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[25] In the progress of American settlement there has always been a time, whether the frontier was in New England or Pennsylvania or Kentucky, or on the banks of the Mississippi, when the champion wrestler held some fraction of the public consideration accorded to the victor in the Olympic games of Greece. Until Lincoln came, Jack Armstrong was the champion wrestler of Clary's Grove and New Salem, and picturesque stories are told how the neighborhood talk, inflamed by Offutt's fulsome laudation of his clerk, made Jack Armstrong feel that his fame was in danger. Lincoln put off the encounter as long as he could, and when the wrestling match finally came off neither could throw the other. The bystanders became satisfied that they were equally matched in strength and skill, and the cool courage which Lincoln manifested throughout the ordeal prevented the usual close of such incidents with a fight. Instead of becoming chronic enemies and leaders of a neighborhood feud, Lincoln's self-possession and good temper turned the contest into the beginning of a warm and lasting friendship.

If Lincoln's muscles were at times hungry for work, not less so was his mind. He was already instinctively feeling his way to his destiny when, in conversation with Mentor Graham, the schoolmaster, he indicated his desire to use some of his spare moments to increase his education, and confided to him his “notion to study English grammar.” It was entirely in the nature of things that Graham should encourage this mental craving, and tell him: “If you expect to go before the public in any capacity, I think it the best thing you can do.” Lincoln said that if he had a grammar he would begin at once. Graham was obliged to confess that there was no such book at New Salem, but remembered that there was one at Vaner's, six

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