President Lincoln's last speech in Springfield — Affecting Reminiscence.
Springfield, Monday Evening, April 17, 1865.
We extract from the State Journal the following remembrances of the last words uttered by the lamented dead as he quitted his home in 1861, to assume the duties of government. Alas these were the last sentences he ever uttered to his old friends and neighbors. We shall never see his face alive again, nor hear his gentle speech. May a gracious providence console and comfort his bereaved family:
In the midst of our lamentations over the untimely death of President Lincoln, we deem it not out of place to recall to his sorrowing friends his parting words upon taking leave of them, for four years, to assume the duties of the exalted office to which he had then been elected. It was on the 12th day of February, 1861, that he left this city, by special train, for the national capital. We all remember the sad and impressive scene which took place at the depot. At each step of his progress towards the cars, friendly hands were extended for last greeting, and "God bless you" was sent up from nearly every one of the vast assembly gathered there to witness his departure. With sadness and depression, Mr. Lincoln, upon reaching the platform of the car, turned towards the crowd, removed his hat, paused for some moments as if unable to control his feelings, and then, slowly, impressively and with profound emotion, uttered the following words:
"Friends! No one who has never been placed in a like position can understand my feelings at this hour, NOR THE OPPRESSIVE SADNESS I FEEL AT THIS PARTING. For more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all that time I have received nothing by kindness at your hands. Here I have lived from my youth, until now I am an old man. Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed. Here all my children were born; here one of them lies buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. All the strange, chequered past seems now to crowd upon my mind.
"To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon General Washington. Unless the Great God who assisted him shall be with me and aid me, I must fail. But if the same Omniscient mind and the same Almighty arm that directed and protected him, shall guide and support me I shall not fail; I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him I commend you all — permit me to ask that, with equal sincerity and faith, you all will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me.
"With these few words I must leave you — FOR HOW LONG I KNOW NOT. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate farewell."