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AND now began a new life, so unlike anything that Mr. Lincoln had hitherto experienced that he found himself altogether afloat as to the proprieties of his position. His nomination had not elevated or elated him; and he did not see why it should change his manners or his bearing toward anybody. He had been diminished in his own estimation-in some respects humbled and oppressed—by the great responsibilities placed upon him, rather than made important and great. He was the people's instrument, the people's servant, the people's creation. He could put on none of the airs of eminence; he could place no bars between himself and those who had honored him. None of his old heartiness and simplicity left him. Men who entered his house impressed with a sense of his new dignities, found him the same honest, affectionate, true-hearted and simple-minded Abraham Lincoln that he had always been. He answered his own bell, accompanied his visitors to the door when they retired, and felt all that interfered with his old homely and hearty habits of hospitality as a burden-almost an impertinence.
From this moment to the moment of his death he knew nothing of leisure. He was astonished to find how many friends he had. They thronged his house from every quarter of the country. Probably no candidate for presidential honors was ever so beset by place-seekers and lion-hunters as was Mr. Lincoln ; for it is rare indeed that any man is nominated for the presidency with the same moral certainty of an election which attachea to his prospects. It was almost universally believed, both at the North and the South, that he would be elected; and he was treated like a man who already had the reins of power in his hands. Some of his friends who had witnessed his laborious
way of receiving and dismissing his guests and visitors interposed with “Thomas,” a colored servant who became very useful to him; but it was very hard and very unnatural for him to yield to another, and he a servant, the ministry of the courtesies which it was so much his delight to render; and he not unfrequently broke over the rules which his considerate advisers undertook to impose upon him. One thing was remarkable in these receptions—his attention to the humble and the poor. No poor,
humble, scared man ever came into his house toward whom his heart did not at once go out with a gush of noble sympathy. To these he was always particularly attentive, and they were placed at ease at once. He took pains to show them that no change of circumstances could make him forget his early condition, or alienate his heart from those with whom he had shared the hardships and humilities of obscurity and poverty.
The interruption of family privacy and comfort by the constant throng of visitors at last became intolerable, and it was determined that Mr. Lincoln should hold his receptions elsewhere. Accordingly the Executive Chamber, a large fine room in the State House, was set apart for him; and in this room he met the public until, after his election, he departed for Washington. Here he met the millionaire and the menial, the priest and the politician, men, women and children, old friends and new friends, those who called for love and those who sought for office. From morning until night this was his business; and he performed it with conscientious care and the most unwearying patience.
As illustrative of the nature of many of his calls, a brace of incidents may be recorded as they were related to the writer by an eye-witness. Mr. Lincoln being seated in conversation with a gentleman one day, two raw, plainly dressed young
Suckers” entered the room, and bashfully lingered near the door. As soon as he observed them, and apprehended their embarrassment, he rose and walked to them, saying, “How do you do, my good fellows? What can I do for you? Will you sit down?”. The spokesman of the pair, the shorter of the two, declined to sit, and explained the object of the call thus: he had had a talk about the relative hight of Mr. Lincoln and his companion, and had asserted his belief that they were of exactly the same hight. He had come in to verify his judgment. Mr. Lincoln smiled, went and got his cane, and, placing the end of it upon the wall, said, “here, young man, come under here."
The young man came under the cane, as Mr. Lincoln held it, and when it was perfectly adjusted to his hight, Mr. Lincoln said: “now come out and hold up the cane." This he did while Mr. Lincoln stepped under. Rubbing his head back and forth to see that it worked easily under the measurement, he stepped out, and declared to the sagacious fellow who was curiously looking on, that he had guessed with remarkable accuracy—that he and the young man were exactly of the same hight. Then he shook hands with them and sent them on their way. Mr. Lincoln would just as soon have thought of cutting off his right hand as he would have thought of turning those boys away with the impression that they had in any way insulted his dignity.
They had hardly disappeared when an old and modestly dressed woman made her appearance. She knew Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Lincoln did not at first recognize her. Then she undertook to recall to his memory certain incidents connected with his rides upon the circuit—especially his dining at her house upon the road at different times. Then he remembered her and her home. Having fixed her own place in his recollection, she tried to recall to him a certain scanty dinner of bread and milk that he once ate at her house. He could not remember it-on the contrary, he only remembered that he had always fared well at her house. “Well,” said she, "one day you came along after we had got through dinner, and we had eaten up everything, and I could give you nothing but a
bowl of bread and milk; and you ate it; and when you got up you said it was good enough for the President of the United States."
The good old woman, remembering the remark, had come in from the country, making a journey of eight or ten miles, to relate to Mr. Lincoln this incident, which, in her mind, had doubtless taken the form of prophesy. Mr. Lincoln placed the honest creature at her ease, chatted with her of old times, and dismissed her in the most happy and complacent frame of mind.
The interviews of this character were almost numberless, constantly intermingled with grave conversations with statesmen and politicians concerning the campaign in progress, and the conclition and prospects of the country. The future was
Threats of secession grew louder and deeper. Steps towards treason were bolder with every passing day. He knew the spirit of slavery. He had measured it in all the length and breadth of its malignity and treachery. He felt that he was entering upon a path full of danger, overshadowed all the way with doubt and fear. With this great care upon him—with the burden of a nation already taken upon his shoulders—he was often bowed down with the deepest despondency. He believed in his inmost soul that he was an instrument in the hands of God for the accomplishment of a great purpose. The power was above him, the workers were around him, the end was beyond him. In him, Providence, the people and the purpose of both met; and as a poor, weak, imperfect man, he felt humbled by the august presence, and crushed by the importance with which he had been endowed.
Of one thing Mr. Lincoln felt sure: that in the great struggle before him he ought to be supported by the Christian sentiment and the Christian influence of the nation. Nothing pained him more than the thought that a man professing the religion of Jesus Christ, and especially a man who taught the religion of Jesus Christ, should be opposed to him. He felt that every religious man-every man who believed in God, in the principles of everlasting justice, in truth and righteousness--should be opposed to slavery, and should support and assist him in the struggle against inhumanity and oppression which he felt to be imminent. It was to him a great mystery how those who preached the gospel to the poor, and who, by their Divine Master, were sent to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and to set at liberty those that were bruised, could be his opponents and enemies.
Mr. Newton Bateman, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Illinois, occupied a room adjoining and opening into the Executive Chamber. Frequently this door was open during Mr. Lincoln's receptions; and throughout the seven months or more of his occupation Mr. Bateman saw him nearly every day. Often when Mr. Lincoln was tired he closed his door against all intrusion, and called Mr. Bateman into his room for a quiet talk. On one of these occasions Mr. Lincoln took up a book containing a careful canvass of the city of Springfield in which he lived, showing the candidate for whom each citizen had declared it his intention to vote in the approaching election. Mr. Lincoln's friends had, doubtless at his own request, placed the result of the canvass in his hands. This was toward the close of October, and only a few days before the election. Calling Mr. Bateman to a seat at his side, having previously locked all the doors, he said: “let us look over this book. I wish particularly to see how the ministers of Springfield are going to vote. The leaves were turned, one by one, and as the names were examined Mr. Lincoln frequently asked if this one and that were not a minister, or an elder, or the member of such or such a church, and sadly expressed his surprise on receiving an affirmative answer. In that manner they went through the book, and then he closed it and sat silently and for some minutes regarding a memorandum in pencil which lay before him. At length he turned to Mr. Bateman with a face full of sadness, and said: “Here are twenty-three ministers, of different denominations, and all of them are against me but three; and here are a great many prominent members of the churches, a very large majority of whom are against me. Mr. Bateman, I am