“God’s Will, Not Ours, Be Done”
These were the last words of President
McKinley as he bade farewell to the loving companion of his life,
to whom his kindness and devotion have been so constant and conspicuous.
It was with this beautiful spirit of resignation that he turned
from the realities of earth to explore the mysteries of the world
The struggle was over—the struggle
of a week during which hope and fear alternately gained the mastery.
The book of life is closed, and his achievements are a part of history.
After he became conscious that the end was drawing near, but before
the shadows quite obscured the light, he was heard to murmur some
of the words of “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” This sacred hymn, which
will be found in full upon another page, contains several lines
inspired by Jacob’s night at Bethel:
“Though, like a wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone.
Thus do the lines immortalize the
pillow which to Jacob must have seemed hard indeed—the pillow which,
when morning came, the patriarch would not have exchanged for the
softest one on which a weary head was ever laid.
It is still true that one’s sorest
afflictions and most bitter experiences are sometimes stepping stones
to higher rewards.
The terrible deed at Buffalo, rudely
breaking the ties of family and friendship and horrifying every
patriotic citizen, crowns a most extraordinary life with a halo
that cannot but exalt its victim’s place in history, while his bravery
during the trying ordeal, his forgiving spirit and his fortitude
in the final hours give glimpses of his inner life which nothing
less tragic could have revealed.
But, inexpressibly sad as is the death
of McKinley, the illustrous [sic] citizen, it is the damnable murder
of McKinley, the president, that melts seventy-five million hearts
into one and brings a hush to the farm, the factory and the forum.
Death is the inevitable incident of
every human career. It despises the sword and shield of the warrior,
and laughs at the precautions suggested by science; wealth cannot
build walls high enough or thick enough to shut it out, and no house
is humble enough to escape its visitation. Even love, the most potent
force known to man—love, the characteristic which links the human
to the divine—even love is powerless in its presence. Its contingency
is recognized in the marriage vow—“until death us do part”—and is
written upon friendship’s signet ring. But the death, even when
produced by natural causes, of a public servant charged with the
tremendous responsibilities which press upon a president, shocks
the entire country and is infinitely multipled [sic] when the circumstances
attending it constitute an attack upon the government itself. No
one can estimate the far-reaching effect of such an act as that
which now casts a gloom over our land. It shames America in the
eyes of the world; it impairs her moral prestige and gives the enemies
of free government a chance to mock at her. And it excites an indignation
which, while righteous in itself, may lead to acts which will partake
of the spirit of lawlesssness [sic].
As the president’s death overwhelms
all in a common sorrow, so it imposes a common responsibility, namely,
to so avenge the wrong done to the president, his family and the
country, as to make the executive’s life secure without bringing
insecurity to freedom of speech or freedom of the press.