experience of later times have been likely to do so.
Yet if he reflected much on forms of government it
was with a dominant interest in something beyond them.
For he was a citizen of that far country where there
is neither aristocrat nor democrat. No political
theory stands out from his words or actions; but they
show a most unusual sense of the possible dignity
of common men and common things. His humour
rioted in comparisons between potent personages and
Jim Jett’s brother or old Judge Brown’s
drunken coachman, for the reason for which the rarely
jesting Wordsworth found a hero in the “Leech-Gatherer”
or in Nelson and a villain in Napoleon or in Peter
Bell. He could use and respect and pardon and
overrule his far more accomplished ministers because
he stood up to them with no more fear or cringing,
with no more dislike or envy or disrespect than he
had felt when he stood up long before to Jack Armstrong.
He faced the difficulties and terrors of his high
office with that same mind with which he had paid his
way as a poor man or navigated a boat in rapids or
in floods. If he had a theory of democracy it
was contained in this condensed note which he wrote,
perhaps as an autograph, a year or two before his Presidency:
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be
a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the
difference, is no democracy.—A. LINCOLN.”
A complete bibliography of books dealing specially
with Lincoln, and of books throwing important light
upon his life or upon the history of the American
Civil War, cannot be attempted here. The author
aims only at mentioning the books which have been
of greatest use to him and a few others to which reference
ought obviously to be made.
The chief authorities for the life of Lincoln are:—
“Abraham Lincoln: A History,” by
John G. Nicolay and John Hay (his private secretaries),
in ten volumes: The Century Company, New York,
and T. Fisher Unwin, London; “The Works of Abraham
Lincoln” (i. e., speeches, letters, and
State papers), in eight volumes: G. Putnam’s
Sons, London and New York; and, for his early life,
“The Life of Abraham Lincoln,” by Herndon
and Weik: Appleton, London and New York.
There are numerous short biographies of Lincoln, but
among these it is not invidious to mention as the
best (expressing as it does the mature judgment of
the highest authority) “A Short Life of Abraham
Lincoln,” by John G. Nicolay: The Century
Company, New York.
The author may be allowed to refer, moreover, to the
interest aroused in him as a boy by “Abraham
Lincoln,” by C. G. Leland, in the “New
Plutarch Series”: Marcus Ward & Co., London;
and to the light he has much later derived from “Abraham
Lincoln,” by John T. Morse, Junior: Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A.