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Chapter 4: his father ruined—removal to Vermont.

  • New Hampshire before the era of manufactures
  • -- causes of his father's failure -- rum in the olden time -- an execution in the house -- flight of the father -- Horace and the rum jug -- Compromise with the creditors -- removal to another farm -- final ruin -- removal to Vermont -- the winter journey -- poverty of the family -- scene at their New home -- cheerfulness in misfortune.

But while thus Horace was growing up to meet his destiny, pressing forward on the rural road to learning, and secreting character in that secluded home, a cloud, undiscerned by him, had come over his father's prospects. It began to gather when the boy was little more than six years old. In his seventh year it broke, and drove the family, for a time, from house and land. In his tenth, it had completed its work—his father was a ruined man, an exile, a fugitive from his native State.

In those days, before the great manufacturing towns which now afford the farmer a market for his produce had sprung into existence along the shores of the Merrimac, before a net-work of railroads regulated the price of grain in the barns of New Hampshire by the standard of Mark Lane, a farmer of New Hampshire was not, in his best estate, very far from ruin. Some articles which forty years ago, were quite destitute of pecuniary value, now afford an ample profit. Fire-wood, for example, when Horace Greeley was a boy, could seldom be sold at any price. It was usually burned up on the land on which it grew, as a worthless incumbrance. Fire-wood now, in the city of Manchester, sells for six dollars a cord, and at any point within ten miles of Manchester for four dollars. Forty years ago, farmers had little surplus produce, and that little had to be carried far, and it brought little money home. In short, before the manufacturing system was introduced into New Hampshire, affording employment to her daughters in the factory, to her sons on the land, New Hampshire was a poverty-stricken State.

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