VISIONS OF DEATH:
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote a multi-volume book series
about Abraham Lincoln, published in 1939. In April of 1865, shortly
before he was shot, Lincoln is quoted as saying, "About ten days
ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches
from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into
a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to
be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as
if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered
downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing,
but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living
person was in sight, butthe same mournful sounds of distress met
me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object
was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving
as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could
be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state
of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived
at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise.
Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral
vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards;
and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the
corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is
dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The
President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Then came
a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream.
I slept no more that night; and though it was only a dream, I have
been strangely annoyed by it ever since."
As quoted by Sandburg, three things, in Lamon's estimate, sustained and upheld Lincoln under the weight of this darkly foretold doom conveyed by an illusion in a mirror: "His sense of duty to his country; his belief that 'the inevitable' is right; and his innate and irrepressible humor."
Data Sources include: "Abraham
Lincoln," Volume 6, by Carl Sandburg, Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1939; "Anatomy of an Assassination: The Murder of
Abraham Lincoln," by John Cottrell, Funk & Wagnalls,
1966; "LINCOLN - An Illustrated Biography" by Philip
B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt.