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suppress the evils of intemperance. He had always been singularly abstemious for a frontier politician, but he gained nothing with the church people by championing the good cause, but rather hostility, for his frankness led in one speech to his statement that those who had never fallen victims to the vice were spared more by lack of appetite than by any superiority, and that taken as a class drunkards would compare favorably in head and heart with any other.
His frame of mind as summer came on is recorded by himself in a letter of July 4, to Speed:
"I must gain confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves when they are made. In that ability I once prided myself as the only chief gem of my character; that gem I lost, how and where you know too well. I have not regained it; and until I do I cannot trust myself in any matter of much importance. I believe now that had you understood my case at the time as well as I understood yours afterward, by the aid you would have given me I should have sailed through clear; but that does not now afford me sufficient confidence to begin that or the like of that again. . . . I always was superstitious; I believe God made me one of the instruments of bringing Fanny and you together, which union I have no doubt he had foreordained. Whatever He designs He will do for me yet. 'Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,' is my text just now. If, as you say, you have told Fanny all, I have no objection to her
seeing this letter, but for its reference to our friend here; let her seeing it depend upon whether she has ever known anything of my affairs; and if she has not, do not let her. I do not think I can come to Kentucky this season. I am so poor and make so little headway in the world that I drop back in a month of idleness as much as I gain in a year's sowing."
On October 5, he wrote to Speed:
"I want to ask you a close question - Are you now, in feeling as well as in judgment, glad you are married as you are? From anybody but me this would be an impudent question, not to be tolerated; but I know you will pardon it in me. Please answer it quickly, as I am impatient to know."
He was contemplating marriage again. Just how long he had been wavering we do not know. During the summer friends had brought the former fiancés together, and they immediately saw much of each other. One result was a duel, to
which Lincoln, in later years, disliked any reference. A Democratic politician, named James Shields, was ridiculed by Lincoln in a letter to a Springfield paper, signed " Aunt Rebecca." Miss Todd and a woman friend then tried their hands, under the same signature, in a similar letter, followed a few days later by verses on the subject signed Cathleen." Shields was furious, and Lincoln, to protect the women, gave himself out as the author. The consequence was a challenge.
Lincoln named the bottom land in Missouri, opposite Alton, as the scene, and set the following conditions:
"First. Weapons: Cavalry broadswords of the largest size, precisely equal in all respects, and such as now used by the cavalry company at Jacksonville.
"Second. Position: A plank ten feet long, and from nine to twelve inches broad, to be firmly fixed on edge on the ground, as the line between us, which neither is to pass his foot over on forfeit of his life. Next, a line drawn on the ground on either side of said plank and parallel with it, each at the distance of the whole length of the sword and three feet additional from the plank; and the passing of his own such line by either party during the fight shall be deemed a surrender of the contest."
Lincoln and his second, E. H. Merryman, drove to Alton in a buggy, and the party, on a horse ferry, crossed the river to a sand-bar. When they reached the rendezvous they were joined by unexpected friends, who pacified them and led them home in quiet. On one of the very rare occasions when he was willing to mention this affair at all, Lincoln said to a friend, who asked why he chose broadswords: "To tell you the truth, Linder, I didn't want to kill Shields, and felt sure I could disarm him, having had about a month to learn the broadsword exercise; and, furthermore, I didn't want the damned fellow to kill
me, which I rather think he would have done if we had selected pistols."
On the morning of November 4, 1842, Lincoln went to the room of James H. Matheney and asked him to be his best man at a marriage not yet announced, but to be celebrated that night. Miss Todd at the same time asked of a friend a similar favor. The license was obtained, a minister summoned, and in the presence of a few friends the deed was done. While the groom was dressing at Butler's house, according to Herndon, a small Butler boy asked him where he was going. "To hell, I suppose," was the reply. Another story goes that among the guests was Thomas C. Brown, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, a man who represented a somewhat earlier stage of Illinois civilization. When the groom, putting on the ring, repeated, "with this ring I thee endow with all my goods and chattels, lands and tenements," Judge Brown, standing close by the bridal couple, witnessing such a proceeding for the first time, exclaimed, "God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that!" Thus, in a life containing more mystery than that of any equally celebrated modern, a mysterious wedding was accomplished.
A FEW years after her marriage Mrs. Lincoln said to Ward H. Lamon, who had remarked that her husband was a great favorite in the eastern part of the state: "Yes, he is a great favorite everywhere. He is to be President of the United States some day. If I had not thought so, I would never have married him, for you can see he is not pretty. But look at him. Doesn't he look as if he would make a magnificent President?"
Lincoln was in politics almost constantly for several years. The spring after his marriage, March 1, 1843, however, he offered to a Whig meeting at Springfield a series of resolutions of which the following are especially significant; in spite of the fact that his ideas on tariff and finance were never very deeply pondered:
Resolved, That a tariff of duties on imported goods, producing sufficient revenue for the payment of the necessary expenditures of the National Government, and so adjusted as to protect American industry, is indispensably necessary to the prosperity of the American people.