Signs and omens – The Case of Abraham Lincoln

Signs and omens – The Case of Abraham Lincoln

Ancaster (Ont). Photo by @erskinec

Ancaster (Ont). Photo by @erskinec

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. Here is the third and last story regarding signs and omens. This one comes from a respected journalist and close friend to Abraham Lincoln, Noah Brooks. The President died on April 15, 1865 at 7:22 in the morning.

A few months after Lincoln’s death, Brooks recounted the following story to Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in July 1865. Brooks claims to have retold the story as closely as possible to Lincoln’s own words.

Reporter and friend of Abraham Lincoln, Noah Brooks, re-told the following story in Lincoln’s own words. The story was published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in July 1865.

It was just after my election in 1860. . . . I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau, with a swinging-glass upon it [and here he got up and placed furniture to illustrate the position] and, looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other.

I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again I saw it a second time-plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it-nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened.

When I went home I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when [with a laugh], sure enough, the thing came again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was “a sign” that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.

About Chris Erskine

Visual Artist and independent film-maker. Try to post summaries of my artistic activities once per month. View all posts by Chris Erskine

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