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PADDLING HIS OWN CANOE.
upon his back. He was, therefore, under the necessity of asking a neighbor boy to haul his box to the Sangamon River, but not to await a passing steamer, as there were none, but to take passage in a vessel of his own. He procured a little skiff, and, loading in his worldly goods, applied his tough hands to the oars, and so “paddled his own canoe” to fortune and fame.
This little incident in Lincoln's life has much in it that is picturesque and pleasing. He had passed the primary grade in his school of discipline. The ax and the maul, the scanty clothing and penury, the struggle for education and culture against most discouraging disadvantages, all were left behind as he stepped from the bank of the stream into his little boat. He was now to test his powers in efforts of intellect instead of muscle. He doubtless looked to success in the legal profession as the summit of his ambition, not knowing that this, also, was merely a higher school of discipline to prepare him for the work of his life.
His success at the law was immediate. Political campaigning had given him fluency and confidence as a public speaker; and his acute and logical mind was peculiarly fitted for the
work of that controversial profession. The next Legislative election the people of Springfield returned him for a second term to the Legislature; this was repeated from time to time, till his professional duties became so onerous that he was compelled to decline further service in that body.
HIS COURSE AS A LAWYER
HIS COURSE AS A LAWYER.
RICKERY and deception are regarded as vices almost inseparable from the
legal profession. In almost every contest one or both of the parties are seeking to do injustice. The attorney is constantly brought in contact with knavery, becomes familiar with all its devious ways, and is often strongly tempted, by pecuniary gain and professional ambition, to resort to it himself. And yet the most certain avenue to success in this, as in other callings, is unswerving honesty. No business man is willing to incur the vexation, watchfulness, and, withal, the uncertainty, of dealing with a knave. On the other hand, business intercourse with a man of Christian uprightness and integrity is a constant source of satisfaction and security. Mr. Lincoln's course as a lawyer was
66 obstinately honest." So thorough was the confidence
reposed in him by those who knew him well, that with them his logical deductions, in addressing a jury, would outweigh the testimony upon oath of some respectable witnesses. Constantly acting upon principle, he could not and would not defend the wrong. He not only would not lie for any man or any cause, but he would have nothing to do with a cause for the maintenance of which it was necessary for any body to lie.
During the progress of an important trial at Springfield, he became convinced that his client was acting dishonestly, and that justice and the law were against him. He at once notified his associate counsel that he would not argue such a case, and took no further part in it. The trial proceeded, and, much to Mr. Lincoln's astonishment, his colleague gained the verdict. The successful client paid over to the firm the handsome fee of nine hundred dollars, but Mr. Lincoln would not accept a dime of it.
At that time it was customary, as now, for the common pleas judges to pass from county to county, holding courts in each, with the difference that the judicial districts embraced a much wider area of country than at present. It was
THE ARMSTRONG TRIAL.
also the custom of the best lawyers to follow the judges from one county to another, and thus extend their practice over the whole district. This was called “circuit riding,” a term applied to the itinerant labors of both lawyers and preachers.
The minister and the lawyer, each equipped with saddle-bags and leggings, pursued their journeys on horseback, through mud and rain, snow and sleet, through sloughs and across rivers, contented and happy in the pursuit of their callings.
While engaged in studying his profession in intervals of hard labor, in Menard County, a family named Armstrong, father, mother, and sons, had kindly made him welcome to a home in their cabin during one winter. This generous hospitality from a poor man, as Armstrong then was, was treasured in the grateful memory of the rising lawyer, and brought a full reward, as the following incident, related by one who witnessed it, fully shows :
“Some few years since, the oldest son of Mr. Lincoln's old friend Armstrong, the chief support of his widowed mother—the good old man having some time previously passed from earth