An ode to Lincoln
For MLK day Andrew Sullivan links to a 1902 article in The Atlantic about Lincoln. Here's the full quote he uses. I like it very much. It reminds me a bit of Harry Flashman's reaction to meeting young Mr Lincoln as told in his memoirs.
Slower of growth, and devoid altogether of the many brilliant qualities which his rival possessed, Lincoln nevertheless outreached him by the measure of two gifts which Douglas lacked,—the twin gifts of humor and of brooding melancholy. Bottomed by the one in homeliness, his character was by the other drawn upward to the height of human nobility and aspiration. His great capacity for pain, which but for his buffoonery would no doubt have made him mad, was the source of his rarest excellencies. Familiar with squalor and hospitable to vulgarity, his mind was yet tenanted by sorrow, a place of midnight wrestlings. In him, as never before in any other man, were high and low things mated, and awkwardness and ungainliness and uncouthness justified in their uses. At once coarser than his rival and infinitely more refined and gentle, he had mastered lessons which the other had never found the need of learning, or else had learned too readily and then dismissed. He had thoroughness for the other's competence; insight into human nature and a vast sympathy for the others' facile handling of men; a deep devotion to the right for the other's loyalty to party platforms. The very core of his nature was truth, and he himself is reported to have said of Douglas that he cared less for the truth, than any other man he knew.