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THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE
DANIEL WEBSTER," ETC.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
All rights reserved
To an American in sympathy with his country, loving her as she is, not wishing her essentially different, there can be few historical figures as attractive as Abraham Lincoln. Unequalled, since Washington, in service to the nation, he is unrivalled among our statesmen in the closeness with which he represents our land.
“He was the North, the South, the East, the West,
The biography of such a man can afford honesty. Some have omitted what was not pretty. Others have apologized for it. Many would like to improve the rugged and homely face with a touch of rouge or magnesia. Surely this is trivial. Let us not try to make our great man like
. other great men.
Let us allow him to reach as high as the saints in one direction, and as high as Rabelais in another. Let him be the prairie male as well as the sage and martyr, the deft politician as well as the generous statesman. Paint him as he is. He will still be great, nobler than ever, because more real. Better the truth and strength and beauty that are, than any fiction less human and less profound. Following the real Lincoln from the hovel to the White House, from the village girls and the tavern stories to Gettysburg and the second inaugural, we live grandly, up and down, to the right and to the left, breathing the air of the plains, the mountains, the closet, the hospital, of poetic superstition and of the sanest wisdom, and we see that life is good, that our nation is good, and that it is well to know the truth.
Lincoln himself refused to read a life of Burke because he believed that biographies were indiscriminate eulogies. Praise and blame have small place, and suppression, none, in the story of a large soul. It is not when justice is done that the heavens fall.
Thirty-four years have passed since Lincoln's death. A generation, unborn when he was shot, is now thinking and writing. It starts without the passions of the strife. We no longer see the problems as black and white. One of us has said recently that the negro was freed in the South that he might be lynched in Ohio. We now see the threads of right and wrong distinct yet tangled, as Lincoln saw them, even when he stood in the centre of the storm. Those who weathered the gale have left their memories of