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PURSUIT OF LITERATURE UNDER DIFFICULTIES.
his father, who could barely sign his able predecessor. Schooling was too name, and of his mother, who," though dear, and the necessity of hard work a ready reader, had not been taught the too pressing, to allow of much devotion accomplishment of writing,” but of to study, and Abraham was left chiefly many of the other rude settlers of the to his own unaided exertions for his wilderness. He thus early acquired a education. With barely a year's infacility of expression which proved of struction in all, he succeeded, by diligood service to him in after time, and gently reading the rare books that fell aided his future advancement in life. in his way, in developing his naturally
wever, was only the occupa- vigorous understanding, and preparing tion of his rare intervals of leisure. He himself for the success which has markmore frequently handled the axe than ed his life. His earliest literary acquithe pen. A log-house was to be built, sitions, after his spelling-book and the and his father's land to be cleared of its Bible, were a stray copy of Esop's forest growth of oaks and hickories. Fables, which he conned until he learned Abraham was young, but well-grown, it by heart; the Pilgrim's Progress, and wondrously strong for his age, and Franklin's Autobiography, Weems' pictook to the rude labor with instinctive turesque Life of Washington, and Riley's readiness. “An axe was at once placed wondrous narrative of travel. At the in his hands, and from that time until age of fifteen he earned, by three days' he attained his twenty-third year, when work, in reaping a distant neighbor's not employed in labor on the farm, he corn, Ramsay's History of the Revoluwas almost constantly wielding that tion, and soon after crowned his ardumost useful instrument.**
ous pursuit of literature with the acquiIn 1818, young Lincoln lost his sition of a copy of Plutarch's Lives. mother, a pious woman of the Baptist “He studied English grammar after he persuasion, who had taken care that no was twenty-three years of age ; at Sunday should pass without having a twenty-five he mastered enough of chapter of the Bible read either by her- geometry, trigonometry, and mensuraself or one of her children. Her son is tion to enable him to take the field as a said thus to have acquired a familiarity surveyor ; and he studied the six books with the words and principles of the of Euclid after he had served a term in Scriptures, which made an abiding im Congress, and when he was forty years pression upon his memory and conduct. of age, amid the pressure of an extenHis father, however, soon provided him- sive legal practice, and of frequent deself with another wife, by marrying a mands upon his time by the public.'* Mrs. Sally Johnston, of Kentucky, who In the mean time, while young Linproved a worthy substitute to her not-coln was striving against every disad
O "Life of Abraham Lincoln.”
New York, 1860.
- Life of Abraham Lincoln." New York, 1860.
vantage for mental progress, he was ad- of age, were at once put to service.
ncing rapidly in physical stature and The summer was mostly spent in buildrobustness. His rough backwoods life ing the log-house, as a protection against was hardening his muscle and knitting his the storms and frosts of the approaching stalwart frame, so that he soon became autumn and winter. The next step was not only foremost in felling a tree or to prepare the bit of prairie which had “splitting a rail,” but the most noted fallen to the lot of the Lincolns, for a among his comrades in feats of wrestling, crop of Indian corn. It was now that leaping, and throwing the bar. His Abraham accomplished that memorable spirit of independence and adventure feat of "splitting the rails” for the tenwas displayed in a trip on a flat-boat to acre field, which has subsequently been New Orleans, which he made at the age cultivated to such advantage by the of nineteen, as one of the hands. fertilizing rhetoric of political orators.
The fame of the prairie lands of The winter compelling an intermission Illinois, with their seductive promise of of labor on the farm, and the severity cheap lands and natural richness of soil, of the season restricting the means of had reached the Lincoln family, and livelihood at home, young Lincoln was teinpted them to seek its “fresh fields induced to accept the offer of a neighbor and pastures new. Accordingly, in the to assist in floating a flat-boat from spring of 1830, Thomas Lincoln, with Beardstown, on the Illinois River, to New his wife and children, abandoned his Orleans. Having performed this service home in Indiana and journeyed to the greatly to the satisfaction of his emnew land of promise. Ox-carts loaded ployer, he was rewarded by him with with the women folk, the household the appointment of general manager of goods, the farming utensils, and provi- his shop and mill in New Salem. He sion of corn and bacon for the journey, had been thus occupied for several and driven by the patriarch and his son, months, when, on the breaking out of our present President, carried all the the Black Hawk war in 1832, he joined hopes and fortunes of the Lincolns to a company of volunteers. Lincoln was their new home. After a slow and long at once chosen the captain, an unexjourney through an unfrequented coun-pected elevation, which he declared gave try, picturesque to the eye with its him more pleasure than any subsequent diversified scenery, but trying to the honor which has fallen to his lot. The endurance of the traveler with its war being soon brought to a close, Linmountain acclivities, its deep water-coln returned to civil life, after the brief courses, and perplexing forests, they military career of three months. finally arrived in Illinois. Here the On reaching New Salem, he was inLincolns settled in Macon County, duced to offer himself as a “ Whig” canwhere the strong arm and skilled labor didate for the Legislature, but was deof Abraham, now one-and-twenty years feated by his Democratic opponent. He