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"I am waiting the summons in eternity to be hurled ;
In 1826 Abe's sister Nancy (or Sarah) was married to Aaron Grigsby; and the festivities of the occasion were made memorable by a song entitled, "Adam and Eve's Wedding Song," which many believed Abe had himself composed. The conceits embodied in the doggerel were old before Abe was born; but there is some intrinsic as well as extraneous evidence to show that the doggerel itself was his. It was sung by the whole Lincoln family, before Nancy's marriage and since, but by nobody else in the neighborhood.
ADAM AND EVE'S WEDDING SONG.
When Adam was created, he dwelt in Eden's shade,
Of creatures swarmed around
The Lord then was not willing
The man should be alone,
And closed the flesh in that place of;
And of it made a woman,
Then Adam he rejoiced
This woman was not taken
This woman was not taken
This woman she was taken
From under Adam's arm;
So she must be protected
From injuries and harm.
"It was considered at that time," says Mr. Richardson, "that Abe was the best penman in the neighborhood. One day, while he was on a visit at my mother's, I asked him to write some copies for me. He very willingly consented. He wrote several of them, but one of them I have never forgotten, although a boy at the time. It was this:
'Good boys who to their books apply
Here are two original lines from Abe's own copy-book, probably the first he ever had, and which must not be confounded with the famous scrap-book in which his step-mother, lost in admiration of its contents, declares he "entered all things: "
"Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen:
"Abraham Lincoln is my name,
And with my pen I write the same :
I will be a good boy, but God knows when."
The same book contains the following, written at a later day, and with nothing to indicate that any part of it was borrowed:
Abe wrote many "satires" and "chronicles," which are only remembered in fragments by a few old persons in the neighborhood. Even if we had them in full, they were most of them too indecent for publication. Such, at least, was the character of "a piece" which is said to have been exceedingly humorous and witty," touching a church trial, wherein Brother Harper and Sister Gordon were the parties seeking judgment. It was very coarse, but it served admirably to raise a laugh in the grocery at the expense of the church.
His chronicles were many, and on a great variety of subjects. They were written, as his early admirers love to tell us, "in the scriptural style;" but those we have betray a very limited acquaintance with the model. In these "chapters" was celebrated every event of importance that took place in the neighborhood: weddings, fights, Crawford's nose, Sister Gordon's innocence, Brother Harper's wit, were all served up, fresh and gross, for the amusement of the groundlings.
Charles and Reuben Grigsby were married about the same time, and, being brothers, returned to their father's house with their brides upon the same day. The infare, the feast, the dance, the ostentatious retirement of the brides and grooms, were conducted in the old-fashioned way of all new countries in the United States, but a way which was bad enough to shock Squire Western himself. On this occasion Abe was not invited, and was very "mad" in consequence. This indignation found vent in a highly-spiced piece of descriptive writing, entitled "The Chronicles of Reuben," which are still in existence.
But even "The Chronicles," venomous and highly successful as they were, were totally insufficient to sate Abe's desire for vengeance on the Grigsbys. They were important people about Gentryville, and the social slight they had given him stung him bitterly. He therefore began on "Billy" in rhyme, after disposing of Charles and Reuben "in scriptural style." Mrs. Crawford attempted to repeat these verses to Mr. Herndon; but the good old lady had not proceeded far, when she blushed very red, and, saying that they were hardly decent,
proposed to tell them to her daughter, who would tell them to her husband, who would write them down and send them to Mr. Herndon. They are probably much curtailed by Mrs. Crawford's modesty, but still it is impossible to transcribe them. We give what we can to show how the first steps of Abe's fame as a great writer were won. It must be admitted that the literary taste of the community in which these rhymes were popular could not have been very high.
"I will tell you about Joel and Mary: it is neither a joke or a story, for Reuben and Charles has married two girls, but Billy has married a boy."
"The girls he had tried on every side,
But none could he get to agree :
"So Billy and Natty agreed very well,
But Betsey she said, 'You cursed bald head,
Abe dropped "The Chronicles" at a "The Chronicles" at a point on the road where he was sure one of the Grigsbys would find them. The stratagem succeeded, and that delicate "satire " produced the desired effect. The Grigsbys were infuriated, — wild with a rage which would be satisfied only when Abe's face should be pounded into a jelly, and a couple of his ribs cracked by some member of the injured family. Honor, according to the Pigeon Creek code, demanded that somebody should be "licked" in expiation of an outrage so grievous, if not Abe, then some friend of Abe's, whom he would depute to stand the brunt in his stead. "Billy," the eldest of the brothers, was selected to challenge him. Abe accepted generally; that is, agreed that there should be a fight about the matter in question. It was accordingly so ordered: the ground was selected a mile and a half from Gentryville, a ring was
marked out, and the bullies for twenty miles around attended. The friends of both parties were present in force, and excitement ran high. When the time arrived for the champions to step into the ring, Abe displayed his chivalry in a manner that must have struck the bystanders with admiration. He announced, that whereas Billy was confessedly his inferior in size, shape, and talents, unable to hit with pen or fist with any thing like his power, therefore he would forego the advantage which the challenge gave him, and "turn over" his stepbrother, John Johnston, to do battle in his behalf. If this near relative should be sacrificed, he would abide the issue: he was merely anxious to see a fair and honorable fight. This proposition was considered highly meritorious, and the battle commenced on those general terms. John started out with fine pluck and spirit; but in a little while Billy got in some clever hits, and Abe began to exhibit symptoms of great uneasiness. Another pass or two, and John flagged quite decidedly, and it became evident that Abe was anxiously casting about for some pretext to break the ring. At length, when John was fairly down, and Billy on top, and all the spectators cheering, swearing, and pressing up to the very edge of the ring, Abe cried out that "Bill Boland showed foul play," and, bursting out of the crowd, seized Grigsby by the heels, and flung him off. Having righted John, and cleared the battle-ground of all opponents, "he swung a whiskeybottle over his head, and swore that he was the big buck of the lick." It seems that nobody of the Grigsby faction, not one in that large assembly of bullies, cared to encounter the sweep of Abe's tremendously long and muscular arms; and so he remained master of the "lick." He was not content, however, with a naked triumph, but vaunted himself in the most offensive manner. He singled out the victorious but cheated Billy, and, making sundry hostile demonstrations, declared that he could whip him then and there. Billy meekly said "he did not doubt that," but that, if Abe would make things even between them by fighting with pistols, he would not be slow to grant him a meeting. But Abe replied that he was