§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, I very much regret the unavoidable absence of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, in whose name the notice was given of the Motion which it now devolves upon me to ask the House to agree to. I feel, however, that it is comparatively unimportant by whom the Motion is proposed, because I am confident that the Address to the Crown which I am about to ask the House to agree to is one which will meet with the cordial and unanimous assent of the House. When the news a few days ago of the assassination of the President of the United States, and of the attempted assassination—for I hope we may now confidently expect that it will not have been a successful attempt—of Mr. Seward reached this country, the first impression in the mind of every one was that the intelligence could not be true. It was hoped by every one that persons could not be found capable of committing so atrocious a crime. But when the truth was forced upon us, when we could no longer entertain any doubt as to the correctness of the intelligence, the feeling which succeeded was one of universal sorrow, horror, and indignation. It was felt as if some great calamity had befallen ourselves. In the Civil War, the existence and the long continuance of which we have so sincerely deplored, it is well known that the Government of this country, acting, as I believe, in accordance with the almost unanimous feeling of this country, has maintained a strict and impartial neutrality. But it is notorious, and it could not in a great country like this be otherwise, that different opinions have been entertained 1243 by different persons with regard to the question at issue between the Northern and Southern States of America. I believe that the sympathies of the majority of the people of this country have been with the North. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] I am desirous, on this occasion, of avoiding everything which may excite any difference of opinion. I may say, therefore, that in this free country different opinions have been entertained, and different sympathies felt, and that the freest expression has been given, as it is right should be the case, to those differences of opinion. I am. sure I shall raise no controversy when I say that, in the presence of that great crime which has sent a thrill of horror through every one who heard of it, all difference of opinion, all conflicting sympathies for the moment, entirely vanish. I am anxious to say at once, and I desire to proclaim that belief with the strongest confidence, that this atrocious crime is regarded by every man of influence, position, and public estimation in the Southern States with the same degree of horror which it has excited in every other part of the world. We may, therefore—and this is all I wish to say upon this subject—whatever our opinions, and whatever our sympathies, cordially unite in expressing our abhorrence of the crime, as well as in tendering our sympathy to the nation now mourning the loss of its chosen and trusted chief, struck to the ground by the hand of an assassin, and that, too, at the most critical period of its history. Sir, while lamenting that war, and the loss of life inevitably occasioned by it, it is impossible, whatever our opinions or our sympathies, to withhold our admiration from the many gallant deeds performed, and acts of heroism displayed, by both parties in the contest; and it is a matter for painful reflection, that the page of history, recording such gallant achievements, and such heroic deeds, by men who have freely shed their blood on the battle-field in the cause which each considered right, should also be stained with the record of a crime such as we are now deploring. A new era appeared to be dawning, and the time had come when there was reason to hope that the war would speedily be brought to a close. Victory had crowned the efforts of the statesmen and the armies of the Federals, and most of us—all I hope—had turned with a feeling of relief and some hope for the future from the nar- 1244 rative of sanguinary conflicts to that correspondence which had recently passed between the Generals commanding the hostile armies, the character of which was equally honourable to each of those distinguished men, and all eyes were turned to Mr. Lincoln, with the hope and expectation—and I have reason to believe that that expectation would not have been disappointed—that in the hour of victory and in the use of victory he would have shown a wise forbearance, a generous consideration, which would have added tenfold lustre to the fame and reputation which he had acquired by his firmness of purpose and persevering stedfastness throughout the varying fortunes of this war. Unhappily the foul deed which has taken place has deprived Mr. Lincoln of the opportunity of thus adding to his well-earned fame and reputation; but we may hope, indeed we may expect, that the good sense and right feeling of those upon whom will devolve the arduous and difficult duties of the administration of affairs in this conjuncture, and their respect and veneration, the wishes and the memory of him whom they are mourning, will lead them to act in the same spirit and to follow the same counsels by which we have good reason to believe the conduct of Mr. Lincoln would have been guided, had he survived to complete the work in which he was engaged. Sir, I believe I am only expressing the general opinion when I say that nothing could give greater satisfaction to this country than that by means of generous forbearance, and of wise conciliation, the Union of the North and South should be again accomplished; especially if it can be accomplished by common consent, freed from what has heretofore constituted the weakness of that Union—the curse and disgrace of slavery. I wish it were possible for us to convey to the people of the United States an adequate idea of the depth and universality of the feeling which this sad event has occasioned in this country. From the highest to the lowest there has been but one feeling entertained. Her Majesty's Minister at Washington will, in obedience to the Queen's command, convey to the Government of the United States the expression of the feelings of Her Majesty and of her Government upon this deplorable event; and Her Majesty, with that tender consideration which she has always evinced for sorrow and suffering in others, of 1245 whatever rank, has, with her own hand, written a letter to Mrs. Lincoln, conveying the heartfelt sympathy of a widow to a widow under the terrible calamity with which she has been so suddenly overwhelmed. From every part of this country, from every class, but one voice has been heard, one of abhorrence of the crime, and of sympathy for and interest in the country which has this great loss to mourn. The British residents in the United States, as of course was to be expected, lost not an hour in expressing their sympathy with the Government of the United States, and the people of our North American colonies are vieing with each other in the expression of the same sentiments. And it is not only among men of the same race who are connected with the people of the United States by origin, language and blood, that these feelings prevail, but I believe that every country in Europe is giving expression to the same sentiments and sending the same message of sympathy to the Government of the United States. I am sure, therefore, that I am not wrong in anticipating that this House will, in the name of the people of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland, be anxious to record their expression of this sentiment, and a desire to have it conveyed to the Government of the United States. Of this I am confident, that this House could never more fully and more adequately represent the feelings of the whole of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom than by agreeing to the Address which it is now my duty to move, expressing to Her Majesty our sorrow and indignation at the assassination of the President of the United States, and praying Her Majesty that, in communicating her own sentiments to the Government of that country upon this deplorable event, she will express at the same time, on the part of this House, their abhorrence of the crime, and their sympathy with the Government and the people of the United States in the deep affliction in which they are involved.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, there are rare instances when the sympathy of a nation approaches those tenderer feelings that, generally speaking, are supposed to be peculiar to the individual, and to form the happy privilege of private life; and this is one.
Under all circumstances we should have bewailed the catastrophe at Washington; under all circumstances we should have shuddered at the means by which it was accomplished. But in the character of the 1246 victim, and even in the accessories of his last moments, there is something so homely and so innocent that it takes as it were the subject out of all the pomp of history and the ceremonial of diplomacy; it touches the heart of nations, and appeals to the domestic sentiment of mankind.
Sir, whatever the various and varying opinions in this House and the country generally on the policy of the late President of the United States, on this, I think, all must agree, that in one of the severest trials which ever tested the moral qualities of man, he fulfilled his duty with simplicity and strength. Nor is it possible for the people of England, at such a moment, to forget that he sprang from the same fatherland, and spoke the same mother tongue.
When such crimes are perpetrated the public mind is apt to fall into gloom and perplexity; for it is ignorant alike of the causes and the consequences of such deeds. But it is one of our duties to re-assure the country under unreasoning panic or despondency. Assassination has never changed the history of the world. I will not refer to the remote past, although an accident has made the most memorable example of antiquity, at this moment fresh in the mind and memory of all present. But even the costly sacrifice of a Caesar did not propitiate the inexorable destiny of his country. If we look to modern times, to times at least with the feelings of which we are familiar, and the people of which were animated and influenced by the same interests as ourselves, the violent deaths of two heroic men, Henry IV. of France, and the Prince of Orange, are conspicuous illustrations of this truth.
In expressing our unaffected and profound sympathy with the citizens of the United States at the untimely end of their elected Chief, let us not, therefore, sanction any feeling of depression, but rather let us express a fervent hope that from out the awful trials of the last four years, of which not the least is this violent demise, the various populations of North America may issue elevated and chastened; rich in that accumulated wisdom, and strong in that disciplined energy which a young nation can only acquire in a protracted and perilous struggle. Then they will be enabled not merely to renew their career of power and prosperity, but they will renew it to contribute to the general happiness of mankind. It is with these feelings, Sir, that I now second the Address to the Crown.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the expression of the deep sorrow and indignation with which this House has learned the Assassination of the President of the United States of America; and to pray Her Majesty that, in communicating Her own sentiments on this deplorable event to the Government of the United States, Her Majesty will also be graciously pleased to express on the part of Her faithful Commons their abhorrence of the crime, and their sympathy with the Government and People of the United States,
§ To be presented by Privy Councellors.