Friday, June 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (2).

Carl Sandburg. 1626. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1960.

Why read it? Portrays vividly the developing thoughts of young Lincoln. Plenty of anecdotes, humor and thoughtful consideration of the dilemmas of his time.

Sample quotes and ideas:

“In the making of him [Lincoln], the element of silence was immense.” p. 39. ……….

Lincoln: “I ain’t reading; I’m studying.” p. 68. ……….

Robert I. Wilson: “He sought company and indulged in fun without stint…still when by himself, he told me that he was so overcome by mental depression, that he never dared carry a knife in his pocket, and as long as I was intimately acquainted with him, he never carried a pocketknife.” p. 103. ……….

Lincoln: “I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: I can never be satisfied with any one who would be block-head enough to have me.” p. 111.

“A story arose and lived on that when first, as the challenged party, he had his choice of weapons, he [Lincoln] said, ‘How about cow dung at five paces?’ ” p. 138. ……….

“…a plain gold ring, the inside engraved: ‘Love Is Eternal.’ ” p. 139. ……….

Lincoln: "The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in it, but whether it have more of evil, than of good.” p. 141.

Lincoln: “But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labor, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits.” p. 155. ……….

Lincoln on the Constitution: “Better not take the first step in altering the Constitution, which may lead to a habit of altering it; new provisions would introduce new difficulties, and thus create, and increase, appetite for still further change.” p. 172. ……….

Lincoln’s sense of history and the past, for all his incessant newspaper reading, came from books that became part of his mind.” p. 177.

“Lincoln rattled off a lingo changing letters of words, so that ‘cotton patch’ became ‘potten catch’ and ‘jackass’ became ‘jassack,’ giving tricky twists to barnyard and tavern words.” p. 161.

Comment: My father-in-law, Laurens Delano, a student of Lincoln and a Lincoln look-a-like, used also to play with language: a “butterfly” became a “flutterby.” “Butterscotch” became “scutterbotch.” His grandkids never forgot those expressions. “Catastrophe” became “catsasstrophe.” RayS.

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