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BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD.
Birth of Horace Greeley-The Town of Amherst-The Greeley farm-The Tribune in the room in which its Editor was born-Horace learns to read-Book up-side down-Goes to school in Londonderry-A district school forty years ago-Horace as a young orator-Has a mania for spelling hard words-Gets great glory at the spelling-school-Recollections of his surviving schoolfellows-His future eminence foretold-Delicacy of ear-Early choice of a trade - His courage and timidity-Goes to school in Bedford-A favorite among his schoolfellows-His early fondness for the village newspaper-Lies in ambush for the post-rider who brought it-Scours the country for books-Project of sending him to an academy-The old sea-captain-Horace as a farmer's boyLet us do our stint first-His way of fishing.
HORACE GREELEY was born at Amherst, in New Hampshire, Feb. 3, 1811. He was the third of the seven children of Zaccheus Greeley, a respectable farmer, of Scotch-Irish lineage.
The township of Amherst contains about eight square miles of somewhat better land than the land of New England generally is. Wheat cannot be grown on it to advantage, but it yields fair returns of rye, oats, potatoes, Indian corn, and young men: the last-named of which commodities forms the chief article of export. The farmers have to contend against hills, rocks, stones innumerable, sand, marsh, and long winters; but a hundred years of tillage have subdued these obstacles in part, and the people generally enjoy a safe and moderate prosperity. Yet severe is their toil. To see them ploughing along the sides of those steep, rocky hills, the plough creaking, the oxen groaning, the little boy-driver leaping from sod to sod, as an Alpine boy is supposed to leap from crag to crag, the ploughman wrenching the plough round the rocks, boy and man every minute or two rniting in a prolonged and agonizing yell for the panting beasts to stop, when the plough is sucht by a hidden rock too large for it to overturn, and the solemn slowness with which the procession winds, and creaks, and groans along, gives to the languid citizen, who chances to pass by, a new idea of hard work, and a new sense of the happiness of his lot.
The farm owr.ed by Zaccheus Greeley when his son Horace was corn, was four or five miles from the village of Amherst. It consisted of fifty acres of land-heavy land to till-rocky, moist, and uneven, worth then eight hundred dollars, now two thousand. The house, a small, unpainted, but substantial and well-built farmhouse, stood, and still stands, upon a ledge or platform, half way up a high, steep, and rocky hill, commanding an extensive and almost panoramic view of the surrounding country. In whatever Rock is the
direction the boy may have looked, he saw rock. feature of the landscape. There is rock in the old orchard behind the house; rocks peep out from the grass in the pastures; there is rock along the road; rock on the sides of the hills; rock on their summits; rock in the valleys; rock in the woods;-rock, rock, everywhere rock. And yet the country has not a barren look. I should call it a serious looking country; one that would be congenial to grim covenanters and exiled round-heads. The prevailing colors are dark, even in the brightest month of the year. The pine woods, the rock, the shade of the hill, the color of the soil, are all dark and serious. It is a still, unfrequented region. One may ride along the road upon which the house stands, for many a mile, without passing a single vehicle. The turtles hobble across the road fearless of the crushing wheel. If any one wished to know the full meaning of the word country, as distinguished from the word town, he need do no more than ascend the hill on which Horace Greeley saw the light, and look around.
Yet, the voice of the city is heard even there; the opinions of the city influence there; for, observe, in the very room in which our hero was born, on a table which stands where, in other days, a bed stood, we recognize, among the heap of newspapers, the wellknown heading of the WEEKLY TRIBUNE.
Such was the character of the region in which Horace Greeley passed the greater part of the first seven years of his life. His father's neighbors were all hard-working farmers-men who worked their own farms-who were nearly equal in wealth, and to whom the idea of social inequality, founded upon an inequality in possessions, did not exist, even as an idea. Wealth and want were alike unknown. It was a community of plain people, who had derived all their hook-knowledge from the district school, and depended
upon the village newspaper for their knowledge of the world without. There were no heretics among them. All the people either cordially embraced or undoubtingly assented to the faith called Orthodox, and all of them attended, more or less regularly, the churches in which that faith was expounded.
The first great peril of his existence escaped, the boy grew pace, and passed through the minor and ordinary dangers of infancy without having his equanimity seriously disturbed. He was a 66 quiet and peaceable child," reports his father, and, though far from robust, suffered little from actual sickness.
To say that Horace Greeley, from the earliest months of his existence, manifested signs of extraordinary intelligence, is only to repeatwhat every biographer asserts of his hero, and every mother of her child. Yet, common-place as it is, the truth must be told. Horace Greeley did, as a very young child, manifest signs of extraordinary intelligence. He took to learning with the promptitude and instinctive, irrepressible love, with which a duck is said to take to the water. His first instructor was his mother; and never was there a mother better calculated to awaken the mind of a child, and keep it awake, than Mrs. Greeley.
Tall, muscular, well-formed, with the strength of a man without his coarseness, active in her habits, not only capable of hard work, but delighting in it, with a perpetual overflow of animal spirits, an exhaustless store of songs, ballads and stories, and a boundless, exuberant good will toward all living things, Mrs. Greeley was the life of the house, the favorite of the neighborhood, the natural friend and ally of children; whatever she did she did "with a will." She was a great reader, and remembered all she read. "She worked," says one of my informants, "in doors and out of doors, could out-rake any man in the town, and could load the hay-wag ons as fast and as well as her husband. She hoed in the garden: she labored in the field; and, while doing more than the work of an ordinary man and an ordinary woman combined, would laugh and sing all day long, and tell stories all the evening."
To these stories the boy listened greedily, as he sat on the floo at her feet, while she spun and talked with equal energy. They "served," says Mr. Greeley, in a passage already quoted, “to awaken in me a thirst fiɔr knowledge, and a lively interest in learning and