In such hours as he could snatch from politics and bread-winning Lincoln had continued to study law, and in March, 1837, he was admitted to the bar. He decided to establish himself in Springfield, where certainly he deserved a kindly welcome in return for what he had done towards making it the capital. It was a little town of only between one and two thousand inhabitants; but to Lincoln it seemed a metropolis. “There is a great deal of flourishing about in carriages here,” he wrote; there were also social distinctions, and real aristocrats, who wore ruffled shirts, and even adventured “fair top-boots” in the “unfathomable” mud of streets which knew neither sidewalks nor pavements.
Lincoln came into the place bringing all his worldly belongings in a pair of saddle-bags. He found there John T. Stuart, his comrade in the Black Hawk campaign, engaged in the practice of the law. The two promptly arranged a partnership. But Stuart was immersed in that too common mixture of law and politics in which the former jealous mistress is apt to take the traditional revenge upon her half-hearted suitor. Such happened in this case; and these two partners, both making the same blunder of yielding imperfect allegiance to their profession, paid the inevitable penalty; they got perhaps work enough in mere point of quantity, but it was neither interesting nor lucrative. Such business, during the four years which he passed with Stuart, did not wean Lincoln from his natural fondness for matters political. At the same time he was a member of sundry literary gatherings and debating societies. Such of his work as has been preserved does not transcend the ordinary productions of a young man trying his wings in clumsy flights of oratory; but he had the excuse that the thunderous declamatory style was then regarded in the West as the only true eloquence. He learned better, in course of time, and so did the West; and it was really good fortune that he passed through the hobbledehoy period in the presence of audiences whose taste was no better than his own.