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[332] attacks on rear and flank, found itself completely hemmed in by overwhelming masses. Nothing remained to it but its stainless honor, its unbroken courage.

In those last solemn scenes, when strong men, losing all self control, broke down and sobbed like children, Lee stood forth as great as in the days of victory and triumph. No disaster crushed his spirit, no extremity of danger ruffled his bearing. In the agony of dissolution now invading that proud army, which for four years had wrested victory from every peril, in that blackness of utter darkness, he preserved the serene lucidity of his mind. He looked the stubborn facts calmly in the face, and, when no military resource remained, when he recognized the impossibility of making another march or fighting another battle, he bowed his head in submission to that Power, which makes and unmakes nations.

The surrender of the fragments of the Army of Northern Virginia closed the imperishable record of his military life.

What a catastrophe! What a moving and pathetic contrast! On the one side, complete and dazzling triumph after a long succession of humiliating disasters; on the other, absolute ruin and defeat—a crown of thorns for that peerless army which hitherto had known only the victor's laurel! But the magnanimity of the conqueror, not less than the fortitude of the vanquished shone out over the solemn scene, and softened its tragic outlines of fate and doom. The moderation and good sense of the Northern people, breathing the large and generous air of our western world, quickly responded to Grant's example, and, though the North was afterwards betrayed into fanatical and baleful excess on more than one great subject, all the fiercer passions of a bloody civil war were rapidly extinguished. There was to be no Poland, no Ireland in America. When the Hollywood pyramid was rising over the Confederate dead soon after the close of the contest, some one suggested for the inscription a classic verse, which may be rendered:

They died for their country—their country perished with them.

Thus would have spoken the voice of despair.

Far different were the thoughts of Lee. He had drawn his sword in obedience only to the dictates of duty and honor, and, looking back in that moment of utter defeat, he might have exclaimed with Demosthenes: ‘I say that, if the event had been manifest to the whole world beforehand, not even then ought Athens to have forsaken this course, if Athens had any regard for her glory, or for her ’

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