To William H Seward





On the 12th of January, 1861, Mr. Seward delivered in the Senate chamber

a speech on The State of the Union, in which he urged the paramount duty

of preserving the Union, and went as far as it was possible to go,

without surrender of principles, in concessions to the Southern party,

concluding his argument with these words: "Having submitted my own

opinions on this great crisis, it remains only to say, that I shall

cheerfully lend to the government my best support in whatever prudent

yet energetic efforts it shall make to preserve the public peace, and to

maintain and preserve the Union; advising, only, that it practise, as

far as possible, the utmost moderation, forbearance, and conciliation.



"This Union has not yet accomplished what good for mankind was manifestly

designed by Him who appoints the seasons and prescribes the duties of

states and empires. No; if it were cast down by faction to-day, it would

rise again and re-appear in all its majestic proportions to-morrow. It

is the only government that can stand here. Woe! woe! to the man that

madly lifts his hand against it. It shall continue and endure; and men,

in after times, shall declare that this generation, which saved the

Union from such sudden and unlooked-for dangers, surpassed in

magnanimity even that one which laid its foundations in the eternal

principles of liberty, justice, and humanity."



STATESMAN, I thank thee! and, if yet dissent

Mingles, reluctant, with my large content,

I cannot censure what was nobly meant.

But, while constrained to hold even Union less

Than Liberty and Truth and Righteousness,

I thank thee in the sweet and holy name

Of peace, for wise calm words that put to shame

Passion and party. Courage may be shown

Not in defiance of the wrong alone;

He may be bravest who, unweaponed, bears

The olive branch, and, strong in justice, spares

The rash wrong-doer, giving widest scope,

To Christian charity and generous hope.

If, without damage to the sacred cause

Of Freedom and the safeguard of its laws--

If, without yielding that for which alone

We prize the Union, thou canst save it now

From a baptism of blood, upon thy brow

A wreath whose flowers no earthly soil have known;

Woven of the beatitudes, shall rest,

And the peacemaker be forever blest!

1861.

















TO SAMUEL E. SEWALL AND HARRIET W. SEWAll, OF MELROSE.



These lines to my old friends stood as dedication in the volume which

contained a collection of pieces under the general title of In War Time.

The group belonging distinctly under that title I have retained here;

the other pieces in the volume are distributed among the appropriate

divisions.



OLOR ISCANUS queries: "Why should we

Vex at the land's ridiculous miserie?"

So on his Usk banks, in the blood-red dawn

Of England's civil strife, did careless Vaughan

Bemock his times. O friends of many years!

Though faith and trust are stronger than our fears,

And the signs promise peace with liberty,

Not thus we trifle with our country's tears

And sweat of agony. The future's gain

Is certain as God's truth; but, meanwhile, pain

Is bitter and tears are salt: our voices take

A sober tone; our very household songs

Are heavy with a nation's griefs and wrongs;

And innocent mirth is chastened for the sake

Of the brave hearts that nevermore shall beat,

The eyes that smile no more, the unreturning

feet!

1863





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