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which the laborer rises to his toil as the skylark to his song. My companions wished me a good night, as each entered his own thatch-roofed cottage, and a little girl led me out to the very inn which an hour or two before I had disdained to enter.
When I awoke in the morning, a brilliant autumnal sun was shining in at my window. The merry song of birds mingled sweetly with the sound of rustling leaves and the gurgle of the brook. The vintagers were going forth to their toil; the winepress was busy in the shade, and the clatter of the mill kept time to the miller's song. I loitered about the village with a feeling of calm delight. I was unwilling to leave the seclusion of this sequestered hamlet ; but at length, with reluctant step, I took the cross-road through the vineyard, and in a moment the little village had sunk again, as if by enchantment, into the bosom of the earth.
[From Outre-Mer, a Pilgrimage beyond the Sea, 1833-1834, “The Valley of the Loire.” This text is that of the edition of 1846.]
[Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, was born near Hodgensville, Ky., Feb. 12, 1809. His education was a desultory one, as he was almost wholly self-taught. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1837, having already shown a marked interest in public affairs. He served in the State Legislature (1834-42), in the national Congress (1846-48), and was elected President of the United States in 1860. Reëlected in 1864, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth soon after the beginning of his second term of office, and died April 15, 1865. The standard edition of his papers and speeches is that of J. G. Nicolay. The best biography is that of Hay and Nicolay.]
LINCOLN'S style, both in the sphere of oratory and in the sphere of dialectic, exhibits two distinct and very striking characteristics. The first is a remarkable compactness, clarity, and precision of statement, which may be taken as a nearly faultless model of convincing exposition. These qualities, moreover, derive their ultimate effectiveness from the supreme perfection with which they show the intellectual processes that gave them birth. The dominant thought is stripped of every superfluous detail and made to stand out vividly before the mind in a clear white brilliancy of phrasing; a nervous energy that is muscular and full of force brings every word to bear upon the writer's purpose ; while a delicate balancing of contrasted thought is conveyed in an equally delicate balancing of phrase, that pleases and attracts the mind, no less than the ear, of him who hears it. A tendency toward veiled antithesis, indeed, may be set down as a definite feature of Lincoln's oratory. It enters into nearly all of his most finished utterances; and it is the more effective in that it does not spring from conscious artifice, but is entirely natural; for it arose from the supremely logical workings of an intellect that had been trained to see the other side of every question, to set one fact against another, to weigh and to compare, and then to render judgment with a perfect impartiality. This it was that gave to Lincoln's controversial oratory its great persuasive power; for it struck the note of absolute sincerity and of intense conviction, — the note that was lacking in the oratory of his most redoubtable opponent, Douglas, as it was lacking also in the eloquence of the greatest of the Roman orators.
This trait in Lincoln's style was fostered, if it was not actually created, by his legal training, and by the necessity imposed upon him of addressing bodies of men who lacked the academic point of view, who were not versed in technicalities, but whose mother wit and native shrewdness made them keen to detect a flaw in the most brilliant argument and to supply by close and cogent reasoning the lack of formal training. Lincoln's style, then, was no holiday weapon, but one that had been slowly forged by him in the fire of experience, one that had been tempered to a perfect edge, one that had again and again been tested in the severest of forensic conflicts.
The second characteristic is still more remarkable. It finds its embodiment in the perfect taste and exquisite finish that endow some of his periods with such unusual beauty of expression. In several of the famous passages that are quoted here — the First and Second Inaugurals and the Gettysburg Address — the most accomplished rhetorician will find it difficult to detect a flaw. And they contain much more than rhetoric. The sentences are short and simple; the thought is not elaborated; yet the simplicity is the simplicity of strength, and the ease is the ease of conscious power, while throughout the words whose cadences run on in an unbroken harmony there is a certain loftiness of diction that not infrequently attains to the sublime, especially when a coloring of metaphor is introduced that half recalls the severe yet splendid imagery of the Hebrew prophets. Just how this taste, this instinctive perception of every cadence, and this touch of the sublime, became a part of Lincoln's intellectual endowment is a mystery that stylists have in vain endeavored to make clear. Perhaps the ultimate solution must be sought in that psychological truth which contains the explanation of the source of every great style. For a style is only great when it is a true reflection of mentality, of temperament, of the man himself of whom it is a part; and thus it is that we may find in the prose of this untaught American the accurate embodiment
of his own character as moulded by experience and by environment. It had clearness because his thought was logical ; it had sincerity because he was himself sincere; it had solemnity and stateliness because of his own fundamental seriousness, whose depths were in reality revealed and not obscured by the humor that so often played upon the surface of his thought; and it had harmony because in him the qualities of strength and gentleness were fitly and indissolubly harmonized.
HARRY THURSTON PECK
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen - has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.
The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this also if they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences is either party without faith of