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Xxxvi.

A great deal has been said of the uniform meekness and kindness of heart of Mr. Lincoln, but there would sometimes be afforded evidence that one grain of sand too much would break even this camel's back. Among the callers at the White House one day, was an officer who had been cashiered from the service. He had prepared an elaborate defence of himself, which he consumed much time in reading to the President. When he had [106] finished, Mr. Lincoln replied, that even upon his own statement of the case, the facts would not warrant executive interference. Disappointed, and considerably crestfallen, the man withdrew. A few days afterward he made a second attempt to alter the President's convictions, going over substantially the same ground, and occupying about the same space of time, but without accomplishing his end. The third time he succeeded in forcing himself into Mr. Lincoln's presence, who with great forbearance listened to another repetition of the case to its conclusion, but made no reply. Waiting for a moment, the man gathered from the expression of his countenance that his mind was unconvinced. Turning very abruptly, he said: “Well, Mr. President, I see you are fully determined not to do me justice!” This was too aggravating, even for Mr. Lincoln. Manifesting, however, no more feeling than that indicated by a slight compression of the lips, he very quietly arose, laid down a package of papers he held in his hand, and then suddenly seizing the defunct officer by the coat-collar, he marched him forcibly to the door, saying, as he ejected him into the passage: “Sir, I give you fair warning never to show yourself in this room again. I can bear censure, but not insult!” In a whining tone the man begged for his papers, which he had dropped. “Begone, sir,” said the President, “your papers will be sent to you. I never wish to see your face again!” [107]

Upon another occasion, as I was going through the passage, the door of the President's office suddenly opened, and two ladies, one of whom seemed in a towering passion, were unceremoniously ushered out by one of the attendants. As they passed me on their way down the stairs, I overheard the elder remonstrating with her companion upon the violence of her expressions. I afterward asked old Daniel what had happened? “Oh,” he replied, “the younger woman was very saucy to the President. She went one step too far; and he told me to show them out of the house?”

Of a similar character is an incident given by “N. C. J.,” in a letter to the New York Times :--

Among the various applicants, a well-dressed lady came forward, without apparent embarrassment in her air or manner, and addressed the President. Giving her a very close and scrutinizing look, he said, “Well, madam, what can I do for you?” She proceeded to tell him that she lived in Alexandria; that the church where she worshipped had been taken for a hospital. “What church, madam?” Mr. Lincoln asked, in a quick, nervous manner. “The — church,” she replied; “and as there are only two or three wounded soldiers in it, I came to see if you would not let us have it, as we want it very much to worship God in.” “Madam, have you been to see the Post Surgeon at Alexandria about this matter?” “Yes, sir; but we [108] could do nothing with him.” “Well, we put him there to attend to just such business, and it is reasonable to suppose that he knows better what should be done under the circumstances than I do. See here: you say you live in Alexandria; probably you own property there. How much will you give to assist in building a hospital?”

“You know, Mr. Lincoln, our property is very much embarrassed by the war;--so, really, I could hardly afford to give much for such a purpose.”

“Well, madam, I expect we shall have another fight soon; and my candid opinion is, God wants that church for poor wounded Union soldiers, as much as he does for secesh people to worship in.” Turning to his table, he said, quite abruptly, “You will excuse me; I can do nothing for you. Good day, madam.”

I had noticed two other women who stood just back of me. I was fully convinced that I had rightly guessed their errand from their appearance; for one of them, whose wicked eyes shot fire, said to her companion in a spiteful under-tone, “Oh! the old brute,--there is no use asking for our passes; come, let's go.” And they did go, in evident wrath; leaving the President to perform more pleasant duties.

The same correspondent witnessed also the following scene:--

A couple of aged, plain country people, poorly clad, but with frank open countenances, now came [109] forward. “Now is your time, dear,” said the husband, as the President dismissed the one preceding them. The lady stepped forward, made a low courtesy, and said, “Mr. President.

Mr. Lincoln, looking over his spectacles, fixed those gray, piercing, yet mild eyes upon her, then lifting his head and extending his hand, he said, in the kindest tones: “Well, good lady, what can I do for you?”

Mr. President,” she resumed, “I feel so embarrassed I can hardly speak. I never spoke to a President before; but I am a good Union woman down in Maryland, and my son is wounded badly, and in the hospital, and I have been trying to get him out, but somehow couldn't, and they said I had better come right to you. When the war first broke out I gave my son first to God, and then told him he might go fight the Rebels; and now if you will let me take him home I will nurse him up, and just as soon as he gets well enough he shall go right back and help put down the rebellion. He is a good boy, and don't want to shirk the service.”

I was looking full in Mr. Lincoln's face. I saw the tears gathering in his eyes, and his lips quivered as he replied:

“Yes, yes, God bless you! you shall have your son. What hospital did you say?” It seemed a relief to him to turn aside and write a few words, which he handed to the woman, saying: “There, give that to--; and you will get your son, if he is able to go home with you.” [110]

“God bless you, Mr. President!” said the father, the only words he had uttered; and the mother, making a low courtesy, fairly sobbed: “O sir, we are so much obliged to you.” “Yes, yes; all right; and you will find that that will bring him,” was spoken in tones so kindly and tender, that they have often since thrilled my memory.

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