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to the study of law, to the writing of legal papers for his neighbors, to pettifogging before the justice of the peace, and perhaps to a little surveying. But Mr. Lincoln was never precisely the same man again. At the time of his release he was thin, haggard, and careworn, — like one risen from the verge of the grave. He had always been subject to fits of great mental depression, but after this they were more frequent and alarning. It was then that he began to repeat, with a feeling which seemed to inspire every listener with awe, and to carry him to the fresh grave of Ann at every one of his solemn periods, the lines entitled, “Immortality; or, Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?” None heard him but knew that he selected these curiously empty, yet wonderfully sad, impressive lines, to celebrate a grief which lay with continual heaviness on his heart, but to which he could not with becoming delicacy directly allude. He muttered them as he rambled through the woods, or walked by the roaring Sangamon. He was heard to murmur them to himself as he slipped into the village at nightfall, after a long walk of six miles, and an evening visit to the Concord graveyard ; and he would suddenly break out with them in little social assemblies after noticeable periods of silent gloom. They came unbidden to his lips, while the air of affliction in face and gesture, the moving tones and touching modulations of his voice, made it evident that every syllable of the recitation was meant to commemorate the mournful fate of Ann. The is now his : the name of the obscure author is forgotten, and his work is imperishably associated with the memory of a great man, and interwoven with the history of his greatest sorrow. Mr. Lincoln's adoption of it has saved it from merited oblivion, and translated it from the “poet's corner of the country newspaper to a place in the story of his own life, - a story that will continue to be written, or written about, as long as our language exists.
Many years afterwards, when Mr. Lincoln, the best lawyer of his section, with one exception, travelled the circuit with the court and a crowd of his jolly brethren, he always rose early, be
fore any one else was stirring, and, raking together a few glowing coals on the hearth, he would sit looking into them, musing and talking with himself, for hours together. One morning, in the year of his nomination, his companions found him in this attitude, when “ Mr. Lincoln repeated aloud, and at length, the poem •Immortality,'” indicating his preference for the two last stanzas, but insisting that the entire composition “sounded to him as much like true poetry as any thing that he had ever heard.”
In Carpenter's “Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln," occurs the following passage:
“ The evening of March 22, 1864, was a most interesting one to me. I was with the President alone in his office for several hours. Busy with pen and papers when I went in, he presently threw them aside, and commenced talking to me of Shakspeare, of whom he was very fond. Little • Tad,' his son, coming in, he sent him to the library for a copy of the plays, and then read to me several of his favorite passages. Relapsing into a sadder strain, he laid the book aside, and, leaning back in his chair, said,
“There is a poem which has been a great favorite with me for years, which was first shown to me when a young man by a friend, and which I afterwards saw and cut from a newspaper, and learned by heart. I would,' he continued, give a great deal to know who wrote it; but I have never been able to ascertain.'
“ Then, half closing his eyes, he repeated the verses to me:-
« Ohl why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
The infant a mother attended and loved ;
[The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
[The saint who enjoyed the communion of Heaven,
So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed,
For we are the same our fathers have been ;
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think;
They loved, but the story we cannot unfold;
They died, ay, they died : we things that are now,
Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath,
It was only a year or two after the death of Ann Rutledge that Mr. Lincoln told Robert L. Wilson, a distinguished colleague in the Legislature, parts of whose letter will be printed in another place, that, although “he appeared to enjoy life rapturously,” it was a mistake; that, “when alone, he was so overcome by mental depression, that he never dared to carry a pocket-knife.” And during all Mr. Wilson's extended acquaintance with him he never did own a knife, notwithstanding he was inordinately fond of whittling.
Mr. Herndon says, “ He never addressed another woman, in my opinion, · Yours affectionately,' and generally and characteristically abstained from the use of the word · love.' That word cannot be found more than a half-dozen times, if that often, in all his letters and speeches since that time. I have seen some of his letters to other ladies, but he never says love.' He never ended his letters with Yours affectionately,' but signed his name, Your friend, A. Lincoln.'"
After Mr. Lincoln's election to the Presidency, he one day met an old friend, Isaac Cogdale, who had known himn intimately in the better days of the Rutledges at New Salem. “ Ike," said he, “call at my office at the State House about an hour by sundown. The company will then all be gone."
Cogdale went according to request ; “and sure enough,” as he expressed it, “ the company dropped off one by one, including Lincoln's clerk.”
"I want to inquire about old times and old acquaintances,' began Mr. Lincoln. When we lived in Salem, there were the Greenes, Potters, Armstrongs, and Rutledges. These folks have got scattered all over the world, - some are dead. Where are the Rutledges, Greenes, &c. ?' “After we had spoken over old times,” continues Cogdale,
persons, circumstances, – in which he showed a wonderful memory, I then dared to ask him this question :
“May I now, in turn, ask you one question, Lincoln ?'
“Assuredly. I will answer your question, if a fair one, with all my heart.'
“Well, Abe, is it true that you fell in love and courted Ann Rutledge ?'
". It is true, - true: indeed I did. I have loved the name of Rutledge to this day. I have kept my mind on their movements ever since, and love them dearly.'
"• Abe, is it true,'” still urged Cogdale, “ that you ran a little wild about the matter?'
“I did really. I ran off the track. It was my first. I loved the woman dearly. She was a handsome girl ; would have made a good, loving wife ; was natural and quite intellectual, though not highly educated. I did honestly and truly love the girl, and think often, often, of her now.”” A few
weeks after the burial of Ann, McNamar returned to New Salem. He saw Lincoln at the post-office, and was struck with the deplorable change in his appearance. A short time afterwards Lincoln wrote him a deed, which he still has, and prizes highly, in memory of his great friend and rival. His father was at last dead; but he brought back with him his mother and her family. In December of the same year his mother died, and was buried in the same graveyard with Ann. During his absence, Col. Rutledge had occupied his
, farm, and there Ann died; but “ the Rutledge farm »
” proper adjoined this one to the south. "Some of Mr. Lincoln's cor
. surveyor, are still visible on lines traced by him on On Sunday, the fourteenth day of October, 1866, William
ners, as a both farms."