Best Lincoln Stories Tersely Told
by J. E. Gallaher
Pub. in 1898


Lincoln's "Selfishness"

Mr. Lincoln once remarked to a fellow- passenger on the old-time mud-wagon coach, on the corduroy road which antedated railroads, that all men were prompted by selfishness in doing good or evil. His fellow-passenger was antagonizing his position when they were passing over a corduroy bridge that spanned a slough. As they crossed this bridge, and the mud-wagon was shaking like a sucker with chills, they espied an old, razor-back sow on the bank of the slough, making a terrible noise because her pigs had got into the slough and were unable to get out and in danger of drowning. As the old coach began to climb the hillside Mr. Lincoln called out: "Driver, can’t you stop just a moment?’ The driver replied, "If the other feller don’t object." The "other feller"—who was no less a personage than, at that time, "Col." E. D. Baker, the gallant general who gave his life in defense of old glory at Ball’s Bluff—did not "object," when Mr. Lincoln jumped out, ran back to the slough and began to lift the little pigs out of the mud and water and place them on the bank. When he returned Col. Baker remarked: "Now, Abe, where does selfishness come in in this little episode?" "Why, bless your soul, Ed, that was the very essence of selfishness. I would have had no peace of mind all day had I gone on and left that suffering old sow worrying over those pigs. I did it to get peace of mind don’t you see?"


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