319. James H. Matheny (William H. Herndon Interview).
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
432flock 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
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)