Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural.
We gave the inaugural of Mr. Lincoln to our readers yesterday. It is brief, being confined to one subject only — the existing national dispute, growing out of the slave question. The dangerous attitude of the question Mr. Lincoln shows himself sensible of, in every line of his inaugural; his guarded expressions, exhibiting his anxiety to hold to his definition of the right, as derived from his party obligations, while he endeavors to make no declaration which would provoke increased sectional acrimony. In one line he leans to "coercion," while in another he deprecates results which may follow. He justly points out the constitutional duty of all citizens who revere their constitutional obligations, but he shows his doubt of the ability of the national government to enforce the constitutional requirements except at the expense of a strife which, not reaching the desired end, can only result, at last, after waste of blood and treasure, in a permanent separation of the discordant elements.
The tone and temper of Mr. Lincoln's address is a striking commentary upon the abuse of the position of the Illinois democracy in the resolutions of their recent state convention by his adherents in this state. It is now Mr. Lincoln's province to make the best of a sad condition of things. His inaugural has none of the high sounding threatenings of the ultra partisans who elected him to place. His endeavor to sustain their views and to meet their expectations and to take, at the same time, a statesmanlike and patriotic view of the national question, necessarily led him into ambiguity. Mr. Lincoln, probably, would have been explicit, more decided, as to his future policy, had he been trammelled less by nice definition of party resolutions, which bore so heavily with him that he deemed it necessary to embody one in his first state paper. After reading his inaugural the general public are as much at a loss to know what will be his line of policy in regard to the seceding states as before. His carefully guarded sentences are at once source of public difference of opinion as to his real meaning, which he seems disposed to cultivate by the announcement that his "course indicated will be followed unless current events shall show a modification or change to be proper." In a word, having no definite course to indicate, and desirous of making a showing to meet the views of party, ambiguous phrases to tickle the ear are used, to be modified as "current events" may dictate.
We must sympathize with Mr. Lincoln in his perplexity; especially in view of the "thunder in the index" of his ultra followers. He is now where he must abide "current events." We trust that they may be such as to enable him to pursue his constitutional functions to their legitimate end. His arguments against the right of secession, for the rights of majorities, his picture of the anarchical results of their abandonment, are truisms, not questioned by any one recognizing as sound the principles upon which our institutions are based. But there are evils incident to our federative system, and the present crisis is evidence of the liability to their presence. How to maintain his party position and at the same time maintain a policy to insure the continuance of the Union was Mr. Lincoln's dilemma. He succeeded in expressing a deal of patriotism, much of firmness and a mountain of ambiguity.
With Mr. Lincoln, we must await "current events" and experiences to learn how he will manage the only question which he discusses in his message, it being the only one of "special anxiety or excitement."