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Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1 (of 2) by Herndon

A lawyer named Breckenridge represented the defense

"The turbaned Turk that scorns the world And struts about with his whiskers curled, For no other man but himself to see."

Of another ballad we have this couplet:

"Hail Columbia, happy land, If you aint drunk then I'll be damned."

We can imagine the merry Dennis, hilarious with the exhilaration of deep potations at the village grocery, singing this "field song" as he and Abe wended their way homeward. A stanza from a campaign song which Abe was in the habit of rendering, according to Mrs. Crawford, attests his earliest political predilections:

"Let auld acquaintance be forgot And never brought to mind, May Jackson be our president, And Adams left behind."

A mournful and distressing ballad, "John Anderson's Lamentation," as rendered by Abe, was written out for me by Mrs. Crawford, but the first lines,

"Oh, sinners, poor sinners, take warning by me, The fruits of transgression behold now and see,"

will suffice to indicate how mournful the rest of it was.

The centre of wit and wisdom in the village of Gentryville was at the store. This place was in charge of one Jones, who soon after embarking in business seemed to take quite a fancy to Abe. He took the

only newspaper--sent from Louisville--and at his place of business gathered Abe, Dennis Hanks, Baldwin the blacksmith, and other kindred spirits to discuss such topics as are the exclusive property of the store lounger. Abe's original and ridiculous stories not only amused the crowd, but the display of his unique faculties made him many friends. One who saw him at this time says:

"Lincoln would frequently make political speeches to the boys; he was always calm, logical, and clear. His jokes and stories were so odd, original, and witty all the people in town would gather around him. He would keep them till midnight. Abe was a good talker, a good reasoner, and a kind of newsboy." He attended all the trials before the "squire," as that important functionary was called, and frequently wandered off to Boonville, a town on the river, distant fifteen miles, and the county seat of Warrick County, to hear and see how the courts were conducted there. On one occasion, at the latter place, he remained during the trial of a murderer and attentively absorbed the proceedings. A lawyer named Breckenridge represented the defense, and his speech so pleased and thrilled his young listener that the latter could not refrain from approaching the eloquent advocate at the close of his address and congratulating him on his signal success. How Breckenridge accepted the felicitations of the awkward, hapless youth we shall probably never know. The story is told that during Lincoln's term as President, he was favored one day at the White House with a visit by this same Breckenridge, then a resident of Texas, who had called to pay his respects. In a conversation about early days in Indiana, the President, recalling Breckenridge's argument in the murder trial, remarked, "If I could, as I then thought, have made as good a speech as that, my soul would have been satisfied; for it was up to that time the best speech I had ever heard."

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