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true, had once moved away in a sulk, but Mr. Gentry's fine diplomacy had quickly brought him back, with all his goods and talents unreservedly devoted to the "improvement of the town;" and now, since there was literally nothing left to cloud the prospects of the "point," brisk times were expected in the near future.
Dennis Hanks, John Johnston, Abe, and the other boys in the neighborhood, loitered much about the store, the grocery, and the blacksmith's shop, at Gentryville. Dennis ingenuously remarks, "Sometimes we spent a little time at grog, pushing weights, wrestling, telling stories." The time that Abe "spent at grog" was, in truth, a "little time." He never liked ardent spirits at any period of his life; but "he did take his dram as others did." He was a natural politician, intensely ambitious, and anxious to be popular. For this reason, and this alone, he drank with his friends, although very temperately. If he could have avoided it without giving offence, he would gladly have done so. But he coveted the applause of his pot companions, and, because he could not get it otherwise, made a faint pretence of enjoying his liquor as they did. The "people" drank, and Abe was always for doing whatever the "people" did. All his life he held that whatsoever was popular- the habit or the sentiment of the masses — could not be essentially wrong. But, although a whiskey-jug was kept in every ordinarily respectable household, Abe never tasted it at home. His step-mother thought he carried his temperance to extremes.
Jones, the great Jones, without whom it was generally agreed that Gentryville must have gone into eclipse, but with whom, and through whom, it was somehow to become a sort of metropolitan cross-roads, Jones was Abe's friend and mentor from the moment of their acquaintance. Abe is even said to have “clerked for him;" that is, he packed and unpacked boxes, ranged goods on the shelves, drew the liquids in the cellar, or exhibited the stone and earthen ware to purchasers;
1 The fact is proved by his most intimate acquaintances, both at Gentryville and New Salem.
but in his service he was never promoted to keeping accounts, or even to selling the finer goods across the counter.1 But Mr. Jones was very fond of his "clerk,"-enjoyed his company, appreciated his humor, and predicted something great for him. As he did not doubt that Abe would one day be a man of considerable influence, he took pains to give him correct views of the nature of American institutions. An ardent Jackson man himself, he imparted to Abe the true faith, as delivered by that great democratic apostle; and the traces of this teaching were never wholly effaced from Mr. Lincoln's mind. Whilst he remained at Gentryville, his politics accorded with Mr. Jones's; and, even after he had turned Whig in Illinois, John Hanks tells us that he wanted to whip a man for traducing Jackson. He was an eager reader of newspapers whenever he could get them, and Mr. Jones carefully put into his hands the kind he thought a raw youth should have. But Abe's appetite was not to be satisfied by what Mr. Jones supplied; and he frequently borrowed others from "Uncle Wood," who lived about a mile from the Lincoln cabin, and for whom he sometimes worked.
What manner of man kept the Gentryville grocery, we are not informed. Abe was often at his place, however, and would stay so long at nights, "telling stories" and "cracking jokes," that Dennis Hanks, who was ambitious in the same line, and probably jealous of Abe's overshadowing success,
got mad at him,” and “cussed him." When Dennis found himself thrown in the shade, he immediately became virtuous, and wished to retire early.
John Baldwin, the blacksmith, was one of Abe's special friends from his boyhood onward. Baldwin was a story-teller and a joker of rare accomplishments; and Abe, when a very little fellow, would slip off to his shop and sit and listen to
1 "Lincoln drove a team, cut up pork, and sold goods for Jones. Jones told me that Lincoln read all his books, and I remember History of United States as one. Jones often said to me, that Lincoln would make a great man one of these days, had said so long before, and to other people, said so as far back as 1828-9."— DOUGHERTY.
him by the hour. As he grew up, the practice continued as of old, except that Abe soon began to exchange anecdotes with his clever friend at the anvil. Dennis Hanks says Baldwin was his "particular friend,” and that “ Abe spent a great deal of his leisure time with him." Statesmen, plenipotentiaries, famous commanders, have many times made the White House at Washington ring with their laughter over the quaint tales of John Baldwin, the blacksmith, delivered second-hand by his inimitable friend Lincoln.
Abe and Dave Turnham had one day been threshing wheat, probably for Turnham's father, and concluded to spend the evening at Gentryville. They lingered there until late in the night, when, wending their way along the road toward Lincoln's cabin, they espied something resembling a man lying dead or insensible by the side of a mud-puddle. They rolled the sleeper over, and found in him an old and quite respectable acquaintance, hopelessly drunk. All efforts failed to rouse him to any exertion on his own behalf. Abe's companions were disposed to let him lie in the bed he had made for himself; but, as the night was cold and dreary, he must have frozen to death had this inhuman proposition been equally agreeable to everybody present. To Abe it seemed utterly monstrous; and, seeing he was to have no help, he bent his mighty frame, and, taking the big man in his long arms, carried him a great distance to Dennis Hanks's cabin. There he built a fire, warmed, rubbed, and nursed him through the entire night, his companions of the road having left him alone in his merciful task. The man often told John Hanks, that it was mighty "clever in Abe to tote him to a warm fire that cold night," and was very sure that Abe's strength and benevolence had saved his life.
Abe was fond of music, but was himself wholly unable to produce three harmonious notes together. He made various vain attempts to sing a few lines of "Poor old Ned," but they were all equally ludicrous and ineffectual. Religious songs did not appear to suit him at all," says Dennis Hanks; but
of profane ballads and amorous ditties he knew the words of a vast number. When Dennis got happy at the grocery, or passed the bounds of propriety at a frolic, he was in the habit of raising a charming carol in praise of the joys which enter into the Mussulman's estate on earth, — of which he has vouchsafed us only three lines,
"The turbaned Turk that scorns the world,
It was a prime favorite of Abe's; and Dennis sang it with such appropriate zest and feeling, that Abe never forgot a single word of it while he lived.
"Hail Columbia, happy land!
If you ain't drunk, I'll be damned,"
a song which Dennis thinks should be warbled only in the "fields;" and tells us that they knew and enjoyed "all such [songs] as this." Dave Turnham was also a musical genius, and had a "piece" beginning, —
"There was a Romish lady
1 "I recollect some more:
which Abe thought one of the best he ever heard, and insisted upon Dave's singing it for the delectation of old Tom Lincoln, who relished it quite as much as Abe did.1
Mrs. Crawford says, that Abe did not attempt to sing much
'Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
When I can read my title clear
'How tedious and tasteless the hours.'
'Oh! to grace how great a debtor!'
Other little songs I won't say any thing about: they would not look well in print; but I could give them.”—DENNIS HANKS.
about the house: he was probably afraid to indulge in such offensive gayeties in the very habitation of the morose Crawford. According to Dennis Hanks, his melody was not of the sort that hath power to charm the savage; and he was naturally timid about trying it upon Crawford. But, when he was freed from those chilling restraints, he put forth his best endeavors to render "one [song] that was called William Riley,' and one that was called John Anderson's Lamentations,' and one that was made about Gen. Jackson and John Adams, at the time they were nominated for the presidency."
The Jackson song indicated clearly enough Abe's steadiness in the political views inculcated by Jones. Mrs. Crawford could recollect but a single stanza of it:
"Let auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind,
And Jackson be our President,
In the text of "John Anderson's Lamentations," a most distressful lyric to begin with, Abe was popularly supposed to have interpolated some lines of his own, which conclusively attested his genius for poetic composition. At all events, he sang it as follows:
"O sinners! poor sinners, take warning by me:
"Much intoxication my ruin has been,
And my dear companion hath barbarously slain :
"Remember John Anderson's death, and reform