I cannot help adding that this speech is an extraordinary example of condensed English. After some experience in criticising for Reviews, I find hardly anything to touch and nothing to omit. It is the only one I know of which I cannot shorten, and—like a good arch—moving one word tumbles a whole sentence down.
Finally—it being a bad and foolish thing for a candidate to write letters, and you having doubtless more to do of that than is pleasant or profitable, we will not add to your burden in that regard, but if you will let any friend who has nothing to do, advise us as to your wishes, in this or any other matter, we will try to carry them out.
Charles C. Nott.
To Hon. Abraham Lincoln.
Springfield, Ills., May 31, 1860.
Charles C. Nott, Esq.
My Dear Sir:
Yours of the 23rd, accompanied by a copy of the speech delivered by me at the Cooper Institute, and upon which you have made some notes for emendations, was received some days ago—Of course I would not object to, but would be pleased rather, with a more perfect edition of that speech.
I did not preserve memoranda of my investigations; and I could not now re-examine, and make notes, without an expenditure of time which I can not bestow upon it—Some of your notes I do not understand.
So far as it is intended merely to improve in grammar, and elegance of composition, I am quite agreed; but I do not wish the sense changed, or modified, to a hair’s breadth—And you, not having studied the particular points so closely as I have, can not be quite sure that you do not change the sense when you do not intend it—For instance, in a note at bottom of first page, you propose to substitute “Democrats” for “Douglas”—But what I am saying there is true of Douglas, and is not true of “Democrats” generally; so that the proposed substitution would be a very considerable blunder—Your proposed insertion of “residences” though it would do little or no harm, is not at all necessary to the sense I was trying to convey—On page 5 your proposed grammatical change would certainly do no harm—The “impudently absurd" I stick to—The striking out “he" and inserting “we" turns the sense exactly wrong—The striking out “upon it” leaves the sense too general and incomplete—The sense is “act as they acted upon that question “—not as they acted generally.
After considering your proposed
changes on page 7, I do not think
them material, but I am willing to defer to you in relation to them.