Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To John D. Johnston [1]

Dear Brother: Springfield, Jany. 12. 1851---

On the day before yesterday I received a letter from Harriett, [2] written at Greenup. She says she has just returned from your house; and that Father [is very] low, and will hardly recover. She also s[ays] you have written me two letters; and that [although] you do not expect me to come now, yo[u wonder] that I do not write. I received both your [letters, and] although I have not answered them, it is no[t because] I have forgotten them, or been uninterested about them---but because it appeared to me I could write nothing which could do any good. You already know I desire that neither Father or Mother shall be in want of any comfort either in health or sickness while they live; and I feel sure youPage  97 have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to procure a doctor, or any thing else for Father in his present sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home now, if it were not, as it is, that my own wife is sick-abed. (It is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) I sincerely hope Father may yet recover his health; but at all events tell him to remember to call upon, and confide in, our great, and good, and merciful Maker; who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads; and He will not forget the dying man, who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous [meeting] with many loved ones gone before; and where [the rest] of us, through the help of God, hope ere-long [to join] them.

Write me again when you receive this. Affectionately



[1]   ALS, IHi. The letter is damaged on one edge. Bracketed words are taken from Nicolay and Hay.

[2]   Harriett Hanks Chapman, the daughter of Dennis Hanks and Lincoln's stepsister Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, who had married Augustus H. Chapman.