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Chapter 31: conclusions

If Horace Greeley were a flower, botanists would call him “single,” and examine him with interest. Botanists find small pleasure in those plants, the pride of the garden, which have all gone to flower. They call them “monsters.” Such are not beautiful to the eye of science, because they are not harmonious, culture having destroyed the natural proportion of their parts. Passing by, with indifference or disgust, the perfumed dandies and painted belles of the flower-garden, the botanist hangs with delight over the simple denizens of the wood-side and the wood-path. Horace Greeley is “ single.” He is what the Germans sometimes style “a nature.” He is not complicated nor many-sided. He is the way he grew. Other men are like the walking-sticks in a bazaar. He was cut from the woods. The bark is on him, the knots are not pared smooth, the crooks have not been bent out, and all the polish he shows is derived from use, not varnish. He could say the first part of the catechism without telling a lie: Who made you? God. Walking-sticks often make the same reply, but not with truth. To say of most men in civilized countries that God made them, is rank flattery.

The character of a man is derived, 1, from his breed; 2, from his breeding; 3, from his country; 4, from his time. Horace Greeley's poetry, his humanity, his tenderness, all that makes him lovable and pleasing, his mother gave him, as her ancestors had given them her, with her Scottish blood. His nice sense of honor, his perseverance, his anxious honesty, his tenacity, all that renders him effective and reliable, he derived from his father, to whose English blood such qualities belong. He passed his childhood in republican. puritan New England, in a secluded rural region. Thence came his habits of reflection, his readiness, his independence, his rustic toughness and roughness. He is of this generation, and therefore he shares in the humanitary spirit which yearns in the bosom of every trust

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