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The first law book Lincoln ever read was “The statutes of Indiana.” He obtained the volume from his friend David Turnham, who testifies that he fairly devoured the book in his eager efforts to abstract the store of knowledge that lay between the lids. No doubt, as Turnham insists, the study of the statutes at this early day led Abe to think of the law as his calling in maturer years. At any rate he now began to evince no little zeal in the matter of public speaking — in compliance with the old notion, no doubt, that a lawyer can never succeed unless he has the elements of the orator or advocate in his construction — and even when at work in the field he could not resist the temptation to mount the nearest stump and practise on his fellow laborers. The latter would flock around him, and active operations would cease whenever he began. A cluster of tall and stately trees often made him a most dignified and appreciative audience during the delivery of these maiden forensic efforts. He was old enough to attend musters, log-rollings, and horse-races, and was rapidly becoming a favored as well as favorite character. “The first time I ever remember of seeing Abe Lincoln,” is the testimony of one [46] of his neighbors,1

was when I was a small boy and had gone with my father to attend some kind of an election. One of our neighbors, James Larkins, was there. Larkins was a great hand to brag on anything he owned. This time it was his horse. He stepped up before Abe, who was in the crowd, and commenced talking to him, boasting all the while of his animal.

“I have got the best horse in the country” he shouted to his young listener. “I ran him three miles in exactly nine minutes, and he never fetched a long breath.”

“I presume,” said Abe, rather dryly, “he fetched a good many short ones though.”

With all his peaceful propensities Abe was not averse to a contest of strength, either for sport or in settlement — as in one memorable case — of grievances. Personal encounters were of frequent occurrence in Gentryville in those days, and the prestige of having thrashed an opponent gave the victor marked social distinction. Green B. Taylor, with whom Abe worked the greater part of one winter on a farm, furnished me with an account of the noted fight between John Johnston, Abe's stepbrother, and William Grigsby, in which stirring drama Abe himself played an important role before the curtain was rung down. Taylor's father was the second for Johnston, and William Whitten officiated in a similar capacity for Grigsby. “They had a terrible fight,” relates Taylor, “and it soon became [47] apparent that Grigsby was too much for Lincoln's man, Johnston. After they had fought a long time without interference, it having been agreed not to break the ring, Abe burst through, caught Grigsby, threw him off and some feet away. There he stood, proud as Lucifer, and swinging a bottle of liquor over his head swore he was ‘the big buck of the lick.’ ‘If any one doubts it,’ he shouted, ‘he has only to come on and whet his horns.’ ” A general engagement followed this challenge, but at the end of hostilities the field was cleared and the wounded retired amid the exultant shouts of their victors.

Much of the latter end of Abe's boyhood would have been lost in the midst of tradition but for the store of information and recollections I was fortunate enough to secure from an interesting old lady whom I met in Indiana in 1865. She was the wife of Josiah Crawford2--“Blue Nose,” as Abe had named him --and possessed rare accomplishments for a woman reared in the backwoods of Indiana. She was not only impressed with Abe's early efforts, but expressed great admiration for his sister Sarah, whom she often had with her at her own hospitable home and whom she described as a modest, [48] industrious, and sensible sister of a humorous and equally sensible brother. From Mrs. Crawford I obtained the few specimens of Abe's early literary efforts and much of the matter that follows in this chapter. The introduction here of the literary feature as affording us a glimpse of Lincoln's boyhood days may to a certain extent grate harshly on over-refined ears; but still no apology is necessary, for, as intimated at the outset, I intend to keep close to Lincoln all the way through. Some writers would probably omit these songs and backwoods recitals as savoring too strongly of the Bacchanalian nature, but that would be a narrow view to take of history. If we expect to know Lincoln thoroughly we must be prepared to take him as he really was.

In 1826 Abe's sister Sarah was married to Aaron Gigsby, and at the wedding the Lincoln family sang a song composed in honor of the event by Abe himself. It is a tiresome doggerel and full of painful rhymes. I reproduce it here from the manuscript furnished me by Mrs. Crawford. The author and composer called it “Adam and eve's wedding song.” [49]

When Adam was created
He dwelt in Eden's shade,
As Moses has recorded,
And soon a bride was made.

Ten thousand times ten thousand
Of creatures swarmed around
Before a bride was formed,
And yet no mate was found.

The Lord then was not willing
That man should be alone,
But caused a sleep upon him,
And from him took a bone.

And closed the flesh instead thereof,
And then he took the same
And of it made a woman,
And brought her to the man.

Then Adam he rejoiced
To see his loving bride
A part of his own body,
The product of his side.

The woman was not taken
From Adam's feet we see,
So he must not abuse her,
The meaning seems to be.

The woman was not taken
From Adam's head, we know,
To show she must not rule him--
'Tis evidently so.

The woman she was taken
From under Adam's arm,
So she must be protected
From injuries and harm.

Poor Sarah, at whose wedding this song was sung, never lived to see the glory nor share in the honor [50] that afterwards fell to the lot of her tall and angular brother. Within two years after her marriage she died in childbirth. Something in the conduct of the Grigsbys and their treatment of his sister gave Abe great offense, and for a long time the relations between him and them were much strained. The Grigsbys were the leading family in Gentryville, and consequently were of no little importance in a social way. Abe, on the contrary, had no reserve of family or social influence to draw upon. He was only awaiting an opportunity to “even up” the score between them. Neither his father nor any of the Hankses were of any avail, and he therefore for the first time resorted to the use of his pen for revenge. He wrote a number of pieces in which he took occasion to lampoon those who provoked in any way his especial displeasure. It was quite natural to conceive therefore that with the gift of satire at command he should not have permitted the Grigsbys to escape. These pieces were called “Chronicles,” and although rude and coarse, they served the purpose designed by their author of bringing public ridicule down on the heads of his victims. They were written in an attempted scriptural vein, and on so many different subjects that one might consistently call them “social ventilators.” Their grossness must have been warmly appreciated by the early denizens of Gentryville, for the descendants of the latter up to this day have taken care that they should not be buried from sight under the dust of long-continued forgetfulness. I reproduce here, exactly as I obtained it, the particular [51] chapter of the “Chronicles” which reflected on the Grigsbys so severely, and which must serve as a sample of all the others.3

Reuben and Charles Grigsby on the same day married4 Betsy Ray and Matilda Hawkins respectively. The day following they with their brides returned to the Grigsby mansion, where the father, Reuben Grigsby, senior, gave them a cordial welcome. Here an old-fashioned infare, with feasting and dancing, and the still older fashion of putting the bridal party to bed, took place. When the invitations to these festivities were issued Abe was left out, and the slight led him to furnish an appreciative circle in Gentryville with what he was pleased to term “The first Chronicles of Reuben.” 5 [52]

“Now there was a man,” begins this memorable chapter of backwoods lore, “whose name was Reuben, and the same was very great in substance; in horses and cattle and swine, and a very great household. It came to pass when the sons of Reuben grew up that they were desirous of taking to themselves wives, and being too well known as to honor in their own country they took a journey into a far country and there procured for themselves wives. It came to pass also that when they were about to make the return home they sent a messenger before them to bear the tidings to their parents. These, enquiring of the messengers what time their sons and wives would come, made a great feast and called all their kinsmen and neighbors in and made great preparations. When the time drew nigh they sent out two men to meet the grooms and their brides with a trumpet to welcome them and to accompany them. When they came near unto the house of Reuben the father, the messenger came on before them and gave a shout, and the whole multitude ran out with shouts of joy and music, playing on all kinds of instruments. Some were playing on harps, some on viols, and some blowing on rams' horns. Some also were casting dust and ashes towards heaven, and chief among them all was Josiah, blowing his bugle and making sound so great the neighboring hills and valleys echoed with the resounding acclamation. When they had played and their harps had sounded till the grooms and brides approached the gates, [53] Reuben the father met them and welcomed them to his house. The wedding feast being now ready they were all invited to sit down to eat, placing the bridegrooms and their wives at each end of the table. Waiters were then appointed to serve and wait on the guests. When all had eaten and were full and merry they went out again and played and sung till night, and when they had made an end of feasting and rejoicing the multitude dispersed, each going to his own home. The family then took seats with their waiters to converse while preparations were being made in an upper chamber for the brides and grooms to be conveyed to their beds. This being done the waiters took the two brides upstairs, placing one in a bed at the right hand of the stairs and the other on the left. The waiters came down, and Nancy the mother then gave directions to the waiters of the bridegrooms, and they took them upstairs but placed them in the wrong beds. The waiters then all came downstairs. But the mother, being fearful of a mistake, made enquiry of the waiters, and learning the true facts took the light and sprang upstairs. It came to pass she ran to one of the beds and exclaimed, ‘O Lord, Reuben, you are in bed with the wrong wife.’ The young men, both alarmed at this, sprang up out of bed and ran with such violence against each other they came near knocking each other down. The tumult gave evidence to those below that the mistake was certain. At last they all came down and had a long conversation about who made the mistake, [54] but it could not be decided. So endeth the chapter.” 6

As the reader will naturally conclude, the revelation of this additional chapter of the Scriptures stirred up the social lions of Gentryville to the fighting point. Nothing but the blood of the author, who was endeavoring to escape public attention under the anonymous cloak, would satisfy the vengeance of the Grigsbys and their friends. But while the latter were discussing the details of discovery and punishment, the versatile young satirist was at work finishing up William, the remaining member of the Grigsby family, who had so far escaped the sting of his pen. The lines of rhyme in which William's weaknesses are handed down to posterity, Mrs. Crawford had often afterwards heard Abe recite, but she was very reluctant from a feeling of modesty to furnish them to me. At last, through the influence of her son, I overcame her scruples and obtained the coveted verses. A glance at them will convince the reader that the people of a community who could tolerate these lines would certainly not be surprised or offended at anything that might be found in the “Chronicles.” [55]

I will tell you a joke about Joel and Mary,
It is neither a joke nor a story,
For Reuben and Charles have married two girls,
But Billy has married a boy.
The girls he had tried on every side,
But none could he get to agree;
All was in vain, he went home again,
And since that he's married to Natty.

So Billy and Natty agreed very well,
And mamma's well pleased with the match.
The egg it is laid, but Natty's afraid
The shell is so soft it never will hatch,
But Betsy, she said, “You cursed bald head,
My suitor you never can be,
Besides your ill shape proclaims you an ape,
And that never can answer for me.

That these burlesques and the publicity they attained aroused all the ire in the Grigsby family, and eventually made Abe the object on which their fury was spent is not surprising in the least. It has even been contended, and with some show of truth too, that the fight between John Johnston and William Grigsby was the outgrowth of these caricatures, and that Abe forebore measuring strength with Grigsby, who was considered his physical inferior, and selected Johnston to represent him and fight in his stead. These crude rhymes and awkward imitations of scriptural lore demonstrated that their author, if assailed, was merciless in satire. In after years Lincoln, when driven to do so, used this weapon of ridicule with telling effect. He knew its power, and on one occasion, in the rejoinder of a debate, drove his opponent in tears from the platform. [56]

Although devoid of any natural ability as a singer Abe nevertheless made many efforts and had great appreciation of certain songs. In after years he told me he doubted if he really knew what the harmony of sound was. The songs in vogue then were principally of the sacred order. They were from Watts' and Dupuy's hymn-books. David Turnham furnished me with a list, marking as especial favorites the following: “Am I a soldier of the cross” ; “How tedious and Tasteless the hours” ; “There is a fountain filled with blood,” and, “Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?” One song pleased Abe not a little. “I used to sing it for old Thomas Lincoln,” relates Turnham, “at Abe's request.” The old gentleman liked it and made me sing it often.

I can only remember one couplet:

There was a Romish lady
She was brought up in Popery.

Dennis Hanks insists that Abe used to try his hand and voice at “Poor old Ned,” but never with any degree of success. “Rich, racy verses” were sung by the big boys in the country villages of that day with as keen a relish as they are to-day. There is no reason and less evidence for the belief that Abe did not partake of this forbidden fruit along with other boys of the same age and condition in life. Among what Dennis called “field songs” are a few lines from this one:

The turbaned Turk that scorns the world
And struts about with his whiskers curled,
For no other man but himself to see.


Of another ballad we have this couplet:

Hail Columbia, happy land,
If you aint drunk I will be damned.

We can imagine the merry Dennis, hilarious with the exhilaration of deep potations at the village grocery, singing this “field song” as he and Abe wended their way homeward. A stanza from a campaign song which Abe was in the habit of rendering, according to Mrs. Crawford, attests his earliest political predilections:

Let auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind,
May Jackson be our president,
And Adams left behind.

A mournful and distressing ballad, “John Anderson's Lamentation,” as rendered by Abe, was written out for me by Mrs. Crawford, but the first lines,

Oh, sinners, poor sinners, take warning by me,
The fruits of transgression behold now and see,

will suffice to indicate how mournful the rest of it was.

The centre of wit and wisdom in the village of Gentryville was at the store. This place was in charge of one Jones, who soon after embarking in business seemed to take quite a fancy to Abe. He took the only newspaper sent from Louisviilleand at his place of business gathered Abe, Dennis Hanks, Baldwin, the blacksmith, and other kindred spirits to discuss such topics as are the exclusive property of the store lounger. Abe's original and [58] ridiculous stories not only amused the crowd, but the display of his unique faculties made him many friends. One who saw him at this time says:

Lincoln would frequently make political speeches to the boys; he was always calm, logical, and clear. His jokes and stories were so odd, original, and witty all the people in town would gather around him. He would keep them till midnight. Abe was a good talker, a good reasoner, and a kind of newsboy.

He attended all the trials before the “squire,” as that important functionary was called, and frequently wandered off to Boonville, a town on the river, distant fifteen miles, and the county seat of Warrick County, to hear and see how the courts were conducted there. On one occasion, at the latter place, he remained during the trial of a murderer and attentively absorbed the proceedings. A lawyer named Breckenridge represented the defense, and his speech so pleased and thrilled his young listener that the latter could not refrain from approaching the eloquent advocate at the close of his address and congratulating him on his signal success. How Breckenridge accepted the felicitations of the awkward, hapless youth we shall probably never know. The story is told that during Lincoln's term as President, he was favored one day at the White House with a visit by this same Breckenridge, then a resident of Texas, who had called to pay his respects. In a conversation about early days in Indiana, the President, recalling Breckenridge's argument in the murder trial, remarked, “If I could, as I then thought, have made as good a [59] speech as that, my soul would have been satisfied; for it was up to that time the best speech I had ever heard.”

No feature of his backwoods life pleased Abe so well as going to mill. It released him from a day's work in the woods, besides affording him a much desired opportunity to watch the movement of the mill's primitive and cumbersome machinery. It was on many of these trips that David Turnham accompanied him. In later years Mr. Lincoln related the following reminiscence of his experience as a miller in Indiana: One day, taking a bag of corn, he mounted the old flea-bitten gray mare and rode leisurely to Gordon's mill. Arriving somewhat late, his turn did not come till almost sundown. In obedience to the custom requiring each man to furnish his own power he hitched the old mare to the arm, and as the animal moved round, the machinery responded with equal speed. Abe was mounted on the arm, and at frequent intervals made use of his whip to urge the animal on to better speed. With a careless “Get up, you old hussy,” he applied the lash at each revolution of the arm. In the midst of the exclamation, or just as half of it had escaped through his teeth, the old jade, resenting the continued use of the goad, elevated her shoeless hoof and striking the young engineer in the forehead, sent him sprawling to the earth. Miller Gordon hurried in, picked up the bleeding, senseless boy, whom he took for dead, and at once sent for his father. Old Thomas Lincoln camecame as soon as embodied listlessness could moveloaded [60] the lifeless boy in a wagon and drove home. Abe lay unconscious all night, but towards break of day the attendants noticed signs of returning consciousness. The blood beginning to flow normally, his tongue struggled to loosen itself, his frame jerked for an instant, and he awoke, blurting out the words “you old hussy,” or the latter half of the sentence interrupted by the mare's heel at the mill.

Mr. Lincoln considered this one of the remarkable incidents of his life. He often referred to it, and we had many discussions in our law office over the psychological phenomena involved in the operation. Without expressing my own views I may say that his idea was that the latter half of the expression, “Get up, you old hussy,” was cut off by a suspension of the normal flow of his mental energy, and that as soon as life's forces returned he unconsciously ended the sentence; or, as he in a plainer figure put it: “Just before I struck the old mare my will through the mind had set the muscles of my tongue to utter the expression, and when her heels came in contact with my head the whole thing stopped half-cocked, as it were, and was only fired off when mental energy or force returned.”

By the time he had reached his seventeenth year he had attained the physical proportions of a full-grown man. He was employed to assist James Taylor in the management of a ferry-boat across the Ohio river near the mouth of Anderson's creek, but was not allowed a man's wages for the work. He received thirty-seven cents a day for what he [61] afterwards told me was the roughest work a young man could be made to do. In the midst of whatever work he was engaged on he still found time to utilize his pen, He prepared a composition on the American Government, calling attention to the necessity of preserving the Constitution and perpetuating the Union, which with characteristic modesty he turned over to his friend and patron, William Woods, for safe-keeping and perusal.

Through the instrumentality of Woods it attracted the attention of many persons, among them one Pitcher,7 a lawyer at Rockport, who with faintly concealed enthusiasm, declared “the world couldn't beat it.” An article on Temperance was shown under similar circumstance to Aaron Farmer, a Baptist preacher of local renown, and by him furnished to an Ohio newspaper for publication. The thing, however, which gave him such prominencea prominence too which could have been attained in no other way — was his remarkable physical strength, for he was becoming not only one of the longest, [62] but one of the strongest men around Gentryville. He enjoyed the brief distinction his exhibitions of strength gave him more than the admiration of his friends for his literary or forensic efforts. Some of the feats attributed to him almost surpass belief. One witness declares he was equal to three men, having on a certain occasion carried a load of six hundred pounds. At another time he walked away with a pair of logs which three robust men were skeptical of their ability to carry. “He could strike with a maul a heavier blow — could sink an axe deeper into wood than any man I ever saw,” is the testimony of another witness.

After he had passed his nineteenth year and was nearing his majority he began to chafe and grow restless under the restraints of home rule. Seeing no prospect of betterment in his condition, so long as his fortune was interwoven with that of his father, he at last endeavored to strike out into the broad world for himself. Having great faith in the judgment and influence of his fast friend Wood, he solicited from him a recommendation to the officers of some one of the boats plying up and down the river, hoping thereby to obtain employment more congenial than the dull, fatiguing work of the farm. To this project the judicious Wood was much opposed, and therefore suggested to the would be boatman the moral duty that rested on him to remain with his father till the law released him from that obligation. With deep regret he retraced his steps to the paternal mansion, seriously determined [63] not to evade the claim from which in a few weary months he would be finally released. Meanwhile occurred his first opportunity to see the world. In March, 1828, James Gentry, for whom he had been at work, had fitted out a boat with a stock of grain and meat for a trading expedition to New Orleans, and placed his son Allen in charge of the cargo for the voyage. Abe's desire to make a river trip was at last satisfied, and he accompanied the proprietor's son, serving as “bow hand.” His pay was eight dollars a month and board. In due course of time the navigators returned from their expedition with the evidence of profitable results to gladden the heart of the owner. The only occurrence of interest they could relate of the voyage was the encounter with a party of marauding negroes at the plantation of Madame Duchesne, a few miles below Baton Rouge. Abe and Gentry, having tied up for the night, were fast asleep on their boat when aroused by the arrival of a crowd of negroes bent on plunder. They set to work with clubs, and not only drove off the intruders, but pursued them inland, then hastily returning to their quarters they cut loose their craft and floated down-stream till daylight.

Before passing on further it may not be amiss to glance for a moment at the social side of life as it existed in Gentryville in Abe's day. “We thought nothing,” said an old lady whom I interviewed when in Indiana, “of going eight or ten miles to church. The ladies did not stop for the want of a shawl, cloak, or riding-dress in winter time, but [64] would put on their husband's old overcoats and wrap up their little ones and take one or two of them on their beasts. Their husbands would walk, and thus they would go to church, frequently remaining till the second day before they returned home.”

The old men starting from the fields and out of the woods would carry their guns on their shoulders and go also. They dressed in deer-skin pants, moccasins, and coarse hunting shirts — the latter usually fastened with a rope or leather strap. Arriving at the house where services were to be held they would recite to each other thrilling stories of their hunting exploits, and smoke their pipes with the old ladies. They were treated, and treated each other, with the utmost kindness. A bottle of liquor, a pitcher of water, sugar, and glasses were set out for them; also a basket of apples or turnips, with, now and then, a pie or cakes. Thus they regaled themselves till the preacher found himself in a condition to begin. The latter, having also partaken freely of the refreshments provided, would “take his stand, draw his coat, open his shirt collar, read his text, and preach and pound till the sweat, produced alike by his exertions and the exhilarating effects of the toddy, rolled from his face in great drops. Shaking hands and singing ended the service.”

The houses were scattered far apart, but the people travelled great distances to participate in the frolic and coarse fun of a log-rolling and sometimes a wedding. Unless in mid-winter the young ladies carried their shoes in their hands, and only [65] put them on when the scene of the festivities was reached. The ladies of maturer years drank whiskey toddy, while the men took the whiskey straight. They all danced merrily, many of them barefooted, to the tune of a cracked fiddle the night through. We can imagine the gleeful and more hilarious swaggering home at daybreak to the tune of Dennis Hanks' festive lines:

Hail Columbia, happy land,
If you ain't drunk I will be damned.

Although gay, prosperous, and light-hearted, these people were brimming over with superstition. It was at once their food and drink. They believed in the baneful influence of witches, pinned their faith to the curative power of wizards in dealing with sick animals, and shot the image of a witch with a sliver ball to break the spell she was supposed to have over human beings. They followed with religious minuteness the directions of the water-wizard, with his magic divining rod, and the faith doctor who wrought miraculous cures by strange sounds and signals to some mysterious agency. The flight of a bird in at the window, the breath of a horse on a child's head, the crossing by a dog of a hunter's path, all betokened evil luck in store for some one. The moon exercised greater influence on the actions of the people and the growth of vegetation than the sun and all the planetary system combined. Fence rails could only be cut in the light of the moon, and potatoes planted in the dark of the moon. Trees and plants which bore their [66] fruit above ground could be planted when the moon shone full. Soap could only be made in the light of the moon, and it must only be stirred in one way and by one person. They had the horror of Friday which with many exists to this day. Nothing was to be begun on that unlucky day, for if the rule were violated an endless train of disasters was sure to follow.

Surrounded by people who believed in these things, Lincoln grew to manhood. With them he walked, talked, and labored, and from them he also absorbed whatever of superstition showed itself in him thereafter. His early Baptist training made him a fatalist up to the day of his death, and, listening in boyish wonder to the legends of some toothless old dame led him to believe in the significance of dreams and visions. His surroundings helped to create that unique character which in the eyes of a great portion of the American people was only less curious and amusing than it was august and noble.

The winter of 1829 was marked by another visitation of that dreaded disease, “the milk-sick.” It was making the usual ravages among the cattle. Human victims were falling before it every day, and it caused the usual stampede in southern Indiana. Dennis Hanks, discouraged by the prospect and grieving over the loss of his stock, proposed a move further westward. Returning emigrants had brought encouraging news of the newly developed state of Illinois. Vast stretches of rich alluvial lands were to be had there on the easiest of terms. [67]

Besides this, Indiana no longer afforded any inducements to the poor man. The proposition of Dennis met with the general assent of the Lincoln family, and especially suited the roving and migratory spirit of Thomas Lincoln. He had been induced to leave Kentucky for the hills of Indiana by the same rosy and alluring reports. He had moved four times since his marriage and in point of worldly goods was not better off than when he started in life. His land groaned under the weight of a long neglected incumbrance and, like many of his neighbors, he was ready for another change. Having disposed of his land to James Gentry, and his grain and stock to young David Turnham, he loaded his household effects into a wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen, and in March, 1830, started for Illinois. The two daughters of Mrs. Lincoln had meanwhile married Dennis Hanks and Levi Hall, and with these additions the party numbered thirteen in all. Abe had just passed his twenty-first birthday.

The journey was a long and tedious one; the streams were swollen and the roads were muddy almost to the point of impassability. The rude, heavy wagon, with its primitive wheels, creaked and groaned as it crawled through the woods and now and then stalled in the mud. Many were the delays, but none ever disturbed the equanimity of its passengers. They were cheerful in the face of all adversity, hopeful, and some of them determined; but none of them more so than the tall, ungainly youth in buckskin breeches and coon-skin cap who [68] wielded the gad and urged the patient oxen forward. As these humble emigrants entered the new State little did the curious people in the towns through which they passed dream that the obscure and penniless driver who yelled his commands to the oxen would yet become Chief Magistrate of the greatest nation of modern times.8

1 John W. Lamar, Ms. letter, June 29, 1866.

2 In one of her conversations with me Mrs. Crawford told me of the exhibitions with which at school they often entertained the few persons who attended the closing day. Sometimes, in warm weather, the scholars made a platform of clean boards covered overhead with green boughs. Generally, however, these exhibitions took place in the school-room. The exercises consisted of the varieties offered at this day at the average seminary or school — declamations and dialogues or debates. The declamations were obtained principally from a book called “The Kentucky Preceptor,” which volume Mrs. Crawford gave me as a souvenir of my visit. Lincoln had often used it himself, she said. The questions for discussion were characteristic of the day and age. The relative merits of the “Bee and the Ant,” the difference in strength between “Wind and water,” taxed their knowledge of physical phenomena; and the all-important question “Which has the most right to complain, the Indian or the Negro?” called out their conceptions of a great moral or national wrong. In the discussion of all these grave subjects Lincoln took a deep interest.

3 April 16, 1829. Records Spencer Co., Indiana.

4 The original chapter in Lincoln's handwriting came to light in a singular manner after having been hidden or lost for years. Shortly before my trip to Indiana in 1865 a carpenter in Gentryville was rebuilding a house belonging to one of the Grigsbys. While so engaged his son and assistant had climbed through the ceiling to the inner side of the roof to tear away some of the timbers, and there found, tucked away under the end of a rafter, a bundle of yellow and dust-covered papers. Carefully withdrawing them from their hiding-place he opened and was slowly deciphering them, when his father, struck by the boy's silence, and hearing no evidence of work, enquired of him what he was doing. “Reading a portion of the Scriptures that hav'n't been revealed yet,” was the response. He had found the “Chronicles of Reuben.”

5 Lincoln had shrewdly persuaded some one who was on the inside at the infare to slip upstairs while the feasting was at its height and change the beds, which Mamma Grigsby had carefully arranged in advance. The transposition of beds produced a comedy of errors which gave Lincoln as much satisfaction and joy as the Grigsby household embarrassment and chagrin.

6 The reader will readily discern that the waiters had been carefully drilled by Lincoln in advance for the parts they were to perform in this rather unique piece of backwoods comedy. He also improved the rare opportunity which presented itself of caricaturing “Blue Nose” Crawford, who had exacted of him such an extreme penalty for the damage done to his “Weems' life of Washington.” He is easily identified as “Josiah blowing his bugle.” The latter was also the husband of my informant, Mrs. Elizabeth Crawford.

7 This gentleman, Judge John Pitcher, ninety-three years old, is still living in Mount Vernon, Indiana. He says that young Lincoln often called at his office and borrowed books to read at home during leisure hours. On one occasion he expressed a desire to study law with Pitcher, but explained that his parents were so poor that he could not be spared from the farm on which they lived. “He related to me in my office one day,” says Pitcher, “an account of his payment to Crawford of the damage done to the latter's book-Weems' ‘Life of Washington.’ ” Lincoln said, “You see, I am tall and long-armed, and I went to work in earnest. At the end of the two days there was not a corn-blade left on a stalk in the field. I wanted to pay full damage for all the wetting the book got, and I made a clean sweep.”

8 Mr. Lincoln once described this journey to me. He said the ground had not yet yielded up the frosts of winter; that during the day the roads would thaw out on the surface and at night freeze over again, thus making travelling, especially with oxen, painfully slow and tiresome. There were, of course, no bridges, and the party were consequently driven to ford the streams, unless by a circuitous route they could avoid them. In the early part of the day the latter were also frozen slightly, and the oxen would break through a square yard of thin ice at every step. Among other things which the party brought with them was a pet dog, which trotted along after the wagon. One day the little fellow fell behind and failed to catch up till after they had crossed the stream. Missing him they looked back, and there, on the opposite bank, he stood, whining and jumping about in great distress. The water was running over the broken edges of the ice, and the poor animal was afraid to cross. It would not pay to turn the oxen and wagon back and ford the stream again in order to recover a dog, and so the majority, in their anxiety to move forward, decided to go on without him. “But I could not endure the idea of abandoning even a dog,” related Lincoln. “Pulling off shoes and socks I waded across the stream and triumphantly returned with the shivering animal under my arm. His frantic leaps of joy and other evidences of a dog's gratitude amply repaid me for all the exposure I had undergone.”

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