he was able to use this strength in protecting himself when it became necessary. At New Salem, when forced into a fight, he whipped Jack Armstrong, the leader of the Clary's Grove gang, and then with his back to the wall held his own against the rest of the gang, all of whom afterward became his devoted friends and supporters
Throughout life Lincoln was a melancholy man. He thus wrote about himself in 1841 to his friend and partner Stuart: "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not."
He fought this natural despondency with his stories, when many another man would have given in to it. Of this use of stories Lincoln said:
Most of his stories come under this, his own description of them, as when, at one of the receptions given by him when President, a