Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

to attribute to him. And will such a man die? Is it possible that He who created, redeemed, transformed, uplifted, illumined such a man will permit him to fall into oblivion?

“The instincts of morality are in all good men. The divine word of the Scripture leaves us no room for doubt. 'I,' said one whom he trusted, ‘am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die.

NOT LOST TO GOD. "Lost to us, but not to his God. Lost from earth, but entered heaven. Lost from these labors and toils and perils, but entered into the everlasting peace and ever advancing progress. Blessed be God who gives us this hope in the hour of our calamity, and enables us to triumph through Him who hath redeemed us

"If there is a personal immortality before him let us also rejoice that there are an immortality and memory in the hearts of a large and evergrowing people, who through the ages to come, the generations that are yet to be, will look back upon this life, upon its nobility and purity and service to humanity, and thank God for it. The years draw on when his name shall be counted among the illustrious of the earth.

“William of Orange is not dead. Cromwell is not dead. Washington lives in the hearts and lives of his countrymen. Lincoln, with his infinite sorrow, lives to teach us and lead us on. And McKinley shall summon all statesmen and all his countrymen to purer living, nobler aims, sweeter and immortal blessedness."

Again the comforting words and music of "Nearer, My God, to Thee,” arose. Rev. W. H. Chapman pronounced the benediction. Friends in official life took their last look at the dead face, and then the people came.

The rain fell nearly all the afternoon, but the crowds outside were undiminished. From Baltimore and Annapolis, from Harper's Ferry and Cumberland, from Richmond and even from cities farther away, hundreds and thousands had come.

Only about six thousand an hour were permitted to pass through the doors. This went on for five hours, permitting a total of about thirty thousand to pass. Fully as many more were denied when the. doors were closed at six o'clock.

Promptly at six o'clock the naval and military guard took charge of the President's body again. The military escort was re-formed at seven o'clock, and the casket was removed from the capitol to the Pennsylvania railroad station.

A platoon of mounted police cleared the way to the depot, and two troops of cavalry preceded the hearse. No members of the cabinet or representative members of the family were in line, but all officers of the army and navy in the city formed the escort.

Soon after the body of the beloved President was placed in the observation car, members of the cabinet and friends of the family began to arrive. It was almost eight o'clock before Mrs. McKinley left the White House. Her carriage, surrounded by mounted police and followed by the immediate mourners, was driven to the lower end of the station to escape the crowd. Fifteen carriages were required to bring the mourners from the White House.

THE JOURNEY TO CANTON. Leaving Washington, the long, winding train bearing the remains of the martyred President plunged out into the dark night and began its mournful journey.

The curtains of the train were drawn as it pulled out of the station, save only for the observation car, in which the casket lay, guarded by a soldier and a sailor of the republic. That car alone was flooded with light. The countless thousands extending from the station far out into the suburbs of the national capital, waited patiently in the drenching rain to pay their last farewell, thus had an opportunity to catch a last fleeting glimpse of the flag-covered casket as it sped by. Several thousand people on the bridge over the eastern branch of the Potomac, straining for a last look, could be seen by the lights strung along the bridge as the train moved under it.

As the little villages between Washington and Baltimore were passed, the sound of tolling bells came faintly to the heavy-hearted mourners aboard. The lighted death chamber in the rear car was an impressive spectacle; the bier in full view, the soldier with bayoneted gun held at salute and the jack tar, with cutlass drawn, on guard. The light from the car streamed out into the darkness for many a mile.

As the train came out of the long tunnel leading to Baltimore, before reaching Union station, thousands of silent forms could be seen and the dismal tolling of bells could be heard. A clear bugle call sounded a requiem. Hundreds of people had gained access to the train shed, and they gazed sorrowfully at the casket while the locomotives were being shifted. The train, which had arrived at 9:34 D. m., pulled out for the vest a few minutes later.

Canton was ready for the last home-coming of William McKinley. In other days she welcomed him with cheers, waving banners and triumphal marches. Now she was to receive him in sorrow, the streets hung in black and resounding with the wailing notes of a dirge.

At eleven o'clock on the morning of September 18 the chief came home—for the last time. His body was borne at noon through streets black with crape and through lanes of sorrow-stricken people, who made no effort to hide their tears. The whole city seemed to be a house of the dead.

There was but one moment when the silence was broken. It was when the funeral column crept up the street to the beat of the muffled drums. Softly came the strains, once again, of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The thousands of men and women, standing like statues, took up the refrain in tear-broken whispers :

“Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee;
E’en though it be a cross,

That raiseth me."

It was a home-coming that kings might look for when their earthly stars set, and look for in vain.

Out and beyond the muffled drums, the solemn strains of music and love for the dead, every heart went to the lone woman who had been taken from the funeral train, her strength almost gone, and hurried on ahead to the old home.

All the afternoon upon a shrouded catafalque in a corridor of the courthouse lay the body of the chief. For more than seven hours a stream of men, women and children passed the bier. They stepped softly lest their footfalls wake their friend, and tears, unbidden, came to eyes that looked down upon those that were closed in death.

When the doors were finally closed, there was a long line of people still waiting, whose wishes had to be denied.

In accordance with Mrs. McKinley's request, the casket was removed to the house on Market street, where they had spent so many happy hours together, and where the news of his election had first come.

During the morning, at her urgent request, she sat alone for a time beside the casket as it lay in the south parlor of the house. No one sought to lift the veil. The casket was not opened. But she was near the one who had ever cared for her and protected her; near the dead for whom grief had burned into the soul of a country the lessons of manliness and beneficence taught by his life.

The last ceremonies were marked with a dignity and impressiveness that struck dumb the tens of thousands who watched the funeral column make the journey from the home.

From the south parlor of the frame house which had been his home

« PreviousContinue »