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William H. Seward
by [?]

Then the old man explained that he used to be a guard on the walls, and now he had a grandson who occupied the same office, and in answer to my question said he knew Seward as though he were a brother. “Bill, he was the luckiest man ever in Auburn–he married rich and tumbled over bags of money if he just walked on the street. He believed in neither God nor devil and had a pompous way o’ makin’ folks think he knew all about everything. To make folks think you know is just as well as to know, I s’pose!” and the old man laughed and struck his cane on the echoing floor of the cell.

The sound and the place and the company gave me a creepy feeling, and I excused myself and made my way out past armed guards, through doorways where iron bars clicked and snapped, and steel bolts that held in a thousand men shot back to let me out, out into a freer air and a better atmosphere. And as I passed through the last overhanging arch where a one-armed guard wearing a G.A.R. badge turned a needlessly big key, there came unbeckoned across my inward sight a vision of a check-aproned girl in tears, sobbing with head on desk. And I said to myself: “Yes, yes! country girl or statesman, you shall drink the bitter potion that is the penalty of success–drink it to the very dregs. If you would escape moral and physical assassination, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing–court obscurity, for only in oblivion does safety lie.”

All mud sticks, but no mud is immortal, and that senile fling at the name of Seward is the last flickering, dying word of detraction that can be heard in the town that was his home for full half a century, or in the land he served so well. And yet it was in Auburn that mob spirit once found a voice; and when Seward was Lincoln’s most helpful adviser, and his sons were at the front serving the country’s cause, cries of “Burn his house! Burn his house!” came to the distracted ears of wife and daughter.

But all that has gone now. In fact, denial that calumny was ever offered to the name of Seward springs quickly to the lips of Auburn men, as they point with pride to that beautiful old home where he lived, and where now his son resides; and then they lead you, with a reverence that nearly uncovers, to the stately bronze standing on the spot that was once his garden–now a park belonging to the people.

Time marks wondrous changes; and the city where William Lloyd Garrison lived in “a rat-hole,” as reported by Boston’s Mayor, now honors Commonwealth Avenue with his statue. And so the sons of Seward’s enemies have devoted willing dollars to preserving “that classic face and spindling form” in deathless bronze.

And they do well, for Seward’s name and fame are Auburn’s glory.

* * * * *

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that all the worry of the world is quite useless. And on no subject affecting mortals is there so much worry as on that of (no, not love!) parents’ ambitions for their children. When the dimpled darling toddles and lisps and chatters, the satisfaction he gives is unalloyed; for he is so small and insignificant, his demands so imperious, that the entire household dance attendance on the wee tyrant, and count it joy. But by and by the things at which we used to laugh become presumptuous, and that which was once funny is now perverse. And the more practical a man is, the larger his stock of Connecticut commonsense, the greater his disillusionment as his children grow to manhood. When he beholds dawdling inanity and dowdy vanity growing lush as jimson, where yesterday, with strained prophetic vision, he saw budding excellence and worth, his soul is wrung by a worry that knows no peace. The matter is so poignantly personal that he dare not share it with another in confessional, and so he hugs his grief to his heart, and tries to hide it even from himself.