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of this country, the men who have made America what she is. It is the intelligent farmers, the clearheaded mechanics, the teachers, the liberal and earn. est clergymen, the reformers everywhere, who love and appreciate him best. To them he is a tower of strength, a city of refuge. Many a reformer, when ready to faint, has been cheered by the thought that the most powerful editor in the country, day after day writes his most vigorous articles for the drunkard and the slave. However much these men may in the past have disliked his political writings, or his political conduct, his philanthropic writings have won their warm esteem for the author.
From these general remarks we turn to trace his early history. It is a remarkable one; for the position which he has reached, as one of the first editors of the country, he has struggled for inch by inch. His birth and parentage gave him none of those advantages for intellectual improvement that are now afforded almost universally to every farmer's boy. The district school, from which he obtained his first knowledge of books, was taught during the three or four winter months by some young person who could barely "pass examination” before the village minister and one or two functionaries, of perhaps much less practical and rudimental education.
Mr. Greeley's maternal ancestors were ScotchIrish, who migrated to this country in 1718, and settled in various parts of New England. They were a bold, enthusiastic, hardy set, and in them we find many of those traits of character which, bequeathed to Horace as his only legacy, have made him what he is. From the same source sprang Stark of revolutionary memory, and in the battle of Bennington perished two of Mr. Greeley's great uncles. His paternal ancestors were from Nottingham, England. They were early noted for an obstinacy of purpose, which, as it descended through successive generations to Zaccheus Greeley, the father of Horace, may be said to have softened to a tenacity hard to overcome. This is noticed not only in their will, but in every · mental and physical development. Their memory was wonderful; they held on to life itself with a vigor which is surprising. Honest and courageous, though generally poor, they left to posterity better than a prince's patrimony—it was a character, an example worthy of imitation.
Zaccheus Greeley and Mary Woodburn were married in 1807. They lived upon a small farm, the fruits of their own industry, in Amherst, New Hampshire. Under circumstances rather inauspicious, in February, 1811, Horace, the subject of our sketch, was ushered into existence. Of seven children he was the third, and, according to all accounts, he was the most unlikely of the whole ; his frame was light, and his constitution fragile; but both were to be very hills
toughened and invigorated by the hard work and the freshi, inountain air, that can hardly be found except among the hills and valleys of New England. The population of Amherst were, and are still, dependent for the means of subsistence upon a soil sterile, stony and forbidding, except to the gaze of those hardy men who, from year to year, follow the plow over its surface. These villages seem to be produced from some stereotype plate of nature, and once planted, are as unchangeable as the
which they are located. There will be found a “meetinghouse,” (Congregational,) a "church,” (Episcopal,) and a store, where is sold everything in general and nothing in particular. Upon the open area, where two or more roads meet, the school-house is located; is in fact seemingly “ turned out doors ;” the people have indeed got to regard it as so much a nuisance, that, even now, when a new one is contemplated, the land requisite for a site can hardly be bought for any price. From this center the farm-houses are placed in every direction, at first thickly, or at neighborly distances; but as you recede from the church they grow less frequent, until you are alone in the forest or pasture lands. Such was the situation of Horace Greeley's birth-place, and such the scene of his early childhood; it was a place where destitution and wealth are alike unknown, though every one has for a contented inind an abundance; it was a com
munity of honest, common-sense men practical farmers.
Horace, from his own earliest recollections, as well as from the account of those who watched his infancy, seems to have had a great predilection for books. He says, in a letter to a friend, “I think I am indebted for my first impulse toward intellectual acquirement and exertion to my mother's grandmother, who came out from Ireland among the first settlers of Londonderry. She must have been well versed in Irish and Scotch traditions, pretty well informed and strong minded; and my mother being left mother
1 less when quite young, her grandmother exerted great influence over her mental development. I was a third child, the two preceding having died young, and I presume my mother was more attached to me on that ground, and the extreme feebleness of my constitution. My mind was early filled by her with the traditions, ballads, and snatches of history she had learned from her grandmother, which, though conveying very distorted and incorrect ideas of history, yet served to awaken in me a thirst for knowledge, and a lively interest for learning and history.”
In more than the common and trite sense was he a remarkable child. We think it exceedingly interesting and instructive to linger a little here, and exainine facts, to see, if possible, what were the elements of a constitution which, under such circumstances, could develop so remarkable a man. His mother was a stout, muscular woman, who esteemed it no disgrace to hoe in the garden, or pitch and rake hay, and it is asserted that she could cradle with equal facility in the house and in the fields. She could do more farm work in a day than a man, and then tell stories all the evening. To the ladies of our day these would hardly be considered recommendations, but then they were considered a prodigious feat. She was also quick at the spinning-wheel, and to its hum her tongue kept a continual harmony, for the amusement and benefit of her children. With eager avidity Horace listened to the anecdotes which fell from her lips, and here he first felt that intense yearning for knowledge which afterward made him so indefatigable a student. At two years of age he pored over the pages of the bible with great interest, and newspapers thrown upon the floor furnished him great amusement; at three he could read any of the ordinary books designed for children; at four could read anywhere, and with his book sidewise, upside down, or in any position. When only three years old he commenced attending the district school, and so eager was he to be present, that if the snow was piled in drifts, he prevailed upon his aunt to carry him to the school-house.