A day or two previous to the meeting of the Republican Convention, the President
read me his letter to the “Owen Lovejoy
Monument Association,” --lately written, and not then published,--in which he expressed his appreciation of Mr. Lovejoy
in nearly the same language I had heard him use on a former occasion.
“Throughout my heavy and perplexing responsibilities here,” ran the letter, “to the day of his death, it would scarcely wrong any other to say he was my most generous friend.
Let him have the marble monument, along with the well assured and more enduring one in the hearts of those who love liberty unselfishly for all men.”
A noble tribute, in fitly chosen words!
The evening following the reading of this letter, he said that Mrs. Lincoln
and he had promised half an hour to a sort of “artist” who wished to “exhibit” before them in the red-room below.
“What kind of an artist?”
“Oh, not in your line,” he answered; “I think he is a sort of mountebank, or comic lecturer, or something of the kind.”
On my way to my own room, I met in the passage the well-known “Jeems Pipes of Pipesville,” --otherwise Stephen Massett
,--whom I at once conjectured to be the individual the President
had referred to. The two rooms communicating by double doors, I could not well avoid overhearing a portion of the performance,
or more properly lecture, which I think was announced by the title of “Drifting about.”
Comic imitations of various characters were given, among others that of a stammering man, which appeared greatly to amuse Mr. Lincoln
I could only now and then catch a word of the burlesque, but the voice and ringing laugh of the President
were perfectly distinguishable.
When the “lecture” ceased, Mr. Lincoln
said, “I want to offer a suggestion.
I once knew a man who invariably ‘whistled
’ with his stammering,” and he then gave an imitation.
“Now,” he continued, “if you could get in a touch of nature like that it would be irresistibly ludicrous.”
“Pipes” applauded the amendment, rehearsing it several times, until he had mastered it to the President
's satisfaction; and I dare say the innovation became a part of all subsequent performances.
About this period numerous delegations from various religious bodies and associations thronged the White House
Among the number none met so cordial a reception as that of the “Christian Commission,” composed of volunteer clergymen who had just returned from the Wilderness
In the brief address by the chairman of the occasion, he stated that the group before the President
embraced those who had been first on the field to offer aid and refreshments to the wounded of that terrible series of battles.
In reply Mr. Lincoln
expressed his appreciation of the
self-denying services rendered by the Commission, in feeling terms.
He concluded his response in these words: “And I desire also to add to what I have said, that there is one association whose object and motives I have never heard in any degree impugned or questioned; and that is the ‘Christian Commission.’
And in ‘these days of villany,’ as Shakspeare
says, that is a record, gentlemen, of which you may justly be proud!”
Upon the conclusion of the “ceremony,” he added, in a conversational tone, “I believe, however, it is old ‘Jack Falstaff
’ who talks about ‘villany,’ though of course Shakspeare
After the customary hand-shaking, which followed, several gentlemen came forward and asked the President
for his autograph.
One of them gave his name as “Cruikshank
“That reminds me,” said Mr. Lincoln
, “of what I used to be called when a young man--‘long-shanks.’
” Hereupon the rest of the party, emboldened by the success of the few, crowded around the desk, and the President
good naturedly wrote his name for each; the scene suggesting forcibly to my mind a country schoolmaster's weekly distribution of “tickets” among his pupils.