Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/355
At Lee's Tomb. 347
" Caesar was ambitious : If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answered it."
But was that ambition in him which was patriotism in us ? How is it that we^ who were upborne for four years by a passion for our <:ountry that stopped at no sacrifices, cannot understand that other men of the same race and blood could be inspired with the same passion for what they looked upon as their country, and fight for it with the same heroic devotion that we fought for ours ? They, as well as we, were fighting for an idea — we for union, and they for in- <iependence — a cause which was as sacred to them as ours to us. Is it that what was patriotism on the one side was only ambition on the other ? No ; it was not disappointed ambition that cut short that life ; it was not the humiliation of pride ; but a wound that struck far deeper. One who watched by him in those long night hours tells me that he died of a broken heart ! This is the most touching aspect of the great warrior's death ; that he did not fall on the field of battle, either in the hour of defeat or victpry, but in silent grief for sufferings which he could not relieve. There is something infin- itely pathetic in the way that he entered into the condition of a whole people, and gave his last strength to comfort those who were fallen and cast down. It was this constant strain of hand and brain and heart that finally snapped the strings of life, so that the last view of him as he passes out of our sight is one of unspeakable sadness. The dignity is preserved, but it is the dignity of woe. It is the same tall and stately form, yet not wearing the robes of a conqueror, but bowed with sorrows not his own. In this mournful majesty, silent with a grief beyond words, this great figure passes into history.
There we leave him to the judgment of another generation, that ^* standing afar off** may see some things more clearly than we. When the historian of future ages comes to write the history of the great republic he will give the first place to that War of the Revolu- tion by which our country gained its independence and took its place among the nations of the earth ; and the second to the late civil war, which, begun for separation, ended in a closer and consolidated Union. That was the last act in the great drama of our nation's life, in which history cannot forget the part that was borne by him whose silent form lies within this sepulchre.
As I took a last look at the sarcophagus I observed that it bore no epitaph ; no words of praise were carved upon the stone ; only a name,