civilization, the whole world looking on. The two were Grant
Both rose, and rose unconsciously, to the full height of the occasion—and than that occasion there has been none greater.
About it, and them, there was no theatrical display, no self-consciousness, no effort at effect.
A great crisis was to be met; and they met that crisis as great countrymen should.
Consider the possibilities; think for a moment of what that day might have been—you will then see cause to thank God for much.
That month of April saw the close of exactly four years of persistent strife—a strife which the whole civilized world had been watching intently.
Democracy—the capacity of man in his presentstage of development for self-government—was believed to be on trial.
The wish the father to the thought, the prophets of evil had been liberal in prediction.
It so chances that my attention has been specially drawn to the European
utterances of that time; and, read in the clear light of subsequent history, I use words of moderation when I say that they are now both inconceivable and ludicrous.
Staid journals, grave public men, seemed to take what was little less than pleasure in pronouncing that impossible of occurrence which was destined soon to occur, and in committing themselves to readings of the book of fate in exact opposition to what the muse of history was wetting the pen to record.
Volumes of unmerited abuse and false vaticination—and volumes hardly less amusing now than instructive—could be garnered from the columns of the London Times
—volumes in which the spirt of contemptuous and patronizing dislike sought expression in the profoundest ignorance of facts, set down in bitterest words.
Not only were republican institutions and man's capacity for self-government on trial, but the severest of sentences was imposed in advance of the adverse verdict, assumed to be inevitable.
Then, suddenly, came the dramatic climax at Appomattox
—dramatic, I say, not theatrical—severe in its simple, sober, matter-of-fact majesty.
The world, I again assert, has seen nothing like it; and the world, instinctively, was conscious of the fact.
I like to dwell on the familiar circumstances of the day; on its momentous outcome; on its far-reaching results.
It affords one of the greatest educational object-lessons to be found in history; and the actors were worthy of the theater, the auditor and the play.
A mighty tragedy was drawing to a close.
The breathless world was the audience.
It was a bright balmy April Sunday
in a quiet Virginia
landscape, with two veteran armies confronting each other; one, game to the death, completely in the grasp of the other.