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Chapter 20.1

  • The visit of Dr. Holland to Springfield.
  • -- what he learned from Lincoln's neighbors. -- their contradictory opinions. -- description by the author of Lincoln's person. -- how he walked. -- his face and head. -- cause of his melancholy. -- his perceptions. -- his memory and association of ideas. -- concentration of thought. -- the crucible of his analytical mind. -- the secret of his judgment. -- the faith of his opinions and the firmness of his conclusions. -- his belief in the power of motive. -- the four great elements of his character. -- his reason; his conscience; his sense of right; his love of the truth. -- a meek, quiet, unobtrusive gentleman. -- his humanity. -- will power. -- want of interest in local affairs and small things. -- love for his friends. -- the combination of characteristics. -- his intense devotion to the truth. -- his weak points.--cool and masterly power of statement. -- simplicity and candor: easy of approach and thoroughly democratic. -- his presence a charm, and his conversation a sweet recollection. -- a leader of the people. -- strong with the masses. -- a conservative statesman. -- the central figure of our national history. -- the sublime type of our civilization. -- the man for the hour.

Soon after the death of Mr. Lincoln Dr. J. G. Holland came out to Illinois from his home in Massachusetts to gather up materials for a life of the dead President. The gentlemen spent several days with me, and I gave him all the assistance that lay in my power. I was much pleased with him, and awaited with not a little interest the appearance of his book. I felt sure that even after my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln I never fully knew and understood him, and I therefore wondered what sort of a description Dr. Holland, after interviewing Lincoln's old-time friends, would make of his individual characteristics. When the book appeared he said this: “The writer has conversed with multitudes of men who claimed to know Mr. Lincoln intimately: yet there are not two of the whole number who agree in their estimate of him. The fact was that he rarely showed more than one aspect of himself to one man. He opened himself to men in different directions. To illustrate the effect of the peculiarity of Mr. Lincoln's intercourse with men it may be said that men who knew him through all his professional and political life offered ”

1 the substance of this chapter I delivered in the form of a lecture to a Springfield audience in 1866. W. H. H.

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