Thank you for your kind words, but actually, I approached it from the opposite direction. I ran across the letter first, and in googling for greater understanding, found this thread.
I’m in the process of reading William Herndon’s “Herndon’s Lincole”, an 1888 memoir/biography. Herndon worked with Lincoln for decades, so this book is partly based on Herndon’s own memories. He’s collected a lot from periodicals, and letters to/from people Lincoln knew. No question but that it’s a favorable depiction, for Herndon was a friend, but there are surprisingly many warts uncovered in Lincoln’s depiction.
And the book isn’t in the dry, scholarly prose of so many biographies, but is warm and chatty, like a letter from Aunt Agatha filled with all the family gossip. Lincoln was a lousy scholar, he points out, and he would study a point of law only when it appeared it was pivotal to a case. He was a terrible manager, lazy, and until he married Mary Todd, wasn’t inclined to raise himelf out of poverty. His strength seems to be that he was a great storyteller, and would alter the tales he told to make a point.
I’ve taken, in recent months, to reading Kindle books on computer rather than on my Kindle, and when a word or phrase isn’t adequately defined in the dictionary, googled them. The Kindle 4 PC app is free, and so are books now in the public domain. I’ve always used a lot of reading for context, but looking up everything is more satisfying, isn’t it?
The only problem is that I enjoy it so much that I end up correcting others, explaining word origins, when few people have solicited a call to the Vocabulary Police, and as a result, I tend to get invited out of conversations. Hey, gella, I wasn’t being critical of you; I was making that same mistake until recently!