« AnteriorContinuar »
tion. “Well," said the President, “I will answer, by telling you a story. You know Father B., the old Methodist preacher ? and you know Fox River and its freshets? Well, once in the presence of Father B., a young Methodist was worrying abont Fox River, and expressing fears that he should be prevented from fulfilling some of his appointments by a freshet in the river. Father B. checked him in his gravest manner. Said he : Young man, I have always made it a rule in my life not to cross Fox River till I get to it! And," added Mr. Lincoln, “ I am not going to worry myself over the slavery question till I get to it.”
“ I shall ever cherish among the brightest memories of my life,” says Rev. Dr. J. P. Thompson, “the recollection of an hour in his working-room last September, which was one broad sheet of sunshine. IIe had spent the morning poring over the returns of a court-martial upon capital cases, and stu lying to decide them according to truth; and upon the entrance of a friend, he threw himself into an attitude of relaxation, and sparkled with good-humor. I spoke of the rapid rise of Union feeling since the promulgation of the Chicago platform, and the victory at Atlanta; and the question was started, which hail contributed the most to the reviving af Union sentiment—the victory or the platform. “I guess," said the President, “it was the victory; at any rate, I'd rather have that repeated.”
Being informed of the death of John Morgan, he said, “ Well, I wouldn't crow over anybody's death ; but I can take this as resignedly as any dispensation of Providence.”
My attention has been two or three times called to a paragraph now going the rounds of the newspapers concerning a singular apparition of himself in a looking-glass, which Mr. Lincoln is stated to have seen on the day he was first nominated at Chicago. The story as told is made to appear very mysterious, and believing that the taste for the supernatural is sufficiently ministered unto without perverting the facts, I will tell the story as the President told it to John Hay, the assistant private secretary, and myself. We were in his room together about dark, the evening of the Baltimore Convention. The gas had just been lighted, and he had been telling us how he hid that after. noon received the news of the nomination of Andrew Johnson for Vice-President before he heard of his own.
It seemed that the dispatch announcing his renomination had been sent to his office from the War Department while he was at lunch. Directly afterward, without going back to the official chamber, he pru.
ceeded to the War Department. While there, the telegrim came announcing the nomination of Johnson. “What," said lie to the oper ator, “do they nominate a Vice-President before they do ia l'resident?": “Why," replied the astonished official, “have you not heard of your own nomination? It was sent to the White House two hours ago" " It is all right,” replied the President; “I shall probably find it on my return."
Laughing pleasantly over this incident, he said, soon afterward: “A very singular occurrence took place the day I was nominated at Chi. cago, four years ago, which I am reminded of to-night. In the afternoon of the day, returning home from down town, I went up-stairs to Mrs. Lincoln's sitting-room. Feeling somewhat tired, I lay down upon a conch in the room, directly opposite a bureau upon which was a lovking-glass. As I reclined, my eye fell upon the glass, and I saw distinctly two images of myself, exactly alike, except that one was a little paler than the other. I arose, and lay down again, with the same result. It made me quite uncomfortable for a few moments; but some friends coming in, the matter passed out of my mind. The next day, while walking in the street, I was suddenly reminded of the circumstance, and the disagreeable sensation produced by it returned. I had never seen any thing of the kind before, and did not know what to make of it. I determined to go home and place myself in the same position, and if the same effect was produced, I would make up my mind that it was the natural result of sume principle of rotraction optics which I did not understand, and dismiss it. I tried the experiident, with the same result, and as I had said to myself, accounting for it on some principle unknown to me, it ceased to trouble ne. But," said he, “some time ago I tried to produce the same effect here, by arranging a glass and couch in the same position, without success." He did not say, as is asserted in the story as printed, that either le or Mrs. Lincoln attached any omen to it whatever. Neither did he say the double reflection was seen while he was walking about the room." On the contrary, it was only visible in a certain position, and at a certain angle, and therefore, he thought, could be accounted for upon scientific principles.
A distinguished public officer being in Washington, in an interview with the President, introduced the question of emancipation. “Well, yon see," said Mr. Lincoln, “we've got to be very cautious how we manage the negro question. If we're not, we shall be like the barber out in Illinois, who was shaving a fellow with a hatchet face and lantern jaws like mine. The barber stuck his finger in his customer's
mouth to make his cheek stick out, but while shaving away he cut through the fellow's cheek and cut off his own finger! If we are not very careful, we shall do as the barber did !"
At the White House one day some gentlemen were present from the West, excited and troubled about the commissions or omissions of the Administration. The President heard them patiently, and then replied: "Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep shouting out to him— Blondin, stand up a little straighter-Blondin, stoop a little more-go a little faster-lean a little more to the north- lean a litile more to the south ? No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over. The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don't badger them. Keep silence, and we'll get you safe across.”
Being asked at another time by an “anxious" visitor as to what he would do in certain contingencies—provided the rebellion was not subdued after three or four years of effort on the part of the Govern ment—"Oh," said the President, “there is no alternative but to keep * pegging' away!!"
Aftor the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, Governor Morgan, of New York, was at the White House one day, when the President said :—“I do not agree with those who say that slavery is dead. We are like whalers who have been long on a chase— we have at last got the harpoon into the monster, but we must now look how we steer, or, with one 'flop of his tail, he will yet send us all into eternity!"
During a public “reception," a farmer, from one of the border counties of Virginia, told the President that the Union soldiers, in passing his farın, had helped themselves not only to hay, but liis horse, and he hoped the President would urge the proper officer to consider his claim immediately.
Mr. Lincoln said that this reminded him of an old acquaintance of his, “ Jack Chasc,” who used to be a lumberman on the Illinois, a steady, sober man, and the best raftsman on the river. It was quite a trick, twenty-five years ago, tn take the logs over the rapids; but he was skilful with a raft, and always kept her straight in the channel Finally a steamer was put on, and Jack was made captain of her. He always used to take the wheel, going through the rapids. One day when the boat was plunging and wallowing along the boiling current, and Jack's utmost vigilance was being exercised to keep her in the narrow channel, a boy pulled his coat-tail, and hailed him with-"Say, Mister Captain! I wish you would just stop your boat a minute I've lost my apple overboard !"
The President was once speaking about an attack made on him by the Committee on the Conduct of the War for a certain alleged blunder, or something worse, in the Southwest the matter involved being one which had fallen directly under the observation of the officer to whom he was talking, who possessed official evidence completely upsetting all the conclusions of the Committee.
“Might it not be well for me,” queried the officer, “to set this matter right in a letter to some paper, stating the facts as they actually transpired ?"
“Oh, no," replied the President, “ at least, not now. If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so untis the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to any thing. If the end brings me out wrong, tcn angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
A gentleman was relating to the President how a friend of his had been driven away from New Orleans as a Unionist, and how, on his expulsion, when he asked to see the writ by which he was expelled, the deputation which called on him told him that the Government had made up their minds to do nothing illegal, and so they had issued no illegal writs, and simply meant to make him go of his own frec will. # Well,” said Mr. Lincoln, “ that reminds me of a hotel-keeper down at St. Louis, who boasted that he never had a death in his hotel, for whenever a guest was dying in bis house he carried him out to die in the gutter."
One evening the President brought a couple of friends into the "State dining-room" to see my picture. Something was said, in the conversation that ensued, that a reminded” him of the following circum. stapre: "Judge
said he, “held the strongest ideas of rigid government and close construction that I ever met. It was said of bin. on one occasion, that he would hang a man for blowing his nose
in the street, but he would quash the indictment if it failed to specify which hand he blew it with !”
On one occasion, in the Executive chamber, there were present a number of gentlemen, among them Mr. Seward.
A point in the conversation suggesting the thought, Mr. Lincoln said: “Seward, you never heard, did you, how I earned my first dollar?” “No," said Mr. Seward. “Well," replied he, “ I was about cighteen years of age. I belonged, you know, to what they call down South, the “scrubs;' people who do not own slaves are nobody there. But we had succeeded in raising, chiefly by my labor, sufficient produce, as I thought, to justify me in taking it down the river to sell.
“ After much persuasion, I got the consent of mother to go, and · constructed a little flatboat, large enough to take a barrel or two of
things, that we had gathered, with myself and little bundle, down to Vew Orleans. A steamer was coming down the river. We have, you know, so wharves on the Western strears; and the custom was, if passengers were at any of the landings, for them to go out in a boat, the steamer stopping and taking them on board.
“I was contemplating my new flatboat, and wondering whether I could make it stronger or improve it in any particular, when two men carne down to the shore in carriages with trunks, and looking at the different boats singled out mine, and asked, Who owns this ? I answered, somewhat modestly, 'I do.' “Will you,' said one of them, "take us and our trunks out to the steamer ? Certainly,' said I. I was very glad to have the chance of earning something. I supposed that cach of them would give me two or three bits. The trunks were put on my flatboat, the passengers seated themselves on the trunks, and I sculled them out to the steamboat.
“ They got on board, and I lifted up their heavy trunks, and put them on deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when I called out that they had forgotten to pay me. Each of them took from his pocket a silver half-dollar, and threw it on the floor of my boat. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money. Gentlemen, you may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me a trifle; but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar it. less than a day—that by honest work I had earned a dollar. The world seemed wider and fairer before me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that time.”