Denton Jaques Snider.

Lincoln at Richmond; a dramatic epos of the civil war online

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Extension Lincoln Book



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THE LINCOLN TETRALOGY

BY

DENTON J. SNIDER.

A national epos in four separate poems cor
responding to the chief epochs of Lincoln s
career, and setting forth especially his inner life
and its transformations along with the outer
events of his time.

I. LINCOLN IN THE BLACK HAWK WAR.
The first pivotal episode in Lin
coln s evolution, written in free
rhymed tetrameters $1.50

II. LINCOLN AND ANN RUTLEDGE. The
love idyl of Lincoln s life, written
in hexameters 1.50

III. LINCOLN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Lin

coln s development through inner
and outer conflict to his national
greatness blank verse and prose 1.50

IV. LINCOLN AT RICHMOND, portraying his

last days of triumph and tragedy

1.50



LINCOLN



AT



RICHMOND



A Dramatic Epos of the Civil War



BY .<
DENTON J. SNIDER



ST. LOUIS, MO.

SIGMA PUBLISHING CO.

210 PINE ST.







Copyright 1914
BY DENTON J. SNIDER



Nixon-Jones Printing Co.
SIS Pine Street, St. Louis



LINCOLN AT RICHMOND



TABLE OF CONTENTS



Page

Prologue 5

PART FIRST
Lincoln at the Crossing

I. The Last See Saw 19

II. Lincoln and Grant 36

III. Lincoln s Monologue 43

IV. Grant s Monologue 53

V. Lincoln and Lamon 55

V

VI. Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan ... 65

VII. The Triumph of Personality .... 78

VIII. Lincoln in the Saddle 89

IX. The Place of Suffering 100

X. Reminiscent Ill

XI. Resurgam 123

XII. Crossing the Fatal Line 131

XIII. Ramble through Petersburg .... 140

XIV. Lincoln and the Soldier 147

XV. The Lady Eulalia Lovelace .... 155

(3)



Ml 77943



TABLE OP CONTENTS.



PART SECOND
The Fall of Richmond

Page

Prologue 171

I. Up the James 177

II. Under Doom 188

III. The Doom 196

IV. The Doom Lifting 203

V. The Doom Undoomed 212

PART THIRD
Lincoln s Richmond

Page

Prologue 217

I. Lincoln s New Office 225

II. The Masque of Harmonies .... 236

III. The African Jubilee 252

IV. The Black Crook 263

V. Virginia 271

VI. The Spectacle of the Genii .... 284

VII. Robert Anderson s Visit 297

VIII. The Ring of Unf ate 307

IX. The Spectral Duel 314

X. At the Richmond Hospital .... 328

XI. The Two Hates 343

XII. The Last Pageant 352

Historic Intimations 374

(4)



LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.



PROLOGUE.

Look ye at Abraham Lincoln now afloat

Upon the little craft caller River Queen,

"Whose keel runs kissing the Potomac s ripples

For miles and miles in tender undertone

Attuned to the bright joys of loving Spring,

Which thrill his spouse, the Earth, to glad creation

After the winter s barren godlessness.

On either side of the enraptured boat

The lounging banks stretch out sunning themselves

In overflow of vernal ecstacy

That breathes the season s subtle harmonies

Of greening fields and open-hearted hills

Bedight with peeping eyelets flowery,

And the fleet play of Nature s iridescence.

(5)

422958



6 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

Lincoln on deck upright is glancing back
The lifted mood of the season s buoyancy,
Which seems a foreplay of his life s own goal
Still hid behind his long expectancy,
But throbbing now to be born into fact ;
And with him there has come another self
Yet too his own at being s primal fount:
The Presence regnant in his upper realm,
But fusing with his personality
To guide the boat up to the wharf at Richmond,
Where rounds the circle of his whole career
Whose term is epilogued of tragedy.

But now the President hath tuned himself
To harmony with Nature s overture,
As she intones her freedom s risen soul
From Winter s icy chains of servitude,
To hymn a race s new enfranchisement.
He feels his own a resurrected world,
With that of Earth relborn to fresh green life,
Out of the deepest frozen Hell of Fate
Into whose pit he has for years been damned
To wander with his people for their sins,
Like melancholy spirits of the lost.

Another image fleeting fitfully

Oft hovers in his sight upon this trip :

Tis that of Douglas at their interview



PROLOG UE

Held in the White-House on the day of Sumter,

Which was the starting-point of the great War

Now rounding out itself into its end,

So that the semblance seemed to have the power

To interlink the time s first act and last

Into one cycle whole of History.

The shadowy shape revealed another gift :

It minded Lincoln of their common fate

Anew forecast in his deep soul of presage,

For Douglas had preluded in his death

The coming of the mighty tragedy,

While Lincoln still alive had oft forefelt

And now forefeels himself its mortal close,

The greatest day for both is day of doom,

But for the Nation is the life new-born.



LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.



BACKLOOK.

While Lincoln stood with upturned gaze ahead,
His whirling thought had circled him aback
To that world-pregnant moment which begins
His fraught quadrennium of Presidency,
Bearing the node historic of the ages ;
Then started he to query his career :
"Four years agone upon an April day
Not very different from this in balm,
I dared to issue my first Proclamation
In answer to the mad assault on Sumter;
At once the Nation kindled to a blaze
Which rages still along two battle fronts
Eyeing each other for the deadly bite
Here in the East between the Capitals,
Which lie on the Potomac and the James.
That Fatal Line atwixt the armies twain
I feel ingrown with my last destiny ;
But I must now expunge it from this land
Though with its life I shall yield up my own,
So deeply intertwined have run our days
That we together shall be coffined quite
In that same moment of devouring time."

Hit by the arrowed sting of his own thought
He leaped forth to his self -recovery :



PROLOGUE BACKLOOK. 9

"But why should I turn weeping- willow thus
To droop the sparkle of my leaves to earth,
Putting the sunshine in a gloom for me,
As I look upward at my tragedy?
Let me recall how changed is this salute
Which the blue eye of yon round Ocean rolls
At me in friendly hospitality:
So different from the time when through these waters
I took the passage to McClellan s lines
Which had turned back from the high enterprise
Whose drop made the whole Nation sag in doubt.
Then crashed down on my craft the maddened storm
Of wave and wind from an envenomed Heaven,
The stalwart vessel plunged into the seas,
Sank overflowed yet rose again to sight,
While every timber cracked and mortise groaned
Responsive to the tempest s scoffing howl,
As if the demons sported with my dole
Drenching me with their spray mid jeering whiffs,
And whirling me ten thousand cynic laughs
When my good hat, just bought, washed over
board."

Thus Lincoln looking backward funned a smile
Which soon stole down into his heart of sighs,
Bubbling to words as he bethought the time :
"But fiercer shrilled the storm within my soul
Than all that oceanic roar outside ;
The stricken State dropped sinking under me



10 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

Which I was helming to its goal of hope ;

Our army had recoiled from Bichmond s walls

And beaten lay within its sullen tents,

The Fatal Line which severed the whole Nation

I found more deeply graved and bloodily,

Than ever I had seen its chasm before.

But what was worse, it seemed to be

Within the very heart of all that host

Whose leader showed it stamped upon his speech

As well as everywhere upon his deeds.

That meant to me this Union is atwain,

Its rift impassable outside and in,

The Lord Himself turns rebel to the right

But stop ! why stir to flames the Hell that s past,

The present one is hot enough, God knows ;

Down baleful reminiscence to the pit!

I must bethink me of new strategy,

With which to countervail the thrusting hour

Which now comes tolling portents o er this way,

Presaging to my soul a bodement fresh

The menace of success, not of defeat,

For victory has too its devil sconced,

Whom I must exorcise in God s good name."



PROLOGUE FORELOOK.



FORELOOK.

Thus Lincoln turned to ruminate his task,
The deepest, subtlest, and the secretest,
Which he dared whisper only to himself
In moments of his soul s last intimacy.
Why did he take this trip down to the James?
An outing pleasant for a tense-wrought man
Who needed to unbend his four years tension
A week or so of tuneful holidays,
And see his soldier boys now triumphing :
Such was the public reason read in print.
Then he would shun the office-seekers horde
Which were alighting like a locusts storm
Upon the White-House, still to be his home,
Leased him four years longer by the people ;
So he ran off awhile from Washington:
Such were some outer reasons for his journey.
But the chief urge driving him thitherward
Was the anxiety he had kept wordless,
But which was nagging him with increased worry,
Until he had to start that he be there
Where he foresaw might break forth suddenly
The final crisis of the long-fought war,
Whose bayonets must yield to civil power
Which he should represent supremely throned.



12 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

Thus he began to word unvoiced his mind,

And cite before himself his hid misgivings:

Success has wreathed at last our Generals,

But with the triumph comes the problem new !

The trinity of chiefs victorious

Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, the war s elect

Have now been purged in the fierce fire of war

Until they rise up pedestaled aloft,

Acclaimed by all the people witnessing

Their martial deeds of supereminence.

That gives me too the joy of victory,

"Which titillates me every drop of blood.

Still I must haste to scan the gloried three,

For I would read Grant s silence in its depths,

Winnow the talk of Sherman s fluent tongue,

And mark how trends the dash of Sheridan.

All three are now converging to one point

Though hitherto so widely separate

That point is Richmond, the proud Capital,

Where still rebellion has authority

And holds within itself its greatest men.

The three will meet perchance at Grant s big tent,

I must be there with my supremacy

To overgeneral my Generals

To whom it may be well enough to show

Law s majesty in presence of their council.

I know I have their love, they would do nought

With purposed will to violate the law,



PROLOGUE FORELOOK. 13

And yet I have to guard against the spirit

Which grows, to them unconscious, with their work,

The slow deposit of the soldier s calling

Which may imperil freedom to our State.

How should I dare forget that early strife

Which often made me hopeless of my task,

When my first Generals one in the East,

One in the West McClellan and Fremont

Would breach the claim of civil sovereignty !

That double-dragon fight still makes me shiver

As the infernal time of my whole life

When its demonic jaws kept snapping at my office.

Both military men defied my rule

They had no love for me nor for the law,

And would themselves seize my authority.

That was the hardest lesson of my school,

And yet perchance most needful to me now,

To learn the soldier s basic consciousness,

Which dwells beneath his self s own cognizance,

Deeper and even other than his Will.

But both were failures at the height supernal,

They lacked success in war s initiative,

So they could never win dictatorship,

Which still would hover o er me menacing.

But now the turn is just the opposite :

Good fortune woos my greatest Generals

And makes them heroes to their soldiery

And to the people eager to admire.



14 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

So the successful leader in his turn

Gives me to weigh his possibilities

And take the forecast of their flowering.

Now I have come to tend the war s last turn

And test a battle of my strategy

Upon the strategists of this campaign,

Lest they break out of their profession s field,

And wound, unwitting of offense, the State,

For whose integrity they stake their lives.

So when the last but hardest knot of all

In that long Fatal Line is cut atwain,

I must be there to enter the fresh breach,

And seal the crossing of it with my deed.

Thus Lincoln told the secret of himself
Unto himself and kept it all untold
To any confidant but his own soul,
"Whose larger mystery down underneath
He is now deeply led to peer upon,
Devoting to self s shrine a pilgrimage
In quest of his own being s Fount of Birth.



PROLOGUE INLOOK. 15



INLOOK.

Alone he searched the bottom of his heart,
And through dark corridors of inner life
He wandered with his lamp of consciousness,
Turning its light into his depths of selfhood.
He seemed to feel the first genetic throb
Which hinted him of his whole destiny,
And made him share all human origin
Stirring in him the universal man
At his prime push into creation s bourne.
Sole he was seated on the moonlit deck
Peering out seaward toward the Infinite
Whereat each phosphorescent ripple seemed
To flash its little star of brief existence
As twere a sudden spark of Ocean s soul
Shot to a gleam in its evanishment,
Snapping a twinkle of all life and death:
"Such too am I, this individual,"
Mused Lincoln to the tune of Nature s mood,
"A sparkle on the bosom of the All,
A wee scintilla of the sea of being
Why was I ever separated from it,
And shaped into my single human dot
To flash one moment of this self of mine
And then go out, extinguished in Eternity ?



16 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

"While yet he asked, he knew a Presence there

Unseen, untouched by any outward sense,

But breathing a still message in his soul

At its first gush from the one Self of Selves

Into man s individuality.

That Presence had the power like to God s

To put its impress on our mortal speech,

Though this might stay unspoken to the ear,

Forging its words directly at their mint :

Thine is it to re-spin thy thread of life

"Which brought thee hither from the primal source

Forever re-creating thy creation,

Securing thus thine immortality.

Canst thou be second parent to thyself,

The other uppermost progenitor

Begetting thee begotton son of God

Who is none other than thy new-born Self?

The fate of Nature then thou shalt unf ate

Originating thine own origin

"Whereof Time is itself but one odd moment.

Till thou art father to thyself re-made

Thou hast not won thy deathless liberty,

And overcome thy being s boundary,

Like the Creator of the Universe

Who is but the one round of self-creation.

Lincoln was dazed by the outstretch of thought
Which him upbore from sources nethermost
Straining the bound of all intelligence.



PROLOGUE INLOOK. 17

And yet far down he heard the Yes of God,

In depths of mind below his cognizance,

So that he gave an answer half in trance

Unto that Presence telling of creation :

1 Fathering myself I am the rightful son

Not of Tom Lincoln, but of God the Father ;

I must re-bear my birth not only now

But all my forbears hitherto in time

Repeating my ancestral genesis

Back, to its outburst from the All-in- All,

Else I am not mine own completed Self,

But some decaying morsel of me whole,

Scintillant of my slight mortality.

I shall take up my race s life in mine,

Abbreviate in me humanity,

The People s dateless representative,

The incarnation of all ages folk.

And mine own days from youth I must re-live,

Repeating ever fresh my genesis

At every stressful node of Life s encounter.

Lincoln leaped startled from his revery

Over the two abysses of his being,

Tthe backward and the forward counterstroke

Which cycled him to ceaseless resurrection,

The rounding endless of his very Self.

The boat was turning the bent promontory
Which curves the sea into the river James,



18 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND.

Whose shores begin to show themselves as double

In the horizon s distance dimly limned.

Along this passage sailed the colonists

Who founded the first State Virginia

Starting the list of blooming Commonwealths

Now in the agony of mutual war

And also starting here the little rift

Which with the years has grown the Fatal Line,

Whose germ lay in that first shipload of blacks

Brought up this channel where we see

Lincoln now sailing to undo the deed,

The heirloom of two centuries and more.

This stream winds also the chief path

Which led the Cavalier to his new world ;

The Puritan, his foe, soon after came

Into like continental heritage,

And settled on the bleak New England hills.

Behold ! they have down here renewed the fight

Transporting their old feud from English strife,

Both have to be made over by our West

Which has to solve the dissonances harsh

Borne hither from aged Europe s polities.

But Lincoln now droops down to slumber s dreams,

Soothed to a sense of resurrected life,

While still alive, but likewise played upon

By presages of big futurity.



fart fmt.

Lincoln at the Crossing.
I.

The Last See-Saw.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Rumbling out the distant dawn

There rolls a deep-voiced growl

Low but savage,

As of some monster waking for its prey

At early twilight glinting morn.

Hark ! the bellow of angry cannonry !

The heralds of battle now proclaim

From red-tongued mouths of hissing flames

The quest of their mortal breakfast.

Lincoln lay sleeping on his cot unruly

Berthed aboard the petty plodding steamer,

Fondled with Aurora s kisses

Which silvered o er his craggy features

(19)



20 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND PART FIRST.

And smoothed down their care-hollowed gullies

To a moment of Heaven s serenity.

The roll of sounds soon played on his ear-drum

Reverberant in response,

Not waking him up, but starting throbs

Which chimed his long-harried soul

To a dream of what lay seething in it

With elemental ardors.

Out of that formless furious noise

There reared an image terrible,

Whose outline he had gloomily glimpsed

In fits of fantasy rampant

When he could vision the fact supreme

As it lay in the universal Mind.

See the monster upheave its head

A huge serpent curving between two armies ;

The living cylinder coils up

In rings its lissom frame,

Ready to snap its bloody jaws,

Or to dart its venomous forked tongue,

Or even to curl back over its body

With the thrust of its scorpion tail,

And sting in stabs of poison.

Take care, Lincoln !

Its fiery eye-balls gleam on thee

Shooting their baleful lightnings!

Keep watch ! its body lithe is its lasso,

Whose spiraled noose it may twirl over thy head



THE LAST SEE-SAW. 21

Swathing around thy frame
Its reptilian hug of death.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Louder, nearer, angrier,

Dash the waves of smiting detonation

From gory belches of pitiless gunnery

Shooting fiery words in fleet Aurora s face

And torching the round horizon to a blaze

Till Heaven s dome turned Hell s flare

With the pit inverted.

And now was heard between volcanic crashes

Of mighty artillery

The snarling chit-chat multitudinous

Of gossipy musketry

Yet malicious as winged imps

"With their insidious pellets of lead

Singing many a soldier his last lullaby

To the sleep of the grave,

And whistling his requiem.

But listen again, my Lincoln !

The mouthing cannon spell out thy name,

Syllable it on the yielding air

In thunderous repercussion,

Voicing with their hurling emphasis

A menace of dread to thee,

For hark the cannon-balls howling:

* Thou art the one I seek, just the one !



22 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND PART FIRST.

I am approaching now to envelop thee

In a hurrying hailstorm of missiles mortal,

One of which shall find thy heart."

But Lincoln laughed in his dream,

As if he had Destiny s pledge:

"Not here, not here!

Not by your bullet in my brain !

My time is not yet come,

E en if I be near the Crossing."

But mark another miracle sudden,

Happing in hideous harmony :

The serpent upthrust its great flat head

And over held him agape its reddening gullet,

Shooting in chorus with the gunnery

Its snaky hisses into words :

I have now come to throttle thee,

Long thy arrival I have awaited,

I know thee for my mortal enemy

Eager to break me joint by joint

And to cross my severed body

At its last chief node just here.

One or the other of us is now to die,

Or both of us I defy thee."

But Lincoln awoke not,

Though writhing uneasily in his sweat,

And still clutched tight by his furious dream

Which would not let him raise his eyelids



THE LA8T SEE-SAW. 23

To see the monster in outer light,

Being the creature of his deepest self,

Born of the very crisis of his soul- world ;

Wearily he had been watching for years,

Perched on his tottering tower of Hope

To witness those serpentine coils

As they would catch up and crush

Vast masses of soldiery battling,

Both of the blue and the gray,

Fateful to the one or the other

If either should try to cross it the Crossing;

But Lincoln himself has come to the Crossing.

Again the portent reared up whizzing its speech

Whose snaky sibilants shot in jets

From its slit tongue of vibrating hisses :

"Four years you have stood up the armed Will

Against me, seeking my vital part,

Now I aim at you;

I yet shall hug your windpipe noosed in my folds,

Constringing it to strangulation.

Whereat the mighty worm

Flung one of its rings over Lincoln s head

To lasso him on its grisly gallows ;

But he deftly slipped the scaly noose,

And leaped to his fence, ready to give

The final blow to the Satan of the Union.

So Lincoln had a new dragon-fight

With the monstered shape born of the War,



24 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND PART FIRST.

The damned Apollyon of Secession.
Still the serpent coiled up desperate
Between the two contending hosts,
It would not flee, could not be killed,
Fixed as the Fate over both,
Devouring all who dared too near
Its Hell double-dealing on either side.
Soon it lay down aligned quite as before,
While its eye-shot fell earthward spent ;
Still the dream-god kept lullabying Lincoln,
And would not turn his shut senses loose
Into the open world.

Boom ! Boom ! Boom !

The crash now doubled of both artilleries

Along two fire-lines, facing each other

In sulphurous Pandemonium,

And startled a tremble over the brooding air

Wherewith mingled in medley infernal

The victorious shout shrilled through with groans

Of those who crumpled down wounded and dying.

But see again the serpentine dream,

How it begins to rear and roll

Out of its brief quiescence

The many wheeled folds concentric,

Wreathing all its sinuous multiplicity

For a fresh cycled whirl of its stringent coils

Over its victim



THE LAST SEE-SAW. 25

Like primeval megalosaurian,

Portentous progeny got of the Earth-mother

In her dark diabolic wrestle

With hoarest Chaos.

But mark its new sudden turn from Lincoln

Firmly planting himself for his dare

To clutch it tight by its scaled gorge

In his strong bony fists

And test the mutual throttle !

Oh see its many mottled wheels

How it writhes convolutions backward

"Whirling around to the other side,

As if for a different combat !

What fresh appearance is thence coming?

Behold a new figure f antasmal !

A woman dawns out of the battle s smoke

Gigantic in full armor,

Like Pallas uprist in panoply Godlike

Standing high on Acropolis hill far visible.

Her features Lincoln well recognized

Even in their dazzling magnitude,

For he had visioned her twice before

Quite in the normal human size, yet ghostly,

At the White-House in Washington,

When she, the wrathful specter, bade him revoke

His two great Proclamations

Affirming Nationality first

And then Emancipation.



26 LINCOLN AT RICHMOND PART FIRST.

But look again ! the spectacle !

The prodigious snake of destiny

With venom-lightening glances

Turns round to front in a fight that semblance

Seeking to do to her the same deed

It had dared against Lincoln ;

Drawing up its full length to coil on coil,

To wrap her body in its convolving folds

It darts out to loup her neck

In a winding sheet of bandages.

But the lofty athletic Amazon

Wrenches the flaky noose of the hellish reptile

With the clutch of last despair

Contorting her fair features,

And she thrust it upward over her head,

With bulging brawn of arm and thigh,

Eesembling statued Laocoon of old

In his tense outreach of resistance

Straining against his hapless destiny,

As he wrestled with God-sent monsters

In cosmic agony

Reproaching the Gods.

Lincoln stood looking a world s compassion
Up at that mighty sufferer writhing,
Since he had been compelled for years
To wrestle with that self -same horror :
So he cried out in deepest sympathy ;



THE LAST SEE-SAW. 27

" Repent, Virginia!"

Then faced the lofty visage from its perch


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Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderLincoln at Richmond; a dramatic epos of the civil war → online text (page 1 of 16)