to assume if a hod-carrier should apply for a pace in the lace department, he said, ‘Well, my boy—but, you know, it takes considerable learning to be a printer.
Have you been to school much?’
‘No,’ said the boy, ‘I hav'nt had much chance at school.
I've read some.’
‘What have you read?’
asked Mr. Bliss
‘Well, I've read some history, and some travels, and a little of most everything.’
‘Where do you live?’
‘How did you come over?’
‘I came on foot.’
‘What's your name?’
Now it happened that Mr. Amos Bliss
had been for the last three years an Inspector
of Common Schools
, and in fulfilling the duties of his office—examining and licensing teachers—he had acquired an uncommon facility in asking questions, and a fondness for that exercise which men generally entertain for any employment in which they suppose themselves to excel.
The youth before him was—in the language of medical students—a “fresh subject,” and the Inspector
proceeded to try all his skill upon him, advancing from easy questions to hard ones, up to those knotty problems with which he had been wont to “stump” candidates for the office of teacher.
The boy was a match for him. He answered every question promptly, clearly and modestly.
He could not be “stumped” in the ordinary school studies, and of the books he had read he could give a correct and complete analysis.
In Mr. Bliss
's own account of the interview, he says, ‘On entering into conversation, and a partial examination of the qualifications of my new applicant, it required but little time to discover that he possessed a mind of no common order, and an acquired intelligence far beyond his years.
He had had but little opportunity at the common school, but he said “he had read some,” and what he had read he well understood and remembered.
In addition to the ripe intelligence manifested in one so young, and whose instruction had been so limited, there was a single-mindedness, a truthfulness and common sense in what he said, that at once commanded my regard.’