Shame on the cruel head that plann’d
So dark a crime, so foul a deed!
Shame on the ruthless heart and hand
That bade the aged victim bleed!
The fight was won, the strife was o’er.
And wearied warriors sighed for peace,
That brothers, as in days of yore,
Might meet, and civil slaughter cease:
And, though subdued, the gallant train,
Outnumber’d, not dishearten’d, stand;
No loss of honour, not a stain
Was on the fiery Southern band.
Yet now, when War has sheath’d his sword,
And doffed his helm, and check’d his steed,
Assassination stalks aroad,
‘Neath mask of high heroic deed.
Ye brave Virginians! ye who boast
Your gentle blood direct to trace
From the First Charles’s exiled host –
The noblest of Old England’s race!
Whose motto, “Tyrants we withstand”
By open and chivalrous strife,
Whose crest a sword, and knightly brand,
And not the coward murderer’s knife –
Throw from your burgonets the shame!
Abjure these foul aspersion flung!
Think with what honest pride you claim
The Anglo-Saxon heart and tongue;
And to the world proclaim it forth
With lion hearts you bravely stood,
And hate the stealthy tiger’s weath,
The savage thirst for human blood.
Date:May 6th 1865
This is one of several elegies to Lincoln in the weeks after his assassination to feature in the pages of Lancashire newspapers. The interesting aspect here is the suggestion that the American Civil War had been fought honourably on both side until this deed stained it. – SR