[From the Gazette de France, April 28, 1865.]
Another political assassination! The horrible doctrine which found in the old world pupils and adepts has crossed the sea. The New World has nothing to envy in the Old in this respect. There are in Washington, on that ground of liberty, men who, imbued with examples drawn from our saddest annals, take the poinard or revolver and assassinate the heads of a government, simply because they detest it, using words formulated after the fashion of a regular judgment. It is related that the assassin of Mr. Lincoln exclaimed: Sic semper tyrannis! This pretentious phrase, and which indicates a preconceived intention to produce effect, is itself a revelation.
An American of the North or of the South, who had made up his mind to commit so horrible a crime, would never have thought of displaying this theatrical exhibition, and parading a Latin quotation under circumstances so terrible. One sees there a fanatical adept from that school which has made the assassin a political medium, which proclaims the holiness of insurrection, and makes a man the judge of the head of the state, and the executioner under the warrant which he has delivered against him.
These assassins would recoil from a crime against one in their own station of life; but they have no hesitation in attempting the life of a sovereign—of a man who is the representative of a policy. Sic semper tyrannis! exclaimed Booth over the body of his victim. On reading this kind of sentence, which would be ridiculous if it were not odious by the act which it seemed to have inspired, it is easy to understand that in his own mind he thought he was performing the part of a great citizen. It is like an echo of the homage done by Garibaldi at Naples, on the day when he decreed to Agesilas Milano the title of “The Country’s Martyr.” Booth had to speak Latin to make himself recognized in the land of liberty, where he accomplished his crime. He had to speak the language of Brutus to reveal his origin, and to show plainly that he belonged, by the nature of the deed, to the Old World. There is only one feeling throughout all France against this odious assassination, which counts three [Page 120] victims; unfortunately the public conscience is too often moved by events of this nature.
What will be the consequences of the death of Mr. Lincoln, and of that of Mr. Seward? It is necessary to know, first of all, how the Americans interpret this odious act. If, in their anger and excitement, they desire that the responsibility of the abominable deeds of the assassins should, in the general opinion, weigh upon the whole of a valorous and chivalric nation, incalculable evils may be the result. If, on the contrary, taking a more just view of things, they consider that the heinousness of the crime should fall only on the heads of the guilty parties, the death of Mr. Lincoln will not plunge the country into a new civil war, which would not be long before it degenerated into complete anarchy. But will the friends of Mr. Lincoln have sufficient wisdom to render this last homage to the political idea of the President-of the United States? They ought to have, out of respect to the memory even of him whom they so properly lament.