whom it was written--Mrs. O. H. Browning
, wife of a fellow-member of the Legislature — before giving a copy of it to a biographer, wrote to Lincoln
asking his consent to the publication, but that he answered warning her against it because it was too full of truth.
The only biographer who ever did insert it apologized for its appearance in his book, regarding it for many reasons as an extremely painful duty.
“If it could be withheld,” he laments, “and the act decently reconciled to the conscience of a biographer1
professing to be honest and candid, it should never see the light in these pages.
Its grotesque humor, its coarse exaggerations in describing the person of a lady whom the writer was willing to marry; its imputation of toothless and weatherbeaten old age to a woman really young and handsome; its utter lack of that delicacy of tone and sentiment which one naturally expects a gentleman to adopt when he thinks proper to discuss the merits of his late mistress
--all these, and its defective orthography, it would certainly be more agreeable to suppress than to publish.
But if we begin by omitting or mutilating a document which sheds so broad a light upon one part of his life and one phase of his character, why may we not do the like as fast and as often as the temptation arises?
and where shall the process cease?”
I prefer not to take such a serious view of the letter or its publication.
My idea is, that Mr. Lincoln
got into one of his irresistible moods of humor and fun — a state of feeling into which he