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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXII. Lincoln

§ 7. First Period of Maturity

To return to Lincoln’s thirty-third year. Is it fanciful to find a connection between the way in which his mysticism develops—its atmospheric, non-dogmatic pervasiveness—and the way in which his style develops? Certainly the literary part of him works into all the portions of his utterance with the gradualness of the daylight through a shadowy wood. Those seven years following 1842 show a gradual change; but it is extremely gradual. And it is to be noted that the literary quality, so far as there is any during these years—for it comes and goes—is never incisive. It is of the whole, not of the detail. It does not appear as a gift of phrases. Rather it is the slow unfolding of those two original characteristics, taste and rhythm. What is growing is the degree of both things. The man is becoming deeper, and as he does so he imposes himself, in this atmosphericway, more steadily on his language.