Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

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Excerpt

STATESMAN—even the greatest—have rarely won the same unquestioning recognition that falls to the great warriors or those supreme in science, art or literature. Not in their own lifetime and hardly to this day have the claims to supremacy of our own Oliver Cromwell, William III. and Lord Chatham rested on so sure a foundation as those of a Marlborough or a Nelson, a Newton, a Milton or a Hogarth. This is only natural. A warrior, a man of science, an artist or a poet are judged in the main by definite achievements, by the victories they have won over foreign enemies or over ignorance and prejudice, by the joy and enlightenment they have brought to the consciousness of their own and succeeding generations. For the statesman there is no such exact measure of greatness. The greater he is, the less likely is his work to be marked by decisive achievement which can be recalled by anniversaries or signalised by some outstanding event: the chief work of a great statesman rests in a gradual change of direction given to the policy of his people, still more in a change of the spirit within them. Again, the statesman must work with a rough and ready instrument. The soldier finds or makes his army ready to yield unhesitating obedience to his commands, the sailor animates his fleet with his own personal touch, and the great man in art, literature or science is master of his material, if he can master himself. The statesman cannot mould a heterogeneous people, as the men of a well-disciplined army or navy can be moulded, to respond to his call and his alone. He has to do all his work in a society of which a large part cannot see his object and another large part, as far as they do see it, oppose it. Hence his work at . . .

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