question would come up, “Well, what did I find out?”
Blowing away the froth of Lincoln
's humorous narratives he would find nothing substantial left.
“As he entered the trial,” relates one of his colleagues at the bar,1
“where most lawyers would object he would say he ‘reckoned’ it would be fair to let this in, or that; and sometimes, when his adversary could not quite prove what Lincoln
knew to be the truth, he ‘reckoned’ it would be fair to admit the truth to be so-and-so.
When he did object to the court, and when he heard his objections answered, he would often say, ‘Well, I reckon I must be wrong.’
Now, about the time he had practised this three-fourths through the case, if his adversary didn't understand him, he would wake up in a few minutes learning that he had feared the Greeks too late and find himself beaten.
He was wise as a serpent in the trial of a cause, but I have had too many scares from his blows to certify that he was harmless as a dove.
When the whole thing was unravelled, the adversary would begin to see that what he was so blandly giving away was simply what he couldn't get and keep.
By giving away six points and carrying the seventh he carried his case, and the whole case hanging on the seventh, he traded away everything which would give him the least aid in carrying that.
Any man who took Lincoln
for a simple-minded man would very soon wake up with his back in a ditch.”