Por D. Appleton y Ca.. Nueva York :
THIS life of our lamented President, by the distinguished Argentine, now Minister to Washington, is a very interesting circumstance, aside from the merit of the work, which is very great. It is an amazing fact that so few Eastern Americans read and speak Spanish, when one portion of our country borders upon a Republic that speaks that language only, and when we are so nearly allied in feeling and free principles of government to South America, twenty-three of whose Republics are now represented in the diplomatic body at Washington. The most remarkable of these gentlemen is Colonel D. F. Sarmiento, who has done more to elevate the Republic he represents than any other individual ; for he has devoted many years of his active and patriotic life to introducing North American, and indeed we may say Massachusetts, systems of education into South America, — first into Chili, where he was an exile for twenty years, during the reign of the tyrants who brought such suffering upon the Argentine Republic, and since that time into the Argentine Republic itself, where he was at one time Governor of the province of San Juan, at another, Minister of Instruction in the province and city of Buenos Ayres, also Senator in their Congress. He took up the cause of his country when quite a boy, and has devoted himself to it, either in the field or as an educator, ever since. His eye has always been open to behold the workings of the free institutions that he desired to see established in it, and he has been probably the most powerful instrument in inducing his government to adopt the Constitution and laws of the United States, so that it is truly a sister Republic, and as such appeals irresistibly to our sympathy.
The Life of Mr. Lincoln, which he has now written for his own countrymen, has of course been gathered chiefly from biographies already written ; but the interest of the work consists in the adaptation of it to the South American needs. To set forth the dignity of labor, the supremacy of the moral sentiments, the duty of education for the whole people, has been his aim ; and he has enjoyed, and made others enjoy, the fact that two men of the people, par excellence, who had no adventitious aids of wealthy friends, or even of educated friends, did, by force of character and native powers of mind, come to be the free choice of this great people for President and Vice-President at a time when a new epoch opened in its history: for even before the war broke out, the “irrepressible conflict” was felt to be upon us, and we needed the best of helmsmen, and the wisest,—in that sense of the word wisdom which includes goodness as well as intelligence. We hope to see the Introduction to this work translated in full. The book closes with a translation of Mr. Lincoln’s favorite poem, “Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? ” by young Bartholomew Mitre, one of Señor Sarmiento’s legation, a son of the President of the Argentine Republic.
A few months since, Señor Sarmiento issued a pamphlet, giving an account of the splendid resources of the Republic, in answer to inquiries made by those who wished to emigrate thither. He also wrote, many years ago, a very interesting work, called “ Civilization and Barbarism,” giving an account of the reigns of some of those tyrants who so long arrested the great career of the Republic. That work is to be translated and published, and will give a new feeling of interest in the history of South America’s struggles for freedom. If it had been one united country, like the United States, instead of being cut up into so many governments, it would have been easier for foreigners (if, indeed, North Americans should be called foreigners in South America) to follow it in its various changes ; but, except where some great man, like Bolivar, made himself conspicuous, it was difficult, without much investigation of details, to keep the track of their proceedings, or to tell which side was specifically right,—for a revolution, to be very interesting, must have its foundation in great principles. The answer to this may be, that to throw off the yoke of foreign dominion implies a great principle, and this is true ; yet, until it is done intelligently rather than instinctively, it does not challenge the attention of the world.
Señor Sarmiento understands our institutions theoretically, as only those foreigners can who have suffered the ills of tyranny and oppression. Such men look at us from their various stand-points, and reason ethically upon the effect which freedom from all undue authority should have upon the human mind, and they judge of us by our theory rather than by our practice ; and when they come amongst us, they are often disappointed and disheartened to find that we, too, are selfish and hesitate to stretch the helping hand to our fellow-sufferers. When they have patience to look deeper than the surface, however, they see that there is a hidden might in the possibilities created by political freedom ; and since the outbreak of the war which has cost the nation such blood and treasure, they have seen that they were not mistaken, — that prosperity had not wholly spoiled us, — that the latent force only needed a stimulus to resolve itself into noble action ; and such lives as Lincoln's and Johnson’s are to them the most glorious expositions of the principles for which they have borne everything, suffered everything, and hoped everything. Our suffering neighbors, the Mexicans, may be helped in their struggles by the diffusion of this Spanish Life of Mr. Lincoln; for Sarmiento has dwelt with great minuteness upon all those features of our institutions which younger republics need to know in detail. It is, indeed, a manual of instruction for any young republic. He describes minutely the proceedings of the trial of Mr, Lincoln’s assassins, evidently with the intention of showing to his countrymen the mode of conducting such proceedings to secure the ends of justice ; and he often dwells upon the habitual regard of the majesty of Law evinced by our people in great emergencies, such as at the first election and at the reelection of Mr. Lincoln, when the whole nation stood breathless, as it were, and reverentially waited for that vox populi, which is theoretically vox Dei in a republic, but which, alas ! does not always prove so. If all parts of the Republic were intelligently educated, it would doubtless be so without fail ; but demagogues will always flourish and rule where there is ignorance and superstition, and the schoolmaster has not been abroad yet in the whole length and breadth of our land. Sarmiento never loses an opportunity of dwelling with power and eloquence, when addressing his countrymen, as he has often done upon this subject, on the advantages of a diffused knowledge among the people. Indeed, it all that he has written and said — even that portion of it which is recorded in the Buenos Ayres Common School Annals — could be collected, it would make a noble volume for all Spanish lands, — except, indeed, Old Spain, where there is not light enough to read it by.