Upward and Onward

How Abraham was regarded—What John Hanks says—Mr. Lamon's Words—His Mother's Testimony—The Scrap-book—His Mother's Tribute to Herndon—Reading and “Preaching about”—The Eccentric Preacher and Abraham's Imitation—His Father stopping it—Foundation of Greatness laid here—Working for Mr. Wood—The Temperance Paper, and Writing for it—The Political Paper, and Writing for it—Excitement over the Pioneer Writer—Substance of his Political Article—Just what he Wrote when President—Abraham's Temperance Principles—His Original Copies in Verse—Hunting a Necessity—Wild Animals there—Plays and Games—Abraham's Great Strength

The brief remarks made about Abraham at this time show his standing.

“He is always ready to do everything for everybody,” remarked his mother.

“He is good-natured as the days are long,” said Dennis Hanks.

“Allers readin’ when he is not workin’,” said Josiah Crawford.

“More fun in him than there is in all the rest of us put together,” remarked David Turnham.

Such remarks as these were common concerning Abraham Lincoln from the time he was fourteen years of age. John Hanks, who went to live with the Lincolns, as we have said, when Abraham was fourteen, says,—

“When Abe and I returned to the house from work, he would go to the cupboard, snatch a piece of cornbread, take down a book, sit down on a chair, cross his legs as high as his head, and read. He and I worked bare-footed, grubbed it, ploughed, mowed, and cradled together; ploughed corn, gathered it, and shucked corn. Abraham read constantly when he had an opportunity.”

Mr. Lamon says: “Abe loved to lie under a shade-tree, or up in the loft of the cabin, and read, cipher, and scribble. At night he sat by the chimney ‘jamb,’ and ciphered, by the light of the fire, on the wooden fire-shovel. When the shovel was fairly covered, he would shave it off with Tom Lincoln’s drawing-knife, and begin again. In the day time, he used boards for the same purpose, out of doors, and went through the shaving process everlastingly.”

His mother says: “Abe read every book he could lay his hands on; and when he came across a passage that struck him, he would write it down on boards if he had no paper, and keep it there until he did get paper. Then he would re-write it, look at it, and repeat it. He had a copy-book, a kind of scrap-book, in which he put down all things, and thus preserved them.”

There is no record of how and where he obtained the scrap-book. The idea was entirely original with him, since he had never heard of any such device in his part of the country. There is no question that he possessed a scrap-book, and that it became an important agent in making him a scholar and statesman. He copied into it chiefly from the books he borrowed, thinking he would not have the opportunity to see them again. Books that he owned, as well as those belonging to his parents, he marked, that he might refer to striking passages at his leisure. Also, he frequently wrote brief compositions in that scrap-book, improving his talent for the art thereby. As an invention, at that time, the scrap-book was worthy of his genius, and as a source of mental improvement its value was never over-estimated.

One of the finest and most touching tributes ever paid to his memory was spoken by his mother to Mr. Herndon, and we quote it here because it had reference to his early life. She said,—

“Abe was a poor boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman—a mother—can say in a thousand, Abe never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do anything I requested him. I never gave him a cross word in all my life. … His mind and my mind—what little I had—seemed to run together. … He was here after he was elected President.” Here she stopped, unable to proceed any further, and after her grateful emotions had spent themselves in tears, she proceeded: “He was dutiful

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