And I am equally glad to meet you, Abe Lincoln, rejoined Mr. Smoot; Ive heard so much about you that I feel acquainted already.
Lincoln stood surveying him from head to foot, looking for all the world as if the humour within him would burst out, and finally remarked,
Smoot, I am very much disappointed in you; I expected to see a scaly specimen of humanity.
Smoot, equal to the occasion, replied: Yes; and I am equally disappointed, for I expected to see a goodlooking man when I saw you.
This laid the foundation of lasting friendship between the two men; and, when Lincoln was elected to the Legislature, and needed clothes and money, he knew that Smoot would lend him the amount. Taking Hugh Armstrong with him, he went to his friend and said,
Smoot, did you vote for me?
Vote for you? of course I did.
Well, do you want I should make a decent appearance in the Legislature? added Lincoln.
Certainly: I dont expect youll make any other appearance, though you are not as handsome as I am, responded Smoot, humorously.
Then you will have to lend me some money; I must buy some decent clothes.
That I can do without any trouble at all; a nice suit of clothes may make a handsome man of you, answered Smoot. How much money do you want?
Two hundred dollars, and will pay you at the close of the session.
Smoot lent him two hundred dollars upon his word of honour, and he says, Lincoln returned the amount to me according to promise.
About this time Lincoln was exposed to peculiar temptations to infidelity, through associates and books. Several of his boon companions were infidels, and they made light of religion and the Bible. At the same time Paines Age of Reason, and Volneys Ruins, came into his hands, and he read them with avidity. In these circumstances his belief in the Scriptures began to waver. He expressed his doubts freely to others. He discussed the matter with intimate friends; and finally he wrote an essay, in which his doubts of the Divine authenticity of the Bible were plainly expressed.
However, this proved but a freak of humanity, such as often appears in the lives of smart young men; for his essay was soon cast aside for ever, and his early familiarity with, and confidence in, the Scriptures, asserted themselves, as the sequel will show.
It is not our purpose to tell what Acts and Resolves occupied Lincolns attention in the Legislature during the session. Other things, bearing upon his future career, demand the brief space we can give this period. We may say, however, that he was comparatively a silent member, observing and learning, though he was faithful and efficient on committees.
It was during the sitting of the Legislature that Lincoln decided to study law, without waiting to become seven feet high. It was on this wise.
He was thrown much into the society of the Hon. John T. Stuart, an eminent lawyer from Springfield. This gentleman was a close observer, and he soon discovered that young Lincoln possessed unusual