[From the Epoque, April 28, 1865.]
Yesterday, in the first moment of stupor, we would almost doubt the news; to-day there is no possible room for doubt. The President of the United States has been assassinated, and Abraham Lincoln is dead. After five years of constant and persevering efforts in the cause of the Union, he has fallen at the very moment of his triumph. The restorer of the American country—the destroyer of slavery—has paid for his victory with his blood. His life revealed the virtues of the citizen—virtues claimed by the government of a republic—and his death makes him one of the greatest men of his time.
(Here follows an account of the life and public services of Mr. Lincoln.)
This is not the moment to revert to the severance which followed his election—to that four years’ struggle from which, thanks to the perseverance of Lincoln, the north has just come out a conqueror—and which is a signal proof that patience and integrity, united to a firm and settled conviction, are, in a free country, the three instruments of victory. The north was convinced of it, for it re-elected Lincoln President, and the first year of this new presidency was signalized by the final triumph of the federation.
The honor of Lincoln is not only that he conquered, but that he conquered without ever departing from the republican forms, without one single infraction of the laws of his country. When every temptation was offered to him—when certain violent measures even were demanded by the situation—he still thought he could do without them, and, in fact, he did know how to dispense with every measure of a dictatorial character. He took his stand upon legality, and never lent himself to an exceptional or arbitrary act.
In a word, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer—he was the living law. To say this of a man who has ruled over a republic, and who has governed it in the midst of a crisis such as that which has just passed over the United States, is to give him the highest praise that can be accorded to a powerful citizen in a free country.
Such is the man who has just perished. Just and firm in his government, simple and almost patriarchal in his private life, always moderate and loyal, he has been struck down at the moment when, having re-established the Union by his energy, he was cementing it by his clemency. He will be admired and recorded in history as the restorer of the Union, and will be likened to that great man by whom it was founded.
When his assassin took flight he is said to have exclaimed, “Sic semper tyrannis!” God grant that the American government may never have any other but such tyrants as he.