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In personal appearance, Mr. Lincoln, or, as he is more familiarly termed among those who know him best, "Honest Abe," is long, lean, and wiry. In motion, he has a good deal of the elasticity and awkwardness which indicate the rough training of his early life, and his conversation savors strongly of Western idioms and pronunciation. His height is six feet three inches. His complexion is about that of an octoroon; his face, without being by any means beautiful, is genial looking, and good-humor seems to lurk in every corner of its innumerable angles. He has dark hair, tinged with gray; a good forehead; small eyes; a long, penetrating nose, with nostrils such as Napoleon always liked to find in his best generals, because they indicated a long head and clear thoughts; and a mouth which, aside from being of magnificent proportions, is probably his most expressive feature.
As a speaker, he is ready, precise, and fluent. His manner before a popular assembly is as he pleases to make it, being either superlatively ludicrous, or very impressive. He employs but little gesticulation, but, when he desires to make a point, produces a shrug of his shoulders, an elevation of his eyebrows, a depression of his mouth, and a general distortion of countenance, so comically awkward that it never fails to "bring down the house.” His enunciation is slow and emphatic, and his voice, though sharp and powerful, at times has a frequent tendency to dwindle into a shrill and unpleasant sound; but, as before stated, the peculiar characteristic of his manner is the remarkable mobility of his features, the frequent contortions of which excite a merriment his words could not produce.
The Boston Transcript published the following in its issue of October 13, 1858. It describes Mr. Lincoln's appearance in the debate with Mr. Douglas, at Galesburg, Illinois, October 7, of the same year. The letter was written by the president of a college in that State, a gentleman well known in New England, and particularly esteemed in Boston. After stating the reception of the rival champions of the two parties, this correspondent continued:
"The men are entirely dissimilar. Mr. Douglas is a thick-set, finely-built, courageous man, and has an air of self-confidence that does not a little to inspire his supporters with hope. Mr. Lincoln is a tall, lank man, awkward, apparently diffident, and, when not speaking, has neither firmness in his countenance, nor fire in his
"Mr. Lincoln has a rich, silvery voice, enunciates with great distinctness, and has a fine command of language. He commenced by a review of the points Mr. Douglas had made. In this he showed great tact, and his retorts, though gentlemanly, were sharp, and reached to the core of the subject in dispute. While he gave but little time to the work of review, we did not feel that anything was omitted which deserved attention.
"He then proceeded to defend the Republican party. Here he charged Mr. Douglas with doing nothing for freedom; with disregarding the rights and interests of the colored man; and, for about forty minutes, he spoke with a power that we have seldom heard equalled. There was a grandeur in his thoughts, a comprehensiveness in his arguments, and a binding force in his conclusions, which were perfectly irresistible. The vast throng were silent as death; every eye was fixed upon the speaker, and all gave him serious attention. He was the tall man eloquent; his countenance glowed with animation, and his eye glistened with an intelligence that made it lustrous. He was no longer awkward and ungainly, but graceful, bold, commanding."
"Honest old Abe," as Mr. Lincoln is commonly called by the great masses of the people of the "Prairie State," is decidedly a man to win upon the popular heart by the sturdy manliness of his character, and the simple integrity and straight forward logic of his political opinions. The genuine though not reverential instincts of the Western people have fixed upon the Republican candidate an expressive, if not euphonious title, which is in decided contrast with the reputation an "old public functionary" will carry with him into a dishonored retirement. In one respect the name is a misnomer, as "Honest Abe" is by no means "old;” he being fifty-one years of age, and in the bloom of full and vigorous manhood.
Mr. Lincoln is by profession a lawyer, in which pursuit he has won a position and reputation at the Illinois bar seeond to none. His mind is eminently legal; as an advocate, he is clear, cogent, and logical; understands how to control a jury, and always presents himself well fortified in the legal points of any case he may undertake.
As a politician, he has always acted with the moderate Whigs of the Henry Clay school, and since the former parties of the country committed themselves fully to the interests of the Slave Propa
ganda, he has been found working with the party of free labor, Though decidedly opposed to slavery, as the speeches inserted in these pages show, Mr. Lincoln would not be classed as a radical Republican. His opposition to the "peculiar institution rather to be based upon the politico-economical view of the subject than upon the moral grounds, though he by no means shirks that most important element of the question. The charge of desiring negro equality," which would have been trumpeted against Mr. Seward, cannot be charged on Mr. Lincoln. He has distinctly stated his opposition to the exercise of suffrage, &c., by the AngloAfricans of this continent. In this respect, he represents the average sentiment of the people among whom he lives.
Mr. Lincoln is one of the most effective of "stump speakers." He understands well how to move the hearts of a people more powerfully affected and controlled by the fiery eye, the working features, the speaking tongue, and the many magnetic elements which go to make up the orator, than possibly any other people on the face of the earth. "Honest old Abe" has the qualities of earnestness, enthusiasm, evident sincerity, large knowledge of men, quick perception of the humorous, and a ready application of his faculties to the surrounding circumstances. All these make him a powerful and popular speaker of the Western school.
Of the people, sprung from their loins, proud of his origin, having carved out for himself his own fortune, the whilom flatboatman, farmer, clerk, storekeeper, captain of volunteers, serving gallantly in the Black Hawk War of 1832; the rising lawyer, active politician, and prominent leader of his party for many years, — the name, history, and character of Abraham Lincoln has in it many of the qualities that will stir the enthusiasm, and bring out the hardy masses of freemen, throughout the whole of the Northern and border States.
The Chicago Press and Tribune gives the following interesting particulars relative to the personnel of Mr. Lincoln. This journal being the leading Republican paper of the Northwest, and of Illinois in particular, its statements are worthy of notice, as coming from those speaking as with authority. The description of his person, and account of his habits, are especially interesting.
"Mr. Lincoln stands six feet four inches high in his stockings. His frame is not muscular, but gaunt and wiry; his arms are long, but not unreasonably so for a person of his height; his lower limbs
are not disproportioned to his body. In walking, his gait, though firm, is never brisk. He steps slowly and deliberately, almost always with his head inclined forward, and his hands clasped behind his back. In matters of dress, he is by no means precise. Always clean, he is never fashionable; he is careless, but not slovenly. In manner, he is remarkably cordial, and, at the same time, simple. His politeness is always sincere, but never elaborate and oppressive. A warm shake of the hand, and a warmer smile of recognition, are his methods of greeting his friends. At rest, his features, though those of a man of mark, are not such as belong to a handsome man; but when his fine dark-gray eyes are lighted up by any emotion, and his features begin their play, he would be chosen from among a crowd as one who had in him not only the kindly sentiments which women love, but the heavier metal of which full-grown men and presidents are made. His hair is black, and, though thin, is wiry. His head sits well on his shoulders, but, beyond that, it defies description. It nearer resembles that of Clay than Webster; but it is unlike either. It is very large, and, phrenologically, well proportioned, betokening power in all its developments. A slightly Roman nose, a wide-cut mouth, and a dark complexion, with the appearance of having been weatherbeaten, complete the description.
"In his personal habits, Mr. Lincoln is as simple as a child. He loves a good dinner, and eats with the appetite which goes with a great brain; but his food is plain and nutritious. He never drinks intoxicating liquors of any sort, not even a glass of wine. He is not addicted to tobacco in any of its shapes. He never was accused of a licentious act in all his life. He never uses profane language. He never gambles; we doubt if he ever indulges in any games of chance. He is particularly cautious about incurring pecuniary obligations for any purpose whatever; and, in debt, he is never content until the score is discharged. We presume he ows no man a dollar. He never speculates. The rage for the sudden acquisition of wealth never took hold of him. His gains from his profession have been moderate, but sufficient for his purposes. While others have dreamed of gold, he has been in pursuit of knowledge. In all his dealings, he has the reputation of being generous but exact, and, above all, religiously honest. He would be a bold man who would say that Abraham Lincoln ever wronged any one out of a cent, or ever spent a dollar that he had not honestly earned.
His struggles in early life have made him careful of money, but his generosity with his own is proverbial. He is a regular attendant upon religious worship, and, though not a communicant, is a pewholder and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian Church in Springfield, to which Mrs. Lincoln belongs. He is a scrupulous teller of the truth, too exact in his notions to suit the atmosphere of Washington as it now is. His enemies may say that he tells Black Republican lies; but no man ever charged that, in a professional capacity, or as a citizen dealing with his neighbors, he would depart from the scriptural command. At home, he lives like a gentleman of modest means and simple tastes. A good-sized house of wood, simply but tastefully furnished, surrounded by trees and flowers, is his own, and there he lives, at peace with himself, the idol of his family, and, for his honesty, ability, and patriotism, the admiration of his countrymen.
"If Mr. Lincoln is elected President, he will carry but little that is ornamental to the White House. The country must accept his sincerity, his ability, and his honesty in the mould in which they are cast. He will not be able to make as polite a bow as Frank Pierce, but he will not commence anew the agitation of the slavery question by recommending to Congress any Kansas-Nebraska bills. He may not preside at the Presidential dinners with the ease and grace which distinguish the "venerable public functionary," Mr. Buchanan; but he will not create the necessity for a Covode Committee, and the disgraceful revelations of Cornelius Wendell. He will take to the Presidential chair just the qualities which the country now demands to save it from impending destruction, ability that no man can question, firmness that nothing can overbear, honesty that never has been impeached, and patriotism that never despairs."