Before calling the attention of the commission to the next evidence of importance against Mrs. Surratt, we desire to refresh the recollection of the court as to the time and manner, and by whom, according to the testimony of Lloyd, the carbines were first brought to his (Lloyd's) house.
From the official record the following is taken:—
Question.—Will you state whether or not some five or six weeks before the assassination of the President, any or all of these men about whom I have inquired came to your house?
Answer.—They were there.
Q.—All three together?
A.—Yes; John H. Surratt, Herold, and Atzerodt were there together.
Q.—What did they bring to your house, and what did they do there?
A.—When they drove up there in the morning, John H. Surratt and Atzerodt came first; they went from my house and went toward T. B., a post office kept about five miles below there. They had not been gone more than half an hour when they returned with Herold; then the three were together—Herold, Surratt, and Atzerodt.
Q.—What did they bring to your house?
A.—I saw nothing until they all three came into the bar-room, I noticed one of the buggies—the one I supposed Herold was driving or went down in—standing at the front gate. All three of them, when they came into the bar-room, drank, I think, and then John Surratt called me into the front parlor, and on the sofa were two carbines, with ammunition. I think he told me they were carbines.
Q,—Anything besides the carbines and ammunition?
A,—There was also a rope and a monkey-wrench.
Q.—How long a rope?
A.—I cannot tell. It was a coil—a right smart bundle—probably sixteen to twenty feet.
Q.—Were those articles left at your house?
A.—Yes, sir; Surratt asked me to take care of them, to conceal the carbines. I told him that there was no place to conceal them, and I did not wish to keep such things in the house.
Q.—You say that he asked you to conceal those articles for him?
A.—Yes, sir; he asked me to conceal them. I told him there was no place to conceal them. He then carried me into a room that I had never been in, which was just immediately above the store room, as it were, in the back building of the house. I had never been in that room previous to that time. He showed me where I could put them, underneath the joists of the house—the joists of the second floor of the main building. This little unfinished room will admit of anything between the joists.
Q.—Were they put in that place?
A.—They were put in there according to his directions.
Q.—Were they concealed in that condition?
A.—Yes, sir: I put them in there. I stated to Colonel Wells through mistake that Surratt put them there; but I put them in there myself, I carried the arms up myself.
Q.—How much ammunition was there?
A.—One cartridge box.
Q.—For what purpose, and for how long, did he ask you to keep these articles?
A.—I am very positive that he said that he would call for them in a few days. He said that he just wanted them to stay for a few days and he would call for them.
It also appears in evidence against Mrs. Surratt, if the testimony is to be relied on, that on the Tuesday previous to the murder of the President, the eleventh of April, she met John M. Lloyd, a witness for the prosecution, at Uniontown, when, the following took place:—
Question by the judge advocate:—Did she say anything to you in regard to those carbines?
Answer.—When she first broached the subject to me, I did not know what she had reference to; then she came out plainer, and I am quite positive she asked me about the "shooting irons." I am quite positive about that, but not altogether positive. I think she named "shooting irons" or something to call my attention to those things, for I had almost forgot about their being there. I told her that they were hid away far back—that I was afraid that the house would be searched, and they were shoved far back. She told me to get them out ready; they would be wanted soon.
Q.—Was her question to you first, whether they were still there, or what was it?
A.—Really, I cannot recollect the first question she put to me. I could not do it to save my life.
On the afternoon of the fourteenth of April, at about half-past five Lloyd again met Mrs. Surratt, at Surrattsville, at which time, according to his version, she met him by the woodpile near the house and told him to have those shooting irons ready that night as there would be some parties calling for them, and that she gave him something wrapped in a piece of paper, and asked him to get two bottles of whisky ready also. This mesage to Mr. Lloyd is the second item of importance against Mrs. Surratt, and in support of the specification against her. The third and last fact that makes against her in the minds of the court is the one narrated by Major H. W. Smith, a witness for the prosecution, who states that while at the house of Mrs. Surratt, on the night of the seventeenth of April, assisting in making arrest of its inmates, the prisoner, Payne, came in. He (Smith) stepped to the door of the parlor and said, "Mrs. Surratt, will you step here a minute?" As Mrs. Surratt came forward, he asked her this question, "Do you know this man?" She replied, quoting the witness's language, "Before God, sir, I do not know this man, and I have never seen him." An addition to this is found in the testimony of the same witness, as he was drawn out by the judge advocate. The witness repeats the language of Mrs. Surratt, "Before God, sir, I do not know this man, and I have never seen him, and did not hire him to dig a gutter for me." The fact of the photographs and card of the State arms of Virginia have ceased to be of the slightest importance, since the explanations given in evidence concerning them, and need not be alluded to. If there is any doubt as to whom they all belonged, reference to the testimony of Misses Surratt and Fitzpatrick will settle it.
These three circumstances constitute the part played by the accused, Mary E. Surratt, in this great conspiracy. They are the acts she has done. They are all that two months of patient and unwearying investigation, and the most thorough search for evidence that was probably ever made, have been able to develop against her. The acquaintance with Booth, the message to Lloyd, the nonrecognition of Payne, constitute the sum total of her receiving, entertaining, harboring and concealing, aiding and assisting those named as conspirators and their confederates, with knowledge of the murderous and traitorous conspiracy; and with intent to aid, abet, and assist them in the execution thereof, and in escaping from justice. The acts she has done, in and of themselves are perfectly innocent. Of themselves they constitute no crime. They are what you or I or any of us might have done. She received and entertained Booth, the assassin, and so did a hundred others. She may have delivered a message to Lloyd—so have a hundred others. She might have said she did not know Payne—and who within the sound of my voice can say they know him now? They are ordinary and commonplace transactions, such as occur every day and to almost everybody. But as all the case against her must consist in the guilty intent that will be attempted to be connected with these facts, we now propose to show that they are not so clearly proven as to free them from great doubt, and, therefore, we will inquire:—
2. How are these acts proven? Solely by the testimony of Louis J. Weichmann and John M. Lloyd. Here let us state that we have no malice toward either of them, but if in the analysis of their evidence we should seem to be severe, it is that error and duplicity may be exposed and innocence protected.
We may start out with the proposition that a body of men banded together for the consummation of an unlawful act against the government, naturally would not disclose their purpose and hold suspicious consultations concerning it in the presence continually of an innocent party. In the light of this fair presumption let us look at the acts of Weichmann, as disclosed by his own testimony. Perhaps the most singular and astonishing fact that is made to appear is his omnipresence and co-action with those declared to be conspirators, and his professed and declared knowledge of all their plans and purposes. His acquaintance with John H. Surratt commenced in the fall of 1859, at St. Charles, Maryland. In January 1863 he renewed his acquaintance with him in this city. On the first of November, 1864, he took board and lodging with Mrs. Surratt at her house, No. 541 H. Street, in this city. If this testimony is correct, he was introduced to Booth on the fifteenth day of January, 1865. At this first, very first meeting, he was invited to Booth's room at the National, where he drank wine and took cigars at Booth's expense. After consultation about something in an outer passage between Booth and the party alleged to be with him by Weichmann, they all came into the room, and for the first time business was proceeded with in his presence. After that he met Booth in Mrs. Surratt's parlor and in his own room, and had conversations with him. As near as Weichmann recollects, about three weeks after his introduction he met the prisoner, Atzerodt, at Mrs. Surratt's. (How Atzerodt was received at the house will be referred to.) About the time that Booth played Pescara in the 'Apostate' at Ford's Theatre, Weichmann attended the theatre in company with Surratt and Atzerodt. At the theatre they were joined by Herold. John T. Holohan, a gentleman not suspected of complicity in the great tragedy, also joined the company at the theatre. After the play was over, Surratt, Holohan, and himself went as far as the corner of Tenth and E Streets, when Surratt, noticing that Atzerodt and Herold were not with them, sent Weichmann back for them. He found them in a restaurant with Booth, by whose invitation Weichmann took a drink. After that the entire party went to Kloman's, on Seventh Street, and had some oysters. The party there separated, Surratt, Weichmann, and Holohan going home. In the month of March last the prisoner, Payne, according to Weichmann, went to Mrs. Surratt's house and inquired for John H. Surratt. "I, myself," says Weichmann, "went to open the door, and he inquired for Mr. Surratt I told him Mr. Surratt was not at home; but I would introduce him to the family, and did introduce him to Mrs. Surratt—under the name of Wood." What more? By Weichmann's request Payne remained in the house all night. He had supper served him in the privacy of Weichmann's own room. More than that, Weichmann went down into the kitchen and got the supper and carried it up to him himself, and as nearly as he recollects, it was about eight weeks previous to the assassination; Payne remained as Weichmann's guest until the nest morning, when he left on the early train for Baltimore. About three weeks after that Payne called again. Says Weichmann, "I again went to the door, and I again ushered him into the parlor." But he adds that he had forgotten his name, and only recollected that he had given the name of Wood on the former visit, when one of the ladies called Payne by that name. He who had served supper to Payne in his own room, and had spent a night with him, could not recollect for three weeks the common name of "Wood," but recollects with such distinctness and particularity scenes and incidents of much greater age, and by which he is jeopardizing the lives of others. Payne remained that time about three days, representing himself to the family as a Baptist preacher; claiming that he had been in prison in Baltimore for about a week; that he had taken the oath of allegiance and was going to become a good loyal citizen. To Mrs. Surratt this seemed eccentric, and she said "he was a great-looking Baptist preacher." "They looked upon it as odd and laughed about it." It seemed from Weichmann's testimony that he again shared his room with Payne. Returning from his office one day, and finding a false mustache on the table in his room, he took it and threw it into his toilet box, and afterward put it with a box of paints into his trunk. The mustache was subsequently found in Weichmann's baggage. When Payne, according to Weichmann's testimony, inquired, "Where is my mustache?" Weichmann said nothing, but "thought it rather queer that a Baptist preacher should wear a false mustache." He says that he did not want it about his room—"thought no honest person had any reason to wear a false mustache," and as no "honest person" should be in possession of it, he locked it up in his own trunk. Weichmann professes throughout his testimony the greatest regard and friendship for Mrs. Surratt and her son. Why did he not go to Mrs. Surratt and communicate his suspicions at once? She, an innocent and guileless woman, not knowing what was occurring in her own house; he, the friend, coming into possession of important facts, and not making them known to her, the head of the household, but claiming now, since this overwhelming misfortune has fallen upon Mrs. Surratt, that, while reposing in the very bosom of the family as a friend and confidant, he was a spy and an informer, and, that, we believe, is the best excuse the prosecution is able to make for him. His account and explanation of the mustache would be treated with contemptuous ridicule in a civil court.
But this is not all. Concede Weichmann's account of the mustache to be true, and if it was not enough to rouse his suspicions that all was not right, he states that, on the same day, he went to Surratt's room and found Payne seated on the bed with Surratt, playing with bowie knives, and surrounded with revolvers and spurs. Miss Honora Fitzpatrick testifies that Weichmann was treated by Mrs. Surratt "more like a son than a friend." Poor return for motherly care! Guilty knowledge and participation in crime or in wild schemes for the capture of the President would be a good excuse for not making all this known to Mrs. Surratt. In speaking of the spurs and pistols, Weichmann knew that there were just eight spurs and two long navy revolvers. Bear in mind, we ask you, gentlemen of the commission, that there is no evidence before you showing that Mrs. Surratt knew anything about these things. It seems farther on, about the nineteenth of March, that Weichmann went to the Herndon House with Surratt to engage a room. He says that he afterwards learned from Atzerodt that it was for Payne, but contradicts himself in the same breath by stating that he inquired of Atzerodt if he were going to see Payne at the Herndon House. His intimate knowledge of Surratt's movements between Richmond and Washington, fixing the dates of the trips with great exactitude; of Surratt's bringing gold back; of Surratt's leaving on the evening of the third of April for Canada, spending his last moments here with Weichmann; of Surratt's telling Weichmann about his interview with Davis and Benjamin—in all this knowledge concerning himself and his associations with those named as conspirators he is no doubt truthful, as far as his statements extend; but when he comes to apply some of this knowledge to others, he at once shakes all faith in his testimony bearing upon the accused.
"Do you remember," the question was asked him, "early in the month of April, of Mrs. Surratt having sent for you and asking you to give Mr. Booth notice that she wished to see him?"
Weichmann stated in his reply that she did, that it was on the second of April, and that he found in Mr. Booth's room John McCullough, the actor, when he delivered the message. One of two things to which he swears in this statement cannot be true; 1. That he met John McCullough in Booth's room, for we have McCullough's sworn statement that at that time he was not in the city of Washington, and if, when he delivered the message to Booth, McCullough was in the room, it could not have been the second of April.
ST. LAWRENCE HALL. MONTREAL, June 3. 1865.
I am an actor by profession, at present fulfilling an engagement at Mr. Buckland's theatre, in this city. I arrived here on the twelfth of May. I performed two engagements at Ford's Theatre in Washington, during the past winter, the last one closing on Saturday evening, twenty-fifth of March. I left Washington Sunday evening, twenty-sixth of March, and have not been there since. I have no recollection of meeting any person by the name of Weichmann. —John McCullough.
Sworn to and before me, at the United States Consulate General's, in Montreal, this third day of June, A.D. 1865. C. H. POWERS, U. S. Vice Consul-General.
If he can be so mistaken about those facts, may he not be in regard to that whole transaction? It is also proved by Weichmann that before Mrs. Surratt started for the country, on the fourteenth of April, Booth called; that he remained three or four minutes, and then Weichmann and Mrs. Surratt started for the country.
All this comes out on his first examination in chief. The following is also told in his first cross-examination: Mrs. Surratt keeps a boarding house in this city, and was in the habit of renting out her rooms, and that he was upon very intimate terms with Surratt; that they occupied the same room; that when he and Mrs. Surratt went to Surrattsville on the fourteenth, she took two packages, one of papers, the contents of the other were not known. That persons have been in the habit of going to Mrs. Surratt's and staying a day or two; that Atzerodt stopped in the house only one night; that the first time Payne came to the house he was dressed genteelly, like a gentleman; that he heard both Mrs. Surratt and her daughter say that they did not care about having Atzerodt brought to the house; and at the conclusion, in swearing as to Mrs. Surratt's character, he said it was exemplary and lady-like in every respect, and apparently, as far as he could judge, she was all the time, from the first of November up to the fourteenth of April, "doing her duties to God and man." It also distinctly appears that Weichmann never had any conversation with Mrs. Surratt touching any conspiracy. One thing is apparent to our minds, and it is forced upon us, as it must be upon every reasonable mind, that in order to have gained all this knowledge Weichmann must have been within the inner circle of the conspiracy. He knows too much for an innocent man, and the conclusion is perfectly irresistible that if Mrs. Surratt had knowledge of what was going on, and had been, with others, a particeps criminis in the great conspiracy, she certainly would have done more than she did or has been shown against her, and Weichmann would have known it. How does her nonrecognition of Payne, her acquaintance with Booth, and the delivery of the message to Lloyd, compare with the long and startling array of facts proved against Weichmann out of his own mouth? All the facts point strongly to him as a co-conspirator.
Is there a word on record of conversation between Booth and Mrs. Surratt? That they did converse together, we know; but if anything treasonable had passed between them, would not the quick ears of Weichmann have caught it, and would not he have recited it to this court?
When Weichmann went, on Tuesday, the eleventh of April, to get Booth's buggy, he was not asked by Mrs. Surratt to get ten dollars. It was proffered by Booth, according to Weichmann, and he took it. If Mrs. Surratt ever got money from Booth she paid it back to him. It is not her character to be in anyone's debt.
There was no intimacy with Booth, as Mrs. Surratt has proved, but only common acquaintance, and such as would warrant only occasional calls on Booth's part, and only intimacy would have excused Mrs. Surratt to herself in accepting such a favor, had it been made known to her. Moreover, Miss Surratt has attested to remarks of her brother, which prove that intimacy of Booth with his sister and mother were not considered desirable by him.
The preceding facts are proven by statements made by Weichmann during his first examination. But, as though the commission had not sufficiently exposed the character of one of its chief witnesses in the role of grand conspirator, Weichmann is recalled and further attests to the genuineness of the following telegram:
NEW YORK, March 23d, 1865.—To WEICHMANN, Esq., 541 H St.—Tell John telegraph number and street at once. [Signed] J. BOOTH.
What additional proof of confidential relations between Weichmann and Booth could the court desire? If there was a conspiracy planned and maintained among the persons named in the indictment, Weichmann must have had entire knowledge of the same, else he had not been admitted to that degree of knowledge to which he testifies; and in such case, and in the alleged case of Mrs. Surratt's complicity, Weichmann must have known the same by circumstances strong enough to exclude doubt, and in comparison with which all present facts of accusation would sink into insignificance.
We proceed to the notice and review of the second chief witness of the prosecution against Mrs. Surratt, John M. Lloyd. He testifies to the fact of a meeting with Mrs. Surratt at Uniontown on the eleventh of April, 1865, and to a conversation having occurred between Mrs. Surratt and himself in regard to which he states: "I am quite positive she asked me about the 'shooting irons'; I am quite positive about that, but not altogether positive. I think she named shooting irons, or something to call my attention to those things, for I had almost forgotten about their being there." Question.— "Was her question to you first, whether they were there, or what was it?" Answer.—"Really, I cannot recollect the first question she put to me—I could not do it to save my life." The question was asked Lloyd, During this conversation, was the word 'carbine' mentioned? He answered, "No. She finally came out (but I cannot be determined about it, that she said shooting irons), and asked me in relation to them." The question was then asked, "Can you swear on your oath, that Mrs. Surratt mentioned the words 'shooting irons' to you at all?" A.—"I am very positive she did." Q. _ "Are you certain?" A.—"I am very positive that she named shooting irons on both occasions. Not so positive as to the first as I am about the last."
Here comes in the plea of "reasonable doubt." If the witness himself is not absolutely positive as to what occurred, and as to the conversation that took place, how can the jury assume to act upon it as they would upon a matter personally concerning themselves?
On this occasion of Mrs. Surratt's visit to Uniontown, three days before the assassination, where she met Lloyd, and where this conversation occurred between them, at a time when Lloyd was, by presumption, sober and not intoxicated, he declares definitely before the commission that he is unable to recollect the conversation, or parts of it, with distinctness. But on the fourteenth of April, and at a time when, as testified by his sister-in-law, he was more than ordinarily affected by intoxicating drink,—and Captain Gwynn, James Lusby, Knott, the barkeeper, and others, corroborate the testimony as to his absolute inebriation— he attests that he positively remembers that Mrs. Surratt said to him, "'Mr. Lloyd, I want you to have those shooting irons ready. That a person would call for them.' That was the language she made use of, and she gave me this other thing to give to whoever called."
In connection with the fact that Lloyd cannot swear positively that Mrs. Surratt mentioned "shooting irons" to him at Uniontown, bear in mind the fact that Weichmann sat in the buggy on the same seat with Mrs. Surratt, and he swears that he heard nothing about "shooting irons." Would not the quick ears of Weichmann have heard the remark had it been made?
The gentlemen of the commission will please recollect that these statements were rendered by a man addicted to excessive use of intoxicating liquors; that he was even inordinately drunk at the time referred to; that he had voluntarily complicated himself in the concealment of the arms by John H. Surratt and his friends; that he was in a state of maudlin terror when arrested and when forced to confess; that for two days he maintained denial of all knowledge that Booth and Herold had been at his house; and that at last, and in the condition referred to, he was coerced by threats to confess, and into a weak and common effort to exculpate himself by the accusation of another and by statements of conversation already cited. Notwithstanding his utter denial of all knowledge of Booth and Herold having called at his house, it afterward appears, by his own testimony, that immediately Herold commanded him (Lloyd) "For God's sake, make haste and get those things," he comprehended what "things" were indicated, without definition, and brought forth both carbines and whisky. He testifies that John H. Surratt had told him, when depositing the weapons in concealment in his house, that they would soon be called for, but did not instruct him, it seems, by whom they would be demanded.
All facts connecting Lloyd with the case tend to his implication and guilt, and to prove that he adopted the dernier ressort of guilt— accusation and inculpation of another. In case Lloyd were innocent and Mrs. Surratt the guilty coadjutrix and messenger of the conspirators, would not Lloyd have been able to cite so many open and significant remarks and acts of Mrs. Surratt that he would not have been obliged to recall, in all perversion and weakness of uncertainty, deeds and speech so common and unmeaning as his testimony includes?
It is upon these considerations that we feel ourselves safe and reasonable in the position that there are facts and circumstances, both external and internal, connected with the testimony of Weichmann and Lloyd, which, if they do not destroy, do certainly greatly shake their credibility, and which, under the rule that will give Mrs. Surratt the benefit of all reasonable doubts, seem to forbid that she should be convicted upon the unsupported evidence of these two witnesses. But even admitting the facts to be proven as above recited, it remains to be seen where is the guilty knowledge of the contemplated assassination; and this brings us to the inquiry whether these facts are not explainable so as to exclude guilt.
From one of the most respected of legal authorities the following is taken:—
"Whenever, therefore, the evidence leaves it indifferent which of several hypotheses is true, or merely establishes some finite probability in favor of one hypothesis rather than another, such evidence cannot amount to proof. The maxim of the law is that it is better that ninety-nine offenders should escape than that one innocent man should be condemned." (Starkie on Evidence.)
The acts of Mrs. Surratt must have been accompanied with criminal intent in order to make them criminal. If any one supposes that any such intent existed, the supposition comes alone from inference. If disloyal acts and constant disloyal practices, if overt and open action against the government, on her part, had been shown down to the day of the murder of the President, it would do something toward establishing the inference of criminal intent. On the other hand, just the reverse is shown. The remarks here of the learned and honorable judge advocate are peculiarly appropriate to this branch of the discussion, and, with his authority, we waive all others.
"If the court please, I will make a single remark. I think the testimony in this case has proved, what I believe history sufficiently attests, how kindred to each other are the crimes of treason against a nation and the assassination of its chief magistrate. As I think of those crimes, the one seems to be, if not the necessary consequence, certainly a logical sequence from the other. The murder of the President of the United States, as alleged and shown, was preeminently a political assassination. Disloyalty to the government was its sole, its only inspiration. When, therefore, we shall show, on the part of the accused, acts of intense disloyalty, bearing arms in the field against that government, we show, with him, the presence of an animus toward the government which relieves this accusation of much, if not all, of its improbability. And this course of proof is constantly resorted to in criminal courts. I do not regard it as in the slightest degree a departure from the usages of the profession in the administration of public justice. The purpose is to show that the prisoner, in his mind and course of life, was prepared for the commission of this crime: that the tendencies of his life, as evidenced by open and overt acts, lead and point to this crime, if not as a necessary, certainly as a most probable, result, and it is with that view, and that only, that the testimony is offered."
Is there anything in Mrs. Surratt's mind and course of life to show that she was prepared for the commission of this crime? The business transaction by Mrs. Surratt at Surrattsville, on the fourteenth, clearly discloses her only purpose in making this visit. Calvert's letters, the package of papers relating to the estate, the business with Nothe, would be sufficiently clear to most minds, when added to the fact that the other unknown package had been handed to Mrs, Offutt; that, while at Surrattsville, she made an inquiry for, or an allusion to, Mr. Lloyd, and was ready to return to Washington when Lloyd drove up to the house. Does not this open wide the door for the admission of the plea of "reasonable doubt"? Had she really been engaged in assisting in the great crime, which makes an epoch in our country's history, her only object and most anxious wish would have been to see Lloyd. It was no ruse to transact important business there to cover up what the uncharitable would call the real business. Calvert's letter was received by her on the forenoon of the fourteenth, and long before she saw Booth that day, or even before Booth knew that the President would be at the theatre that night, Mrs. Surratt had disclosed her intention to go to Surrattsville, and had she been one moment earlier in her start she would not have seen Booth at all. All these things furnish powerful presumptions in favor of the theory that, if she delivered the message at all, it was done innocently.
In regard to the nonrecognition of Payne, the third fact adduced by the prosecution against Mrs. Surratt, we incline to the opinion that, to all minds not forejudging, the testimony of Miss Anna E. Surratt, and various friends and servants of Mrs. Surratt, relative to physical causes, might fully explain and account for such ocular remissness and failure. In times and on occasions of casual meeting of intimate acquaintances on the street, and of common need for domestic uses, the eyesight of Mrs. Surratt had proved treacherous and failing. How much more liable to fail her was her imperfect vision on an occasion of excitement and anxiety, like the night of her arrest and the disturbance of her household by military officers, and when the person with whom she was confronted was transfigured by a disguise which varied from the one in which she had previously met him, with all the wide difference between a Baptist parson and an earth-soiled, uncouthly-dressed digger of gutters! Anna E. Surratt, Emma Offutt, Anna Ward, Elize Holohan, Honora Fitzpatrick, and a servant, attest to all the visual incapacity of Mrs. Surratt, and the annoyance she experienced therefrom in passing friends without recognition in the daytime, and from inability to sew or read even on a dark day, as well as at night. The priests of her church, and gentlemen who have been friendly and neighborhood acquaintances of Mrs. Surratt for many years, bear witness to her untarnished name, to her discreet and Christian character, to the absence of all imputation of disloyalty, to her character for patriotism. Friends and servants attest to her voluntary and gratuitous beneficence to our soldiers stationed near her; and, "in charges for high treason, it is pertinent to inquire into the humanity of the prisoner toward those representing the government," is the maxim of the law; and, in addition, we invite your attention to the singular fact that of the two officers who bore testimony in this matter, one asserts that the hall wherein Payne sat was illuminated with a full head of gas; the other, that the gaslight was purposely dimmed. The uncertainty of the witness who gave the testimony relative to the coat of Payne may also be called to your notice.
Should not this valuable testimony of loyal and moral character shield a woman from the ready belief, on the part of judges who judge her worthiness in every way, that during the few moments Booth detained Mrs. Surratt from her carriage, already waiting, when he approached and entered the house, she became so converted to diabolical evil as to hail with ready assistance his terrible plot, which must have been framed (if it were complete in his intent at that hour, half-past two o'clock), since the hour of eleven that day?
If any part of Lloyd's statements is true, and Mrs. Surratt did verily bear to his or Mrs. Offutt's hands the field glass, enveloped in paper, by the evidence itself we may believe she knew not the nature of the contents of the package; and had she known, what evil could she or any other have attached to a commission of so common a nature? No evidence of individual or personal intimacy with Booth has been adduced against Mrs. Surratt; no long and apparently confidential interviews; no indications of a private comprehension mutual between them; only the natural and not frequent custom on the part of Booth—as any other associate of her son might and doubtless did do—of inquiring through the mother, whom he would request to see, of the son, who, he would learn, was absent from home. No one has been found who could declare any appearance of the nursing or mysteriously discussing of anything like conspiracy within the walls of Mrs. Surratt's house. Even if the son of Mrs. Surratt, from the significancies of associations, is to be classed with the conspirators, if such a body existed, it is monstrous to suppose that the son would weave a net of circumstantial evidences around the dwelling of his widowed mother, were he never so reckless and sin-determined; and that they (the mother and the son) joined hands in such dreadful pact, is a thought more monstrous still!
A mother and son associate in crime, and such a crime as this, which half of the civilized world never saw matched in all its dreadful bearings! Our judgments can have hardly recovered their unprejudiced poise since the shock of the late horror, if we can contemplate with credulity such a picture, conjured by the unjust spirits of indiscriminate accusation and revenge. A crime which, in its public magnitude, added to its private misery, would have driven even the Atis-haunted heart of a Medici, a Borgia, or a Madame Bocarme to wild confession before its accomplishment, and daunted even that soul, of all the recorded world the most eager for novelty in license, and most unshrinking in sin—the indurated soul of Christina of Sweden; such a crime the profoundest plotters within padded walls would scarcely dare whisper; the words forming the expression of which, spoken aloud in the upper air, would convert all listening boughs to aspens, and all glad sounds of nature to shuddering wails. And this made known, even surmised, to a woman a materfamilias the good genius, the placens uxor of a home where children had gathered all the influences of purity and the reminiscences of innocence, where religion watched, and the Church was minister and teacher!
Who—were circumstantial evidence strong and conclusive, such as only time and the slow-weaving fates could elucidate and deny—who will believe, when the mists of uncertainty which cloud the present shall have dissolved, that a woman born and bred in respectability and competence—a Christian mother, and a citizen who never offended the laws of civil propriety; whose unfailing attention to the most sacred duties of life has won for her the name of "a proper Christian matron"; whose heart was ever warmed by charity; whose door unbarred to the poor; and whose Penates had never cause to veil their faces—who will believe that she could so suddenly and so fully have learned the intricate arts of sin? A daughter of the South, her life associations confirming her natal predilections, her individual preferences inclined, without logic or question, to the Southern people, but with no consciousness nor intent of disloyalty to her government, and causing no exclusion from her friendship and active favors of the people of the loyal North, nor repugnance in the distribution among our Union soldiery of all needed comforts, and on all occasions.
A strong but guileless-hearted woman, her maternal solicitude would have been the first denouncer, even the abrupt betrayer of a plotted crime in which one companion of her son could have been implicated, had cognizance of such reached her. Her days would have been agonized, and her nights sleepless, till she might have exposed and counteracted that spirit of defiant hate which watched its moment of vantage to wreak an immortal wrong—till she might have sought the intercession and absolution of the Church, her refuge, in behalf of those she loved. The brains which were bold and crafty and couchant enough to dare the world's opprobrium in the conception of a scheme which held as naught the lives of men in highest places, would never have imparted it to the intelligence, nor sought the aid nor sympathy, of any living woman who had not, like Lady Macbeth, "unsexed herself"—not though she were wise and discreet as Maria Theresa or the Castilian Isabella. This woman knew it not. This woman, who, on the morning preceding that blackest day in our country's annals, knelt in the performance of her most sincere and sacred duty at the confessional, and received the mystic rite of the Eucharist, knew it not. Not only would she have rejected it with horror, but such a proposition, presented by the guest who had sat at her hearth as the friend and convive of the son upon whose arm and integrity her widowed womanhood relied for solace and protection, would have roused her maternal wits to some sure cunning which would have contravened the crime and sheltered her son from the evil influences and miserable results of such companionship.
The mothers of Charles IX. and of Nero could harbor underneath their terrible smiles schemes for the violent and unshriven deaths, or the moral vitiation and decadence which would painfully and gradually remove lives sprung from their own, were they obstacles to their demoniac ambition. But they wrought their awful romances of crime in lands where the sun of supreme civilization, through a gorgeous evening of Sybaritic luxury, was sinking, with red tints of revolution, into the night of anarchy and national caducity. In our own young nation, strong in its morality, energy, freedom, and simplicity, assassination can never be indigenous. Even among the desperadoes and imported lazzaroni of our largest cities, it is comparatively an infrequent cause of fear.
The daughters of women to whom, in their yet preserved abodes, the noble mothers who adorned the days of our early independence are vividly remembered realities and not haunting shades—the descendants of earnest seekers for liberty, civil and religious, of rare races, grown great in heroic endurance, in purity which comes of trial borne, and in hope born of conscious right, whom the wheels of fortune sent hither to transmit such virtues—the descendants of these have no heart, no ear for the diabolisms born in hotbeds of tyranny and intolerance. No descendant of these—no woman of this temperate land—could have seen, much less joined, her son, descending the sanguinary and irrepassable ways of treason and murder to an ignominious death, or an expatriated and attainted life, worse than the punishing wheel and bloody pool of the poets' hell.
In our country, where reason and moderation so easily quench the fires of insane hate, and where the vendetta is so easily overcome by the sublime grace of forgiveness, no woman could have been found so desperate as to sacrifice all spiritual, temporal, and social good, self, offspring, fame, honor, and all the desiderata of life, and time, and immortality, to the commission, or even countenance, of such a deed of horror, as we have been compelled to contemplate during the two months past.
In a Christian land, where all records and results of the world's intellectual, civil, and moral advancement mold the human heart and mind to highest impulses, the theory of old Helvetius is more probable than desirable.
The natures of all born in equal station are not so widely varied as to present extremes of vice and goodness, but by the effects of rarest and severest experience. Beautiful fairies and terrible gnomes do not stand by each infant's cradle, sowing the nascent mind with tenderest graces or vilest errors. The slow attrition of vicious associations and law-defying indulgences, or the sudden impetus of some terribly multiplied and social disaster, must have worn away the susceptibility of conscience and self-respect, or dashed the mind from the height of these down to the depths of despair and recklessness, before one of ordinary life could take counsel with violence and crime. In no such manner was the life of our client marked. It was the parallel of nearly all the competent masses. Surrounded by the scenes of her earliest recollections, independent in her condition she was satisfied with the mundus of her daily pursuits, and the maintenance of her own and children's status in society and her Church.
Remember your wives, mothers, sisters, and gentle friends whose graces, purity, and careful affection, ornament and cherish and strengthen your lives. Not widely different from their natures and spheres have been the nature and sphere of the woman who sits in the prisoner's dock to-day, mourning with the heart of Alcestis her children and her lot; by whose desolated hearthstone a solitary daughter wastes her uncomforted life away in tears and prayers and vigils for the dawn of hope; and this wretchedness and unpitied despair have closed like a shadow around one of earth's common pictures of domestic peace and social comfort, destroyed by the one sole cause—suspicion fastened and fed upon the facts of acquaintance and mere fortuitous intercourse with that man in whose name so many miseries gather, the assassin of the President.
Since the days when Christian teachings first elevated woman to her present free, refined, and refining position, man's power and honoring regard have been the palladium of her sex.
Let no stain of injustice, eager for a sacrifice to revenge, rest upon the reputation of the men of our country and time!
This woman, who, widowed of her natural protectors, who, in helplessness and painfully severe imprisonment, in sickness and in grief ineffable, sues for mercy and justice from your hands, may leave a legacy of blessings, sweet as fruition-hastening showers, for those you love and care for, in return for the happiness of fame and home restored, though life be abbreviated and darkened through this world by the miseries of this unmerited and woeful trial. But long and chilling is the shade which just retribution, slow creeping on, ped claudo, casts around the fate of him whose heart is merciless to his fellows bowed low in misfortune.
ALBERTUS MAGNUS (1205-1280)
Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus), teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, was one of the most celebrated orators and theologians of the Church in the thirteenth century. He was born at Lauingen on the Danube in 1205 (according to some in 1193), and, becoming a Dominican at the age of twenty-nine, he taught in various German cities with continually increasing celebrity, until finally the Pope called him to preach in Rome. In 1260 he was made Bishop of Ratisbon, but after three years resigned the bishopric and returned to his work in the ranks of the clergy. While teaching at Cologne he suddenly lost his memory, probably as a result of his excessive studies. He died November 15th, 1280. He was placed on the calendar of saints in 1615. His works, collected by Peter Jammy, and published at Lyons in 1651, make twenty-one volumes, folio.
THE MEANING OF THE CRUCIFIXION
It was surrounded by the thick wreath of thorns even to the tender brain. Whence in the Prophet,—the people hath surrounded me with the thorns of sin. And why was this, save that thine own head might not suffer—thine own conscience might not be wounded? His eyes grew dark in death; and those lights, which give light to the world, were for a time extinguished. And when they were clouded, there was darkness over all the earth, and with them the two great lights of the firmament were moved, to the end that thine eyes might be turned away, lest they should behold vanity; or, if they chance to behold it, might for his sake condemn it. Those ears, which in heaven unceasingly hear "Holy, Holy, Holy," vouchsafed on earth to be filled with: "Thou hast a devil,—Crucify him, Crucify him!" to the intent that thine ears might not be deaf to the cry of the poor, nor, open to idle tales, should readily receive the poison of detraction or of adulation. That fair face of him that was fairer than the children of men, yea, than thousands of angels, was bedaubed with spitting, afflicted with blows, given up to mockery, to the end that thy face might be enlightened, and, being enlightened, might be strengthened, so that it might be said of thee, "His countenance is no more changed." That mouth, which teaches angels and instructs men "which spake and it was done," was fed with gall and vinegar, that thy mouth might speak the truth, and might be opened to the praise of the Lord; and it was silent, lest thou shouldst lightly lend thy tongue to the expression of anger.
Those hands, which stretched abroad the heavens, were stretched out on the cross and pierced with most bitter nails; as saith Isaiah, "I have stretched forth my hands all the day to an unbelieving people." And David, "They pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones." And Saint Jerome says, "We may, in the stretching forth of his hands, understand the liberality of the giver, who denieth nothing to them that ask lovingly; who restored health to the leper that requested it of him; enlightened him that was blind from his birth; fed the hungry multitude in the wilderness." And again he says, "The stretched-out hands denote the kindness of the parent, who desires to receive his children to his breast." And thus let thy hands be so stretched out to the poor that thou mayest be able to say, "My soul is always in my hand." For that which is held in the hand is not easily forgotten. So he may be said to call his soul to memory, who carries it, as it were, in his hands through the good opinion that men conceive of it. His hands were fixed, that they may instruct thee to hold back thy hands, with the nails of fear, from unlawful or harmful works.
That glorious breast, in which are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, is pierced with the lance of a soldier, to the end that thy heart might be cleansed from evil thoughts, and being cleansed might be sanctified, and being sanctified might be preserved. The feet, whose footstool the Prophets commanded to be sanctified, were bitterly nailed to the cross, lest thy feet should sustain evil, or be swift to shed blood; but, running in the way of the Lord, stable in his path, and fixed in his road, might not turn aside to the right hand nor to the left. "What could have been done more?"
Why did Christ bow his head on the cross? To teach us that by humility we must enter into Heaven. Also, to show that we must rest from our own work. Also, that he might comply with the petition, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth"; also that he might ask permission of his bride to leave her. Of great virtue is the memory of the Lord's passion, which, if it be firmly held in the mind, every cloud of error and sin is dispersed. Whence the blessed Bernard says: "Always having Christ, and him crucified, in the heart."
THE BLESSED DEAD
They who die in the Lord are blessed, on account of two things which immediately follow. For they enter into most sweet rest, and enjoy most delicate refreshment. Concerning their rest it immediately follows. "Even so saith the spirit" (that is, says the gloss, the whole Trinity), for they rest from their labors. "And it is a pleasant bed on which they take their rest, who, as is aforesaid, die in the Lord." For this bed is none other than the sweet consolation of the Creator. Of this consolation he speaks himself by the Prophet Isaiah: "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Of the second,—that is, the delicate refreshment of those that die in Christ,—it is immediately subjoined, and their works do follow them. For every virtue which a man has practiced by good works in this world will bring a special cup of recompense, and offer it to the soul that has entered into rest. Thus, purity of body and mind will bring one cup, justice another, which also is to be said concerning truth, love, gentleness, humility, and the other virtues. Of this holy refreshment it is written in Isaiah: "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers." By kings we understand the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who, in inseparable unity, possess the kingdom of heaven; by queens, the virtues are expressed, which, as has been said, receive the cups of refreshment from the storehouse of the Trinity, and offer them to the happy souls. Pray, therefore, dearly beloved, to the Lord, that he would so grant us to live according to his will, that we may die in him, and may evermore be comforted and refreshed by him.
Ethan Allen of New York, a descendant of the Revolutionary hero made famous by the capture of Ticonderoga, has never been a professional public speaker, but from time to time, when stirred by some cause which appealed to him strongly, he has shown great power as an orator. His address of 1861, delivered in New York city, is here republished from a contemporaneous report, preserved among the papers of Mr. Enos Clarke. It was described in the newspapers of the day as "thrilling eloquence," and perhaps it is the best expression extant of the almost inconceivable excitement of the opening months of the war.
In 1872 Mr. Alien joined the Liberal Republicans and made earnest pleas for reconciliation with the South. In 1897 he took a prominent part in supporting the Cubans in their struggle for independence.
A CALL TO ARMS (Delivered in New York city in 1861)
Once more the country is aroused by a call to arms. It is now nearly a century ago that our fathers assembled in mass meetings in this city to devise ways and means for this very flag which to-day we give to the winds of heaven, bearing defiance from every star. Fired, then, with the same spirit of freedom that kindles on this spot to-day, for the time throwing aside the habiliments of peace, our fathers armed themselves for vengeance and for war. The history of that war, read it in the hearts of the American people; the trials and struggles of that war, mark them in the teardrops which the very allusion brings to every eye; the blessings from that war, count them in the temples of industry and trade that arise everywhere around us; the wisdom of that war, and the honor and the perpetuity of its triumphs, behold the one in our unexampled prosperity as a nation, and the other in the impulses that, like an electric flash, bind heart to heart, throughout this vast assemblage, in the firm resolve that, cost what it may, rebellion shall go down. Again, the American people are assembled in mass meetings throughout the nation, while the States once more rock in the throes of revolution. Once more the cry to arms reverberates throughout the land; but this time we war against domestic foes. Treason has raised its black flag near the tomb of Washington, and the Union of our States hangs her fate upon the bayonet and the sword. Accursed be the hand that would not seize the bayonet; withered the arm that would not wield the sword in such a cause! Everything that the American citizen holds dear hangs upon the issue of this contest. Our national honor and reputation demand that rebellion shall not triumph on our soil. In the name of our heroic dead, in the name of our numberless victories, in the name of our thousand peaceful triumphs, our Union shall and must be preserved! Our peaceful triumphs? These are the victories we should be jealous to guard. Let others recount their martial glories; they shall be eclipsed by the charity and the grace of the triumphs which have been won in peace. "Peace hath her victories not less renowned than war," and the hard-earned fruits of these victories rebellion shall not take from us. Our peaceful triumphs? Who shall enumerate their value to the millions yet unborn? What nation in so short a time has seen so many? On the land and on the sea, in the realms of science and in the world of art, we have everywhere gathered our honors and won our garlands. Upon the altars of the States they yet lie, fresh from gathering, while their happy influence fills the land. Of the importance and value of our thousand peaceful triumphs time will permit me to mention only one. It is now just two years ago when up the waters of the Potomac sailed the representatives of an empire till then shut out from intercourse with all Christian nations. In the Eastern seas there lay an empire of islands which had hitherto enjoyed no recognition in the Christian world other than its name upon the map. No history, as far as we know, illuminated it; no ancient time-marks told of its advancement, step by step, in the march of improvement. There it has rested for thousands of years, wrapped in the mysteries of its own exclusiveness—gloomy, dark, peculiar. It has been supposed to possess great powers; and vague rumors have attributed to it arts to us unknown. Against nearly all the world, for thousands of years Japan has obstinately shut her doors; the wealth of the Christian world could not tempt her cupidity; the wonders of the Christian world could not excite her curiosity. There she lay, sullen and alone, the phenomenon of nations. England and France and the other powerful governments of Europe have at various times tried to conquer this Oriental exclusiveness, but the Portuguese only partly succeeded, while all the rest have signally failed. At length we, bearing at our masthead the glorious old Stars and Stripes, approach the mysterious portals and seek an entrance. Not with cannon and the implements of death do we demand admission, but, appreciating the saying of Euripides, that
"Resistless eloquence shall open The gates that steel exclude,"
we peacefully appeal to that sense of justice which is the "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin," and behold! the interdiction is removed; the doors of the mysterious empire fly open, and a new garland is added to our commercial conquests! Who shall set limits to the gain that shall follow this one victory of peace, if our government shall be perpetuated so as to gather it for the generations? Who shall say that in an unbroken, undivided union, the opening of the empire of Japan shall not accomplish for the present era all that the Reformation, the art of printing, steam, and the telegraph have done within the last three hundred years? New avenues of wealth are thrown open; new fields are to be occupied; arts new to us, perhaps, are to be studied; and science, doubtless, has revelations to make us, from that arcana of nations, equal to anything we have ever learned before. Fifty millions of people are to be enlightened; the printing press is yet to catch the daily thought and stamp it on the page; the magnetic wire must yet tremble along her highways, and Niphon yet tremble to her very centre at each heart-beat of our ocean steamers, as they sweep through her waters and thunder round her island homes. All hail, all hail, to these children of the morning; all hail, all hail, to the Great Republic of the West that calls them into life! From every age that has passed there comes a song of praise for the treaty that has been consummated. The buried masters of three thousand years start again to life and march in solemn and grand procession before the eyes of the new-found empire. Homer with his songs, Greece with her arts, Rome with her legions, and America with her heroes, all come to us with the freshness and novelty of the newly born. Wipe off the mold that time has gathered upon their tombs, and let them all come forth and answer, at the summons of a new-born nation that calls them again to life!
Tell to these strangers the story of the resurrection. Clutching in their hands their dripping blades, the warriors recount their conquests, and joined at last in harmonious brotherhood, Copernicus, with bony fingers pointing upward, tells to Confucius his story of the stars!
Fellow-citizens, I have recounted but one of our many peaceful triumphs. Shall all these hopes of the future, shall all these peaceful victories of our people, shall all these struggles of the past be swept away by the dissolution of this Union and the destruction of the government? Forbid it, Almighty God! Rather perish a thousand times the cause of the rebellion, and over the ruins of slavery let peace once more resume her sway, and let the cannon's lips grow cold. Delenda est Carthago, said the old Roman patriot, when gloom settled upon his State. The rebellion must go down in the same spirit, say we all to-day. Down with party, sect, and class, and up with a sentiment of unanimity when our country calls to arms! New England leads us in the contest. The legions of Vermont are now en route for the field. Again, she can say with truth that "the bones of her sons lie mingling and bleaching with the soil of every State from Maine to Georgia, and there they will lie forever." New York must not be behind the Old Bay State which led a year ago. In the spirit world, Warren calls to Hamilton, and Hamilton calls back to Warren, that hand in hand their mortal children go on together to fame, to victory, or to the grave. Where the ranks are full, let us catch an inspiration from the past, and with it upon us go forth to conflict. Go call the roll on Saratoga, Bunker Hill, and Yorktown, that the sheeted dead may rise as witnesses, and tell your legions of the effort to dissolve their Union, and there receive their answer. Mad with frenzy, burning with indignation at the thought, all ablaze for vengeance upon the traitors, such shall be the fury and impetuosity of the onset that all opposition shall be swept away before them, as the pigmy yields to the avalanche that comes tumbling, rumbling, thundering from its Alpine home! Let us gather at the tomb of Washington and invoke his immortal spirit to direct us in the combat. Rising again incarnate from the tomb, in one hand he holds that same old flag, blackened and begrimed with the smoke of a seven-years' war, and with the other hand be points us to the foe. Up and at them! Let immortal energy strengthen our arms, and infernal fury thrill us to the soul. One blow,—deep, effectual, and forever,—one crushing blow upon the rebellion, in the name of God, Washington, and the Republic!
FISHER AMES (1758-1808)
Fisher Ames is easily first among the New England Federalist orators of the first quarter of a century of the Republic. He was greatly, sometimes extravagantly, admired by his contemporaries, and his addresses are studied as models by eminent public speakers of our own day. Dr. Charles Caldwell in his autobiography calls Ames "one of the most splendid rhetoricians of his age." . . . "Two of his speeches," writes Doctor Caldwell, "that on Jay's Treaty and that usually called his Tomahawk speech, because it included some resplendent passages on Indian massacre, were the most brilliant and fascinating specimens of eloquence I have ever heard, though I have listened to some of the most eloquent speakers in the British Parliament,—among others to Wilberforce and Mackintosh, Plunkett, Brougham, and Canning. Doctor Priestly who was familiar with the oratory of Pitt the father, and Pitt the son, as also with that of Burke and Fox, made to myself the acknowledgment that the speech of Ames on the British treaty was 'the most bewitching piece of eloquence' to which he had ever listened."
Ames was born at Dedham, Massachusetts, on April 9th, 1758. His father, Nathaniel Ames, a physician, had the "honorable family standing" which was so important in the life of most of the colonies. He had scientific tendencies and published an "Astronomical Diary," or nautical almanac, which was in considerable vogue. The son, however, developed at the early age of six years a fondness for classical literature, which led him to undertake to master Latin. He made such progress that he was admitted to Harvard when but twelve years old. While there, it "was observed that he coveted the glory of eloquence," showing his fondness for oratory not merely in the usual debating society declamation, but by the study of classical models and of such great English poets as Shakespeare and Milton. To this, no doubt correctly, has been attributed his great command of language and his fertility in illustration. After graduating from Harvard in 1774, he studied law in Boston, served in the Massachusetts legislature, in the convention for ratifying the Federal constitution, and in the first Congress elected under the constitution. After retiring, be was called in 1804 to the presidency of Harvard. He declined the honor, however, on account of diffidence and failing health. His death occurred on the fourth of July, 1808, in the fiftieth year of his age.
After the treaty with Great Britain (Jay's), concluded in 1794, had been ratified and proclaimed by the President, he communicated it to the House of Representatives, "in order that the necessary appropriations might be made to carry it into effect." The speech on the Treaty, delivered by Ames, was on a resolution in favor of making the appropriations thus called for, the House being in committee of the whole April 28th, 1796.
ON THE BRITISH TREATY
(Delivered in the House of Representatives, April 28, 1796)
I entertain the hope, perhaps a rash one, that my strength will hold me out to speak a few minutes.
In my judgment, a right decision will depend more on the temper and manner with which we may prevail upon ourselves to contemplate the subject than upon the development of any profound political principles, or any remarkable skill in the application of them. If we could succeed to neutralize our inclinations, we should find less difficulty than we have to apprehend in surmounting all our objections.
The suggestion, a few days ago, that the House manifested symptoms of heat and irritation, was made and retorted as if the charge ought to create surprise, and would convey reproach. Let us be more just to ourselves and to the occasion. Let us not affect to deny the existence and the intrusion of some portion of prejudice and feeling into the debate, when, from the very structure of our nature, we ought to anticipate the circumstance as a probability, and when we are admonished by the evidence of our senses that it is the fact.
How can we make professions for ourselves, and offer exhortations to the House, that no influence should be felt but that of duty, and no guide respected but that of the understanding, while the peal to rally every passion of man is continually ringing in our ears?
Our understandings have been addressed, it is true, and with ability and effect; but, I demand, has any corner of the heart been left unexplored? It has been ransacked to find auxiliary arguments, and, when that attempt failed, to awaken the sensibilities that would require none. Every prejudice and feeling has been summoned to listen to some peculiar style of address; and yet we seem to believe and to consider as an affront a doubt that we are strangers to any influence but that of unbiased reason.
It would be strange that a subject which has aroused in turn all the passions of the country should be discussed without the interference of any of our own. We are men, and, therefore, not exempt from those passions; as citizens and representatives we feel the interests that must excite them. The hazard of great interests cannot fail to agitate strong passions. We are not disinterested; it is impossible we should be dispassionate. The warmth of such feelings may becloud the judgment, and, for a time, pervert the understanding. But the public sensibility, and our own, has sharpened the spirit of inquiry, and given an animation to the debate. The public attention has been quickened to mark the progress of the discussion, and its judgment, often hasty and erroneous on first impressions, has become solid and enlightened at last. Our result will, I hope, on that account, be the safer and more mature, as well as more accordant with that of the nation. The only constant agents in political affairs are the passions of men. Shall we complain of our nature— shall we say that man ought to have been made otherwise? It is right already, because he, from whom we derive our nature, ordained it so; and because thus made and thus acting, the cause of truth and the public good is the more surely promoted.
But an attempt has been made to produce an influence of a nature more stubborn and more unfriendly to truth. It is very unfairly pretended, that the constitutional right of this house is at stake, and to be asserted and preserved only by a vote in the negative. We hear it said that this is a struggle for liberty, a manly resistance against the design to nullify this assembly and to make it a cipher in the government; that the President and Senate, the numerous meetings in the cities, and the influence of the general alarm of the country, are the agents and instruments of a scheme of coercion and terror, to force the treaty down our throats, though we loathe it, and in spite of the clearest convictions of duty and conscience.
It is necessary to pause here and inquire whether suggestions of this kind be not unfair in their very texture and fabric, and pernicious in all their influences. They oppose an obstacle in the path of inquiry, not simply discouraging, but absolutely insurmountable. They will not yield to argument; for as they were not reasoned up, they cannot be reasoned down. They are higher than a Chinese wall in truth's way, and built of materials that are indestructible. While this remains, it is vain to argue; it is vain to say to this mountain, Be thou cast into the sea. For, I ask of the men of knowledge of the world whether they would not hold him for a blockhead that should hope to prevail in an argument whose scope and object is to mortify the self-love of the expected proselyte? I ask, further, when such attempts have been made, have they not failed of success? The indignant heart repels a conviction that is believed to debase it.
The self-love of an individual is not warmer in its sense, nor more constant in its action, than what is called in French, l'esprit du corps, or the self-love of an assembly; that jealous affection which a body of men is always found to bear towards its own prerogatives and power. I will not condemn this passion. Why should we urge an unmeaning censure or yield to groundless fears that truth and duty will be abandoned, because men in a public assembly are still men, and feel that esprit du corps which is one of the laws of their nature? Still less should we despond or complain, if we reflect that this very spirit is a guardian instinct that watches over the life of this assembly. It cherishes the principle of self-preservation, and without its existence, and its existence with all the strength we see it possess, the privileges of the representatives of the people, and mediately the liberties of the people, would not be guarded, as they are, with a vigilance that never sleeps and an unrelaxed constancy and courage. If the consequences, most unfairly attributed to the vote in the affirmative, were not chimerical, and worse, for they are deceptive, I should think it a reproach to be found even moderate in my zeal to assert the constitutional powers of this assembly; and whenever they shall be in real danger, the present occasion affords proof that there will be no want of advocates and champions.
Indeed, so prompt are these feelings, and, when once roused, so difficult to pacify, that if we could prove the alarm was groundless, the prejudice against the appropriations may remain on the mind, and it may even pass for an act of prudence and duty to negative a measure which was lately believed by ourselves, and may hereafter be misconceived by others, to encroach upon the powers of the House. Principles that bear a remote affinity with usurpation on those powers will be rejected, not merely as errors, but as wrongs. Our sensibilities will shrink from a post where it is possible they may be wounded, and be inflamed by the slightest suspicion of an assault.
While these prepossessions remain, all argument is useless. It may be heard with the ceremony of attention, and lavish its own resources, and the patience it wearies, to no manner of purpose. The ears may be open; but the mind will remain locked up, and every pass to the understanding guarded.
Unless, therefore, this jealous and repulsive fear for the rights of the House can be allayed, I will not ask a hearing.
I cannot press this topic too far; I cannot address myself with too much emphasis to the magnanimity and candor of those who sit here, to suspect their own feelings, and, while they do, to examine the grounds of their alarm. I repeat it, we must conquer our persuasion that this body has an interest in one side of the question more than the other, before we attempt to surmount our objections. On most subjects, and solemn ones too, perhaps in the most solemn of all, we form our creed more from inclination than evidence.
Let me expostulate with gentlemen to admit, if it be only by way of supposition, and for a moment, that it is barely possible they have yielded too suddenly to their alarms for the powers of this House; that the addresses which have been made with such variety of forms and with so great dexterity in some of them, to all that is prejudice and passion in the heart, are either the effects or the instruments of artifice and deception, and then let them see the subject once more in its singleness and simplicity.
It will be impossible, on taking a fair review of the subject, to justify the passionate appeals that have been made to us to struggle for our liberties and rights, and the solemn exhortations to reject the proposition, said to be concealed in that on your table, to surrender them forever. In spite of this mock solemnity, I demand, if the House will not concur in the measure to execute the treaty, what other course shall we take? How many ways of proceeding lie open before us?
In the nature of things there are but three; we are either to make the treaty, to observe it, or break it. It would be absurd to say we will do neither. If I may repeat a phrase already much abused, we are under coercion to do one of them; and we have no power, by the exercise of our discretion, to prevent the consequences of a choice.
By refusing to act, we choose. The treaty will be broken and fall to the ground. Where is the fitness, then, of replying to those who urge upon the House the topics of duty and policy that they attempt to force the treaty down, and to compel this assembly to renounce its discretion, and to degrade itself to the rank of a blind and passive instrument in the hands of the treaty-making power? In case we reject the appropriation, we do not secure any greater liberty of action; we gain no safer shelter than before from the consequences of the decision. Indeed, they are not to be evaded. It is neither just nor manly to complain that the treaty-making power has produced this coercion to act. It is not the act or the despotism of that power—it is the nature of things that compels. Shall we, dreading to become the blind instruments of power, yield ourselves the blinder dupes of mere sounds of imposture? Yet that word, that empty word, coercion, has given scope to an eloquence that, one would imagine, could not be tired and did not choose to be quieted.
Let us examine still more in detail the alternatives that are before us, and we shall scarcely fail to see, in still stronger lights, the futility of our apprehensions for the power and liberty of the House.
If, as some have suggested, the thing called a treaty is incomplete,—if it has no binding force or obligation,—the first question is, Will this House complete the instrument, and, by concurring, impart to it that force which it wants?
The doctrine has been avowed that the treaty, though formally ratified by the executive power of both nations, though published as a law for our own by the President's proclamation, is still a mere proposition submitted to this assembly, no way distinguishable, in point of authority or obligation, from a motion for leave to bring in a bill, or any other original act of ordinary legislation. This doctrine, so novel in our country, yet so dear to many, precisely for the reason that, in the contention for power, victory is always dear, is obviously repugnant to the very terms as well as the fair interpretation of our own resolutions (Mr. Blount's). We declare that the treaty-making power is exclusively vested in the President and Senate, and not in this House. Need I say that we fly in the face of that resolution when we pretend that the acts of that power are not valid until we have concurred in them? It would be nonsense, or worse, to use the language of the most glaring contradiction, and to claim a share in a power which we at the same time disdain as exclusively vested in other departments.
What can be more strange than to say that the compacts of the President and Senate with foreign nations are treaties, without our agency, and yet those compacts want all power and obligation, until they are sanctioned by our concurrence? It is not my design, in this place, if at all, to go into the discussion of this part of the subject. I will, at least for the present, take it for granted, that this monstrous opinion stands in little need of remark, and if it does, lies almost out of the reach of refutation.
But, say those who hide the absurdity under the cover of ambiguous phrases, Have we no discretion? And if we have, are we not to make use of it in judging of the expediency or inexpediency of the treaty? Our resolution claims that privilege, and we cannot surrender it without equal inconsistency and breach of duty.
If there be any inconsistency in the case, it lies, not in making the appropriations for the treaty, but in the resolution itself (Mr. Blount's). Let us examine it more nearly. A treaty is a bargain between nations, binding in good faith; and what makes a bargain? The assent of the contracting parties. We allow that the treaty power is not in this House; this House has no share in contracting, and is not a party; of consequence, the President and Senate alone may make a treaty that is binding in good faith. We claim, however, say the gentlemen, a right to judge of the expediency of treaties; that is the constitutional province of our discretion. Be it so. What follows? Treaties, when adjudged by us to be inexpedient, fall to the ground, and the public faith is not hurt. This, incredible and extravagant as it may seem, is asserted. The amount of it, in plainer language, is this—the President and Senate are to make national bargains, and this House has nothing to do in making them. But bad bargains do not bind this House, and, of inevitable consequence, do not bind the nation. When a national bargain, called a treaty, is made, its binding force does not depend upon the making, but upon our opinion that it is good. . . .
To expatiate on the value of public faith may pass with some men for declamation—to such men I have nothing to say. To others I will urge, Can any circumstance mark upon a people more turpitude and debasement? Can anything tend more to make men think themselves mean, or degrade to a lower point their estimation of virtue and their standard of action?
It would not merely demoralize mankind; it tends to break all the ligaments of society, to dissolve that mysterious charm which attracts individuals to the nation, and to inspire in its stead a repulsive sense of shame and disgust.
What is patriotism? Is it a narrow affection for the spot where a man was born? Are the very clods where we tread entitled to this ardent preference because they are greener? No, sir; this is not the character of the virtue, and it soars higher for its object. It is an extended self-love, mingling with all the enjoyments of life, and twisting itself with the minutest filaments of the heart. It is thus we obey the laws of society, because they are the laws of virtue. In their authority we see, not the array of force and terror, but the venerable image of our country's honor. Every good citizen makes that honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious, but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense, and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it. For what rights of a citizen will be deemed inviolable when a State renounces the principles that constitute their security? Or, if his life should not be invaded, what would its enjoyments be in a country odious in the eyes of strangers and dishonored in his own? Could he look with affection and veneration to such a country as his parent? The sense of having one would die within him; he would blush for his patriotism, if he retained any, and justly, for it would be a vice. He would be a banished man in his native land.
I see no exception to the respect that is paid among nations to the law of good faith. If there are cases in this enlightened period when it is violated, there are none when it is decried. It is the philosophy of politics, the religion of governments. It is observed by barbarians—a whiff of tobacco smoke, or a string of beads, gives not merely binding force, but sanctity to treaties. Even in Algiers a truce may be bought for money; but, when ratified, even Algiers is too wise, or too just, to disown and annul its obligation. Thus, we see neither the ignorance of savages nor the principles of an association for piracy and rapine, permit a nation to despise its engagements. If, sir, there could be a resurrection from the foot of the gallows, if the victims of justice could live again, collect together and form a society, they would, however loath, soon find themselves obliged to make justice, that justice under which they fell, the fundamental law of their state. They would perceive it was their interest to make others respect, and they would therefore soon pay some respect themselves to the obligations of good faith.
It is painful, I hope it is superfluous, to make even the supposition, that America should furnish the occasion of this opprobrium. No, let me not even imagine that a republican government, sprung as our own is, from a people enlightened and uncorrupted, a government whose origin is right, and whose daily discipline is duty, can, upon solemn debate, make its option to be faithless—can dare to act what despots dare not avow, what our own example evinces, the states of Barbary are unsuspected of. No, let me rather make the supposition that Great Britain refuses to execute the treaty, after we have done everything to carry it into effect. Is there any language of reproach pungent enough to express your commentary on the fact? What would you say, or rather what would you not say? Would you not tell them, wherever an Englishman might travel, shame would stick to him—he would disown his country. You would exclaim, England, proud of your wealth, and arrogant in the possession of power—blush for these distinctions, which become the vehicles of your dishonor. Such a nation might truly say to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. We should say of such a race of men, their name is a heavier burden than their debt.
I can scarcely persuade myself to believe that the consideration I have suggested requires the aid of any auxiliary. But, unfortunately, auxiliary arguments are at hand. Five millions of dollars, and probably more, on the score of spoliations committed on our commerce, depend upon the treaty. The treaty offers the only prospect of indemnity. Such redress is promised as the merchants place some confidence in. Will you interpose and frustrate that hope, leaving to many families nothing but beggary and despair? It is a smooth proceeding to take a vote in this body; it takes less than half an hour to call the yeas and nays and reject the treaty. But what is the effect of it? What, but this? The very men formerly so loud for redress, such fierce champions that even to ask for justice was too mean and too slow, now turn their capricious fury upon the sufferers and say by their vote, to them and their families, No longer eat bread; petitioners, go home and starve; we can not satisfy your wrongs and our resentments.
Will you pay the sufferers out of the treasury? No. The answer was given two years ago, and appears on our journals. Will you give them letters of marque and reprisal to pay themselves by force? No; that is war. Besides, it would be an opportunity for those who have already lost much to lose more. Will you go to war to avenge their injury? If you do, the war will leave you no money to indemnify them. If it should be unsuccessful, you will aggravate existing evils; if successful, your enemy will have no treasure left to give our merchants; the first losses will be confounded with much greater, and be forgotten. At the end of a war there must be a negotiation, which is the very point we have already gained; and why relinquish it? And who will be confident that the terms of the negotiation, after a desolating war, would be more acceptable to another House of Representatives than the treaty before us? Members and opinions may be so changed that the treaty would then be rejected for being what the present majority say it should be. Whether we shall go on making treaties and refusing to execute them, I know not. Of this I am certain, it will be very difficult to exercise the treaty-making power on the new principles, with much reputation or advantage to the country.
The refusal of the posts (inevitable if we reject the treaty) is a measure too decisive in its nature to be neutral in its consequences. From great causes we are to look for great effects. A plain and obvious one will be the price of the western lands will fall. Settlers will not choose to fix their habitation on a field of battle. Those who talk so much of the interest of the United States should calculate how deeply it will be affected by rejecting the treaty; how vast a tract of wild land will almost cease to be property. The loss, let it be observed, will fall upon a fund expressly devoted to sink the national debt. What, then, are we called upon to do? However the form of the vote and the protestations of many may disguise the proceeding, our resolution is in substance, and it deserves to wear the title of a resolution to prevent the sale of the western lands and the discharge of the public debt.
Will the tendency to Indian hostilities be contested by any one? Experience gives the answer. The frontiers were scourged with war till the negotiation with Great Britain was far advanced, and then the state of hostility ceased. Perhaps the public agents of both nations are innocent of fomenting the Indian war, and perhaps they are not. We ought not, however, to expect that neighboring nations, highly irritated against each other, will neglect the friendship of the savages; the traders will gain an influence and will abuse it; and who is ignorant that their passions are easily raised, and hardly restrained from violence? Their situation will oblige them to choose between this country and Great Britain, in case the treaty should be rejected. They will not be our friends, and at the same time the friends of our enemies.
But am I reduced to the necessity of proving this point? Certainly the very men who charged the Indian war on the detention of the posts, will call for no other proofs than the recital of their own speeches. It is remembered with what emphasis, with what acrimony, they expatiated on the burden of taxes, and the drain of blood and treasure into the western country, in consequence of Britain's holding the posts. Until the posts are restored, they exclaimed, the treasury and the frontiers must bleed.
If any, against all these proofs, should maintain that the peace with the Indians will be stable without the posts, to them I will urge another reply. From arguments calculated to produce conviction, I will appeal directly to the hearts of those who hear me, and ask whether it is not already planted there. I resort especially to the convictions of the western gentlemen, whether, supposing no posts and no treaty, the settlers will remain in security. Can they take it upon them to say that an Indian peace, under these circumstances, will prove firm? No, sir; it will not be peace, but a sword; it will be no better than a lure to draw victims within the reach of the tomahawk.
On this theme, my emotions are unutterable. If I could find words for them—if my powers bore any proportion to my zeal—I would swell my voice to such a note of remonstrance, it should reach every log house beyond the mountains, I would say to the inhabitants, Wake from your false security; your cruel dangers, your more cruel apprehensions, are soon to be renewed; the wounds, yet unhealed, are to be torn open again; in the daytime, your path through the woods will be ambushed; the darkness of midnight will glitter with the blaze of your dwellings. You are a father—the blood of your sons shall fatten your corn-field; you are a mother—the war-whoop shall wake the sleep of the cradle.
On this subject you need not suspect any deception on your feelings. It is a spectacle of horror which can not be overdrawn. If you have nature in your hearts, it will speak a language compared with which all I have said or can say will be poor and frigid.
Will it be whispered that the treaty has made a new champion for the protection of the frontiers? It is known that my voice as well as vote has been uniformly given in conformity with the ideas I have expressed. Protection is the right of the frontiers; it is our duty to give it.
Who will accuse me of wandering out of the subject? Who will say that I exaggerate the tendencies of our measures? Will any one answer by a sneer, that all this is idle preaching? Will any one deny that we are bound, and I would hope to good purpose, by the most solemn sanctions of duty, for the vote we give? Are despots alone to be approached for unfeeling indifference to the tears and blood of their subjects? Are republicans unresponsible? Have the principles, on which you ground the reproach upon cabinets and kings, no practical influence, no binding force? Are they merely themes of idle declamation, introduced to decorate the morality of a newspaper essay, or to furnish pretty topics of harangue from the windows of that state house? I trust it is neither too presumptuous nor too late to ask, Can you put the dearest interest of society at risk without guilt, and without remorse?
It is vain to offer as an excuse, that public men are not to be reproached for the evils that may happen to ensue from their measures. This is very true, where they are unforeseen or inevitable. Those I have depicted are not unforeseen; they are so far from inevitable, we are going to bring them into being by our vote. We choose the consequences, and become as justly answerable for them as for the measure that we know will produce them.
By rejecting the posts, we light the savage fires—we bind the victims. This day we undertake to render account to the widows and orphans whom our decision will make, to the wretches that will be roasted at the stake, to our country, and I do not deem it too serious to say, to conscience and to God. We are answerable, and if duty be anything more than a word of imposture, if conscience be not a bugbear, we are preparing to make ourselves as wretched as our country.
There is no mistake in this case; there can be none. Experience has already been the prophet of events, and the cries of our future victims have already reached us. The western inhabitants are not a silent and uncomplaining sacrifice. The voice of humanity issues from the shade of their wilderness. It exclaims, that while one hand is held up to reject this treaty, the other grasps a tomahawk. It summons our imagination to the scenes that will open. It is no great effort to the imagination to conceive that events so near are already begun. I can fancy that I listen to the yells of savage vengeance and the shrieks of torture. Already they seem to sigh in the west wind—already they mingle with every echo from the mountains.
It is not the part of prudence to be inattentive to the tendencies of measures. Where there is any ground to fear that these will be pernicious, wisdom and duty forbid that we should underrate them. If we reject the treaty, will our peace be as safe as if we executed it with good faith? I do honor to the intrepid spirit of those who say it will. It was formerly understood to constitute the excellence of a man's faith to believe without evidence and against it.
But as opinions on this article are changed, and we are called to act for our country, it becomes us to explore the dangers that will attend its peace, and to avoid them if we can.
Few of us here, and fewer still in proportion of our constituents, will doubt that, by rejecting, all those dangers will be aggravated. . . .
ST. ANSELM (1032-1109)
St. Anselm, who has been called the acutest thinker and profoundest theologian of his day, was born in Piedmont about 1032. Educated under the celebrated Lanfranc, he went to England in 1093 and became Archbishop of Canterbury. He was banished by William Rufus as a result of a conflict between royal and ecclesiastical prerogative. He died in 1109. Neale calls him the last of the great fathers except St. Bernard, and adds that "he probably possessed the greatest genius of all except St. Augustine."
The sermon here given, the third of the sixteen extant, is given entire from Neale's translation. It is one of the best examples of the Middle-Age style of interpreting all Scripture as metaphor and parable. It contains, moreover, a number of striking passages, such as, "It is a proof of great virtue to struggle with happiness."
THE SEA OP LIFE
"And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitude away." (Matt, xiv, 22.)