To George E. Pickett – Advice to Youth
February 22, 1842
I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances are. Notwithstanding this copy-book preamble, my boy, I am inclined to suggest a little prudence on your part.You see I have a congenital aversion to failure, and the sudden announcement to your Uncle Andrew of the success of your "lamp rubbing" might possibly prevent your passing the severe physical examination to which you will be subjected in order to enter the Military Academy. You see I should like to have a perfect soldier credited to dear old Illinois–no broken bones, scalp wounds, etc. So I think it might be wise to hand this letter from me in to your good uncle through his room-window after he has had a comfortable dinner, and watch its effect from the top of the pigeon-house.
I have just told the folks here in Springfield on this 111th anniversary of the birth of him whose name, mightiest in the cause of civil liberty, still mightiest in the cause of moral reformation, we mention in solemn awe, in naked, deathless splendor, that the one victory we can ever call complete will be that one which proclaims that there is not one slave or one drunkard on the face of God's green earth. Recruit for this victory.
Now, boy, on your march, don't you go and forget the old maxim that "one drop of honey catches more flies than a half-gallon of gall." Load your musket with this maxim, and smoke it in your pipe.
Filed under Writings of Abraham Lincoln by