« PreviousContinue »
Whoso sends forth another Lincoln book, of which there are so many, must show cause why it should be read. It is believed that the present volume will prove its own excuse for being, by virtue of the new material which it contains, if for no other reason. It is not a biography of Lincoln, nor a detailed account of the life of Herndon, but a study of their personal and political fellowship in working out the solution of a great human problem; and it should be judged by its spirit, its purpose, and its record of facts.
Every study of the kind, by the very nature of its material, presents difficulties in the matter of arrangement and form, not all of which have been overcome in this instance. Letters impede the narrative, when they do not divert attention from it, so that what is gained in color is lost in movement; and the aim has been to repeat as little as possible of what every biographer and historian must recite. Many figures cross the page, to each of whom the author has meant to be just, though it has not been easy to keep the balance when they were so often unjust to each other. Also; in view of the real service of Herndon to Lincoln, it has required some effort to be charitable to those members of the writing fraternity who have so persistently belittled the junior member of the firm.
For the use of the Herndon-Parker letters, here published for the first time, my thanks are due to Mr. F. B. Sanborn, whose wealth of such materials is only surpassed by his generosity to his younger fellow students. He it was who saw the value of those intense and vivid letters as revealing much of the inner history of the period, making some things clear that had hitherto been dim-though he need not be held to account for the use here made of them. My thanks are also due to Mr. Horace White, for the letters of Mr. Herndon writ