Page images

A young English nobleman was just being presented to the President. Inside the door, evidently overawed by the splendid assemblage, was an honest-faced old farmer, who shrank from the passing crowd until he and the plain-faced old lady clinging to his arm were pressed back to the wall.

The President, tall and, in a measure, stately in his personal presence, looking over the heads of the assembly, said to the English nobleman: "Excuse me, my Lord, there's an old friend of mine."

Passing backward to the door, Mr. Lincoln said, as he grasped the old farmer's hand:

I haven't seen you in Sanga

"Why, John, I'm glad to see you. since you and I made rails for old Mrs. mon county, in 1837.

How are you?"

The old man turned to his wife with quivering lip, and without replying to the President's salutation, said: "Mother, he's just the same old Abe!"

"Mr. Lincoln," he said finally, "you know we had three boys; they all enlisted in the same company; John was killed in the 'seven days' fight;' Sam was taken prisoner and starved to death, and Henry is in the hospital. We had a little money, an' I said: 'Mother, we'll go to Washington an' see him. An' while we were

here I said we'll go up and see the President."

Mr. Lincoln's eyes grew dim, and across his rugged, homely, tender face swept the wave of sadness his friends had learned to know, and he said:

this miserable war will soon be over.

"John, we all hope

I must see all these folks here for an hour or so and I want to talk with you." The old lady and her husband were hustled into a private room in spite of their protests.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

Trying the "Greens" on Jake.

A deputation of bankers were one day introduced to the President by the Secretary of the Treasury.

the party, Mr. P

One of of Chelsea. Mass., took occasion to refer to the severity of the tax laid by Congress upon State Banks.

"Now," said Mr. Lincoln, "that reminds me of a cir cumstance that took place in a neighborhood where I lived when I was a boy. In the spring of the year the farmers were very fond of a dish which they called greens, though the fashionable name for it now-a-days. is spinach, I believe.

One day after dinner, a large fam

ily were taken very ill. The doctor was called in, who attributed it to the greens, of which all had frequently partaken. Living in the family was a half-witted boy named Jake. On a subsequent occasion, when greens had been gathered for dinner, the head of the house said:


'Now, boys, before running any further risk in this thing, we will first try them on Jake, If he stands it, we are all right.'

"And just so, I suppose," said Mr. Lincoln, "Congress thought it would try this tax on State Banks!"


A Story Which Lincoln Told the Preachers.

A year or more before Mr. Lincoln's death, a delegation of clergymen waited upon him in reference to the appointment of the army chaplains The delegation consisted of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and an Episcopal clergyman. They stated that the character of many of the chaplains was notoriously bad, and they had come to urge upon the President the necessity of more discre- tion in these appointments.

"But, gentlemen," said the President, that is a matter which the Government has nothing to do with; the chaplains are chosen by the regiments."

Not satisfied with this, the clergymen pressed, in turn, a change in the system. Mr. Lincoln heard them through without remark, and then said, "Without any disrespect, gentlemen, I will tell you a 'little story.'

"Once, in Springfield, I was going off on a short journey, and reached the depot a little ahead of time. Leaning against the fence just outside the depot was a little darkey boy, whom I knew, named 'Dick,' busily digging with his toe in a mud-puddle. As I came up, I

said, 'Dick, what are you about?'


'Making a church,' said he.

'A church,' said I; 'what do you mean?'

"Why, yes,' said Dick, pointing with his toe, 'don't you see there is the shape of it; there's the steps and front door-here the pews, where the folks set-and there's the pulpit.'

"Yes, I see,' said I; 'but why don't you make a minister?'

'Laws,' answered Dick, with a grin, 'I hain't got mud enough.'"


How Lincoln Stood Up for the Word "Sugar


Mr. Defrees, the Government printer, states, that, when one of the President's message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use of the term "sugar-coated," and finally went to Mr. Lincoln about it. Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told the President frankly, that he ought to remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a speech at a mass meeting in Illinois; that the messages became a part of history, and should be written accordingly.

"What is the matter now?" inquired the President.

"Why," said Mr. Defrees, "you have used an undignified expression in the message;" and then, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, "I would alter the structure of that if I were you."

"Defrees," replied Mr. Lincoln, "that word expresses exactly my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what 'sugar-coated' means.'

On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Defrees states that a certain sentence of another message was very awkwardly constructed. Calling the President's attention to it in the proof-copy, the latter acknowledged the force of the

« PreviousContinue »