Remarks at the Astor House, New York City, February 19, 1861

FELLOW-CITIZENS:--I have stepped before you merely in compliance with what appears to be your wish, and not with the purpose of making a speech. I do not propose making a speech this afternoon. I could not be heard by any but a small fraction of you, at best; but, what is still worse than that, I have nothing just now to say that is worthy of your hearing. I beg you to believe that I do not now refuse to address you from any disposition to disoblige you, but to the contrary. But, at the same time, I beg of you to excuse me for the present.