“Always Criticizing her Husband”

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She was always complaining, always criticizing her husband; nothing about him was ever right: He was stoopshouldered, he walked awkwardly and lifted his feet straight up and down like an Indian. She complained that there was no spring to his step, no grace to his movements; and she mimicked his gait and nagged at him to walk with his toes pointed down, as she had been taught at Madame Mentelle’s. She didn’t like the way his huge ears stood out at right angles from his head. She even told him that his nose wasn’t straight, that his lower lip stuck out, that he looked consumptive, that his feet and hands were too large, his head too small.

His shocking indifference to his personal appearance grated on her sensitive nature, and made her woefully unhappy. “Mrs. Lincoln,” says Herndon, “was not a wildcat without cause.” Sometimes her husband walked down the street with one trouser leg stuffed inside his boot-top and the other dangling on the outside. His boots were seldom blackened or greased. His collar often needed changing, his coat frequently needed brushing. James Gourly, who lived next door to the Lincolns for years, wrote: “Mr. Lincoln used to come to our house, his feet encased in a pair of loose slippers, and with an old faded pair of trousers fastened with one suspender”-or “gallis” as Lincoln himself called it. In warm weather he made extended trips “wearing a dirty linen duster for a coat, on the back of which the perspiration had splotched wide stains that resembled a map of the continent.” A young lawyer who once saw Lincoln in a country hotel, getting ready for bed, and clad “in a home made yellow flannel night shirt” that reached “halfway between his knees and his ankles,” exclaimed, “He was the ungodliest figure I ever saw.”

He never owned a razor in his life, and he didn’t visit a barber as frequently as Mrs. Lincoln thought he should. He neglected to groom his coarse, bushy hair, that stood out all over his head like horsehair. That irritated Mary Todd beyond words, and when she combed it, it was soon mussed again, by his bank-book, letters, and legal papers, which he carried in the top of his hat.


One thought on ““Always Criticizing her Husband”

    Words : Generous « Abraham Lincoln said:
    May 20, 2016 at 00:40

    […] “Always Criticizing Her Husband” […]

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