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[114]

It is also positively untrue that he “carried a small tin pail.” As already stated, there was a bucket in the hands of a colored female servant, whom the narrators seem to have indiscriminately confounded with President Davis, or with Miss Howell, (who was not in company with him,) as it might serve a purpose.

But why this persistent effort to perpetuate a false and foolish story, which seems to have been originally invented for sensational purposes by a newspaper correspondent? Even if it had been true, there would have been nothing unworthy or discreditable in it. Princes and peers, statesmen and sages, heroes and patriots, in all ages, have held it permissible and honorable to escape from captivity in any guise whatever. The name of Alfred has never been less honored because he took refuge from the invaders of his country under the guise of a cowherd. It has never been reckoned as a blot on the escutcheon of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, that he attempted to evade the recognition of enemies (less ruthless and vindictive than those of the Confederate President) by assuming the garb of a pilgrim-although the attempt was a failure, and he was detected and imprisoned. Not to cite the scores of instances of a like sort scattered through the pages of ancient and modern history, I do not find in our own generation any disposition to traduce the character of a late President of the United States, held in high honor by a great many Americans — a President from whom General Wilson held his own commission — on account of a certain “Scotch cap and cloak,” which, according to the current accounts, he assumed, on the way to his own inauguration, as a means of escaping recognition by a band of real or imaginary conspirators, and in which he slipped through Baltimore undetected, and (in the words of Horace Greeley, who, nevertheless, approves the act,) “clandestinely and like a hunted fugitive.” Far be it from me, in retaliatory imitation of General Wilson, to sneer at this incident as the “ignoble” beginning of a bloodstained administration, which was to have a “pitiful termination” amidst the desecration of a day hallowed by the sanctity of eighteen centuries of Christian reverence. No Southern writer has spoken in such a strain of the departed Chief, although known to us while living only as the chief of our foes. The dignity of death, no less than the respect due to the feelings of the thousands of our countrymen who hold his memory in honor, protects his name and


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