611. Richard M. Lawrence (William H. Herndon Interview).
June 23d 88
Mr. Lawrence, a merchant of Williamsville in this County gives me this incident of Lincoln. Lawrence was at the lecture and heard it and saw and heard Lincoln. About the year 1857 an accomplished lady came to this city to lecture — to read and to receite fine things from best authors. She was a fine reader &c. At Myers hall on the north side of the square this woman was to Lecture — or recite or whatever you call it: her subject — one of them was the recital of the piece — "Nothing to Wear".
716burst out with his ha ha the scene was too much for them and so Lincolns ha ha was met with a round of deep and thorough applause. The Lady was caught up in the same cloud and was Compelled to join in the applause: she could not restrain herself at the time. Lincoln's ha ha and the storm of applause at the ha ha upset the Lady and it was some time before she could put on her gravity. Lincoln during all this time seemed unconscious — was abstracted, — felt glorious over the turn of affairs. Lincoln was solemn — honest — Earnest: it was the good approving the good — by the burst of the ha ha. After a few moments all was again silence and the woman resumed the recital &c. &c. This ha has under the Circumstances was just like Lincoln: he forgot himself and where he was and his nature — his love for the good — and just Expressed itself in the ha ha.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3456-57