Horace Greeley as a Boy
HORACE GREELEY was the son of a poor farmer. He was always fond of books. He learned to read almost as soon as he could talk. He could read easy books when he was three years old. When he was four, he could read any book that he could get.
He went to an old-fashioned school. Twice a day all the
children stood up to spell. They were in two classes.
But he was only a little boy in his feelings. If he missed a word, he would cry. The one that spelled a word that he missed would have a right to take the head of the class. Sometimes when he missed, the big boys would not take the head. They did not like to make the little fellow cry. He was the pet of all the school.
People in that day were fond of spelling. They used to hold meetings at night to spell. They called these "spelling schools."
At a spelling school two captains were picked out. These chose their spellers. Then they tried to see which side could beat the other at spelling.
When he was four or five years old, he would lie under
a tree, and read. He would lie there, and forget all
about his dinner or his supper. He would not move until
People had not found out how to burn
He would light a pine knot. Then he would throw it on
top of the large log at the back of the fire. This
would make a bright
Horace would lay all the books he wanted on the hearth. Then he would lie down by them. His head was toward the fire. His feet were drawn up out of the way.
The first thing that he did was to study all his lessons for the next day. Then he would read other books. He never seemed to know when anybody came or went. He kept on with his reading.
His father did not want him to read too late. He was afraid that he would hurt his eyes. And he wanted to have him get up early in the morning to help with the work. So when nine o'clock came, he would call, "Horace, Horace, Horace!" But it took many callings to rouse him.
When he got to bed, he would say his lessons over to his brother. He would tell his brother what he had been reading. But his brother would fall asleep while Horace was talking.
Horace liked to read better than he liked to work. But
when he had a task to do, he did it
Horace had to work hard like all the rest of the family. But he borrowed all the books he could get. Sometimes he walked seven miles to borrow a book.
A rich man who lived near the Greeleys used to lend books to Horace. Horace had grown tall. His hair was white. He was poorly dressed. He was a strange-looking boy.
One day he went to the house of the rich man to borrow books. Someone said to the owner of the house, "Do you lend books to such a fellow as that?"
This made all the
Horace Greeley learned all that he could learn in the
country schools. When he was thirteen, one teacher said
"Mr. Greeley, Horace knows more than I do. It is not of any use to send him to school any more."