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THE SHIELDS DUEL 209

and with " trying to wipe out his fault by doing an chap. xil act of injustice to Mr. Lincoln."

The town was greatly diverted by these pungent echoes of the bloodless fight, and Shields and Whitesides felt that their honor was still out of repair. A rapid series of challenges succeeded among the parties, principals and seconds chang­ing places as deftly as dancers in a quadrille. The Auditor challenged Mr. Butler, who had been very outspoken in his contemptuous comments on the affair. Butler at once accepted, and with a grim sincerity announced his conditions—"to fight next morning at sunrising in Bob Allen's meadow, one hundred yards' distance, with rifles." This was instantly declined, with a sort of horror, by Shields and Whitesides, as such a proceeding would have proved fatal to their official positions and their means of livelihood. They probably cared less for the chances of harm from Butler's Kentucky rifle than for the certainty of the Illinois law which cut off all duelists from holding office in the State.

But, on the other hand,— so unreasonable is human nature as displayed among politicians,— General "Whitesides felt that if he bore patiently the winged words of Merryman, his availability as a candidate was greatly damaged; and he therefore sent to the witty doctor what Mr. Lincoln called "a quasi-challenge," hurling at him a modified defiance, which should be enough to lure him to the field of honor, and yet not sufficiently explicit to lose Whitesides the dignity and perquisites of Fund Commissioner. Merryman, not being an office-holder and having no salary to risk, re­sponded with brutal directness, which was highly vol. I—14

210 ABBAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xn. unsatisfactory to Whitesides, who was determined not to fight unless he conld do so lawfully; and Lincoln, who now acted as second to the doctor in his turn, records the cessation of the correspond­ence amid the agonized explanations of Whitesides and the scornful hootings of Merryman, "while the town was in a ferment and a street fight some­what anticipated." In respect to the last diversion the town was disappointed.

Shields lost nothing by the hilarity which this burlesque incident created. He was reserved for a career of singular luck and glory mingled with signal misfortunes. On account of his political availability he continued throughout a long life­time to be selected at intervals for high positions. After he ceased to be Auditor he was elected a judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois; while still holding that position he applied for the place of Commissioner of the General Land Office, and his application was successful. When the Mexican war broke out he asked for a commission as brigadier-general, although he still held his civil appointment, and, to the amazement of the whole army, he was given that important command before he had ever seen a day's service. At the battle of Cerro Glordo he was shot through the lungs, and this wound made him a United States Senator as soon as he returned from the war. After he had served one term in the Senate, he removed from Illinois, and was soon sent back to the same body from Minnesota. In the war of the rebellion he was again appointed a brigadier-general by his old adversary, and was again wounded in a battle in which his troops defeated the redoubtable

THE SHIELDS DUEL

211

StonewallJackson; and many years after Lincoln chap. xn. was laid to sleep beneath a mountain of marble at Springfield, Shields was made the shuttlecock of contending demagogues in Congress, each striving to make a point by voting him money — until in the impulse of that transient controversy, the State of Missouri, finding the gray-headed soldier in her borders, for the third time sent him to the Senate of the United States for a few weeks — a history unparalleled even in America.

We have reason to think that the affair of the duel was excessively distasteful to Lincoln. He did not even enjoy the ludicrousness of it, as might have been expected. He never—-so far as we can learn — alluded to it afterwards, and the recollec­tion of it died away so completely from the minds of people in the State, that during the heated canvass of 1860 there was no mention of this disagreeable episode in the opposition papers of Illinois. It had been absolutely forgotten.

This was Mr. Lincoln's last personal quarrel.1

i Lincoln's life was unusually free from personal disputes. We know of only one other hostile letter addressed to him. This was from W. G-. Anderson, who being worsted in a verbal encounter with Lincoln at Lawrenceville, the county-seat of Lawrence County, HI., wrote him a note demanding an explanation of his words and of his " present feel­ings." Lincoln's reply shows that his habitual peaceableness in­volved no lack of dignity; he said, uYour note of yesterday is re­ceived. In the difficulty between us of which you speak, you say you think I was the aggressor. I do not think I was. You say

my words 'imported insult/ I meant them as a fair set-off to your own statements, and not otherwise; and in that light alone I now wish you to understand them. You ask for my ' present feelings on the subject.' I enter­tain no unkind feeling to you, and none of any sort upon the subject, except a sincere regret that I permitted myself to get into any such altercation." This seems to have ended the matteralthough the apology was made rather to himself than to Mr. Anderson. (See the letter of William C. Wilkinson in "The Century Magazine " for January, 1889.)

212 ABBAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xii. Although the rest of his life was passed in hot and earnest debate, he never again descended to the level of his adversaries, who would gladly enough have resorted to unseemly wrangling. In later years it became his duty to give an official reprimand to a young officer who had been court-martialed for a quarrel with one of his associates. The reprimand is probably the gentlest recorded in the annals of penal discourses, and it shows in few words the principles which ruled the conduct of this great and peaceable man. It has never before been pub­lished, and it deserves to be written in letters of gold on the walls of every gymnasium and college;

The advice of a father to his son, " Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee !" is good, but not the best. Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contest­ing for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.

CHAPTER XIII

THE CAMPAIGN OF 1844


I


N the letter to Stuart which we have quoted, chap.xiii. Lincoln announced his intention to form a partnership with Judge Logan, which was soon carried out. His connection with Stuart was form­ally dissolved in April, 1841, and one with Logan formed which continued for four years. It may almost be said that Lincoln's practice as a law­yer begins from this time. Stuart, though even then giving promise of the distinction at which he arrived in his profession later in life, was at that period so entirely devoted to politics that the business of the office was altogether a secondary matter to him ; and Lincoln, although no longer in his first youth, being then thirty-two years of age, had not yet formed those habits of close application which are indispensable to permanent success at the bar. He was not behind the greater part of his contemporaries in this respect. Among all the lawyers of the circuit who were then, or who after­wards became, eminent practitioners,1 there were few indeed who in those days applied themselves

i They were Dan Stone, Jesse uel H. Treat, Ninian W. Ed-

B. Thomas, Cyrus "Walker, wards, Josiah Lamborn, John

Schuyler Strong, Albert T. J. Hardin, Edward D. Baker,

Bledsoe, George Forquer, Sam- and others.

213

214 ABKAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xin. with any degree of persistency to the close study of legal principles. One of these few was Stephen T. Logan. He was more or less a politician, as were all his compeers at the bar, but he was always more a lawyer than anything else. He had that love for his profession which it jealously exacts as a condition of succeeding. He possessed few books, and it used to be said of him long after­wards that he carried his library in his hat. But the books which he had he never ceased to read and ponder, and we heard him say when he was sixty years old, that once every year since he came of age he had read "Blackstone's Commentaries" through. He had that old-fashioned, lawyer-like morality which was keenly intolerant of any laxity or slovenliness of mind or character. His former partner had been Edward D. Baker, but this brilliant and mercurial spirit was not congenial to Logan; Baker's carelessness in money matters was intolerable to him, and he was glad to escape from an associate so gifted and so exasperating.1

Needing some one, however, to assist him in his practice, which was then considerable, he invited Lincoln into partnership. He had, as we have seen, formed a favorable opinion of the young Kentuckian the first time they had met. In his subsequent acquaintance with him he had come to recognize and respect his abilities, his unpretending

1 Logan's office was, in fact, a able to elect one. After he had

nursery of statesmen. Three of retired from practice, the office,

his partners, William L. May, under his son-in-law and suc-

Baker, and Lincoln, left him in cessor, Milton Hay, retained its

rapid succession to go to Congress, prestige for cradling public men.

and finally the contagion gained John M. Palmer and Shelby M.

the head of the firm, and the judge Cullom left it to be Governors of

was himself the candidate of his the State, and the latter to be a

party, when it was no longer Congressman and Senator.

THE CAMPAIGN 0$ 1844 215

common sense, and his innate integrity. The chap.xiii. partnership continued about four years, but the benefit Lincoln derived from it lasted all his life. The example of Judge Logan's thrift, order, and severity of morals; his straightforward devotion to his profession; his close and careful study of his cases, together with the larger and more important range of practice to which Lincoln was introduced by this new association, confirmed all those salutary tendencies by which he had been led into the profession, and corrected those less desirable ones which he shared with most of the lawyers about him. He began for the first time to study his cases with energy and patience; to resist the tendency, almost universal at that day, to supply with florid rhetoric the attorney's deficiency in law; in short, to educate, discipline, and train the enormous faculty, hitherto latent in him, for close and severe intellectual labor. Logan, who had ex­pected that Lincoln's chief value to him would be as a talking advocate before juries, was surprised and pleased to find his new partner rapidly becom­ing a lawyer. "He would study out his case and make about as much of it as anybody," said Logan, many years afterwards. "His ambition as a lawyer increased; he grew constantly. By close study of each case, as it came up, he got to be quite a formidable lawyer." The character of the man is in these words. He had vast concerns in­trusted to him in the course of his life, and dis­posed of them one at a time as they were presented. At the end of four years the partnership was dissolved. Judge Logan took his son David—after­wards a well-known politician and lawyer of Ore-

216 ABBAHAM LINCOLN

chap.xih. gon—into Ms office, and Lincoln opened one of Ms own, into which he soon invited a young, bright, and enthusiastic man named William Henry Herndon, who remained his partner as long as Lincoln lived. The old partners continued close and intimate friends. They practiced at the same bar for twenty years, often as associates, and often as adversaries, but always with relations of mutual confidence and regard. They had the unusual honor, while they were still comparatively young men, of seeing their names indissolubly associated in the map of their State as a memorial to future ages of their friend­ship and their fame, in the county of Logan, of which the city of Lincoln is the county-seat.

They both prospered, each in his way. Logan rapidly gained a great reputation and accumulated an ample fortune. Lincoln, while he did not become rich, always earned a respectable liveli­hood, and never knew the care of poverty or debt from that time forward. His wife and he suited their style of living to their means, and were equally removed from luxury and privation. They went to live, immediately after their marriage, at a boarding-house1 called "The Globe," which was " very well kept by a widow lady of the name of Beck," and there their first child was born, who was one day to be Secretary of War and Minister to England, and for whom was reserved the strange experience of standing by the death-bed of two assassinated Presidents. Lincoln afterwards built

-~~~''—"^^^^T^omTorEaBie house of wood on the corner of Eighth and Jackson streets, where he lived until he removed to the White House.

1 This house is still standing, opposite St, Paul's church.

THE CAMPAIGN OF 1844 217

Neither his marriage nor his new professional interests, however, put an end to his participation in politics. Even that period of gloom and depres­sion of which we have spoken, and which has been so much exaggerated by the chroniclers and the gossip of Springfield, could not have interrupted for any length of time his activity as a member of the Legislature. Only for a few days was he absent from his place in the House. On the 19th of January, 1841, John J. Hardin apologized for the delay in some committee business, alleging Mr. Lincoln's indisposition as an excuse. On the 23d the letter to Stuart was written; but on the 26th Lincoln had so far recovered his self-posses­sion as to resume his place in the House and the leadership of his party. The journals of the next month show his constant activity and prominence in the routine business of the Legislature until it adjourned. In August, Stuart was reflected to Congress. Lincoln made his visit to Kentucky with Speed, and returned to find himself generally talked of for Governor of the State. This idea did not commend itself to the judgment of himself or his friends, and accordingly we find in the " San-gamo Journal" one of those semi-official announce­ments so much in vogue in early Western politics, which, while disclaiming any direct inspiration from Mr. Lincoln, expressed the gratitude of his friends for the movement in his favor, but declined the nomination. " His talents and services endear him to the Whig party; but we do not believe he desires the nomination. He has already made great sacrifices in maintaining his party principles, and before his political friends ask him to make

218 ABEAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xin. additional sacrifices, the subject should be well considered. The office of Governor, which would of necessity interfere with the practice of his pro­fession, would poorly compensate him for the loss of four of the best years of his life."

He served this year as a member of the "Whig Central Committee, and bore a prominent part in the movement set on foot at that time to check intemperance in the use of spirits. It was a move­ment in the name and memory of "Washington, and the orators of the cause made effective rhetorical use of its august associations. A passage from the close of a speech made by Lincoln on February 22, 1842, shows the fervor and feeling of the hour: "Washington is the mightiest name of earth long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name no eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked, deathless splendor leave it shining on."

A mass meeting of the Whigs of the district was held at Springfield on the 1st of March, 1843, for the purpose of organizing the party for the elec­tions of the year. On this occasion Lincoln was the most prominent figure. He called the meeting to order, stated its object, and drew up the plat­form of principles, which embraced the orthodox Whig tenets of a protective tariff, national bank, the distribution of the proceeds of the public lands, and, finally, the tardy conversion of the party to the convention system, which had been forced upon them by the example of the Democrats, who

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