Letter to W. G. Anderson
LAURENCEVILLE, October 31, 1840.
W. G. ANDERSON.
Dear Sir: Your note of yesterday is received. In the difficulty between us of which you speak,
you say you think I was the aggressor. I do not think I was. You say my "words imported insult." I meant them as a fair set-off to your own statements, and not otherwise; and in that light alone I now wish you to understand them. You ask for my present "feelings on the subject." I entertain no unkind feelings to you, and none of any sort upon the subject, except a sincere regret that I permitted myself to get into such an altercation.
1. The letter to W. G. Anderson exemplifies the spirit of Lincoln in dealing with quarrelsome individuals. It recalls his advice given many years afterward to a young officer condemned to be court-martialed for quarreling: " No man resolved to make most of himself can spare time for personal contentions. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right and yield lesser though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite."