previous next
[63] along with books in his wagon, Horace was pretty sure to be his customer. Yet he was only half a Yankee. He could earn money, but the bargaining faculty he had not.

What did he read? Whatever he could get. But his preference was for history, poetry, and—newspapers. He had read, as I have before mentioned, the whole Bible before he was six years old. He read the Arabian Nights with intense pleasure in his eighth year; Robinson Crusoe in his ninth; Shakspeare in his eleventh; in his twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth years, he read a good many of the common, superficial histories—Robertson's, Goldsmith's, and others—and as many tales and romances as he could borrow. At Westhaven, as at Amherst, he roamed far and wide in search of, books. He was fortunate, too, in living near the “mansion-house” before mentioned, the proprietor of which, it appears, took some interest in Horace, and, though he would not lend him books, allowed him to come to the house and read there as often and as long as he chose.

A story is told by one who lived at the “mansion-house” when Horace used to read there. Horace entered the library one day, when the master of the house happened to be present, in conversation with a stranger. The stranger, struck with the awkwardness, and singular appearance of the boy, took him for little better than an idiot, and was inclined to laugh at the idea of lending books to “such a fellow as that.” The owner of the mansion defended his conduct by extolling the intelligence of his protege, and wound up with the usual climax, that he should ‘not be surprised, sir, if that boy should come to be President of the United States.’ People in those days had a high respect for the presidential office, and really believed—many of them did—that to get the highest place it was only necessary to be the greatest man. Hence it was a very common mode of praising a boy, to make the safe assertion that he might, one day, if he persevered in well-doing, be the President of the United States. That was before the era of wire-pulling and rotation in office. He must be either a very young or a very old man who can now mention the presidential office in connection with the future of any boy not extraordinarily vicious. Wire-pulling, happily, has robbed the schoolmasters of one of their bad arguments for a virtuous life. But we are wandering from the library.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (2)
Westhaven (Illinois, United States) (1)
Amherst (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Shakspeare (1)
Goldsmith (1)
Robinson Crusoe (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: