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to say that I have my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side.'
"So," said Mr. Lincoln, "when politicians told me that the northern and southern wings of the Democracy could be harmonized, why, I believed them, of course; but I always had my doubts about the 'abutment' on the other side."
Governor Morgan, of New York, was Chairman, visited him in Springfield, Ill., where he was officially informed of his nomination.
After this ceremony had passed, Mr. Lincoln remarked to the company that as an appropriate conclusion to an interview so important and interesting as that which had just transpired, he supposed good manners would require that he should treat the committee with something to drink; and opening a door that led into a room in the rear, he called out, "Mary! Mary!" A girl responded to the call, to whom Mr. Lincoln spoke a few words in an under-tone, and, closing the door, returned again to converse with his guests. In a few minutes the maiden entered, bearing a large waiter, containing several glass tumblers, and a large pitcher in the midst, and placed it upon the center-table. Mr. Lincoln arose, and gravely addressing the company, said: "Gentlemen, we must pledge our mutual healths in the most healthy beverage which God has given to man-it is the only beverage I have ever used or allowed in my family, and I cannot conscientiously depart from it on the present occasionit is pure Adam's ale from the spring;" and, taking a tumbler, he touched it to his lips, and pledged them his highest respects in a cup of cold water. Of course, all his guests were constrained to admire his consistency, and to join in his example.
When the famous challenge was sent by General Shields to Mr. Lincoln, it was at once accepted, and by
the advice of his especial friend and second, Dr. Merriman, he chose broadswords as the weapons with which to fight. Dr. Merriman being a splendid swordsman trained him in the use of that instrument, which made it almost certain that Shields would be killed or discomfited, for he was a small, short-armed man, while Lincoln was a tall, sinewy, long-armed man, and as stout as Hercules.
They went to
Alton, and were to fight on the neck of land between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, near their confluence. John J. Hardin, hearing of the contemplated duel, determined to prevent it, and hastened to Alton, with all imaginable celerity, where he fell in with the belligerent parties, and aided by some other friends of both Lincoln and Shields, succeeded in effecting a reconciliation.
After this affair between Lincoln and Shields, I met Lincoln at the Danville court, and in a walk we took together, seeing him make passes with a stick, such as are made in the broadsword exercise, I was induced to ask him why he had selected that weapon with which to fight Shields. He promptly answered in that sharp, earsplitting voice of his:
"To tell you the truth, Linder, I did not want to kill Shields, and felt sure I could disarm him, having had about a month to learn the broadsword exercise; and furthermore, I didn't want the darned fellow to kill me, which I rather think he would have done if we had selected pistols."
Lincoln Defends the Son of An Old Friend In. dicted for Murder.
Jack Armstrong, the leader of the "Clarey Grove Boys," with whom Lincoln in early life had a scuffle: which "Jack" agreed to call a drawn battle," in conse-quence of his own foul play, afterwards became a lifelong, warm friend of Mr. Lincoln, Later in life the rising lawyer would stop at Jack's cabin home, and here Mrs. Armstrong, a most womanly person, learned to respect Mr. Lincoln. There was no service to which she did not make her guest abundantly welcome, and he never ceased to feel the tenderest gratitude for her kindness.
At length her husband died, and she became dependent upon her sons. The oldest of these, while in attendance upon a camp-meeting; found himself involved, in a melee, which resulted in the death of a young man,.
and young Armstrong was charged by one of his asso
ciates with striking the fatal blow. and imprisoned to await his trial.
He was examined, The public mind was
in a blaze of excitement, and interested parties fed the flame.
Mr. Lincoln knew nothing of the merits of this case, that is certain. He only knew that his old friend Mrs. Armstrong was in sore trouble; and he sat down at once, and volunteered by letter to defend her son. His first act was to procure the postponement and a change of the place of trial. There was too much fever in the minds of the immediate public to permit of fair treatment. When the trial came on, the case looked very hopeless to all but Mr. Lincoln, who had assured himself that the young man was not guilty. on behalf of the State being all in, and looking like a solid and consistent mass of testimony against the prisoner, Mr. Lincoln undertook the task of analyzing and destroying it, which he did in a manner that surprised every one. The principal witness testified that "by the aid of the brightly shining moon, he saw the prisoner inflict the death-blow with a slung shot." Mr. Lincoln proved by the almanac that there was no moon shining at the time. The mass of testimony against the prisoner melted away, until "not guilty" was the verdict of every man present in the crowded court-room.
There is, of course, no record of the plea made on this occasion, but it is remembered as one in which Mr. Lincoln made an appeal to the sympathies of the jury, which quite surpassed his usual efforts of the kind, and melted ail to tears. The jury were out but half an hour, when they returned with their verdict of "not guilty." The