« PreviousContinue »
wall. The shades of Lincoln and of Garfield could be felt hovering overhead to lead a third into the hall of martyrs. From the lips of the painted Washington on the canvas, standing among his associates in the building of the republic, and from the sculptured Jefferson on his pedestal, one could almost hear the words: “Has our work come to this—thrice the chosen leader of a free people dead by the assassin's hand?"
Out of the air in answer one could almost hear the sublime words which reverberated across a continent when Lincoln fell, from tie lips of one who was destined to follow him: "My countrymen! God reigns, and the government at Washington still lives.”
The casket was lifted from the spot where Lincoln's had rested a generation ago. It was a tragic parallel. Both had been chosen in time of dire distress to lead the nation out of trouble. Both had guided the ship of state through war.
Six months before, vigorous in mind and body, William McKinley had gone to the capitol to take the oath of office for the second time. His progress was marked by cheering thousands, and the star-spangled flag he had ever loved and served shone in the sun on every side.
That route of triumph became a pathway of tears. The people were there, and the flags, but there were signs of sorrow in the white and crimson folds, and tears in the eyes of those who saw him pass. Handkerchiefs, that once waved greeting were pressed to quivering lips to keep back the sound of sobs. The huzzas of March were hushed in September. Where were gladness and gayety were grief and heart-ache now.
Solemnly the funeral line wound past the Treasury building and into the broad sweep of Pennsylvania avenue. The people stood in the rain with heads uncovered, and bowed in sadness as the chieftain passed.
The home of the nation's government awaited the cortege in solemn simplicity. A flag flying at half-mast over the marble entrance was the only sign of mourning. Not a strip of black drapery was in sight, the law decreeing that the government buildings should not be draped in black.
The faint notes of the bugle sounding the approach of the cortege were heard at half-past ten. “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” the funeral anthem of the President, softly drifted in. With slow and solemn tread the casket was borne up the broad terrace of steps, on the shoulders of soldiers and marines, and placed upon the catalfaque directly under the dome.
The representatives of the people ranged themselves about it. Softly a choir sang, "Lead, Kindly Light."
Rev. Dr. Naylor prayed in the name of the whole people. Then a woman's voice, tremulous with tears, sang sweetly: "Some Time We Shall Understand.”
The venerable Bishop Andrews, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, read the scriptural assurances of life beyond the grave. Then, fervently, and from his heart he spoke of the nation's dead chief as follows:
FUNERAL SERMON BY BISHOP ANDREWS AT WASHING
TON, SEPT. 17. Bishops Andrews' patriarchal and kindly appearance, added to the eloquent depth of feeling manifested in every word he spoke, made a profound impression.
Bishop Andrews' sermon was as follows:
“ ‘Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord, who of His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope of the resurrection from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us who are now, by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.'
“The services for the dead are fitly and almost of necessity services of religion and of immortal hope. In the presence of the shroud and the coffin and the narrow home, questions concerning intellectual quality, concerning public station, concerning great achievements, sink into comparative insignificance; and questions concerning character and man's relation to the Lord and Giver of life, even the life eternal, emerge to our view and impress themselves upon us.
SAYS “CHARACTER ABIDES.” “Character abides. We bring nothing into this world; we can carry nothing out. We ourselves depart with all the accumulations of tendency and habit and quality which the years have given to us. We ask, therefore, even at the grave of the illustrious, not altogether what great achievement they had performed and how they had commended themselves to the memory and affection or respect of the world, but chiefly of what sort they were; what the interior nature of the man was; what were his affinities? Were they with the good, the true, the noble ? What his relation to the Infinite Lord of the Universe and to the compassionate Savior of mankind; what his fitness for that great hereafter to which he had passed ?
LOSS OF A BELOVED MAN. “And such great questions come to us with moment, even in the hour when we gather around the bier of those whom we profoundly
respect and eulogize and whom we tenderly love. In the years to come, the days and the months that lie immediately before us, will give full utterance as to the high statesmanship and great achievements of the illustrious man whom we mourn today. The nation already has broken out in its grief and poured its tears, and is still pouring them, over the loss of a beloved man. It is well. But we ask this morning of what sort this man is, so that we may perhaps, knowing the moral and spiritual life that is past, be able to shape the far-withdrawing future. I think we must all concede that nature and training and—reverently be it said —the inspiration of the Almighty conspired to conform a man, admirable in his moral temper and aims.
EMINENTLY GIFTED BY NATURE. “We none of us can doubt, I think, that even by nature he was eminently gifted. The kindly, calm and equitable temperament, the kindly and generous heart, the love of justice and right, and the tendency toward faith and loyalty to unseen powers and authorities—these things must have been with him from his childhood, from his infancy—but upon them supervened the training for which he was always tenderly thankful and of which even this great nation, from sea to sea, continually has taken note.
BORN IN HUMBLE HOME. “It was an humble home in which he was born. Narrow conditions were around him, but faith in God had lifted that lowly roof, according to the statement of some great writer, up to the very heavens and permitted its inmates to behold the things eternal, immortal and divine; and he came under that training.
"It is a beautiful thing that to the end of his life he bent reverently before that mother whose example and teaching and prayer had so fashioned his mind and all his aims.
“He was helpful in all of those beneficences and activities; and from the church to the close of his life he received inspiration that lifted hini above much of the trouble and weakness incident to our human nature, and, blessings be to God, may we say in the last and final hour they enabled him confidently, tenderly to say: 'It is His will, not ours, that will be done.'
OF INCORRUPTIBLE INTEGRITY. “Such influences gave to us William McKinley. And what was he? A man of incorruptible personal and political integrity. I suppose no one ever attempted to approach him in the way of a bribe; and we remember with great felicitation at this time for such an example to ourselves, that when great financial difficulties and perils encompassed him he determined to deliver all he possessed to his creditors; that there should be no challenge of his perfect honesty in the matter. A man of immaculate purity, shall we say? "
HIS ESCUTCHEON UNSTAINED. "No stain was upon his escutcheon; no syllable of suspicion that I ever heard was whispered against his character. He walked in perfect and noble self-control.
“Shall I speak a word next of that which I will hardly advert to? The tenderness of that domestic love which has so often been commented upon? I pass it with only that word. I take it that no words can set forth fully the unfaltering kindness and carefulness and upbearing love which belonged to this great man.
SUCCESS DUE TO MORAL QUALITIES. “And now may I say further that it seemed to me that to whatever we may attribute all the illustriousness of this man all the greatness of his achievements—whatever of that we may attribute to his intellectual character and quality, whatever of it we may attribute to the patient and thorough study which he gave to the various questions thrust upon him for attention, for all his successes as a politician, as a statesman, as a man of this great country, those successes were largely due to the moral qualities of which I have spoken. They drew to him the hearts of men everywhere and particularly of those who best knew him.
CONFIDED TO HIS HONOR. "They believed in him, felt his kindness, confided in his honesty and in his honor. His qualities even associated with him in kindly relations those who were his political opponents. They made it possible for him to enter that land with which he, as one of the soldiers of the Union,. had been in some sort at war and to draw closer the tie that was to bind all the parts in one firmer and indissoluble union. They commanded the confidence of the great body of congress, so that they listened to his plans and accepted kindly and hopefully and trustfully all his declarations. His qualities gave him reputation, not in this land alone, but throughout the world, and made it possible for him to minister in the style in which he has within the last two or three years ministered to the welfare and peace of humankind.
WILL SUCH A MAN DIE ? "It was out of the profound depths of his moral and religious character that came the possibilities of that usefulness which we are all glad