In consequence of the change of proprietors, editors and other things pertaining to the management of the Spectator office, Horace had, during the term of his apprenticeship, about as many opportunities of “ boarding round,” as ordinarily fall to the lot of a country schoolmaster.
In 1827, he boarded at the “Eagle tavern,” which was then kept by Mr. Harlow Hosford, and was the Headquarters of social and fashionable life in that pleasant old village.
There the balls and village parties were had, there the oysters suppers came off, and there the lawyers, politicians and village oracles nightly congregated.
Horace was no hand for ordinary boyish sports; the rough and tumble games of wrestling, running, etc., he had no relish for; but he was a diligent student in his leisure hours, and eagerly read everything in the way of books and papers that he could lay his hands on. And it was curious to see what a power of mental application he had—a power which enabled him, seated in the barroom, (where, perhaps, a dozen people were in earnest conversation,) to pursue undisturbed the reading of his favorite book, whatever it might be, with evidently as close attention and as much satisfaction as if he had been seated alone in his chamber.
If there ever was a self-made man, this same Horace Greeley is one, for he had neither wealthy or influential friends, collegiate or academic education, nor anything to start him in the world, save his own native good sense, an unconquerable love of study, and a determination to win his way by his own efforts.
He had, however, a natural aptitude for arithmetical calculations, and could easily surpass, in his boyhood, most persons of his age in the facility and accuracy of his demonstrations; and his knowledge of grammar has been already noted.
He early learned to observe and remember political statistics, and the leading men and measures of the political parties, the various and multitudinous candidates for governor and Congress, not only in a single State, but in many, and finally in all the States, together with the location and vote of this, that, and the other congressional district., (whig, democratic and what not,) at all manner of elections.
These things he rapidly and easily mastered, and treasured in his capacious memory, till we venture to say he has few if any equals at this time, in this particular department, in this or any other country.
I never knew but one man who approached him in this particular, and that was Edwin Williams, compiler of the N. Y. State Register.
Another letter from the same friend contains information still more valuable.
‘Judging,’ he writes,
from what I do certainly know of him, I can say that few young men of my acquaintance grew up with so much freedom from everything of a vicious and corrupting nature—so strong a resolution to study everything in the way of useful knowledge—and such a quick and clear perception