Friday, March 16, 2012

Lincoln's Love Life

We get an inkling of Lincoln’s sometimes savage wit in his description of his early love life.  In autumn 1836, Abraham Lincoln, then a twenty-seven-year-old Illinois representative studying law, agreed rather enthusiastically to marry Mary S. Owens, whom he had met three years earlier when she was visiting her sister in New Salem, Illinois. Essentially, Lincoln entered into a scheme with Mary's sister to entice Mary from her home in Kentucky to Illinois, never doubting that she would be willing to accept him for a husband. But Lincoln had not seen Mary since her previous visit, and upon her arrival, found himself in a predicament. Mary was not nearly as beautiful as he remembered. In fact, as he explained to another friend: "I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff; I knew she was called an 'old maid,' and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the appellation; but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit its contracting in to wrinkles; but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirty five or forty years; and, in short, I was not all pleased with her."   Mary detected his true feelings and rejected his dutifully repeated proposal of marriage.

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