men like Chase and Sumner never could forgive. I believe that Lincoln is well understood by the people; but there is a patent-leather, kid-glove set who know no more of him than an owl does of a comet blazing into his blinking eyes.1 Their estimates of him are in many cases disgraceful exhibitions of ignorance and prejudice. Their effeminate natures shrink instinctively from the contact of a great reality like Lincoln's character. I consider Lincoln's republicanism incarnate — with all its faults and all its virtues. As, in spite of some rudeness, republicanism is the sole hope of a sick world, so Lincoln, with all his foibles, is the greatest character since Christ.In 1863 Mr. Lincoln was informed one morning that among the visitors in the ante-room of the White House was a man who claimed to be his relative. He walked out and was surprised to find
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1 Bancroft's eulogy on Lincoln never pleased the latter's lifelong friends — those who knew him so thoroughly and well. February 16, 1866, David Davis, who had heard it, wrote me: “You will see Mr. Bancroft's oration before this reaches you.” It is able, but Mr. Lincoln is in the background. His analysis of Mr. Lincoln's character is superficial. “It did not please me. How did it satisfy you?” On the 22d he again wrote: “Mr. Bancroft totally misconceived Mr. Lincoln's character in applying “unsteadiness” and confusion to it. Mr. Lincoln grew more steady and resolute. and his ideas were never confused. If there were any changes in him after he got here they were for the better. I thought him always master of his subject. He was a much more self-possessed man that I thought. He thought for himself, which is a rare quality nowadays. How could Bancroft know anything about Lincoln except as he judged of him as the public do? He never saw him, and is himself as cold as an icicle. I should never have selected an old Democratic politician, and that one from Massachusetts, to deliver an eulogy on Lincoln.”
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