« AnteriorContinuar »
Acknowledgment is due The Century Co. for permission to use
Abraham Lincoln, edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay
COPYRIGHT, 1898, 1924, BY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
COPYRIGHT, 1894, BY JOHN G. NICOLAY AND JOHN HAY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.
TAE accidents of book-making have seldom resulted in a queerer companionship, within the narrow space of a single volume, than is here found in the collocation of Charles Lamb and Abraham Lincoln. Both were humorists, and each man's name begins with "L." Otherwise they were as unlike as two men well could be. But each man had it in him to write masterpieces, and each man did it. Each is loved for his purely personal quali. ties, qualities that would be patent had neither man written a single line. This personal affection enters, no doubt, into the literary judgment of our generation. Lamb's editors and biographers, -of whom Canon Ainger and E. V. Lucas dèserve the deepest gratitude of the public,—write of him like lovers and disciples. Lincoln's biographers are now legion, and the roll-call of their names cannot be attempted here. It is enough to say that the tendency to make of Lincoln our national saint and hero—and no nation should desire a finer one!-needs, after all, the constant correction of those investigators who are gathering every scrap of actual evidence in order to record a faithful picture of a man. We can never have too many
To Grant ,
To William Cullin Benin
a jury was the result of his passion for putting ideas into language“ plain enough for any boy to comprehend." Lincoln's mind worked slowly, and he was long in finding the words that exactly expressed his thoughts, but when he had once hit upon the word or phrase he never forgot it. " He read less and thought more than any man in the country," says Herndon with a sort of pride, and it should be remembered that throughout his gradual development as a master of his mother tongue he was preoccupied, not with words for their own sake, but solely with words as the garb of ideas.
Furthermore, Lincoln's mental characteristics illustrate with singular force the remark of Hawthorne that style is the result of a desire to tell the simple truth as honestly and vividly as one can. He was “Honest Abe ;" not indeed so innocent and frank and unsophisticated as many people believed ; not a man who told all he knew, by any means, but yet a man essentially fair-minded." He looked into the nature of things. He read human nature dispassion. ately. A man of intense feeling, he was nevertheless, in mature life at least, without senti. mentality. He was not fooled by phrases. As « debater, he made no attempt to mislead his audience ; as President, when he found frank conversation impossible, he told a humorous story of more or less remote bearing upon the subject in hana." He kept in violate his mental integrity. And without integrity of mind the