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[378]

A Robespierre and a Torquemada may exhibit emotional tenderness, shallow and fitful, but that of Lee was the vital principle of a robust, exalted nature, which found its inspirations in the sacred heart of Charity, and diffused itself in ceaseless acts of magnanimity and love.

So it was that while the passions of men were loosened, and the fierce work of war spread havoc and desolation far and wide, he who directed its tremendous forces with stern and nervous hand, moved also amongst its scenes of woe—a gracious and healing spirit. So it was to him a stricken foe was a foe no longer—that his orders to the surgeons of his army were to ‘treat the whole field alike,’ and when at Chancellorsville, he in person led the tempestuous assault that won the victory, and stood amongst the wounded of the blue and gray, heaped around him in indiscriminate carnage—his first thought and care were for them, alike in their common suffering. So it was that whether in Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Virginia, he restrained every excess of conduct, and held the reckless and the ruthless within those bounds which duty sets to action. So it was that to one homeless during the days of strife, he wrote: ‘Occupy yourself in helping those more helpless than yourself.’ So it was, that when the gallant General Phil. Kearney fell at Ox Hill, he sent his sword and horse through the lines to his mourning widow—and that when Lincoln was struck down by an assassin's hand, he denounced the deed as ‘a crime previously unknown to the country, and one that must be deprecated by every American.’ And so, too, when one day here, a man humbly clad sought alms at his door, Lee pointed to his retiring form and said: ‘That is one of our old soldiers who is in necessitous circumstances. He fought on the other side, but we must not remember that against him now.’ And this poor soldier said of him afterwards: ‘He is the noblest man that ever lived. He not only had a kind word for me, but he gave me some money to help me on my way.’ Better is that praise than any garland of the Poet or the Rhetorician.

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