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Chapter 8: arrival in New York.

  • The journey—a night on the tow-path
  • -- he reaches the city -- inventory of his property -- looks for a boarding-house -- finds one -- Expends half his capital upon clothes -- Searches for employment -- Berated by David Hale as a runaway apprentice -- continues the search -- goes to church -- hears of a vacancy -- Obtains work -- the boss takes him for a “ dam fool,” but changes his opinion -- Nicknamed “ the Ghost” -- practical jokes -- Horace metamorphosed -- dispute about commas -- the shoemaker's boarding-house -- grand banquet on Sundays.

He took the canal-boat at Buffalo and came as far as Lockport, whence he walked a few miles to Gaines, and stayed a day at the house of a friend whom he had known in Vermont. Next morning he walked back accompanied by his friend to the canal, and both of them waited many hours for an eastward-bound boat to pass. Night came, but no boat, and the adventurer persuaded his friend to go home, and set out himself to walk on the tow-path towards Albion. It was a very dark night. He walked slowly on, hour after hour, looking anxiously behind him for the expected boat, looking more anxiously before him to discern the two fiery eyes of the boats bound to the west, in time to avoid being swept into the canal by the tow-line. Towards morning, a boat of the slower sort, a scow probably, overtook him; he went on board, and tired with his long walk, lay down in the cabin to rest. Sleep was tardy in alighting upon his eye-lids, and he had the pleasure of hearing his merits and his costume fully and freely discussed by his fellow passengers. It was Monday morning. One passenger explained the coming on board of the stranger at so unusual an [119] hour, by suggesting that he, had been courting all night. Sunday evening in country places is sacred to love. His appearance was so exceedingly unlike that of a lover, that this sally created much amusement, in which the wakeful traveler shared. At Rochester he took a faster boat. Wednesday night he reached Schenectady, where he left the canal and walked to Albany, as the canal between those two towns is much obstructed by locks. He reached Albany on Thursday morning, just in time to see the seven o'clock steamboat move out into the stream. He, therefore, took passage in a tow-boat which started at ten o'clock on the same morning. At sunrise on Friday, the eighteenth of August, 1831, Horace Greeley landed at Whitehall, close to the Battery, in the city of New York.

New York was, and is, a city of adventurers. Few of our eminent citizens were born here. It is a common boast among New Yorkers, that this great merchant and that great millionaire came to the city a ragged boy, with only three and sixpence in his pocket; and now look at him! In a list of the one hundred men who are esteemed to be the most “successful” among the citizens of New York, it is probable that seventy-five of the names would be those of men who began their career here in circumstances that gave no promise of future eminence. But among them all, it is questionable whether there was one who on his arrival had so little to help, so much to hinder him, as Horace Greeley.

Of solid cash, his stock was ten dollars. His other property consisted of the clothes he wore, the clothes he carried in his small bundle, and the stick with which he carried it. The clothes he wore need not be described; they were those which had already astonished the people of Erie. The clothes he carried were very few, and precisely similar in cut and quality to the garments which he exhibited to the public. On the violent supposition that his wardrobe could in any case have become a saleable commodity, we may compute that he was worth, on this Friday morning at sunrise, ten dollars and seventy-five cents. He had no friend, no acquaintance here. There was not a human being upon whom he had any claim for help or advice. His appearance was all against him. He looked in his round jacket like an overgrown boy. No one was likely to observe the engaging beauty of his face, or the noble round of his brow under that overhanging hat, over that [120] long and stooping body. He was somewhat timorous in his intercourse with strangers. He would not intrude upon their attention; he had not the faculty of pushing his way, and proclaiming his merits and his desires. To the arts by which men are conciliated, by which unwilling ears are forced to attend to an unwelcome tale, he was utterly a stranger. Moreover, he had neglected to bring with him any letters of recommendation, or any certificate of his skill as a printer. It had not occurred to him that anything of the kind was necessary, so unacquainted was he with the life of cities.

His first employment was to find a boarding-house where he could live a long time on a small sum. Leaving the green Battery on his left hand, he strolled off into Broad-street, and at the corner of that street and Wall discovered a house that in his eyes had the aspect of a cheap tavern. He entered the bar-room, and asked the price of board.

‘I guess we're too high for you,’ said the bar-keeper, after bestowing one glance upon the inquirer.

‘Well, how much a week do you charge?’

‘Six dollars.’

‘Yes, that's more than I can afford,’ said Horace with a laugh at the enormous mistake he had made in inquiring at a house of such pretensions.

He turned up Wall-street, and sauntered into Broadway. Seeing no house of entertainment that seemed at all suited to his circumstances, he sought the water once more, and wandered along the wharves of the North River as far as Washington-market. Boarding-houses of the cheapest kind, and drinking-houses of the lowest grade, the former frequented chiefly by emigrants, the latter by sailors, were numerous enough in that neighborhood. A house, which combined the low groggery and the cheap boarding-house in one small establishment, kept by an Irishman named McGorlick, chanced to be the one that first attracted the rover's attention. It looked so mean and squalid, that he was tempted to enter, and again inquire for what sum a man could buy a week's shelter and sustenance.

‘Twenty shillings,’ was the landlord's reply.

‘A,’ said Horace, ‘that sounds more like it.’

He engaged to board with Mr. McGorlick on the instant, and [121] proceeded soon to test the quality of his fare by taking breakfast in the bosom of his family. The cheapness of the entertainment was its best recommendation.

After breakfast Horace performed an act which I believe he had never spontaneously performed before. He bought some clothes, with a view to render himself more presentable. They were of the commonest kind, and the garments were few, but the purchase absorbed nearly half his capital. Satisfied with his appearance, he now began the round of the printing-offices, going into every one he could find, and asking for employment—merely asking, and going away, without a word, as soon as he was refused. In the course of the morning, he found himself in the office of the Journal of Commerce, and he chanced to direct his inquiry, “if they wanted a hand,” to the late David Hale, one of the proprietors of the paper. Mr. Hale took a survey of the person who had presumed to address him, and replied in substance as follows:—

‘My opinion is, young man, that you're a runaway apprentice, and you'd better go home to your master.’

Horace endeavored to explain his position and circumstances, but the impetuous Hale could be brought to no more gracious response than, ‘Be off about your business, and don't bother us.’

Horace, more amused than indignant, retired, and pursued his way to the next office. All that day he walked the streets, climbed into upper stories, came down again, ascended other heights, descended, dived into basements, traversed passages, groped through labyrinths, ever asking the same question, “ Do you want a hand ” and ever receiving the same reply, in various degrees of civility, “No.” He walked ten times as many miles as he needed, for he was not aware that nearly all the printing-offices in New York are in the same square mile. He went the entire length of many streets which any body could have told him did not contain one.

He went home on Friday evening very tired and a little discouraged.

Early on Saturday morning he resumed the search, and continued it with energy till the evening. But no one wanted a hand. Business seemed to be at a stand-still, or every office had its full complement of men. On Saturday evening he was still more fatigued. He resolved to remain in the city a day or two longer, and then, if [122] still unsuccessful, to turn his face homeward, and inquire for work at the towns through which he passed. Though discouraged, he was not disheartened, and still less alarmed.

The youthful reader should observe here what a sense of independence and what fearlessness dwell in the spirit of a man who has learned the art of living on the mere necessaries of life. If Horace Greeley had, after another day or two of trial, chosen to leave the city, he would have carried with him about four dollars; and with that sum he could have walked leisurely and with an unanxious heart all the way back to his father's house, six hundred miles, inquiring for work at every town, and feeling himself to be a free and independent American citizen, travelling on his own honestly-earned means, undegraded by an obligation, the equal in social rank of the best man in the best house he passed. Blessed is the young man who can walk thirty miles a day, and dine contentedly on half a pound of crackers! Give him four dollars and summer weather, and he can travel and revel like a prince incog. for forty days.

On Sunday morning, our hero arose, refreshed and cheerful. He went to church twice, and spent a happy day. In the morning he induced a man who lived in the house to accompany him to a small Universalist church in Pitt street, near the Dry Dock, not less than three miles distant from McGorlick's boarding-house. In the evening he found his way to a Unitarian church. Except on one occasion, he had never before this Sunday heard a sermon which accorded with his own religious opinions; and the pleasure with which he heard the benignity of the Deity asserted and proved by able men, was one of the highest he had enjoyed.

In the afternoon, as if in reward of the pious way in which he spent the Sunday, he heard news which gave him a faint hope of being able to remain in the city. An Irishman, a friend of the landlord, came in the course of the afternoon to pay his usual Sunday visit, and became acquainted with Horace and his fruitless search for work. He was a shoemaker, I believe, but he lived in a house which was much frequented by journeymen printers. From them he had heard that hands were wanted at West's, No. 85 Chatham street, and he recommended his new acquaintance to make immediate application at that office.

Accustomed to country hours, and eager to seize the chance, [123] Horace was in Chatham street and on the steps of the designated house by half-past 5 on Monday morning. West's printing office was in the second story, the ground floor being occupied by Mc-Elrath and Bangs as a bookstore. They were publishers, and West was their printer. Neither store nor office was yet opened, and Horace sat down on the steps to wait.

Had Thomas McElrath, Esquire, happened to pass on an early walk to the Battery that morning, and seen our hero sitting on those steps, with his red bundle on his knees, his pale face supported on his hands, his attitude expressive of dejection and anxiety, his attire extremely unornamental, it would not have occurred to Thomas Mc-Elrath, Esquire, as a probable event, that one day he would be the partner of that sorry figure, and proud of the connection! Nor did Miss Reed, of Philadelphia, when she saw Benjamin Franklin pass her father's house, eating a large roll and carrying two others under his arms, see in that poor wanderer any likeness of her future husband, the husband that made her a proud and an immortal wife. The princes of the mind always remain incog. till they come to the throne, and, doubtless, the Coming Man, when he comes, will appear in a strange disguise, and no man will know him.

It seemed very long before any one came to work that morning at No. 85. The steps on which our friend was seated were in the narrow part of Chatham-street, the gorge through which at morning and evening the swarthy tide of mechanics pours. By six o'clock the stream has set strongly down-town-ward, and it gradually swells to a torrent, bright with tin kettles. Thousands passed by, but no one stopped till nearly seven o'clock, when one of Mr. West's journeymen arrived, and finding the door still locked, he sat down on the steps by the side of Horace Greeley. They fell into conversation, and Horace stated his circumstances, something of his history, and his need of employment. Luckily this journeyman was a Vermonter, and a kind-hearted intelligent man. He looked upon Horace as a countryman, and was struck with the singular candor and artlessness with which he told his tale. ‘I saw,’ says he, ‘that he was an honest, good young man, and being a Vermonter myself, I determined to help him if I could.’

He did help him. The doors were opened, the men began to arrive; Horace and his newly-found friend ascended to the office, [124] and soon after seven the work of the day began. It is hardly necessary to say that the appearance of Horace, as he sat in the office waiting for the coming of the foreman, excited unbounded astonishment, and brought upon his friend a variety of satirical observations. Nothing daunted, however, on the arrival of the foreman he stated the case, and endeavored to interest him enough in Horace to give him a trial. It happened that the work for which a man was wanted in the office was the composition of a Polyglot Testament; a kind of work which is extremely difficult and tedious. Several men had tried their hand at it, and, in a few days or a few hours, given it up. The foreman looked at Horace, and Horace looked at the foreman. Horace saw a handsome man (now known to the sporting public as Colonel Porter, editor of the Spirit of the Times.) The foreman beheld a youth who could have gone on the stage, that minute, as Ezekiel Homespun without the alteration of a thread or a hair, and brought down the house by his “getting up” alone. He no more believed that Ezekiel could set up a page of a Polyglot Testament than that he could construct a chronometer. However, partly to oblige Horace's friend, partly because he was unwilling to wound the feelings of the applicant by sending him abruptly away, he consented to let him try. ‘Fix up a case for him,’ said he, ‘and we'll see if he can do anything.’ In a few minutes Horace was at work.

The gentleman to whose intercession Horace Greeley owed his first employment in New-York is now known to all the dentists in the Union as the leading member of a firm which manufactures annually twelve hundred thousand artificial teeth. He has made a fortune, the reader will be glad to learn, and lives in a mansion up town.

After Horace had been at work an hour or two, Mr. West, the “boss,” came into the office. What his feelings were when he saw his new man, may be inferred from a little conversation upon the subject which took place between him and the foreman.

‘Did you hire that dam fool?’ asked West with no small irritation.

‘Yes; we must have hands, and he's the best I could get,’ said the foreman, justifying his conduct, though he was really ashamed of it. [125]

‘Well,’ said the master, ‘for God's sake pay him off to-night, and let him go about his business.’

Horace worked through the day with his usual intensity, and in perfect silence. At night he presented to the foreman, as the custom then was, the “proof” of his day's work What astonishment was depicted in the good-looking countenance of that gentleman when he discovered that the proof before him was greater in quantity, and more correct than that of any other day's work which had yet been done on the Polyglot I There was no thought of sending the new journeyman about his business now. He was an established man at once. Thenceforward, for several months, Horace worked regularly and hard on the Testament, earning about six dollars a week.

He had got into good company. There were about twenty men and boys in the office, altogether, of whom two have since been members of Congress, three influential editors, and several others have attained distinguished success in more private vocations. Most of them are still alive; they remember vividly the coming among them of Horace Greeley, and are fond of describing his ways and works. The following paragraph the reader is requested to regard as the condensed statement of their several recollections.

Horace worked with most remarkable devotion and intensity. His task was difficult, and he was paid by the “piece.” In order, therefore, to earn tolerable wages, it was necessary for him to work harder and longer than any of his companions, and he did so. Often he was at his case before six in the morning; often he had not left it at nine in the evening; always, he was the first to begin and the last to leave. In the summer, no man beside himself worked before breakfast, or after tea. While the young men and older apprentices were roaming the streets, seeking their pleasure, he, by the light of a candle stuck in a bottle, was eking out a slender day's wages by setting up an extra column of the Polyglot Testament.

For a day or two, the men of the office eyed him askance, and winked at one another severely. The boys were more demonstrative, and one of the most mischievous among them named him the Ghost, in allusion to his long white hair, and the singular fairness of his complexion. Soon, however, the men who worked near [126] him began to suspect that his mind was better furnished than his person. Horace always had a way of talking profusely while at work, and that, too, without working with less assiduity. Conversations soon arose about masonry, temperance, politics, religion; and the new journeyman rapidly argued his way to respectful consideration. His talk was ardent, animated, and positive. He was perfectly confident of his opinions, and maintained them with an assurance that in a youth of less understanding and less geniality would have been thought arrogance. His enthusiasm at this time, was Henry Clay; his great subject, masonry. In a short time, to Quote the language of one his fellow-workmen, “he was the lion of the shop.” Yet for all that, the men who admired him most would nave their joke, and during all the time that Horace remained in the office, it was the standing amusement to make nonsensical remarks in order to draw from him one of his shrewd half-comic, Scotch-Irish retorts. ‘And we always got it,’ says one.

The boys of the office were overcome by a process similar to that which frustrated the youth of Poultney. Four or five of them, who knew Horace's practice of returning to the office in the evening and working alone by candle-light, concluded that that would be an excellent time to play a few printing-office tricks upon him. They, accordingly, lay in ambush one evening, in the dark recesses of the shop, and awaited the appearance of the Ghost. He had no sooner lighted his candle and got at work, than a ball, made of “old roller,” whizzed past his ear and knocked over his candle. He set it straight again and went on with his work. Another ball, and another, and another, and finally a volley. One hit his “stick,” one scattered his type, another broke his bottle, and several struck his head. He bore it till the balls came so fast, that it was impossible for him to work, as all his time was wasted in repairing damages. At length, he turned round and said, without the slightest ill-humor, arid in a supplicating tone, ‘Now, boys, don't. I want to work. Please, now, let me alone.’ The boys came out of their places of concealment into the light of the candle, and troubled him no more.

Thus, it appears, that every man can best defend himself with the weapon that nature has provided him—whether it be fists or forgiveness. Little Jane Eyre was of opinion, that when anybody [127] has struck another, he should himself be struck; ‘very hard,’ says Jane, ‘so hard, that he will be afraid ever to strike anybody again.’ On the contrary, thought Horace Greeley, when any one has wantonly or unjustly struck another, he should be so severely forgiven, and made so thoroughly ashamed of himself, that he will ever after shrink from striking a wanton or an unjust blow. Sound maxims, both; the first, for Jane, the second, for Horace.

His good humor was, in truth, naturally imperturbable. He was soon the recognized obliging man of the office; the person relied upon always when help was needed—a most inconvenient kind of reputation. Among mechanics, money is generally abundant enough on Sundays and Mondays; and they spend it freely on those days. Tuesday and Wednesday, they are only in moderate circumstances. The last days of the week are days of pressure and borrowing, when men are in a better condition to be treated than to treat. Horace Greeley was the man who had money always; he was as rich apparently on Saturday afternoon as on Sunday morning, and as willing to lend. In an old memorandum-book belonging to one of his companions in those days, still may be deciphered such entries as these: “ Borrowed of Horace Greeley, 2s.” “Owe Horace Greeley, 9s. 6d.” “Owe Horace Greeley, 2s. 6d, for a breastpin.” He never refused to lend his money. To himself, he allowed scarcely anything in the way of luxury or amusement; unless, indeed, an occasional purchase of a small share in a lottery-ticket may be styled a luxury.

Lotteries were lawful in those days, and Chatham-street was where lottery-offices moat abounded. It was regarded as a perfectly respectable and legitimate business to keep a lottery-office, and a perfectly proper and moral action to buy a lottery-ticket. The business was conducted openly and fairly, and under official supervision; not as it now is, by secret and irresponsible agents in all parts of the city and country. Whether less money, or more, is lost by lotteries now than formerly, is a question which, it is surprising, no journalist has determined. Whether they cause less or greater demoralization is a question which it were well for moralists to consider.

Of the few incidents which occurred to relieve the monotony of [128] the printing-office in Chatham-street, the one which is most gleefully remembered is the following:—

Horace was, of course, subjected to a constant fire of jocular observations upon his dress, and frequently to practical jokes suggested by its deficiencies and redundancies. Men stared at him in the streets, and boys called after him. Still, however, he clung to his linen roundabout, his short trowsers, his cotton shirt, and his dilapidated hat. Still he wore no stockings, and made his wristbands meet with twine. For all jokes upon the subject he had deaf ears; and if any one seriously remonstrated, he would not defend himself by explaining, that all the money he could spare was needed in the wilderness, six hundred miles away, whither he punctually sent it. September passed and October. It began to be cold, but our hero had been toughened by the winters of Vermont, and still he walked about in linen. One evening in November, when business was urgent, and all the men worked till late in the evening, Horace, instead of returning immediately after tea, as his custom was, was absent from the office for two hours. Between eight and nine, when by chance all the men were gathered about the “composing stone,” upon which a strong light was thrown, a strange figure entered the office, a tall gentleman, dressed in a complete suit of faded broadcloth, and a shabby, over-brushed beaver hat, from beneath which depended long and snowy locks. The garments were fashionably cut; the coat was in the style of a swallow's tail; the figure was precisely that of an old gentleman who had seen better days. It advanced from the darker parts of the office, and emerged slowly into the glare around the composing stone. The men looked inquiringly. The figure spread out its hands, looked down at its habiliments with an air of infinite complacency, and said,—

‘Well, boys, and how do you like me now?’

‘Why, it's Greeley,’ screamed one of the men.

It was Greeley, metamorphosed into a decayed gentleman by a second-hand suit of black, bought of a Chatham-street Jew for five dollars.

A shout arose, such as had never before been heard at staid and regular 85 Chatham-street. Cheer upon cheer was given, and men [129] laughed till the tears came, the venerable gentleman being as happy as the happiest.

Greeley, you must treat upon that suit, and no mistake,’ said one.

‘Oh, of course,’ said everybody else.

‘Come along, boys; I'll treat,’ was Horace's ready response.

All the company repaired to the old grocery on the corner of Duane-street, and there each individual partook of the beverage that pleased him, the treater indulging in a glass of spruce beer. Posterity may as well know, and take warning from the fact, that this five-dollar suit was a failure. It had been worn thin, and had been washed in blackened water and ironed smooth. A week's wear brought out all its pristine shabbiness, and developed new.

Our hero was not, perhaps, quite so indifferent to his personal appearance as he seemed. One day, when Colonel Porter happened to remark that his hair had once been as white as Horace Greeley's, Horace said with great earnestness, ‘Was it?’—as though he drew from that fact a hope that his own hair might darken as he grew older. And on another occasion, when he had just returned from a visit to New-Hampshire, he said, ‘Well, I have been up in the country among my cousins; they are all good-looking young men enough; I don't see why I should be such a curious-looking fellow.’

One or two other incidents which occurred at West's are perhaps worth telling; for one well-authenticated fact, though apparently of trifling importance, throws more light upon character than pages of general reminiscence.

It was against the rules of the office for a compositor to enter the press-room, which adjoined the composing-room. Our hero, however, went on one occasion to the forbidden apartment to speak to a friend who worked there upon a hand-press that was exceedingly hard to pull.

Greeley,’ said one of the men, ‘you're a pretty stout fellow, but you can 't pull back that lever.’

‘Can 't I’ said Horace; ‘I can.’

‘Try it, then,’ said the mischief-maker.

The press was arranged in such a manner that the lever offered no resistance whatever, and, consequently, when seized it, [130] and collected all his strength for a tremendous effort, he fell backwards on the floor with great violence, and brought away a large part of the press with him. There was a thundering noise, and all the house came running to see what was the matter. Horace got up, pale and trembling from the concussion.

‘Now, that was too bad,’ said he.

He stood his ground, however, while the man who had played the trick gave the ‘boss’ a fictitious explanation of the mishap, without mentioning the name of the apparent offender. When all was quiet again, Horace went privately to the pressman and offered to pay his share of the damage done to the press!

With Mr. West, Horace had little intercourse, and yet they did on several occasions come into collision. Mr. West, like all other bosses and men, had a weakness; it was commas. He loved commas, he was a stickler for commas, he was irritable on the subject of commas, he thought more of commas than any other point of prosody, and above all, he was of opinion that he knew more about commas than Horace Greeley. Horace had, on his part, no objection to commas, but he loved them in moderation, and was determined to keep them in their place. Debates ensued. The journeyman expounded the subject, and at length, after much argument, convinced his employer that a redundancy of commas was possible, and, in short, that he, the journeyman, knew how to preserve the balance of power between the various points, without the assistance or advice of any boss or man in Chatham, or any other street. There was, likewise, a certain professor whose book was printed in the office, and who often came to read the proofs. It chanced that Horace set up a few pages of this book, and took the liberty of altering a few phrases that seemed to him inelegant or incorrect. The professor was indignant, and though he was not so ignorant as not to perceive that his language had been altered for the better, he thought it due to his dignity to apply approbrious epithets to the impertinent compositor. The compositor argued the matter, but did not appease the great man.

Soon after obtaining work, our friend found a better boardinghouse, at least a more convenient one. On the corner of Duanestreet and Chatham there was, at that time, a large building, occupied below as a grocery and bar-room, the upper stories as a mechanics' [131] boarding-house. It accommodated about fifty boarders, most of whom were shoe-makers, who worked in their own rooms, or in shops at the top of the house, and paid, for room and board, two dollars and a half per week. This was the house to which Horace Greeley removed, a few days after his arrival in the city, and there he lived for more than two years. The reader of the Tribune may, perhaps, remember, that its editor has frequently displayed a particular acquaintance with the business of shoe-making, and drawn many illustrations of the desirableness and feasibility of association from the excessive labor and low wages of shoemakers. It was at this house that he learned the mysteries of the craft. He was accustomed to go up into the shops, and sit among the men while waiting for dinner. It was here, too, that he obtained that general acquaintance with the life and habits of city mechanics, which has enabled him since to address them so wisely and so convincingly. He is remembered by those who lived with him there, only as a very quiet, thoughtful, studious young man, one who gave no trouble, never went out “to spend the evening,” and read nearly every minute when he was not working or eating. The late Mr. Wilson, of the Brother Jonathan, who was his roommate for some months, used to say, that often he went to bed leaving his companion absorbed in a book, and when he awoke in the morning, saw him exactly in the same position and attitude, as though he had not moved all night. He had not read all night, however, but had risen to his book with the dawn. Soon after sunrise, he went over the way to his work.

Another of Mr. Wilson's reminiscences is interesting. The reader is aware, perhaps, from experience, that people who pay only two dollars and a half per week for board and lodging are not provided with all the luxuries of the season; and that, not unfrequently, a desire for something delicious steals over the souls of boarders, particularly on Sundays, between 12, M. and 1., P. M. The eatinghouse revolution had then just begun, and the institution of Dining Down Town was set up; in fact, a bold man established a Sixpenny Dining Saloon in Beekman-street, which was the talk of the shops in the winter of 1831. On Sundays Horace and his friends, after their return from Mr. Sawyer's (Universalist) church in Orchardstreet, were accustomed to repair to this establishment, and indulge [132] in a splendid repast at a cost of, at least, one shilling each, rising on some occasions to eighteen pence. Their talk at dinner was of the soul-banquet, the sermon, of which they had partaken in the morning, and it was a custom among them to ascertain who could repeat the substance of it most correctly. Horace attended that church regularly, in those days, and listened to the sermon with his head bent forward, his eyes upon the floor, his arms folded, and one leg swinging, quite in his old class attitude at the Westhaven school.

This, then, is the substance of what his companions remember of Horace Greeley's first few months in the metropolis. In a way so homely and so humble, New York's most distinguished citizen, the Country's most influential man, began his career.

In his subsequent writings there are not many allusions of an autobiographical nature to this period. The following is, indeed, the only paragraph of the kind that seems worth quoting. It is valuable as throwing light upon the habit of his mind at this time:—

Fourteen years ago, when the editor of the Tribune came to this city, there was published here a small daily paper entitled the ‘ Sentinel,’ devoted to the cause of what was called by its own supporters ‘the Working Men's Party,’ and by its opponents ‘the Fanny Wright Working Men.’ Of that party we have little personal knowledge, but at the head of the paper, among several good and many objectionable avowals of principle, was borne the following;

Single Districts for the choice of each Senator and Member of Assembly.

We gave this proposition some attention at the time, and came to the conclusion that it was alike sound and important. It mattered little to us that it was accompanied and surrounded by others that we could not assent to, and was propounded by a party with which we had no acquaintance and little sympathy. We are accustomed to welcome truth, from whatever quarter it may approach us, and on whatever flag it may be inscribed. Subsequent experience has fully confirmed our original impression, and now we have little doubt that this principle, which was utterly slighted when presented under unpopular auspices, will be engrafted on our reformed Constitution without serious opposition.

Tribune, Dec., 1845.

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