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

Nov. 1866
Col. Matheny

The first time I Ever Saw Lincoln was probably in 1832 — or 4. The first time I have any distinct recollection was when he came into our clerks office — in the Elkin brick House — South Side of the Square. I was deputy P.M under Mitchell from 1832 to 35 say. — got to Know Lincoln's hand writing as such P.M — He Lincoln used to write Editorials as far back as 1834 — or 5 for Francis — the Sangamon Journal — took hundreds of such Editorials from Lincoln to the Journal office — Lincoln was P.M at that time because his letters were franked. My opinion from what of Lincoln is that he Knew Shakespear as well — probably better in New Salem than he did in Spfgd.

1st Lincoln was witty — humorous at 1832 & so down: the People would


flock to hear him — loving jokes — humor &c —. This quality of his nature declined. When he first came among us his wit & humor boiled over

2d My opinion is that Mr Lincoln's sadness — melancholy — despair, grew on him — He had 2 Sentiments — one to Stick his head in a hollow log, & see no one; & the other was to climb up — to win the [tithes?] of his ambition

3d My own opinion is that Mr Lincoln's fancy — Emotion, & Imagination dwindled — ie — that is to Say his reason & his Logic — swallowed up all his being — ie became dominant

4th Mr Lincoln grew more. more abstracted — Contemplative — &c. as he grew older.

I have often heard Mr Lincoln talk of the miraculous Conception, inspiration — Revelation — Virgin Mary say in 1837—8—9 &c His was the language of of respect yet it was from the point of ridicule — not scoff — as I once loosely Said.

Mr Lincoln was a close Student in his way — he read Slowly — carefully and thought much — thought much more than he read —

I say I think Lincoln got more tender & humane as he got older — probably gentler would be a better word.

In 1834 & 5, my father being a strong Methodist — a Kind of minister and loving Lincoln with all his soul hated to vote for him because he heard that Lincoln was an Infidel. Mr Lincoln did write a pamphlet attacking the divinity of christ — Special inspiration — Revelation &c —. All these things were talked about in 1835—6. & 7 — were talked of discussed &c in the Lincoln-Cartwright Congression rase in 1846 — Many Religious — Christian whigs hated to vote for Lincoln on that account — had to argue the question &c. with them. &c. &c — All this I distinctly well. In my for mer testimony I used the word Scoff — Sneer &c — I think the better way of Expressing my [case?] is as follows — As it were he Seemed to do So — yet it was not a scoff — &c —: it was an argument of ridicule

The abve I Know in fact & sincerely believe all — do so from all my Knowledge of Mr Lincoln — facts from others. &c. Thse things & conclusions & correct

W H Herndon

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2566—67 (Interview), Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2568—69 (Springer transcription)



1. Dated in the docketing. Springer's transcription seems to have been inadvertently omitted from the bound collection later sold to Lamon and filed with WHH's originals.

2. Charles R. Matheny.

3. See §365.