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Title: A Legacy of Fun
Author: Lincoln, Abraham
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Legacy of Fun" ***






Abe Lincoln, the late President of the United States of America, was
born on the 12th of February, 1809, in Hardin County, in the State of
Kentucky. His grandfather, who emigrated from Virginia to the above
State, was slain by the Indians in 1784. Thomas Lincoln, father of
the President, and Nancy Hawks, his mother, were natives of Virginia.
The opportunities for education enjoyed by Abraham were few and
far between, for at an early age his father needed his assistance
in clearing the forest, and making it a fitting dwelling place for
man. Still, whenever an opportunity presented itself, it was eagerly
grasped, and the result was that, despite of untoward circumstances,
Abraham succeeded in acquiring a decent knowledge of his mother tongue
and the rudiments of an ordinary education.

“At nineteen,” says one of his biographers, “we find him serving as a
common bargeman on a boat plying to New Orleans. In March, 1830, he
accompanied his father to Macon County, Illinois, and helped him to
build a log cabin for the family home, and he made enough rails to
fence in ten acres of land. The next year he was employed as a boat
builder to assist in building a flat-bottomed boat, which he afterwards
took to New Orleans, and upon his return his employer put him in charge
of a store in Illinois.

“In 1832, when the ‘Black Hawk War’ broke out, he joined a company
of Volunteer Rifles; and such was his popularity that he was almost
immediately unanimously chosen captain by his comrades--an unexpected
piece of good fortune which he often said gave him greater pleasure
than any subsequent success in life. Here he served for three months
only, when he was proposed as a candidate for the Legislature of
Illinois, but his opponents being in a majority he was defeated. Soon
after this he was appointed post-master of New Salem; and now, having
a little leisure time on his hands, he began to study law, borrowing
of an evening books from a neighbouring lawyer, and returning them the
next morning.

“A survey of Sangamon County was ordered by the Government about this
time, and the surveyor offered to depute Mr. Lincoln to survey that
portion of the work lying in his part of the county. Nothing daunted,
he procured a treatise on surveying, and after reading it, purchased a
compass and chain, and _did the work_.

“In 1834 he was elected member of the Legislature of Illinois by a
large majority, and was re-elected in 1836, 1838, and 1840. In 1836 he
obtained a licence to practice law, and he removed to Springfield,
where he entered into partnership with a Mr. Stuart, and rose rapidly
in public favour, being very successful as an advocate in jury trials.

“In 1834 he was elected as one of the members of Congress for Illinois.
As soon as his Congressional term had expired, he returned to the
study of the law until 1856, when we find him nominated for the
Vice-Presidency by the Illinois delegates to the Republican States
Convention of that year, but this nomination was overruled.

“Two years afterwards and the Convention met at Springfield, and he
was unanimously elected as a candidate for the Senate in opposition
to Mr. Douglas. In 1860 the Convention met at Chicago to ballot for a
candidate for the Presidency, and after a severe and prolonged struggle
Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States of America.”

The fearful struggle which commenced upon his elevation to the high
office of President, is by far too recent to necessitate description.
Suffice it to say that from the commencement to the end, the great
trait in Lincoln’s character was ever active, viz., indomitable
perseverance. This valuable characteristic served him in lieu of more
brilliant qualities, and enabled him to outreach men of far larger
capacity and infinitely higher genius. He was brutally assassinated
in the presence of his wife and friends by John Wilkes Booth, while
witnessing a dramatic representation at Washington, on the 14th day of
April, 1865.


_Lincoln and Meagher._

On Lincoln’s receiving a dispatch from Meagher, the Irish General,
stating that he had succeeded in capturing an entire division of the
seceders, the president remarked that “it was good news, if true; but
he suspected it was _Meagher_ (mere) humbug!”

_Hooker’s Appointment._

When Seaward proposed that fighting Joe Hooker should have the command
of an entire brigade, Lincoln expressed an approval upon the ground
that they “must win by Hook-_er_ by Crook” (hook or by crook).

_Cut Cavendish._

Upon being interrogated why Americans used so much tobacco, Abe replied
“because they _chews_” (choose).

_Commodore Wilks._

When the president heard of the capture of Slidell and Mason on board
the _Trent_, he foresaw that it would be likely to breed a rupture with
England, but dismissed the consideration of it by saying that “should
the commander’s foolish conduct place him in difficulties, he would not
fail to give Wilks a _hoister_ (an oyster).” On another occasion in
alluding to the same personage and affair, he remarked that “it would
serve _Wilks_ right if he lost his _place_” (plaice).

_A proper Cognomen._

When Captain Frye, the son of Canon Frye, was, for his distinguished
bravery at the Battle of Bull’s Run, jokingly alluded to by Sumner
as a son of a gun. Old Abe remarked that “he could with far greater
propriety call him a son of a _Canon_” (cannon).

_A Princely Pun._

Upon hearing that our Prince, Alfred, had declined to become King of
the Greeks, Abraham remarked that “the reason he did not mount the
throne of Greece was because he preferred his own native _isle_” (oil).

_A Severe Retort._

General Grant once applied for permission to be employed in a special
service on the ground that he commanded none but tried men. “Yes,”
replied the president, “I admit the truthfulness of your plea, for if
they have not been tried in the field they have been _tried_ elsewhere!”


“Come, Chase,” said Lincoln, on one occasion while sitting
_tete-a-tete_ with the great American financier, “I will give you a
conundrum: Why is a man who deals in stale jokes like a stock-jobber?”
After sundry ineffectual attempts upon the part of his friend to find
an answer, the presidential joker gave the following for a reply:
“Because he deals in _fun dead_ (funded) property.”

_A Grumbler Answered._

A certain well-known American grumbler once appeared before the
president to obtain the dismissal of General Grant upon the ground of
drunkenness. “Why,” exclaimed the faultfinder, “he, on one occasion,
drank twelve bottles of wine at a sitting.” “That,” said Lincoln, “is
more than I can swallow.”


A very loquacious personage once applied for a government situation
upon the ground that he had no other mode of obtaining a living, having
tried several shops and failed at each! “I cannot grant your request,”
was the president’s reply, “but I would suggest that you tried a
_tongue_ shop.”

_A Slashing Inuendo._

When President Lincoln visited the army of the Potomac, a captain with
a face cut and slashed in all directions, complained of the great want
of ambulances and the consequent sufferings of the wounded. “I will do
my best,” replied Abe, “to supply the deficiency,” and then, turning to
another, he remarked that “the captain had no right to complain of the
number of his (s) cars.”

_Scriptural Criticism._

Abe Lincoln, who is by no means a bad judge of paintings, was shewn a
picture done by a very indifferent hand, and asked to give an opinion
of it. “Why,” said the president, the “painter is a very good painter,
and observes the Lord’s commandments.” “What do you mean by that, Mr.
Lincoln?” said a well-known member of the senate, who was standing by.
“Why, I think,” answered Abraham, “that he hath not made to himself the
likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the
earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

_A Poultry (paltry) War._

A crony of Abe’s--a man named Payne, was appointed a general at
Illinois; in reference to his election the following is recorded, which
the president tells with great _gusto_: One day a wealthy old lady,
whose plantation was in the vicinity of the camp, came in and inquired
for General Payne. When the commander made his appearance, the old
lady in warm language told him that his men had stolen her last coop
of chickens, and demanded its restoration or its value in money. “I am
sorry for you, madam,” replied the general, “but I can’t help it. The
fact is, Madam, we are determined to squelch out the rebellion, if it
cost every d----d chicken in Tennessee.”

_Lincoln on Physic._

Lincoln once said of an apothecary, that his employment was to pour
drugs, of which he knew little, into a body of which he knew less.

_False Accusation._

When General Peck attempted to take Blackwater, in Virginia, fear was
expressed, that from his known sternness, he would compromise the
honour of the Federal cause by giving the place up to pillage. “No
fear,” said Lincoln, “it takes more _pecks_ than one to make a _sack_.”

_How to make Foes._

“When I give away a place,” said Lincoln, to a person who was
continually importuning him, “I discover that I always make a hundred
foes to one friend.”

_Tough Job._

“Constant practice as a rail-splitter,” said Lincoln “gave me a
thorough knowledge of the various grain found in wood, but I never
thought ebony would be so tough to work upon, as I have found it to be
since I took to dealing with these d--d niggers.”

_The only alternative._

“How shall we get cotton” said a northern manufacturer to the
president. “Well, I suppose you must just wait till the southerners
_get worsted_,” was Abe’s reply.

_Abe’s Difficulties._

A celebrated American Explorer, while chatting with the president, said
that in his late attempt to discover the remains of the unfortunate Sir
John Franklin and his crew, he passed through Davis’-straits. “Did you,
by God,” said Abe, “then, I should think you are the only person on
earth who could pass through mine.”


“What are you?” said Lincoln, to a man dressed in fustian, who rudely
accosted him in the streets of Washington. “I am a civil engineer”
was the reply. “Then,” said the president, “you are like the war now
raging, sadly mis-named, for there is nothing civil about you.”

_Deficiency of Fuel._

A ship was lately dispatched by Welles to endeavour to capture the
celebrated Southern cruiser, yclept the _Alabama_. After the ship had
been absent a short time it was discovered that the supply of coals was
deficient. The coals had been supplied by a celebrated New York dealer
in that commodity named Heaven. Upon the matter being mentioned to
Lincoln, he replied, “Well, he ought to have telegraphed to _Heaven_
for more coals.”

_A Queer Compliment._

When Lincoln sent Admiral ---- to enforce the blockade at Charlestown
and Wellington, he said “there was no chance of failure, as the person
sent carried with him a _blockhead_ that nothing could penetrate.”

_A slight addition._

A New York lawyer was desirous of being appointed as a judge. “There
are only ten,” he exclaimed, “to transact the whole of the state’s
affairs.” “And so you want to increase them to one hundred,” said
Lincoln. “How so,” said the applicant. “Why, by adding a cipher to

_Preaching out West._

Lincoln is very fond of repeating the following: “I knew an old
preacher, out west, who, on a very cold day, when describing hell,
said ‘it was an awful place and that the cold was unbearable.’ One of
his congregation, at the close of the sermon, took upon himself to ask
the preacher why he had described hell as being cold, when all eminent
divines said it was the very reverse. ‘Oh, sir,’ said the preacher, ‘I
had good reason, for if I had preached the reverse, I should have had
them running away to warm themselves.’”

_Tom Thumb._

“I understand, General,” said Lincoln, addressing the celebrated
dwarf, Tom Thumb, “that you are about to have the first instalment of
a family.” “Yes,” was the general’s reply. “Well,” said the president,
“I trust it will be a boy.” “Why,” interrogated the dwarf. “Because I
should like your infant to increase my infantry.”

_How a Black’s Made._

  “I tell you,” said Seward to Lincoln, one day,
    “Everything you proclaim is quite right,
  But to arm the poor nigger is not quite the thing,
    For two blacks never yet made a white.”
  “You are wrong, they are equal, no matter their hue,
    And I’ll prove that in judgment you lack:
  Only give me your help, and united I’ll prove,
    That two _whites_ can at least make a _black_.”
  “My service you claim, and freely ’tis given;
    Now, the truth of your promise let’s see.”
  He wrote, “manumission,” then cried, “It is done:
    _For a black’s never made till he’s free!_”

_Abe’s First Joke._

Abe Lincoln, when a boy, had an uncle who kept a mill down west.
Noticing that the mill was going very slow, the young joker, on
meeting the miller, said, he could eat the meal faster than the mill
ground it. “How long could you do so?” said his uncle, struck by the
boy’s remark. “Why, ’till I _starved to death_,” replied the young

_A Wonderful Child._

“American babies,” said Lincoln, during the time of the celebrated
baby show, “lick all babies. I have seen one in Massachusetts, only
six months old, sitting in its mother’s lap, viewing its own cradle,
to see if it could not invent a better, or, at least, suggest some

_How to stop thieves._

“Friend Lincoln,” said a celebrated Western farmer, one day, to the
president, “thee knows almost everything; can thee tell me how I am
to preserve my small beer in the back yard? My neighbours are often
tapping it of nights.”--“Put a barrel of old Madeira by the side of it,
let the rogues but get a taste of that, and I warrant they’ll never
touch your small beer any more.”

_Hopping the twig._

“It is no use, president; wherever I go,” said an officer appointed to
enforce the draft, “I find the houses shut up, and the bird flown.” “I
see,” said the president, “they are _afraid of the draft_.”

_The best saddles._

There was a dispute at Washington about which were the best saddles
for the Federal Cavalry. Lincoln said “the best saddles were decidedly
saddles of mutton.”

_An offer rejected._

When Blondin was performing his daring feats at Niagara, he asked
Lincoln “if he would mind trusting himself on his back.” The answer
was somewhat prophetic, and as follows: “I shall not trust your rope!”

_A decided smasher._

“That paper must be rigorously dealt with,” said Welles. “I have
already,” said Lincoln “contrived to divide America, and you now want
me to smash the _Globe_!”

_Artillery Practice._

When is was reported that General Blunt had let the rebel cavalry
escape. The President remarked to the Chief of the War Department,
that “the appointment of such a man was a piece of folly, for how
could it be expected that _Blunt_ could be _Sharp_.”

_A curious addition._

“Is it not curious, General,” said Abe to McClellan, “that whenever a
piece of field artillery is fired, that the number of animals attending
it is increased?” “How so?” said the famous Northern General. “Why,”
said Lincoln, “it then has not only its four horses in front, but it
has also _its moke_ behind.”

_The Cost of War._

“Your fighting, General,” said Lincoln, to a general who had returned
disabled, “has been an expensive affair to you.” “How so” “Why,” said
the president, “it has cost you a _leg I see_” (legacy.)

_In memory of._

To commemorate the battle of Bull’s run, the Yankees are about to build
an hotel there. On hearing of this, Lincoln remarked that “there was a
_hot hell_ there before.”

_A Crocodile’s age._

Abe Lincoln prides himself on being the first to make known the means
of ascertaining the age of crocodiles. He says that a negro acquainted
him with the fact that a sort of bag is placed in the intestines of
the crocodiles, which always contains a number of stones corresponding
with the years of its life, it being the custom of these animals to
swallow a stone on their birthday.

_No Thanks._

Abe, at one of his morning levees, had a visitor who introduced
himself as one of the President’s best friends, and soliciting a
government post then vacant as the gift of Abe, urged his claim for the
appointment upon the ground that it was solely through the applicant’s
exertions Mr. Lincoln was elected president. “Oh, indeed;” said Abe, “I
now look upon the man, who of all men, has crowned my existence with a
crown of thorns--no post for you in my gift, I assure you; I wish you
good morning.”


When the Merrimac was about to be christened. The president remarked,
“that it was a somewhat strange _title_ as the ship was built, to make
mourning rather than _make merry_.”

_A Husband’s Wit._

MRS. L-- was, one day, engaged in making an apple pie, and in the
operation contrived to besmear her face with the _batter_. The
president observing the same, asked her “the loan of her _batter eye_”

_The cause discovered._

When the Federals flew before the Southerners at Bull’s run. Lincoln
remarked that “it resulted from the army having _too many wings_.”


Lincoln, upon hearing that an old friend of his had gone to Utah, said
“he supposed he had gone to spend his _latter days_ among the _Mormon

_A satisfactory conclusion._

When Lincoln read the account of Bull’s run, wherein it said that the
Northern army was knocked into a cocked hat. Lincoln drily remarked
that “he supposed it had been caught _napping_.”

_A mother’s alarm._

A lady was lamenting to the president that her only son had gone to
the war, and asked him what she had better do. “Oh,” he replied, “you
can’t do better than buy him _a life preserver_.”

_Punning again._

Governor Seymour telegraphed to Lincoln during the late riots in New
York City, that there was no occasion to act so harshly and drag so
many citizens off to prison. The reply was that “he (the president)
thought quite differently, and that he should never be content till
he’d _see more_ (Seymour) there.”


“There you are,” said Mrs. Lincoln one day to her husband--at your idol
again--alluding to his well-known love of tobacco. “Yes, my dear,” was
his reply, “_I am burning it._”

_A Word for the Irish._

A lieutenant told the president that of all the men that composed his
regiment, the Irish gave him the greatest amount of uneasiness. “Sir,”
was Lincoln’s reply, “our enemies, the rebels, make the same complaint.”

_Skill of a Young Officer._

McClellan was once speaking to the President of a promising young
officer who was slain at the cattle of Bull’s run. “Oh,” said the
American Chief, “if there was doubt about his being skilled while
living, no one doubts but that _he’s_ (s) _killed_ now.”

_A foot in it._

When Admiral Foote was appointed to command the South Atlantic
squadron, he bade Welles to see that the Admiral’s ship was quite
sea-worthy. “How is it you are so particular,” said the Naval Chief.
“Why,” said Lincoln, with a chuckle, “have I not placed my _Foot_ in

_Lincoln to Ewell_,


  “Dear Ewell,” wrote Lincoln, one day in a pet,
    “Your tactics have ended in loss;
  You have let Hill escape, I will venture to bet,
    It’s _myself_ and not him you made _cross_.
  Why were you so blinded by Hill’s little _ruse_?
    It is shameful--nay, more; it is cruel;
  Your failures, disasters, really give one the blues,
    And I wish I could only make _you Hill_” (you ill).

_Shakspearian Query._

Abraham is known to be very fond of Shakspeare, yet at times, to
indulge in a joke, even at the expense of his favourite. A short time
since, he wrote as follows to a popular actor, with whom he is known
to be on intimate terms:--

“In _Hamlet_, Act II., Scene 2, is this:--

  “‘_King._ He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and
  source of all your son’s distemper.’

  “‘_Queen._ I doubt it is no other but the _main_.’

“Tell me, does her Majesty imply that _Hamlet_ suffered from

The reply was that the actor believed that it was not the _main_ cause.

_Running Comment._

On hearing that an American composer was engaged in writing a national
hymn----, the President hinted that “He hoped that it would not have
too many _runs_ in it.”

_An Impossibility._

“The Americans,” said Chase, “at the present crisis, must not be
extravagant--they must live _under_ their incomes.” “How can they do
that,” said the President, “when there is no alternative but their
living _on_ them.”

_Jack’s Opinion._

The President narrates the following story:--“While passing along
the streets of New York, one day, I met a Jack Tar. ‘What ship,’ I
enquired, ‘do you belong to?’ ‘What odds is that to you,’ was the
reply. ‘Do you know who I am,’ I exclaimed. ‘No.’ ‘Why, I am the
President.’ Then, said Jack, ‘_You have a damned good berth of it!_’”

_The House of Congress._

“That house,” said Abe, “is a swan house--all white and fair outside,
but only think of the black-legs that are working out of sight.”

[This, if ever said by the President, is an adaptation from Douglas

_Abe Lincoln’s opinion of a man’s strength._

Upon the receipt of the news that ---- had carried Fort Nagher--the
President drily remarked that “He must be a very _strong man_!”

_The Fall of Pride._

An enthusiastic Englishman once said to the President, that the Niagara
river was the pride of rivers. “Yes,” was the reply, “but that pride
has a tremendous fall.”

_The Captain’s Reply._

  “We’re short of prog, said Captain B----,
    When going on a trip;
  And as we’ve little got to eat,
    We’ll dine off the ship.
  Fear not, but keep your powder dry,
    And place faith in the Lord;
  You’ve naught to fear, for seamen cooks
    Can always cook a-board.
  The captain quickly did reply,
    While standing by the wheel,
  ’Tis little, Abe’rm, that we have--
    How can we cook _a deal_.”

_A Strange Similarity._

“Why is the Northern army,” asked the President, “like the post-office
at Washington?” “Because it is made up of columns, wings, and squares,
and, judging from the past, it is also _doomed_.”


“There is no nonsense about these sardines,” said Mrs. Lincoln, “they
are genuine, and came from the Mediterranean.” “Yes,” said Lincoln,
“and if you leave them to themselves _they will go a great deal

_Where Punch got his Cartoon from._

When Lincoln sent contributions to the Northern army, he wrote to
General ---- as follows:--“Dear Sir,--Knowing that the army under your
charge requires purging, I herewith send you a _black draft_.”--Yours,

_Pun upon Pun._

The facetious president thus wrote to a friend in Scotland:--

“As however, I am somewhat partial to female authors (Scotch or
otherwise), don’t forget to remember me to all the _blue belles_ of
Scotland, and to as many _primroses_ as you can find. The remembrance
may produce a little _heart’s ease_, and cause their _two-lips_ to
bless you.”

_Lincoln at the Play._

I had the pleasure on Monday night of seeing “Macbeth” rendered upon
the stage of Messrs. Wallack and Devonport, and also of seeing Mr.
Lincoln present at the same time. It is Mr. Lincoln’s favourite play,
and one could not repress a certain curiosity to know (though he
is familiar with them as he is with stump speaking, doubtless) how
certain passages would strike him. When the following passage between
Malcolm and Macduff was pronounced the audience was suddenly silent as
the grave:--

  _Mal._--Let me seek out some desolate shade,
  and there weep our bosoms empty.

  _Macd._             Let us rather
  Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
  Bestride our downfall’n birthdom. Each new morn
  New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
  Strike on the face of heaven, that it resounds
  As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
  Like syllable of dolour.

Mr. Lincoln leaned back in his chair in the shade after this sentence
was pronounced, and for a long time wore a sad, sober face, as if
suddenly his thoughts had wandered from the playroom far away to where
his great armies contest with the rebellious of a vast empire.

_A Ludicrous Mistake._

“Who has been guilty of these crimes,” said Lincoln, alluding to those
committed by New York electioneering agents, “Donohue,” was the reply.
“Then learn out as speedily as possible.”

_A Southern Estimate._

When informed that General Stoughton had been captured by the rebels at
Fairfax, the President is reported to have said that he did not mind
the loss of the Brigadier as much as he did the loss of the horses.
“For,” said he, “I can make a much better Brigadier in five minutes,
but the horses cost a hundred and twenty-five dollars a-piece.”

_Strong Habits._

“Well,” said the President, after the last repulse before Richmond,
“them blessed ‘babies’ do fight, and the old chaps lifted from their
graves are at any rate from the right _mould_; the babies are like
young puppies that can stand a deal of licking, and the old boys are
too old to _run_!”

_How to Fight._

  “Those Southerners fight! its all blarney,” said Abe;
  “Put your swords in your sheath, boys, and lick Hills;
  “But a man without a sword is at fighting a babe
  “Then, damn-me, said Abe, use your _Sickles_!”

_A Majority Wanted._

When it was reported to Abe Lincoln that the men engaged in the coal
pits had refused to fight the old joker said, “He didn’t expect miners
(minors) to fight;” “but stay,” said Lincoln, “is there no way of
making Majors of these minors?”

_A Story concerning a Second Term._

It is said that, some time ago, a gentleman hinted to the President
that it was deemed quite settled that he would accept a re-nomination
for his present office, whereupon Mr. Lincoln was reminded of a story
of Jesse Dubois, out in Illinois. Jesse as State Auditor, had charge of
the State House at Springfield. An itinerant preacher came along and
asked the use of it for a lecture.

“On what subject?” asked Jesse.

“On the second coming of our Saviour,” answered the long-faced

“Oh, bosh,” retorted Uncle Jesse, testily; “I guess if our Saviour had
ever been to Springfield, and had got away with his life, he’d be too
smart to think of coming back again.”

This, Mr. Lincoln said, was very much his case about the succession.

_Estimate of Official Honours._

As a further elucidation of Mr. Lincoln’s estimation of Presidential
honours, a story is told of how a supplicant for office of more than
ordinary pretensions called upon him, and, presuming on the activity
he had shown in behalf of the Republican ticket, asserted, as a reason
why the office should be given to him, that he had made Mr. Lincoln

“You made me President, did you?” said Mr. Lincoln, with a twinkle of
his eye.

“I think I did,” said the applicant.

“Then a precious mess you’ve got me into, that’s all,” replied the
President, and closed the discussion.

_Truly Awful._

“When do you think this war will be ended, Mr. Lincoln?” said an
impatient citizen. “Why, when we have whipped the slaveowners.” “Then
I’m thinking,” replied the citizen, “that you will never live to see
its close. I have already seen its clothes, and they are the most
blood-stained and bespattered lot I ever saw. But I _trow_, sir, war
is sure to spoil the _habits_ of a people, especially when they go to
sleep in breeches.”

_Presidential Puns._

When it was told to Lincoln that a division of Burnside’s had been
entrapped into a _cul de sac_, Lincoln _said_ he’d cull the _sack_ for
his stupidity.

_A Liberal Giver._

Mr. Lincoln, in his happier moments, is not always reminded of a
“little story,” but often indulges in a veritable joke. One of the
latest reported is his remark when he found himself attacked by the
varioloid; he had been recently very much worried by people asking
favours. “Well,” said he, when the contagious disease was coming upon
him, “I’ve got something now that I can give to everybody.” About
the time when there was considerable grumbling as to the delay in
forwarding to the troops the money due to them, a western paymaster,
in full major’s attire, was one day introduced at a public reception.
“Being here, Mr. Lincoln,” said he, “I thought I’d call and pay my
respects.” “From the complaints of the soldiers,” responded the
President, “I guess that’s about all any of you can pay.”

_Coffee versus Tea._

It is told by a Federal correspondent, who is probably “reliable,”
that Mr. Lincoln was walking up Pennsylvania Avenue the other day,
relating “a little story” to Secretary Seward, when the latter called
his attention to a new sign bearing the name of “T. R. Strong.” “Ha!”
says old Abe, his countenance lighting up with a peculiar smile, “T. R.
Strong, but coffee are stronger.” Seward smiled, but made no reply. [We
don’t see how he could reply after so atrocious a thing as that.]

_Lincoln on Skedaddle._

  “Don’t talk to me bosh! I am sickened each day
  “With your bumkum and tweedle dee twaddle:
  “Why, on earth, do you tell me our men run away,
  “When the right term to use is Skedaddle?
  “None but cow-hearted men, Europeans to wit,
  “Run away like a herd of scared cattle;
  “True Yankees! when licked, may Skedaddle a bit,
  “But ne’er run like base cowards in battle!”


Two brothers named Fish were drafted in the city of New York, out of
Twenty Seven-street The facetious Abe hearing this, at once declared
it to be “A most miraculous draught of _fishes_.”

_Liquor, Boys._

A number of clergymen of the Beecher school waited on the President
with a memorial, signed by 7,000 religious Presbyterians, requesting
that General Grant be removed on the ground of drunkenness. They got a
warm reception from Old Abe for their pains, who retorted thus: “Only
tell me,” said he, “where he buys his liquor, I will be obliged to you,
and will send a cask of the same liquor to every general in the army.”


Alluding to one of the great battles recently fought, the President,
in bidding farewell to the general said, “I hear that the rebels
complain of a want of salt, I hope when you return you will be able to
inform me that after you have as-(_sault_)ed them they will have been
sufficiently peppered.”

_Too Deep._

The President at a dinner party related the following with much gusto:
“During one of the retreats of the Army of the Potomac, some of the
cavalry had a desire to cross, the commanding officer called out to
them to ‘form _two deep_.’ One of them, however, in advance of the
rest, and up to his horse’s nose in water, called out that he was ‘too
deep already.’”

_How to Conquer the South._

The kind words the President said regarding the enemy, called forth a
rebuke from an elderly lady who was present. She wondered how he could
speak kindly of his enemies, when he should rather destroy them. “What,
madam?” replied the President, “do I not destroy them when I make them
my friends?”

_Gratuitous Kindness._

When President Lincoln was a very young man, he paid a visit to New
York. While there, some thief contrived to ease him of his watch.
The next day the young joker inserted the following in the _New York
Herald_: “Stolen, a watch worth a hundred dollars. If the thief will
return it, he shall be informed, gratis, where he may steal one worth
two of it, and no questions asked.”

_Blowing Hot and Cold._

“It’s very hot in the south, Mr. Lincoln, is it not?” said a personal
friend to Lincoln, on his return from a visit to an important station
of the Federal army. “Very,” was the ready answer, “I saw a woman do
her ironing with no other warming power save that of the sunshine, and
as I came away she was hanging her kettle out of the window to get her
tea ready.”

_Negro Pluck._

On Mrs. Lincoln doubting the heroism of the niggers, her husband
related the following:--“A negro at Boston had a severe attack of
rheumatism, which finally settled in his foot. He bathed it and rubbed
it, but to no purpose. Finally, tearing the bandage off, he stuck it
out with a savage grin, and shaking his fist at it, exclaimed, ‘Ache
away, dear old feller, I shan’t do nothing more for yer; dis child,’
tapping his breast, ‘can stand it as long as you can, so ache away.’”

_Hirsute Philosophy._

“For a military man,” said a conceited coxcomb, to Abe one day, “don’t
you think moustaches becoming?” “Well, sir,” was Abe’s reply, “they
may _be coming_, but haven’t yet arrived.”


“It,” said the conductor of State Affairs in America, “would be a
perpetual flea hunt if one were obliged to run down all the inuendoes,
the inveracities, the insinuations, the suspicions, &c., uttered
against him.”

_Change of Climate._

The President of America, while taking a stroll along the wharfs of
Boston, U. S., met a tall, gaunt-looking figure, a “digger,” from
California, and got into conversation with him. “Healthy climate, I
suppose?” “Healthy! it ain’t anything else. Why, stranger, you can
choose there any climate you like, hot or cold, and that without
travellin’ more than fifteen minutes. Jest think o’ that the next
cold morning when you get out o’ bed. There’s a mountain there--the
Sawyer Navaday, they call it--with a valley on each side of it, the
one hot, and t’other cold. Well, get on the top of that mountain with
a double-barrelled gun, and you can, without movin’, kill either
summer or winter game, jest as you will.” “What! have you ever tried
it?” “Tried it! often, and should have done pretty well, but for one
thing.” “Well, what was that?” “I wanted a dog that would _stand both
climates_. The last dog I had _froze off his tail_ while pintin’ on
the summer side. He didn’t get entirely out of the winter side, you
see--trew as you live.” Abe sloped.

_Cruel News._

Admiral Farragut said that his ship was a first rate vessel, but _its
crew_ was somewhat ailing. The President immediately ordered a new crew
and told poor Farragut to keep his “_cruel_” (crew ill news) to himself
for the future.

_Lincoln’s opinion of Mr. Curtain._

When Curtain was put forth as the Republican Candidate for
Pennsylvania, the President said, “he believed that _Curtin_ to be
nothing more than a _Blind_.”

_A new Motive Power._

A grand mistake was made in the construction of one of the Federal
rams, there being insufficient space for stowing the fuel. Upon hearing
this he blamed the constructor, and asked him if he intended the vessel
to be driven by the _force of circumstances_.

_Southern Hills versus Northern Banks._

“Banks is a good general,” said Sumpter to the President, on a recent
occasion. “Yes,” was the reply, “but our Northern _Banks_ are not equal
to the Southern _Hills_.”

_The President and the Pleader._

It being hinted to a western pleader that he ought to bring his defence
to a close; he answered, “that he would speak as long as he pleased.”
“You have spoken longer than you _please_,” said Lincoln, who was
standing by his side.


“What horrid weather, President,” said a tall rawboned Yankee. “It is;
I thought I had altered the condition of your _cly_-mate,” said the
President, winking.

_Concerning Congress Men._

It is stated that he was much disgusted at the crowd of officers who
some time ago used to loiter about the Washington hotels, and he is
reported to have remarked to a member of Congress; “These fellows _and
the Congress men_ do vex me sorely.”

Another member of Congress was conversing with the President, and was
somewhat annoyed by the President’s propensity to divert attention from
the serious object he had on his mind, by ludicrous allusions.

“Mr. Lincoln,” said he, “I think you would have your joke if you were
within a mile of hell.”

“Yes,” said the President, “that is about the distance to the Capitol.”

_Inquisitiveness Nonplussed._

Mr. Lincoln has a very effective way sometimes of dealing with men who
trouble him with questions. Somebody asked him how many men the rebels
had in the field. He replied very seriously, “Twelve hundred thousand,
according to the best authority.”

The interrogator blanched in the face, and ejaculated, “My God!”

“Yes, sir, twelve hundred thousand--no doubt of it. You see, all of our
Generals, when they get whipped, say the enemy outnumbers them from
three or five to one, and I must believe them; we have four hundred
thousand men in the field, and three times four make twelve; don’t you
see it?”

The inquisitive man looked for his hat soon after “seeing it.”

_The Judge and his Coachman._

One day, when Mr. Bates was remonstrating with Mr. Lincoln against
the appointment of some indifferent lawyer to a place of judicial
importance, the President interposed with, “Come, now, Bates, he’s
not half so bad as you think. Besides that, I must tell you, he did
me a good turn long ago. When I took to the law, I was going to court
one morning, with some ten or twelve miles of bad made road before
me, and I had no horse. The judge overtook me in his waggon. ‘Hello,
Lincoln, are you not going to the court-house? Come in, and I’ll give
you a seat.’ Well, I got in, and the judge went on reading his papers.
Presently the waggon struck a stump on one side of the road; then
it hopped off to the other. I looked out, and I saw the driver was
jerking from side to side in his seat, so, says I, ‘Judge, I think your
coachman has been taking a little drop too much this morning.’ ‘Well,
I declare, Lincoln,’ said he, ‘I should not much wonder if you were
right, for he has nearly upset me half-a-dozen times since starting.’
So, putting his head out of the window, he shouted, ‘Why, you infernal
scoundrel, you are drunk!’ Upon which, pulling up his horses, and
turning round with great gravity, the coachman said--‘By gorra! that’s
the first rightful decision you have given for the last twelvemonth.’”

_Concerning the President Personally._

Some one was smoking in the presence of the President, and complimented
him on having no vices, neither drinking nor smoking.

“That is a doubtful compliment,” answered the President, “I recollect
once being outside a stage in Illinois, and a man sitting by me offered
me a segar. I told him I had no vices. He said nothing, smoked for some
time, and then grunted out, ‘It’s my experience that folks who have no
vices have plagued few virtues.’”

_The President’s Vanity._

Old Abe is rather vain of his height, but one day a young man called
on him who was certainly three inches taller than the former; he was
like the mathematical definition of the straight line--length without
breadth. “Really,” said old Abe, “I must look up to you; if you ever
get in a deep place you ought to be able to wade out.” That reminds us
of the story told of Lincoln, when called from an hotel. He at once
obeyed the command of the assembled Yankees, with his wife (somewhat
below medium height), and made the following quizzical remarks: “Here I
am, and here is Mrs. Lincoln. That’s the _long_ and _short_ of it.”

_Tremendous answer._

“How old is that tree, Abe?” said a friend of the now President, when
the latter was engaged in the occupation of rail-splitting. “Well, I am
not sure; but I am just about to _axe_ him.”

_Two instances where the President was not reminded of a story._

The President is often naturally bantered about his habit of

Dr. Hovey, of Dansville, N.Y., called at the White House, and found the
occupant on horseback, ready for a ride. The Dr. approached and said:
“Lincoln, I thought I would call and see you before leaving the city,
and hear you tell a story.”

Lincoln greeted him pleasantly, and asked him where he was from.

The reply was: “From Western New York.”

“Well, that’s a good enough country without stories,” said the
President, and off he rode.

_Public Opinion._

Some moral philosopher was telling the old President one day about the
undercurrent of public opinion; he went on to explain it at length, and
drew an illustration from the Mediterranean Sea. The current seemed
very curiously to flow in both from the Black Sea and the Atlantic
Ocean; but a shrewd Yankee, by means of a contrivance of floats, had
discovered that in the outlet into the Atlantic only about thirty
feet of the surface water flowed inward, while there was a tremendous
current under that flowing out. “That,” said Mr. Lincoln, much bored,
“that don’t remind me of any story I ever heard of.” The philosopher
despaired of making a serious impression by his argument, and left.

_The President’s Secret._

When the Sherman expedition, which captured Fort Royal, was fitting
out, there was great curiosity to learn where it had gone. A person,
visiting the chief magistrate at the White House, importuned him very
much to disclose the destination to him.

“Will you keep it entirely secret?” asked the President.

“Oh, yes, upon my honour.”

“Well,” said the President, “I’ll tell you.” Assuming an air of great
mystery, and drawing the man close to him, he kept him a moment
awaiting title revelation with an open mouth and great anxiety. “Well,”
said he, in a loud whisper, which was heard all over the room, “the
expedition has gone to--sea!”

_About the Negro Question._

The story will be remembered, perhaps, of Mr. Lincoln’s reply to a
Springfield (Ill.) clergyman, who asked him what was to be his policy
on the slavery question.

“Well, your question is rather a good one, but I will answer it by
telling you a story. You know Father B., the old Methodist preacher?
and you know Fox river and its freshets? Once in the presence of Father
B. a young Methodist was worrying about Fox river, and expressing fears
that he should be prevented from fulfilling some of his appointments by
a freshet in the river. Father B. checked him in the gravest manner.
Said he, ‘Young man, I have always made it a rule in my life not to
cross Fox river till I get to it!’ ‘And,’ said old Abe, ‘I am not going
to worry myself over the slavery question till I get to it!’ Some few
days afterwards a Methodist minister called on the President, and on
being presented to him, said simply, ‘Mr. President, I have come to
tell you that I think we have got to Fox river.’ The old joker thanked
the clergyman, and laughed heartily.”

_An extraordinary reply by Old Abe._

One day, it is said, a distinguished New York official was at
Washington, and in an interview with old Abe, introduced the question
of emancipation. “You see,” said Lincoln, “we’ve got to be mighty
cautious how we manage the negro question; if we’re not, we may be like
unto the barber out in Illinois, who was shaving a fellow with hatchet
face and lantern jaws like mine. The barber put his finger in his
customer’s mouth, to make his cheek stick out, but while shaving away
he cut through the fellow’s cheek and cut off his own finger! Now, if
we don’t play smart about the negro we shall do as the barber did.”

_A Rebuke to people asking trivial questions._

A farmer, not over patriotic, of the State of Virginia, importuned the
President to use his influence to have a claim for damage done to his
farm by soldiers considered immediately.

“Why, my dear sir,” replied Mr. Lincoln blandly, “I couldn’t think of
such a thing; if I considered individual cases, I should find work
enough for twenty Presidents!”

“But,” said the persevering sufferer, “couldn’t you just give me _a
line_ to Colonel ---- about it? _Just one line?_”

“Ha, ha, ha!” responded Old Abe, “you remind me of old Jock Chase, out
in Illinois.”

At this announcement the crowd huddled forward to listen.

“You see, Jock, I knew him like a brother--used to be a lumberman on
the Illinois, and he was steady and sober, and the best raftsman on
the river. It was quite a trick twenty-five years ago to take the logs
over the rapids, but he was skilful with a raft and always kept her
straight in the channel. Finally a steamboat was put on, and Jock--he’s
now dead, poor fellow!--was made a captain of her. He was always used
to take the the wheel, going through the rapids. One day, when the boat
was plunging and wallowing along the boiling current, and Jock’s utmost
vigilance was being exercised to keep her in the narrow channel, a boy
pulled his coat-tail and hailed him with, ‘Stay, Mister Captain! I wish
you’d jest stop your boat a minute--_I have lost my apple overboard!_’”

_A Liar._

“I don’t believe him,” said Lincoln, on reading a dispatch from one of
his generals; “he is the most notorious liar I ever knew. I have seen
him with lies swarming all around him as thick as flies round a horse
in autumn.”

_Strong Pills._

“Those pills of Brandredth’s,” said Abe, “are very powerful. I knew a
man out west who used to blast rocks with them; and, if thrown into the
crater of Ætna, they would stop the _bile_” (_boil_).

_A Sharp Rejoinder._

“How beautiful,” said a poetical friend of the President’s, who was
noted for his disregard for personal cleanliness, “is the face of
Nature after a shower.” “Aye,” said Abe, “and your’s would look all the
better for a wash!”

_Wisdom at a Discount._

“Have you heard,” said Mrs. Lincoln, “that our old friend, Mrs. Cobb,
has been prosecuted for bigamy?” “I have,” replied Lincoln, “and am
sorry for her, for her crime is that ‘She loved not wisely but _two_


When Atlanta was destroyed a large quantity of pickles were,
inadvertently, destroyed. Lincoln said, “It didn’t matter much, as his
generals generally contrived to get their men into no end of _pickles_;
but had they desired to have retained them they surely ought to have
been _preserved_.”

_A Conundrum._

“Why,” said the President, “is a Southern Summer like the disunited
States of America?” His official friends gave it up. “Why,” said the
queerist, “because its cold (_gold_) is very difficult to catch.”

_Over Early_ v. _over late._

When it was made known to President Lincoln that Sherman had gained a
victory _over_ Early he said that it was a blessing to hear it, “as the
victories of the Federal generals were mostly _over late_.”

_The Poet and the President._

A poet was in the habit of pestering the President with his books. On
one occasion he brought one to the President, who told him to put it
into rhyme. He did so, and brought it back. “Ah!” said Abe, “it will do
now; it is rhyme, formerly it was neither rhyme nor reason.”


In a mixed company which the President honored with his presence, the
topic of conversation turned on matrimony, when one, as is usual,
compared it to Heaven, and another to Hell. On its being referred to
the President, he, like a philosopher as he is, said “We had better
take a middle course and call it Purgatory.”

_Abe and the Picture Dealer._

A New York picture dealer once applied to Abe Lincoln to purchase, at
a preposterously high figure, a portrait, which he assured him was the
original of Wren, (Sir Christopher) by Hogarth. Abe pretended to scan
the picture closely, and then cut the interview short by saying that it
was not a portrait of Wren; it looked more like robin (_robbing_).

_A Pun._

“You have not enough devil in you, Abe, to succeed in the task you have
undertaken,” said a bosom friend of the President’s. “Well, blame my
old father,” said the President, “for it was he who left the _l_ (hell)
out of Abe--Ab(_l_)e.”

_Sojourner Truth._

When Sojourner Truth visited the present occupant of the White House,
the President gave him a most hearty welcome. “Lies,” said he, “are
pictured as being black as Erebus; but thou, _Truth_, art black also.”
The most numerous lies, said the sable skin, are _white lies_.

_The National Debt._

“I have come to consult you on the enormous increase of our national
debt,” said Chase to his master; “but perhaps you would rather I
deferred it for the present?” “By no means,” was the reply; “_its great
interest_ claims my most devout attention.”

_Falsely Telegraphed._

When it was falsely telegraphed that Charlestown was in flames, the
President explained his disbelief by saying that he believed it was a
_flaming_ lie!

_The Sword and the Law._

The President was lamenting to a lawyer the immense number who fell at
the battle of ----. The lawyer, to soothe him, said “That those who
live by the sword must expect to die by the sword!” “Yes,” said Abe;
“and those who live by the law must expect to die by the law.”

_Pepper_ v. _Laurels._

When it was telegraphed that Rosencranz had gone to _Cullpepper_, Abe
said “It was a foolish errand, and that the general was sent out to
_cull laurels_.”

_Abe at the Play._

Abe, who is very fond of theatricals, went, upon a recent occasion, to
the theatre to see a new play. The friend, who was with him, remarked
upon the thinness of the house, and said he supposed it was owing to
the war. “No,” replied the jester; “it is not owing to the war, it is
owing to the _piece_.”

_Abe and the Officer._

A craven-hearted officer was boasting the other day to Lincoln of the
wounds he had received in his face. The President, however, knowing him
to be a coward, told him he had better take care the next time he ran
away how he looked back.


At a dinner the President recently gave at the White House, he was much
amused by the following anecdote, related by one of the officers who
had just returned from a northern victory. During the battle the rain
came pouring down to such an extent that he remarked to a companion,
who stood by, (an Irishman) that it reminded him of the _general
deluge_. “And faith,” says Pat, “who’s that? I never heard of that
general before.”

_The Scotch Editor._

At this same dinner party there was a Scotchman, an editor of one
of the northern newspapers. Opposite to him, at the table, sat a
gentleman who had indulged pretty freely in his cups. In the course of
conversation he asked the Scotchman “What was the difference between a
Scott and a Lot?” To this the Scotchman replied, that “the difference
lay in the breadth of the table.”

_The Senator._

A certain senator, not the highest ornament to the White House, had
a custom of shaking his head when another member spoke. The speaker
complained of this as an affront. The President, however, took it good
humouredly, and assured his friend that although the gentleman often
shook his head, there was nothing in it.

_Common Sense._

A fop, who was in a company where the President attended, was boasting
that he had every _sense_ in perfection. Old Abe, however, hinted to a
friend “that there was one sense which he wanted, and that was _common

_The Epitaph._

An officer of the northern army who was remarkable for the brilliancy
of his fireworks, not connected with war, was speaking of the beauty of
an epitaph, written upon a friend of his, who had fallen in battle. His
friend was fond of music; and the officer said he is gone to that place
where only his own harmony can be exceeded. The President slyly hinted
that the same might serve for him by only altering one word--“He is
gone to that place where only his own fireworks can be excelled.”

_A Metaphor._

Abe had a book sent to him by a certain author, “_Le Journal Janet_,”
with a passage in it; that the author thought might be justified, and
said it was a metaphor. “Well,” said the President, “it is such an one
as I never _met-a-fore_.”





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