from The Webster Times, April 29, 1865 (Volume 7 #8), 

New York Correspondence

[The leading portion of the subjoined correspondence came to hand last week, but was unavoidably crowded out of our last issue.]

New York, April 17, 1865
To the Editor of the Webster Times:
Historic records bear nothing parallel to events which have occurred within the last few days. In our own country there has never before been so sudden a transition from intense joy to profound gloom. More than eighteen hundred years ago, at a date supposed to correspond with “Good Friday,” the Savior of the world died by the hands of wicked men, praying, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” It is a striking coincidence that he who is termed “the Savior of His Country,” on an anniversary of that day received from the hand of an assassin the wound that caused his death. At the last Cabinet meeting graced by the presence of our late President, his voice was heard substantially to say, “Forgive them for they know Not what they do.” The spirit of treason lurking in our country, the same which prompted the assault on Charles Sumner, and caused drinking cups to be made of dead men's bones, having become intensified, aimed at the heart of the nation., and took from us our Chief Magistrate. In so doing they have taken the best friend they had, that is, possessing the most magnanimous soul, the most forgiving spirit, and one who in all his deliberations kept girt about him the mantle of charity.

I have read a page in Wall Street life that will never be forgotten. Surely, from facts which came under my observation, I can say, the commercial as well as the social heart of our country suffers. Quite early on Saturday morning it was announced that both the gold and the stock markets had adjourned; consequently all places of business on Wall Street wore a quiet look, and one by one were closed. The more daring ones, who wished to make money out of this great affliction, were soon convinced that gold could not be bought and sold, for the people decreed it. Treason attempted to stalk down wall street, beside the beautiful Goddess of Liberty, but the angels of Righteous Indignation and justice drove the monster off, demanding the entire breath for the chariot wheels of Liberty. How gloriously she passed up the street! Yes, with a glory of the subdued kind, denoting a baptismal of sorrow and suffering.

For a few hours a dense throng crowed in front of Merchants Exchange. The deep sorrow of their hearts was visible on their faces. The were staggering under the weight and suddenness of the blow, and needed hope and consolation from some leading mind. General Butler and others spoke feelingly and ably of the sad event, which served to give a healthier tone to the thoughts and feelings of the masses. At evening the crowd swept around, up to Union Square, and very interesting facts might be stated pertaining to this meeting; but as in writing this letter I am stealing time from hours which I should be devoting to rest, I must be more brief. One question before I leave this part of my letter. Are there in that honored town of the old Bay State any who would not gladly have joined in the doxology sung by the crowd, in thanksgiving for our recent victory's? And are there any who, in this dark hour of sorrow, would not have united their voices with those of the twenty thousand who in concert with the Rev. Dr. Vermilyea, said, “Our Father who art in Heaven ect.”? One must see that crowd of uncovered heads, and hear the earnestness of those supplications, before realizing the awful solemnity of the scene.

Yesterday the churches were draped, and appropriate exercises held. Easter has been celebrated with far different feelings from ever before. Some of the sable draperies are of a costly character, and in one large establishment I noticed a bust of Abraham Lincoln, with a card affixed bearing the following inscription”

In Memory of
President of the United States of America
Born February 12, 1809
Died April 16, 1865
“With malice toward none and charity for all.”
Second Inaugural Address
“Good night, sweet peace,
And flights of angels
Sing thee to thy rest.”—Hamlet.

By its side, and probably erected when the report was current that he, too, was dead, was a bust of Mr. Steward, with thee following quotation:
“O, treble woe,
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of”—Hamlet.

Pages might be written descriptive of scenes here, and if time sufficient comes to my disposal, I will embrace the opportunity to continue this subject.

New York, April 22,1865
Mr. Editor,---For the past few days Sabbath quiet has prevailed here. The mantle of sorrow is upon us, we are clothed in habiliments of mourning never has Broadway been dressed in so becoming apparel as at present.

Lofty patriotism has been wafted to us from its hundreds of beautiful flags, in days of rejoicing, but there is an imposing grandeur, a depth of feeling shown forth now and one feels that the very air is permeated with holy sorrow. On Wall Street, and from Trinity to Grace Church on Broadway, I have been unable to find one building which does not in some way give expression of sorrow. pictures of the martyred President, in every variety, mottoes illustrative of his character or commemorative of his virtue, everywhere present themselves to the eye, also tombstones decked with evergreen and rare exotics, which bring to mind more vividly that he reaper Death has gathered one whose memory will be held sacred in the hearts of our people and the world

“The noblest death a man can die
is when he dies for man.”
“Only the action of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.”

I might quote hundreds of different mottoes which have come under my notice, but will add only one more, and that quite a lengthy one, which is from Sherman’ Photographic Gallery, Fulton Street, Brooklyn:

The land of Columbia is shrouded in gloom,
For all the insignia of sorrow now show;
A great and good man we bear to the tomb,
The patriot, the statesman, the chieftain lies low.

He fell not where legions commanded in strife,
But when victory dawned, at the height of his fame,
To a dastard assassin he yielded his life,
And glory of martyrdom hallows his name.

To millions of bondmen he liberty gave,
He struck off the chains that had to long oppressed,
To the rank of a freeman he lifted the slave,
And heard him rejoice, ere he went to his rest.

America! rise, with one heart and one voice,
With the strong arm of Truth, Treason’s hydra head smite;
Then again in shall thy children in Union rejoice,
And Peace o’er the land wave in pinions of white.

Honest Lincoln! farewell! we will never forget
The luster that o’er all thy pathway was thrown,
And thy name shall in letters immortal be set
On the records of glory, with Washington’s own.

This poem is printed on a large white tablet heavily bordered with black. which covers the depth of two stories, and is easily read from across the street. The people as well as the buildings, wore badges of morning; and in many instances, among the wealthier classes, entire families attended church on Wednesday in full morning. The Customs house, which is but one bloc above us , on Wall Street, is most artistically draped. The pillars in front are completely covered in black, which is relieved only by large white stars on each, the background being flags heavily trimmed in crape., and in the foreground, floating at half mast over the street, two large flags trimmed in a similar manner. But on visiting the inner apartment, and casting a glance at the rotunda, one feels intensely how inadequate are words to give a description of the scene.

I felt the same kind of awe creeping over me that I felt when I was in the old State House, at Annapolis, in the room where Washington resigned his commission, with my hand resting on the armchair which he had occupied. There is not a statue or a motto in the entire gallery but is suggestive of thought sufficient to engross a sensitive mind, one which as Tupper renders it, “has feelers floating on the wind,” to drink in inspiration. Over the entrance is a bust of Lincoln with heavy draperies around it, over a background of flags trimmed with crape. 

Ranged in order the entire circumference of the room are busts similarly arranged alternating with the names of our principal heroes and battles, in evergreen. Starting with the entrance we move to the left. On either side are “New Orleans, Farragut,” “Foote, Port Hudson,” “Worden, Sumter,” Next are, large pillars curtained in black, in the center a bust of Webster, over which are the words, “No North, No South,” and underneath the word, “Richmond.” Next in order, “Charleston, Sherman,” bordered with “Thomas Savannah,” and “Terry, Atlanta.” We are now approaching the part of the room which is exactly opposite the entrance. Massive pillars corresponding in draperies with the others, flags for backgrounds, ect. with a bust of Washington. Next in order, “Vicksburg, Grant,” bordered with “Sheridan, Gettysburg,” and “Hancock, Wilderness.” We are now opposite Webster’s bust, and have nearly completed the circle. In the center of the heavily draped columns in a bust of Jackson, at its right one of Henry Clay, and to the left one of Winfield Scott. Over the bust of Jackson are the words ”The Union must be preserved,” underneath, “Petersburg.” The only remaining mottoes are “Wilmington, Porter,” bordered with ”Cushing, Fort Fisher,” and “Stringham, Anderson.” The summit of the rotunda is decorated with fifty small flags inclining inward. In the center of the floor is a large flag rising from the spiral willow stairway, which is fastened to its support with crape.

The entire room has been trimmed in honor of our recent victories, and the sable trimmings served to enhance the grandeur of the whole. The artistic taste displayed in these arrangements is highly creditable to the designers, and through the courtesy of Supt. Hilliard we were able to see everything at the bet advantage. There was one noticeable fact which seemed as a ray of hope amid surrounding gloom. The cambric suspended in the center of the gallery is attached at the bottom to the railing which extends around the inner apartment, giving it the form of a tent. In this arrangement every bust is thrown in shadow except that of our late President; but on that the bright light of heaven descends fully, bringing it in full relief against the sable draperies. Mr. Hilliard assured us this fact had been noticed by others, but there had been no so design in the arrangements. With reluctant steps we left this awe inspiring room, and after noticing the costly crepe decorations about the door of the “collector’s “ room, left the building, feeling that he who was slain merited all this and even more. 

M. E. Lewis


15th Massachusetts VI