The president "never hesitated to tell a coarse or even outright nasty story, if it served his purpose. All his personal friends could bear testimony on this point. It was a notorious fact that his fondness for low talk clung to him, even in the White House. More than once I heard him get off... purposely, some repulsive fiction in order to rid himself of an uncomfortable [visitor]. Again and again I felt disgust and humiliation that such a person should have been called upon to direct the destinies of a great nation in the direst period of its history." These the words of journalist Henry Villard about Abraham Lincoln. He followed the above statement with the following: " Yet his achievements during the next few years proved him to be one of the great leaders of mankind in adversity, to whom low leanings only set off more strikingly his better qualities. At the time of which I speak, I could not have persuaded myself that the man might possibly posses true greatness of mind and nobility of heart."