Denton Jaques Snider.

Lincoln and Ann Rutledge; an idyllic epos of the early North-west. Souvenir of Abraham Lincoln's birth-day, 1912 online

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Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderLincoln and Ann Rutledge; an idyllic epos of the early North-west. Souvenir of Abraham Lincoln's birth-day, 1912 → online text (page 1 of 14)
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the Class of 1901

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An Idyllic Epos of the Early North-West.


of Abraham Lincoln's Birth-Day, 1912




210 PINE ST.

<?73, 7 A 1*3




New Salem ......... 5


Doctor and Squire ....... 14


Wainwright and Blacksmith .... 38


Abraham Lincoln ....... 61


Ann Rutledge ......... 82


The People 103





Lincoln and Ann Rutledge . i . . 130


Vandalia . . 152


The Letters ... 7 ..... 176


Back from the Capital 195


Under the Mulberry 222


The Double Debate ....... 239


The Passing of Ann Rutledge ... 282


The New Life 299


The New Migration ...... 308


Resurgam 320

Historic Intimations 336


Lincoln and Ann Rutledge,

!00k Jfirst

New Salem.

List to the clang of the bell with its clamorous
trills from the belfry,

Eollicking round the little red schoolhouse
perched on the hillock,

Calling together the town to the resonant
clack of its clapper,

Tinkling far over the valley its silvery un-

Till it drops to a warble in tune with the
Sangamon's ripple,

And in a whisper of music it dies on the dis-
tant prairie.



Hark ! how it breathes its last breath in melo-
dious carols concentric,

Weaving with wavelets of sound the tremu-
lous heart of the hearer,

Who in harmonious throbs for a moment
floats over the border

Till he is rapt to the rhythm of spheres in
chorus majestic,

Feeling afar the cosmical echo of ancient

When the sun and the moon and the stars
were singing together.

Now the tongue of the bell has lisped its mel-
lifluous message,

And has enwreathed in its tenderest rounds
the listening farm-house

To the first milestone from town at the pray-
erful calm of the noon-tide ;

Even the ox of the field knows it well, and
looks up from his grazing,

While the dog in response will utter a howl
from the barnyard,

And the big chanticleer will perch on the top
of his dunghill,

Strutting amid his polygamous household and
crowing defiance.


Meantime the farmer has quitted his labor of
cradling the harvest,

And the raking and sheaving and shocking
the sheaves of the grainfield;

Soon he has saddled old sorrel and starts on
a jog to the village

Where he will meet all his neighbors and lis-
ten to Abraham Lincoln

Telling the manful task of the time in drollery

How the migration of peoples has swept from
the East to the Westland,

Bringing the dawn of a world which is new
in the line of the ages,

Piloting over the prairies the passage of civ-

Gathered already in arguing groups are the
chiefs of the township,

Through their talk oft buzzes the name of
President Jackson,

Now the well-head of words for every tongue
in the Nation,

Who had the power of doing the deed attuned
to the folk-soul,

Also of writing his name on the land in lum-
inous letters,

Which would always relume in the flame of
party discussion.


Stout Ebenezer, the Squire, well rounded in

brain and in body,
Eight decider of lawsuits, the voice of the

village's justice,
Strides up the knoll to the well-sweep and

dips out a drink of fresh water,
With the new gourd which hung at the well

in front of the schoolhouse.
Worthy ambition was his : to be the commun-
ity' s builder,
And overseer self-appointed in charge of the

general welfare ;
With him are talking in shirt sleeves two

workmen of handicraft clever,
Gray-haired William the wainwright, and

big-thewed Peter the blacksmith,
Both of them integral men of the town's best

communal spirit.

Doctor Palmetto was present, snapping satir-
ical flashes

Openly at the whole world which slyly includ-
ed himself, too,

Chiefly, however, at Lincoln he fired his bat-
tery scornful.

He was the one only man in the town who
had studied at college,

Crumbs of his lore he strewed in his talk, for
instance, the names of the muscles.


Grave James Kutledge failed not, erst the
community's founder,

Aged but lofty in mien and retaining his chi-
valrous manner,

Father of blooming Ann, the rarest rose of
the village ;

And she also had come to see and to hear
with her parent

Just this orator Lincoln, whose words had a
heart in their cadence,

While his tenderest tones would tremble in
tune with her glances.

Soon the tillers had flocked from their toil

on each side of the country,
Blent with their spirit and speech still lay

the great fight with the Indian,
And their perils upon the frontier when the]

land was first settled,
When the savage 's tomahawk spared not even

the suckling.
Every man in the crowd had his valorous

venture to tell of,
How he waylaid and slew in his trap the

treacherous red-skin,
Or had driven him headlong over the wroth

Living and throbbing in rage still rose the

strife of the races,


"Which enkindled the border in furious blazes
of warfare

For the lands of the Northwest, aye for the
continent total.

And that struggle each borderer bore in his
bosom down deepest,

Long in a line transmitted from father and
grandfather also,

E 'en from the grandfather 's father descend-
ed the heritage hostile,

Bringing the ancestor's feud from the shore
of the distant Atlantic.

So the people assembled, still wrought up with

memories warlike,
And they had their own hero now present,

Abraham Lincoln,
Who had fought against Black Hawk, the

reddest of all the red devils,
Who had headed the volunteers valiant of

Sangamon County
Up to the foe 's front line, but never got sight

of an Indian.
Him all the people had chosen as Captain in

stress of their struggle,
Thrice he enlisted to fight and stayed till the

danger was over.


True pioneer, he was stamped with the traits

of his fathers before him,
Who had faced the frontier of their country

for five generations,
Ever in movement along with the stride of

their race to the westward.
Abraham Lincoln's grandfather also was Ab-
raham Lincoln,
Who had been slain by an Indian's bullet

shot from an ambush ;
Still that bullet would throb at times in the

brain of the grandson,
Making him feel the vengeance of race e'en

when he resisted,
For the two sides, to avenge and forgive,

lurked deep in his nature.
All the folk were flocking around him, whose

soul he well represented,
Getting ready to vote for themselves in vot-
ing for Lincoln,
For he had lived just their life, and gone

through their fiery trial.
Soldiers were there who bragged of the deeds

of their valorous captain,
And repeated the stories he told in the lull

of the campaign ;
Thus were tripping the tongues of a hundred

that day in New Salem,

All were electioneering and fighting anew
the old battles.


Look ! a character weaves of a sudden around

through the masses,
That was Jack Kelso, good fellow general,

yet good for nothing,
Never once missing his chance at a verse or

his turn at the bottle,
Long since known to the town as its poet,

and laureled its rhymesmith,
Needful vocation as well as that of the doc-
tor or blacksmith,
Though he must work for nothing and add his

own board to the bargain,
Poesy being its own sweet reward on the San-

gamon sluggish.

But forget not the man, the living conduit of

For the young and the old of the village, the

schoolmaster Graham;
To whose name the true title had slid down

the ages from Homer
Mentor of yore, the appearance divine of the

Goddess of Wisdom.
To the youth who was longing to learn of the

deeds of the fathers.
Mentor Graham, the master, all named him

by right of his office,
Frontier pedagogue, bearing the torch of the

past to the future


Eight on the line of division between them,

the zone of their mingling;
Charactered was he in word and in deed by

his life on the border,
With a gleam of prophecy in him, which

shone resurrection,
Nor were wanting some far-back flashes of

sage superstition,
"Which believed still the fact of the Fates and

retributive Furies.
Though he knew no Greek, some scraps he

had picked up of Latin
From an old grammar he learned once by

heart, and from an old law book ;
But as he sauntered one day deep -sorrowed

around in a graveyard,
From a tombstone he took and treasured the

word most real of his soul's faith
That was the word he chose for the motto in-
scribed on the school-bell
When it rose perched on the belfry to ring

overhead to the town-folk
Hoary device with letters antique in the old

Roman language,
Word invoking a weird meditation in all who

might see it,

Mystical name of a world that seems going
yet coming BESURGAM.

100k Stomb.

Doctor and Squire.

1 ' What is the matter I This town has already

slowed up to a standstill;
Climbing its hill-side it stops why, even it

starts to go backward
Sick is the place, I say, with a mortal malady


Wroth was the mood of the Doctor, whisking

his tongue like a skalpel,
Loving with words to draw blood on the

world, as if lancing a patient
Doctor Palmetto, lettered leech of the San-

gamon Valley,
Quick to spy the disease and delighting to

dwell on the symptoms,



Be the seat of disorder in man or the State

or the Nation.
But just now he was feeling the pulse of ailing

New Salem,
Little town of the border, once eager to be

the great city,
Dreaming to rival old Eome in its swell of

an empire's ambition,
But with a droop in its hope now unable to

take a step further;

Still the Doctor's fast breath kept winnow-
ing words like a wind-mill,
Which could never be stayed till the whiz of

its wheel was expended;
Thus he pumped up the past in speeches of

sore reminiscence:

"Three years ago I reached here what a

life on this hill-top !
Houses sprang up over night, the mechanic

and merchant
Hurried hitherward after the throng of the

onstreaming people;
In the wake of their wains which sailed one

after the other
Over the prairie's green ocean, I floated

prospecting my future,
"Which uplifted itself a colossus just where

I stand now,


Bidding me halt on this spot and tie down

my fate to this hillock.
That was soon after I quitted with honors

my Medical College,
With a diploma which scoffing me looks from

its frame in my office;
Maledict be the day I strode up yon slope to

your village ! ' '

Swiftly the storm-stressed Doctor, through

the tense strain of his feeling,
Gave a spank with the flat of his hand to the

innocent pine-box
"Which he sat on to argue in front of the store

with the town-folk.
Yet he told not all he kept hidden the point

of his story,
Deftly enwreathing it round with excuses and

far-fancied reasons
Why he suddenly stopped one day at New

Salem and hung out his shingle.
Business he won and its prize and still he

proclaimed himself loser ;
Everybody suspected the cause, though keep- .

ing it silent,
Lest if, but breathed, it might swell up the

wind to a prairial cyclone.


To him stood talking the Squire of the town,
Ebenezer, well-rounded

With five decades of dinners of hominy, corn-
pone, and turkey.

Days of youth he had seen in Kentucky, that
lucky Kentucky

Eloquent ever through lips of her men and
looks of her women.

Now he was judge of the township, the even
dispenser of justice

Unto the people, who never disputed his law
or his judgment.

Weighing his words in the scales of his of-
fice, the Squire responded:

"Nay, I cannot agree with you there, if you

please, my good Doctor ;
You have given one side of the case, you being

the plaintiff.
Hear now the other which Justice demands

should not be forgotten,
Let me, though I be judge, state the side of

the voiceless defendant."
But the Doctor could hardly be stayed in his

argument's flood-tide,
He uprose from the store-box and stressed

his speech with his gestures :


"Well I remember the day I arrived the

town and the country
Had assembled and perched on the bluff

overlooking the river;

Up the full channel came puffing in labor tri-
umphant a steamboat
Named the Talisman, which in the folds of

its vaporous magic
Played before every eye on the hilltop the

phantom colossal
Of a great city here destined to rise on this

Lofty a Capitol grew in the clouds with its

dome and its columns,
First embracing the town and the county

within its small circuit,
Which kept widening, widening, till the whole

State it had rounded,

Then beyond and beyond, when at last it en-
circled the Nation,
While the Sangamon swelled to the roar of

the huge Mississippi,
Bearing aloft on its bosom a spectral fleet

to the Ocean.
Such was that Talisman, Father of Lies, in

the form of a steamboat,
Foaming up stream and dancing delusion be-
fore all the people.

Lincoln was pilot, plying its paddle against
the high waters,


Him too magnified bravely that magical Tal-
isman 'a witch-work

Throwing his shadow up to the Capitol build-
ed in cloudland,

Till he rose to be pilot supreme of the storm-
girt welkin,

High overarching us all to the bound of the
farthest horizon.

That was a specter at which the whole peo-
ple ran mad with delusion,

Eiotous fantasy suddenly routed and captived
man's reason,

And some still feel the spell of that ghost
in our sinking New Salem. ' '

Then the Doctor would snort a contemptuous
sniff through the nostrils,

Jealous, twice jealous he was of the tall
young man of the people,

For between them rivalry rose for the vil-
lage's honors

All of which focused to fire in the glance of
a beautiful maiden.

Forceful shot the retort of the Squire, the

just Ebenezer,
Passionate friend of the townsmen's hero,

Abraham Lincoln:


"Aye, that pilot we soon are intending to
start for Vandalia

Capital now of the State, and yet but a step
in the ascent

That he may rise with the years to the stat-
ure which we have dreamed him.

Candidate he has been named for making the
laws of the people ;

Soon the election comes off and you must
vote for him, Doctor."

But disdain gave a twitch to the lips of Doc-
tor Palmetto,

Aristocratic disdain for Lincoln, the popular

Who already was famed for his art in spin-
ning a story,

And for the wit of his ways in winning the
love of the people.

But another's love he had won, and that was
the trouble

That was the point of the poison which stung
in the soul of the Doctor.

Still he continued his travail of chewing the
cud of his wormwood,

In his own pain he somehow could take a
malevolent pleasure,

"Willing to show all his torture of heart by
jealousy's demon,


Making himself unhappy today by memories

So he spoke up again, while circling the glo-
bular Squire there

On the pine-box reclining at peace with him-
self and the world, too:

"Never since then has a steamboat been seen
here never !

Eapidly that one had to retreat when the wa-
ters receded.

With it has vanished the air-built Capitol
lofty of cloudland,

Which then seemed on the point of dropping
to earth at New Salem.

Do you know the sight of that boat was my
future undoing?

'Twas the illusion which charmed me to stay
in this dolorous village."

Here he took off his hat and thrust it, re-
peating his statement,

Down on the pine-box till it was broken to
creases not to be smoothed out,

While the face of the Squire had put on a
quizzical silence,

As if secretly doubting, in spite of the em-
phasis double,


For Ebenezer often had heard of a contrary

Then replacing his hat, the upstrung Doc-
tor continued:

"I had just come from a bit of a town by the
Michigan lakeside,

Eager to win the topmost prize in life's lot-
tery regnant,

And I chose for my fate New Salem instead
of Chicago!"

Whereat he toned down his nerves in a taci-
turn stride round the store-box,

For there throbbed in his heart the true mo-
tive for his selection,

Which he would never let out, although it
were couched on his tongue-tip.

Soon he returned to his words, still ensconc-
ing his thoughts in his bosom :

' ' Both towns then were the same in size with

similar outlook,
But see their difference now in grappling

scythed Time by the forelock,
And in outspeeding the slash of his weapon,

the doom of the mortal !
But that Talisman lured me to choosing the

dwarf instead of the giant,


Dazzling my fantasy into a cataract golden of

Which fell pouring its treasure out of the

future down on my pathway.
Hope herself I dreamed I saw perched on

the top of this hillock,
Giving me many a courteous smile as if she

would woo me :
But the prize of my life I have lost, e'en if

I go elsewhere,
Never I can it recover that upspring of

heart I once felt here."

So the Doctor complained, diagnosing the

case of New Salem,
Fallen out with himself and the world, he

told his own ailment,
All the pain of his town and his time in tone

he reflected,
While a personal tinge would color each word

of his censure,
And underneath disappointment outspoken

lay something unspoken;
Blaming the Talisman blameless, he only

could blame what himself was.
From the hot-blooded South he had come

where thrives the Palmetto
Stamping itself on the State of his birth as

a seal with its symbol ;


Bitterly he was the hater of President An-
drew Jackson,

In the Jacksonian town of good democratic
New Salem,

Valiant, vociferous hater,. armed to the teeth
for a word-war,

Hence the citizens laughingly labeled him
Doctor Palmetto,

Loyal son of the State defying Old Hickory's

Won all the lore of his medical calling, his
way he turned westward,

Flinging his future into the flow of the peo-
ple's migration

To the wide West in the North, where dawned
the new Nation.

He was the one only man in the township who
could read Latin,

Which in odd bits of old Virgil he pompously
mouthed to the rustics,

Oft in response to Jack Kelso, the town's
Shakespearean spouter,

When he declaimed to the crowd at the cor-
ner the bad dream of Gloster.

But again the just Squire made ready to an-
swer the Doctor,

Balancing nicely the right on the edge of his
tongue as a knife-blade,


Telling him not to impute his own fault to

the fault of the village,
And to see in himself the malady which he

complained of.

But the Doctor upsprang as soon as the sen-
tence was spoken,
Cutting the air with forefinger pointed in

throes of excitement,
Quite foreclosing the lips of the Squire with

passionate outburst,
For he felt Ebenezer 's sly thrust to the seat

of his temper.
Thus at his country he hurled in a breath

his thunderbolt final :

"I believe not only this town is going to

Aye this Nation is breaking up into the units

that made it,
Those original States first joined will dissolve

next this Union."

Such was his thrust at the Squire who had
pricked down into his heart's sore,

Which, unconfessed, turned all of his words
to a poignant confession.

So with his woes he flooded the world from
his perch at New Salem,


Spreading them over the land to the White-

house in Washington City,
Beading himself disappointed into the fate

of his country.

Scarce outspoken had been the vibrant tones
of the Doctor,

When a neighboring farmer drove up to the
store with his wagon,

Catching on time the last fleet words of the
passionate speaker.

One of the wheels was untired and broken,
another was shaky ;

While the old wain-bed crazily lopped and the
harness was cranky.

Excellent man was this farmer, yet bearing
the stamp of the border,

Born pioneer and bred, and so were his fath-
ers before him.

Long they had stood on the line dividing the
red and the white man ;

Where that line would advance, the True-
bloods also advanced there,

Taking unbidden their place to the fore of
the marching frontiersmen.

Uncle George he was called, in full George
Washington Trueblood.

Telling his little misfortune, he snapped the
thread of discussion :


"I was bringing to town some truck, some

potatoes and pumpkins,
Suddenly down went my wagon, and tossed

me into a puddle,
Now I am rolling around on three wheels, and

instead of the fourth one
See this pole of a hickory sapling which holds

up the axle.
It was Lincoln who came to me helping me

out of my trouble ;
Somehow the tire quit the wheel, refusing to

bind it together,
One of the feloes slipped off from the spokes

and left a big gap there,
So that no rim ran round to fasten the rest

of the feloes ;
Then I picked up the pieces and brought them

along in my wain-bed.
But that Lincoln I like whose knack is to come

at the right time,
Helpful he -sprang to my aid from under the

mulberry shade-tree

Where on his bench he was sitting and talk-
ing to lovely Ann Butledge,
Who then shot down the path to the Lady

Eulalia Lovelace.
Soon my load of eatable truck we piled by

the roadside,
Hiding it under a cover of leaves and of

brambles we gathered;


It I hope still to market to you, if the hogs
do not get it.

But this wagon I have to restore to a run-
ning condition,

And I now scheme to make stronger than
ever my wheel from its fragments. ' '

So the brave man would mend each rent in

the garment of living,
And at the same time thriftily show the mind

of the farmer.

See the Doctor turn cloudy with streaks of

rubicund lightning

Flashing over his face at the praises of Abra-
ham Lincoln.
Deeper still stirred him the news of that

couple conversing together
Under the mulberry tree, the resort of the

village's lovers.
But he kept his hot heartburn unworded in

spite of its torture,
Though a venomous sarcasm coiled on his

lips for a moment,
Still he suppressed it in pride and feelingly

spoke to the farmer:


"Bad is your luck today in this turn of the

wheel, Uncle Georgie,
Wheel of misfortune is yours and the world's

\nd ever keeps whirling
But it is common common to you and to

me and to all of us present,"
Sighed sympathetic the Doctor for others,

yet for himself, too;

"Also my cart the truth I confess you has
gone all to pieces,

And to the town itself has been lost not only
its tire-ring

But the hub and the spoke and the feloe of
wood are now floating

Floating, methinks, each part by itself down
the Sangamon's stream-bed

Into the mad Mississippi away to the limit-
less Ocean

Aye, much else around me I see that is going
to pieces."

But right then the firm voice of the judge,
just Squire Ebenezer,

Who was calmly surveying the injured mem-
ber before him

Could be heard with gravity's mien deliver-
ing judgment:


"Easily all these parts can again be made

whole and yet better
By the wainwright William just yonder, with

help of his blacksmith ;
Doctors they are of sick wheels, even able to

doctor the Doctor."

But George Washington Trueblood well

worthy his name and his namesake
Pondered not only his wagon, but also he

thought of his country ;
For as he came he caught the bodeful retort

of Palmetto,
Patriotic he answered the sneer of the cynical

critic :

"Do you know, as I trundled along, I thought

of our Nation
Holding together the States like a wheel by

the tire of the Union,
And I remembered your State which struck

at the bond that has bound us ;
Some years ago that was, but still is working

the ferment."

Fiery flushed the Doctor, his sensitive spot
had been tingled


By the sudden sharp prick of a tongue like

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Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderLincoln and Ann Rutledge; an idyllic epos of the early North-west. Souvenir of Abraham Lincoln's birth-day, 1912 → online text (page 1 of 14)