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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Weldon, Lawrence. 'Lawrence Weldon (drafts for speech)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon088.html


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67. Lawrence Weldon (drafts for speech) [1].

Aug 1st 1865

Yea hope and despondence — Pleasure

x   x   x   x   x   x   x   x   x

What a Just resemblance the above bears to his fortune —

Mr. Lincoln, at the time of his assination was encircled by a halo of glory such as never before graced the brow of Mortal. he had driven treason from its Capital slept in the palace of its proud. defiat but now vanquished leader saved his Country and its history from distruction and disgrace. rode not with the haughty and imperious brow of an ancient conqueror — But with the placid complacy of a pure patriot through the streets of the political Babalon of his country and his age — he had ridden over battle fields immortal in history when in power — at least he was the leader — having assured the misguided citizens of the South that he meant them no harm — he returns buoyant with hope to executive Mansion — where for four long years he had been held as it were a prisoner — Weary with the storms of state he goes to the theatre sees the gay crowd as he passes, is cheered and graciously smiled upon by fair women and brave men — beholds the gorgeous paraperperalia of the stage the rich cushion. the brilliantly lighted stage. the grotesque and magnificently blazoned arched ceiling and polished wall. the audience cheers — the players — illuminate the genius of the author the inimitable play — Mr Lincoln is moved by the. [illegible] of the play —

Lawrence Weldon's — Notes &c —

The weird and melancholy association of eloquence and poetry had a strong fascination for Mr L. minds —

Tasteful composition either of prose or poetry which faithfully contrasted the realities of eternity with the unstable and fickle fortunes of time made a strong impression on his mind — In the indulgence of this melancholy task it is related of him that the poem entitled "Mortality" he knew by rote and appreciated it very highly — Various newspapers have attributed the paternity of this touching and beautiful poem to Mr. Lincoln — this is a mistake it was written as all lovers of verse know by Mr Knox and committed to Memory by Mr Lincoln — At a bar-meeting held in the United States Court in Spgfield in June 1865 it was related by Mr W. that Mr Lincoln had a strange liking for this poetry —

In travelling on the circuit he was in the habit owing to his regular hours of rising earlier in than his brothers of the bar. on such occasions he was wont to sit by the fire having uncovered the coals. and muse ponder and soliliquize wisper no doubt by that strange psychological influence which is so poetically described by Poe in the raven — On one of these occasions at the town of Lincoln the year

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of his nomination sitting in the posture described he quoted aloud and at length the poem entitled Mortality — When he had finished he was questioned as to the authorship and where it could be found — He has forgotten when he learned it but not the Author [2] — and said that to him it sounded as much like true poetry as any thing he had ever heard — he was particlaly pleased with the last two line verseses — which are as follows

Yea! hope and despondence. Pleasure and pain —
Are mingled together like sunshine and rain —
The smile and the tear the song and the dirge.
Still follow each other like Surge upon Surge. —

Tis the the wink of an eye tis the draught of a breath.
From the blossom of youth to the paleness of death —
From the gilded Saloon, the bier and the Shroud
Oh why should the spirit of mortal be proud —

What a just resemblance the above bears to his fortune —

Mr Lincoln at the time of his was encircled by a halo of glory. such as before never graced the brow of mortal man — he had driven treason from its capital slept in the palace of its once proud defiant but now vanquished leader saved his country and its accum- glories of three quarters of a century from destruction rode not with the haughty and imperious brow of an ancient conqueror but with the placid complacency of a pure patriot through the streets of the political Babylon of modern times — he had ridden over battle fields immortal in history when in power at least he was the leader. having assured the misguided citizens of the South that he meant them no harm — beyond a determination to maintain the government — he return'd buoyant with hope to the Executive Mansion where for four long years — he had been held as it were a prisoner. Weary with the storms of State, he goes to seek the relaxation of amusement at the theatre Sees the gay crowd as he passes in is cheered and graciously smiled upon by fair women and brave men. beholds the gorgeous paraphernalia of the stage the brilliantly lighted Scene — the arched ceiling with its grotesque and inimitable figuring to heighten the effect and make the occasion one of unalloyed pleasure the crowd heart beat in unison with his over a redeemed and ransomed land — A pause in the play — A faint pistol shot is heard No one knows it significance save the hellish few who are in the plot. A wild shriek such as murder rings from the heart of woman is follows the proud form of Mr Lincoln has sunk in death, The Scene is Charged with a wild confusion such as no poet can describe or painter deleneate. Well might he have said and oft repeated

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Tis the twink of an eye tis the draught of a breath
From the blossom of youth to the paleness of death —
From the gilded saloon the bier and the Shroud
Oh Why should the spirit of Mortal be proud —

Dear Billy The above is a rough outline of what I said in relation to Mr L at the bar Meeting —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3995, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3990 — 94; Huntington Library: LN 2408, 2:115 — 18

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Weldon, Lawrence. 'Lawrence Weldon (drafts for speech)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon088.html
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