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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Gillespie, Joseph. 'Joseph Gillespie to William H. Herndon' 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=herndon505.html


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than one dropped at the instant of discharge from the muzzle the gun and he said it always appeared to him that they would both reach the ground at the same time even before he had read the philosophical explanation He was fond of astronomy but I cant call to mind any reference of his to geology He doubtless had read and thought of the subject but it did not engage his attention to the degree that astronomy and mechanical science did He invited me one day at Washington city to call upon him in the evening when he said we would go to the observatory and take a look at the moon through the large teloscope It proved to be cloudy and I did not go I have no recollection of ever hearing Mr Lincoln express him self in reference to the infinities sometimes his mind ranged beyond the solid grounds, on which it delighted to dwell. He exercised himself in endeavoring to trace out the source and developement of language and he told me that on one occasion he prepared (or perhaps) delivered a lecture [1] in Springfield on that subject and that he was surprised to find his investigations in that direction so interesting and instructive to himself He used to say that the attempt to ascertain wherein wit consisted baffled him more than any other undertaking of the kind That the first impression would be that the thing was of easy solution but the varieties of wit were so great that what would explain one case would be wholly inapplicable to another I am of opinion that there was a slight tinge of fatalism in Mr Lincolns composition which would or might have led him to believe somewhat in destiny Mr Lincoln told me once that he could not avoid believing in predestination although he considered it a very unprofitable field of speculation because it was hard to reconcile that belief with responsibility for ones act After he became President he gave unmistakable indications of being a believer in destiny I feel quite sure that there was not a moment when he despaired of success in putting down the rebellion and he trusted more in Divine power than in human instrumentality Mr Lincoln had as strong a faith that it was in the purposes of the Almighty to save this Country as ever Moses had that God would deliver the Israelites from bondage and he came to believe that he himself was an instrument foreordained to aid in the accomplishment of this purpose as well as to emancipate the slaves I do not think that he was (what I would term) a blind believer in fate or destiny but that he considered the means foreordained as well as the end and therefore he was extremely diligent in the use of the means Mr Lincoln had a remarkably inquiring mind and I have no doubt he roamed over the whole field of knowledge There were departments however upon which he fixed his attention with special interest Those which were of a practical character and having a solid and indisputable basis he made himself master of so far as time & opportunity would allow and this will account for his bringing out certain branches in conversation and being silent in regard to others about which he must have read as much as persons ordinarily do He did not seem to think that to be of much value which could not be proven or rather demonstrated His love
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Gillespie, Joseph. 'Joseph Gillespie to William H. Herndon' 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=herndon505.html
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