“I’ve counted the cost, and I guess we can raise the money some way. Hazel can start Abe off on writing, and that will be worth everything to him. Some day I hope to live in a country where I can earn something at my trade.”

“That will be some distance from here, I’m thinking,” replied Mrs. L. “We can’t expect much growth in this part of the country at present. If Indiana comes into the Union a free State, there may be a better chance there.” The question of admitting Indiana into the Union as a free State was then agitating the country. The subject was before the American Congress, and the slave power was doing everything possible to prevent such an event. The slaveholders of Kentucky were especially exercised about it, because another free State so near would be an additional invitation to their slaves to find an asylum there. The subject was discussed, pro and con, in every Kentucky cabin where white men dwelt. The Lincolns were in favour of making Indiana a free State. They knew full well that the curse of slavery blighted the prosperity of every slave State.

“There’s a better chance for everything in a free State,” was Mr. Lincoln’s only answer.

The reader must understand that schools were very scarce in Kentucky in Tom Lincoln’s day; and the few in existence were very poor, scarcely deserving the name of schools. They would not be tolerated now. Teachers were no better than the schools; for it is always true, “like teachers, like schools.” Hazel’s school was better than Riney’s; for Hazel could give instruction in “reading and writing.” True, his acquisitions in these several branches were small indeed: they compared well with his surroundings. But he could give such a boy as Abraham a start in the right direction.

Hazel’s school was four miles distant; and it was kept in a log schoolhouse, the only one in all that region. To this pioneer institution Sarah and Abraham travelled daily, carrying their dinner of corn-bread, without varying it a single day during the eight or ten weeks of their attendance. Here Abraham really began his career. Here he acquired the art of penmanship,—very imperfectly, of course; but he learned to form letters, and became enthusiastic over the acquirement. Here, too, he made rapid progress in reading. Mr. Hazel discovered the elements of a noble character in the boy, and predicted that he would not always live in the woods as his father had. The best evidence we can find proves that Abraham learned about all Hazel was àble to teach in the few weeks he was his pupil.

All the books the Lincoln cabin could boast, at that time, were the Bible, Catechism, and the copy of Dillworth’s spelling-book, that Sarah and Abraham shared between them. This was a very small library even for a pioneer, but it was good as far as it went. Any library that begins with the Bible begins well. The Catechism and spelling-book were suitable companions for the Book of books. “The three safeguards of our country are the Bible, Sabbath, and Public School”; and here they were in the Lincoln cabin,—elements of family and national growth. Other things of like value followed in due time.

The religious advantages of that day and region were smaller, if possible, than the educational. There was no worship, nor place of worship, within many miles. “Parson Elkins” embraced that part of Kentucky in his circuit, so that occasionally he preached in the Lincoln cabin, where he was a favourite. Indeed he was a favourite in all that region, and was cordially welcomed by all settlers who had any respect for religion. With this exception, public worship was unknown among the pioneers of that time, and Christian families were obliged to depend upon themselves chiefly for Bible study and Sabbath observance. As Mrs. Lincoln could read, and the Bible was the only reading-book in the family, Abraham often heard it read upon the Sabbath, and other days. Before he learned to read, he became familiar with many of the narratives of the Bible. He delighted in Bible stories in his childhood, and never tired of listening to their rehearsal. As soon as he could read, the Bible became his reading book, in the absence of all others. Over and over again its narrative portions especially were read, until his mind became stored with Scriptural knowledge. As he grew older, and other reading-books occupied his attention, he neglected the Bible for them. Still, his familiarity with it in his childhood made an impression for life. Though he was not a Christian man when he entered upon his public career, yet he evinced a remarkable familiarity with the Scriptures. His conversation and public addresses were often enlivened by quotations and figures

  By PanEris using Melati.

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