions of states, including 20 that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my

I purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix the terms for the separation of the states. The people themselves, also, can do this if they choose, but the Executive, as such, has nothing to do with it.

His duty is to administer the present government as it came into 30 his hands, and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences is either party without faith of being in

the right?. If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with His eternal 35 truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the

South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people. By the frame of the Government under which we live, this same people have wisely

given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have 40 with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their

own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme wickedness


or folly, can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. 5

If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.

Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and on the sensitive point, the laws of your own fram10 ing under it; while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either.

If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there is still no single reason for precipitate ac

tion. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance 15 on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulties.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of the civil war. The Government will not assail you.

You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have a most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend” it.

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We 25 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 battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this

broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again 30 touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.




NOVEMBER 15, 1863

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon 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 5 nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield 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 can1o not dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our 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 15 dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here

have thus far 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 20 resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this na

tion, 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.



In his day Washington Irving enjoyed a greater popularity than any other American writer, and he was the first, and for some time the only American who had a reputation in Europe as a man of letters.

He was the youngest son of William Irving, a Scotchman and a descendant of the Covenanters, and was born on William Street in New York City, April 3, 1783. His mother named him for the first President of the United States, whose seat of government was then in New York.

Irving's education was as good as the schools of those days afforded, but was confined chiefly to Latin, English and music, and was finished when he was sixteen. He read much more than most boys, however, especially Romance, for which he had a great fondness. The Arabian Nights and Robinson Crusoe were his particular favorites, and many a time he stole away to the theatre in John Street, whose forbidden pleasures were very sweet, in spite of the disfavor with which his stern father regarded them.

In 1802, the young man became a law clerk in the office of Josiah Ogden Hoffman, but he managed to relieve his studies, which were not very congenial, by reading many delightful books and taking rambling journeys along the Hudson River through the Catskill Mountains and the quiet regions of Sleepy Hollow. These trips were for health as well as for pleasure, for Irving was always delicate.

About this time, too, he made his first literary venture in the form of essays in imitation of the Spectator and the Tatler, written over the signature of Jonathan Oldstyle, and contributed to the Morning Chronicle, a paper recently established by his brother, Peter Irving.

Irving's health continued to decline, and in 1804 his brothers determined to send him abroad. This first experience of Europe was wonderfully varied and pleasant. He spent six weeks in Bordeaux, explored Sicily, lingered along the shores of the beautiful Mediterranean, and visited Geneva and Rome, where he was mistaken for a relative of General Washington. !

He returned to America with restored health and entered the bar, but he soon abandoned the law, and with his brother William and James K. Paulding, published a small periodical called Salmagundi, which was full of humor and a great success. Two years later appeared the History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker, which was begun in collaboration with Peter Irving, who, however, sailed for Europe after the five introductory chapters were finished. The book is a true masterpiece of humor and became famous at once. This was partly due, no doubt, to the skilful advertisements, which announced in the newspapers that “a small, elderly gentleman, dressed in an old black coat and cocked hat, by the name of Knickerbocker,” had disappeared from his lodgings without paying his bill, but had left behind him a curious manuscript-book which would be published to pay his creditors if he did not return. Indeed, so cleverly were these announcements made that one of the city officials was on che point of offering a reward for the discovery of the defaulting Diedrich.

Just before the book was finished, Irving's life was changed and saddened by the death of Matilda Hoffman, the beautiful girl whom he was to have married. The blow was one from which he never recovered and he remained single all his life.

The next year he became a partner in the commercial firm of his brothers and did various literary work, principally for the Analectic Magazine of Philadelphia. In 1814, he became military secretary to Governor Tompkins, but after four months gave up the position and sailed again for Europe.

In 1818, the business house failed, and Irving went to London, resolved to repay with his pen all the kindness which his brothers had shown to him. Yet, even then, he refused a liberal offer to contribute to the London Quarterly, “because,” he says, “it has always been sɔ hostile to my country, I cannot draw a pen in its service.”

In 1819, the first installment of the Sketch Book appeared in America and proved such a great success that Irving offered it to Murray for publication. He at first refused, but afterward was induced by Scott to buy the manuscript for two hundred pounds.

The story of the Saracens had a great fascination for him, and he spent many delightful weeks in southern Spain, revelling in the warm sunshine of that fragrant and lovely land, and lingering amid the faded splendors of the Alhambra. To this journey we owe the Chronicles of the Conquest of Granada, and the Alhambra.

Irving was recalled to England by his appointment as secretary of the legation in London, and while in that position wrote the Companions of Columbus, and received the degree of LL.D. from Oxford University.

Irving had now been abroad for seventeen years, and his longing to see his native country once more became so great that he resigned his secretary ship and sailed for America in 1832. He was no less surprised at the warmth of his welcome than at the immense development of his country. The latter was so astonishing to him that he made a journey through the West and became greatly interested in the Indians. But he was tired of a wandering life and wished greatly for a home; so he purchased Sunnyside, a farm with a quaint, Dutch stone cottage near Tarrytown, one of the loveliest spots on the Hudson. Here he gathered his nieces about him and lived very quietly and happily, although he was as busy as ever.

In 1842, Irving again went abroad, this time as minister to Spain. He returned four years later and wrote the Life of Mahomet and the Life of Washington. These last years of his life were serene and happy, full of that cheerful contentment that was so characteristic of him. He died on the 28th of November, 1859, just as the sun was sinking at the close of a beautiful day of the Indian summer, and his grave looks over the quiet loneliness of Sleepy Hollow and the winding Hudson.

« PreviousContinue »