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365. James H. Matheny (William H. Herndon Interview).

[1865 — 66]

J. H. Matheny

Says that in 1836 — probably in 1838 — that Col E.D. Taylor — , a finely dressed — an aristocratically dressed man — having ruffle shirts — gold Chain & watch &c — , was making a speech at ________ against the Whigs: he boasted of his Democracy — Called the whigs aristocrats &c — loomed up in his palaver — Lincoln saw it — felt develish — thought he could take the wind out of Taylor's Speech by a simple act — Lincoln nudged up — moved up to Taylor inch by inch — Lincoln raised slightly up — Caught Dick Taylors vest corner — gave it a quick jerk — it unbuttoned and out fell Dick ruffle shirt like a pile of Entrails — Swung out to the wind — gold chains — gold watches with large seals hung heavily & massively down. This was too much for the good People — Democrat & Whig alike — and they burst forth in a furious & uproarious laughter — Dick Saw the trick — Saw that it Killed him — was vexed & quit and never much afterwards said Even to himself Aristocracy.

Matheny further Says — as to Lincolns Religion — that when Lincoln first Came to Springfield in 1837 — Matheny being clerk — and Lincoln's office in the same building and Lincoln & Jim being friends, That Lincoln, when all were idle and nothing to do, would talk about Religion — pick up the Bible — read a passage — and then Comment on it — show its falsity — and its follies on the grounds of Reason — would then show its own self made & self uttered Contradictions and would in the End — finally ridicule it and as it were Scoff at it — (I guess he Scoffed — if he did scoff — at the fact of Contradictions to reason and to itself. Herndon)

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2570, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2565; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:214 — 15