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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Herndon, Elliott B. 'Elliott B. Herndon (statement for William H. Herndon)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon459.html


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-- 460 --

was simply the peculiarity of [his] mental, the odity of his physical and [qualit]ies of his heart that singled him out [from] the mass of men. His nature love of [truth] justice and humanity led his mind [a gre]at way in the accomplishment of his [object]s in life. That passion or sentiment [stead]ied and determined an otherwise [inde]cisive mind. According to the analysis [of men]tal philosophy his mind was not [unco]mmon in any part or division in [perce]ption, memory, reasoning. immagin[ation] &c. but all those qualities of the mind [in his] were irregular and confused. He had such an organized mind as was incapa[ble] of Comprehending thoroughly and co[mpletely] from foundation to Turret — By [reason of ] its Confusion of ideas his min[d tended] to monamaniaism. I never [knew him to] thoroughly understand any [thing, in law] mathamatics, phylospy, [poetry, history,] mechanics, anatomy, chess, [billiards, checkers,] backgammon, cards, or wha[t not. He was] decidedly common in ev[ery thing he ever] undertook within [my observation.] His mind was visionary a[nd impractable.] He had a feverish and unsettled m[ind] incompatable with a brain of power. [He had] tenacity of purpose, but not of min[d. To] wind up what can be said of [that] mind which honestly and conf[idently] is capable of its own conv[iction] that it can equally comprehend the [law,] invent a patent right, compose [poetry,] write a tradegy, understand [illegible] and polotics, master logic an[d] mathamatics and demon-stra[te d] geometrical absurdity, criticise [Milton an]d Shakespear, become dreamy [3] over [Volney] and yet cannot compose [or write] three good english sentances. [I say wha]t can be thought or said [of such a mind] except, that it is visionary, [irregular, we]ak and incongruous. [Those who admire] Webster for his mental greatness. May well [point to his reply to] Hayne. So it may be said of all great [minds, but let] the admirer of the mental greatness [of Lincoln point] out if they can one intellectual act [of his whole lif ]e. Which stands out prominently [as a proof of a]ny great mental power. [He had the position,] the name, and favorable circumstances [in which to do some] intellectual act demonstrative of great intellect.

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3921 — 22; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:454 — 56

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Herndon, Elliott B. 'Elliott B. Herndon (statement for William H. Herndon)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon459.html
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