[From the Journal des Debats, May 8, 1865.]
The grief and horror caused by the murder of Lincoln cannot but be more deeply felt when we think of the touching and truly religious language in which, a month before his death, this good man thanked his fellow-citizens for his re-election. Lincoln felt nothing of the intoxication of triumph; victory inspired him with no other feeling than the satisfaction arising from the consciousness of duty having been performed and justice satisfied. On taking possession for the second time of the supreme magistracy of the republic he said: “Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, and each invoke His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, in the Providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every droop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’ “These were nearly the last words—the novissima verba of Abraham Lincoln—and man may meet his God with calmness when a violent death snatches him from this world with sentiments like these.