Open main menu

Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/56

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
46
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: HIS STORY


stand you, anyway. If you aim too high your ideas will go over the heads of the masses and only hit those who need no hitting.

As a lawyer he never used a word that the dullest juryman could not understand. He followed the same method as a speaker. At Yale University the writer studied elocution under Prof. Mark Bailey, who had taught his father before him. Prof. Bailey first heard Lincoln speak when he was stumping New England for Fremont. He was so impressed with Lincoln's power that he followed him from town to town to hear him.

Finally he succeeded in having a talk with him and asked him to explain his success as a speaker. "Well, all I know," said Lincoln, "is that when neighbors would come to my father's house and talk to father in language I did not understand, I would become offended sometimes and I would find myself going to bed that night unable to sleep. I bounded it on the north, south, east, and west until I had caught the idea, and then I said it to myself and when I said it, I used the language I would use when talking to the boys on the street."

That was one of the secrets of Lincoln's oratory—the use of the small word. He never used a big word when a little one would do. His sentences were usually short and he spoke not