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Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/34

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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:

I am not a story-teller. Often by the use of a story I can illustrate a point, or take the sting out of a refusal to grant a request. Sometimes, too, the telling of a good story or the listening to one lightens the load of sorrow and suffering that one in my position has to bear; but it is a mistake to think that I am a humorist or tell stories for the laugh that is in them.

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