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of some of “the best-laid schemes of mice and men," and went “all agley."
Lincoln, according to promise, went down to Able’s, and asked if Miss Owens was in. Mrs. Able replied that she had gone to Graham's, about one and a half miles from Able's due south-west. Lincoln said, - Didn't she know I was coming ?” Mrs. Able answered, “No;” but one of the children said, “ Yes, ma, she did, for I heard Sam tell her so." Lincoln sat a while, and then went about his business. fat was now in the fire. Lincoln thought, as he was extremely poor, and Miss Owens very rich, it was a fling on him on that account. Abe was mistaken in his guesses, for wealth cut no figure in Miss Owens's eyes. Miss Owens regretted her course.
Abe would not bend; and Miss Owens wouldn't. She said, if she had it to do over again she would play the cards differently.
She had two sons in the Southern army. She said that if either of them had got into difhculty, she would willingly have gone to old Abe for relief.”
In Miss Owens's letter of July 22, 1866, it will be observed that she tacitly admitted to Mr. Gaines Greene “ the circumstances in connection with Mrs. Greene and child." Although she here denies the precise words alleged to have been used by her in the little quarrel at the top of the hill, she does not deny the impression his conduct left upon her mind, but presents additional evidence of it by the relation of another incident of siinilar character, from which her inferences were the same.
Fortunately we are not compelled to rely upon tradition, however authentic, for the facts concerning this interesting episode in Mr. Lincoln's life. Miss Owens is still alive to tell her own tale, and we have besides his letters to the lady herself. Mr. Lincoln wrote his account of it as early as 1838. As in duty bound, we shall permit the lady to speak first. At her particular request, her present name and residence are suppressed.
May 1, 1866. MR. W. H. HERNDON. Dear Sir,
After quite a struggle with my feelings, I have at last decided to send you the letters in my possession written by Mr. Lincoln, believing, as I do, that you are a gentleman of honor, and will faithfully abide by all you have said.
My associations with your lamented friend were in Menard County, whilst visiting a sister, who then resided near Petersburg. I have learned that my maiden name is now in your possession; and you have ere this, no doubt, been informed that I am a native Kentuckian.
As regards Miss Rutledge, I cannot tell you any thing, she having died previous to my acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln; and I do not now recollect of ever hearing him mention her name. Please return the letters at your earliest convenience.
Very respectfully yours,
, May 22, 1866.
MR. W. H. HERNDON.
My dear Sir, - Really you catechise me in true lawyer style; but I feel you will have the goodness to excuse me if I decline answering all your questions in detail, being well assured that few women would have ceded as much as I have under all the circumstances.
You say you have heard why our acquaintance terminated as it did. I, too, have heard the same bit of gossip; but I never used the remark which Madam Rumor says I did to Mr. Lincoln. I think I did on one occasion say to my sister, who was very anxious for us to be married, that I thought Mr. Lincoln was deficient in those little links which make up the chain of woman's happiness, at least, it was so in my case. Not that I believed it proceeded from a lack of goodness of heart: but his training had been different from mine; hence there was not that congeniality which would otherwise have existed.
From his own showing, you perceive that his heart and hand were at my disposal ; and I suppose that my feelings were not sufficiently enlisted to have the matter consummated. About the beginning of the year 1838 I left Illinois, at which time our acquaintance and correspondence ceased without ever again being renewed.
My father, who resided in Green County, Kentucky, was a gentleman of considerable means; and I am persuaded that few persons placed a higher estimate on education than he did
July 22, 1866. MR. W. H. HERNDON.
Dear Sir, -- I do not think that you are pertinacious in asking the question relative to old Mrs. Bowlin Greene, because I wish to set you right on that question. Your information, no doubt, came through my cousin, Mr. Gaines Greene, who visited us last winter. Whilst here, he was laughing at me about Mr. Lincoln, and among other things spoke about the circumstance in connection with Mrs. Greene and child. My impression is now that I tacitly admitted it, for it was a season of trouble with me, and I gave but little heed to the matter. We never had any hard feelings toward each other that I know of. On no occasion did I say to Mr. Lincoln that I did not believe he would make a kind husband, because he did not tender his services to Mrs. Greene in helping of her carry her babe. As I said to you in a former letter, I thought him lacking in smaller attentions. One circumstance presents itself just now to my mind's eye. There was a company of us going to Uncle Billy Greene's. Mr. Lincoln was riding with me; and we had a very bad branch to cross. The other gentlemen were very officious in seeing that their partners got over safely. We were behind, he riding in, never looking back to see how I got along. When I rode up beside him, I remarked, “ You are a nice fellow! I suppose you did not care whether my neck was broken or not.” He laughingly replied (I suppose by way of compliment) that he knew I was plenty smart to take care of myself.
In many things he was sensitive, almost to a fault. He told me of an incident: that he was crossing a prairie one day, and saw before him a hog mired down,” to use his own language. He was rather “fixed up; ” and he resolved that he would pass on without looking towards the shoat. After he had gone by, he said the feeling was irresistible; and he had to look back, and the poor thing seemed to say wistfully, “ There, now, my last hope is gone;" that he deliberately got down, and relieved it from its difficulty.
In many things we were congenial spirits. In politics we saw eye to eye, though since then we differed as widely as the South is from the North. But methinks I hear you say, “ Save me from a political woman !” So say I.
The last message I ever received from him was about a year after we parted in Illinois. Mrs. Able visited Kentucky; and he said to her in Springfield, " Tell your sister that I think she was a great fool, because she did not stay here, and marry me." Characteristic of the man.
VANDALIA, Dec. 13, 1836. MARY, I have been sick ever since my arrival, or I should have written sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have very little even yet to write. And more, the longer I can avoid the mortification of looking in the
post-office for your letter, and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad about that old letter yet. I don't like very well to risk you again. I'll try you once more, anyhow.
The new State House is not yet finished, and consequently the Legislature is doing little or nothing. The Governor delivered an inflammatory political message, and it is expected there will be some sparring between the parties about it as soon as the two Houses get to business. Taylor delivered up his petitions for the new county to one of our members this morning. I am told he despairs of its success, on account of all the members from Morgan County opposing it. There are names enough on the petition, I think, to justify the members from our county in going for it; but if the members from Morgan oppose it, which they say they will, the chance will be bad.
Our chance to take the seat of government to Springfield is better than I expected. An internal-improvement convention was held here since we met, which recommended a loan of several million of dollars, on the faith of the State, to construct railroads. Some of the Legislature are for it, and some against it: which has the majority I cannot tell. There is great strife and struggling for the office of the United States Senator here at this time. It is probable we shall ease their pains in a few days. The opposition men have no candidate of their own; and consequently they will smile as complacently at the angry snarl of the contending Van-Buren candidates and their respective friends, as the Christian does at Satan's rage. You recollect that I mentioned at the outset of this letter that I had been unwell. That is the fact, though I believe I an about well now; but that, with other things I cannot account for, have conspired, and have gotten my spirits so low that I feel that I would rather be any place in the world than here. I really cannot endure the thought of staying here ten weeks. Write back as soon as you get this, and, if possible, say something that will please me; for really I have not been pleased since I left you. This letter is so dry and stupid that I am ashamed to send it, but with my present feelings I cannot do any
better. Give my best respects to Mr. and Mrs. Able and family.
SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 1837. Miss MARY S. Owens.
Friend Mary, — I have commenced two letters to send you before this, both of which displeased me before I got half done, and so I tore them up. The first I thought was not serious enough, and the second was on the other extreme. I shall send this, turn out as it may.
This thing of living in Springfield is rather a dull business, after all; at least, it is so to me. I am quite as lonesome here as I ever was anywhere in my life. I have been spoken to by but one woman since I've been here, and should not have been by her, if she could have avoided it. I've never been to church yet, nor probably shall not be soon. I stay away because I am conscious I should not know how to behave myself.
I am often thinking about what we said of your coming to live at Spring. field. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There is a great deal of flourishing about in carriages here, which it would be your doom to see without sharing it. You would have to be poor, without the means of hiding your porerty. Do you believe you could bear that patiently? Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy and contented; and there is nothing I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort. I know I should be much happier with you than the way I am, provided I saw no signs of discontent in you. What you have said to me may have been in the way of jest, or I may have misunderstood it. If so, then let it be forgotten; if otherwise, I much wish you would think seriously before you decide. For my part, I have already decided. What I have said I will most positively abide by, provided you wish it. My opinion is, that you had better not do it. You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you now imagine. I know you are capable of thinking correctly on any subject; and, if you deliberate maturely upon this before you decide, then I am willing to abide your decision.
You must write me a good long letter after you get this. You have nothing else to do; and, though it might not seem interesting to you after you have written it, it would be a good deal of company to me in this "busy wilderness.” Tell your sister, I don't want to hear any more about selling out and moving, That gives me the hypo whenever I think of it.
SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 16, 1837. Friend MARY, – You will no doubt think it rather strange that I should write you a letter on the same day on which we parted; and I can only account for it by supposing that seeing you lately makes me think of you more than usual: while at our late meeting we had but few expressions of thoughts. You must know that I cannot see you, or think of you, with entire indifference; and yet it may be that you are mistaken in regard to what my real feelings toward you are. If I knew you were not, I should not trouble you with this letter. Perhaps any other man would know enough without further information; but I consider it my peculiar right to plead ignorance, and your bounden duty to allow the plea. I want in all cases to do right; and most particularly so in all cases with women. I want, at this particular time, more than any thing else, to do right with you: and if I knew it would be doing right, as I rather suspect it would, to let you alone, I would do it. And, for the purpose of making the matter as plain as possible, I now say