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are apt to be strenuous upon the point of not admitting to their school pupils from other towns; but Horace was an engaging child; "every one liked the little, white-headed fellow," says a surviving member of the school committee," and so we favored him."
A district school-and what was a district school forty years ago? Horace Greeley never attended any but a district school, and it concerns us to know what manner of place it was, and what was its routine of exercises.
The school-house stood in an open place, formed (usually) by the crossing of roads. It was very small, and of one story; contained one apartment, had two windows on each side, a small door in the gable end that faced the road, and a low door-step before it. It was the thing called HOUSE, in its simplest form. But for its roof, windows, and door, it had been a BOX, large, rough, and unpainted. Within and without, it was destitute of anything ornamental. It was not enclosed by a fence; it was not shaded by a tree. The sun in summer, the winds in winter, had their will of it: there was nothing to avert the fury of either. The log school-houses of the previous generation were picturesque and comfortable; those of the present time are as prim, neat, and orderly (and as elegant sometimes) as the cottage of an old maid who enjoys an annuity; but the school-house of forty years ago had an aspect singularly forlorn and uninviting. It was built for an average of thirty pupils, but it frequently contained fifty; and then the little school-room was a compact mass of young humanity: the teacher had to dispense with his table, and was lucky if he could find room for his chair. The side of the apartment opposite the door was occupied, chiefly, by a vast fireplace, four or five feet wide, where a carman's load of wood, could burn in one prodigious fire. Along the sides of the room was a low, slanting shelf, which served for a desk to those who wrote, and against the sharp edge of which the elder pupils leaned when they were not writing. The seats were made of "slabs," inverted, supported on sticks, and without backs. The elder pupils sat along the sides of the room, the girls on one side, the boys on the other; the youngest sat nearest the fire, where they were as much too warm as those who sat near the door were too cold. In a school of forty pupils, there would be a dozen who were grown up, mar.
orous. He was never afraid of the dark, could not be frightened by ghost-stories, never was abashed in speaking or reciting, was not to be overawed by supposed superiority of knowledge or rank, would talk up to the teacher and question his decision with perfect freedom, though never in a spirit of impertinence. Yet he could not stand up to a boy and fight. When attacked, he would nether fight nor run away, but "stand still and take it." His ear was so delicately constructed that any loud noise, like the report of a gun, would almost throw him into convulsions. If a gun were about to be discharged, he would either run away as fast as his legs could carry him, or else would throw himself upon the ground and stuff grass into his ears to deaden the dreadful noise. On the fourth of July, when the people of Londonderry inflamned their patriotism by a copious consumption of gunpowder, Horace would run into the woods to get beyond the sound of the cannons and pistols. It was at Londonderry, and about his fourth year, that Horace began the habit of reading or book-devouring, which he never lost during all the years of his boyhood, youth, and apprenticeship, and relinquished only when he entered that most exacting of all professions, the editorial. The gentleman whose reminisconces I am now recording, tells me that Horace in his fifth and sixth years, would lie under a tree on his face, reading hour after hour, completely absorbed in his book; and "if no one stumbled over him or stirred him up," would read on, unmindful of dinner time and sun-set, as long as he could see. It was his delight in books that made him, when little more than an infant, determin to be a printer, as printers, he supposed, were they who made books "One day,” says this gentleman, “Horace and I went to a black smith's shop, and Horace watched the process of horse-shoeing with, much interest. The blacksmith, observing how intently he lookea on, said, 'You'd better come with me and learn the trade.' 'No, said Horace in his prompt, decided way, 'I'm going to be a printer.' He was then six years old, and very small for his age; and this positive choice of a career by so diminutive a piece of humanity mightily amused the by-standers. The blacksmith used to tell the story with great glee when Horace was a printer, and one of some note."
Another gentleman, who went to school with Horace at London
derry, writes:—"I think I attended school with Horace Greeley two summers and two winters, but have no recollection of seeing him except at the school-house. He was an exceedingly mild, quiet and inoffensive child, entirely devoted to his books at school. It used to be said in the neighborhood, that he was the same out of school, and that his parents were obliged to secrete his books to prevent his injuring himself by over study. His devotion to his books, together with the fact of his great advancement beyond others of his age in the few studies then pursued in the district school, rendered him notorious in that part of the town. He was regarded as a prodigy, and his name was a household world. He was looked upon as standing alone, and entirely unapproachable by any of the little mortals around him. Reading, parsing, and spelling are the only branches of learning which I remember him in, or in connection with which his name was at that time mentioned, though he might have given some attention to writing and arithmetic, which completed the circle of studies in the distric school at that time; but in the three branches first nained he excelled all, even in the winter school, which was attended by several young men and women, some of whom became teachers soon after. Though mild and quiet, he was ambitious in the school; to be at the head of his class, and be accounted the best scholar in school, seemed to be prominent objects with him, and to furnish strong motives to effort. I can recall but one instance of his missing a word in the spelling class. The classes went on to the floor to spell, and he al most invariably stood at the head of the 'first class,' embracing the most advanced scholars. He stood there at the time referred to, and by missing a word, lost his place, which so grieved him that he wept like a punished child. While I knew him he did not engage with other children in the usual recreations and amusements of the school grounds; as soon as the school was dismissed at noon, he would start for home, a distance of half a mile, with all his books u der his arm, including the New Testament, Webster's Spelling Book, English Reader, &c., and would not return till the last moment of intermission; at least such was his practice in the summer time. With regard to his aptness in spelling, it used to be said that the minister of the town, Rev. Mr. McGregor, once attempted to find a wd or name in the Bible which he could not
spell correctly, but taled to do so. I always supposed, however, that this was an exaggeration, for he could not have been more than seven years old at the time this was told. My father soon after removed to another town thirty miles distant, and I lost sight of the family entirely, Horace and all, though I always remembered the gentle, flaxen-haired schoolmate with much interest, and often wondered what became of him; and when the 'Log Cabin' appeared, I took much pains to assure myself whether this Horace Greeley was the same little Horace grown up, and found it was.”
From his sixth year, Horace resided chiefly at his father's house. He was now old enough to walk to the nearest school-house, a mile and a half from his home. He could read fluently, spell any word in the language; had some knowledge of geography, and a little of arithmetic; had read the Bible through from Genesis to Revel». tions; had read the Pilgrim's Progress with intense interest, and dipped into every other book he could lay his hands on. From his sixth to his tenth year, he lived, worked, read and went to school, in Amherst and the adjoining town of Bedford. Those who were then his neighbors and schoolmates there, have a lively recollection of the boy and his ways.
Henceforth, he went to school only in the winter. Again he attended a school which he had no right to attend, that of Bedford, and his attendance was not merely permitted, but sought. The school-committee expressly voted, that no pupils from other town should be received at their school, except Horace Greeley alone; and, on entering the school, he took his place, young as he was, at the head of it, as it were, by acclamation. Nor did his superiority ever excite envy or enmity. He bore his honors meekly. Every one liked the boy, and took pride in his superiority to themselves. All his schoolmates agree in this, that Horace never had an enemy at school.
The snow lies deep on those New Hampshire hills in the winter, and presents a serious obstacle to the younger children in their way to the school-house; nor is it the rarest of disasters, even now, for children to be lost in a drift, and frozen to death. (Such a calamity happened two years ago, within a mile or two of the old Gree ley homestead.) "Many a morning," says one of the neighborsther a stout schoolboy, now a sturdy farmer-"many a morning I
have carried Horace on my back through the drifts to school, and put my own mittens over his, to keep his little hands from freezing" He adds, "I lived at the next house, and I and my brothers often went down in the evening to play with him; but he never would play with us till he had got his lessons. We could neither coax nor force him to." He remembers Horace as a boy of a bright and active nature, but neither playful nor merry; one who would utter acute and “old-fashioned" remarks, and make more fun for others than he seemed to enjoy himself.
His fondness for reading grew with the growth of his mind, till it amounted to a passion. His father's stock of books was small indeed. It consisted of a Bible, a "Confession of Faith," and perhaps all told, twenty volumes beside; and they by no means of a kind calculated to foster a love of reading in the mind of a little boy. But a weekly newspaper came to the house from the village of Amherst; and, except his mother's tales, that newspaper probably had more to do with the opening of the boy's mind and the tendency of his opinions, than anything else. The family well remember the eagerness with which he anticipated its coming. Paper-day was the brightest of the week. An hour before the postrider was expected, Horace would walk down the road to meet him, bent on having the first read; and when he had got possession of the precious sheet, he would hurry with it to some secluded place, lie down on the grass, and greedily devour its contents. The paper was called (and is still) the Farmer's Cabinet. It was mildly Whig in politics. The selections were religious, agricultural, and miscellaneous; the editorials few, brief, and amiable; its suminary of news scanty in the extreme. But it was the only bearer of tidings from the Great World. It connected the little brown house on the rocky hill of Amherst with the general life of mankind. The boy, before he could read himself, and before he could understand the meaning of war and bloodshed, doubtless heard his father read in it of the triumphs and disasters of the Second War with Great Britain, and of the oicings at the conclusion of peace. He himself may have read of Decatur's gallantry in the war with Algiers, of Wellington's victory at Waterloo, of Napoleon's fretting away his life on the rock of St. Helena, of Monroe's inauguration, of the dismantling of the fleets on the great lakes, of the progress of the