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for a year or more, and with such success that the accuracy of his surveys has never been called in question. One interruption must have occurred in his work, though it was brief. His compass and chain were attached and sold to pay a debt of Berry's, for which he was surety, but they were bought by a man named James Short, who immediately gave them back to him.
HITHERTO the life of our subject has run in a single stream. His history thus far has related to his private career—to his birth, education, growth of mind and character, and personal struggles. Before entering upon that period of his life through which we are to trace a double current, a private and a public one, it will be proper to inquire what kind of a man he had become.
No man ever lived, probably, who was more a self-made man than Abraham Lincoln. Not a circumstance of his life favored the development which he had reached. He was self-moved to study under the most discouraging conditions. He had few teachers, few books, and no intellectual companions. His father could neither read nor write. His mother died when he was a child. He had none of those personal attractions which would naturally enlist the sympathies and assistance of any
refined men and women with whom he must occasionally have come in contact. He was miserably poor, and was compelled to labor among poor people to win his daily bread. There was not an influence around him except that left upon him by his “angel mother,” which did not tend rather to drag him down than lift him up. He was not endowed with a hopeful temperament. He had no force of selfesteem-no faith in himself that buoyed him up amid the contempt of the proud and prosperous. He was altogether a humble man-humble in condition, and humble in spirit. Yet, by the love of that which was good and great and true, and by the hunger and thirst of a noble nature, he was led to the acquisition of a practical education, and to the development of all those peculiar powers that were latent within him.
He was loyal to his convictions. There is no doubt that at this time he haul begun to think of political life. He was, at least, thoroughly conversant with the politics of his own state and of the country. There was not a more diligent reader of political newspapers than he. He had become familiar with the position and history of the politicians and statesmen of the country, and must have been entirely aware of the unpopularity of those toward whom his judgment and sympathies led him. That he was then, and always reinained, an ambitious man, there is no question; and with this fact in mind we can measure the sacrifice which adherence to his convictions cost him. His early love of Henry Clay has already been noticed; and this love for the great Kentuckian, though circumstances modified it somewhat, never ceased. He clung to him with the warmest affection through the most of his life, pronounced his culogy when he died, and stood firmly by the principles which he represented. In a state overwhelmingly democratic, he took his position with the minority, and steadily adhered to the opposition against all the temptations to quick and certain success which desertion would bring him.
He was a marked and peculiar man. People talked about him. His studious habits, his greed for information, his thorough mastery of the difficulties of every new position in which he was placed, his intelligence touching all matters of public concern, his unwearying good nature, his skill in telling a story, his great athletic power, his quaint, odd ways, his uncouth appearance, all tended to bring him into sharp contrast with the dull mediocrity by which he was surrounded. Denton Offutt, his old employer in the store, said, in the extravagance of his admiration, that he knew more than any other man in the United States. The Governor of Indiana, one of Offutt's acquaintances, said, after having a conversation with Lincoln, that the young man “had talent enough in him to make a President." In every circle in which he found himself, whether refined or coarse, he was always the center of attraction. William G. Greene says that when he (Greene) was a member of Illinois college, he brought home with him, on a vacation, Richard Yates, the present Governor of the state, and some other boys, and, in order to entertain them, took them all up to see Lincoln. He found him in his usual position and at his usual occupation. He was flat on his back, on a cellar door, reading a newspaper. That was the manner in which a President of the United States and a Governor of Illinois became acquainted with one another. Mr. Greene says that Lincoln then could repeat the whole of Burns, and was a devoted student of Shakspeare. So the rough backwoodsman, self-educated, entertained the college boys, and was invited to dine with them on bread and inilk. How he managed to upset his bowl of milk is not a matter of history, but the fact that he did so is, as is the further fact that Greene's mother, who loved Lincoln, tried to smooth over the accident, and relieve the young man's embarrassment.
Wherever he moved he found men and women to respect and love him. One man who knew him at that time says that “ Lincoln had nothing, only plenty of friends.” And these friends trusted him wholly, and were willing to be led by him. His unanimous election as Captain in the Black Hawk war, and the unanimous vote given him for the legislature by political friend and foe, wherever in the county he was known, illustrates his wonderful popularity. All the circumstances considered, it was probably without a precedent or parallel. When we remember that this popularity was achieved without any direct attempt to win it—that he flattered nobody, made no pretensions whatever, and was the plainest and poorest man in his precinct, we can appreciate something of the strength of his character and the beauty and purity of his life. He aroused no jealousies, for he was not selfish. He made no enemies, because he felt kindly toward every man. People were glad to see him rise, because it seemed just that he should rise. Indeed, all seemed glad to help him along.
He was a man of practical expedients. He always found some way to get out of difficulties, whether moral or mechanical, and was equally ingenious in his expedients for escaping or surmounting each variety. Governor Yates, in a speech at Springfield, before a meeting at which William G. Greene presided, quoted Mr. Greene as having said that the first time he ever saw Lincoln he was “in the Sangamon River, with his trousers rolled up five feet more or less, trying to pilot a flat-boat over a mill-dam. The boat was so full of water that it was hard to manage. Lincoln got the prow over, and then, instead of waiting to bail the water out, bored a hole through the projecting part, and let it run out.” Barring a little western extravagance in the statement of a measurement, the incident is truly recorded; and it illustrates more forcibly than words can describe the man's ingenuity in the quick invention of moral expedients, then and afterwards. His life had been a life of expedients. He had always been engaged in making the best of bad conditions and untoward circumstances, and in meeting and mastering emergencies. Among those who did not understand him, he had the credit or the discredit, of being a cunning man; but cunning was not at all an element of his nature or character. He was simply ingenious; he was wonderfully ingenious; but he was not cunning. Cunning is, or tries to be, far-sighted; ingenuity disposes of occasions. Cunning contrives plots; ingenuity dissolves them. Cunning sets traps; ingenuity evades them. Cunning envelops its victims in difficulties; ingenuity helps them out of them. Cunning is the offspring of selfishness; ingenuity is the child or companion of practical wisdom. He took his boat safely over a great many mill-dams during his life, but always by an expedient.
He was a religious man. The fact may be stated without any reservation-with only an explanation. He believed in God, and in his personal supervision of the affairs of men. He believed himself to be under his control and guidance. He believed in the power and ultimate triumph of the right, through his belief in God. This unwavering faith in a Divine