From “The Best of the Old Farmer’s Almanac”



When Abraham Lincoln was a young lawyer practicing in the courts of Illinois, he was once engaged in a case in which the lawyer on the other side made a speech to the jury full of wild statements. Lincoln opened his reply by saying, "My friend who has just spoken to you would be all right if it were not for one thing, and I don't know that you ought to blame him for that, for he can't help it. What I refer to is his reckless statements, without any ground of truth. You have seen instances of this in his speech to you. Now, the reason of this lies in the constitution of his mind. The moment he begins to talk, all his mental operations cease, and he is not responsible. He is, in fact, much like a little steamboat that I saw on the Sangamon River when I was engaged in boating there. This little steamer had a five-foot boiler and a seven-foot whistle, and every time it whistled, the engine stopped."