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NEVER READ A NOVEL.
They loved—but the story we can not unfold;
Mr. Lincoln never read a novel. He said he once began to read “ Ivanhoe," but cast it aside. A single one of those books of delusive dreams might have, in early life, tempted his mind from the difficult facts and problems of life, and led him to waste his energies in regions of idle imagination and sickly fancy.
While he probably had no fear of becoming a drunkard, he was careful not to take the first step in that direction, being a temperate man in the only true sense of that term, total abstinence.
The prevalence of drinking habits in high places at Washington are well known. Every office, from that of President to the lowest, has at one time or another been disgraced by an incumbent possessed with the ruinous and degrading vice. Mr. Lincoln was, in consequence, often pressed to take a “social glass,” but always refused. The Religious Telescope, published at Dayton, Ohio, in its issue of June 19th, 1867, relates the following, which may serve as an example of many similar incidents which might be related :
“ Mr. Lincoln is well known to have been a man of rigid temperance principles. A circumstance illustrating his habits in this respect is worthy of repetition here. During his first presidential campaign he made a speech in the city of Dayton. A prominent citizen invited him to drink before speaking, that he might have the benefit of a warmer circulation. He declined the proffered courtesy, saying, "I never drink, sir.' He then added : 'You remember that Douglas and I stumped Illinois together. He
"I NEVER DRINK."
drank every day, and I did n't drink at all. He broke down, and I didn't.'”
He might personally have been safe in making concessions to the drinking usages of the times, but he felt that he had no right to endanger the bodies and souls of others by such an example. It was his duty, as it is the duty of every young man, to manifest his independence and manhood by standing upon principle, and yielding not an iota to usages and customs and such claims of etiquette as require him to do wrong. The drinking-cup, the social game of cards, the billiard-table, the lottery—he who yields to such amusements unmans and degrades himself to that extent. We are proud of our political liberties. Let us be equally jealous of any weakness on our own part, or influence upon us by others, that may render us the weak, contemptible, unmanly şlaves of vice.
INSTANCES OF PATIENCE.
ROBABLY no man of prominence in modern times possessed, in such an em
inent degree, the power of self-control as Mr. Lincoln. In some persons, evenness of temper arises from insensibility or indifference. The slings and arrows which goad other men to passion or grief rebound harmlessly from their insensate armor, not attracting serious notice. In such persons forbearance is not a virtue, because it does not arise from principle but from a want of feeling. Mr. Lincoln was, as we have seen, sensitive, and susceptible both to pleasure and pain; yet he was rarely, if ever, provoked to personal recrimination or revenge.
It is probable that the severest, because most protracted, test of his patience and forbearance arose from his relations with General McClellan. Without wishing unnecessarily to discuss this
general's character, it is sufficient to say that he was pro-slavery in his political opinions, and held his military skill and his statesmanship in much higher estimation than his countrymen have since done. Delaying for weary months, at the head of the finest army in the world, in supine inaction, he treated Mr. Lincoln's urgent appeals for vigorous effort with contempt and often with insolence. When his army was wasting in his ill-fated peninsular campaign, he busied himself in writing pretentious instructions to the President in regard to bis proper policy; all of which he knew. to be contrary to the views of the Cabinet, and which, had they been complied with, would have proved as disastrous to the country as his own military management was to his army.
Reaching the climax of insolent effrontery, he wrote a letter charging the President with conspiring to destroy the army of which he was commander. Any other Commander-in-chief would have instantly ordered his removal and trial by court-martial. Lincoln sought only that in McClellan's course which he could commend, wrote to him frequently the most encouraging letters, deferred against his own judgment to McClellan's so-called “strat