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greatness of its author. From that time forth, the world gave among its orators and statesmen a high place to Abraham Lincoln. The noblest and richest type of American manhood had at last reached his culminating period.
THE FAMILY IN THE WHITE HOUSE.
Plain Living and Simple Manners-Lincoln's Kindness and His
Righteous Wrath—The Sons of Lincoln—The Boy of the White
IMPLICITY was the main characteristic of the
life of the Lincoln family in the White House. Lincoln's nature, as we have seen, was averse to display of any sort that made him or his prominent in the eyes of men.
men. No man was ever more free from affectation, and the distaste that he felt for form, ceremony, and personal parade was genuine. Yet he was not without a certain dignity of bearing and character that commanded respect. At times, too, he rebuked those who presumed too far on his habitual good-nature and affable kindness.
On one occasion a deputation of citizens concerned in the distribution of offices in a distant State waited upon him, with a remonstrance against certain pending appointments. Their objections were committed to writing, and the spokesman of the party read it to the President. It chanced that the paper contained an implied reflection on his old friend, Senator Baker, then a guest in the White House. Lincoln listened silently to the reading of the document, a faint flush
mounting his sallow cheeks. Then he said, taking the paper: "Is this paper mine, to do with as I please?” The spokesman replied: “Certainly, Mr. President." The President calmly laid the document on the blazing coals in the fireplace and said: “Good-morning, gentlemen.”
Afterwards, speaking of the anger that the delegation were said to have manifested when they went out of the audience-chamber, Lincoln said:
“The paper was an unjust attack upon my dearest personal friend, Ned Baker, who was at that time a member of my family. The delegation did not know what they were talking about when they made him responsible, almost abusively, for what I had done, or proposed to do. They told me that that was my paper, to do with as I liked. I could not trust myself to reply in words: I was so angry. That was the whole case."
On another occasion, a still more audacious petitioner, introduced by a strong letter from a Senator of the United States, so far forgot himself as to break out with profane language in the presence of Lincoln. The President, when the offence was repeated a second time, rose with great dignity, opened the door of the audience-chamber and said: "I thought that Senator — had sent me a gentle
I find I am mistaken. There is the door, sir. Good-evening.
While he was in the White House, as President of the United States, Lincoln had few amusements. The times, so full of trouble, and lamentation for the dead in the war, were not favorable to the giving of
social or formal entertainments. There were occasional dinner parties, and early in the first Presidential term there was one large evening party, or ball; but that was all. He went often to the theatre, usually accompanied only by a friend, and taking pains to enter the place unrecognized. He sought the theatre only as a means of amusing a spare hour, diverting his mind from the cares and sorrows that weighed him down. Naturally fond of music, he was glad, when he had an opportunity, to listen to the singing or the playing of some visitor who might call on the family f .n evening. And he seemed to find his greatest pleasure in simple and pathetic ballad music. Generally, however, he was kept too bus, in his cabinet, during the evening, to go down to thu parlor, wh re Mrs. Lincoln received her friends. It was her custom, when those called whom she thought the President would liku to see, to send him word; and his excuses, if he did not come, were readily accepted.
He cared little for the pleasures of the table, and he seldom partook of any but the plainest and simplest food, even when a more elaborate repast than usual was spread upon the board. Wine was set on the table when those who used it were guests; but Lincoln only maintained the form of touching it. When engrossed with the cares of his office, which was almost habitually, he ate irregularly, and the family were accustomed to see him come to the table or stay away, as it suited his convenience. Even when his anxious wife had sent to his cabinet, where he was engaged, a tray of food, he was often too busy
or too abstracted to touch it. And when Mrs. Lincoln was away from home, as sometimes happened, he neglected his meals altogether, or, as he expressed it, "browsed around,” eating when his hunger moved, when and how he could most conveniently. His youngest son, “Tad," as he was called, could bring him out of his working or meditative moods more readily than any other of the family. When the Lincolns entered the White House, in 1861, there were three sons and no other children. The eldest was Robert, eighteen years old; Willie, a little more than ten; and Thomas, or Tad, then nearly eight years old. This little fellow celebrated his eleventh birthday in the White House, April 4, 1863. Robert was a student in Phillips Academy, Exeter, N. H., when his father became President, and he entered Harvard University soon after that time. He was graduated subsequently, studied law, and was appointed Secretary of War, several years after his father's death, serving under President Garfield and President Arthur.
Willie, the second son, died in February, 1862, during the darkest and most gloomy time of the long and oppressive era of the war. Possibly this calamity made Lincoln less strict with his youngest boy than he should have been. He found it wellnigh impossible to deny Tad anything. But the little fellow, always a hearty, happy, and lovable boy, did not abuse his privileges. He roamed the White House at will, a tricksy and restless spirit, as well known to habitual visitors as the President himself. Innumerable stories might be told of the