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A REAL STUDENT.
In 1841 Lincoln had dissolved partnership with Major Stuart who was in Congress, and was associated with a much more thorough and careful lawyer, Judge Logan. From this time until political duties took all his care and thoughts, Lincoln devoted himself more earnestly to his profession. He said of himself: "From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, I practiced law more assiduously than ever before."
He studied his cases with great care and patience and had a wonderful power with juries. When he returned from Congress he found that some changes had taken place in the methods of practice from old ways, there was more knowledge of law required, and more care in presentation of a case. It had seemed to him while he was in Congress that he lacked a certain power of close and sustained reasoning. So, when he came home he set himself to study such
works on logic and mathematics as he thought would be useful to him; he soon learned by heart six books of Euclid and always remembered the principles they contained.
Judge David Davis, who was for many years presiding judge of the circuit when Lincoln was on this circuit and who knew him well, said of him: "In all the elements that constitute the great lawyer he had few equals. He seized the strong points of a case and presented them with clearness and great compactness. The framework of his mental and moral being was honesty, and a wrong cause was poorly defended by him." Davis said that Lincoln could not explain away the bad points of a case, and spoke of how little power Lincoln had if he did not believe in his cause; how he never meant to take a case where his client was in the wrong, but sometimes was at first deceived himself-and how strong he was when he knew he was right; how he hated wrong and oppression and made the man who had been defrauding writhe under his terrible rebukes. He said that Lincoln, even when he won, never took from a client more than he thought his services were worth or the man could afford to pay; and that his charges were always small because the people among whom he practiced were not rich. When he was elected President it is probable that there was not a
lawyer in the circuit who had been at the bar as long who had not more money than Abraham Lincoln; it was not the business of his life to make a fortune.
Mr. Herndon who was afterward his law partner tells how a man came to Lincoln one day and wanted him to take an objectionable case. Lincoln said to him after he had heard him through: "Yes, there is no reasonable doubt but that I can gain your case for you. I can set a whole neighborhood at loggerheads; I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars which rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as much to them as it does to you. I shall not take your case, but I will give a little advice for nothing. You seem a sprightly, energetic man. I would advise you to try your hand at making six hundred dollars in some other way."
Sometimes after he had undertaken a criminal case, it would suddenly come to him that his client was guilty. At one such time he turned to his associate and said: "Swett, the man is guilty; you defend him; I can't." And he gave up his share of a large fee. At another time in defending a man accused of larceny, he said to the lawyer who was with him: "If you can say anything for the man, do it; I can't. If I
attempt it, the jury will see I think he is guilty, and convict him." At another time he found that his client was attempting a fraud. Lincoln got up in great disgust and went off to his hotel. The judge sent for him. He would not go into court. "Tell the judge," he said, "my hands are dirty; I came over here to wash them."
Lincoln had been in practice only a short time when he was engaged on one side or the other of all the most important cases on the circuit. At the beginning of his work he was only "a case lawyer," knowing how to carry the jury but not well enough educated to be an authority. But toward the latter part of his life he had so trained his powers of generalization and deduction and studied the principles of law that the best lawyers held him their equal.
When he returned from Congress an eminent lawyer in Chicago wanted him to become his partner in that city. But Mr. Lincoln said that practice in a large city would be injurious to his health.
He enjoyed the life on circuit although there were many hardships. And if any one among the lawyers had to be imposed upon by a room not so good or crowded with others, it was always Lincoln. He was always welcomed wherever he went. But it has been said of him that at hotels he was never put beside the land
lord to have the choicest bits at table nor did he have the best seats in coaches or any such attentions pressed upon him. But by reason of his wit and his stories he was always the centre of an admiring crowd of friends and acquaintances.
Mr. Herndon tells how he often went on circuit with him. At such times in country taverns the two usually occupied the same bed. In most instances the beds were too short for Lincoln whose feet would hang over the footboard. He would put a candle on a chair at the head of the bed and read and study for hours. It was in this way he studied Euclid, as well as other works. When he once fixed his mind on any subject, nothing could disturb him, he had such power of concentration. To a young man who wrote asking how he could best gain a thorough knowledge of law, Lincoln answered that it was a very simple thing, but very tedious and toilsome; he must get books and read and study carefully. "Begin with 'Blackstone's Commentaries,' and after reading carefully through, say twice, take up 'Chitty's Pleadings,' 'Greenleaf's Evidence' and 'Story's Equity' in succession. Work, work, work is the main thing."
Mr. Lincoln enjoyed a joke even when it was against himself; and he was sometimes able to turn it back upon the perpetrators. One day in the spring of 1849 two travelers were waiting to