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other representatives he sometimes thought of a day when he had received one of the hard lessons of his life, a lesson given by a snob in fine clothes to a man too great for him to understand although he was dressed like one of the roughest of country folk. Lincoln was always very fond of going into the courts and listening to the cases tried there. One day a Mr. Breckinridge made a most vigorous and eloquent defence of his client. Lincoln, who had never heard so fine a speech, listened in delighted astonishment. When the case was over, Mr. Breckinridge was walking grandly out of the courtroom, when, straight in his path, stood this immense, raw-boned youth, stretching out a hand and arm with a sleeve far up his wrist, and congratulating Mr. Breckinridge upon his wonderful eloquence. The great man looked for a moment at the tall, ungainly youth, and without having the good manners to take his hand or to utter one word to him, he swept out of the courtroom, indignant at such a fellow's having presumed to speak to him. This was what the young legislator might have recalled as he sat there listening to speeches or went about making acquaintance with his fellow legislators, some of whom in future days would be comrades of his, and others his opponents.
But little could the young man foresee in those days that he and this same snob of a Mr. Breckinridge would one day meet again, that time in Washington; and that when they met, this young man whose hand the snob had refused would then be President of the United States, and Mr. Breckinridge would be only too much honored by being spoken to by him. When that time arrived, Lincoln showed the noble spirit he was of, for again he congratulated the lawyer upon that fine speech of so long before. One can imagine that then Mr. Breckinridge was glad enough to listen to the praise of the man he had flouted as a boy.
In Lincoln's canvass of 1834, or that of 1836, his constituents gave him two hundred dollars to meet the expenses of campaign. When the election was over, he handed back one hundred, ninety-nine dollars and twenty-five cents to the subscribers. "I did not need the money," he said. "I made the canvass on my own horse; my entertainment being at the houses of friends, cost me nothing; and my only outlay was seventy-five cents for a barrel of cider which some farm hands insisted I should treat them to." What candidate for the humblest office could be elected now at an outlay of seventy-five cents! But what candidate could be found with Lincoln's power and popularity!
There was much to learn socially in Vandalia where society was more polished than in New Salem; and the young legislator did not fail to profit by his opportunities. And here in the Legislature he measured himself with the leading men of the community, and held his own with them.
THE LINCOLN-STONE PROTEST.
The men who in 1836 assembled at Vandalia as members of the newly elected Legislature of Illinois were a set of picked men. There has been scarcely any other legislative assembly anywhere in which so many members later gained brilliant political reputation. What they did for the State of Illinois in the way of voting money for railroads, canals, and all other improvements which they could devise will be remembered as disastrous legislation which in the end crippled the resources of the State for years to come. But they were new at the work and their purposes were good. Lincoln was among these; he was one of the finance committee busy with these schemes of internal improvement in the State and he did not perceive more than the others that they were bad legislation. In the performance of his duties large sums of money passed through his hands.
But not a dollar staid by the way. When in 1837 he began to practice law he was a very poor man.
It seemed best to the people of Illinois that the capital should be changed from Vandalia to a place more nearly in the middle of the State and having other advantages that Vandalia had not. Springfield was the new capital fixed upon, and the task of bringing this to the Legislature and securing the vote was intrusted to Lincoln. He managed it successfully and to the great satisfaction of his constituents. He also had in charge some improvements on the Sangamon River in which the people of New Salem had not yet lost faith as to the possibility of its being made navigable.
But in his record in the Legislature of Illinois is something of vastly greater importance than the foolish financial schemes in which he joined through ignorance of their folly; and of more value than his advocacy of the opening of the Sangamon River-now long since forgotten-or even than his work in changing the capital to Springfield, a permanent advantage. For it was here while a member of the Legislature that his real work began, the work for which it seems to us human beings as we look at it reverently, that God created him and led him through years of hardship and sorrow and struggle up