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myself; first, a business mood, when he gave strict and close attention to business, and banished all idea of hilarity; i.e. in counselling or in trying cases, there was no trace of the joker; second, his melancholy moods, when his whole nature was immersed in Cimmerian darkness; third, his don't-care-whether-school-keeps-or-not mood; when no irresponsible 'small boy' could be so apparently careless, or reckless of consequences.”
At home he was an indulgent parent, seemingly unwilling to cross his children in anything. He is described as fond of playing with kittens, taking walks with the children, working about the house, or lying on the floor reading, but caring nothing for food or drink, or for some aspects of natural beauty, such as flowers and trees. He would often slip away by himself to a theatre or concert, especially if the entertainment was light, and he enjoyed particularly minstrels and a little magic-lantern show intended for children. He would stop in the street to analyze any machine he saw, from an omnibus to a clock, turning onto mechanical and intellectual problems the same spirit of analytic interest." While we were travelling in ante-railway days,” says Henry C. Whitney, “on the circuit, and would stop at a farmhouse for dinner, Lincoln would improve the leisure in hunting up some farming implement, machine, or tool, and he would carefully examine
it all over, first generally and then critically; he would ‘sight' it to determine if it was straight or warped; if he could make a practical test of it, he would do that; he would turn it over or around and stoop down, or lie down, if necessary, to look under it; he would examine it closely, then stand off and examine it at a little distance; he would shake it, lift it, roll it about, up-end it, overset it, and thus ascertain every quality and utility which inhered in it, so far as acute and patient investigation could do it. He was equally inquisitive in regard to matters which obtruded on his attention in the moral world; he would bore to the centre of any moral proposition, and carefully analyze and dissect every layer and every atom of which it was composed, nor would he give over the search till completely satisfied that there was nothing more to know, or be learned about it.”.
“ His home,” says Whitney, “was very ordinary and isolated; there was little external indication of life or movement there: Lincoln was occasionally seen to be walking to and fro, on the sidewalk, with a child in his arms, or hauling one in a little child's go-cart; or, in the morning, at irregular hours, might be seen to come furtively out of the house, or from his little barn, and walk in solitary mood up-town, where he would drop into the circuit clerk's office — or at a store where
citizens congregated — or anywhere that he could find somebody to listen to his stories; he would sometimes turn up at his own office, and, not infrequently, at the law library of the State House ; in the latter part of the day, he would go home and drive up and milk his cow, feed his horse, clean out his very humble stable, chop some wood; and his day's work was done, unless, as was quite common, he again went up-town, to pass the evening in some grocery store, or other citizens' rendezvous, engaged in his usual avocation of telling stories; or, perhaps, wandering alone, aimlessly, in the unfrequented streets, clothed in melancholy, and his mind turned completely within itself, in deep reflection.
“His stable stands yet, or did recently, just as he left it thirty years ago, barring the ravages of time; it is primitive and uninteresting, save by its reminiscences; it is of boards nailed up endwise — no battens — only about six and onehalf feet to the eaves — the roof with the least pitch possible to carry off the water at all; only one apartment, where his horse — old Tom — his cow — his old open buggy – his hay and feed were all together. He was his own woodchopper, hostler, stable-boy and cow-boy, clear down to, and even beyond, the time that he was President-elect of the United States.
“Of course I do not mean that he did no busi
ness in his profession at Springfield; but in Lincoln's day there, courts did not sit often, and preparation for trials was not very elaborate; he had much leisure, and that was passed much as I have defined. The tendencies of his mind alternated between deep, earnest, solitary reflection, at which times he wanted no contact or communication with others, and light, frivolous, frolicsome moods, when he wanted an audience, but was utterly regardless of its size, quality, or character.”
In winter an old gray shawl was wrapped about his neck. His hat had no nap, his boots were unblacked, his clothes unbrushed, he carried a dilapidated carpet-bag for legal papers, a faded green umbrella with the knob gone, a string tied about the middle, and the name “ A. Lincoln” cut out of white muslin in large letters and sewed in the inside. He always wore short trousers and usually a short circular blue cloak, which he got in Washington in 1849, and kept for ten years, which, like his vest, hung very loosely on his frame. He slept in a warm yellow flannel shirt, which came half-way between his knees and his ankles. The changes which gradually took place in his dress, which reached its greatest elegance in his presidency, were slight and marked no decrease in his own innocence about appearances, the improvements being usually suggested to him by his wife and friends.
Lying on the floor in his shirt-sleeves was a favorite attitude for reading. As he had no library, and the parlor, with its sofa, six haircloth chairs, and marble table, strewn with gift books in blue and gilt, expressed not his spirit but his wife's, he often chose the hall for his recumbent study; and if women happened to call Lincoln would go to the door attired as he was and promise that he “would trot the women folks out.” It is alleged that for such practices, and possibly also for obtaining butter at the table with his own knife, Mrs. Lincoln found opportunities to punish him.
Of his attitude toward hardship Leonard Swett says: “I rode the Eighth Judicial Circuit with him for eleven years, and in the allotment between him and the large Judge Davis, in the scanty provision of those times, as a rule I slept with him. Beds were always too short, coffee in the morning burned or otherwise bad, food often indifferent, roads simply trails, streams without bridges and often swollen, and had to be swam, sloughs often muddy and almost impassable, and we had to help the horses, when the wagon mired down, with fence-rails for pries, and yet I never heard Lincoln complain of anything.”
Mr. Whitney says: “At Danville, the county seat of Vermilion County, the judge and Lincoln and I used to occupy the ladies' parlor of