Little Miss Bedell's letter is reproduced photographically on these pages. Lincoln's reply to the little girl is given below.
My dear little Miss: Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three sons--one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now?
LINCOLN TO GRACE BEDELL, OCTOBER 19,1860.
It seems that Lincoln did not write out beforehand the few words of the Springfield Farewell. Apparently, either they had been formulated in his mind earlier or they came to his lips spontaneously in the hour of parting from his home and neighbors. The version given below is that used in Nicolay & Hay, Abraham Lincoln Complete Works. A goodly crowd of people had assembled at the railroad station to see Lincoln depart. He spoke from the platform of the rear car. Some eyewitnesses described the weather as clear; others said bystanders stood with their heads bared to falling snowflakes. The great prepondernace of evidence, however, shows conclusively that it was raining at the time. The language of the Farewell is simple and moving in its eloquence, and unmistakably it reveals the mood of the man at that moment.
My friends: No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate fairwell.
FAREWELL ADDRESS AT SPRINGFIELD, ILL., FEBRUARY 11, 1861.
It is safe to say that the closing words of Lincoln's First Inaugural will live as long as the English language shall endure. It is one of the crowning majesties of the Anglo- Saxon tongue. The man who thus spoke was in the act of taking up the reins of government of a people rent by civil discord. Brother was on the verge of taking up arms against brother.