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Title: Historic Boyhoods
Author: Holland, Rupert Sargent, 1878-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "The Count at Harvard," "Builders of United Italy," etc.


Philadelphia George W. Jacobs & Company Publishers

Copyright, 1909, by George W. Jacobs and Company
Published October, 1909
All rights reserved
Printed in U.S.A.

_To the dear memory of L.B.R._

The thanks of the author are due the Century Company for permission to
reprint certain of these stories which appeared in _Saint Nicholas_ in
shorter form.


          The Boy of Genoa

          The Boy of the Medici Gardens

          The Boy of Devon

          The Boy of the Kremlin

          The Boy of Potsdam

          The Boy of the Old Dominion

          The Boy of the Frontier

          The Boy of the Atlantic

          The Boy of Salzburg

          The Boy of Versailles

          The Boy of the Channel Fleet

          The Boy of the Conestoga

          The Boy of the Carolinas

          The Boy of Brienne

          The Boy of the Canongate

          The Boy of Otsego Hall

          The Boy of the Göta Canal

          The Boy of the Mediterranean

          The Boy of the American Wilderness

          The Boy of the London Streets

          The Boy of Göttingen


The Fleet of Columbus Nearing America

Walter Raleigh and the Fisherman of Devon

Peter the Great

Mrs. Washington Urges George Not to Enter the Navy

Daniel Boone's First View of Kentucky

Paul Jones Capturing the "Serapis"

Mozart and His Sister Before Maria Theresa

Lafayette Tells of His Wish to Aid America

Nelson Boarding the "San Josef"

Robert Fulton's First Experiment with Paddle Wheels

Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans

The Snow Fort at Brienne

Napoleon as a Cadet in Paris

Street in Edinburgh Where Scott Played as a Boy

Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln

Charles Dickens at Eighteen


Christopher Columbus The Boy of Genoa: 1446(?)-1506

A privateer was leaving Genoa on a certain June morning in 1461, and
crowds of people had gathered on the quays to see the ship sail.
Dark-hued men from the distant shores of Africa, clad in brilliant red
and yellow and blue blouses or tunics and hose, with dozens of
glittering gilded chains about their necks, and rings in their ears,
jostled sun-browned sailors and merchants from the east, and the
fairer-skinned men and women of the north.

Genoa was a great seaport in those days, one of the greatest ports of
the known world, and her fleets sailed forth to trade with Spain and
Portugal, France and England, and even with the countries to the north
of Europe. The sea had made Genoa rich, had given fortunes to the nobles
who lived in the great white marble palaces that shone in the sun, had
placed her on an equal footing with that other great Italian sea city,
Venice, with whom she was continually at war.

But all the ships that left her harbor were not trading vessels. Genoa
the Superb had many enemies always on the alert to swoop down upon her
trade. So she had to maintain a great war-fleet. In addition to this
danger, the Mediterranean was then the home of roving pirates, ready to
seize any vessel, without regard to its flag, which promised to yield
them booty.

The life of a Genoese boy in those days was packed full of adventures.
Most of the boys went to sea as soon as they were old enough to hold an
oar or to pull a rope, and they had to be ready at any moment to drop
the oar or rope and seize a sword or a pike to repel pirates or other
enemies. There was always the chance of a sudden chase or a secret
attack on a Christian boat by savage Mussulmen, and so bitter was the
endless war of the two religions that in such cases the victors rarely
spared the lives of the vanquished, or, if they did, sold them in port
as slaves. Moreover the ships were frail, and the Mediterranean storms
severe, and many barks that contrived to escape the pirates fell victims
to the fury of head winds. The life of a Genoese sailor was about as
dangerous a life as could well be imagined.

On this June morning a large privateer was to set sail from the port,
and the families of the men and boys who were outward bound had come
down to say good-bye. The centre of one little group was a boy about
fifteen, strong and broad for his years, though not very tall, with warm
olive skin, bright black eyes, and fair hair that fell to his ears. His
name was Christopher Colombo, and he was going to sail with a relative
called Colombo the Younger who commanded a ship in the service of Genoa.

The young Christopher had always loved to be upon the sea. Among the
first sights that he remembered were glimpses of the Mediterranean in
fair and stormy weather, the first tales he had heard were stories of
strange adventures that had befallen sailors. His home had sprung from
the waves, its glory had been drawn from the inland sea, the great chain
of high mountains at its back cut it off from the land and the pursuits
of other cities. Christopher thought of the sea by day, and dreamed of
it by night, and was already planning when he grew up to go in search of
some of those strange adventures the old bronzed mariners were so fond
of describing.

The boy's mother and father kissed him good-bye, and his younger
brothers and sister looked at him enviously as he left them with a wave
of his hand and went on board the ship. The latter was very clumsy,
according to our ideas. She rode high in the water, with a great deck at
the stern set like a small house up in the air, and with a great bow
that bore the figurehead of the patron saint of the sea, Saint
Christopher. Her sails were hung flat against the masts and were painted
in broad stripes of red and yellow. She was very magnificent to look
upon, but not very seaworthy.

The marble of Genoa's palaces dropped astern. The ship was sailing
south, and under favoring breezes soon lost sight of land. Constant
watch was kept for other vessels; any that might appear was more apt to
be an enemy than a friend, because Genoa was at war then with many
rivals, chief among them Naples and Aragon. Ships had been sailing
constantly of late from Genoa to prey upon the commerce of Naples, in
revenge for what the Neapolitans had once done to Genoa.

Colombo the captain was fond of his young kinsman Christopher, and at
the start of the voyage had him in his cabin and told him some of his
plans. The captain said he had orders to sail to Tunis to capture the
Spanish galley _Fernandina_. The galley was richly laden, and each
sailor would have a large share of booty. The boy listened with
sparkling eyes; this would be his first chance to have a hand in a fight
at sea.

The winds of June were favoring, and Colombo's ship soon reached the
island of San Pietro off Sardinia. Here the captain went ashore to try
and learn news of the _Fernandina_. He found friendly merchants who had
word from all the Mediterranean ports, and they told him that the galley
was not alone, but accompanied by two other Spanish ships. Colombo was a
born fighter, and this news did not frighten him. The more ships he
might capture the greater would be his own share of glory and of prize

When the captain told his news to the sailors on his return from shore,
there was great consternation. The men had no liking to attack two
fighting ships besides the galley. At first they simply murmured among
themselves, but the longer they discussed the desperate nature of the
plan the more alarmed they grew. By the time that the ship was ready to
sail southward from Sardinia they had determined to go no farther, and
sent three of their leaders to speak to Colombo.

The captain was with Christopher studying a map of the Mediterranean
when the men came before him. They told him that they positively
refused to sail south and insisted that he put in at Marseilles for more
ships and men. Colombo saw that he could not force them to sail farther,
so, with what grace he could, he gave his consent to alter the course.

The men left the cabin, and after a few minutes' thought the captain
spoke to the boy. "Christopher," said he, "bring me the great compass
from its box near the helmsman's stand. Bring it secretly. The men
should all be on the lower deck making ready to sail. Let no one see
thee with it."

The boy left the cabin and climbed the ladder to the great poop-deck at
the stern where the helmsman had a view far over the sea. He waited
until no one was about, and then quickly took the compass from its box,
and hiding it under the loose folds of his cloak, brought it to the
captain. He placed it on the table. Then he fastened the door so that
none might enter.

Colombo opened the compass-case, and drew a pot of paint and a brush
toward him. The boy watched breathlessly while the captain painted over
the marks of the compass with thick white paint, and then on top of that
drew in new lines and figures in black. He was changing the compass

When the work was done Christopher bore the case back to its box as
secretly as he had taken it. Then Colombo went out to the sailors and
gave them orders to spread sail. It was rapidly growing dark as they
left the coast of Sardinia.

At sunrise, when Christopher came on deck to stand his watch, he knew
that their ship must be off the city of Carthagena, although all the
crew supposed they well on their way to Marseilles. Not long after, as
they were drawing nearer to the shore, the lookout signaled a vessel.
She was soon seen to be flying the flag of Naples. Fortunately this ship
was alone at the time, and the sailors were not afraid to attack her.

Orders were quickly given to sail as close to her as possible, and
preparations were made to board her. The other ship seemed no less eager
to engage in battle, and in a very short time grappling-irons were
thrown out and the ships were fastened close together. Then a fierce
combat followed between the two crews as each in turn tried to scale the
sides of the other vessel.

A sea-fight in the fifteenth century was fought hand to hand, each ship
being like a fort from which small attacking parties rushed out to climb
the other's battlements. When men met on the decks they used sword and
pike and dagger just as they would have on shore. Fire was thrown from
one ship into the rigging and sails of the other, and flames soon caught
and greedily devoured the woodwork of the boats. It was wild work; the
blazing sails, the broken cheers of the men, the fierce struggle over
the two decks.

Christopher fought bravely whenever chance offered, but the captain kept
him close to his hand to carry messages. It soon appeared that the enemy
were the stronger, and they bore the Genoese back and back farther from
their bulwarks and across their decks. As the enemy gained a foothold
they held torches to everything that would burn, and soon Colombo's ship
was wrapped in fire and the only choice seemed to be between surrender
and jumping into the sea.

A burning rope fell from a mast and set fire to Christopher's cloak. He
tore the cloak from him. He saw that the Neapolitans must win and he had
no desire to be carried off to Naples as a prisoner. The flames were
gaining fast as he leaped to the rail on the free side of the ship, and
dove overboard. He came up free from the wreckage and found a long
sweep-oar floating near him. With that support he struck out for the
shore of Africa, only a short distance away. His first sea-fight had
nearly proved his last.

Self-reliance was the corner-stone of this young mariner's character. He
could take care of himself on whatever shore he was thrown. He landed on
the beach of Carthagena and told the story of his adventures to the
group of sailors who crowded about him on the sands. There is a strong
sense of comradeship among seamen, and so, although none of the men who
heard the boy's tale were from Genoa, they fitted him out with dry
clothes and found enough money to keep him in food and shelter.

There he stayed for some time, waiting until some Genoese bark should
put into port. Meanwhile he was very much interested in the stories the
seafarers of all lands told to people who would listen to them. Again
and again he heard mariners wondering whether there might not be a
shorter passage to the rich Indies of the East than the long overland
route through China. The question interested him, and he took to
studying it with care.

One day an old sailor on the beach told him of his voyages in the
western ocean, and how once his ship had come so close to the edge of
the world that but for the miracle of a sudden change in the wind they
must certainly have been carried over the side. The same bearded seaman
told Christopher many other curious things; how he had himself seen
beautiful pieces of carved wood, cut in some strange fashion, floating
on the western sea, and had picked up one day a small boat which seemed
to be made of the bark of a tree, but of a pattern none had ever seen

Then, and here his voice would sink and his eyes grow large with wonder,
he told Christopher how men who were explorers were certain that
somewhere in that unsailed western sea, just before one came to the
edge, was an island rich in gold and gems and rare, delicious fruits,
where men need never work if they chose to stay there, or if they came
home might bring such treasures with them as would put to shame the
richest princes of all Europe. It was said that there one caught fish
already cooked, and that there people of great beauty lived, with dark
red skins and wearing feathers in their hair.

"And is no one certain of this?" asked Christopher, his eyes wide with
excitement. "Not even the men who have found the African coast and the
isle of Flores?"

The old sailor shook his head. "Nay, nay, boy. The wonderful island lies
so close to the world's edge that 'tis a perilous thing to try to find

"Still," said Christopher, "'twould be well worth the finding, and some
time when I'm a man and can win a ship of my own I'm going to make the

But the sailor shook his head. "Better leave the unknown sea to itself,
lad," said he. "A whole skin is worth more to a man than all the gold of
King Solomon's mines."

"Is it true," asked the boy after a time, "that there are terrible
monsters in the Dark Sea?" That was the name given in those days to the
ocean that stretched indefinitely to the west. "I've seen pictures of
strange creatures on ships' maps, but never saw the like of any of

"No, nor would you be likely to, lad," said the sailor, "for such as see
those monsters don't come back. But true they are. A great captain told
me once that part of the Dark Sea was black as pitch, and that great
birds flew over it looking for ships. You've heard of the giant Roc that
flies through the air there, so strong that it can pick up the biggest
ship that ever sailed in its beak, and carry it to the clouds? There it
crushes ship and men in its talons, and drops men's limbs, armor,
timber, all that's left, down to the Dark Sea monsters who wait to
devour the wreckage in their huge jaws. Ugh, 'tis an ugly thought, and
enough to keep any man safe this side the world."

"In some places fair, in some dark," mused Christopher. "It would be
worth sailing out there to find which was the truth."

"Where would be the good of finding that if you never came back, boy?"

Christopher shrugged his shoulders. "Just for the fun of finding out,
perhaps," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

A month later Christopher saw a galley flying the flag of Genoa enter
the harbor. When the captain came on shore the boy went to him, and
telling him who he was, asked for a chance to go as sailor back to
Genoa. The captain knew the boy's father, Domenico Colombo, and gave
Christopher a place on the galley. She was sailing north, homeward
bound, and a few days later, having safely avoided all hostile ships and
storms, the galley came into sight of the beautiful white city in its
nest against the hills.

It was a happy day when the young sailor landed and surprised his father
and mother by walking in upon them. News of Colombo's defeat by the ship
of Naples had come to Genoa, and Christopher's family had given him up
as lost.

But narrow as his escape on that voyage had been, such chances were part
of the sailor's life in that age, and Christopher was quite ready to
take his share of privation and danger with his mates. It was only by
weathering such storms that he could ever hope to be put in charge of
rich merchantmen or to command his own vessel in his city's defense. So
he sailed again soon after, and in a year or two had come to know the
Mediterranean Sea as well as the back of his hand.

Captains found he was good at making maps, and paid him to draw them,
and when he was on shore he spent all his time studying charts and
plans, and soon became so expert that he could support himself by
preparing new charts. Yet, in spite of all his study, he found that the
maps covered only a small part of the sea, and gave him no knowledge of
the waters to the west. There he now began to believe the
long-looked-for sea passage to the East Indies must lie.

Christopher grew to manhood, and then a chance shipwreck threw him in
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The Portuguese were the great sailors
of the age, and the young man met many famous captains who were planning
trips to the western coast of Africa and about the Cape of Good Hope.

Some of the captains took an interest in the sailor who made such
splendid maps and was so eager to go on dangerous exploring trips, and
they brought him to the notice of the King of Portugal. One of them,
Toscanelli, wrote of the young Christopher's "great and noble desire to
pass to where the spices grow," and listened with interest to his plans
to reach those rich spice lands by sailing west.

The ideas of Columbus seemed too visionary to most princes, and it was
years before he was able to persuade the Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand
and Isabella, to grant him three small ships and enough men to start
upon his voyage. But on August 3, 1492, he finally set sail from Palos,
in Spain.

All the world knows the history of that great voyage, of the tremendous
difficulties that beset Columbus, how his men grew fearful and would
have turned back, how he had to change the ship's reckoning as he had
seen his cousin change the compass, how he had sometimes to plead with
his men and sometimes to threaten them.

In time he found boughs with fresh leaves and berries floating on the
sea, and caught the odor of spices from the west. Then he knew he was
nearing that magic land of riches sailors dreamt of, and thought he had
found the shortest passage to the East Indies and Cathay. That would
have been a wonderful discovery, but the one he was actually making was
infinitely greater. Instead of a new sea passage he was reaching a new
continent, and adding a hemisphere to the known world.

Such was the result of the dreams and ambitions of the boy born and bred
in the old seaport of Genoa.


Michael Angelo

The Boy of the Medici Gardens: 1475-1564

The Italian city of Florence was entering on the Golden Age of its
history toward the end of the fifteenth century. Lorenzo, called the
Magnificent, was head of the house of Medici, and first citizen of the
proud Republic. He was himself an artist, a poet, and a philosopher; he
loved the beautiful things of life, and had gathered about him a little
court of men of genius.

Florence at that time was also a great business city, and among the
prominent merchant families was that of the Buonarotti. Ludovico
Buonarotti had several sons, and he had named his second child Michael
Angelo, and had planned that he should follow him in trade. Fortunately
for the world, however, the boy had a will of his own.

Even while he was still in charge of a nurse, and was just beginning to
learn to use his hands, he would draw simple pictures and paint them
whenever he had the chance. His father had little use for a painter, and
sent the boy to the grammar school of Francesco d'Urbino, in Florence,
thinking to make a scholar of him. There were, however, many studios in
the neighborhood of the school, and many artists at work in them, and
the boy would neglect his studies to haunt the places where he might
see how grown men drew and painted.

Watching the artists, young Michael Angelo soon formed a lasting
friendship with a boy of great talent a few years older than himself, by
name Francesco Granacci. This boy was a pupil of Domenico Ghirlandajo, a
very great painter. The more Michael Angelo saw Granacci and his work in
the studio the more he longed for a chance to study painting. He could
think of nothing else; he begged his father and uncles to let him be an
artist instead of a merchant or a scholar. But the father and uncles,
coming from a long line of successful merchants, treated the boy's
requests with scorn.

Michael Angelo was determined to be an artist, however, and finally,
though with the greatest reluctance, his father signed a contract with
Ghirlandajo by which the boy was to study drawing and painting in his
studio and do whatever other work the master might desire. The master
was to pay the boy six gold florins for the first year's work, eight for
the second, and ten for the third.

The young Buonarotti found plenty of work to be done in his master's
studio. Besides the regular day's work he was constantly painting
sketches of his own, and trying his hand at a dozen different things.
His eye and hand were most surprisingly true. Time and again the master
or some of the older students, coming across the boy at work, would be
held spellbound by his skill.

One day when the men had left work the boy drew a picture of the
scaffolding on which they had been standing and sketched in portraits of
the men so perfectly that when his master found the drawing he cried to
a friend in amazement, "The boy understands this better than I do

There was little in the world about him that this boy failed to see. He
soon painted his first real picture, choosing a subject that was popular
in those days, the temptation of St. Antony. All kinds of queer animals
figured in the picture, and that he might get the colors of their
shining backs and scales just right he spent days in the market eagerly
studying the fish there for sale. Again the master was amazed at his
pupil's work, and now for the first time began to feel a certain envy of

This feeling rapidly increased. The scholars were often given some of
Ghirlandajo's own studies to copy, and one day Michael Angelo brought
the artist one of the studies which he had himself corrected by adding a
few thick lines. Beyond all doubt the picture was improved. It was hard,
however, for the master to be corrected by his own apprentice, and soon
after that the boy's stay in the studio came to an end. Fortunately his
friend Granacci had already interested the great patron, Lorenzo de'
Medici, in the young Buonarotti and he was now invited to join the band
of youths of talent who made the Medici's palace their home.

In Lorenzo's palace young Michael Angelo was very happy. He was fond of
the Medici's sons, boys nearly his own age; like almost all the rest of
Florence he worshiped the citizen-prince whose one desire seemed to be
that Florence should be beautiful; and he was happiest of all in the
chance to study his own beloved art.

In May of each year Lorenzo gave a pageant, and the spring in which
Michael Angelo came to the palace Lorenzo placed the carnival in charge
of the boy's friend, Francesco Granacci. Day by day the boys planned for
the great procession. At noon they were free from their teachers, and
then they would scatter to the gardens.

One such May noon, when the sun was hot, a group of them ran out from
the palace, and threw themselves on the grass in the shade of a row of
poplars. They were all absorbed in the one subject; their tongues could
scarcely keep pace with their nimble fancies.

"What shalt thou go as, Paolo?" said one. "I heard Messer Lorenzo say
that thou shouldst be something marvelously fine; but what can be so
fine as Romulus in a Roman triumph?"

"I am to be the thrice-gifted Apollo, dressed as your Athenians saw him,
with harp and bow, and the crown of laurel on my head. That will be a
sight for thee, Ludovico mio, and for the pretty eyes of thy Bianca
also." Paolo laughed as one who well knew the value of his yellow locks
and blue eyes in a land of brown and black. "What art thou to be in
Messer Lorenzo's coming pageant, Michael?"

The young Michael, a slim, black-haired youth, was lying on his back,
his head resting in his hands, his eyes watching the circling flight of
some pigeons.

"I?" he said dreamily. "Oh, I have given little thought to that, I shall
be whatever Francesco wishes; he knows what is needed better than any
one else."

As he spoke a tall youth came into the garden and sat down in the middle
of the group. He had curious, smiling eyes, and hands that were fine and
pointed like a woman's. He answered all questions easily, telling each
what part he was to play in the triumphal procession of Paulus Æmilius
that was to dazzle the good people of Florence on the morrow. He had
become chief favorite in the little court of young people that the
Medici loved to have about him, and his remarkable talent for detail had
made him the leader in all entertainments.

The boy Michael listened for a time to the flowing words of young
Granacci, then rose and wandered to where some stone-masons had lately
been at work. He stopped in front of a block of marble that was
gradually taking the form of the mask of a faun.

Near the block stood an antique mask, a garden ornament, and this the
boy studied for a few moments before he picked up one of the mason's
deserted tools and began to cut the stone himself.

The gay chatter under the poplars went on, but the boy with the chisel,
lost in thought, his heavy brows bent into a bow, chipped and cut,
forgetful of everything else. A half hour passed, and a long shadow fell
across the marble. Michael looked up to see his patron, Lorenzo,
standing beside him. The boy glanced from the fine, keen face of the
Medici to the marble mask of the old faun in front of him.

"Well, sirrah," said Lorenzo, half seriously, half in jest, "what wilt
thou be up to next?"

"Jacopó, one of the builders, gave me a stone," answered the boy, "and
told me I might do what I would with it. Yonder is my copy, the old
figure there."

"But," said Lorenzo, critically, "your faun is old, and yet you have
given him all his teeth; you should have known in a face as aged as that
some of the teeth are wanting."

"True," said the young sculptor, and taking his chisel, with a few
strokes he made such a gap in the mouth as no master could have

The Medici watched, and when the change was made, broke into laughter.
"Right, boy!" he cried. "'Tis perfect; Praxiteles himself could not have
bettered that!" Then, with a quizzical smile, he looked the youth over.
"I knew thou wert a painter; and now a sculptor; what will thy clever
hand be doing next?"

"Bearing arms in your worship's cause, an' the saints be good!"
exclaimed the boy, his deep eyes, full of admiration, on his patron's

"Ah," said Lorenzo, "so? Well, perhaps the day will come. Florence is
like a rose-bed, but I cannot cure the city as I would of thorns." He
fell into thought, then roused again. "But thou, young Michael Angelo,
dost know what a time I had to make thy father let thee be a painter,
and now thou addest to thy sins and cuttest in marble. Where will be the
end of thy infamy?"

The boy caught the gleam in his friend's eyes, and his serious face
broke into smiles.

"In Rome, Signor Lorenzo, in the Holy Father's house. There I shall go
some day."

"And why to Rome?"

"Every one goes to Rome; thy marvelous pageants are Roman; art lives

"Yes," mused Lorenzo, "Rome on its hills is still the Eternal City. And
yet in those far days to come I doubt if thou wilt be as happy as in
Lorenzo's gardens. How sayest thou, boy?"

"I know not," was the answer. "Only I know that I shall go."

The laughter of the other boys came to their ears, and Lorenzo turned.
"Thy faun is done; to-morrow will I speak with Poliziano of our new
sculptor. What is Granacci saying over there? Come with me and listen."
So, the prince's arm resting affectionately on the boy's shoulder, they
crossed the garden to the noisy group.

Life was gay then in Florence. Lorenzo de' Medici was ruling the
turbulent city by keeping it occupied with merrymaking, by beautifying
its squares with priceless treasures, by helping its poor but ambitious
children to win their heart's desires, by mingling with the citizens at
all times, and writing them ballads to sing, and giving them masques to
act. His house was open to the great men of Italy; on his entertainments
he lavished his wealth, set no bounds to the means he gave Granacci and
the others to make the pageants gorgeous, and superintended everything
with his own wonderfully keen eye for beauty.

The triumphal procession of Paulus Æmilius on the morrow after the
little scene in the gardens was an all-day revel. The good folk of
Florence left their shops and homes and lined the streets, and for hours
floats drawn by prancing horses and picturing great scenes in Roman
history passed before the delighted people's eyes. Among the warriors,
the heroes, the nymphs and fauns, they recognized their neighbors'
children or their own sons and daughters; they were all parcel of it; it
was their own triumph as well as Rome's. Girls sang and danced and
smiled, boys posed and cheered and played heroic parts, the whole youth
of the city spent the day in fairy-land.

Chief among the boys was the little group of artists who were studying
in Lorenzo's mansion, and chief among these Granacci, who was Master of
the Revels, Paolo Tornabuoni, who made a wonderful Apollo, seated on a
golden globe playing upon a lyre, and the dark-browed Michael Angelo,
clad in a tunic, one of the noble youth of early Rome. His father,
Ludovico Buonarotti, and his mother, Francesca, were in the crowd that
watched him pass.

"Yonder he goes," cried the proud mother; "dost see thy son, Ludovico?"
But her husband scowled; he had little use for a son of his who had
rather be painter than merchant.

A year of happiness passed for the boys in the Medici gardens, and then
the skies of Florence darkened. A monk from San Marco named Savonarola
raised his voice to shame the gay people of their extravagance, and his
bitter tongue sought out Lorenzo the Magnificent as chief offender. The
boy Michael Angelo went to hear Savonarola preach, and came away heavy
of mind and heart. He heard the beautiful things of the world assailed
as sinful, and his beloved master called a servant of the Evil One. A
winter of reproach came upon the city, and when it ended, and Lent was
over, darkness fell, for Lorenzo lay dead at his summer home of Careggi,
in 1492--the year when Columbus discovered America.

For a long time Michael Angelo, stunned by his patron's loss, could do
no work, and when at last he found the heart to take up his brush and
palette it was no longer in the great house of the Medici, but in a
little room he had arranged for himself as a studio under his father's

He was not long left to work there in peace; the three sons of Lorenzo,
boys of nearly his own age, who had been playmates with him in the
gardens, and had studied with him under the same masters, needed his
help. The great Medici had said, long before, that of his three sons one
was good, one clever, and the third a fool. Giulio, now thirteen years
old, was the good one; Giovanni, seventeen years old, already a Prince
Cardinal of the Church, was the clever one, and Piero, the oldest, now
head of the family in Florence, was the fool.

The storm raised by Savonarola was ready to break about Piero de'
Medici's head, and such friends as were still faithful to him he
gathered about him at his house. Michael Angelo, his old playmate, was
among the number, and so he again moved to the palace. For a brief time
they sought to win back the favor of the people by a return to the
old-time magnificence.

With no wise head to guide, the youths were soon in sore straits. Their
love of art, their study of the poets, their attempt to revive the
history of Greece and Rome were all scorned and mocked at as so much
wanton dissipation. The boys drew closer together; the fate of their
house hung trembling in the balance.

Then one morning a young lute-player named Cardiere came to Michael
Angelo and, drawing him aside from the others, told him that in a dream
the night before, Lorenzo had appeared to him, robed in torn black
garments, and in deep, melancholy tones had ordered him to tell Piero,
his son, that he would soon be driven out from Florence, never to
return. Michael Angelo told the musician to tell Piero, but the latter
was too frightened to obey.

A few days later he came again to Michael Angelo, this time pale and
shaking with fear, and said that Lorenzo had appeared to him a second
time, had repeated what he had said to him before, and had threatened
him with dire punishment if he dared again to disobey his strict

Alarmed at the news Michael Angelo spoke his mind to Cardiere and bade
him set off at once to see Piero, who was at Careggi, and give him his
father's warning. Cardiere, half-way to Careggi, met Piero and some
friends riding in toward Florence. The minstrel stopped their way and
besought Piero to hear his story. The young Medici bade him speak, but
when he had heard the warning he laughed, and his friends laughed with

Bibbiena, one of Piero's closest friends, and later to be the subject
of one of Raphael's masterpieces, cried aloud in scorn to Cardiere:
"Fool! Dost think that Lorenzo gives thee such honor before his own son
that he would thus appear to thee rather than to Piero?" With laughter
at Cardiere's crestfallen face the gay troop rode on, and the poor
messenger of evil tidings returned slowly with his news to Michael

By now the boy sculptor was thoroughly alarmed. Like almost every one
else of that age he believed in portents and visions; he therefore took
Cardiere's story to heart, and in addition he could see for himself that
the foolish, headstrong Piero was taking no steps to turn the growing
discontent. He hated to leave his friends, but knew that they would pay
no heed to his warnings. So, after much hesitation, he decided, with two
comrades of about his own age, to go to Venice and seek work in that
quieter city.

Ordinarily it would have taken the three boys about a week to ride from
Florence to Venice, but at that time French troops were scattered
through the country, and they had to follow a roundabout course to reach
the city by the sea. They had very little money, and had gone only a
short distance when this small amount was exhausted. By that time they
had reached the city of Bologna, and there they turned aside.

Like most of the Italian cities Bologna tried to keep itself
independent, and to this end the ruling family had made a strange law
with regard to foreigners. Every stranger entering the city gates had to
present himself before the governor and receive from him a seal of red
wax on the thumb. If a stranger neglected to do this, he was liable to
be thrown into prison and fined.

The boy Michael Angelo and his two friends knew nothing of this odd law,
and entered the city gaily, without having the necessary wax on their
thumbs. As soon as this was noticed they were seized, taken before a
judge, and sentenced to pay six hundred and fifty lire. They had not
that much money between them, and so for a short time were placed under
lock and key.

Fortunately news of the boys' arrest came to a nobleman of the city who
was much interested in art and who had already heard of Michael Angelo's
ability. He at once had the boys set free, and invited Michael Angelo to
visit him at his home. But Michael did not wish to leave his friends,
and felt that it would be an imposition for the three of them to accept
the invitation.

When he spoke in this fashion to the nobleman the latter was very much
amused. "Ah, well," said he, "if things stand so I must beg of you to
take me also with your two friends to roam about the world at your
expense." The joke showed the boy the absurd side of the matter. He gave
his friends the little money he had left, said good-bye to them, and
accepted the invitation to stay in Bologna.

A very short time after, Piero de' Medici, driven from Florence by an
angry people, came to Bologna and met his old friend of Lorenzo's
gardens. For a short time the boys were together, then the young Medici
set out to seek aid from other cities, in an attempt to rebuild his
family fortunes.

Meanwhile the nobleman who had offered Michael Angelo a home was
delighted with his young friend. He found him keenly interested in Dante
and Petrarch, and equally gifted as a sculptor and painter. He gave him
work to do in the Church of San Petronio, and Michael did so well there
that the artists of Bologna grew jealous of him, and at the end of the
year forced him to leave the city.

Then the boy artist went back to his home, only to find it changed
unspeakably. Florence, that had been a city of delight, was now a city
of dread. Savonarola held the people's ear, and had taught them to
destroy what Lorenzo had led them to love. The monks of San Marco made
bonfires of their paintings, priceless manuscripts had met with the same
fate, and Lorenzo's house had been robbed of all its sculpture. The
gardens were strewn with broken statues that had once been Michael
Angelo's delight. He walked through them sadly, and realized that he
alone was left of that group who had found so much happiness there only
a few years before. The words that he had spoken to Lorenzo on the day
he chiseled the faun came back to him, "To Rome I shall go some day,"
and thither he now set his face.

Thereafter the Eternal City claimed Michael Angelo. Cardinal after
cardinal, pope after pope, employed his marvelous genius to beautify the
capital of the world. As he had said, he found work to do in the Holy
Father's house. Whatever else they might do, the Italians of that age
worshiped art, and there were two stars in their sky, Raphael and
Michael Angelo.

Again Fate's wheel turned, and at last Michael Angelo returned to
Florence, loaded with honors, this time again the guest of a Medici,
Giulio, the playmate of his youth, ruling as autocrat where his father
had ruled as a mere citizen. A little later, and the shrewdest of the
three boys, Giovanni, became Pope Leo X.

As men the friends of boyhood differed, but they were alike in their
devotion to Florence and the things they had learned in her school years
before. At the height of his power Michael Angelo turned his hand to the
Medici Chapel and built there lasting monuments to their glory and his
genius, a wonderful return for the rare days of his boyhood in their


Walter Raleigh

The Boy of Devon: 1552-1618

Summer was over England, and the county of Devon, running down to
Cornwall between two seas, was painted in bright hues. The downs were
softly carpeted with purple and yellow gorse and heather that made a
wonderful soft mist as one looked across the fields. Low hills,
brilliant green ridges against the sky, ran inland from the sea, and in
the little hollows here and there nestled small straw-thatched cottages
with shining white walls, or the more pretentious Tudor farmhouses with
red or brown roofs, and much half-timbered decoration.

The Devon winters were long, with heavy snow, and men had to build so
that they might have all possible protection from the winds that swept
across the open upland country. So they built down in the valleys and in
the long low inlets from the sea that were called combes, and as a
result one might stand on the high moors looking across country, and
never know there was a house within a mile. It is a country full of

On a fine morning when Devon was looking its best, a boy came out of a
dwelling that was half farmhouse, half manor-house, and that lay in a
cup of low hills on the edge of a tract of moorland. The house belonged
to a man named Walter Raleigh, of Fardell, a gentleman of good family
whose fortunes had sunk to a low ebb. It was one-storied, with thatched
roof, gabled wings, and a projecting central porch. Here lived Mr.
Raleigh of Fardell with his wife Katherine, four sons and a daughter. It
was a large family for such a small estate, and already the father was
wondering what would happen to the younger boys when the little property
should have descended, according to the law of the land, to the oldest

It was the boy Walter, youngest of the sons, who had come out of the
house, and stood looking about him. He was a good-looking fellow, with
fair hair, blue eyes, and the ruddy English skin. It did not take him
long to decide which way to go this morning. He made straight for an oak
wood that lay before the house, and followed a little path that led
through it. Two miles and a half through the wood lay Budleigh Salterton
Bay, and Walter liked that best of all the places near his home.

He passed the oaks and came out into open country. Here, where the gorse
made a soft carpet on the ground, the salt of the sea blew freshly in to
him. He gave a great shout, and pulling off his cap, ran as fast as he
could, down to the shore of the bay. A few boats swung at anchor there,
and an old man sat on the beach, mending a fishing net.

The boy swept the sea with his eyes from point to point of the bay,
looked longingly at the boats, then walked over to the old mariner.

"Good-morning, gaffer," said he. "It's a fine sailing breeze out on the

"And good-morning to ye, Master Walter," said the old man, glancing up
from his nets. "A fine breeze it be, an' more's the pity when there's
work to be done on shore."

"So say I," said the boy, throwing himself down on the sand by the
sailor. "I'd dearly like to sail across to France to-day."

"How comes it you're not to school?" asked the man.

"School's done. Next month I go to Oxford, to Oriel College. Methinks
'tis a great shame to spend one's time studying when there's so much
else to be done in the world. The only books I like are those that tell
of far-away lands and adventures and such things. But to Oxford I must
go, says father, like a gentleman's son, and so I suppose I must."

He lay out on the sand, his head resting in his hands, his eyes gazing
up to the sky. "Tell me, gaffer, if you had your choice of the two,
would you rather be a sailor, or a gentleman of the court, and live at
London, near Queen Elizabeth?"

The man laughed. "I a courtier!" he cried. "I'd die of fright most like.
I've never been to London town, but they say it's a terrible place!"

"Would you rather sail out to the west,--to the Indies, or perhaps to
Guiana?" asked Walter.

The man nodded. "The savages be'nt so terrifyin' to a sailor as the folk
o' London town."

"And in London they might throw you into the Tower," mused Walter.
"You're right, gaffer. 'Tis better to be free, and your own man, even if
'tis only among savages. Think you England will be at war soon?"

The sailor looked up from his net, and glanced out across the bay. "I
figure you'll live long enough to do some fightin', lad. Them Spanish
dons be plannin' for to sweep the seas of Englishmen."

Walter sat up, and followed the man's gaze out to sea. "That they'll
never do," said he, "as long as there are Devon men to build a boat and
man it. But if there is a war I'm going to it, aye, as certain as we two
be sitting here in Budleigh Bay."

"War's a fearsome thing, lad," said the sailor. "I've fought the pirates
in the south, and I've seen sights would turn a man's hair gray in a
night. 'Tis no holiday work to fight across your decks."

"Tell me about it," begged the boy, sitting up and clasping his knees in
his hands. "I love to hear of fights and strange adventures."

So, while the sailor worked over his net he talked of his wanderings, of
his cruises, of his battles, of his flights, and the boy, his eyes wide
with admiration, drank in the yarns. Mariner never found a better
audience than this small boy of the Devon coast.

It was long past noon when the sailor and Walter left the beach. The boy
went back through the wood to the house, and made his lunch in the
pantry off of bread and cheese. The family were used to Walter's
wanderings, and never waited for him. Now, in his holiday time, he was
free to go where he would.


Mr. Raleigh of Fardell wanted all his sons brought up as the sons of a
gentleman should be, and so, although he was quite poor, he managed to
send Walter that autumn to the University of Oxford. Walter was only
fifteen, but boys went to college at that age in those days.

Oxford in 1567 was something like the Eton of to-day. There were not
many college buildings, and the students in cap and gown looked quite as
young as schoolboys do now. Oriel College was near the broad Christ
Church meadows that led down to the river, and from there Walter could
look across to the fields where the boys practiced their favorite sport
of archery, to the silver thread of the little river as it wound in and
out among the trees, and across it to the park where a herd of deer
roamed free.

The Oxford country, inland and not far from the centre of England, was
very different from his beloved Devonshire. Here there were many
gentlemen's parks, with well-kept lawns and gardens, lots of small
woods, and meadows broken now and again by little sparkling brooks.
Everything was very neat and beautifully cared for. But in Devon was the
wide sweep of the high moorlands, the herds of grazing ponies, the
glorious carpet of the heather, the salt smell of the sea.

Often the boy was homesick for that more barren country, and that shore
from which he loved to watch the sails, and very often he was tempted to
leave Oriel and go out to seek his fortune by himself. He did not give
in to the desire, however. He stayed on for three years, holding his
own in his studies, and winning the reputation of a good speaker.

Walter's chance for adventure came full soon. His mother's family, the
Champernouns, were related to the French Huguenot house of Montgomerie.
The Catholics and the Huguenots were at war in France, and Walter's
cousin Henry obtained permission of Queen Elizabeth to raise a troop of
a hundred gentlemen in England to fight with him in France. He asked
Raleigh at Oriel to join him, and the boy eagerly accepted. So he left
Oxford, and with a number of others of good family, many scarcely older
than himself, he crossed the Channel and entered France.

The moment was not a good one. The Huguenots had just lost the battle of
Moncontour, and a little time after their great chief, the Prince of
Condé, fell at Jarnac. But the small band of English gentlemen
adventurers was not at all cast down. The Huguenot cause did not mean a
great deal to them, and they speedily consoled themselves for Condé's

When they actually took the field they found the warfare a very
irregular sort of fighting, a sudden swoop down upon the Catholics in
some ill-defended town, a quick retreat at the approach of regular
troops, an occasional short skirmish in the open. Walter was sent into
Languedoc, and joined in the chase of Catholics through the hills.

The country was full of steep cliffs, and there were many caves hidden
in them. Fugitives would escape through the open country and meet in
these recesses, and the Englishmen would follow, tracking them after
the manner of hunters of wild game. Sometimes they would come to the top
of a cliff, overlooking a cave in which they had seen men hide. Then
they would lower lighted bundles of straw by iron chains until they came
opposite the mouth of the cave. In a short time the men in hiding would
be smoked out, and compelled to surrender. Often they had hidden
treasures of money or plate in the caves, and these would fall into the
captors' hands. This lure of booty added spice to the hunt.

It was rough, wild work, but it was a rough age, and men had few
scruples when it came to dealing with their enemies. Young Raleigh
proved a good fighter, fond of the hunts through the hills, and always
ready for any wild expedition. He cared little enough for the cause for
which the troop was supposed to be fighting. It was the opportunity to
advance himself that concerned him most.

When he came back from France he found that there was no place for him
at the manor-house in Devon. As a younger son he must fight his own way
in the world. He had always loved London next after the Devon coast, and
so he went there now, hoping that he might find some favor with the
court. Queen Elizabeth liked to have youths of good family and good
looks about her, and there were many of them living in London who used
her court as a sort of club.

Walter made many friends of his own age, and lived as most of them did,
mixing in all the excitements of city life. He was now rather a wild,
reckless young blade, as willing to draw his sword in a street fight as
to pay compliments to a pretty maid of honor. One day he got into a
fight at a tavern with a noisy braggart. He managed to throw the man
into a chair and bind him with a rope. Then he knotted the man's beard
and moustache together so that his mouth was sealed. The rest of the
tavern applauded him for his neat manner of silencing the boaster.

He did not always come out on top, however. On one occasion he fought in
the street with Sir Thomas Perrot, and was arrested by the town watch.
He was brought to trial, and sent to the Fleet prison for six days. The
imprisonment meant very little to him, it was simply part of the life of
adventure he was so fond of living.

We must remember that all England, in this age of Elizabeth, was full of
this same spirit of adventure. Young men were rising rapidly; there were
a hundred ways to gain distinction, and many of them, although ways
which we might consider rather doubtful nowadays, were then regarded as
quite proper. Walter Raleigh kept his eyes wide open, and when he saw a
promising chance, he was always ready to accept it. The first adventure
that offered was to take part in a seafaring expedition.

Englishmen of fortune in those days were in the habit of fitting out
privateers to roam the seas, much like pirates. Sir Humphrey Gilbert had
planned to send some such ships to the banks of Newfoundland to capture
any Portuguese or Spanish vessels that might have gone there for the
fishing. He intended to bring his prizes back to some Dutch port, and
there sell them. Walter liked this plan and he talked it over with Sir
Humphrey, but for some reason the plan failed.

A very little while afterward, however, Sir Humphrey asked him to sail
in an expedition that was supposed to be searching for the northwest
passage to Cathay, but which in reality was intended to seize any
heathen lands it might find and occupy them in the name of England. The
fleet sailed, but soon fell in with a Spanish squadron that was looking
for just such English rovers. Sir Humphrey's fleet was beaten, and
forced to return home. So for a time young Raleigh's chances of winning
fortune on the seas were ended.

He went back to London, and took up his former life at court. Very soon
he was sent with some troops to Ireland, and there again he had a chance
at the same sort of fighting he had known in France. He proved himself a
good soldier; he shunned no toil nor danger. But the life he had to lead
was a hard one, and very poorly paid, and Raleigh saw no chance to make
his fortune in that path.

Now, however, Raleigh was known to many powerful men. When he gave up
the Irish fighting and went back to court he found that people there had
heard of what he had accomplished and that he had a reputation for
courage bordering on recklessness. That was a quality the English of
that day much admired. The great lords were almost all reckless
adventurers, plundering wherever they could, and they were glad to find
young men who would do their bidding without asking questions.

By this time young Raleigh had become typical of his age, having its
virtues and its vices. The age was wild, coveting money in order to
fling it away on mad schemes, reveling in the dangers as well as the
glories of battle and exploration, of plundering Spanish galleons, or of
hunting untold riches in the world across the sea. Queen Elizabeth liked
daring men, and Raleigh took every opportunity to bring himself before
her notice.

The young courtier had learned all the arts that helped to make men's
fortunes. He was tall and very handsome, a splendid swordsman, and a wit
who could hold his own with poets and with statesmen. He still spoke
with the strong broad accent of Devon, and when he learned that the
Queen liked his unusual accent he was very careful to see that he never
lost it. He studied each chance to please.

Elizabeth was extremely vain and extremely fond of romance. One day as
she walked with certain of her lords and ladies she came to a marshy
place, and stopped in hesitation, fearing to soil her slippers. This was
the young courtier's chance. Raleigh had been in the background, but
seeing the Queen hesitate he sprang forward, and sweeping his new plush
cloak from his shoulders, spread it in the mire, so that she might
cross. The Queen's face lighted up with pleasure at the graceful act,
and she thanked the youthful gallant. Later she saw that he was given
many court suits for the cloak he had so admirably ruined.

Having thus won her attention Raleigh next sought to fix himself in his
Queen's mind. He wrote on the window of a room in which she passed much
time the line:

    "Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall."

Elizabeth learned who was author of the writing, and scratched the
answer underneath:

    "If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all."

Raleigh had no fear whatever of falling, but a becoming modesty sat well
upon him. The Queen remembered the young man now for these two
qualities, his gallantry and his becoming modesty, and saw to it that a
man of such spirit should be kept at court. The ardent boy of Devon, the
restless Oxford student, the wild Huguenot trooper, had grown to be a
man worthy of notice.

He was now, as Walter Scott pictures him in "Kenilworth," the young
seeker after royal favor, graceful, slender, restless, somewhat
supercilious, with a sonnet ever ready on his lips to delight his
friends or an epigram to sting his enemies.

We shall see him turn his many talents to great uses. He fell to
planning voyages across the Atlantic to discover and settle parts of
North America much as Sir Humphrey Gilbert had done, and as another
young man about court, Sir Francis Drake, was doing. From the Queen, and
from one noble or another who was interested in his marvelous schemes,
he obtained the money to fit out several expeditions. Each in turn
landed near what is now the Roanoke River, and each brought back rich
gifts to the great English Queen. Among other things the explorer saw
the Indians smoking a dried leaf called tobacco, tried the custom, liked
it, and brought it back with him to England.

Raleigh had a stroke of genius when he named his colony Virginia, in
honor of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen. It pleased her to think that a
great empire in the western world should be named for her. She gave
Raleigh whatever he asked, making him practically governor of all the
English domain in America, and for a long time Virginia was supposed to
cover even part of what later became New England. He started to colonize
the land, but his colonies did not succeed, and he lost all the money he
put into them. Nevertheless his Virginian scheme brought him a great
deal of fame, which he now craved, and kept London talking of him.

London was soon to talk still more about this daring, brave, and
brilliant Westcountryman. The prophecy of the old sailor at Budleigh
Salterton Bay came true, and for a brief time all England held its
breath while the famous Spanish fleet, called the Armada, bore down upon
her coast. Then all over the country gentlemen of fortune manned ships
and put to sea, but especially the men of Devon, of Somerset, and
Cornwall, counties famed for their sailors.

Among these men was Raleigh; his advice was eagerly sought by the
Queen's ministers, and when it came to the actual Channel fighting he
made one of many gallant captains. The great Armada came to grief upon
the English coast, and Raleigh had added another to his record of

Having been courtier, colonizer, warrior, Raleigh now blossomed forth as
a poet, and became a friend and patron of Edmund Spenser. He had much
skill in verse, and he was never lacking in imagination. But his real
talents did not lie in that direction, and as in so many other things,
he soon found himself distracted elsewhere.

The story of Raleigh's manhood belongs to history. Turn to tales of
Elizabeth's court and you will find his name on almost every page. Now
he is high in favor, braving it with the great Earl of Leicester, now
down upon his luck, locked in some royal prison, writing verses to his
many friends. His was a strange career; at one time there was no man in
England whose favor was more sought, yet at the end he died upon the
scaffold charged with treason. Time proved him guiltless of the charge,
and almost at once the English people began to realize how great a light
had been extinguished.

Through all his varying career he himself was the same brave, dreamy,
ambitious man, the perfect type of that age which we call the
Elizabethan. He could not stay in his native land of Devon; much as he
loved its moorland and its bays, he had to listen to the call of London
and the sea, and follow where their voices led him. Each way the road
was set with many strange adventures, but he met and passed through them
all with the high spirits that were part of his age. His courage never
failed him, nor his joy in fighting his way to fortune with his own
sharp wits.


Peter the Great

The Boy of the Kremlin: 1672-1725

The halls of the Kremlin, the Czar's palace in Moscow, were filled with
a wild rabble of soldiers on a winter afternoon near the end of the
seventeenth century. The guards of the late Czar Alexis were storming
through the maze of corridors and state apartments, breaking statues,
tearing down tapestries, and piercing and cutting to pieces invaluable
paintings with their spears and swords.

They were big, savage-faced men, pets of the half-civilized Russian
rulers, and were called the Streltsi Guard.

They had broken into the Kremlin in order to see the boy who was now
Czar, so that they might be sure that his stepmother had not hidden him
away, as the rumor went, in order that her own son Peter might have the
throne for himself. But once inside the Kremlin many of the soldiers
devoted themselves to pillage, until the ringleaders raised the cry,
"Where is the Czar Ivan? Show him to us! Show the boy Ivan to us! Where
is he?"

In a small room on one of the higher floors a little group of women and
noblemen, all thoroughly frightened, were gathered about two boys. The
noise of the attack on the palace had come to their ears some time
before; they had seen from the windows the mutinous soldiers climbing
the walls and beating down the few loyal servants who had withstood
them. The din was growing more terrific every instant. It was the matter
of only a few minutes before the rioters would break into the room.

"We must decide at once, friends," said the Czarina Natalia. "If they
enter this room they'll not stop at killing any of us."

The smaller of the two boys, a sturdy lad of eleven years, spoke up:
"Let me go out on to the Red Staircase with Ivan, mother. When they see
that we are both here they'll be satisfied."

A dozen objections were raised by the frightened men and women of the
court. It was much too dangerous to trust the lives of the two boys to
the whim of such a maddened mob.

"Nevertheless Peter is right," said Natalia. "It's the only chance left
to us. They think I have done some harm to Ivan. The only way to prove
that false is for him to stand before them, and my son must go with

The small boy who had spoken before took these words as final. "Come,
Ivan," said he, and took the other's hand in his. Ivan, a tall, delicate
boy, whose face was white with fear, gripped Peter's hand hard. He was
used to trusting implicitly to his half-brother, although the latter was
two years younger than he.

One of the noblemen opened the door, and the two boys went out of the
room and crossed the hall to the top of the great Red Staircase. They
looked down on the mob of soldiers who were gradually surging up the
stairs, brandishing swords and halberds, fighting among each other for
the possession of some treasure, and calling continually, "The Czar!
Where are the boys Ivan and Peter? Where are they?"

At first in their excitement no one noticed the two boys on the
stairway. Ivan, who was by nature timid, shrank away from their sight as
much as he could, but Peter, who was of a different make, stood out in
full view, and held fast to his brother's hand. He had inherited the
iron nerve of the strongest of his ancestors. He looked at the mutinous
rioters with bold, fearless eyes.

Presently a soldier caught sight of the younger boy and raised a cry
loud above the general din. "There is the boy Peter, but where is Ivan?
The Czar! The Czar!"

A score of voices took up the cry as all eyes were turned on the
landing, and many men started up the stairs. "There is Peter, but where
is the boy Ivan?" came the deafening chorus.

"Ivan is here with me," said Peter, his voice clear and high. He tried
to pull Ivan nearer to him so that the men might see him. "Stand up
where they can see you, Ivan!" he begged. "There's nothing to be afraid
of. They only want to see their new Czar."

Trembling with fear the older boy, who had inherited all the weakness of
his race, and none of its strength, was finally induced to step close to
Peter. So, side by side, their hands clasped, the two looked down on the
crowded stairway, and faced the mob of soldiers. They made a strange
picture, two small boys, standing quite alone, fronting that sea of
passionate, angry faces.

At sight of Ivan another cry arose. "There's the Czar! Hail Ivan! Hail
the son of the great Alexis!"

For a moment the onward rush of the mob was checked, but only for a
moment. Three or four soldiers started up the stairs, their lances
pointed at Peter, shouting, "What shall we do with the son of the false
woman Natalia?" They came so close to the boy that their spears almost
touched him before they stopped. Had he turned to run no one can say
what might have happened, but he did not turn, he did not even draw back
nor show a single sign of fear.

"I am the son of the Czar Alexis also, and I am not afraid of any of

The boy's calm eyes fronted the nearest soldiers steadily. The men heard
his words and hesitated.

"Peter, the son of Alexis, is not afraid of his own father's guards!"
the boy continued. "That is why I came out here when you called me."

In the hush that had followed his first words his voice carried clear to
all the crowding men. When he finished there came a silence, and then of
a sudden cheer on cheer rose on the stairs and through the hall. "Peter,
the son of Alexis! Hail Peter! Hail the two boy Czars!"

The nearest soldiers dropped the points of their spears and joined in
the shouting. A flush came into the younger boy's face and he smiled,
and squeezed Ivan's hand tighter. He knew that the danger had passed.

Slowly the soldiers who had climbed nearest to the boys drew back down
the stairs. Swords were returned to scabbards, harsh voices grew
quieter, and within a quarter of an hour the Red Staircase and the great
hall were empty of men.

Then the door of the room from which the two boys had come opened, and
Natalia and her women stepped out. The Czarina, a woman of courage
herself, took Peter in her arms. "My brave son," she murmured, "thou art
worthy of thy father. I would have stood beside thee, but the people
hate me, and it would have been worse for us all."

"I needed no one, little mother," said Peter. "If I am ever to be a
ruler I must not fear to face my own men." Then his face grew more
serious. "But if I ever am Czar they will not break into the Kremlin
this way, mother, nor wilt thou need to hide thyself from them."

"God grant it be so, Peter!" answered Natalia. "I think they've learned
much from thee this very day."

The Streltsi had indeed learned that the boy Peter was no coward, and
their dislike changed to affection; but there were others in Moscow who
plotted and planned against him, because the family of the late Czar's
first wife were very powerful in Russia and they hated his second wife
Natalia, and her son, who had been his father's favorite.

Everything that conspirators could do to break the boy's spirit was
done; he was time and again placed in peril of his life; he was
threatened and tempted and slandered to the people, but all to no avail.
His mother did her best to shield him from his enemies, but when she
found that her care was not enough she trusted to his own remarkable
judgment and courage. These never failed either the boy or his mother.

As time passed it grew more and more clear that Peter was as strong as
his poor stepbrother Ivan was weak, and in order to satisfy the people
the younger boy was made joint-Czar with the elder.

The real power in Russia then, however, was the Princess Sophia, Peter's
half-sister, a bitter enemy of both the boy and his mother. She did her
best to break her stepbrother's spirit, hoping that he might come to
some untimely end, as so many of the royal family had already done. She
knew that Ivan was simply a weak tool in her hands, and so bent all her
energies to try and ruin the younger Czar by taking away all restraint
from over him, and letting him indulge every pleasure and whim.

He was given a palace of his own in a small village outside Moscow, and
Sophia selected fifty boys of his own age to be his playmates. She had
his former teachers dismissed and chose such comrades for him as she
thought would grow up idle, vicious men.

Fortunately Peter's character was not so easily ruined. His mother and
his old teachers had given him the beginning of an education and instead
of falling into Sophia's snares, he immediately started to turn his
playmates into scholars.

He formed a sort of military school, where the boys practiced all the
discipline necessary in camp. He himself set to work to learn to use
different tools, and in general he studied the trades of his people. He
managed to get teachers who could instruct the boys in history and
geography, and as a result instead of being good for nothing the circle
of boys in the little palace became unusually energetic and
active-minded. When he finally left the palace it had become a
well-organized military school, and continued to be run as such for a
long time afterward.

When the Princess Sophia realized that these plans of hers were failing,
she decided on a more desperate measure. On the night of August 7, 1689,
Peter was suddenly waked in the middle of night by fugitive soldiers
coming from the Kremlin, who warned him that Sophia had gathered a band
of soldiers to come out to his palace and kill him. The boy, realizing
his extreme peril, jumped out of bed, and throwing on a few clothes ran
to the stables, where he found his favorite horse and set out with some
comrades into the neighboring forest.

There they stayed practically in hiding until officers came from the
palace bringing him food and clothing, and gradually gathering about him
until he had quite a small body-guard. By this time he had made up his
mind what to do.

Feeling sufficiently strong with his friends, he finally set out for a
monastery, thinking to find safe refuge there until the storm should
pass. Here more friends came to join him, and as the news of Sophia's
plot to kill the boy Czar was spread through the country, a new
enthusiasm for the youthful Peter sprang up, and the very troops that
had formerly sided with the Princess now denounced her as a traitor to
Russia. Peter wrote to his stepsister asking for explanations about the
plot at the Kremlin, but the Princess could make no satisfactory reply.

The monastery was now crowded with officers of the court who had come to
realize that Sophia's power was gone and that the boy Czar's strength
was rising rapidly. The time had come when he was strong enough to
strike. He marched on the Kremlin and captured Sophia and those who had
been in the conspiracy with her. Some of the Streltsi Guard who had
taken part against him were tried and executed, and the Princess Sophia
was shut up in a convent for the remainder of her life.

Such events did not tend to make the boy a merciful ruler, but
surrounded as he was by traitors and spies he was compelled to rule with
an iron hand if he was to rule at all.

From this time dates the beginning of his real influence in Russia. The
army had been poorly organized. Now the young King set to work to drill
it as effectively as he had drilled his playmates. He learned how cannon
were built, and studied the manufacture of all kinds of firearms. About
the same time he became deeply interested in ship-building, and
determined to build a fleet of war-vessels on Lake Plestchéief.

He took some young men of his own age with him to the bank of the lake
and there built a one-storied wooden house, a very primitive building,
the windows filled with mica instead of glass, and set a double-headed
eagle with a gilt wooden crown over the door to show it was the Czar's
residence. Here he worked hard all one winter, he himself taking a hand
in all the building that was done, laboring like any carpenter and
enjoying the work far more than the state ceremonies he was obliged to
go through with at the Kremlin.

But even when he was so far from Moscow and so actively engaged, he sent
continual messages to the mother who had so often shielded him from
harm. Once he wrote to her as follows:

   "To my best beloved, and, while bodily life endures, my dearest
   little mother, the Lady Czarina and Grand Duchess Natalia Kirílovna.
   Thy little son, now here at work, Petrúshka, asks thy blessing and
   wishes news of thy health. We, through thy prayers, are all well, and
   the lake has been cleared of ice to-day, and all the boats, except
   the big ship, are finished, only we have to wait for ropes. Therefore
   I beg thy kindness that these ropes, seven hundred fathoms long, be
   sent from the artillery department without delay, for our work is
   waiting for them, and our stay here is so much prolonged."

The Russians of that day knew little about building ships, and so Peter
finally went to Amsterdam. Here he dressed like a Dutch sea-captain and
spent his time with sailors and ship-builders, and thoroughly enjoyed
the difference between this new life and that at home. Many of his
native customs he now learned to look upon as uncouth. The Russians had
poor taste in dress; the Imperial Guards wore old-fashioned uniforms
consisting of a long gown, which made it very difficult for them to move
rapidly. Peter saw some French soldiers and at once decided to adopt
their smarter and more serviceable style of dress.

[Illustration: PETER THE GREAT]

In the same way he changed the old Russian military drill to something
resembling that of the other European countries. He had new carriages
and furniture and foods imported from France and England, and tried to
make Moscow more like a modern city than like the semi-barbarous Asiatic
village it had been. The Russian men almost all wore long, flowing
beards, and this fashion Peter quickly changed, insisting that the men
about him should adopt the fashion of the French court.

It is hard to realize how far behind the rest of the countries of Europe
the Russia of those days was; yet it is due almost entirely to the young
Czar Peter that this great northern country finally came out from
semi-darkness. It must not be supposed that these great changes were at
first popular with the court; there was tremendous opposition to almost
everything Peter did, but the people gradually realized that he was
really working for their benefit and that he was deeply interested in
improving their condition. Slowly his popularity grew with the middle
and lower classes, until finally they spoke of their "little Czar," as
they called him affectionately, almost as though he were really one of

Few rulers have had a harder task than did Peter. All during his youth
the nobles plotted against him, and as he grew to manhood he escaped
assassination again and again by the narrowest of chances, but every
time he had to face danger he grew more self-reliant and more
determined, and gradually his grip on the men of both court and army
grew so strong that they realized places had changed, and that they were
as absolutely his servants as he was their master.

In time Peter became a great king, a fearless, purposeful ruler who knit
his people together as no other Czar had ever been able to do. He led
the armies he had himself drilled to many victories. He built a great
fleet in the Baltic Sea. He established a new capital near the shores of
the Baltic, and named it after his own patron saint, St. Petersburg.

The history of his life is full of tremendous difficulties and dangers,
but he fronted each one as he had fronted the riotous Streltsi Guards
when he was a boy of eleven, and so history has given him the title of
most powerful of all Russian Czars and has called him "Peter the


Frederick the Great

The Boy of Potsdam: 1712-1788

A little boy and girl sat playing on a harpsichord in one of the great
stiffly-furnished and lofty-ceilinged rooms of the Potsdam Palace,
outside Berlin. The boy wore his yellow hair in long curls, his eyes
were merry and he laughed often, while his sister, who was a little
older, seemed quite as happy. The children were practicing for their
music lesson, and only too glad to be free of their teachers for a time,
because music was dearest to them both.

Without a word of warning the door of the room was thrown open, and a
big, heavy-faced man stood on the threshold.

"What's all this?" he cried, his voice snarling with anger, and his
small eyes shot with red. "Haven't I given orders that you're never to
touch that thing again?"

At the sound of the man's voice both children had jumped from their
chairs and stood, stiff as ramrods, facing the speaker. The boy had
raised his hand to the side of his head in salute.

"Please, sir," said the girl, "we're both so very fond of music."

"Silence," commanded the man, who was no other than their father,
Frederick William, King of Prussia. "Fritz can speak for himself; he
doesn't need a girl to defend him."

"Wilhelmina has told you, sir," said the boy, "how much we both love
music. Indeed I'd rather listen to it than do anything else, and I want
to learn how to play it for myself. I don't care anything about being a

The King's face was almost purple with anger. He looked as though he
would box the boy's ears on the spot, but he held himself in check.

"You little brat!" he cried. "A soldier you shall be, and nothing else!
Do you think the kingdom of Prussia can be ruled by a crazy fool of a
musician? Don't talk to me of harpsichords, or books, or pictures.
You're not to be a woman, but a king!"

The boy knew his father too well to attempt any answer; there was no one
in Prussia who would dare speak freely before King Frederick William.

After scowling at his son in silence for some minutes the man spoke
again. "Listen to my orders and see that you obey them. From to-day your
music-masters are discharged, every instrument is moved from the palace,
and if either of you two is found playing such things I will have you
locked in your rooms for a week to live on barley and water. Now, sir,
step before me to the hair-dresser. I'll have those locks of yours shorn
so that you'll look less like a girl and more like a grenadier."

Fritz, keeping back the tears in mingled shame and terror, walked to
the door and paced down the hall before his father. He tried to hold
himself straight like a soldier, but it was hard when he felt as though
he were being marched to execution.

The King handed the boy over to the hair-dresser, and in fifteen minutes
the curls were all gone and Fritz's hair was close-cropped like a man's.
As soon as he was free he ran to his mother's room, and there the gentle
Queen, Sophia Dorothea, took him in her arms and comforted him. She knew
how sensitive her little son was, how absolutely different from his
father, and she could sympathize with both the children's suffering
under the King's cruelty.

For once the mother dared to disobey her husband. The next week she told
the two children to go to a distant part of the palace grounds where
there was a deep wood, and see what they should find there. They obeyed,
and ran eagerly down the path to the forest where they had often played
under the trees and in the caves in the rocks. They came to a little
greenwood circle completely hidden from the roads and there found their
music-master. He led them to a cave, and showed them Wilhelmina's little
spinnet, and Fritz's flute lying on it. That was their mother's
surprise. She had arranged that the children's music teacher should meet
them out there and give them the lessons they wanted. Boy and girl were
happy again; they took up their music eagerly, and were soon playing as
of old. Perhaps the very secrecy lent the lessons charm.

The hours spent in the forest and cave were a great success, but one
day Fritz found a small drum at the palace, and forgetting the King's
orders he started to march about the halls beating it, followed by the
admiring Wilhelmina. Suddenly, in the middle of the triumphal
procession, the King came upon them. Poor Fritz dropped the drumsticks
and stood at attention, while Wilhelmina, behind him, grew white with
fear of what should happen.

To their amazement the King's stern face softened; he smiled, then he
laughed and clapped his hands. "Ah, Fritz, now you're a soldier! I
mistook you for one of my own guard, boy."

The King was delighted. He thought that at last his son was fired with
martial fervor. While the boy went back through the halls beating his
drum Frederick called the Queen to watch his soldier son, and
immediately ordered the court artist to paint a picture of the scene on
canvas. A day or two later he told Fritz of a plan he had in store. He
would form a military company of boys of his own age for him, build them
an arsenal on the palace grounds, and have them drilled by officers of
the army.

With the King to speak was to act. A month had not passed before the
small boy, dressed in a general's uniform, found himself in command of
about three hundred youths of his own age, all properly equipped with
uniforms and arms, and known as "The Crown Prince Cadets." They made a
remarkable contrast to that other regiment of which King Frederick
William was so proud, which was made up of giants, men all over six feet
six inches tall, seized wherever they were found in Prussia and
elsewhere and forced into his army.

The boy general and his cadets were drilled hours at a time day after
day by the Prussian officers, in the hope of making soldiers of them and
nothing else. Fritz hated it; he wanted to read and to learn music, and
day by day he found less and less time to steal off to those wonderful
meetings in the woods or to romp with Wilhelmina in the schoolroom. The
French governess who had taught him was taken away, and he was placed
under military tutors who made him learn gunnery and battle tactics at
the arsenal which his father had built for him on the grounds.

When the boy was ten the King started to take him to all the military
reviews. In going from garrison to garrison the King rode on a hard
wagon called a sausage-car, which was simply a padded pole about ten
feet long on which the riders sat astride. Ten or more men would jolt
over the roads on such cars with the King summer and winter, and he made
the boy ride in front of him, through the broiling sun or the winter
snow, waking him whenever he fell asleep by pulling his ear and saying,
"Too much sleep stupefies a fellow."

In such iron fashion the father did his best to change the sensitive,
gentle nature of his son to something like his own.

At the age of ten Fritz's days were marked out hour by hour by Frederick
William. Not even Sunday was free. He was marched from teacher to
teacher, all sports were denied him, and he was never allowed to read
or play. His hair was kept close cut, his clothes were heavy and coarse,
he was treated more like a prisoner than a prince. To the boy's masters
the King gave one direction: "Teach him to seek all glory in the soldier
profession." When his mother or sister dared to interfere the King would
turn on them in a rage; Wilhelmina was sent time and again to her room,
to be starved until she grew more docile.

The boy's time was divided between Berlin and the Palace of
Wusterhausen, a country seat some twenty miles outside of the capital.
The palace was a very simple dwelling set in the middle of swampy
fields, with a fringe of thickets. In the grounds were many natural
fish-ponds, and game of all kinds was plentiful in the woods. The somber
old monarch loved this place, and had built there a fountain with stone
steps, where he liked to sit in the evening and smoke his long porcelain
pipe. He often had his dinner served by the fountain, and afterward
would throw himself down on the grass for a nap. Aside from this simple
entertainment, the King's only pleasure lay in hunting in the woods.

The children and their mother found Wusterhausen very unattractive. The
only pets they were allowed were two black bears, very ugly and vicious.
They had no comforts indoors, and were treated as though they were
children of the meanest peasant. Some boys might have found sport in the
fish-ponds, the groves and the streams about the place, filled as they
were with fish and game, but Fritz cared nothing for such things. Their
loneliness drew the two children closer and closer together, and their
dislike of their father increased with each year that he took them out
to Wusterhausen.

The father, on his part, was growing more and more contemptuous of his
son. He found Fritz cared nothing for the army, nothing for the chase,
that the hardship and exposure of rough life were torture to him. Worse
than that, he had discovered some verses in French that Fritz had
written, and spoke of him scornfully to the men of his court as "the
French flute-player and poet." It would have been very hard for the boy
if he had not had a mother and sister who were so devoted to him, and
did everything they possibly could to protect him from his father's

When he was fourteen, Frederick William appointed Fritz captain of his
Grenadier Guards. This was the regiment made up of giants, and was one
of the most singular passions of the very singular old King. He sent men
through the whole of Europe and Asia to search for very tall men. Some
of the regiment were almost nine feet high. When a foreign monarch
wished to curry favor with the King of Prussia he would send him a
giant. The King showered favors on these men. He had court painters
paint portraits of each one of them. They were the very centre of that
great army which was the sole pride of the old warrior, and which he was
building up so that it should become the greatest military force in

Fritz tried to do his duty as captain of the regiment, and gradually
acquired something of a military bearing. For a short time his father
was pleased, but his pleasure did not last long; for the boy could not
keep away from the fascinations of music and of books, and all of the
various arts which were constantly coming into Prussia from France.

The flute was Fritz's favorite instrument, and it so happened that a
very celebrated teacher of the flute came from Dresden about this time,
and gave lessons in the Prussian capital. As soon as Fritz learned that
this man was a splendid teacher he arranged to have him come secretly to
his room at Potsdam. The boy's mother knew of this plan, and did her
best to keep his secret; but it was a very dangerous matter, for the old
King was growing more and more suspicious, and also more and more
fierce. A friend of Fritz's, who was about his own age, stood guard
outside the boy's room, while he was having his lessons on the flute,
and another guard was stationed at the entrance to the palace grounds
with orders to send word at once if the King should appear.

When Fritz was satisfied of his safety, he would go up to his own room,
throw aside the tight, heavy military coat which he hated, and put on a
flowing French dressing-gown, scarlet colored, and embroidered with
gold. Then, dressed to suit himself, he would take his music lesson, and
enjoy every minute of the stolen pleasure.

One day, however, in the middle of his playing, the friend at the door
rushed into the room announcing that the King was coming. This boy and
the teacher seized the flutes and music books and ran into a
wood-closet, where they stood shaking with fear. Fritz threw off his
dressing-gown, pulled on his military coat and sat down at a table,
opening a book.

Now the old King, his brows bent with anger, burst into the room. The
sight of his delicate son reading seemed like fuel to his rage. He never
minced his words, and proceeded to heap abuse on the head of the poor
Prince, when all of a sudden he caught sight of the end of the scarlet
gown sticking out from behind a screen. "What is that?" he cried, and
stepping across the room pulled the gown out. Beside himself with rage
he crammed it into the fireplace, and threw after it many of the
ornaments the boy had used to decorate his room. Then he walked to the
bookshelves and swept all the volumes to the floor, saying that he would
have a bookseller buy the library next day, because his son was to be a
soldier and not a scholar. For an hour he stayed there, pacing up and
down the room, lecturing Fritz until the boy was almost sick with shame.
Finally he left, and the two in the wood-closet were able to come out,
both of them almost as badly frightened as the Prince himself.

But if the King treated his son so badly, he treated his daughter
Wilhelmina none the less so. He could hardly stand the sight of her at
times, and her mother had to arrange a series of screens in her room so
that when Frederick William came to see her the daughter could escape
behind them. After such scenes Fritz and Wilhelmina would try to comfort
each other, but the boy was gradually growing more sullen and

Again and again the boy thought of escape; he would have been only too
glad to give up his position as Prince in exchange for the chance to
live simply in some foreign land, free to follow his own tastes as other
boys did theirs. He would have made the attempt, but he knew only too
well that should he escape his father's hand would fall in terrible
wrath on his dear sister Wilhelmina. He decided to stay and bear the
burdens of this life the King had planned for him rather than desert his
mother and sister. He was not a coward even if he was not made of iron.

At last the boy felt that he must act in self-defense. His father,
suffering from the gout, took to flogging Fritz in the very presence of
the lords and ladies of the court. The boy had pride, though his father
had done his best to kill it. Once, after striking blows at Fritz's head
before the assembled court, the King cried, "Had I been so treated by my
father, I would have blown my brains out. But this fellow has no honor.
He takes all that comes."

Fritz could stand such treatment no longer. Praying that Wilhelmina
might not suffer he planned an escape with a friend.

His father was taking him on a journey to the Rhine in the company of a
small guard of soldiers who were told to treat the boy like a prisoner.
Three officers were ordered to ride in the same carriage with Fritz, and
never to leave him alone. The King was a hard traveler, and seemed
positively to wish for extra hardships and fatigues, the party scarcely
stopping for food or sleep. At one place, however, a short stay was
made, and there Fritz planned to escape.

They had arrived at the town very late, and the boy with his officers
slept in a barn, as was not infrequently the case. The usual hour for
starting in the morning was three o'clock. A little after midnight Fritz
saw that his companions were sound asleep, and rose and crept out into
the open air. He had made arrangements with a servant to meet him with
horses on the village green. The boy reached the green and found the
horses, but at the same moment one of the guards, who had been awakened
by the noise Fritz made in leaving the barn, caught up with him, and
demanded of the servant who held the horses: "Sirrah! What are you doing
with those beasts?"

The man answered, "I am getting the horses ready for the start."

"We do not start till five o'clock. Take them back at once to the
stable." The officer pretended not to see Fritz, who had to slink back
at his heels to the barn, fully conscious that his chance to escape was

News of this attempt reached the King, and the next day, when he met his
son, he said sarcastically, "Ah, you are still here then? I thought that
by this time you would have been in Paris."

All the boy's spirit had not been crushed out of him, and he dared to
answer, "I certainly would have been there now had I really wished it."

Again he tried to escape, and again he was caught, and this time he was
brought directly to the King. The father stared at his son as though he
were some wild beast, and then said angrily: "Why did you attempt to

"I wanted to escape because you never treat me like your son, but like
some common slave."

"You're a cowardly deserter," said the King, "without any feelings of

"I have as much honor as you have," answered Fritz, "and I've done only
what I've heard you say you would have done if you had been treated as I

The King, maddened beyond description, drew his sword, and would have
struck the boy had not a general in attendance thrown himself between
them, exclaiming: "Sire, you may kill me, but spare your son."

The boy was taken out of the room and locked in prison, where he was
guarded by two sentries with fixed bayonets. The King proclaimed him a
deserter from the army, and ordered him tried for that crime. It is
small wonder that Fritz declared he would have been glad to exchange his
place for that of the poorest serf in Prussia.

Fritz was placed in a strongly barred room like a dungeon, with no
furniture in it, and lighted by a single slit in the wall so high that
the boy could not look out of it. The coarsest brown clothes were given
him to wear. He was allowed only one or two books. His food was bought
at a near-by butcher-shop, and was cut for him, for he was not allowed a
knife. The door of his prison was opened three times a day for
ventilation, and he was provided with a single tallow candle which had
to be put out by seven o'clock in the evening. This was the way the
Crown Prince of Prussia lived when he was nineteen years old, and if
the father did not actually succeed in breaking all the boy's spirit,
he was at least changing this lovable, gentle-natured youth into a stern
and gloomy young man.

Eventually the boy was released from his prison, but as long as his
father lived he was treated with all the harshness the King's mind could
devise. His sister Wilhelmina was kept away from him, and finally
married to a man for whom she cared little. Fritz was cut off from all
interests save that of the army, but gradually he began to acquire
something of his father's interest in creating a splendid fighting

In time he became King of Prussia himself, free at last to do as he
would. He sought out men of genius, musicians, poets, and thinkers. He
offered Voltaire, the great Frenchman, a home with him, and his happiest
hours were spent in his company, or listening to music, or playing the
flute he had loved as a boy. But that was only one side of him, and the
side which was least seen. On the world's side he was the grasping
ruler, the great general who forced war on all his neighbors, and who
came to be known as the conqueror of Europe.

The boy Fritz of Prussia might have become one of Europe's greatest
sovereigns, for he was naturally endowed with a love of all the finer
things of life. Instead he became a despot who plunged Europe for years
into the horrors of useless war. For this misfortune his father was
responsible. The loving mother and sister could not counterbalance the
terrible severity of the cruel King. Gradually Fritz changed from the
sunny lad who had played in the gardens of Potsdam with Wilhelmina to a
severe and arbitrary monarch.

His father had taught him that a country's greatness depended on its
soldiers, and so Fritz made Prussia an army and compelled the world to
admit the might of his troops. To Europe he was the ambitious tyrant,
Frederick the Great. It was only to Wilhelmina and a few friends that he
showed a little of that softer nature which had been his as the boy of

At the Charlottenburg Palace hangs the famous portrait of him playing
upon the drum. It was a long step from that boy to the man Frederick the


George Washington

The Boy of the Old Dominion: 1732-1799

A few miles below Mount Vernon, on the Potomac River, was the beautiful
estate of Belvoir, belonging to an English gentleman of rank named Lord
Fairfax. The broad Potomac wound about the base of the lawn that sloped
gently downward from the old colonial mansion which sat upon a height
looking out across the exquisite Virginia country.

The Potomac was not a busy river then, and the only trade that came up
it was such as was needed to supply the rich planters on the shores with
food and clothing. From the porch of Belvoir one might see an occasional
sailing vessel dropping up with the tide, lately come from England to
make a tour of the seaboard states, and to take home cotton and tobacco
in exchange for the silks and satins brought out to the colonies.

A great man in both England and America was Lord Fairfax; he owned many
estates in both countries, but his favorite was this of Belvoir, not
only because of its great natural beauty, but because he liked the
company of the Virginia planters, who joined a certain frankness and
simplicity of life with all the charms of European refinement.

Lord Fairfax kept up all the old English customs in his Potomac home. He
had a passion for horses and for hunting, and his pack of foxhounds was
the best in the colony. Sometimes he had the company of men of his own
age to hunt with him, but he was always sure that he could count upon
the fellowship of a certain boy, the son of a neighbor, named
Washington. Whenever the hunting season arrived, Lord Fairfax sent word
to Mrs. Washington that he would be glad of the company of her eldest
son George, and a day or two later the boy would appear at Belvoir, keen
to mount horse and be off for the chase.

On one such winter day Lord Fairfax and his friend George were hunting
alone. They had had a good run and caught their fox, and were returning
home in a leisurely fashion across the rolling country south of the
hills. They were a curious couple.

The Englishman was nearly sixty years old, more than six feet tall, very
gaunt and big-boned, with gray eyes overhung by bushy brows, sharp
features, and keen, aquiline nose. He had been a great beau in his
youthful days in London, and there was no mistaking the mark of
authority that sat upon him.

The boy who rode by his side was not yet sixteen years old, and yet he
scarcely seemed a boy, nor would his manner have led one to treat him as
such. He was unusually tall and strong for his years, and he had so
trained himself in a strict code of conduct that a singular gravity and
decision marked his bearing. This might have had much to do with the
bond of affection between the man and the youth. Lord Fairfax was not
ashamed to listen seriously to the opinions of young George Washington,
and he had learnt that those opinions were not apt to be trivial, but
the result of deep observation and thought.


As they rode home the man asked the boy what he was planning to do. He
knew that Mrs. Washington was poor and that her son would have to make
his own way in the world.

"What should you like to be, George?" he inquired. "I dare say you've
had enough schooling by this time."

"The sea was my first choice, sir," was the answer. "My brother Lawrence
got me a commission in the navy, but at the last minute mother asked me
not to leave her. She has had hard times bringing us all up, and I felt,
as the eldest, that I ought to stay at home; so I gave up my

"That was hard," said Lord Fairfax, "and yet I think you did well. There
should be openings for a young man in the colonies. It seems to me I
heard that you were very fond of the surveyor's work."

The boy looked up quickly, and his bright eyes flashed. "So I am, sir. I
have made surveys of all the fields near school, and have got the
figures in my books at home. I should like very much to be a real

"Well, George," said Lord Fairfax, "perhaps I can help you then. I've
bought lands out west, the other side the Appalachians. It's a big tract
I own, but I know little about it, and I'm told that men are settling
out there and taking it up themselves. I should like to have it
surveyed, and I think you're just the one to do it."

"I should like it above all things," said the boy, "if you think you can
trust me to do the work properly."

Lord Fairfax smiled slightly as he looked down at his companion. He was
apt to be somewhat amused at Washington's serious modesty. "I'll show
you the plans after dinner. I almost wish I could go out there with

They were now nearing Belvoir, and the man put spurs to his horse and
dashed across the intervening fields. The boy followed close behind,
sitting his horse to perfection. Just before they reached Belvoir they
came to a high hedge. Lord Fairfax put his horse at it and went flying
over. A second later George had followed him. There was no feat of
horsemanship to which he was not equal.

A little later dinner was served in the big dining-room at Belvoir. Lord
Fairfax had his brother's family living with him, and with one or two
friends who were apt to be staying at the house they made quite a large
party. The long polished mahogany table gleamed with silver and glass.
Candles on it and in sconces about the white paneled walls shed a
pleasant lustre over the dinner party.

It was a time when men and women paid great attention to dress. The
ladies wore light flowered gowns, and the men brilliant coats and
knee-breeches, with lace stocks and white powdered hair. Their manners
were of the courts of Europe, polished in the extreme, and they had all
been trained to make an art of conversation. Negro servants waited on
the table, and the noble lord presided at its head with something of the
majesty of a medieval baron in his castle. There were young people
present, and George sat with them, paying gallant speeches to the girls
and telling stories of sport to the boys. He was a popular youth, having
a singularly gentle manner which made him a great favorite with those of
his own age.

After dinner Lord Fairfax took George to his study, and spread out the
plans of his western estate. He told the boy just where to go and what
to do, and George made notes in a small pocketbook, asking questions now
and then which showed a remarkable knowledge of the surveyor's work.

"When can you start?" Lord Fairfax asked, as he finished with the plans.

"At once," said the boy, "if mother can spare me, and I think she can."

"Good. I'd like another hunt with you before you go, but when there's
work afoot a man shouldn't tarry. The sooner you start the better."

A little later George was sleeping soundly in the guest-room
above-stairs dreaming of the adventures he hoped soon to have.

On a March day in 1748 Washington set out with young George Fairfax, a
nephew of the English lord, to make the surveying expedition. Their road
led by Ashley's Gap, a deep pass through the Blue Ridge, that
picturesque line of mountains which had so far marked the boundary of
civilized Virginia.

When they reached the pass they found at its base a rapidly rising
river. The melting snow which still lingered on the hilltops had swollen
the stream and in places had made the road almost impassable. The two
horsemen, by searching for fords, managed to make their way through the
pass, and came out into the wide, smiling valley of Virginia, bounded by
the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghanies. Here flowed that
picturesque river called by the Indian name of Shenandoah, which means
"the Daughter of the Stars."

The first stop the travelers made was at a rough lodge house where one
of Lord Fairfax's bailiffs lived, and here the actual work of surveying
began. Spring was rapidly coming, and young George Washington was by no
means blind to the beauties of the country in that season. He tried,
however, to look about him with a practical eye. He studied the valley
for building sites. He examined the soil. He made carefully measured
maps and drawings, after using his surveyor's rod and chain. When he had
learned all that he wanted of this locality, he followed the valley down
toward the Potomac, he and Fairfax camping out at nights under the
trees, sleeping beside a watch-fire, and keeping ever on the alert for
attack by Indians or wild animals.

When they had reached the river they found it so swollen with spring
floods that there seemed no way of crossing it. Finally, however, they
met an Indian with a birch-bark canoe and bargained with him to take
them across. In this way, swimming their horses, they reached the
Maryland side, and set out again westward.

Shortly after they had left the river they came to a planter's house
where they stayed over night. The next day they were surprised by the
arrival of a war party of thirty Indians carrying scalps won in battle.
The planter knew how to treat the Indians, and soon made friends with
them by offering them whiskey. George had seen little of the red men and
begged them to hold a war-dance.

The white men and the red went out into a meadow and there built a fire,
round which the braves took their seats. The chief made a speech telling
of the tribe's deeds of valor, and calling on the warriors to win new
triumphs. Gradually one by one the reclining members of the band rose
and circled about the fire in a slow swinging step. Two Indians at a
little distance beat upon a rough drum made of wood covered with
deerskin and half filled with water.

As the chief's voice rose higher and higher and the music grew louder
and louder, more and more men joined the dance, until finally all the
tribe was dancing about the fire, and their pace grew ever faster. Now,
from time to time, one would leap in the air uttering savage cries and
yells, then another, and finally all seemed absolutely lost in a sort of
demon's frenzy. Suddenly, at a sharp command from the chief, the dance
and the music ceased, and the warriors came up to their white friends
smiling and asking for more whiskey.

The scene made a deep impression on George Washington. So far he had
lived only among white people, and knew little of the Indian in his
native haunts, but from the date of this war-dance he began to study
the red man's character, and before long he had become an expert in the
art of dealing with these people.

For a month George and young Fairfax traveled through the land that
belonged to the latter's uncle, and at the end of that time the boy had
made practically a complete survey of the region. By the middle of April
he was back at Belvoir. His plans were examined and approved, and he was
well paid for his services.

So pleased was the Englishman with George's work that he used his
efforts to get him the appointment of Public Surveyor. The position
pleased the boy, who at once started to make maps of the whole region
lying along the Potomac. He divided his time between his mother's simple
house, the big house which his older half-brother, Lawrence, had built
at Mount Vernon, and Lord Fairfax's seat at Belvoir. The strongest
friendship had grown up between the nobleman and the boy, and George
unquestionably profited greatly by his talks with this man, who was very
fond of literature and art, and who had known the most distinguished men
and women of Europe.

Belvoir had a fine library, and George spent much of his spare time
there reading with special eagerness the history of England and
Addison's essays in the _Spectator_. His only schooling had been that
which he had gained at a very primitive log schoolhouse, where an old
man named Hobby, originally a bondsman, taught the children of the
plantations reading, writing, and arithmetic. George, however, was not
the boy to be content with such a simple education, and he had made up
his mind that if he could not go to William and Mary College he would at
least learn all he could from Lord Fairfax's well-stocked library.

Young Washington's work as a surveyor was shortly cut in upon by the
outbreak of trouble with France. In looking over the youths of the
neighborhood who were likely to make good soldiers, attention was almost
at once attracted to him. Everybody knew he had a great sense of
responsibility, and his feats as an athlete were equally well known.

As a small boy he had been unusually big and strong for his age, and had
always delighted in any kind of contest of strength. He could outrun,
outride and outbox any boy of either side the Potomac, and had proved it
in many contests of skill. When he was at Hobby's school he had liked to
form his mates into companies at recess time, with cane stalks for
rifles and dried gourds for drums, and drill them in the manual of arms.
They had fought mimic battles, and Washington always commanded one side.
He had really learned a good deal of the art of war in this way, and so
when men were casting about for likely young officers they naturally
thought of the boy surveyor.

His brother Lawrence had sufficient influence to procure him an
appointment as District Adjutant General, and had him make his
headquarters at Mount Vernon, where he immediately began to drill the
raw recruits of the countryside. But in the midst of these military
operations Lawrence fell ill and had to make a sea voyage to the West
Indies, taking his young brother George with him as company.

In the West Indies George caught smallpox, but he made a quick recovery
and after a short convalescence began to enjoy the tropical life which
was so entirely new to him.

Unfortunately Lawrence Washington did not grow stronger, and finally
came back to Mount Vernon to die under his own roof. He was very young,
very high-spirited and accomplished, and immensely popular with all
Virginians. George had looked up to him as to a second father, and his
loss was a tremendous blow to him. Lawrence for his part must have
realized the very unusual qualities of character in his young
half-brother. He left his great estate of Mount Vernon together with
other property to his wife and daughter, and in case they should die
then to his mother and his brother George. George was asked to take
charge of the estates, and although he was still only a boy in years he
showed such splendid ability and judgment in business matters that the
whole care of the family interests soon fell upon his shoulders.

We have already seen how deeply this boy impressed older men with his
rare judgment, and it is scarcely strange to find that he was soon after
picked out by the governor of Virginia to command an expedition sent
through the wilderness to treat with the Indians and French. This
required physical strength and firm purpose, the courage to deal with
the Indians and shrewdness to treat with the French. Washington was
known to have all these qualities. His youth was the only thing against
him, and that the governor was glad to overlook.

It was a rough and perilous expedition, made partly in frail canoes down
the great rivers, and partly by fighting a way through the unbroken
woods. Washington met the Indians whom the French had tried hard to win
over to their side, and by the most skilful diplomacy induced the chiefs
to send back the wampums which the French had given them as tokens of
alliance. He had studied the Indian character and knew the twists and
turns of their peculiar type of mind. He was frank and outspoken with
them, and as a result won their confidence, so that for a great part of
his journey chiefs of the Delawares, the Shawnees and other tribes
traveled with him.

Besides his success with the red men, George Washington, with his
surveyor's knowledge, made a careful study of the country through which
he passed, the result of which study was of the greatest value in later
years when he commanded an army in that region.

He picked out the place where the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers meet
as an admirable site for a fort and made a report of its advantages from
a military point of view. Only a year or two later French engineers
proved the correctness of his judgment by settling on the spot as the
site of Fort Du Quesne, which is now Pittsburg.

Successful as he had been with the Indians, Washington was scarcely less
successful with the civilized French commander. This man, like those at
Belvoir, recognized at once the self-command, the extreme intelligence,
and the modesty of the youth who appeared before him. The old officer
and the young pioneer met as equals and fought diplomatically across the
table as to which nation should win the alliance of the red men. The
negotiations were extremely difficult, enough to try the skill of a man
grown old in diplomatic service, but Washington completed his mission
successfully, and at last set out to retrace his steps home.

Now they had much more difficulty with the Indians and with the
elements. Some of their guides turned traitors, and they had to watch
their arms by night and day. Ceaseless vigilance had to be used, and
time and again the little band had to make forced marches and change
their course on the spur of the moment to throw off bands of pursuing
savages. When they reached the banks of the Alleghany River they found
that it was only partly frozen over and that great quantities of broken
ice were driving down the channel in the middle.

Washington knew that a band of hostile Indians was at his heels, and he
had to plan some way of crossing the Alleghany. He decided to build a
raft, but had only one poor hatchet with which to construct it. The men
set to work with this, and labored all day, but night came before the
raft was finished. As soon as they could they launched it and tried to
steer it across with long poles. When they reached the main channel the
raft became jammed between great cakes of ice, and it seemed as if they
would all be swept down-stream with it. Washington planted his pole
against the bottom of the stream and pushed with all his might, in hopes
of holding the raft still until the ice should have gone by. Instead the
current drove the ice against his pole with such force that he was
jerked into the water and only saved himself from being swept down the
roaring channel by seizing one of the logs.

They found it impossible to reach shore. The best they could do was to
get to an island near which the raft had drifted. Here they passed the
night, exposed to extreme cold, in great danger of freezing; but in the
morning the drift ice was found so tightly wedged together that they
were able to cross over on it to the opposite bank of the Alleghany.

This was but one of many adventures that befell the little party on its
homeward way. Through all kinds of dangers Washington led his men, and
finally he had the satisfaction of bringing the expedition safely back
to Williamsburg, where he gave the governor a full report of his
remarkable mission. It was practically the first expedition of its kind
in Virginian history, and the story of it soon spread far and wide
through the Old Dominion.

Everywhere men spoke of the remarkable skill the young man had shown in
dealing with fickle Indians and crafty French. Report was made of the
trained eye with which the young commander had noticed the military
qualities of the country and of the courage he had shown in all sorts of
perils. More than that, the governor of Virginia and other men in power
realized that Washington had prudence, good judgment, and resolution to
a remarkable degree, and told each other that here was a man worthy to
uphold the interests of the colony. From the date of this trip George
Washington became a prominent figure. It was not long before he was to
be the mainstay of Virginia.

Every one knows the story of Washington's life. From being the mainstay
of Virginia and fighting with General Braddock against the French and
Indians, he became the mainstay of the United Colonies and fought
through seven long and trying years against the veterans of England. Who
can overestimate the great patience and courage and determination that
heroic struggle required of him?

We see him taking command of the raw recruits at Cambridge, leading his
men in victory at Trenton, sustaining them in defeat at Monmouth,
cheering them through the desperate winter at Valley Forge. Later we see
him as first President of the United States guiding the new republic
through its first troubled years, and later still as the simple
gentleman of Mount Vernon, glad to escape to the peace of the river and
fields he loved.

There are few figures in history quite so self-reliant as that of this
"Father of his Country." The qualities which made him so remarkable a
boy were the same as those which made him so great a man.


Daniel Boone

The Boy of the Frontier: 1735-1820

Many people were riding to the big red barn that belonged to a
Pennsylvania farmer who lived on the outskirts of the little town of
Oley in Berks County. It was a Sunday morning early in the summer of
1742, and people from all the neighborhood were heading for that barn.
Almost all of them came on horseback, sometimes man and wife riding
separate steeds, sometimes the woman seated behind the man, her hands
grasping his coat. A few families, father, mother and a flock of
children, covered the road on foot, the father with a gun usually
strapped across his back. A very few people drove up in primitive
carriages, something like old-fashioned English chaises. Those who drove
were very proud, because such elegant carriages were rarely seen outside
of Philadelphia, and betokened much social prominence.

The big doors of the red barn stood wide open, and as soon as the horses
were properly tethered the country people streamed inside. Most
primitive benches had been placed in rows facing a broad platform at the
farther end, and men, women and children filed into the seats with all
the solemnity of people entering church. As soon as they had settled
themselves on the benches they all stared at the platform.

Five swarthy, red-skinned Indians stood on the raised place, and a
little in front of them stood a tall, strong-featured white man. The
Indians wore their native buckskin clothes, and had chains of bright
beads about their necks, but their faces were as quiet and peaceful as
that of the white man in front of them. One of them, he who looked the
youngest, wore a single brilliant red feather in his long black hair.
All the men stood there patiently until the barn was filled.

Down in front, close to the platform, sat a small boy, his eyes fixed on
the young Indian who wore the scarlet feather. The boy was about eight
years old. His hair was dark and rather long, his blue eyes looked from
under light yellowish eyebrows, his mouth was very wide but his lips
were thin and straight. He looked alert and interested.

Presently the white man on the platform, who was a widely-known Moravian
missionary named Count Zinzendorf, raised his voice in prayer. The
farmers, their wives, and children knelt on the floor of the barn. When
the prayer was ended the Count stated that at this meeting, or synod, as
he called it, they were to hear from five Delaware Indians, lately
converted to Christianity. One after the other the red men stepped
forward and spoke, slowly, and sometimes hesitating over long English
words, but with a fine earnestness that was accented by their strong,
dignified bearing and their firm, well-cut features.

The boy in front listened attentively, although he could not understand
everything they said. He liked Indians, and, as long as he had to go to
church, he was glad he could look at these Delawares.

The synod came to an end, and the congregation filed slowly out of the
barn. Those who had ridden mounted again, and went their homeward way at
the slow and decorous pace suitable to Sunday. Squire Boone, who had
been sitting on the front bench with his wife Sarah, and nine of his
eleven children, gathered the latter together, and guided them, much
like a flock of sheep, to his log cabin home near Oley. One of them, the
fourth boy, Daniel by name, had lingered behind. He had waited until the
five Delawares were leaving, and then had gone up to the youngest of the
Indians, and touched his hand.

The Indian looked down at the small boy, and smiled. "How?" he said

"Is the feather in your hair a flamingo feather?" asked the boy.

The Delaware nodded. "Yes, him flamingo."

"How did you win it?"

The young man smiled again. "Once the Delawares must have rescue from
the Hurons. A chief sent me with others to take word. We must go through
Iroquois country to get Hurons. Iroquois bad people, war with us. Other
Delawares killed, I take word in safe. Hurons go back with me, and help
my people. Chief give me flamingo feather."

Admiration shone in the boy's eyes. "I like the Delawares," said he.

"Delawares like you people," replied the Indian. "What you name?"

"Daniel Boone. Some day, when I grow up, I'll come and visit you."

"Good," said the other. He held out his hand as he was used to seeing
white men do. The boy put his palm in the Indian's, and they shook
hands. Then Daniel turned and scampered down the road after his father.

The boys of the Boone family had a very good time. They lived on what
was then the frontier between civilization and the wilderness. They
learned to hunt and fish, and to know the habits of the animals of the
woods and fields. Moreover they were almost as used to seeing Indians as
to seeing white people, and had none of the fear of them which kept so
many of the settlers farther east continually uneasy.

The boys and girls had plenty of work to do. Squire Boone had a big
farm, and kept five or six looms working in his house, making homespun
clothes for his large family and to sell to his neighbors. He owned a
splendid grazing range some little distance north of his home, and sent
his cattle there early each spring.

Shortly after that Sunday of Count Zinzendorf's missionary meeting
Daniel's mother told him that he and she were to take the cattle north
to this range, and watch them during the summer. Squire Boone was needed
at the farm, the older girls were to tend the loom, and the mother had
chosen her favorite son to go north with her.

At the beginning of summer they drove the cows to the range, and stayed
there with them until autumn. Mrs. Boone and Daniel lived in a small
cabin, far from any neighbors. Near the cabin, over a spring, was a
dairy-house. The sturdy woman worked here, making fine butter and
cheese, while Daniel kept guard over the cattle, letting them wander
over the hills and through the woods as they would, but driving them
back to their pen near the cabin at sunset.

This duty of herdsman left Daniel much time to himself. He spent this
time in studying woodcraft. He grew passionately fond of everything
belonging to the wilderness; he knew birds and beasts, the trails
through the forest and the course of streams as well as any Indian. He
set traps of his own making, and brought his captures proudly home at
night to his mother.

At first he had to make his own weapons, and invented a curious
implement, simply a slim, smooth-shaved sapling, with a bunch of twisted
roots at the end. This he learned to throw so skilfully that he could
readily kill birds, rabbits, and small game with it. A little later,
however, his father gave him a rifle, and he became an expert marksman,
able to provide his mother with plenty of game for food.

It was a wonderful life for a boy who loved the country. All summer he
herded the cattle and roamed through the almost untrodden wilderness. In
the winter his father let him hunt as soon as he had learned to handle a
gun. Daniel roamed far and wide across the Neversink mountain range to
the north and west of Monocacy Valley. He kept his family supplied with
great stock of game, and he cured the animals' skins. When he had a
sufficient store of skins he set out to market them in Philadelphia.

The city William Penn had founded on the banks of the Delaware was then
a small but prosperous village. It had been designed on the plan of a
checker-board, and most of the houses were surrounded by well-kept
gardens and flourishing orchards. Primitive as it was, the country boy
looked at it with wondering admiration. The houses, which were really
very simple, were palaces to him, when he thought of his father's log
cabin. The men and women, dressed in the latest importations brought
from London by sailing vessels, were figures of surpassing style and

Life in Philadelphia seemed very rich to Daniel Boone; he liked to
loiter along the streets and look in at the wide gardens and the
comfortable white porches, and he liked to stop and watch a city chaise
drive by, with a man in a claret or plum-colored suit and a woman in a
bright taffeta gown. They were almost a different race from the
buckskin-clad people of the wilderness from whom he came.

Yet the frontier was in fact very near to Philadelphia. A few outlying
fields about the town alone separated it from the wild forest; guards
were ever ready to give warning of danger from Indians on the war-path,
and friendly Indians were constantly met with on the streets. There were
many fur-traders, too, who brought their goods to market as Daniel did,
and one was constantly meeting some rough-clad trapper in from the
wilds for a few days of city life.

Daniel wandered about slowly, enjoying everything he saw with a boy's
delight in the unusual, and finally exchanging the skins he had brought
with him for things he needed in his hunting,--long, sharp-edged knives,
flints, powder and lead for his gun.

When Daniel was fourteen his older brother married a young Quakeress who
had received a better education than any of her neighbors. She liked
Daniel and began to teach him to read and to figure. He was not a
brilliant scholar, but he learned enough to do rough surveying work, and
to write letters which expressed what he meant although spelled on a
plan of his own. At about the same time Squire Boone started a
blacksmith shop, and Daniel added this work to what he already did as
herdsman and hunter. The work in iron gave him a chance to plan and
carry out new ideas of his in regard to guns and traps.

The Pennsylvania country was gradually filling up, and in 1750, when
Daniel was fifteen, Squire Boone began to wonder where his eleven
children would find farming land. Directly westward rose the Alleghany
Mountains, a high barrier to pioneers, and report said that the Indians
who lived just beyond them were particularly fierce. Southwest, however,
lay alluring valleys, broad meadows between the Appalachian ranges that
stretched from Pennsylvania through Virginia and the Carolinas into
far-off Georgia. Men who wanted new and bigger lands went south into the
Blue Ridge country, and some near neighbors of the Boones had pushed on
to the Yadkin Valley which lay in northwestern North Carolina. Reports
came back of the splendid lands they found there.

Squire Boone was by nature a pioneer, a man who loved to explore new
lands and build new settlements, and so he decided to venture into this
new and promising country. There is a world of romance in such a journey
as this the Boones now undertook, and they were but one of many thousand
families who were pushing west and south, laying the foundations of a
great land.

Mrs. Boone and the younger children were safely stowed away in
canvas-covered wagons, such as were later known as "prairie schooners,"
and Squire Boone with Daniel and the older boys rode horseback, driving
the cattle before them, and forming an armed guard about the caravan.
They crossed the ford at Harper's Ferry and went on up the rich
Shenandoah Valley. At night camp was pitched by a spring and the wagons
drawn up in a circle about the cattle. A camp-fire was built and the
game which Daniel as huntsman had shot was cooked for supper. Sentries
were posted, and all night long father and sons took turns guarding
against attack from Indians.

Think what a prospect lay before the pioneers! A vast tract of the
fairest and richest land in the world waiting to be claimed from the
wilderness. They had only to choose and take. But the zeal for
exploration led them on, over the table-land of western Virginia,
through the primeval forests, up the currents of the many rivers that
flow toward the Ohio, and so on to the south and west.

As they neared the Yadkin they came to a splendid stretch of land; a
high prairie, with fine grass for cattle, and near at hand streams edged
with cane-brake. Daniel saw such fish and game as he had never seen
before, fruit to be had for the taking, and a cattle range only bounded
by the distant western mountains. But as he rode into the splendid
prairie he thought more of those distant blue-topped heights than of the
near-by meadows; he knew that on and on westward lay a great unknown
country and already he felt it call to him to be explored.

Squire Boone chose land at a place called Buffalo Lick near the Yadkin
River, and built a home there. Daniel now spent little time about the
farm, for he had learned the value of skins in the Atlantic cities.
Buffalo were plentiful all about the settlement, and he could kill four
or five deer in a day. It was in truth a hunter's paradise. In a single
day he could kill enough bears to make a ton of what was called
bear-bacon; there were numberless wolves, panthers, and wildcats;
turkeys, beavers, otters and smaller animals ran wild all about him, and
from morn till night he was out hunting in the woods.

But life was not all sport for the young Boones. Various Indian tribes,
the Catawbas, the Cherokees, and the Shawnese hunted not far away, and
although they were often on friendly terms with the whites, and came to
the settlement to trade, sometimes they put on their war paint, and
descended on the small frontier homes with full fury.

As the French came down from the north disputing this new land with the
English settlers they made the Indians their allies, and the border
warfare grew more bitter. Finally the English general Braddock decided
to march west himself and try to teach the French and Indians a lesson.

It was not likely that such a sturdy youth as Daniel Boone could resist
the desire to march against the French. The expedition promised him a
chance to push farther into that wild western country, if nothing else,
and so he joined Braddock's small army with about a hundred other North
Carolina frontiersmen. Daniel was made chief wagoner and blacksmith.

General Braddock knew nothing of Indian warfare, and the little
expedition proved an easy target for their enemies. The cumbersome and
heavily laden baggage wagons were a great handicap to them. The English
regulars, the frontiersmen, and the baggage train were caught in the
deep ravine of Turtle Creek, a few miles away from Pittsburg, and
suddenly set upon by ambushed Indians commanded by French officers. Many
of the drivers, caught in the trap, were killed. Daniel, however,
contrived to cut the traces of his team, and mounting one of the horses,
escaped down and out of the ravine under a fire of shot and arrows.

The Indians pursued the fugitives, laying waste the borders of
Pennsylvania and Virginia, but not following as far south as the Yadkin.
Daniel reached home, and set to work to strengthen the settlement's ties
of friendship with the two tribes of the neighborhood, the Catawbas and
the Cherokees. With their aid he was able to provide sufficient
safeguard against the Northern tribes.


While he was with Braddock's army Daniel had met a man named John
Finley, who fired his imagination with stories of his wanderings in the
west. He was a fur-trader, and his passion for hunting had already led
him into the Kentucky wilderness as far as the Falls of the Ohio River,
where Louisville now stands. He had had countless adventures with
Indians, with wild animals, and with the perils of stream and forest.
Young Boone drank in the stories eagerly, and resolved that some day he
would himself go out to explore the west.

Daniel had now come to manhood. For a time he stayed in the Yadkin
Valley, but the call to follow the trail of the buffaloes and the
westward moving Shawnese was clear in his ears. Dangerous days of Indian
fighting on the border held him close at home, but the time came when he
could resist the call no longer. He left home and took his way through
the uncharted hills and forests to Kentucky.

At times he fought for his life with roving Indians, and at times he
captained some small English garrison beset by the same red men. He won
great renown as an Indian fighter, as a hunter, as an intrepid explorer.
The little town of Boonesborough was named for him, and he defended it
through a long and perilous siege. But so soon as men came and built
homes and staked out farms Boone must be moving west. What he sought was
the wilderness; he was happiest in the great recesses of the woods, or
blazing his own trail across untrodden prairies.

He led the vanguard into North Carolina, into West Virginia, into
Kentucky, and then into Missouri. He is a splendid example of the man
who must go first to prepare the way for others, in every way the best
type of those brave, hardy pioneers who were claiming the continent for
English-speaking people. The things he had most desired as a boy he most
desired in manhood, the rough life of a new country and the struggle to
overcome the perils of the wild.


John Paul Jones

The Boy of the Atlantic: 1747-1792

The summer afternoon was fair, and the waves that rolled upon the north
shore of Solway Firth in the western Lowlands of Scotland were calm and
even. But the tide was coming in, and inch by inch was covering the
causeway that led from shore to a high rock some hundred yards away. The
rock was bare of vegetation, and sheer on the landward side, but on the
face toward the sea were rough jutting points that would give a climber
certain footholds, and near the top smooth ledges.

On one or two of these ledges sea-gulls had built their nests, tucked in
under projecting points where they would be sheltered from wind and
rain. Now the gulls would sweep in from sea, curving in great circles
until they reached their homes, and then would sit on the ledge calling
to their mates across the water. Except for the cries of the gulls,
however, the rock was very quiet. The lazy regular beat of the waves
about its base was very soothing. On the longest ledge, below the
sea-gulls' nests, lay a boy about twelve years old, sound asleep, his
face turned toward the ocean.

Either the gulls' cries or the sun, now slanting in the west, disturbed
him. He did not open his eyes, but he clenched his fists, and muttered
incoherently. Presently with a start he awoke. He rubbed his eyes, and
then sat up. "What a queer dream!" he said aloud.

The ledge where he sat was not a very safe place. There was scarcely
room for him to move, and directly below him was the sea. But this boy
was quite as much at home on high rocks or in the water as he was on
land, and he was very fond of looking out for distant sailing vessels
and wondering where they might be bound.

He glanced along the north shore to the little fishing hamlet of
Arbigland where he lived. He saw that the tide had come in rapidly while
he slept, and that the path to the shore was now covered. He stood up
and stretched his bare arms, brown with sunburn, high over his head.
Then he started to climb down from the ledge by the jutting points of

He was as sure-footed as any mountaineer. His clothes were old, so
neither rock nor sea could do them much harm; his feet were bare. He was
short but very broad, and his muscles were strong and supple. When he
came to the foot of the rock he stood a moment, hunting for the deepest
pool at its base, then, loosing his hold, he dove into the water.

In a few seconds he was up again, floating on his back; and a little
later he struck out, swimming hand over hand, toward a sandy beach to
the south.

A young man, wearing the uniform of a lieutenant in the British navy,
stood on the beach, watching the boy swim. When the latter had landed
and shaken the water from him much as a dog would, the man approached
him. "Where on earth did you come from, John Paul?" he asked with a
laugh. "The first thing I knew I saw you swimming in from sea."

"I was out on the rock asleep," said the boy. "The tide came up and cut
me off. And oh, Lieutenant Pearson, I had the strangest dream! I dreamt
I was in the middle of a great sea-fight. I was captain of a ship, and
her yard-arms were on fire, and we were pouring broadsides into the
enemy, afraid any minute that we'd sink. How we did fight that ship!"

The young officer's eyes glowed. "And I hope you may some day, John!" he

"But the strangest part was that our ship didn't fly the English flag,"
said the boy. "At the masthead was a flag I'd never seen, red and white
with a blue field filled with stars in the corner. What country's flag
is that?"

Pearson thought for a moment. "There's no such flag," he said finally.
"I know them all, and there's none like that. The rest of your dream may
come true, but not that about the flag. Come, let's be walking back to

Although John Paul's father came of peaceful farmer and fisher folk who
lived about Solway Firth, his mother had been a "Highland lassie,"
descended from one of the fighting clans in the Grampian Hills. The boy
had much of the Highlander's love of wild adventure, and found it hard
to live the simple life of the fishing village. The sea appealed to him,
and he much preferred it to the small Scotch parish school. His family
were poor, and as soon as he was able he was set to steering fishing
yawls and hauling lines. At twelve he was as sturdy and capable as most
boys at twenty.

Many men in Arbigland had heard John Paul beg his father to let him
cross the Solway to the port of Whitehaven and ship on some vessel bound
for America, where his older brother William had found a new home. But
his father saw no opening for his younger son in such a life. All the
way back to town that afternoon the boy told Lieutenant Pearson of his
great desire, and the young officer said he would try to help him.

The boy's chance, however, came in another way. A few days later it
chanced that Mr. James Younger, a big ship-owner, was on the
landing-place of Arbigland when some of the villagers caught sight of a
small fishing yawl beating up against a stiff northeast squall, trying
to gain the shelter of the little tidal-creek that formed the harbor of
the town.

Mr. Younger looked long at the boat and then shook his head. "I don't
think she'll do it," he said dubiously.

Yet the boat came on, and he could soon see that the only crew were a
man and a boy. The boy was steering, handling the sheets and giving
orders, while the man simply sat on the gunwale to trim the boat.

"Who's the boy?" asked the ship-owner.

"John Paul," said a bystander. "That's his father there."

Mr. Younger looked at the man pointed out, who was standing near, and
who did not seem to be in the least alarmed. "Are you the lad's father?"
he asked.

The man looked up and nodded. "Yes, that's my boy John conning the
boat," said he. "He'll fetch her in. This isn't much of a squall for

The father spoke with truth. The boy handled his small craft with such
skill that he soon had her alongside the wharf. As soon as John Paul had
landed Mr. Younger stepped up to the father and asked to be introduced
to the son. Then the ship-owner told him how much he had admired his
seamanship, and asked if he would care to sail as master's apprentice in
a new vessel he owned, which was fitting out for a voyage to Virginia
and the West Indies. The boy's eyes danced with delight; he begged his
father to let him go, and finally Mr. Paul consented. The
twelve-year-old boy had won his wish to go to sea.

A few days later the brig _Friendship_ sailed from Whitehaven, with
small John Paul on board, and after a slow voyage which lasted
thirty-two days dropped anchor in the Rappahannock River of Virginia.

The life of a colonial trader was very pleasant in 1760. The
sailing-vessels usually made a triangular voyage, taking some six months
to go from England to the colonies, then to the West Indies, and so east
again. About three of the six months were spent at the small settlements
on shore, discharging goods from England, taking on board cotton and
tobacco, and bartering with the merchants.

The Virginians, who lived on their great plantations with many servants,
were the most hospitable people in the world, always eager to entertain
a stranger, and the English sailors were given the freedom of the shore.
The _Friendship_ anchored a short distance down the river from where
John Paul's older brother lived, and the boy immediately went to see him
and stayed as his guest for some time.

This brother William had been adopted by a wealthy planter named Jones,
and the latter was delighted with the young John Paul, and tried to get
him to leave the sailor's life and settle on the Rappahannock. But much
as John liked the easy life of the plantation, the fine riding horses,
the wide fields and splendid rivers, the call of the sea was dearer to
him, and when the _Friendship_ dropped down the Rappahannock bound for
Tobago and the Barbadoes he was on board of her.

Those were adventurous days for sailors and merchants. Money was to be
made in many ways, and consciences were not overcareful as to the ways.
The prosperous traders of Virginia did not mind taking an interest in
some ocean rover bound on pirate's business, or in the more lawful
slave-trade with the west coast of Africa. For a time, however, young
John Paul sailed for Mr. Younger, and was finally paid by being given a
one-sixth interest in a ship called _King George's Packet_.

The boy was now first mate, and trade with England being dull, he and
the captain decided to try the slave-trade. For two years they made
prosperous voyages between Jamaica and the coast of Guinea, helping to
found the fortunes of some of the best known families of America by
importing slaves.

After a year, however, John Paul tired of the business, and sold his
share of the ship to the captain for about one thousand guineas. He was
not yet twenty-one, but his seafaring life had already made him fairly
well-to-do. He planned to go home and see his family in Scotland, and
took passage in the brig _John o' Gaunt_.

Life on shipboard was full of perils then, and very soon after the brig
had cleared the Windward Islands the terrible scourge of yellow fever
was found to be on the vessel. Within a few days the captain, the mate,
and all of the crew but five had died of the disease. John Paul was
fully exposed to it, but he and the five men escaped it. He was the only
one of those left who knew anything about navigation, so he took
command, and after a stormy passage, with a crew much too small to
handle the brig, he managed to bring her safely to Whitehaven with all
her cargo. He handled her as skilfully as he had the small yawl in
Solway Firth.

The owners of the _John o' Gaunt_ were delighted and gave John Paul and
his five sailors the ten per cent. share of the cargo which the salvage
laws entitled them to. In addition they offered him the command of a
splendid full-rigged new merchantman which was to sail between England
and America, and a tenth share of all profits. It was a very fine offer
to a man who had barely come of age, but the youth had shown that he
had few equals as a mariner.

Good fortune shone upon him. He had no sooner sailed up the Rappahannock
again and landed at the plantation where his brother lived than he
learned that the rich old Virginian, William Jones, had recently died
and in his will had named him as one of his heirs. He had always
cherished a fancy for the sturdy, black-haired boy who had made him that
visit. The will provided that John Paul should add the planter's name to
his own. The young captain did not object to this, and so henceforth he
was known as John Paul Jones.

Scores of stories are told of the young captain's adventures. He loved
danger, and it was his nature to enjoy a fight with men or with the
elements. On a voyage to Jamaica he met with serious trouble. Fever
again reduced the crew to six men, and Jones was the only officer able
to be on deck. A huge negro named Maxwell tried to start a mutiny and
capture the ship for his own uses. He rushed at Jones, and the latter
had to seize a belaying-pin and hit him over the head. The man fell
badly hurt and soon after reaching Jamaica died.

Jones gave himself up to the authorities and was tried for murder on the
high seas. He said to the court: "I had two brace of loaded pistols in
my belt, and could easily have shot him. I struck with a belaying-pin in
preference, because I hoped that I might subdue him without killing
him." He was acquitted, and soon after offered command of a new ship
built to trade with India.


The charm of life in Virginia appealed more and more strongly to the
sailor. He liked the new country, the society of the young cities along
the Atlantic coast, and he spent less time on the high seas and more
time fishing and hunting on his own land and in Chesapeake Bay. He might
have settled quietly into such prosperous retirement had not the
minutemen of Concord startled the new world into stirring action.

John Paul Jones loved America and he loved ships. Consequently he was
one of the very first to offer his services in building a new navy.
Congress was glad to have him; he was known as a man of the greatest
courage and of supreme nautical skill.

On September 23, 1779, Paul Jones, on board the American ship _Bon Homme
Richard_, met the British frigate _Serapis_ off the English coast. A
battle of giants followed, for both ships were manned by brave crews and
commanded by extraordinarily skilful officers. The short, black-haired,
agile American commander saw his ship catch fire, stood on his
quarterdeck while the blazing spars, sails and rigging fell about him,
while his men were mowed down by the terrific broadsides of the
_Serapis_, and calmly directed the fire of shot at the enemy.

Terribly as the _Bon Homme Richard_ suffered, the _Serapis_ was in still
worse plight. Two-thirds of her men were killed or wounded when Paul
Jones gave the signal to board her. The Americans swarmed over the
enemy's bulwarks, and, armed with pistol and cutlass, cleared the deck.

The captain of the _Serapis_ fought his ship to the last, but when he
saw the Americans sweeping everything before them and already heading
for the quarterdeck, he himself seized the ensign halyards and struck
his flag. Both ships were in flames, and the smoke was so thick that it
was some minutes before men realized his surrender. There was little to
choose between the two vessels; each was a floating mass of wreckage.

A little later the English captain went on board the _Bon Homme Richard_
and tendered his sword to the young American. The latter looked hard at
the English officer. "Captain Pearson?" he asked questioningly.

The other bowed.

"Ah, I thought so. I am John Paul Jones, once small John Paul of
Arbigland in the Firth. Do you remember me?"

Pearson looked at the smoke-grimed face, the keen black eyes, the fine
figure. "I shouldn't have known you. Yes, I remember now."

Paul Jones took the sword that was held out to him, and asked one of his
midshipmen to escort the British captain to his cabin. He could not help
smiling as a curious recollection came to him. He looked up at the
masthead above him. There floated a flag bearing thirteen red and white
stripes and a blue corner filled with stars. It was the very flag of his
dream as a boy.

Thus it was that the sturdy Scotch boy, full of the daring spirit of his
Highland ancestors, became the great sea-fighter of a new country, and
ultimately wrote his name in history as the Father of the American



The Boy of Salzburg: 1756-1791

The great hall of the famous musical society of Bologna in Italy was
filled with musicians on the afternoon of October 9, 1770. They had
gathered to welcome a small boy who had recently come with his father
from the town of Salzburg in Austria. The most marvelous stories of his
genius as a composer had preceded him, and his travels through Europe
had been one long success. Yet it scarcely seemed possible that a boy of
fourteen could know so much about music as this one was said to. That
was why the learned men of Bologna had gathered together this afternoon.
They were going to test Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's skill.

It was about four o'clock when the usher at the door announced Leopold
Mozart and his son Wolfgang. The members of the society faced the
newcomers. They saw a tall, fine-looking man accompanied by a slim,
fair-haired boy with smiling eyes and mouth. The boy was richly dressed,
with much gold lace upon his coat and trousers. He was perfectly
self-possessed, and when he saw the eyes of all the men in the room
fixed upon him he made a low bow. It was gracefully done, and a murmur
of welcome rose from the members. So this was the boy of whom all the
musicians of Europe were talking.

The skill of the young composer was now to be put to the test. Three men
approached the boy, the president of the society and two experienced
Kapellmeisters, or choirmasters. In the presence of all the members the
boy was given a difficult anthem, which he was invited to set to music
in four parts. He was then led by a beadle into an adjoining room, and
the door locked. There the boy set to work on his composition.

Just half an hour later the boy knocked on the door in signal that the
music was finished. The beadle opened the door, and the boy presented
his completed score to the president. The latter examined the score
carefully, then handed it to the Kapellmeisters. They in turn examined
it, and passed it on to the other members. Each man as he looked at the
composition showed his surprise. Finally it had made the circuit of the
room. Then a ballot-box was passed, and each member was asked to cast
either a white or a black ball, depending on whether he thought the
newcomer was worthy to be admitted to the distinguished society of
Bologna. Every ball cast was white.

Young Mozart was then recalled to the room. When he entered this time he
was greeted with cheers. The president met him, and informed him of his
election. Then the members pressed about him, eager to praise his work.
He had been set a very difficult type of composition, and had
accomplished in half an hour greater results than any other candidate
had ever reached in three hours.

The musicians of Bologna decided that the judgments of the European
courts as to this boy's genius were correct.

Father and son proceeded on their journey south through Italy. They
reached Rome during Holy Week, and learned that the celebrated music of
the "Miserere" was being given in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. It
was very difficult to gain admittance to the Chapel, as the Pope and
many of the Cardinals were there. The rich dress of the two visitors,
the German they spoke, and the singular air of authority which the boy
showed, convinced the Swiss guards at the door that these were people of
importance. One soldier whispered to another that this was a young
German prince traveling with his tutor. They were allowed to enter, and
the boy, accustomed from infancy to the life of courts, immediately
walked to the Cardinals' table, and placed himself between the chairs of
two of those Princes of the Church.

One of the latter, Cardinal Pallavicini, surprised at the boy's
assurance, beckoned to him, and said, "Will you have the goodness to
tell me in confidence who you are?"

"Wolfgang Mozart of Salzburg," answered the boy.

"What!" cried the Cardinal. "Are you really that famous boy of whom so
many men have written to me?"

Mozart bowed in assent. "And are you not Cardinal Pallavicini?" he asked
in turn.

"Yes," said the prelate. "Why do you ask?"

"My father and I have letters to your Eminence," said the boy, "and are
anxious to wait upon you with our compliments."

The Cardinal was delighted at the boy's arrival, had a seat placed for
him, and talked to him in the intermissions of the service. He
complimented him on learning Italian so quickly, saying that he could
speak very little German. When the music was over Wolfgang kissed the
Cardinal's hand, and the latter, taking his red biretta from his head,
invited the boy to make a long stay at the Papal court.

The boy was very much impressed by the music of the "Miserere," and when
he left the Chapel asked where he could get a copy of it. To his dismay
he was told that the music was considered so wonderful that the Papal
musicians were forbidden on pain of excommunication by the Pope to take
any part of the score away, or to copy it, or allow any one else to copy

Mozart, however, was determined to have a copy of that music, even if he
had to pay the penalty of being excommunicated. He soon hit on a plan.

The next morning the boy arrived early at the Sistine Chapel, and
devoted all his thought to remembering the music. It was exceedingly
difficult, performed as it was by a double choir, and full of singular
effects, one of which was the absence of any particular rhythm. The task
of putting down such music in notes was tremendous. Yet, when Wolfgang
left the Chapel he went straight home to the lodgings his father had
taken, and made a sketch of the entire music. He went again on Good
Friday morning, and sat with his copy hidden in his hat. In that way he
corrected and completed it. When it was finished he told his father of
it, and the news soon spread through Rome that this wonderful boy had
actually stolen the complete score of the "Miserere" exactly as it was
composed by Allegri.

The feat was said to be unheard of, and many considered it impossible.
Certain men of importance called to see Wolfgang's father about it, with
the result that the boy was obliged to show what he had written at a
large musical party held for that special purpose. The musician
Christofori, who had sung in the choir in the Chapel, pronounced the
copy absolutely correct. Every one was amazed, and then so much
delighted at the marvelous skill of this boy of fourteen that the
penalty of excommunication was entirely forgotten. Princes, Cardinals,
all that part of Rome which loved art and music, had only wondering
admiration for the young German musician.

There had never been any doubt among those who had met the boy Mozart
that he was a genius. At fourteen years of age he had already been
playing the clavier and the violin for a number of years. His father,
himself a musician, was attached to the court of the Archbishop of
Salzburg, and had written a great deal of music. But when he discovered
the amazing genius of his two children, his son and daughter, he devoted
himself entirely to training them.

The boy was born January 27, 1756, and was christened John Chrysostom
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, quite a large collection of names. The girl,
Maria, was four years older. When Maria was seven years old her father
began to give her lessons on the clavier, which was an instrument very
much like the piano, and the girl soon won the highest reputation for
her playing. When she began to play, her small brother Wolfgang, or
Woferl as he was called in nickname, although only three years old,
constantly watched her, and whenever he had the chance tried striking
the keys himself. At four he had shown the ability to remember solos
from concerts he was taken to, and it then first occurred to his father
that his son was a genius. Before long Wolfgang was composing pieces
which his father wrote down for him.

It was only a year or two later that Leopold Mozart, coming home with a
friend one day, found the boy very busy with pen and ink.

"What are you doing there, Woferl?" asked the father.

"Writing a concerto for the clavier," answered the small boy. "The first
part is just finished."

His father smiled. "It must be something very fine, I dare say; let us
look at it."

"No, no," said Woferl, "it isn't ready yet."

Leopold however picked up the paper, and he and his friend began to
laugh as they looked at the rudely scrawled notes. The paper was also
covered with blots, for the boy had kept jabbing his pen to the very
bottom of his inkstand, and often wiped the clots of ink across the
paper. But after a moment's examination Leopold stopped laughing, and
both men looked hard at the sheet. There were ideas in music scrawled
there which even a grown man found it difficult to understand.

"See," said the father in amazement, "it is written correctly and
regularly, though it can't be used because it's so difficult we couldn't
find any one who could play it."

The boy looked up quickly. "It's a concerto, father, and must be
practiced a long time before it can be played. It ought to go this way."
He began to play it as best he could on the clavier, but could give them
only the barest outline of it. As a matter of fact the boy had written
the music with a full score of accompaniments, ready to be played by a
full orchestra.

At six Mozart knew the effect of sounds as shown by notes, and could
compose unaided by any instrument.

Leopold Mozart could not keep the story of his children's great talents
to himself, and in a very short time news of their remarkable ability
had spread through Austria. Invitations poured in upon the father asking
him to bring the boy and girl to different courts, and he decided to
take them on a concert tour.

The children played at all the chief cities of the empire, and
everywhere they were welcomed as infant prodigies. The Emperor and
Empress took special delight in them, loaded them with presents, and
insisted on having them treated with all the respect given to grown
artists. Little Woferl appeared at court in a suit of white and gold,
very resplendent with lace, ruffles, and ornaments of all sorts. His
small sister, in white brocaded taffeta, was dressed exactly like an
archduchess in miniature.

It is a wonder that both children were not hopelessly spoiled by the
treatment they received, but fortunately both had much good sense, and
they enjoyed their travels without becoming conceited.

Leopold and his children went from Austria to Paris, and then to London.
Everywhere their concerts met with the same success. In London the most
difficult pieces by Bach and Handel were put before the boy, but he
played them at sight, and without the slightest mistake. Bach was at
that time music-master to the English Queen, and he took special delight
in young Mozart. He would take the boy on his knees, and play a few
bars, and then have the boy continue them, and so, each playing in turn,
they would perform an entire sonata, as if with a single pair of hands.

The trip to England set a final seal on Woferl's fame. His father wrote
home: "My girl is esteemed the first female performer in Europe, though
only twelve years old, and ... the high and mighty Wolfgang, though only
eight, possesses the acquirements of a man of forty. In short, those
only who see and hear can believe; and even you in Salzburg know nothing
about him, he is so changed."

After a year or two of travel the family returned home. It was now
decided that the boy should try his hand at an opera. Genius, however,
is apt to inspire jealousy, and Mozart was now so well known that many
of the leading musicians of Germany plotted against him. It was galling
to their pride to find that a child knew so much more than they. As a
result they planned to avoid hearing the boy if they could, so that when
asked they could say they doubted his ability, and thought his great
skill most likely sham.


The father laid a plan to catch one of these men, a well-known Viennese
musician. He learned privately of a place where this man would be
present on a certain occasion, and had Woferl go there, and took with
him an exceedingly hard concerto which the man had written. During the
afternoon this concerto was placed before the boy, and he played it
perfectly. The musician could not help but show his delight at hearing
his own music so wonderfully given. He had to speak the truth. Turning
to the people present he said, "I can say no less as an honest man than
that this boy is the greatest man in the world; it could not have been

But in spite of such occasional confessions the boy had a hard time to
succeed. Every possible obstacle was put in the way of his opera. The
manager who had agreed to produce the opera was influenced to change his
mind, the singers complained of their parts, and said that the music was
too difficult for them to sing, the copyists so altered the scores that
the boy did not recognize his own work at rehearsals. Finally father and
son had to agree that the opera be withdrawn, realizing that if it were
played it would be so wretchedly done that it would bring more blame
than praise to its composer.

Yet this boy was not to be daunted. Although his opera which was a very
long work, containing 558 pages, was not to be given, he instantly set
to work again, and in little more than a month had finished three new
works for a full orchestra.

Seeing how much the jealousy of other musicians in Germany and Austria
hurt his work, the young Mozart turned his eyes toward Italy. That
country was the home of the arts, and each city had its band of citizens
who were as devoted to music as they were to poetry and the stage.

Fortunately at about the same time an invitation came from the Empress
Maria Theresa inviting the young musician to compose a dramatic serenade
in honor of the wedding of the Archduke Ferdinand in Milan. It was a
great compliment to pay so young a man, and Mozart gladly accepted.

Going to Milan, he set to work on the composition. In contrast to the
way in which he had lately been treated in Austria he found every one in
Milan eager to be of help. The singers liked the music, and did their
best with it. When the serenade was finally publicly given it made a
great impression. The Archduke was delighted with it. For days afterward
Mozart was kept busy receiving callers who wished to offer their
congratulations. The Italians proved that they at least were not
unwilling to admit his greatness.

Great honors had come to the young composer of Salzburg, but very little
money. Most musicians of that time were simply music-masters or
choirmasters at the different courts. Their support depended almost
entirely upon finding some prince who would keep them at his court.
Mozart cast his eyes over Europe and saw no place that offered him much
promise. The world was willing enough to shower its praises on him, but
not to provide him with his daily bread.

There was no place open in Italy, and so, although with regret, he had
to turn homeward to Salzburg. Unfortunately a new Archbishop had just
been elected for that city, and he was devoted almost entirely to
hunting and sports, cared nothing for music, and could not understand
why young Mozart was entitled to any special favors from him.

Under such circumstances Mozart could not stay at home; he had to accept
such chances as were offered him to make a living. Being asked to write
an opera bouffe for the carnival at Munich, he agreed, and again met
with success. The night the opera was given the theatre was so crowded
that hundreds had to be turned away at the doors. At the close of each
air there was a tremendous outburst of applause, and calls for the
composer. Afterward Mozart was presented to the whole court of Munich,
and received their thanks for the great honor he had done them.

Singularly enough the Archbishop of Salzburg happened to be in Munich at
the same time, and was very much surprised at being congratulated on
every hand at possessing such a genius at his home. Some of the nobles
called upon him and paid him their solemn congratulations, and he was so
embarrassed that he could make no reply except to shake his head and
shrug his shoulders.

Such trips as that to Munich however were now of rare occurrence.
Wolfgang, now about nineteen, went back to Salzburg, and set to work
harder than ever. His skill was tested in many different ways. He wrote
compositions for the church, the theatre, and the concert-chamber; he
played brilliantly on the clavier; he was a wonderful organist at all
festivals of the church, and showed the greatest skill on the violin.

The Archbishop had to have the services of a musician on certain state
occasions, and never failed to call on Mozart when he needed him. Yet
all that he paid Mozart was a nominal salary, which was actually less
than six dollars a year. What was true of the Archbishop was now almost
equally true of all the court at Salzburg. The nobles there had never
undervalued his services until he wanted to be paid for them. Then he
was told that his abilities had been greatly overrated, and was advised
to go to Italy and study music seriously there.

At last their neglect forced him to start forth again upon his travels
to see whether he could find a prince who would accept his services at
something nearer their real value.

In vain the youth wandered from court to court; then for a time he
returned to Salzburg, where the Archbishop treated him as a showman
might a performing dog, using his great genius in tests of skill before
royal visitors.

Later he went to the Emperor's court at Vienna, and there at last he
began to receive something of his due. Not only other musicians, but the
public generally admitted his great gifts. He wrote operas, "Don
Giovanni," "The Magic Flute," and "The Marriage of Figaro," being the
most popular of them. Finally he was able to do somewhat as he pleased,
instead of writing only to suit the order of a prince or noble who could
pay him with some position in his court or at his home.

The world acknowledged Mozart's genius from the time when, a small boy
of six, he and his sister played the clavier. But the life of a musician
in those days, no matter how great his genius, was a hard one, and the
world was not very kind to the youth when he grew up and had to make his
own way. Perhaps his happiest days were those when his sister and he
traveled with their good father, and had nothing to think of but the
pleasure they could give with their great gifts.



The Boy of Versailles: 1757-1834

Marie Antoinette, the little Queen of France, was giving a fête at the
royal palace of Versailles, outside of Paris, and the beautiful gardens
of the palace, world famous for their wonderful statues and fountains,
flowers and groves, presented an amazing sight on that midsummer night.
A hundred elves and fairies, hobgoblins and wood-nymphs danced in and
out about groups of strangely dressed grown-up people, who were neither
in court costume nor in real masquerade. The older lords and ladies of
the court were trying to humor their young Queen's whim without parting
with any of their dignity, and the result of their attempt was this very
curious sight--tall, stiff goblins, wearing elaborate, powdered wigs and
jeweled swords, stout wood-nymphs with bare arms and shoulders, and
glittering with jewels.

Never had the court of France thought itself so absolutely absurd, and
never had the children of that famous court enjoyed themselves so much.
They played all sorts of games about the dignified people scattered over
the grounds, until the latter were quite ready to believe that the days
of elves and fairies had really returned.

The boy Marquis de Lafayette led the revels. It was he to whom the
little Queen had appealed for help when she first planned her garden
party. Her boy husband, Louis XVI, was more interested in machinery than
in anything else. He was fond of taking clocks to pieces and putting
them together again, and in working over old locks and keys, and so had
left his young Queen very much to herself ever since he had brought her
from Austria to France.

Marie Antoinette was passionately fond of fun, and the stiff lords and
ladies of her husband's court bored her extremely. They were anxious
above everything else to keep up their old ceremonies, and to make life
simply a matter of rules. So it was that the girl turned to the young
boy Marquis, who was almost as fond of sports as she was, and with his
help gathered a band of boys and girls of her own age about her.

Then one summer day, while Louis was busy in his workshop, Marie
Antoinette plotted with Lafayette to hold a _fête champêtre_ in the
gardens which should be very different from anything the court of France
had seen before. She said that all her guests should appear either as
goblins or as nymphs. They would not dance the quadrille nor any other
stately measure, but would be free to romp and play such jokes as might
occur to them. When he heard these plans Lafayette shook his head

"What will the lords in waiting say to this?" he asked, "and your
Majesty's own ladies of the court?"

The Queen laughed and shrugged her pretty shoulders. "Who cares?" she
said. "As long as Louis is king I shall do what pleases me."

Then she clapped her hands as a new idea occurred to her. "I shall go to
Louis," she added, "and have him issue an order commanding every one who
attends the fête to dress either as a goblin or a nymph. He will do it
for me, I know."

When the King heard her request he good-humoredly agreed, for he found
it hard to deny his pretty young wife anything, and so the order was
issued. Imagine the horror of the grown-up courtiers when they heard the
command! Unbend sufficiently to dress as goblins and nymphs? Never! The
saucy young Queen and her friends must be taught a lesson. As soon as
she knew of their disapproval she would of course give up her scheme.

On the contrary, the Queen did nothing of the sort. She made Lafayette
master of ceremonies, and gave strict orders that no one should be
admitted to the gardens on the night of the fête unless they were
dressed as commanded. In the meantime the boys and girls were planning
the costumes they would wear and rehearsing the play they were to act.

But the court party was not to be beaten so easily, and the Royal
Chamberlain and the Queen's Mistress of the Robes hunted up the King in
his workshop and told him that such a performance as was planned would
shame the French court in the eyes of the whole world. Louis listened to
them patiently and said he would consider the matter. Then he sent for
his wife and Lafayette and the other ringleaders. Between them they
described how absurd the courtiers would look with such good effect that
Louis laughed until he cried. Then he dismissed the whole matter from
his mind and went back to the tools on his work-table, which were the
only things that seriously concerned him.

Now that the garden party was at its height, Lafayette was the
undisputed leader of the youths. It was he who swooped down upon the
stately Mistress of the Robes and ordered his band of hobgoblins to
carry her off to the summer-house on the edge of the woods, and keep her
a prisoner there, while they sang her the latest ballads of the Paris
streets. It was he who had a ring of fairies dance about the Lord
Chamberlain until that haughty person was so dizzy that he had to put
his hands to his eyes and run as rapidly as dignity would let him to a
place of safety. The boy took his orders from the beautiful Queen of the
Fairies, Marie Antoinette, who, more radiant and lovely than ever, sat
on the rustic throne and sent her messengers to the different groups in
the gardens. Beside her stood the young King Louis, laughing and
admiring the ingenuity of her plans.

Next day, however, came the retribution. The courtiers were up in arms.
They had managed to go through one such evening, but they did not
propose to stand another. The most important people in France went to
the King and placed their grievances before him. Louis loved peace, so
that now he was willing to take the side of the courtiers, and as a
result the day of the children was over.

Marie Antoinette, fond of pleasure above everything else, tried to have
her way for a short time, but before a month had passed, the weight of
its old time formal dignity had fallen on Versailles, and the children
were again made to pattern after their elders.

Fond as the young Marquis had been of the good times with playmates of
his own age at Versailles, he could not endure the stiff court nor look
with any satisfaction to the formal life which most of the young men of
the time led. He was naturally too independent to bow and scrape as was
required. In spite of his careful training he found that he had not
acquired the endless flow of frivolous talk which was popular at court.
He was usually silent in company, and more and more given to going away
by himself, in order to escape the affectations of the life about him.
His only chance seemed to lie in the army, and therefore he spent a
great deal of his time with his regiment of Black Musketeers, and began
to plan for a military career.

He had been made a cadet of the old French regiment called the Black
Musketeers when he was only twelve years old. Then he was a slight
little chap with bright reddish hair and very fair complexion, and much
too small to carry a man's arms; but he was so fond of the
splendid-looking set of men that whenever they paraded he was sure to be
somewhere near at hand to watch them. The boy's name had been placed on
the Musketeers' rolls, though not as a regular cadet, very soon after
his birth, because his great-uncle had been a member of the regiment and
was eager to have his family name connected with it.

It happened that this twelve-year-old cadet was already a very important
person in the kingdom of France. He had been baptized by the names of
Marie Paul Joseph Roche Ives Gilbert de Mottier, and held the title of
Marquis of Lafayette. His father had been killed at the battle of Minden
when he was only twenty-four years old, but had already won a great name
for bravery. His mother died soon afterward, and so the young Marquis
was left almost alone in his great castle of Chavaniac in the Auvergne
Mountains of southern France.

He must have been very lonely with no playmates of his own age and only
masters and governesses about him. He was what people called "land
poor," which meant that although he owned a large part of French
territory, it brought him in but small profit, and he had little money
to spend.

To make up for his lack of playmates, his masters spent much time
drilling the boy Marquis in the etiquette of the French nobility.
High-born French youths at that time had many things to learn, but they
were such things as would make the boy an ornamental piece of furniture
at court. He must be able to enter a drawing-room with perfect dignity,
to compliment a lady, to pick up a fan, to offer his arm with an air of
gallantry, to take part in the formal dances of the period, to draw his
sword in case his honor should require it.

The little boys and girls of Louis XVI's reign were dressed in stiff
court clothes almost as soon as they were old enough to talk, and were
taught bows and curtsies, gallant words and dancing steps when other
children would have been playing out-of-doors. As a result they grew up
much alike, most of them merely fashion plates to decorate the royal
palace at Versailles.

Fortunately for the boy his lonely life in the mountains ended when he
was twelve years old. Then his great uncle sent for him to come to
Paris, and placed him at the College du Plessis, where a great many
other young courtiers were being educated. The school taught him very
little of history, of foreign languages, or sciences, but a great deal
about riding and fencing and dancing, and how to write a letter which
should be full of worldly wisdom. At about the same time his grandfather
died, and he inherited a very large fortune, so that the small boy bore
not only one of the oldest titles in the kingdom but possessed enough
money to do exactly as he pleased. There was only one course open to
him--the life of a courtier at Versailles.

In that age of ceremony marriage was quite as much a formal matter as
other affairs of life. The young Marquis's guardians, according to the
custom of the time, immediately looked about for a girl of equal rank
who might marry their boy. They decided on little Marie Adrienne de
Noailles, daughter of a great peer of France. The girl was only twelve
years old, and her mother was very unwilling to have her married to a
boy whose character was unformed, and whose fortune would allow him to
become as wild as he chose. Her father, however, liked the match, and
her mother finally agreed, insisting, however, that the children should
wait two years before their wedding.

When these arrangements had all been made and the engagement was
formally announced, the boy Marquis was taken to call at the house of
his future wife, and was presented to her in the garden. Formal paths
wound under a row of chestnut-trees, carefully tended flower-beds were
arranged with mathematical precision, a few peacocks strutted across the
lawn, and here and there a marble statue or a great stone jar from Italy
gave a classic touch to the scene.

The small boy, dressed in court clothes of velvet, his fair hair in long
curls, his three-cornered hat held beneath his arm, his court rapier
hanging at his side, bright silver buckles at knees and on shoes,
advanced down the walk to the little lady who was waiting for him. She
was in flowered satin, her long, yellow hair falling to her shoulders,
her light-blue eyes looking timidly at the boy, and her pale cheeks
flushing as he approached. As he stood before her, she held out her
hand, and he delicately lifted it with his and touched his lips to her
fingers. She blushed redder, then he paid her a few stately compliments,
and they walked down the path laughing shyly at this new intimacy. She
had seen few boys before, and he had known few girls, and yet their
guardians had destined them for man and wife.

It was a curious, old-world picture that the two children made, but the
scene was quite characteristic of the age.

At the time he lived at Versailles and made one of the group about the
little King and Queen, the guardians of the young Marquis expected to
find him growing more and more popular with the royal court, and they
were very much surprised when they learned how reserved he was becoming
and how little he seemed interested in the pursuits of his age. When
they heard of his being one of the ringleaders at the Queen's party,
they were horrified. They determined to try and make him more like
themselves, and so sought to get him a place in the household of one of
the royal family, the Duc de Provence.

Lafayette was very much disturbed at the thought, and secretly
determined to defeat the plan. Before the position was finally offered
him he went to a masked ball, and learning which was the Duc de Provence
in disguise, went up to him and spoke republican sentiments which were
not at all to the nobleman's liking. Then the boy allowed the masked man
to recognize him. The Duc said sharply that he should remember the
interview. Thereupon young Lafayette made him a profound bow and replied
calmly that memory was often called the wit of fools. This, of course,
ended the chance of his preferment in the royal household, and the boy
was freed from what he considered an irksome task.

As a result however he was no longer popular at court, and soon asked
that he might be allowed to go back to his distant castle in Auvergne
until he was old enough to take his place in the army. His guardians
were glad to have him safely out of the way for a time, and granted his

So for a year the little Marie Jean Paul de Lafayette went back to his
mountain home and browsed in his father's library and rode over his
estates. He liked the peasants in the country. They were a brighter
race, not so sullen and discontented as the people in the streets of
Paris, but even here, far from Versailles, the boy heard much of the
frightful poverty of the people and the gross extravagance of the court.
It made him think, and the more he considered the matter the more he
thought the people's claims were just.

At the end of a year the boy went back to Paris and married the girl to
whom he had been betrothed. He was sixteen, she fourteen, but the
Duchess considered that the boy had shown that he was neither a
spendthrift nor a fool, and that her daughter could be trusted to him.
So the two, scarcely more than school children, opened their residence
in Paris, and took their place in that gay world which was riding so
rapidly to its downfall.

Meanwhile news was constantly coming to France concerning the glorious
stand which the American colonists were making against England. The love
of liberty was strong in the boy's heart, and the desire to help the
colonists soon came to be his greatest wish. Beneath his reserved manner
and his silent habits there lay the greatest enthusiasm, and the most
determined character.

He soon had concluded that there was little hope of winning laurels in
the regiment of Black Musketeers, and he cast his eyes longingly across
the seas to where real fighting was taking place; but when he told his
wish to his friends they all opposed him. He went to an old general who
had long been a friend of his family, and urged him to help him in his
plan to go to America.

"Ah, my boy!" said the general, "I have seen your uncle die in the
Italian wars. I saw your father killed at Minden. I will not help in the
ruin of the last member of your family. You would only risk life and
fortune over there without any chance of reward."

That was exactly what Lafayette was anxious to do, and he would not give
up his plan. He crossed the Channel to London, and there met some of the
men who were interested in the colonial cause. He went to a secret
meeting, and heard them discuss plans to help the Americans. They, on
their part, at first looked askance at the tall, slender, reddish-haired
young Frenchman, who had so little to say himself, and who seemed so
easily embarrassed. But when they learned that he had a great fortune,
and that if he should aid their cause other young noblemen would follow
him, they did their best to win his help. They little knew how
invaluable his rare spirit would prove in winning freedom for their

As he was an officer in the French army, the young Marquis found it very
difficult to leave France without the consent of the government, and
this he could not gain. He and a friend, named Baron de Kalb, made their
plans to escape secretly from Paris to Bordeaux. When he reached the
port he found that his ship was not ready, and before he could sail two
officers arrived from court, bearing peremptory orders forbidding him to
go to America or to assist the colonists.


He would not give up his great desire, and so although he pretended
that he was willing to obey the command, he planned secretly to escape
across the Spanish border and sail from a Spanish port. He and a friend
left Bordeaux in a post-chaise, announcing that they were on their way
to the French city of Marseilles. As soon as their carriage reached the
open country the young Marquis stepped out, and, now disguised as a
courier, mounted one of the horses and rode on ahead, ordering the
relays. When they reached the road which led toward Spain they changed
their course. The officers who had been set to spy upon him, however,
now were giving chase, and at the next inn Lafayette was obliged to hide
in the straw of a stable until the pursuers should pass.

It so happened that he had ridden over that road a little time before,
and the innkeeper's daughter knew him by sight. When he rode into the
courtyard she exclaimed, "There comes the Marquis de Lafayette!" and he
was much alarmed, lest some of the bystanders should give away his
secret. He made them understand, however, that he was traveling in
disguise, so that when the pursuers arrived and asked questions, the
people of the inn all agreed that no such gentleman as Lafayette had
been seen in the neighborhood.

By means of alternate hiding and sudden rapid riding, the Marquis
finally crossed the Spanish border, and reached the little town of
Passage. There, on April 20, 1777, he set sail in a boat happily named
_La Victoire_, heading for North America.

America owes a great deal to this gallant young Frenchman who crossed
the seas to aid the colonies. He was among the first of those
foreigners who showed the colonists that the love of liberty was as wide
as the world. He came when hope was low, and his coming meant much to
the brave men who had to undergo the long, discouraging winter at Valley
Forge, and the days when it seemed as though time would prove them only
rebels and not patriots. He brought ships, and men, and money to aid in
the great cause, but more than all these were his own magnetic
personality and the buoyant spirit that refused to be cast down.

The War of Independence came to an end, and Lafayette returned home.
Trouble was brewing there. The old nobility had grown too overbearing;
the men and women who tilled the soil were considered hardly better than
mere beasts of burden. Such a state could not last, and so the time came
when the mobs of Paris broke into the beautiful gardens of Versailles,
stormed the Palace of the Tuilleries, scattered some of the vain and
foolish old courtiers, but imprisoned many more, and brought to trial
the hapless King Louis and the charming Marie Antoinette.

Lafayette, friend of their early days, stood by them through the height
of the storm, but there was little he could do against the people's
fury. The Revolution rolled over King and Queen, crushing them and their
resplendent court, and when it had passed a different type of men and
women governed France.

Only a few of the old nobility were left, and they had learned their
lesson. Lafayette and his wife were of that number. Lover of liberty as
he was, these great events could scarcely have surprised him. The
people had done much the same as had he when, a boy at Versailles, he
rebelled against the selfish court that trod down all opposition with a
heel of iron.


Horatio Nelson

The Boy of the Channel Fleet: 1758-1805

It was a dark, rainy autumn afternoon, and the small boy, who was
trudging along the post-road that led to the English river town of
Chatham, was wet to the skin, and thoroughly tired into the bargain. He
was thin and pale, with big-searching eyes, and coal black hair that
hung tangled over his forehead. He had been traveling all day, and had
had only a roll to eat since early morning.

Sometimes he was tempted to stop and ask people he met how far it still
was to the town on the Medway, but he overcame the temptation, because
he knew that he could reach his destination by six o'clock, and that
thinking of the distance still to go would not help him.

Occasionally he would stop, fling his arms about his body for warmth,
and stamp his feet hard to drive away the chill. But his stops were not
frequent, because he was in a hurry to end his journey.

On such an autumn day night sets in early, and the road ahead was simply
a gray blur by the time the boy had reached the outskirts of the town.
But when he did see the first straggling houses he could not help giving
a little cry of satisfaction. He met a pedlar going the other way.

"Is this Chatham?" the boy asked, half fearing that the answer would be

"Yes, this here's Chatham."

"And where are the docks, the war-ship docks?" asked the boy.

"Keep straight on this road and you'll walk clean into the water, and
there's the ships," said the man.

Doubtless he wondered what the boy wanted of the war-ships, but the lad
gave him no chance to satisfy his curiosity. He was hurrying on as fast
as he could go.

Soon the houses grew more numerous and the post-road had become a street
heading through the heart of an old-fashioned town. The boy had never
been to Chatham before, but he did not stop to look at any of the
curious houses he passed. He saw a pasty-cook's window filled with buns
and tarts, and he remembered how long it had been since breakfast, but
even that thought did not make him loiter. He must reach the docks
before all the men-o'-war's men had left for the night.

Soon a whiff of fresh air blew in his face. He knew what that meant; he
loved that breath of the water; it nerved him to cover the last lap of
his long journey at a quick step. Then to his delight, he found himself
at last arrived at the water's edge, and before him a shore covered with
boats, and the wide river with the dim outlines of the men-o'-war.

He stood still, peering at the great ships, until an old sailor passed
near him. "Do those ships belong to the Channel Fleet?" asked the boy.

The mariner nodded his head. "That's part of his Majesty's Channel
Squadron, my lad. Be you thinkin' of shippin' before the mast?"

"Perhaps. Could you tell me where to find an officer of the fleet? Are
there any still ashore?"

The sailor glanced at a landing-stage near by. "Aye, there's an
officer's gig, and there's the very man you're lookin' for. The one in
the cocked hat with the gold trimmin' yonder."

"Thank you," said the boy, and started on the run for the landing-stage,
completely forgetting how tired his legs had been.

The man in the cocked hat found himself a moment later facing a small
delicate-looking boy, who was asking which vessel was the _Raisonnable_.

He looked the boy over and then pointed out the frigate which bore that
name. "What do you want with her?" he asked, amused at the eagerness
with which the boy looked through the sea of masts at the ship he

"My uncle's her commander, and I'm to serve on her," came the answer.
"How can I get on board?"

"I'll look after that," said the young lieutenant. "She's my ship too."
Again his eyes ran over the small, slender figure before him. "What's
your name?" he asked.

"Horatio Nelson, sir."

"Well, Nelson, you look starved, and more like a drowned rat than a
midshipman. How long since you had a square meal?"

"Since breakfast."

"And why didn't you stop in the town and have a bite on your way here?"

"I promised my father to come straight on to the docks, sir, and report
for duty. I said I wouldn't stop until I got here."

"So nothing could have kept you back, eh? Well, you've reported for duty
now, as I'm your superior officer. I don't have to be on board ship for
half an hour, so my first order to you is that you come with me to a
cook-shop and have some of the roast beef of old England before you set
out to sea."

Nothing loath, now that his promise was kept, Nelson went with the
lieutenant into one of the small, winding Chatham streets, and entered
an inn much frequented by sailors. Here the officer ordered a hot
supper, and sat by the boy while the latter ate it. Nelson was nearly
famished; it was a delight to the lieutenant to watch the satisfying of
such an appetite.

A little later the officer and the boy were rowed out to the frigate,
and Nelson duly delivered by his new friend into the care of the ship's
commander. His uncle looked at the boy askance; he seemed very pale and
delicate and undersized, even for a boy of thirteen, but the uncle had
promised to take him on trial as midshipman, and so, though with much
misgiving, he found him his berth.

He little knew what the sight of that Channel Fleet and the smell of the
salt water meant to the new midshipman.

The boy's uncle, Captain Suckling by name, who was in command of this
sixty-four gun man-o'-war, had been trained in the principles of the
old English navy, which were that hardship was good for a sailor, and
that the more a man was battered about in time of peace the better he
would fight in time of war.

Everything above decks was spick and span, and young Horatio gazed with
wondering admiration at the neatness of the white decks continually
scraped and holystoned until they fairly glistened in the sun, at the
imposing size and length of the long lines of black cannon, the special
pride of every officer, and at the symmetry and the wonderful height of
spars and sails and rigging, forming a very network in the sky.

He had loved boats since the days when he had pumped water into the
horse-trough before his father's house in order that he might sail paper
boats in it, and now it seemed almost impossible to believe that he
stood on the deck of a ship of his Majesty's service and was to have a
hand in caring for all this cannon and rigging. He looked wonderingly at
the sailors, a bronzed, hardy lot, in their white jackets and trousers
that flared widely at the bottom, wearing their hair according to the
custom of the day in long pig-tails down their backs.

But when he went below decks he found the picture very different.
Everything there was dirt and gloom, foul odors and general misery. The
cat-o'-nine-tails was the favorite punishment for sailors. Many a back
was deeply scored with the lash, and, worse yet, many a man had been
forced into the service against his will, seized at night by the
press-gang, cudgeled into insensibility and carried on board to wake up
later and find himself destined to serve at sea. The food was chiefly
salt beef, and in most respects the men were treated little better than
so many cattle. As a result they might be hardy, but they were also as
surly and vicious a lot as could be found anywhere.

The poor boy had a hard time growing accustomed to such companionship.
He had longed for the glory of the sailor's life without knowing
anything about its wretchedness, and now he saw all these horrors spread
before his eyes. His uncle, believing that the best way to bring him up
was to let him entirely alone to fight his own battles, paid little or
no attention to him, and the boy, brought up in the country home of a
clergyman in Norfolk, was very homesick, and often longed for the people
and the comforts he had left; but he had a stout heart, and before a
great while had conquered this homesickness and set about to see what
work he could find to do.

At first both officers and men regarded Horatio as simply a sickly boy
and totally unfit for life at sea, but it was not long before he
managed, in a quiet way peculiarly his own, to make a name and place for
himself on board the _Raisonnable_.

The story got around that when he was a small boy he had one day escaped
from his nurse and run off into some dense woods near his father's
house. He had lost his way and finally, coming to a brook too wide for
him to cross, had sat down on a stone on one bank and waited. It was
some time after dark when his distracted family found him.

"I should think you'd have been frightened to death," his grandmother
was reported to have said.

"What's that?" asked the boy.

"Why, fear at being alone, and the dark coming on."

"Fear," said he, "I don't know what you mean by that. I've never seen

His uncle told the story one day to another officer, and within a week
young Nelson had been christened "Dreadnaught."

When he was still a very new midshipman he went for a cruise in the
polar seas. One afternoon some of the men were allowed on the arctic
shore, and Nelson started on a little expedition of his own. The first
any one else knew of it was when another midshipman happened to glance
across the field of ice, and caught sight of the huge white body of a
polar bear within a few yards of Nelson.

He called to his mates and pointed to the boy. They were too far off to
help. They saw Nelson level his musket and saw the wicked head of the
bear raised in front of him. They held their breath waiting for the
shot. In the still air they caught the click of the hammer, but heard no
report. For some reason the gun had not gone off. With a shout they
scrambled over the ice to help him, knowing he was now at the wild
beast's mercy.

The boy, however, had turned his musket and raised the butt end in
defense when a gun on the ship boomed out the signal for all hands to go
aboard. The signal woke the echoes and thundered over the field of ice,
and the bear, frightened, turned tail and ran off as fast as his short
legs could carry him. Nelson, his musket still raised, ran after the
animal, but by this time the rescue party had come up with him.

"What do you mean by hunting polar bears all alone, Dreadnaught?" asked
the other midshipman. "Didn't you see him coming?"

"Yes," said the boy, "but I wanted his skin to take back home to my
father. I might have had him if that gun hadn't sent him away. Now he's
lost forever."

"Well, I vow," said the other. "I don't believe there's another chap in
the navy with half your pluck."

Such incidents as these showed the young sailor's courage, and he had
continual chances to show how rapidly he was learning seamanship.

By the time he was fifteen he was practically possessed of all the
knowledge of an able seaman, and was sent on board the ship _Sea Horse_
to the East Indies. His position at first was little better than that of
a foremast hand, but it was not long before the captain noticed the
lad's smartness and keen attention to his duties, and very soon he
called him to the quarterdeck and made him fore-midshipman.

The captain advised the first lieutenant to keep an eye on the boy and
occasionally to let him have charge of manoeuvering the vessel. This
the lieutenant did, and to his great surprise found that Nelson was
quite as well able to handle the ship as he was himself.

The sea life was doing him good, too. He was no longer the thin, sickly
lad who had wandered through the streets of Chatham, but a fine,
well-built, sun-tanned youth, well beloved on deck and popular with all
his mates.

Fine as the sea life was for him, life in the East Indies was very
trying. The climate brought fever with it, and Horatio had been in the
East but a short time before he fell very ill and had to be taken from
his ship and sent home on board the _Dolphin_. The ship doctors gave up
hope of saving him, but the captain was so much interested in the boy
that he spent hours nursing him, and finally he grew better.

The voyage from India to England was the most trying time in Nelson's
life. He felt that he was not built for the life of a sailor, although
his whole mind and heart were set upon rising in that profession. He had
no money, no influential friends; he had staked everything on winning
his way in the navy. Now it seemed as though he must give up his career
and settle down to some small place on shore.

But his talks with the captain gradually stirred new hopes. He was
seized with patriotic zeal and determined at every risk to serve his
country on the seas, no matter what suffering it might bring to him. He
wanted to act, to do something, and this resolution became suddenly the
motive power of his life. From the time of that voyage home on the
_Dolphin_, Nelson used to say, dated his passion to win fame in the
defense of England.

When he reached home he was given a position on a new ship, and a little
later took his examination for the rank of lieutenant. His uncle,
Captain Suckling, who had commanded the _Raissonnable_, was at the head
of the board of examiners before whom Horatio appeared. The boy was very
nervous when he entered the room, but answered the questions almost as
rapidly as they were put to him, and every answer was full and correct.
He passed the examinations triumphantly, and then his uncle introduced
him to the other members of the Board.

One of them said, "Why didn't you tell us he was your own nephew?"

"Because," said the old sailor, "I didn't want him to be favored in any
way. I was sure he would pass a fine examination, and as you see I
haven't been disappointed."

Nelson was given the rank of lieutenant and assigned to the
_Lowestoffe_. The vessel cruised to the Barbadoes, in the West Indies,
and there the young lieutenant had his first chance to make his mark.
The ship fell in with an American letter-of-marque, and the first
lieutenant was ordered to board the American ship. A terrific gale was
blowing, and the sea ran so high that in spite of the efforts of the
lieutenant he was unable to reach the American boat and was forced to
return to his own frigate.

The captain, very much disturbed at this failure to land the prize,
called the officers to him and asked warmly whether there was not one of
them who was able to take possession of the other boat. The lieutenant
who had already tried and failed offered to try again, but Nelson pushed
his way forward and exclaimed, "No, it's my turn now. If I come back it
will be time for you then." With a few sailors he jumped into the small
boat and ploughed through the seas.

It was a hard tussle to reach the American, and when they did reach her
the sea was so high, and the prize lay so deep in the trough of the
waves, that Nelson's boat was swept over the deck of the other vessel,
and he had to come back from the other side and fight his way against
the high sea before he could finally succeed in climbing on board.

He now had a high reputation for courage and daring at sea fit to equal
the name he had won as a skilful mariner. It did not take the captain of
the _Lowestoffe_ long to realize that the alertness and enthusiasm of
his young lieutenant bespoke a future of the greatest brilliance in his
country's service.

In those days England was really at peace, although her eyes were
constantly turned across the Channel and wise men were preparing her for
war with France. Nelson was sent into all parts of the world, and no
matter what were his orders he always carried them out with such skill
that rapid promotion followed every return home. Time and again he fell
ill, but he was never despondent, because he was determined to continue
in his course and serve his country at any cost to himself. He also saw
the war clouds gathering, and realized that it would not be long before
he would have the chance to command a squadron against France.

The men who had scoffed at him when he first appeared, a puny boy, at
Chatham, found themselves gradually trusting more and more to his
advice, and his uncle, who had at first predicted that three months'
service would send Horatio back to shore, was now the first to predict
that England would have good cause to be proud of this slightly-built
but marvelously active-minded youth.


A boy somewhat younger than Nelson was growing up in Corsica, in France,
who was soon to win great battles for the latter country and whose
overweaning ambition was finally to plunge his land into a
life-and-death struggle with England. That boy was named Napoleon
Bonaparte, and when he became supreme in France he realized that it was
England who chiefly blocked his schemes at world-wide empire.

He planned to invade England, and to carry his troops across the Channel
while the great English war-ships were engaged with his own vessels; but
by the time that Napoleon led the troops of France, Horatio Nelson was
in command of a British squadron. The French might be all-conquering on
land, but the English had yet to be defeated on the seas.

Before the great decisive battle of Trafalgar Nelson sent his famous
message to all the men under him: "England expects every man to do his
duty!" When the battle was over, the little English admiral had won the
greatest naval victory in his country's history. The same indomitable
pluck that had carried him through so many dangers won that great day.
He would not be downed, no matter what the odds against him.

The same qualities which had sent the delicate boy of thirteen hurrying
through the rain to Chatham, intent only on reaching his goal, brought
about the great sea victories of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.


Robert Fulton

The Boy of the Conestoga: 1765-1815

It was mid-afternoon on July 3d, 1778. A group of a dozen boys sat in
the long grass that grew close down to the banks of the narrow, twisting
Conestoga River, in eastern Pennsylvania. All of the boys were hard at
work engaged in a mysterious occupation. By the side of one of them lay
a great pile of narrow pasteboard tubes, each about two feet long, and
in front of this same small boy stood a keg filled with what looked like
black sand.

Each of the group was busy working with one of the pasteboard tubes,
stopping one end tightly with paper, and then pouring in handfuls of the
"sand" from the keg, and from time to time dropping small colored balls
into the tubes at various layers of the sand. These balls came from a
box that was guarded by the same boy who had charge of the tubes and the
keg, and he dealt them out to the others with continual words of

"Be careful of that one, George," he said, handing him one of the
colored balls; "those red ones were very hard to make, and I haven't
many of them, but they'll burn splendidly, and make a great show when
they go off."

"How do you stop the candle when all the balls and powder are in, Rob?"
asked another boy.

"See, this way," said the young instructor, and he slipped a short fuse
into the tube and fastened the end with paper and a piece of twine.

"There's something'll let folks know to-morrow's the Fourth of July," he
added proudly, as he laid the rocket beside the keg of powder.

"What made you think of them, Rob?" asked one of the boys, looking
admiringly at the lad of fourteen who had just spoken.

"I knew something had to be done," said Robert, "as soon as I heard they
weren't going to let us burn any candles to-morrow night 'cause candles
are so scarce. I knew we had to do something to show how proud we are
that they signed the Declaration of Independence two years ago, and so I
thought things over last night and worked out a way of making these
rockets. They'll be much grander than last year's candle parade. They
wouldn't let us light the streets, so we'll light the skies."

"I wish the Britishers could see them!" said one of the group; and
another added: "I wish General Washington could be in Lancaster
to-morrow night!"

Just before the warm sun dropped behind the tops of the walnut-grove
beyond the river the work was done, and a great pile of rockets lay on
the grass. Then, as though moved by one impulse, all the boys stripped
off their clothes and plunged into the cool pool of the river where it
made a great circle under the maples. They had all been born and brought
up near the winding Conestoga, and had fished in it and swam in it ever
since they could remember.

The next evening the boys of Lancaster sprang a surprise on that quiet
but patriotic town. The authorities had forbidden the burning of candles
on account of the scarcity caused by the War of Independence, and every
one expected that second Fourth of July to pass off as quietly as any
other day. But at dusk all the boys gathered at Rob Fulton's house, just
outside town, and as soon as it was really dark proceeded to the town
square, their arms full of mysterious packages.

It took only a few minutes to gather enough wood in the centre of the
square for a gigantic bonfire, and when all the people of Lancaster were
drawn into the square by the blaze, the boys started their display of
fireworks. The astonished people heard one dull thudding report after
another, saw a ball of colored fire flaming high in the air, then a
burst of myriad sparks and a rain of stars. They were not used to seeing
sky-rockets, most of them had never heard that there were such things,
but they were delighted with them, and hurrahed and cheered at each
fresh burst. This was indeed a great surprise.

"What are they? Where did they come from? How did the boys get them?"
were the questions that went through the watching crowds, and it was not
long before the answer traveled from mouth to mouth: "It's one of Rob
Fulton's inventions. He read about making them in some book."

The father of one of Robert's friends nodded his head when he heard this
news, and said to his wife: "I might have known it was young Rob; I've
never known such a boy for making things. His schoolmaster told me the
other day that when he was only ten he made his own lead pencils,
picking up any bits of sheet lead which happened to come his way, and
hammering the lead out of them and making pencils that were as good as
any in the school."

The fireworks were a great success; for the better part of an hour they
held the attention of Lancaster, and when the last rocket had shot out
its stars every boy there felt that the Fourth of July had been
splendidly kept. For a day or two Rob Fulton was an important personage,
then he dropped back into the ranks with his schoolmates.

It was not long after, however, that Robert set himself to work out
another problem. The Fultons lived near the Conestoga, and Robert and
his younger brothers were very fond of fishing. All they had to fish
from was a light raft which they had built the summer before, and this
cumbersome craft they had to pole from place to place. When they wanted
to fish some distance down from their farmhouse, they had to spend most
of the afternoon poling, and this heavy labor robbed the sport of half
its charm. So, a week or two after the Fourth of July, Robert told a
couple of boy friends that he was going to make a boat of his own, and
got them to help him collect the materials he needed.

He liked mystery, and told them to tell no one of his plans. As soon as
school was over the three conspirators would steal away to the
riverside, and there hammer and saw and plane to their hearts' content.
Gradually the boat took shape under their hands, and after about ten
days' work a small, light skiff, with two paddle-wheels joined by a bar
and crank, was ready to be launched.

The idea was that a boy standing in the middle of the skiff could make
both wheels revolve by turning the crank, and it needed only another boy
holding an oar in a crotch at the stern to steer the craft wherever he
wanted it to go. Yet, even when the boat was finished, the two other
boys were very doubtful whether such a strange-looking object would
really work, Robert himself had no doubts upon that score; he had worked
the whole plan out before he had chosen the first plank.

The miniature side-paddle river-boat was christened the _George
Washington_, and launched in a still reach of the Conestoga. It was an
exciting moment when Robert laid hands on the crank and started the two
wheels. They turned easily, and the boat pulled steadily out from shore,
and at a twist from the steering-oar headed down-stream. It was a proud
moment for the young inventor. As they went down the river and passed
people on the banks, he could not help laughing as he saw the surprise
on their faces.

Fishing became better sport than ever when one had a boat of this sort
to take one up-or down-stream. Very little effort sent the paddles a
long way, and there were always boys who were eager to take a turn at
the crank.


The Lancaster schoolmaster heard of the boat, and said to a friend:
"Take my word for it, the world's going to hear from Rob Fulton some
of these days. He can't help turning old goods to new uses. And he
doesn't know what it means to be discouraged. I met him the afternoon of
the third of July and he told me that he was going to make some rockets,
and I said I thought he would find such a task impossible. 'No, sir,'
says Robert to me, 'I don't think so. I don't think anything's
impossible if you make up your mind to do it.' That's the sort of boy he

A large number of Hessian troops were quartered near the Conestoga, and
the Lancaster boys thought a great deal about the War for Independence,
as was natural when the fathers and brothers of most of them were
fighting in it. Such thoughts soon turned Rob Fulton's mind to making
firearms, and as soon as his boat had proved itself successful, he
planned a new type of gun, and supplied some Lancaster gunsmiths with
complete drawings for the whole,--stock, lock, and barrel,--and made
estimates of range that proved correct when the gun was finished.

But Rob Fulton had remarkable talents in more lines than one. His
playmates had nicknamed him "Quicksilver Bob" because he was so fond of
buying that glittering metal and using it in various ways. The name
suited him well, for he could turn from one occupation to another, and
appeared to be equally good in each. Usually, however, when he was not
inventing he was learning how to paint, and he had a number of teachers,
one of whom was the famous Major André.

The little town of Lancaster was an important place during the
Revolution. In 1777 the Continental Congress had held its sessions in
the old court-house there, and during the whole time of the war the town
was famous as the depot of supplies for the army. A great deal of powder
was stored in the town, and rifles, blankets, and clothing were
manufactured there in large quantities.

In the autumn of 1775 Major André, who had been captured while on his
way to Quebec, was brought to Lancaster for safe keeping. He was allowed
certain liberty on parole, and lived in the house of a near neighbor of
the Fultons, named Caleb Cope. Major André was very fond of sketching,
and spent much of his time in the fields painting pictures of the
picturesque little village. No sooner had Rob Fulton heard of the
English major's skill with colors than he hunted him up and asked for a
few lessons. André was a very amiable young man, and took a great liking
to the boy. He gave him many lessons in drawing, and also in the use of
colors, and young Fulton learned rapidly under his tutoring. André was
also in the habit of playing marbles and other games with Rob and his
young friends, and the boys found him delightful company.

At about the same time one of Robert's playmates learned a new way of
mixing and preparing colors, using mussel-shells to show them off. This
boy carried the shells covered with his new paint to school one day and
showed them to Robert. No sooner had young Fulton seen them than he
begged to be taught how they were made, and immediately started to work
mixing his own colors. The Revolution had made it very difficult to
obtain painting materials from abroad, and almost all the paints the
boys used were home-made. Fulton now began to study the making of
colors, and in a very short time was able to add to his stock.

Wherever he went the young inventor and painter was popular. In the near
neighborhood of his home there were several factories making arms and
ammunition for the war, and guards were stationed about the doors to
make sure that no trespassers entered. But "Quicksilver Bob" was allowed
to come and go as he would. Whatever he saw he studied, and the first
thing they knew the men in charge of the factories would find the boy
submitting new plans and new suggestions to them for the improvement of
guns or powder. Much to their surprise these suggestions were almost
always good ones, and he became a very welcome visitor. He was paid for
some of this work, but much of it he did without any reward, except the
knowledge that he was in a way serving his country. To help support the
little family he used his skill as a painter in making signs for village
taverns and shops, very much as another boy artist named Benjamin West
had done in his youth.

It happened that in 1777 some two thousand British prisoners were
brought to Lancaster and quartered there. Such a large number of the
enemy naturally caused some alarm among the quiet country people. The
officers were lodged at the taverns and at private houses, but the
soldiers themselves lived in rude barracks just outside the town, and
there were so many of them that they made quite a settlement for
themselves. Many of the Hessian troopers had their wives with them, and
these occupied square huts built of mud and sod. The little encampment
had quite a strange appearance, the small mud houses lining primitive
streets and looking like some savage settlement.

Naturally the place had a great charm for the Lancaster boys, and
whenever they were free from school during that time Robert and his
friends were almost sure to be found in the neighborhood of the Hessian
huts, watching these strange men who had come from overseas. Fulton drew
countless pictures of them, some of them caricatures, but many faithful
copies of what he saw. When they were finished these pictures were in
great demand, and some of them were carried as far as Philadelphia, to
show the people there the curious sights of the country near Lancaster.

In spite of his skill in these different lines, Robert was not a very
successful scholar, and his poor schoolteacher, who was a strict Quaker
of Tory principles, found him very hard to put up with at certain times.
If some inventive idea occurred to the boy while he was on his way to
school, he was quite as likely to stop and work it out as not. One time
he came in so very late that the teacher quite lost his patience.
Seizing a rod he told Robert to hold out his hand, and gave him a
caning. "There!" he exclaimed, "I hope that will make you do something."
But the boy folded his arms and answered very quietly, "I came to school
to have something beaten into my brains and not into my knuckles." It
was very hard for the teacher to do much with such a lad, particularly
as the boy was so often really very helpful to him.

Another time when he came to school late, he had been at a shop pouring
lead into wooden pencils that were better than those he had made before,
and he handed several of them to the master. The man examined them
carefully and said they were the best he had ever had. It was hard to
scold the boy for spending his time in such ways. One time, when the
teacher had tried to rouse his ambition to study history, Robert said to
him: "My head's so full of original notions that there's no vacant room
to store away the records of dusty old books." Yet in spite of these
stories, the boy could not help picking up a great deal of general
information at school, for his mind was always alert, and he was eager
to improve on everything that had been done before.

At this time in his boyhood it was hard to say whether the young Fulton
was more the inventor or the artist, but as soon as the war ended he
decided that he would become a painter, and went to Philadelphia, then
the chief city of the new nation, to study his art. He made enough money
by the use of his pencil and by making drawings for machinists to
support himself, and also saved enough money to buy a small farm for his
widowed mother and younger brothers and sisters.

Benjamin West, the great painter, had lived near Lancaster, and had
heard much of Robert Fulton's boyhood inventions, and he now hunted him
out in Philadelphia, and helped him in his new line of work. The young
artist met Benjamin Franklin and found him eager to aid him in his
plans, and so, by his perseverance and the friends he was fortunate
enough to make, he laid the foundations for his future.

When he became a man, the spirit of the inventor finally overcame that
of the painter. He went abroad and studied in laboratories in England
and France, and then he came home and built a workshop of his own. What
particularly interested him was the uses to which steam might be put,
and he studied its possibilities until he had worked out his plans for a
practical steamboat. How successful those plans were all the world

It was a great day when the crowds that lined the Hudson River saw the
_Clermont_ prove that the era of sailing vessels had closed, and that of
steamships had dawned. But to the boys who had lived along the Conestoga
it did not seem strange that Robert Fulton had won fame as an inventor;
they had known he could make anything he chose since that second
Independence Day when he had come to his country's rescue with his
home-made sky-rockets.


Andrew Jackson

The Boy of the Carolinas: 1767-1845

It was hard for a boy to get much of an education in the backwoods
districts of the American colonies in 1777, and especially so in such a
primitive country as that which lay along the Catawba River in South
Carolina. The colonies were at war with England, and all the care of the
people was needed to protect their farms from attacks by the enemy, and
to give as much help as they could to their country's cause.

But if the boys and girls learned little from books they learned a great
deal from hard experience; courage and self-reliance foremost of all.
All of the children learned those lessons at a time when they might come
home any day and find their home burned down by the enemy or their
father and older brothers carried away prisoners. Even more than most of
his playmates however, young Andrew Jackson learned these things,
because his life was harder than theirs, and he saw more of the actual
fighting. By nature he was a fighter, and circumstances strengthened
that trait in him.

Land in the Carolinas was so valuable for cotton raising that it was not
used for building purposes in those days, so the boys who lived near the
Catawba were sent to what were called "old-field schools." An
"old-field" was really a pine forest. When many crops of cotton, planted
season after season without change, had exhausted the soil, the fences
were taken away, and the land was left waste. Young pines soon sprang
up, and in a short time the field would be covered with a thick wood.

In the wood, as near to the road as possible, a small space would be
cleared, and the rudest kind of log house built, with a huge fireplace
filling one side of the room. The chinks in the logs were filled with
red clay. The trunk of a tree, cut into a plank, was fastened to four
upright posts, and served the whole school as a writing-desk. A little
below it was stretched a smooth log, and this was the seat for the

A wandering schoolmaster was engaged by the farmers, only for a few
months at a time, and he taught the children reading, writing, and
arithmetic. When the weather was bad, and the roads, made of thick red
clay, were too heavy for travel, or when there was farming to be done,
the school was closed.

This was the only school Mrs. Jackson could send her son Andrew to, and
he went there when he was about ten, and took his place on the slab
bench, a tall, slim boy, with bright blue eyes, a freckled face, very
long sandy hair, wearing a rough homespun suit, and with bare feet and
legs. He was not very fond of school, but he did like to be with other
boys, and to lead them in any kind of an adventure, particularly if
there was the chance of a fight.

There was much in this country life to interest an active boy like
Andrew Jackson. Wherever there were no cotton fields there were thick
pine woods full of wild turkeys and deer to be had for the shooting. The
farmers of the Catawba country took their cotton to market in immense
covered wagons, often needing a week to make the journey, and camping
out every night. Boys were in demand to help load the cotton, and gather
wood for the camp-fires, and many a time Andrew was hired to travel to
market with a farmer and his wife and young children, and many a night
he spent in a little opening in the woods eating supper and sleeping
close to a blazing fire of pine knots that lighted up the trees for
yards around.

The farmers were not apt to leave their wives and children at home,
because either the British or the Indians might sweep down upon the
district at any time. So quite a party would travel together, and that
added to the fun. Such a life, with plenty of horses to ride, and
turkeys to hunt, and journeys to make, with only occasional schooling,
appealed strongly to Andrew.

In August, 1780, when young Jackson was twelve years old, the American
General Gates was defeated by the British, and Cornwallis marched into
the country of the Catawba. Many families left their homes and went
north to be safe from the enemy, and among others Mrs. Jackson and her
sons determined to seek a safer home. Andrew's mother and his brother
Robert left on horseback, and a day or two later Andrew followed them.

The people all through that desolate part of the country were anxious
for news of the war, especially for word of fathers or brothers in the
army, and they stood by the roads and asked news eagerly of any chance
horseman. At one lonely house a little girl was stationed at the gate to
question travelers. About sunset one day she saw a tall, gawkish boy
come riding along the road, astride of one of the rough, wild, South
Carolina ponies. His bare legs were almost long enough to meet under the
pony; he wore a torn wide-brimmed hat which napped about his face. His
scanty shirt and trousers were covered with dust, and his face was
burned brown and worn with hardship. He had ridden so far and was so
tired that he could scarcely keep his seat.

"Where you from?" cried the girl, as the boy reined up.

"From down below, along Waxhaw Creek."

"Where you going?"

"Up along north."

"Who you for?"

"The Continental Congress."

"What you doing to the Redcoats down below?"

"Oh, we're poppin' 'em still."

"An' what may your name be?"

"Andy Jackson. Anythin' else you'd like to know?"

She asked him for news of her father's regiment, but the boy knew little
about it, and was soon riding on his way, following the highroad to

In Charlotte the Jacksons boarded with some relatives, and Andrew worked
hard to pay for his food and lodging. He drove cattle, tended the mill,
brought in wood, picked beans, and did any odd jobs that fell to his
hand. All the time he was hoping for a chance to fight the enemy, and
each day he brought home some new weapon. One day it was a rude spear
which he had forged while he waited for the blacksmith to finish a job,
another time it was a wooden club, and another a tomahawk. Once he
fastened the blade of a scythe to a pole, and when he reached home began
cutting down weeds with it, crying, "Oh, if only I were a man, how I'd
cut down the Redcoats with this!"

The man with whom he was living happened to be watching him, and said
later to Andrew's mother: "That boy Andy is going to fight his way in
this world."

The war between the colonists and the British was especially bitter in
the Carolinas, where conditions were more rude and simple than in other
parts of the country. The stories that came to Andrew were enough to
stir any boy's blood. He had heard that at Charleston the farmers had
used their cotton bales to build a fort, that the guerrilla leader
Marion had split saws into sword blades for his men, that in more than
one encounter the Carolina militia had gone into battle with more men
than muskets, so that the unarmed men had to stand and watch the battle
until some comrade fell and they could rush in and seize his gun.
Popular legends made the Redcoats little less than devils, fit
companions for the Indian bands they sent upon the war-path.

News of one attack after another came to the Jackson boys until they
could stand inaction no longer, and joined a small band of independent
riders, not members of any regiment, but free to attack and retreat as
they liked.

Andrew's first real taste of battle came when he, his brother Robert,
and six friends were guarding the house of a neighbor, Captain Sands.
The captain had come to see his family, and it was known that the house
might be attacked by Tories.

Leaving one man to watch, the rest of the defenders stretched themselves
out on the floor of the living-room and went to sleep. The sentry also
dozed, but toward midnight he was roused by a suspicious noise, and
investigating found that two bands of the enemy were approaching the
house, one in the front and one in the rear. He rushed indoors, and
seized Andrew, who was sleeping next to the door, by the hair. "The
Tories are upon us!" he cried in great alarm. The boy jumped up, and ran
out of doors. Seeing men in the distance he placed his gun in the fork
of a tree by the door, and hailed the men. They made no reply. He called
to them again. There was no answer, but they came on double-quick.

By this time the other defenders were roused, and had joined the boy.
Andrew fired, and the attacking party answered with a volley. The Tories
who were creeping up from the rear supposed the volley was fired from
the defenders, and immediately answered with fire from their guns.
Andrew and his companions retreated into the house, having managed for a
few moments to draw the enemy's fire in the darkness against each other.
The Tories halted and learned their mistake.

By now the men indoors opened fire from the windows on both parties.
Several Tories fell, and the rest were held at bay. Then very
fortunately a distant bugle was heard sounding the cavalry charge, and
the Tories, thinking they had been led into an ambush and were about to
be attacked in the rear, dashed to their horses and, mounting, rode off
at full speed.

It turned out afterward that a neighbor, hearing the firing at Captain
Sands' house, had blown his bugle, hoping to give the enemy alarm in the
darkness, and that in reality the trick had worked to perfection. So the
Jackson boys had luck with them in their first skirmish.

They were not so lucky next time. The British general heard of the
activity of the little band of colonists and planned to end them. He
heard that about forty of the farmers were gathered at the Waxhaw
meeting-house, and he sent a body of dragoons, dressed in rough country
clothes, to seize them. The farmers were expecting a band of neighbors,
and were fooled by the British. Eleven of the forty were taken
prisoners, and the rest fled, pursued hotly by the dragoons.

Andrew found himself riding desperately by the side of his cousin,
Lieutenant Thomas Crawford. For a time they kept to the road, and then
turned across a swampy field, where they soon came to a wide slough of
mire. They plunged their horses into the bog. Andrew struggled through,
but when he reached the bank he found that his cousin's horse had
fallen, and that Thomas was trying to fight off his pursuers with his
sword. Andrew started back, but before he could get near his cousin the
latter had been forced to surrender. The boy then turned, and succeeded
in outriding the dragoons, and finally found refuge in the woods, where
his brother Robert joined him that night.

The next morning hunger forced the two boys to seek a house, and they
crept up to their cousin's. They left their guns and horses in the
woods, and reached the house safely. Unfortunately a Tory neighbor had
seen them, and, seizing their horses and arms, he sent word to the
British soldiers. Before the boys had any notice of attack the house was
surrounded and they were taken prisoners.

Andrew never forgot the scene that followed. There were no men in the
house, only his cousin's wife and young children. Nevertheless the
soldiers destroyed everything they could find, smashed furniture,
crockery, glass, tore all the clothing to rags, and broke in windows and
doors. Then the officer in charge ordered Andrew to clean his high
riding-boots, which were crusted with mud. The boy refused to do it,
saying, "I've a right to be treated as a prisoner of war."

The officer swore, and aimed a blow with his sword at Andrew's head.
Jackson threw up his left arm as a shield and received two wounds, one a
deep gash on the head, the other on his hand. The officer then turned to
Robert Jackson, and ordered him to clean his boots. Robert also refused.
Then the man struck this boy on the head, and knocked him to the floor.
It was a bad business, and the whole performance, especially the brutal
treatment of a defenseless woman and two boy prisoners, made a deep
impression on Andrew's mind. He was only fourteen years old, but his
fighting spirit was that of a grown man.

Shortly after this Andrew was ordered to mount a horse, and guide some
of the soldiers to the house of a well-known man named Thompson. He was
threatened with death if he failed to guide them right. There was
nothing for it but to obey, but the boy hit upon a plan by which he
might give Thompson a chance to escape. Instead of reaching the house by
the usual road he took the men a roundabout way which brought them into
full sight of the place half a mile before they reached it. As Andrew
had guessed, some one was on watch, and instantly gave the alarm, so
that the Redcoats had the pleasure of seeing the man they sought dash
from his house, mount a waiting horse, and make off toward a creek that
ran close by. The creek was swollen and very deep, but the rider plunged
into it and got safely across. The dragoons, however, did not dare
follow, and Thompson, shouting defiance at them, got safely into the
woods and away.

The prisoners were now gathered together, and placed under one escort to
be taken to the British prison at Camden, South Carolina. The journey
was a very hard one. Both the Jackson boys and their cousin, Thomas
Crawford, were suffering from wounds, but they were allowed no food or
water as they were marched the forty miles. The soldiers even forbade
the boys scooping up drinking water from one of the streams they

The prison at Camden was wretchedness itself. Two hundred and fifty men
and boys were herded into one small enclosure. They were given no beds,
no medicine, nor bandages to dress their wounds, only a little bad bread
for food. The brothers were separated. Andrew was robbed of his coat and
shoes; he was sick and hungry and worried, for he had no idea what had
happened to his mother or brother. Then as a final horror smallpox broke
out in the prison, and the fear of contagion was added to the other

One day Andrew was lying in the sun near the prison gate when an officer
was attracted by his youth and came up to talk with him. The officer
seemed kind, and the boy poured out the miseries of the prison life to
him. He told how the men were starved or given bad food, and how they
were ill used by the guards. The officer was shocked and promised to
look into the matter. When he did he found that the contractors were not
giving the prisoners the food they were paid to provide, and he reported
the matter to those in charge. Shortly after conditions improved.

Then news came to the prison that the American General Greene was coming
to deliver them. They were tremendously excited at the report. General
Greene had indeed marched on Camden with a small army of twelve hundred
men, but as he had marched faster than his artillery he thought it best
to wait on a hill outside the town until the guns should come up with
him. Six days he stayed there, and then the British commander decided to
attack him without further delay.

The prison yard would have given a good view of the battle but for a
board fence which had lately been built on top of the wall. Andrew
looked everywhere for a crack in the boards, but could find none. He
managed, however, during the night to cut a hole with an old razor blade
which had been given the prisoners to serve as a meat knife. Through
this hole he saw something of the battle next day, and described what he
saw to the men in the yard below him.

The Americans were not expecting the British attack. When the British
general led out his nine hundred men early in the morning the Americans
were scattered over the hill, washing their clothes, cleaning their
guns, cooking, and playing cards. Andrew saw the enemy steal about the
base of the hill. There was no way in which he could warn his
countrymen. He saw the British steal up the hill, and break suddenly on
the surprised soldiers. The colonials rushed for their arms, fell into
line, met the charge. The American horse dashed upon the British rear,
and a cheer went up from the waiting prisoners. Then the British made a
second charge, and this time carried men and horses before them, down
the slope and out into the plain. The Americans ceased firing, and
finally broke in full retreat. The prisoners were in more wretched state
than they had been before.

After the battle Andrew's spirits sank to the lowest ebb. He fell ill
with the first symptoms of the dreaded smallpox. His brother was in even
worse condition. The wound in his head had not healed, as it had never
been properly treated. He also was ill, and it seemed as though both
boys were about to fall victims to the plague.

Fortunately, at this great crisis, help suddenly appeared. Their devoted
mother learned of the boys' state, and went by herself to Camden to see
if she could not procure a transfer of prisoners. She saw the British
general, and arranged that he should free her two sons and five of her
neighbors in return for thirteen British soldiers who had been recently
captured by a Waxhaw captain. The boys were set free, and joined their
mother. She was shocked to find them so changed by hunger, illness, and
wounds. Robert could not stand, and Andrew was little better off. They
were free, however, at last, and Mrs. Jackson planned to get them home
as soon as possible.

The mother could get only two horses. One she rode, and Robert was put
on the other, and held in the saddle by two of the men just freed.
Andrew dragged himself wearily behind, without hat, coat, or shoes.
Forty miles of wilderness lay between Camden and the boys' old home at
Waxhaw near the Catawba. The little party trudged along as best it
could, and were only two miles from home when a cold, drenching rain
started to fall. The boys, ill already, suffered terribly. Finally they
reached home, and were put to bed. The cold rain had proved too severe
for Robert, and two days later he died. Andrew, stricken with smallpox,
as was his brother, was very ill for a long time.

While Andrew was still sick word came to Waxhaw that the condition of
some of the men and boys in the Charleston prison ships was even worse
than that of the men at Camden. Mrs. Jackson's nephews and many of her
friends and neighbors were in the ships, and she felt that she must do
something to relieve them. As soon as she could leave Andrew, she
started with two other women to travel the hundred and sixty miles to

The three women carried medicines and country delicacies and gifts for
the prisoners. It was a most heroic journey. They had no protectors, and
they were going into the enemy's lines. They succeeded, however, finally
managing to gain admittance to the ships, and to deliver the messages
from home, the food, and the medicines that were so greatly needed. No
one can say how much happiness they brought to those ships in Charleston

Mrs. Jackson stayed in the neighborhood of the city some time, doing
what she could to help her countrymen. Unfortunately disease was only
too rife in the prisons, and it was not long before she became ill with
the ship fever, and after a very short illness died. The news was
brought to Andrew, now fifteen years old, as he lay at home, just
recovering a little of his strength. He had always been devoted to his
mother and worshipped her memory all the days of his life.

The British under Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, October 19, 1781,
and the war in the south practically came to an end. Andrew Jackson came
out of the Revolution without father or mother or brother, a
convalescent in the house of a cousin, with bitter memories of the war.
For a long time he was exceedingly weak and dispirited, and that
fighting aggressive nature which had marked his early boyhood did not
return to him for some time.

The boy of sixteen had no one to advise him as to what to do. He tired
of life in the primitive Waxhaw country, and when the British evacuated
Charleston he went there, and saw something of city life. But his money
was soon spent, and he had to decide what he should turn his hand to.
The law appealed to him as a good field for advancement, just as it
appealed to so many ambitious youths of the new country.

At almost the same time there began the emigration of many Carolina
families westward into what was to become the territory of Tennessee.
Land was given to all who would emigrate and settle there. The idea of
growing up with a new community appealed to Andrew; he knew he had the
power to make his way. In 1788 he started on his journey west, traveling
in the company of about a hundred settlers. They had many adventures and
several times they were in danger of attack from Indians. Once it was
Jackson himself, sitting by the camp-fire after the others had gone to
sleep, who detected something strange in the hooting of owls about the
camp, and waked his friends just in time to save them from being
surrounded by a band of redskins on the war-path. At last they reached
the small town which had been christened Nashville, and there Andrew
decided to settle and practice law.

This was about the time that Washington was being inaugurated first
President of the United States.


Andrew grew up with Tennessee. He became a big figure in the western
country. He was known as a shrewd, aggressive man, and was sent to
Congress from that district. Later, when the War of 1812 came, he was
made a general of the American forces, and finally put an end to that
war by winning the battle of New Orleans. Some of the satisfaction of
that last campaign may have atoned to him for his own sufferings in the
Revolution. When the war ended he had won the reputation of a great
general, and was one of the most popular men in the United States. His
nickname of "Old Hickory" was given him in deep affection.

Shortly afterward he was elected President, and then reëlected. He was
intensely democratic, absolutely fearless, a magnetic leader. There are
few more remarkable stories than that of the rise of the barefooted boy
of the Waxhaw to be the chief of the great republic.


Napoleon Bonaparte

The Boy of Brienne: 1769-1821

The playground of the French military school at Brienne was a great open
space looking down upon the town. Here, on a January afternoon in 1783,
a score of boys were hard at work building a snow fort. The winter had
been very cold and a great fall of snow at the first of the year had
covered the playground several feet deep. After each storm the boys in
the military school fought battles back and forth over the open ground,
and up and down the roads that led to the village; but this battle was
to be a memorable one.

A little Corsican named Bonaparte was in charge of the defending forces.
He was not very popular among his playmates. He kept very much to
himself, and when he did mix with the others he had a habit of ordering
them about. Most of the other boys were afraid of him. Time and again,
when he had been disturbed as he stood reading a book in a distant
corner of the schoolroom or walking by himself in the playground, he had
turned fiercely upon his playmates and had scattered them before him
with the passion of his face and words; but when they wanted a leader
the boys turned to Bonaparte, and now when they had decided to build a
great fort they left the direction of it entirely to his care.

The Corsican boy, who was fourteen years old, stood in the middle of the
ground, his hands clasped behind his back, nodding now in one direction,
now in another, as he ordered the boys where to bank the snow, how high
to build the ramparts, and in what lines. He was not very tall and his
face was quite colorless. Under a broad brow his piercing gray eyes
darted here and there, and then were quiet in study. He wore a blue
military coat with red facings and bright buttons, and a vest of blue
faced with white, and blue knee-breeches, and a military cocked hat.
From time to time he drew lines on the snow with a sharp-pointed stick.
Once or twice, when he found a boy idling, he spoke to him sharply, but
for the most part he kept strict silence.

After a time a young master, dressed like a priest, came out of the
school door and walked over toward Bonaparte. He smiled as he saw the
intense look on the boy's face, and the rough plan sketched before him
on the snow. He came up to the boy and stood looking down at him.

"Well, my young Spartan," said he, "what are you planning now? Some new
way to save the town from siege?"

The boy glanced up at his teacher, and a little smile parted his thin
lips. "No, Monsieur Pichegru, I was considering how we might drive the
French troops out of Corsica."

"From Corsica!" exclaimed the master. "Corsica belongs to France, and
you are a French cadet."

The boy shook his head solemnly. "Corsica should be free," he answered.
"We are more Italian than French. I hate your barbarous words, my tongue
trips over them. If I had my way no Frenchman would be left in the

"Then it's well you don't have your way, Bonaparte," said Monsieur
Pichegru, laughing.

Suddenly the boy's brow clouded and his eyes grew serious. "You think I
shan't have my way then? You don't know me, no one knows me. Wait until
I grow up--then you shall see."

The master was used to this boy's strange fancies, and now he simply
shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, well, we'll wait and see, but you must learn to curb your temper
if you ever expect to do great things in the world."

"Why?" said the boy. "Must a general curb his temper? It's his part to
give orders, not to take them, and that, sir, is the part I mean to

Again the master shrugged his shoulders, and the same quizzical smile
his face always wore when watching this boy lighted his eyes.

"At least we are agreed on one thing, Bonaparte; we both of us know the
most glorious profession in the world is that of the soldier. Ah, that I
might some day be a captain of artillery!"

"Why not?" said the boy. "Isn't all of Europe one big camp? Can't any
man rise who has strength to draw a sword? Believe me, Monsieur
Pichegru, if you really want to be a captain you shall be one."

The master glanced at the boy, and then looked quickly away. "You are a
strange lad, my little Spartan," said he. "I don't think I ever knew
a boy quite like you."


The teacher moved away and the boy continued making his drawings with
the pointed stick.

By the time the afternoon had ended the square fort of snow was
finished. It was by far the finest fortification the boys of Brienne had
ever built. It had four bastions and a rampart three and one-half feet
long. Water was poured over the top and sides so that ice might form,
and it looked like a very difficult place to take. When he considered it
finished Bonaparte ordered the boys to quit work, and taking up a book
he had thrown on the ground before him he started to stroll up and down
by the farther wall of the parade. He was fond of walking here, book in
hand, studying some military treatise, and, though only a boy, he had
gained the power of shutting out all thoughts except those of his study.

Some of the boys had put together a rough sort of sky-rocket, and now
brought it out from the house to light it in the playground. One boy
touched a match to the fuse and the others leaped back out of reach.
There was a loud explosion, and the firework, failing to shoot off as
was intended, simply fizzled in a shower of sparks near the feet of the
boy by the wall. He glanced up, looked at the flames and then at the
circle of boys beyond.

In an instant he had seized his stick and was among them, hitting the
boys over their heads and calling them all the names he could think of,
beside himself in a sudden storm of passion because he had been
disturbed. They fled before his attack like leaves before a whirlwind.
In a few moments he had cleared the playground. Then he threw down the
stick and picked up his book again.

A few minutes later Monsieur Pichegru, who had been told of the
explosion, came over to him.

"You must not lose your temper in that way, my boy," said he. "Some day
you will learn to regret it."

"Why?" said the Corsican lad. "I was studying here, I was reading how
great Hannibal crossed the Alps, and that pack of fools broke in upon
me. I will not be disturbed."

"You'll teach them to hate you," said the master, trying to argue the
boy out of his ill temper.

"No, I'll teach them to do as I want, or let me alone when I wish it.
That's all I ask of them, to be let alone." The master, shaking his
head, thought that the boy would soon have his way, for day by day he
grew more solitary and his playmates' fear of him increased.

The teachers at the school and also some of the servants saw the fort on
the playground that afternoon, and the news of it sped through the town.
According to report it was very different from the snow forts the boys
usually built, much more ingenious and complicated, and along military
lines. As a result the next morning many of the townspeople came to see
the fortifications and examined them with great interest while the boys
were indoors at study.

When they were free in the afternoon the battle began, one party of the
boys leading the attack from the streets of the town, the other under
Bonaparte defending the bastions and rampart. Attack and defense were
well handled. The boys had already learned many military tactics and
they thoroughly enjoyed this mimic warfare, but the Corsican lad was
much too clever for his adversaries. He was continually inventing new
schemes to surprise his opponents, now sending out a party of
skirmishers to attack them in the rear or on the flanks, again luring
them into a direct assault upon the rampart, and then leading his
soldiers up and over the ice walls to scatter the enemy down the street.
By sunset there was no doubt as to which was the victor. The flag, which
was the prize of battle, was formally awarded to the boys who had held
the fort.

There was no doubt that young Napoleon Bonaparte knew how to lead
others. He had shown that ability to an amazing degree ever since he had
first entered the school of Brienne when he was only nine years old. The
boys at Brienne were all being trained to be soldiers, and they were all
brought up in strict military discipline which would have been irksome
to many a boy. The young Corsican, however, liked it and seemed to
thrive on it.

Some of the rules of the school were curious. Until they were twelve
years old the boys had to keep their hair cut short, after that they
were allowed to wear a pigtail, but could powder their hair only on
Sundays and Saints' Days. Each boy had a separate room which was much
like a cell, containing a hard bed with only a rug for covering. The
boys had to stay in school for six years, and they were never allowed
to leave on any pretense whatever. During the long vacation which
lasted from September fifteenth to November second they had only one
lesson a day and had plenty of time for outdoor sports. Everything
possible was done to fire their ardor for military life. They were
encouraged to read the lives of great men, especially Plutarch's
"Lives," and those historical plays which deal with great French scenes.
History and geography were the chief studies, and after those two,
mathematics. In all of these branches Bonaparte took great delight.

Singularly enough the school, although designed to train boys for
warriors, was entirely under the charge of an order of Friars. Neither
teachers nor boys could help but admit Napoleon's great strength of
character. When the Abbé in charge organized the school into companies
of cadets the command of one company was given to this boy. He ruled
those under him with a rod of iron, and finally the boys who were the
commanders of the other companies decided to hold a court-martial.

Bonaparte was brought before them and charged with being unworthy to
command his schoolfellows because he disdained them and had no real
regard for them. Arguments attacking him were made by various boys, but
when it came to Napoleon's turn to defend himself he refused, on the
ground that whether he were commander or not made little difference to
him. The court-martial thereupon decided to degrade him from his rank
and a formal sentence was read aloud to him. He seemed very little
concerned, and took his place with the other privates without any show
of ill feeling. For almost the first time the boys felt a sort of
affection for him because he bore his humiliation so well.

Unlike most boys he really seemed to care very little whether he was
popular or not; all he asked was a chance to learn the art of warfare.
He was happiest when he was left alone to study history. Plutarch's
"Lives" was his favorite book, and his favorite nation among the ancient
peoples was that of Sparta, because he admired the Spartans' stern sense
of heroism and hoped to copy them. That was the reason Monsieur Pichegru
had given him the nickname of "The Spartan," and the name stuck to him
for years.

The Corsican boy's first desire was to be a sailor. He hoped he might be
sent to the southern coast of France where he would be near his own
beloved island home. It so happened, however, that one of the French
military instructors came to Brienne after Napoleon had been there about
five years, and immediately took an interest in the boy. A little later
he, with four others, was chosen to enter a famous military school in
Paris as what were known as "gentlemen cadets." The report that was sent
to Paris respecting Bonaparte stated that he was domineering, imperious,
and obstinate, but in spite of these qualities he was chosen because of
his great ability in mathematics and the art of warfare.

The military school of Paris was one of the sights of the French
capital. Famous visitors were always taken there, and the cadets were
intended to form the flower of the French army. Only a few of the boys
who were at the schools in the provinces were chosen to come to Paris,
and those who were chosen were put through a rigid course of study and
of physical drill in preparation for service in the army. Most of the
boys were sons of the nobility and were accustomed to bully their less
distinguished comrades.

When Bonaparte had been in Paris a very short time he had his first
fight with such a boy. He was quite able to hold his own, but all that
first year he was continually set upon by the Parisians who loved to
taunt him with being a little Corsican and to make ridiculous nicknames
out of his two long names. He lost something of his reserve, because he
liked the military side of the Paris school much better than the church
atmosphere at Brienne.

Nothing made him so indignant as to hear his native land spoken of
slurringly, and there were many of his comrades who took a special
delight in doing this. The boys would draw caricatures of him standing
with his hands behind his back in his favorite attitude, his brows
frowning, and his eyes thoughtful, and underneath would write "Bonaparte
planning to rescue Corsica from the hands of the French." Whenever he
had a chance he spoke bitterly of the injustice of a great people
oppressing such a tiny island as his.

Finally some of his words came to the ears of the general in charge of
the school. He sent at once for the boy and said to him, "Sir, you are a
scholar of the King, you must learn to remember this and to moderate
your love of Corsica, which after all forms part of France." Bonaparte
was wiser than to make any answer, he simply saluted and withdrew.
But he paid no heed to the advice, and one day shortly afterward he
again spoke to a priest of the unjust treatment of Corsica. The latter
waited until the boy came to him at the confessional and then rebuked
him on this subject. Bonaparte ran back through the church crying loud
enough for all those present to hear him, "I didn't come in here to talk
about Corsica, and that priest has no right to lecture me on such a


The priest as well as the others in charge soon learned that it was
useless to try to change this boy's views, or indeed to keep him from
expressing them when he had a chance. They were learning, just as
Monsieur Pichegru and the friars at Brienne had learned, that he would
have his own way in spite of all opposition.

When he was sixteen Napoleon and his best friend, a boy named Desmazis,
were ordered to join the regiment of La Fère which was then quartered in
the south of France. Napoleon was glad of this change which brought him
nearer to his island home, and he also felt that he would now learn
something of actual warfare. The two boys were taken to their regiment
in charge of an officer who stayed with them from the time they left
Paris until the carriage set them down at the garrison town. The
regiment of La Fère was one of the best in the French army, and the boy
immediately took a great liking to everything connected with it. He
found the officers well educated and anxious to help him. He declared
the blue uniform with red facings to be the most beautiful uniform in
the world.

He had to work hard, still studying mathematics, chemistry, and the laws
of fortification, mounting guard with the other subalterns, and looking
after his own company of men. He seemed very young to be put in charge
of grown soldiers, but his great ability had brought about this
extraordinarily rapid promotion. He had a room in a boarding-house kept
by an old maid, but took his meals at the Inn of the Three Pigeons. Now
that he was an officer he began to be more interested in making a good
appearance before people. He took dancing lessons and suddenly blossomed
out into much popularity among the garrison. Older people could not help
but see his great strength of character, and time and again it was
predicted that he would rise high in the army.

He had not been long with his regiment when he was given leave of
absence to visit his family in Corsica. His father had died, but his
mother was living, with a number of children. All of them looked to
Napoleon for help. When he reached his home, although he was only
seventeen, he was hailed as a great man. Not only his own family, but
all the neighbors and townspeople spoke of him with pride, and expected
that he would do a great deal for their island.

He still had the same passion for that rocky land, and spent hours
wandering through the grottoes by the seashore, or in the dense olive
woods, or lying under a favorite oak tree reading history and dreaming
of his future. The open life of the fields and the pleasures of the farm
appealed strongly to him, but he knew that there was more active work
for him to do in the world, and so, after a short stay, he went back to
the main land.

It was not long before great events took place in France. The people
arose against their king and the first gusts of the French Revolution
blew him from his throne. The young Napoleon was a great lover of
liberty; he wished it for Corsica and he wished it for the French
people. It seemed at first as though the island might be able to win its
independence, owing to the disorder in France, and the Bonapartes sided
with the conspirators who were working toward this end. But the young
lieutenant attended strictly to his own business. He watched the rapid
march of events from a distance, and when he went to Paris he was
careful not to ally himself too closely with any particular party.
Finally the Republic was proclaimed, and Napoleon saw that there would
be an immediate chance for fighting. He had complained as a boy that the
trouble with the officers was that they had not had a real taste of
battle. He hoped to be able to learn his profession on the actual field.

At a time like this when every one doubted his neighbor, and no one knew
how long the present government would last, one quality of the young
lieutenant, his steadfast sticking to duty, made him conspicuous.
Whoever might rule the country he stuck to his work of drilling the men
under him, and step by step he advanced until he became
lieutenant-colonel. Finally his great chance came.

The city of Toulon on the Mediterranean rebelled against the Convention,
which had in turn become the governing power of France, and surrendered
itself to the English. French troops were sent to the city, and at the
very beginning of the fighting the commander of the artillery was
wounded by a ball in the shoulder. Napoleon was next in rank and took
his place. The siege lasted for days, and the young commander was
obliged to exercise all his ingenuity to hold his position before the
English lines. It was like a repetition of the old fight of the Brienne
school yard, only now Bonaparte led the attacking forces, and he found
this a more difficult task than to defend his own iced ramparts.

There was also trouble with some of the officers, and one of them
ordered Napoleon to place his guns in a certain line of attack. The
Corsican youth refused, declaring that he would not serve under a man
who was wanting in the simplest principles of warfare. The commander was
indignant, but all his friends said to him, "You had better let that
young man alone, he knows more about this than you. If his plan succeeds
the glory will all be yours; if he fails the blame will be his." The
officer took the advice and told young "Captain Cannon," as he called
Napoleon, that he might have his own way, but that he should answer for
the success of his plan with his head.

"Very well," said the youth, "I'm quite satisfied with that

The siege lasted a long time, and then it was finally decided to carry
the town by a grand assault. All possible forces were brought to the
attack, and at last Toulon was taken. The young lieutenant-colonel
distinguished himself greatly in this his first real battle. His horse
was shot under him, and he was wounded with a bayonet thrust in the
thigh; but he kept his men in place, and finally advancing they
succeeded in covering both the town and the fleet in the sea. When the
fighting was over the general in command wrote to Paris: "I have no
words to describe the merit of Bonaparte; much science, as much
intelligence, and too much bravery. This is but a feeble sketch of this
rare officer, and it is for you, ministers, to consecrate him to the
glory of the Republic."

Such was the young Napoleon at twenty-three. Almost immediately he was
made general of brigade, and was looked upon as one of the coming
defenders of the French Republic.

He went to Paris, was loaded with honors, and given post after post in
the service of his country. For a time he proved a great defender of his
people, for a time he served the Republic as no other man could; but
when defense was no longer needed he could not sheathe his sword, he had
to use it for attack whether the cause were just or not. As he won
victory after victory and tasted power he discarded even the Republic
that had made him, and placed himself upon the throne as Emperor.

That same love of power which had made him was also his undoing. He
could not rest content with what he had. As he had predicted to Monsieur
Pichegru that afternoon at Brienne he would have his own way, and very
much as he had treated his schoolfellows there he later grew to treat
the nations of Europe. As a result they, like his playfellows, combined
against him, and sent him down finally among the privates.


Walter Scott

The Boy of the Canongate: 1771-1832

The business office of a Scotch solicitor is not an especially cheerful
place at any time, and the interior of such a room looked particularly
cheerless on a late winter afternoon in Edinburgh in 1786. A boy of
fifteen sat on a high stool at an old oak desk, and watched the snow
falling in the street. Occasionally he could see people passing the
windows: men and women wrapped to their ears in plaid shawls, for the
wind whistled down the street so loudly that the boy could hear it, and
the cold was bitter.

The boy looked through the window until he almost felt the chill
himself, and then, to keep warm, held his head in his hands and fastened
his eyes on the big, heavy-leaved book in front of him, which bore the
unappealing title, Erskine's "Institutes." The type was fine, and the
young student had to read each line a dozen times before he could
understand it. Sometimes his eyes would involuntarily close and he would
doze a few moments, only to wake with a start to look quickly at another
desk near the fire where his father sat steadily writing, and then to a
table in the corner where a very old man was always sorting papers.

The winter light grew dim, so dim that the boy could no longer see to
read. He closed the book with a bang.


"Yes, Walter, lad?" The lawyer looked up from his writing, and smiled at
the figure on the high stool.

"I'd best be going home; there's no more light here to see by."

"A good reason, Walter. Wrap yourself up warm, for the night is cold."

Young Walter slid down from his seat, and stretched his arms and legs to
cure the stiffness in them. He was a sturdy, well-built lad, with
tousled yellow hair, frank eyes with a twinkle in them, and a mouth that
was large and betokened humor. When he walked he limped, but he held
himself so straight that when he was still no one would have noticed the

Five minutes later the boy was plowing his way through the narrow
streets of the Canongate, the old part of Edinburgh that had as ancient
a history of street brawls as the Paris kennels. Nobody who could help
it was abroad, and Walter was glad when he reached the door of his
father's house in George's Square and could find shelter from the
cutting wind. The Scotch evening meal was simple, soon over, and then
came the time to sit before the blazing logs on the great open hearth
and tell stories.

The older people were busy at cards in another room, and Walter, with a
group of boys of his own age who lived in the neighborhood and liked to
be with the lame lad, had the fireside to themselves.

In front of the fire young Walter was no longer the sleepy student of
Erskine's "Institutes"; his eyes shone as he told story after story of
the Scotch border, half of them founded on old ballads or legends he
knew by heart and half the product of his own eager imagination. Whole
poems, filled with battles and hunts and knightly adventures, he could
recite from memory, and his eye for the color and trappings of history
was so keen that the boys could see the very scenes before them. They
sat in a circle about him, listening eagerly to story after story,
forgetting everything but the boy's words, and showing their fondness
and admiration for the romancer in each glance.

Walter was minstrel and prophet and historian to the boys of the
Canongate by the winter fire, as he was to be later to the whole nation
of Englishmen.

By the next day the snow had ceased falling, and the open squares of the
city presented the finest mimic battle-fields that could be imagined.
The boys of Edinburgh were divided into clans according to the part of
the city in which they lived, and carried on constant warfare as long as
winter lasted. Walter Scott and his brothers belonged to a clan that
made George's Square their headquarters, and their nearest and dearest
enemies were the boys of the Crosscauseway, a poorer section of the city
that lay not very far distant.

On the day the storm ceased Walter left his high stool and ponderous
book early and joined his friends in solid array in their square. While
they waited for the enemy to come up from the side street, the boys
built snow fortifications across the Square and stocked them with
ammunition sufficient to stand a siege. Still no enemy appeared, and,
eager for a chance to try their aim, the boys of the Square boldly left
their own haunts and proceeded down the Crosscauseway in search of the

The enemy's country lay through narrow winding streets, and there was
great need of care to avoid an ambuscade. Slipping from door to door,
from one point of vantage to the next, the boys made the whole distance
of the enemy's land without sight of an enemy. They came to the further
boundary and raised a cheer of defiance, when suddenly a hail-storm of
snowballs struck them, and from a side street the boys of the
Crosscauseway shot out. The invaders fired one round, then turned and
fled before a fierce charge.

Back the way they came the boys retreated, and after them came the enemy
pelting them without mercy and with good aim. In the van of the pursuit
ran a tall, fair-haired boy, who wore the bright green breeches of a
tailor's clerk, who was famous for his prowess in these schoolboy
battles, and who, because of his clothes, had been given the picturesque
nickname of "Green Breeks."

Young Scott and his friends ran back into their square, but the enemy
were close upon their heels. Green Breeks was now far in the lead of his
forces, so far in the lead that he might have been cut off had not the
pursued been panic-stricken. Over their own fortifications the boys fled
and dropped behind them for safety. Their banner, a flag given them by a
lady of the Square, waved defiantly in Green Breeks' face. The tall boy
leaped upon the rampart and seized the standard, when a blow from a
stick brought him to the ground. He fell stunned, and the blood poured
from a cut in his head.

The watchman in George's Square was used to the boys' battles, but not
to such an ending to them. He hurried over to the fallen Green Breeks,
and the boys of both armies melted silently away. Shortly after Green
Breeks was in the hospital, his head bandaged, but otherwise little the
worse for his mishap.

A confectioner in the Crosscauseway acted as messenger between the boys
of the Causeway and the Square, and to him Walter Scott and his brother
went early the next morning and asked if he would take Green Breeks some
money to pay for his wound and loss of time in the tailor's shop. Green
Breeks in the hospital had been asked to tell the name of the one who
had struck him, but had refused pointblank, and none of either party
could be found to tell. When the wounded leader heard of Walter's offer
he refused to accept the money on the ground that such accidents were
apt to happen to any one in battle, and that he did not need the money.
Walter sent another message, inquiring if Green Breeks' family were in
need of anything he could supply, and received the answer that he lived
with his aged grandmother who was very fond of taking snuff. Thereupon
Walter presented the old woman with a pound of snuff, and as soon as
Green Breeks was out of the hospital made him one of his friends.

With the opening of spring Walter spent all his spare hours in his
favorite pursuit, riding through the country on a search for old
legends or curious tales of the neighborhood. Scottish history was his
never-ending delight; he knew every battle-field in the vicinity of
Edinburgh, and could tell how the armies had come to meet and what was
the result. Stories of sprites and goblins, of witches and magicians,
were eagerly sought by him. Many an old woman was led to tell the lame
boy with the eager eyes the tales she had heard as a schoolgirl, and was
well repaid by the boy's rapt attention. Hardly a stick or a stone, a
stream or a hill in the Lowlands that had a history but Walter Scott
learned it, and at the same time he learned to know the plain people,
all their habits and customs, and all the little eccentricities that
made up their characters.


Every Saturday in fair weather, and more frequently during the
vacations, his father allowed him a holiday from the office. Walter and
a boy friend named John Irving used to take two or three books from the
public library of Edinburgh, and go out into the neighboring country, to
Salisbury Crags, Arthur's Seat, or to a height called Blackford Hill,
from which there was a splendid view of the Lowland country. There they
read the books together, Walter always a little ahead of his friend, and
obliged to wait at the end of every two pages for him to catch up. The
books were almost always stories of knights-errant; the romances of
Spenser, the "Castle of Otranto," and translations from such Italian
writers as Ariosto, were very popular.

Often the boys would climb high up over the rocks to find places where
they would be sheltered from the wind, and the harder the nooks were to
reach the better they liked them. Walter, in spite of his lameness, was
a good climber, and time and again, when it seemed as though they had
contrived to get into a place from which there was no way out, and must
call to passers-by for help, he would manage to discover some jutting
stone or crevice in the rock that allowed them finally to make a
perilous escape.

That sort of adventure appealed to the boy tremendously; he liked to try
to use his wits in grappling with some natural difficulty, as the heroes
of his stories so often had to do.

The boys devoured a great many books in these expeditions, which lasted
over two years, and Walter so mastered the pages that he read that he
could recite long passages from them to his friend weeks after they had
finished the stories. Finally they fell into the habit of making up
stories of knights for themselves, first Walter telling the adventures
of a knight to John, and leaving the hero in some very difficult
situation for John to rescue him from, and then John carrying on the
story with another adventure, and leaving the next rescue to his friend.
The stories went on from day to day, and week to week, because the boys
grew so fond of their heroes that neither had the heart to kill the
brave knight, and they could find no other way to bring his adventures
to an end.

Although Walter spent considerable time in his father's office, he was
still studying under a tutor with other boys, preparing for college. He
was a brilliant scholar when he wanted to be, but all subjects did not
interest him.

At one time there was a certain boy who always stood at the top of
Walter's class whom young Scott could not supplant, try as he would.
Finally Walter noticed that whenever the master asked that boy a
question the latter always fumbled with his fingers at a certain button
on the lower part of his waistcoat. Walter Scott thereupon determined to
cut off that particular button, and see what would happen. He found a
chance soon after and cut off the button with a knife, while the owner
of the coat was not looking. Then Walter waited with the greatest
interest to see what would happen.

The next time the master asked questions of the youth at the head of the
class Walter saw the boy's fingers feel for the button, and then saw him
look down at the place on his coat where it should have been. When he
saw it was missing he grew confused, stammered, muttered to himself, and
could not answer the question. Walter came next, and, being able to
answer the question, took the other boy's place, chuckling to himself.
He did not hold it long. He had simply wished to see what would happen,
and having found out he was quite willing to surrender the place to the
boy who was really the better scholar.

In a thousand ways Walter showed his love of history and romance.
Anything that was picturesque, whether it was a view or an old dirk,
caught his attention at once. For a short time he took lessons in oil
painting from a German. He soon found that he had not the eye nor the
hand for the work, but it happened that the teacher's father had been a
soldier in the army of Frederick the Great, and as soon as Walter found
this out, he plied the man with questions. Long afterward he said he
vividly remembered the man's picturesque account of seeing a party of
the famous Black Hussars bringing in forage carts which they had
captured from the Cossacks, with the wounded Cossacks themselves lying
high up on the piles of straw.

Often in good weather the boys of George's Square would go on long
excursions into the country, frequently staying away from home for
several days at a time. On one such occasion they found themselves some
twenty miles away from Edinburgh without a single sixpence left among
them. Walter said afterward, "We were certainly put to our shifts, but
we asked every now and then at a cottage door for a drink of water; and
one or two of the good wives, observing our worn-out looks brought out
milk in place of water--so with that, and hips and haws, we came in
little the worse."

His father was not at all pleased with his long absence, and asked how
he had managed with so little money.

"Pretty much like the ravens," said the boy. "I only wished I had been
as good a player on the flute as poor George Primrose in 'The Vicar of
Wakefield.' If I had his art, I should like nothing better than to tramp
like him from cottage to cottage over the world."

"I doubt," said the father, "I greatly doubt, sir, you were born for nae
better than a scapegoat."

It may be that as a result of these chance expeditions Walter's father
finally came to realize that the boy might be made use of in certain
legal business that required sending messengers into the Highlands. Soon
he was sent with some legal papers to the Maclarens, who lived in that
beautiful lake country about Loch Lomond which Scott was later to make
famous in "The Lady of the Lake." It was the first time he had been in
that country, and the changing panorama unrolled before his eyes like a
land of dreams.

It happened that Walter was traveling in the company of a sergeant and
six men from a Highland regiment stationed in Sterling, and so he
journeyed quite like some ancient chieftain, with a front and rear
guard, and bearing arms. The sergeant was a thorough Highlander, full of
stories of Rob Roy and of his own early adventures, and an excellent
companion. The trip was a great success, and fired Walter's desires to
see more of a country which even then was only half-civilized.

A little later he had another chance, being sent north to visit another
of his father's clients, an old Jacobite who had fought in the uprisings
of 1715 and 1745. Paul Jones was then threatening a descent on the
Scotch coast, and Walter had the satisfaction of seeing the old Jacobite
chief making ready to bear arms again, and heard him exult at the
prospect of drawing claymore once more before he died. The boy was so
delighted at the stories the old man told that the latter invited him to
visit him that fall, and so he spent his holiday with him.

Riding northward on this visit the vale of Perth first burst on his
view. Long afterward he described the tremendous impression this sight
made upon him. "I recollect pulling up the reins," he wrote later,
"without meaning to do so, and gazing on the scene before me as if I had
been afraid it would shift, like those in a theatre, before I could
distinctly observe its different parts, or convince myself that what I
saw was real."

Even as he remembered so vividly the tales the old men and women had
told him when he was a very little boy, the stories of his grandmother,
of border warfare, of heroes of Scotland, such as Watt of Harden, and
Wight Willie of Aikwood, merrymen much like Robin Hood and Little John,
and as he remembered the romances he and his friend had read in the
hills, so he was now treasuring up wild bits of scenery with all the
ardor of a poet or a painter. He was growing to know Scotland as no
other man had ever known it.

The boy Walter had little knowledge then of the great use to which he
was later to put his love of Scottish history; he expected to be a
lawyer and was studying to that end, but all his spare moments were
spent in hunting legends of his land. He became eager to visit the then
wild and inaccessible region of Liddesdale, so that he might see the
ruins of the famous castle of the Hermitage, and try to pick up some of
the ancient "riding ballads" as they were called, songs which were said
to be still preserved among the descendants of the old moss-troopers,
who had followed the banners of the House of Douglass, when they were
lords of that remote castle.

He found a man who knew that rugged country well, and for seven
successive years Walter Scott made a "raid," as he called it, into that
country, following each stream to its source, and studying every ruined
tower or castle from foundation stone to topmost battlement.

There were no inns in the whole district. The explorers had to stop over
night at any chance shepherd's hut or farmer's cottage, but everywhere
they met with open welcome, and from each home they gathered songs and
stories, and sometimes relics of border wars to take back with them to
Edinburgh. Even then the youth had little notion of what he should do
with all the facts he was gathering. The friend he traveled with said
later, "Walter was makin' himself a' the time, but he didna ken maybe
what he was about till years had passed. At first he thought o' little,
I dare say, but the queerness and the fun."

       *       *       *       *       *

In course of time Scott was called to the bar as a lawyer, and took his
place with the dozens of young men who hung about the Parliament House
in Edinburgh waiting for briefs of cases to be argued. There were lots
of debating clubs in the Scotch capital at that time, and Scott was a
member of several. Some time was spent in argument, but more in telling
stories and in singing songs.

Here the young lawyer ruled supreme. No other man could tell such tales
as he, and none knew so many and such curious songs. The stories were
not all his own; frequently he retold old ones that he had heard,
dressing them up to suit his taste. Once a friend complained that he had
changed a story told him the day before.

"Why," said Scott, with twinkling eyes, "I don't change stories. I only
put a cocked hat on their heads, and stick a cane into their hands--to
make them fit for going into company."

Fifteen years passed and all England was reading eagerly the wonderful
historical poems and romances written by a man who called himself the
"Wizard of the North."

Scotland had always been a desolate barren country in the eyes of the
rest of the world, its history unknown, its people cold and uninviting.
Suddenly all that was changed: Scotland sprang into being as a land of
romance, filled with poetry, a country full of glorious scenery, a
people descended from a line of kings. Even the narrow streets of
Edinburgh and the old Canongate itself became historic ground under the
Wizard's spell. The Wizard was Walter Scott, and now he found the whole
world as eager to hear the stories and poems he had to tell about his
country as his boy friends had been years before. He had not changed
much as he grew up. At the height of his fame Walter Scott was still in
spirit the eager boy of the old city, finding romance everywhere about
him because he looked for it with the eyes of youth.


James Fenimore Cooper

The Boy of Otsego Hall: 1789-1851

The finest house in central New York State in 1801 was Otsego Hall. The
owner of the house, a Mr. Cooper, fond of old English customs, lived
much like a lord of the manor of the old country, and kept open house
for his neighbors of the region. On a Saturday afternoon in September of
that year he was giving a great party, and all roads in the neighborhood
of Cooperstown, which had been named in honor of this popular gentleman,
led to Otsego Hall.

A gay stream flowed up to the great stone posts that flanked the
entrance driveway. There were men in bright-hued, tight-fitting trousers
with high shining top-boots, brilliant plum and claret colored coats and
fawn or scarlet waistcoats, with lace stocks at their throats, their
hair well powdered, their tri-cornered hats matching their vivid coats.
They rode fine, spirited horses, and they knew how to ride, for most of
them had seen service under General Washington. Some of the ladies also
rode, but more of them came in open carriages. These latter wore
flowered satins, and carried painted fans and sunshades. Some came
across fields on foot, a young gallant swinging a light gold-headed
cane, and paying lavish compliments to the fair girl whose dimples were
heightened by small beauty patches cut in stars or crescents.

The gay throng wound up the long drive of Otsego Hall, themselves
scarcely less brilliant than the flowers beside the path. At the top of
the drive was the big, white colonial mansion, with its high storied
porch and great white pillars. On the porch stood the genial host in a
buff-colored suit with knee-breeches, his kindly face radiating welcome
to each guest. The riders sprang from their saddles and threw the
bridles to the waiting servants, the chaises and the chariots emptied
their owners and were whisked away. All mounted the wide steps, greeted
Mr. Cooper, and passed across the porch into the polished hall.

Here stood a large round table with a huge punchbowl in the centre and a
ring of shining glasses about it. Each guest toasted the fair lady of
the manor, and some particular lady of his own fancy, with such charming
sentiments as his wit supplied. There was a great buzz of talk and
laughter and neighborly greeting.

Presently three young men, all dressed in the height of fashion, came up
the driveway and shook hands with Mr. Cooper. He was especially glad to
see them, for they were sons of men he had known in war times. All three
came of wealthy families living in the city of New York, and were now
traveling north to learn something of the business possibilities of the
young country. They stopped for a moment to chat with Mr. Cooper, and
then two of them entered the hall. The third was looking at a small boy,
who, dressed like Mr. Cooper in buff clothes, stood at one side of the

"Who is the youngster?" asked the visitor.

Mr. Cooper turned about to see. "Oh, that's my son James." He beckoned
to the boy. "Come here, son. I want you to meet Captain Philip Kent, one
of father's old friends."

The boy, not at all abashed, put out his hand, and welcomed Captain
Kent. "Have you ever fought Indians?" he asked solemnly.

Kent laughed and winked at Mr. Cooper. "Oh, yes. We've all fought
Indians in our day. But, thank God, that day's passed. What we want now
is a chance to rest in quiet, and try our hands at writing, and singing,
and painting, like other civilized people." He saw that some other
guests were arriving, and put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "Come,
James. You and I don't care to go salute the ladies just yet. Let's find
a place in the garden and have a talk."

They went down a gravel path and turned in to the rose-garden. A bench
invited them to rest. Captain Kent sat down, and drawing a gilded
snuff-box from his waistcoat-pocket, offered it to the boy. "The very
best rappee," he said.

James Cooper shook his head. "I don't like snuff, sir. I'd rather smoke
a pipe."

Captain Kent took snuff and flicked the grains from his coat with his
handkerchief. "Tut, tut, young man, if you're to be a man of fashion,
and I misdoubt your father's son could be ought else, you must like what
the fashion likes. The gentlemen of St. James' Palace still take snuff,
and never are seen smoking pipes, like some of our clumsy Dutchmen over

"But St. James' Palace is in London, and we're free from England now."

"Quite so, my good sir. But our fashions still come from across the

"And what is a man of fashion?" asked the boy.

Captain Kent smiled. "Ah, so you are concerned? Good! Well, I am a man
of fashion, and so are those two friends of mine who just entered your
hall. A man of fashion has a discriminating taste in wines and foods. He
knows what colors go in harmony, how to draw his sword in any matter of
honor, how to tread a minuet--oh, yes, and how to write verses to his
lady's eyes."

The Captain put his hand in the pocket of his coat and drew out several
folded sheets of paper. He spread them out on his knee. "Do you know
Miss Betty Cosgrove?" he asked.

The boy nodded. "Yes, indeed. She lives very near us, and always gives
me plum-cake when I go there with messages from mother."

"Ah, she does!" exclaimed Kent, as though greatly struck and charmed by
the idea. "Well, Mr. James Cooper, I have written some verses in her
honor, hoping I might offer them to her here this afternoon. I'll read
them to you."

"She's indoors," said the boy. "I saw her come."

"Quite so. But I hope to lure her out here later, and I want to rehearse
the verses. What do you think of this?"

The young man held the paper before him, and read from it. Every few
lines he would glance at the boy. James did not think much of the
poetry. He heard a great deal about tresses, and eyes, and smiles, about
Gods and Goddesses, but nothing about soldiers or Indians. He was
surprised that the Captain should have become so red in the face and
that his eyes should shine so brightly.

"What do you think of it?" asked Captain Kent, when he had finished.

"I don't understand it," said James. Then he added frankly, "I don't
think much of poetry."

"May Heaven grant she does!" exclaimed the Captain. "I think 'tis quite
a fair performance for an humble poet." He folded the verses and put
them away. "Some day you will be doing the same thing, Mr. Cooper."

"No," said the boy. "I'm to go to Yale College at New Haven next year
and learn Greek."

"'Tis better to write verses than learn Greek," objected Kent. He put
his hand on the boy's shoulder. "But there's better yet waiting to be
done, boy. In London men write what they call novels; wonderful stories
of the great world of fashion. There's one called 'Amelia,' by Henry
Fielding, and another named 'Clarissa Harlowe,' by Richardson. Why
should not some one write such tales of our country? Alas, I fancy
because as yet we have so little fashion."

"But we've plenty of hunters and Indians and sailors," said the boy; "I
wish I had a book about what's happened in those great woods back of

"Write it, lad, write it," said the Captain. "We've had our soldiers,
you and your friends must be our poets and writers. I envy you. Now let
us be going in to greet the ladies."

The lower floor of Otsego Hall was now filled with people. All the
gentry of the countryside were gathered in the great hall, in the
dining-room, and other apartments that opened into it. Captain Kent and
his boy friend made their way through the crowd, and the Captain bent
over the hand of Mrs. Cooper and congratulated her on having so fine a
son. The boy liked his gallant friend and stayed near him, even when the
Captain finally caught sight of Miss Betty Cosgrove talking with his two
mates in a corner of the hall.

James watched the Captain advance and in his most polished manner bend
over the lady's hand and touch it with his lips. Then the four of them
started to laugh and talk rapidly as though they had a great many things
to tell each other. The boy thought this very tiresome, and was about to
make his way back to the porch and freedom when he heard a man who stood
on the broad stairs call out, "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you all a
toast, our worthy friend and most gracious host, Mr. Cooper!"

Servants passed glasses of punch to the guests and soon all held their
glasses raised high.

"I pledge them," cried the man on the stairs, and the toast was drunk
with a murmur of cheers.

"Another to our charming hostess!" some one cried, and this also was

Then Captain Kent clapped his hands for silence. "Ladies and gentlemen
of Cooperstown," said he, "three of us here have journeyed from New York
City to pay our duty to the fairest maid in all the thirteen states. We
have none like her on Manhattan Island. I give you Mistress Betty

The three young men raised their glasses, the rest followed their
example, and the toast was drunk. Miss Cosgrove blushed the color of the
rose she wore.

One of the young men looked down to find a small boy pulling his sleeve.
"What is it?" he asked.

"Captain Kent's been writing verses to her too," said James Cooper. "He
read them to me in the garden."

"Ho--ho," came the laughing answer. "Good enough." He turned about.
"Ladies and gentlemen, my friend Captain Kent is a poet. He has some
verses in his pocket written to the adorable Mistress Betty. Shall we
hear them?"

"Yes, yes," came a chorus of voices.

It was poor Kent's turn to blush. He looked very uncomfortable. Miss
Cosgrove glanced at him with wide inquiring eyes. He had not expected to
read his poetry in such a setting. He stepped forward, and seizing
little James Cooper under the arms lifted him to a chair.

"Behold," he said, "I should be glad to read the verses, but this
gentleman, Master Cooper, has told me they are poor, and he should know
because he plans to be an author."

The Captain's diversion succeeded. The guests were looking at the boy.

"My son James an author!" exclaimed Mrs. Cooper. "It's the first I've
heard of it!"

"I don't want to," said the boy, very uncomfortable now that he was the
centre of notice. "I want to be a soldier."

"That's right," said his father, "and I hope you may be if ever the
country needs you. Friends, I give you these United States!"

By the time that toast was drunk Captain Kent had drawn Miss Cosgrove
into a little alcove under the stairs and James had stolen out of the
great hall.

James Cooper was a very fortunate boy. His father's house stood in one
of the loveliest reaches of country on the Atlantic coast. Cooperstown
lay on the southeastern shore of Otsego Lake, where the Susquehanna
rushes out through a fertile valley between high hills. Bays and points
of woodland break the Lake's edge, and in the distance rise the clear
blue slopes of mountains.

Otsego Hall was built about the time when the young republic was
stretching out for space in which to grow. Mr. Cooper found this lovely
lake, and built on the frontier. Beyond his home spread seemingly
endless forests, filled with the wandering bands of the Indians of the
Six Nations, and with all manner of wild animals. The Lake was the home
of flocks of gulls, loons and wild duck, and more times than he could
count young Cooper had seen a long file of Indian canoes steal swiftly
across its upper bays. It was an ideal region for a boy of an
adventurous turn of mind, fond of the outdoor world.

The heir of Otsego Hall was not such a boy of the wilderness as were
Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson or Abraham Lincoln. He did not have to
fight his way in the rough new world as they did. Mr. Cooper was
well-to-do, and intended that his son should take a proper place in the
young nation. There was little he could learn at the local academy, and
so he was soon sent to school at Albany, where he lived in the home of
an English clergyman who was fond of denouncing the war of the
Revolution and the new country, and so made James Cooper more of an
ardent patriot than ever.

When he was thirteen he was sent to Yale College, and felt himself
almost a grown man. He had been better prepared than most of his
classmates, and so decided he did not need to study to keep up with
them. Instead of working he devoted all his time to sport, and to
wandering through the beautiful country about New Haven. He was learning
a great deal about outdoor life, and storing his mind with pictures, but
at the same time was learning little of the Latin and Greek which his
teachers thought vastly more important. He got into scrape after scrape
with other boys of his way of thinking, and finally in his third year a
midnight frolic led to his being dismissed. Mr. Cooper took his son's
side and argued with the faculty, but the boy had to leave. His father
looked about for some means of taming his son's wild habits and decided
to send him to sea for a time.

Nothing could have pleased James better. He wanted to see the world, and
he was fond of ships. He had no special ambition, but rather looked
forward to serving in the navy. In the fall of 1806 he sailed from New
York on the ship _Sterling_ bound for England with a freight of flour.
The voyage was a long and stormy one, and the boy, who was simply a
sailor before the mast, got a good taste of life at sea. He enjoyed it
thoroughly. When they reached England he went to London in his sailor's
clothes, and knocked about that great city much like any other jack on
shore. He made friends quickly, enjoyed any new adventure, and stored up
a great stock of stories to take home.

The boy enjoyed his voyage before the mast so much that when he returned
to New York he asked his father to get him a commission in the United
States navy. Mr. Cooper was able to do this, and James was soon after
sent as midshipman with a party of men to build a brig of sixteen guns
on Lake Ontario. It took them a winter to build the ship, and during
that time the party stayed at the tiny settlement of Oswego, a
collection of some twenty houses. All around lay the unbroken forest
stretching thirty or forty miles without a break. There was abundance of
game, many Indians, and a splendid chance to live the frontier life that
Cooper loved. He now knew the habits of the wild red men and whites, the
lore of the woods, the perils and joys of the sea, and as he helped to
build the gunboat he learned a thousand things that he was to turn to
splendid uses later.

The boy had now grown to manhood, and yet no sign of his real work had
appeared. He was not especially fond of books or history, his views of
the charm of a soldier's life were much those he had spoken to Captain
Kent at Otsego Hall. It seemed as though he were settled in the navy.

It is strange how chance determined the fate of young Cooper. About this
time his grandmother asked him to take her name, and for a while he
called himself Fenimore-Cooper. Then a little later he married, and his
wife did not like the idea of his leaving her on long sea voyages. He
seems to have been quite willing to give up the navy, and settle down at
Otsego Hall as lord of the manor after his father's fashion. He liked
the life of a country gentleman, and spent his time planting trees,
draining swamps, planning lawns, and cultivating flowers and fruits. By
the time he was thirty he had tried his hand at almost everything except

It happened that as Cooper was one day reading aloud to his wife from an
English novel he threw the book down, exclaiming, "Why, I believe I
could write a better story myself!" His wife laughed, and asked him to
prove it. He said he would, and thereupon sat down and began to lay out
a plot. A few days later he was deep in work on the story, and he kept
at it until he had finished a two-volume novel, which he called

His wife and friends liked it and urged him to publish it; so in
November, 1820, appeared the first of that great series of native
American stories which were to give the young nation a distinct place in
English literature. Chance began them, but the first few books proved
so successful that Cooper settled at once into the career of novelist.

The famous "Leather-Stocking Tales" followed, and the world made the
acquaintance of the America of the Indian and the pioneer in "The
Deerslayer," "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Pathfinder," "The
Pioneers," and "The Prairie." Here he tells the romantic story of the
conquest of the wilderness, and draws the portraits of the pioneer, the
hunter, and the Indian. The same character, Harvey Birch, called
Leather-Stocking, runs through them all, first as a youth in the novels
that deal with the red men, with the great characters of Chingachcook
and Uncas, then as a man in the dramas of the white men who blazed the
trail westward through the forests, and settled the great prairies.

The story of Daniel Boone inspired him in these latter novels, and he
tells of such scenes as the great prairie fire and the panther fight
with the vividness of an eye-witness. "The Pioneers" is laid on the
shores of Lake Ontario where he built the war-ship, and "The Deerslayer"
about the little lake near Otsego Hall.

He wrote great tales of the sea also, in one of which, "The Pilot," he
took as his hero John Paul Jones, tales founded on his own knowledge of
a sailor's life won at first hand; but it was the Indian tales that
brought him greatest fame. Whether the pictures of the men of the Six
Nations be accurate or not they made direct appeal to the imagination of
the world, and Indian character will always stand as Cooper drew it.
Shakespeare and Scott have made English history for us, and Cooper has
done the same thing for the history of the Indian.

Cooper said later that he might have chosen happier periods for his
stories, more stirring events, and perhaps more beautiful scenes, but
none which would have lain so close to his heart. He never forgot what
had interested him so deeply in his boyhood, and when he wrote he went
back to his boyhood memories. Little had he realized in those days how
the words Captain Kent spoke in the garden would come true. He had
drifted into writing before he realized what a great untrodden field lay
before him.

The story of James Fenimore Cooper is an inspiration to every American.
It is the history of a man who loved his country deeply, and who was as
fine-spirited a gentleman as he was a great author.


John Ericsson

The Boy of the Göta Canal: 1803-1889

Among the Swedish country people there still lingers a primitive half
belief in witches and goblins, and nymphs and elves of the forests and
the sea. Many a simple mountaineer, returning home from some lonely
trip, tells tales of prophetic voices he heard whispering in the wind or
of gnomes who interrupted his slumbers in the woods. One such legend
runs as follows.

A wealthy farmer named Ericsson, who owned many acres in the Swedish
province of Vermland, had in his service a crippled lad whose business
it was to tend the sheep. This work kept him away from people much of
the time, and led him through the pine woods, beside the little tarns,
or hidden inland lakes, and up and down the wild mountains where the
fairy people dwell. He grew quite accustomed to meeting wood or lake
nymphs in his wanderings, and became so friendly with them that they
often gave him good advice, such as when to expect a storm, or where he
might find the best grazing for his flock.

One day he was caught in the rain and when he found shelter in a
deserted barn he was so wet and exhausted that he fell into a troubled
sleep. While he slept a pixie came to him and whispered in his ear that
in time to come a house should be built on that part of farmer
Ericsson's land, and that two boys should be born there who should make
the name of Ericsson known round the world.

The shepherd was much excited by the news, and as soon as he reached the
Ericsson house he told the fairy's prophecy. The family were very much
concerned and wrote the prophecy down in the family Bible, and also
spread the story through the province. That was in the seventeenth

Near the end of the eighteenth century young Olof Ericsson married, and
built him a home on that part of the family land where the old barn had
stood. He had three children, a daughter named Caroline, and two sons,
named Nils and John. One day the mother heard the old legend and
identified the place with her husband's house, and so became convinced
that her boys were to become world famous. They came of very good stock,
and the family traced their ancestry back to the great Leif Ericsson,
son of Eric the Red, who had been the Norse discoverer of America.

Olof and his wife Brita were devoted to their children. Olof was part
owner of a mine at the town of Langsbaushyttan near which they lived.
The children had a governess for a time, and father and mother taught
them what they could, but the most of their days were spent playing in
the thick pine woods along the shore of the little Lake Hytt which lay
in front of their house. Sometimes Olof took the two boys with him to
the mine, and from almost the first visit a perfect passion for
machinery took possession of the younger boy John. After that he was
always playing with pencils and paper, with bits of wood and metal, and
spent hours drawing figures in the sand on the beach of the lake.

At about this period hard times befell Sweden. The small Northern
country, half the size of Texas, with fewer people than the single city
of London, never very rich, had trouble keeping her independence from
Russia. Her king was a weakling, and lost part of his land. Then a
gentleman of fortune, a man who had been a French lawyer's apprentice,
and had risen to be a marshal, one whose sword had helped to carve out
an empire for Napoleon, suddenly was elected King of Sweden. He brought
the little country French support and better times, but meantime Olof
Ericsson had lost his property and found that he must seek work at once
to keep his family from starving.

Olof had lost his share in the mine and had been living in the depths of
the pine forest choosing lumber for builders. He had encouraged his son
John's talent for machinery, and now began to believe that the old
prophecy might really come true. He had seen John, only ten years old,
build a miniature sawmill and pumping engine at the mine, and had been
as much astonished as any of the men there when his son proudly showed
them the designs he had drawn for a new kind of pump to drain the mines
of water.

Even when the little family had left the mining town and were living in
the deep woods the boy continued working out his own inventions. He made
tools for himself, using sharp pine needles for the points of a drawing
compass he fashioned out of sticks, begging his mother for a few hairs
from her fur coat to make paint brushes, and actually devising a ball
and socket joint for a small windmill he was building. Everything he
could lay his hands on he turned to some mechanical use, and all his
thoughts seemed bent in that one direction.

The new King of Sweden was now planning to build a great ship canal at
Göta to unite the Baltic and the North Seas, a scheme which had for a
long time appealed to Swedish patriots as a protection against their
great grasping neighbor, the Russian Bear. Through the influence of a
friend, Count Platen, Olof Ericsson was given work in connection with
the canal, and moved his family with him to a town called Forsvik. Here
a great many soldiers were at work, for the canal was in charge of the
army, and many skilled engineers were gathered to superintend the

Almost at the same time when Olof reported for work Count Platen and the
other officers were surprised to see a small boy, not more than thirteen
years old, come every day to watch the digging, to study the machinery,
and to ask questions of every one in the place. He was a handsome boy,
well built, with light, close-cut, curling hair, fair as Swedish boys
almost always are, with clear blue eyes, and a very firm mouth and chin.
While other boys of his age were at school or playing he would stand on
the bank of the canal, studying by the hour some piece of machinery.
Then on another day he would come with a pad of paper, some crude
home-made drawing tools, and pencils, and perching himself on a pile of
rocks or of lumber would draw the machinery as a skilled draughtsman
might, and then work over his sketch, apparently adding to it or
altering it to suit ideas of his own.

Count Platen watched the boy for several days, and then one morning went
up to him. "May I see what you're doing?" he asked.

The boy, who had been absolutely absorbed in his work, looked up. "It's
the sketch of a new pump to drain the canal," said he. "I made one for
father's mine in Vermland, and I don't see why the same plan can't be
used here. It'll do the work more quickly."

Count Platen looked at the drawing on the boy's lap, and listened
intently while the young inventor explained how the machine should work.
He was astounded at the knowledge the boy had of engineering.

"You're Olof Ericsson's son, aren't you?" he asked finally.

The boy nodded. "Yes, I'm John Ericsson; I've an older brother Nils,
who's fifteen."

"Is Nils as much of an engineer as you are?"

"He knows a good deal about it. Father taught us both, but I don't think
he's as fond of machines as I am."

The Count laughed. It sounded strange to him to hear a small boy talk of
machinery so eagerly. He could not doubt the boy's earnestness, however.
He had watched him for several days and had just examined his plans. The
boy evidently meant what he said.

"Well, John, you're certainly a remarkable lad. I shouldn't wonder if
you'd the making of a genius in you." He considered a few minutes, and
then went on. "We need some engineers here to show these stupid soldiers
what to do. How'd you like to try such a job?"

The boy jumped from his seat in his excitement. "I'd like it very much,
sir. Do you mean to tell the men what to do, and to have real tools to
work with?"

Count Platen smiled. "Yes, to have entire charge of a part of the work.
That's what I mean. I really think you could do it. How old are you,

"I'll be fourteen very soon."

"Hm," mused the Count, "It seems absurd to put a boy of fourteen in
charge of six hundred soldiers. And yet if he has the skill to do the
work, why not? And there's small doubt that he has. Well, John, I'll see
what can be done. Meet me here to-morrow morning."

The next day Count Platen found John anxiously awaiting him. He told the
boy at once that his plan had proved successful, and that both John and
Nils were to be enrolled as cadets in the mechanical corps of the
Swedish navy, and that John was to be put in charge of part of the canal
building. The boy was highly delighted; he knew that now he should have
a chance to try in actual working some of the inventions he had planned
on paper. As soon as he had thanked his kind friend the Count he ran
home to tell his mother the news of Nils' and his good fortune.

It was a curious sight when the officer in command of the troops placed
six hundred soldiers in charge of young John Ericsson. They were too
well trained to laugh, but they were tremendously surprised when they
saw that their future orders were to come from this small, curly-haired
lad just barely turned fourteen. Olof Ericsson himself was scarcely less
surprised than the men; he knew his son's great mechanical ability, but
he could hardly believe that others had come to realize it so soon.

A few days of actual work on the canal, however proved that Count Platen
had made no mistake. John knew what ought to be done, and he could show
the soldiers new and better ways of getting results, although he was
actually too small to reach the eyepiece of his leveling instrument
without the aid of a camp-stool which he carried about with him. He
brought out some of the mechanical drawings he had worked over, and had
machinery made after them, and whenever his inventions were tried they
met with success.

For several years John commanded his six hundred men at the Göta Canal,
and then he decided to enter the army. He had grown tall, and was noted
for his great strength and skill in feats of arms. At seventeen he was
made an Ensign in the Rifle Corps, and soon after Lieutenant in the
Royal Chasseurs. He was fond of the life of the army, but he saw there
was no great future in it for him, and he could not give up his passion
for science and invention. He procured an appointment as surveyor for
the district of Jemtland, and found himself free again to work on his
own lines.

Sweden is a rugged country, its northern part serried by great fiords,
its mountains steep and often desolate, its forests thick and many. The
young surveyor was in his element roughing it through the wild country,
with an eye to improving it for cultivation and for defense, making
elaborate maps of its hills and valleys, and charts of its fiords and
bays. He had a genius for such work, and the drawings he sent back to
Stockholm were invaluable for the development of Sweden. The surveyors
were paid according to the work they did, but John Ericsson worked so
rapidly that the officials were afraid it would cause a scandal if it
were known how much money he was receiving, and so they carried him on
their account-books as two different men and paid him for two men's

In his spare hours in Jemtland and Norrland John was busy with
inventions. As a boy he had been delighted to watch his father make a
vacuum in a tube by means of fire. Now he worked over uses to which he
could put that idea, and finally invented a flame engine based largely
on that principle. That success led him to study engines more deeply,
and had much to do with deciding his later career.

Sweden had shown the world much that was new in the building of the Göta
Canal, and many of the improvements had been due to the boy cadet
Ericsson. He was now persuaded to write a book on "Canals," explaining
his inventions and describing the Swedish plans. In such a scientific
book the drawings of diagrams were as important as the writing. As soon
as John realized that, he could not resist the temptation to try his
hand at inventing a machine which should properly engrave the plates he
was drawing. It was pure delight to him to exercise his wits on such a
problem, and as a result in a short time he had made a machine for
engraving plates which was used successfully in preparing the
illustrations for his book on "Canals."

The youth had now won wide recognition throughout Sweden for his
inventive skill. But his own country offered him small opportunities,
devoted though he was to the land and the people. There was more chance
for such a man in a country like England, and there he now went.
Stephenson was working then on his steam-engine, and Ericsson studied
the same subject, and built an engine which in many ways was superior to
the Englishman's. In whatever direction he turned his mind he was able
to find new ideas for improving on old methods.

Ericsson soon built a locomotive for the directors of the railway
between Liverpool and Birmingham which was the lightest and fastest yet
constructed, starting off at the rate of fifty miles an hour. He could
not find the opportunities he wished, however, in England, and went to
Germany, and from there came to the United States.

It was in America that Ericsson won his greatest triumphs. He had
invented a screw propeller for boats, and found a splendid market for
this type of machinery. He built the steamship _Princeton_, the first
screw steamer with her machinery under the water line. This was a great
improvement on the old top-heavy style of steamboats, but how great was
only to be known when war showed that ironclads with machinery safely
sunk beneath the water line and so out of reach of the enemy's guns
were to revolutionize naval warfare.

By the time of the American Civil War men in all countries were
experimenting with these new ideas for ships which Ericsson had launched
upon the world. News came to Washington that the Confederate government
had an all-iron boat, low in the water, which could ram the high-riding
wooden ships of the Union navy, and would furnish little target for
their fire. The Union was in great alarm, for it looked as though this
small iron floating battery could do untold damage to the Union
shipping. There was only one man to appeal to if the North were to
offset this Southern ship, which had been christened the _Merrimac_.
John Ericsson was the man, and he agreed to build an ironclad which
should be superior to the _Merrimac_, and to build her in one hundred

On March 8, 1862, the _Merrimac_ steamed into Hampton Roads, fully
expecting to destroy the Union fleet there. But instead, to the great
amazement of her officers and men a little iron boat, so small that she
looked like a tiny pill-box on a plank, steamed out to meet her. She was
so tiny it was almost impossible to hit her; she was almost entirely
under water, and her gun turret was built to revolve so that she could
fire in any direction. It was like a battle between David and Goliath,
and when the day was over David had won, and the _Merrimac_ had to bow
to the iron "pill-box" which had been named the _Monitor_. Proud was
John Ericsson then, and rightly so, for he had invented an entirely new
kind of ship, and one which was to give its name of _Monitor_ to all
ships of its kind.

The building of the _Monitor_ for its successful battle with the
_Merrimac_ was the most dramatic incident in Ericsson's career as an
inventor, but his whole life showed a series of wonderful inventions
which for value and wide range can probably only be compared with those
of Edison. The prophecy which the fairy had made to the shepherd in
Sweden had come true, the name of Ericsson was known throughout the
world. And in addition to John, the older brother Nils had won great
renown in Sweden. He was made Director of Canals there, and created a
nobleman for his great services to science and to his native land.

On the Battery in New York City, overlooking the wonderful harbor that
is filled with ships of every country, stands the statue of a tall,
handsome man, somewhat of the type of those Norsemen who were the great
adventurers of the Atlantic seas. The statue is of the man who built the
_Monitor_, and who brought to the new world the genius for invention
which he had first shown on the hills and in the woods of Sweden in the
days when, a boy of fourteen, he had taught men how to build the great
canal at Göta.



The Boy of the Mediterranean: 1807-1882

The town of Nice lay blazing with color under the hot August sun. The
houses, with their shining red-tiled roofs, their painted yellow walls,
their striped and checkered awnings, were scarcely less vivid than the
waters of the bay, which sparkled like a sea of opals under the rich
blue Mediterranean sky. Color was everywhere, brilliant even in the
sun-tanned cheeks, the black hair and eyes, the orange and gold and red
caps and sashes of the three boys who stood on the beach, looking out at
the home-coming fleet of feluccas and fishing-smacks.

"If only I were a man!" exclaimed one of the boys. "No more Latin
lessons with the Padre. I could sail and fish all day like brother
Carlo. And sometimes I'd visit strange lands, like Africa, and have the
sort of adventures father tells of."

"I'll be a sailor too, Cesare," agreed the tallest of the three, nodding
his head. "Only poor Giuseppe here will have to stay ashore and be a
priest." He turned a sympathetic face toward Giuseppe, who stood with
his arms folded, his black eyes looking hungrily out to sea.

"Aye, he'll be teaching other boys just as the Padre teaches us," said

This prophecy was more than the third boy could stand. He turned quickly
toward his friends. "I'll have adventures, too," he exclaimed. "I'll not
stay here in Nice all my life; I'll go to Genoa and to Rome, and perhaps
I'll fight the Turks. I want to do things, too." His deep eyes shone
with excitement and his face glowed. "Look you, Cesare and Raffaelle,
why shouldn't we turn sailors now?"

Both boys laughed; they were used to the mad ideas of young Giuseppe
Garibaldi. He, however, was not laughing. "Why not? I've been out to sea
a hundred times with father. He lets me handle his boat sometimes,
though he does say that I'm to enter the Church. Your brother, Cesare,
has a boat that he never uses. Why shouldn't we sail in her to Genoa?"

Giuseppe was a born leader. The other boys looked doubtfully at each
other, then back at him. The gleam in his eyes held them.

"Let's sail to-morrow at dawn! You, Cesare, furnish the boat, I'll bring
bread and sausage from home, and Raffaelle shall get a jug of water.
Your brother's boat is sound, Cesare? We'll sail along the shore to

"Some one will catch sight of us and stop us," objected Raffaelle.

"Nay, we'll wait till the other boats are out. They'll all be off before
dawn and we'll have the beach to ourselves."

"I've a compass my uncle gave me on my name day," said Cesare. "I'll
bring that."

"And I'll bring some fishing lines," put in Raffaelle, unwilling to be

So almost before they knew it the other two boys had agreed to
Giuseppe's plan, just as the boys of Nice usually unconsciously followed
his lead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Mediterranean was all silver and blue when the three boys met next
day in the early summer dawn at the pier near the Porto Olimpio where
Carlo Parodi's boat lay. Raffaelle had brought a jug of water and some
fishing lines, Giuseppe a basket of provisions, and Cesare his compass.
They could hardly wait until the last of the fishing boats had put out
to sea before they ran down the pier to embark in their own small craft.
The _Red Dragon_ was the boat's name, given her because of the painted
picture of a terrible monster that sprawled across the sail. She was old
and weather-beaten, a simple sailboat with only a shallow cabin, such as
is used in the Mediterranean to coast along the shore.

Under Giuseppe's leadership the food and water were stowed on board, the
sail raised, and the boat cast off from the pier. Cesare took the tiller
and with a light morning breeze the _Red Dragon_ drew proudly away from
the beach and headed eastward toward Genoa.

As the sun rose higher the breeze stiffened, the sail filled and the
brilliant dragon spread out his red body and tail. Each of the boys had
sailed this inland sea a hundred times before, but never had it seemed
so wonderful a place as on this summer morning. The water dashed along
the gunwale and sometimes sent a warm spray into their faces. Behind
them lay the curving harbor, beyond that the red and yellow and brown
roofs and walls of Nice, and still farther back the dim blue outlines of
the mountains.

They were so excited that for some time they forgot they had had no
breakfast. Presently Raffaelle remembered it, and Giuseppe's basket was
opened and its stock of rye bread, bologna sausage and olives handed
around. The boys were surprised to find how hungry they were, but like a
prudent captain Giuseppe would only let them eat a small part of the
rations. "Suppose we should run into a spell of calm weather before we
sighted Genoa," said he.

After breakfast Raffaelle took the helm and Cesare and Giuseppe lay up
in the bow and planned what they would do after they landed at Genoa.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile the three families of Parodi, Deandreis and Garibaldi in Nice
were considerably excited. A boy in each family had disappeared. Knowing
what close friends the three boys were the fathers sought each other.
Each family had the same tale to tell.

Then came word that Carlo Parodi's boat was missing, and this gave the
searchers a clue. They went to the beach, but only to find that all the
fishing-boats had put out to sea some time ago. Signor Garibaldi,
however, was a man of resource and influence, and within an hour he had
found a coast-guard captain who would take him in pursuit. The
coast-guard boat was big and she could triple the speed of the small
_Red Dragon_. By ten o'clock the runaway boat was sighted just opposite
Monaco. The boys saw the pursuers coming, but even by crowding on all
their sail they could not gain a lead. So when the coast-guard came
alongside of them they surrendered.

Even though they had not reached Genoa, the lads had tasted the salt of
adventure. Giuseppe's father boarded the _Red Dragon_, and, treating the
whole matter as a summer's lark, helped the young sailors to bring their
boat about, and tacking across toward Monaco and then out to the deeper
sea, gave them a lesson in sailing that made them quickly forget that
they were going back to Nice.

On that sail home the father learned a good deal about Giuseppe. He
heard the boys talk freely to each other, and as he listened he realized
that this son of his was not the quiet type of boy who would make a good
priest, but that he craved the roving life of the sea, descended as he
was from generations of sailors. He himself knew the perils of the sea
only too well, how hard a man must work in its service, and how little
he might gain, and how much securer was the life on shore. But he also
knew that when once the sea called to a boy of Nice it was useless to
try to make him forget the call. Giuseppe would not make a good priest,
and he might make a good sailor. So the watchful father decided, as he
brought the little boat back to shore, to let his son follow his natural

After their adventure Giuseppe and his two friends went quietly on with
their school life. Giuseppe's father had promised to teach him something
about navigation in the evenings, and had told him that, if he would
only be patient and wait a short time, he should make a cruise in
earnest. One day, as the boy and his father were coming home from church
a tall, black-haired man stepped up to them, and, holding out his hand,
said, "Signor, will you give us something for the refugees of Italy?"
Giuseppe's father gave the man a few coins, which he received with the
greatest thanks. As they walked on the boy kept turning back to look at
the tall gaunt-faced man they had met. Finally he said, "Who was he,
father, and what did he mean by the refugees of Italy?"

The father looked down into the boy's eager eyes. "Our poor country,"
said he, "has been thrown to the ground, and different people have been
beating her and trying to keep her down, but chiefly the big,
white-coated Austrians, Giuseppe boy. Every once in a while some of our
men band together and try to do something to help Italy get to her feet
again. That man who asked for money was such a man."

"But why did he look so sad and white, father, and why did he say the

"Our men are very few, Giuseppe, and have poor arms, and the enemy's
army is very large and their men are veteran soldiers, so that we always
lose. Then those who fought, like that poor fellow, have to fly and seek
refuge out of Italy until the storm blows past."

Giuseppe clasped his hands behind his back, and his face grew very
thoughtful. "So that man has been to war," he said, "and for us, and the
money you gave him is going to help them the next time?"

"Exactly," said the father, with a smile at the boy's serious manner.
Giuseppe was not usually very thoughtful.

"How long do you think the refugees will have to go on fighting, father,
before the enemy are finally driven out of our land?"

"Oh, they'll have to fight for years and years, and perhaps they'll
never win, for the enemy is much stronger than we Italians."

"Then," said Giuseppe, "I'm glad, for that will give Cesare and
Raffaelle and me a chance to help them fight. I'm going to be a refugee
myself some day. Will you teach me, father, how to use a sword?"

"All in good time," said the man, smiling. "You've got your hands full
learning the points of the compass just now."

For some reason Giuseppe could not get the tall, black-haired man out of
his mind, and the next day, at recess, he told his two friends of his
meeting with him and what he had learned about him.

"Couldn't we find him or another like him, this afternoon?" suggested
Cesare, very much interested.

"We'll hunt," agreed Giuseppe. "A refugee could tell us much better
stories than those old sailors can."

After school the three boys looked through the main streets of Nice, but
saw no one asking for alms for the cause of Italy. They went down to the
harbor, but there were no such men there. Finally in a little square
they came upon the very man Giuseppe had seen the day before. He was
sitting on the grass under a tree, and seemed to be asleep, for his head
was sunk on his folded arms. They crossed over to him quietly. Although
the day was warm he had a greatcoat fastened about his shoulders and a
soft, broad-brimmed hat pulled down upon his head. He looked tired out.

The three boys stood in front of the man, and finally his eyes opened.
He smiled as he saw them staring at him. "What do you want with me,
signors?" said he.

Giuseppe dropped on to the grass beside him. "I know now what you meant
when you said the refugees of Italy yesterday," he explained. "We three
boys mean to be refugees some day. We've made a vow that we'll fight the
Austrians until there isn't one of the three of us left. We'd like very
much to hear some of the things you've done."

The man threw back his cloak and sat up a trifle straighten "Three
future refugees!" he exclaimed. "The world moves! You want to be pushing
me away already, do you? Sit down, I'll tell you what I can."

The boys sat in front of him, and listened with rapt attention while he
told them that his home was in a little town half-way between Nice and
Genoa, that he was a member of a secret society called the Carbonari,
and that the first rule of that society was that a man must do exactly
as he was told without asking why. Not long before he had received a
secret message telling him to go to the city of Milan, taking his sword
and pistols with him. He had left his wife and children and gone to
Milan, and there he had waited a long time while the leaders of the
society planned to surprise the Austrian garrison and drive the troops
out of the city.

The night of the attempt finally arrived but some one had betrayed them.
No sooner had they met at the place agreed on than word came that they
must scatter instantly if they wanted to escape the Austrian bayonets.
Each had gone his own way, trying to get as far from Milan as he could.
He had managed to get to Nice, where he was near the French border, and
could cross it at any time. Meanwhile he and the other refugees had to
ask alms or starve.

The boys had heard of the society of the Carbonari which had spread all
over Italy, and they listened to this story by one of its members with
the greatest interest. They asked him a great many questions, but he
would only answer a few of them. He only told them such facts as were
public property; inquiries about the society itself were met with a
smile and a shake of the head. Before they left him they made him take
the few coins they had in their pockets, to help him and other refugees
of their country. They also made him write their names on a piece of
paper so that when the next uprising should come they might be sent for.
And they solemnly organized a secret society among themselves to last
until the time when they would be old enough to join the Carbonari.

From that day Giuseppe kept his eyes open for any other refugees who
might be roaming through the streets of Nice. Occasionally he found some
war-worn soldier or sailor whom the authorities allowed to sit in the
sun in one of the city squares or down on the quays, but younger and
more active refugees were scarce, and preferred to cross the frontier to

Giuseppe and Raffaelle and Cesare, however, were not to be discouraged,
and as soon as they could they laid their hands on long cloaks and
broad-brimmed hats, and dressed as nearly as possible like their
black-haired friend. They invented countersigns and mottoes, planned
conspiracies, and patterned themselves as nearly after the Carbonari as
they could. But there was no new uprising at that time, and so after a
while the boys lost interest in the game of conspiracy.

His old love of the sea came back more strongly than ever to Giuseppe,
and he begged his father to take him with him on his next cruise. His
mother thought he was too young to leave the Church school, but the boy,
already large and strong for his years, was growing very restless, and
there was no telling what mischief he might get into if he were kept at

In the long evenings he was always asking his father to describe to him
the strange cities he had visited on his travels. He begged him
especially to tell him about Rome and her seven wonderful hills, the
city which from his earliest childhood had fascinated him more than any
other place in the world.

"Do you think I'll ever get to Rome, father?" Giuseppe would ask.

"Yes. We'll go there together some day before long, little son," his
father would answer.

So indeed they did. When Giuseppe was about fifteen years old he was
allowed to make his first long voyage on a brigantine bound from Nice to
Odessa, and a year later he sailed on his father's felucca to Rome. The
city of the Cæsars seemed even more wonderful than he had dreamed. It
was the heart of the world to him, and he never forgot the deep
impression that first sight of it made upon him.

After his first voyage the young Garibaldi sailed with many captains and
saw a great deal of the world, rounding Cape Horn, voyaging to the far
north, and even crossing the Atlantic and visiting South America. He was
always deeply interested in strange lands; he loved the thrill of any
adventure, and at the sight of an act of injustice or cruelty nothing
could keep him from going at once to the rescue.

When he was in South America he heard that the Italians were rising
against their foreign masters and were planning to fight for freedom. He
sailed for home instantly, and no sooner did he land than he was leading
a company of friends to join the Italian army. He was fearless,
generous, and as open-hearted as a child; wherever he went men flocked
to his command; within a few months the young man was virtually general
of an army, and fighting and winning battle after battle in the Alps. At
the end of a year his fame had crossed Europe.

The freedom of Italy, however, was not won in a single campaign.
Although Garibaldi's troops were victorious, some of the other Italian
armies were not, and before long that first war of independence came to
an end. For a time the Austrians' hold over the cities of Italy seemed
stronger than ever, and Garibaldi and many of his friends were forced to
leave their homes and seek refuge in other countries. Again Garibaldi
crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and this time he went to New York, and took
up the trade of candle-maker, living in a small frame house on Staten
Island. He liked Americans; they understood him and his burning desire
for Italian freedom better than any other foreigners he met.

He stayed on Staten Island until the chance came for him to go to sea
again as captain of a merchantman, and after that it was only a short
time before he was again in the Alps, his sword drawn, his devoted
volunteers behind him.

It was long before the dream of Italian patriots came true and Rome
became the capital of a united country, but during those years Garibaldi
led crusade after crusade. He wore the simple costume of an Italian
peasant, with a red shirt which was copied by all his men. This
red-shirted army swept the enemy out of Sicily and Naples, drove them
back through the Alps, won so continually that the superstitious
Neapolitans believed that their leader must be in league with the Evil
One. But the people of Italy worshiped this general beyond all their
other heroes.

Even their praises could not spoil the simplicity of Garibaldi's nature.
When his work was done he went home to live quietly with his family. The
friends of his boyhood found him very little changed, the same lover of
Italy and the sea, the same adventurous, generous spirit he had been as
a youth in Nice.

In those youthful days his boy friends had followed him without
question, now the whole of Italy looked to him as their leader; he had
succeeded in doing what hundreds of other men had dreamed of doing,
driving the Austrians permanently out of the peninsula, and restoring to
his countrymen the ancient liberty of Italy. Yet whether as a boy upon
the Mediterranean or as the liberator of a nation he was always the same
frank, straightforward, high-minded Giuseppe Garibaldi.


Abraham Lincoln

The Boy of the American Wilderness: 1809-1865

Squire Josiah Crawford was seated on the porch of his house in
Gentryville, Indiana, one spring afternoon when a small boy called to
see him. The Squire was a testy old man, not very fond of boys, and he
glanced up over his book, impatient and annoyed at the interruption.

"What do you want here?" he demanded.

The boy had pulled off his raccoon-skin cap, and stood holding it in his
hand while he eyed the old man.

"They say down at the store, sir," said the boy, "that you have a 'Life
of George Washington,' I'd like mighty well to read it."

The Squire peered closer at his visitor, surprised out of his annoyance
at the words. He looked over the boy, carefully examining his long, lank
figure, the tangled mass of black hair, his deep-set eyes, and large
mouth. He was evidently from some poor country family. His clothes were
home-made, and the trousers were shrunk until they barely reached below
his knees.

"What's your name, boy?" asked the Squire.

"Abe Lincoln, son of Tom Lincoln, down on Pidgeon Creek."

The Squire said to himself: "It must be that Tom Lincoln, who, folks
say, is a ne'er-do-well and moves from place to place every year because
he can't make his farm support him." Then he said, aloud, to the boy:
"What do you want with my 'Life of Washington'?"

"I've been learning about him at school, and I'd like to know more."

The old man studied the boy in silence for some moments; something about
the lad seemed to attract him. Finally he said: "Can I trust you to take
good care of the book if I lend it to you?"

"As good care," said the boy, "as if it was made of gold, if you'd only
please let me have it for a week."

His eyes were so eager that the old man could not withstand them. "Wait
here a minute," he said, and went into the house. When he returned he
brought the coveted volume with him, and handed it to the boy. "There it
is," said he: "I'm going to let you have it, but be sure it doesn't come
to harm down on Pidgeon Creek."

The boy, with the precious volume tucked tightly under his arm, went
down the single street of Gentryville with the joy of anticipation in
his face. He could hardly wait to open the book and plunge into it. He
stopped for a moment at the village store to buy some calico his
stepmother had ordered, and then struck into the road through the woods
that led to his home.

The house which he found at the end of his trail was a very primitive
one. The first home Tom Lincoln had built on the Creek when he moved
there from Kentucky had been merely a "pole-shack," four poles driven
into the ground with forked ends at the top, other poles laid crosswise
in the forks, and a roof of poles built on this square. There had been
no chimney, only an open place for a window, and another for a door, and
strips of bark and patches of clay to keep the rain out. The new house
was a little better, it had an attic, and the first floor was divided
into several rooms. It was very simple, however; in reality only a big

The boy came out of the woods, crossed the clearing about the house, and
went in at the door. His stepmother was sitting at the window sewing. He
held up the volume for her to see. "I've got it!" he cried. "It's the
'Life of Washington,' and now I'm goin' to learn all about him." He had
barely time to put the book in the woman's hands before his father's
voice was heard calling him out-of-doors. There was work to be done on
the farm, and the rest of that afternoon Abe was kept busily employed,
and as soon as supper was finished his father set him to work mending

At dawn the next day the boy was up and out in the fields, the "Life of
Washington" in one pocket, the other pocket filled with corn dodgers.
Unfortunately he could not read and run a straight furrow. When it was
noontime he sat under a tree, munching the cakes, and plunged into the
first chapter of the book. For half an hour he read and ate, then he had
to go on with his work until sundown. When he got home he had his supper
standing up so that he could read the book by the candle that stood on
the shelf. After supper he lay in front of the fire, still reading, and
forgetting everything about him.

Gradually the fire burned out, the family went to bed, and young Abe was
obliged to go up to his room in the attic. He put the book on a ledge on
the wall close to the head of his bed so that nothing might happen to
it. During the night a violent storm arose, and the rain came through a
chink in the log walls. When the boy woke he found that the book was a
mass of wet paper, the type blurred, and the cover beyond repair. He was
heartbroken at the discovery. He could imagine how angry the old Squire
would be when he saw the state of the book. Nevertheless he determined
to go to Gentryville at the earliest opportunity and see what he could
do to make amends.

The next Sunday morning found a small boy standing on the Squire's porch
with the remains of the book in his hand. When the Squire learned what
had happened he spoke his mind freely. He told Abe that he was as
worthless as his father, that he did not know how to take care of
valuable property, and that he would never loan him another book as long
as he lived. The boy faced the music, and when the angry tirade was
over, said that he would like to shuck corn for the Squire, and in that
way pay him the value of the ruined volume. Mr. Crawford accepted the
offer and named a price far greater than any possible value of the book,
and Abe set to work, spending all his spare time in the next two weeks
shucking the corn and working as chore-boy. So he finally succeeded in
paying back the full value of the ruined "Life of Washington."

This was only one of many adventures that befell Abraham Lincoln while
he was trying to get an education. His mother had taught him to read and
write, and ever since he had learned he had longed for books to read.

One day he said to his cousin, Dennis Hanks, "Denny, the things I want
to know are in books. My best friend is the man who will get me one."

Dennis was very fond of his younger cousin, and as soon as he could save
up the money he went to town and bought a copy of "The Arabian Nights."
He gave this to Abe, and the latter at once started to read it aloud by
the wood-fire in the evenings. His mother, his sister Sally, and Dennis
were his audience. His father thought the reading only waste of time and
said, "Abe, your mother can't work with you pesterin' her like that,"
but Mrs. Lincoln said the stories helped her, and so the reading went
on. When he came to the story of how Sindbad the Sailor went too close
to the magic rock and lost all the nails out of the bottom of his boat,
Abe laughed until he cried.

Dennis, however, could not see the humor. "Why, Abe," said he, "that
yarn's just a lie."

"P'raps so," answered the small boy, "but if it is, it's a mighty good

As a matter of fact Abe had very few books. His earliest possessions
consisted of less than half-a-dozen volumes--a pioneer's library. First
of all was the Bible, a whole library in itself, containing every sort
of literature. Second was "Pilgrim's Progress," with its quaint
characters and vivid scenes told in simple English.

"Æsop's Fables" was a third, and introduced the log-cabin boy to a
wonderful range of characters--the gods of mythology, the different
classes of mankind, and every animal under the sun; and fourth was a
History of the United States, in which there was the charm of truth, and
from which Abe learned valuable lessons of patriotism.

He read these books over and over till he knew them by heart. He would
sit in the twilight and read a dictionary as long as he could see. He
could not afford to waste paper upon original compositions, and so he
would sit by the fire at night and cover the wooden shovel with essays
and arithmetical problems, which he would shave off and then begin

The few books he was able to get made the keen-witted country boy
anxious to find people who could answer his questions for him. In those
days many men, clergymen, judges, and lawyers, rode on circuit, stopping
over night at any farmhouse they might happen upon. When such a man
would ride up to the Lincoln clearing he was usually met by a small boy
who would fire questions at him before he could dismount from his horse.

The visitor would be amused, but Tom Lincoln thought that a poor sort of
hospitality. He would come running out of the house and say, "Stop that,
Abe. What's happened to your manners?" Then he would turn to the
traveler, "You must excuse him. 'Light, stranger, and come in to
supper." Then Abe would go away whistling to show that he did not care.
When he found Dennis he would say, "Pa says it's not polite to ask
questions, but I guess I wasn't meant to be polite. There's such a lot
of things to know, and how am I going to know them if I don't ask
questions?" He simply stored them away until a later time, and when
supper was over he usually found his chance to make use of the visitor.

In that day Indiana was still part of the wilderness. Primeval woods
stood close to Pidgeon Creek, and not far away were roving bands of Sacs
and Sioux, and also wild animals--bears, wildcats, and lynxes. The
settlers fought the Indians, and made use of the wild creatures for
clothing and food, and to sell at the country stores. The children spent
practically all their time out-of-doors, and young Abe Lincoln learned
the habits of the wild creatures, and explored the far recesses of the

From his life in the woods the boy became very fond of animals. One day
some of the boys at school put a lighted coal on a turtle's back in
sport. Abe rescued the turtle, and when he got a chance wrote a
composition in school about cruel jokes on animals. It was a good paper,
and the teacher had the boy read it before the class. All the boys liked
Abe, and they took to heart what he had to say in the matter.

It was a rough sort of life that the children of the early settlers led,
and the chances were all in favor of the Lincoln boy growing up to be
like his father, a kind-hearted, ignorant, ne'er-do-well type of man.
His mother, however, who came of a good Virginia family, had done her
best to give him some ambition. Once she had said to him, "Abe, learn
all you can, and grow up to be of some account. You've got just as
good Virginia blood in you as George Washington had." Abe did not forget


Soon after the family moved to Pidgeon Creek his mother died, and a
little later a stepmother took her place. This woman soon learned that
the boy was not the ordinary type, and kept encouraging him to make
something of himself. She was always ready to listen when he read, to
help him with his lessons, to cheer him. When he got too old to wear his
bearskin suit she told him that if he would earn enough money to get
some muslin, she would make him some white shirts, so that he would not
be ashamed to go to people's houses. Abe earned the money, and Mrs.
Lincoln purchased the cloth and made the shirts. After that Abe cut
quite a figure in Gentryville, because he liked people, and knew so many
good stories that he was always popular with a crowd.

Small things showed the ability that was in the raw country lad. When he
was only fourteen a copy of Henry Clay's speeches fell into his hands,
and he learned most of them by heart, and what he learned from them
interested him in history. Then a little later his stepmother was ill
for some time, and Abe went to church every Sunday, and on his return
repeated the sermon almost word for word to her. Again he loved to
argue, and would take up some question he had asked of a stranger and go
on with it when the latter returned to the Creek, perhaps months after
the first visit. Mrs. Lincoln noted these things, and made up her mind
that her stepson would be a great man some day. Most frequently she
thought he would be a great lawyer, because, as she said, "When Abe got
started arguing, the other fellow'd pretty soon say he had enough."

Probably at this time Abe was more noted for his love of learning new
things and for his great natural strength than for anything else. He was
in no sense an infant prodigy. It took him a long time to learn, but
when he had once acquired anything it stayed by him permanently. The
books he had read he knew from cover to cover, and the words he had
learned to spell at the school "spelling bees" he never forgot. Now and
again he tried his hand at writing short compositions, usually on
subjects he had read of in books, and these little essays were always to
the point and showed that the boy knew what he was discussing. One or
two of these papers got into the hands of a local newspaper and appeared
in print, much to Abe's surprise and to his stepmother's delight.

Yet after all these qualities were not the ones which won him greatest
admiration in the rough country life. The boys and young men admired his
great size and strength, for when he was only nineteen he had reached
his full growth, and stood six feet four inches tall. Countless stories
were current about his feats of strength.

At one time, it was said, young Abe Lincoln was seen to pick up and
carry away a chicken coop weighing six hundred pounds. At another time
Abe happened to come upon some men who were building a contrivance for
lifting some heavy posts from the ground. He stepped up to them and
said, "Say, let me have a try," and in a few minutes he had shouldered
the posts and carried them where they were wanted. As a rail-splitter he
had no equal. A man for whom he worked told his father that Abe could
sink his axe deeper into the wood than any man he ever saw.

This great strength was a very valuable gift in such a community as that
of Gentryville, and made people respect this boy even more than would
his learning and his kindness of heart.

A little later he lived in a village named New Salem, and there he found
a crowd of boys who were called the "Clary's Grove Boys," who were noted
for the rough handling they gave to strangers. Many a new boy had been
hardly dealt with at their hands. Sometimes they would lead him into a
fight and then beat him black and blue, and sometimes they would nail
the stranger into a hogshead and roll him down a steep hill.

When Abe Lincoln first came to the town they were afraid to tackle him,
but when their friends taunted the crowd of young roughs with being
afraid of Lincoln's strength, they decided to lay a trap for him. The
leader of the gang was a very good wrestler, and he seized an
opportunity when all the men of the town were gathered at the country
store to challenge Abe to a wrestling match. Abe was not at all anxious
to accept the challenge, but was finally driven to it by the taunts the
gang threw at him. A ring was made in the road outside the store, and
Abe and the bully set to.

The leader of the gang, however, found that he could not handle this
tall young stranger as easily as he had handled other youths. He gave a
signal for help. Thereupon the rest of the roughs swarmed about the two
wrestlers and by kicking at Abe's legs and trying to trip him they
nearly succeeded in bringing him to the ground. When he saw how set they
were on downing him Abe's blood rose, and suddenly putting forth his
whole strength he seized his opponent in his arms and very nearly choked
the life out of him.

For a moment it looked as though the rest of the crowd would set upon
Lincoln and that he would have to fight the lot of them single-handed.
He sprang back against a wall and called to them to come on. But he
looked so able to take care of any number that they faltered, and in a
moment their first fury gave place to an honest admiration for Lincoln's
nerve. That ended his initiation, and as long as he stayed in New Salem
the "Clary's Grove Boys" were his devoted followers.

The leader of the gang, whom Abe had nearly throttled, became his sworn
friend, and this bond lasted through life. When other men threatened Abe
or spoke against him in any way, this youth was always first to stand up
for him, and acted as his champion many times. Curiously enough, in
after years, when Abe had become a lawyer, he defended his old
opponent's son when the young man was on trial for his life, and
succeeded in saving him.

Such an adventure as this with the "Clary's Grove Boys" was typical of
the way in which Abe, as he grew up, came to acquire a very definite
position in the community. In one way and another he gained the
reputation which the boys gave him of being not only the strongest, but
also "the cleverest fellow that had ever broke into the settlement."
There were many strong men in that country, but there were few really
clever ones, and the simple farmers were only too willing to admire
brains when they met them.

The time had passed when the boy could stay in the small surroundings of
Pidgeon Creek. First he tried life on one of the river steamboats, then
served as a clerk in a store at the town of New Salem, and there he
began at odd moments to study law.

A little later he knew enough law to become an attorney, and went to
Springfield, and after that it was only a short time before he had won
his clients. His cousin Denny came to hear him try one of his first
cases. He watched the tall, lank young fellow, still as ungainly as in
his early boyhood, and heard him tell the jury some of those same
stories he had read aloud before the fire.

When Abe had finished his cousin said to him, "Why did you tell those
people so many stories?"

"Why, Denny," said Abe, "a story teaches a lesson. God tells truths in
parables; they are easier for common folks to understand, and

Such was the simple boyhood of Abraham Lincoln, but its very simplicity,
and the hardships he had to overcome to get an education, made him a
strong man. He knew people, and when he came later to be President and
to guide the country through the greatest trial in its history, it was
those same qualities of perseverance and courage and trust in the people
that made the simple-minded man the great helmsman of the Republic.


Charles Dickens

The Boy of the London Streets: 1812-1870

The little fellow who worked all day long in the tumble-down old house
by the river Thames pasting oil-paper covers on boxes of blacking fell
ill one afternoon. One of the workmen, a big man named Bob Fagin, made
him lie down on a pile of straw in the corner and placed
blacking-bottles filled with hot water beside him to keep him warm.
There he lay until it was time for the men to stop work, and then his
friend Fagin, looking down upon the small boy of twelve, asked if he
felt able to go home. The boy got up looking so big-eyed, white-cheeked
and thin that the man put his arm about his shoulder.

"Never mind, Bob, I think I'm all right now," said the boy. "Don't you
wait for me, go on home."

"You ain't fit to go alone, Charley. I'm comin' along with you."

"'Deed I am, Bob. I'm feelin' as spry as a cricket." The little fellow
threw back his shoulders and headed for the stairs.

Fagin, however, insisted on keeping him company, and so the two, the
shabbily-dressed undersized boy, and the big strapping man came out into
the murky London twilight and took their way over the Blackfriars

"Been spendin' your money at the pastry shops, Charley, again? That's
what was the matter with you, I take it."

The boy shook his head. "No, Bob. I'm tryin' to save. When I get my
week's money I put it away in a bureau drawer, wrapped in six little
paper packages with a day of the week on each one. Then I know just how
much I've got to live on, and Sundays don't count. Sometimes I do get
hungry though, so hungry! Then I look in at the windows and play at
bein' rich."

They crossed the Bridge, the boy's big eyes seeming to take note of
everything, the man, duller-witted, listening to his chatter. Several
times the boy tried to say good-night, but Fagin would not be shaken
off. "I'm goin' to see you to your door, Charley lad," he said each

At last they came into a little street near the Southwark Bridge. The
boy stopped by the steps of a house. "Here 'tis, Bob. Good-night. It was
good of you to take the trouble for me."

"Good-night, Charley."

The boy ran up the steps, and, as he noticed that Fagin still stopped,
he pulled the door-bell. Then the man went on down the street. When the
door opened the boy asked if Mr. Fagin lived there, and being told that
he did not, said he must have made a mistake in the house. Turning about
he saw that his friend had disappeared around a corner. With a little
smile of triumph he made off in the other direction.

The door of the Marshalsea Prison stood open like a great black mouth.
The boy, tired with his long tramp, was glad to reach it and to run in.
Climbing several long flights of stairs he entered a room on the top
story where he found his family, his father, a tall pompous-looking man
dressed all in black, his mother, an amiable but extremely fragile
woman, and a small brother and sister seated at a table eating supper.
The room was very sparsely furnished; the only bright spot in it was a
small fire in a rusty grate, flanked by two bricks to prevent burning
too much fuel.

There was a vacant place at the table for Charles, and he sat down upon
a stool and ate as ravenously as though he had not tasted food for
months. Meanwhile the tall man at the head of the table talked solemnly
to his wife at the other end, using strange long words which none of the
children could understand.

Supper over Mr. and Mrs. Dickens (for that was their name) and the two
younger children sat before the tiny fire, and Mr. Dickens talked of how
he might raise enough money to pay his debts, leave the prison, and
start fresh in some new business. Charles had heard these same plans
from his father's lips a thousand times before, and so he took from the
cupboard an old book which he had bought at a little second-hand shop a
few days before, a small tattered copy of "Don Quixote," and read it by
the light of a tallow candle in the corner.

The lines soon blurred before the boy's tired eyes, his head nodded, and
he was fast asleep. He was awakened by his father's deep voice. "Time
to be leaving, Charles, my son. You have not forgotten that my pecuniary
situation prevents my choosing the hour at which I shall close the door
of my house. Fortunately it is a predicament which I trust will soon be
obviated to our mutual satisfaction."

The small fellow stood up, shook hands solemnly with his father, kissed
his mother, and took his way out of the great prison. Open doors on
various landings gave him pictures of many queer households; sometimes
he would stop as though to consider some unusually puzzling face or

Into the night again he went, and wound through a dismal labyrinth of
the dark and narrow streets of old London. Sometimes a rough voice or an
evil face would frighten him, and he would take to his heels and run as
fast as he could. When he passed the house where he had asked for Mr.
Fagin he chuckled to himself; he would not have had his friend know for
worlds that his family's home was the Marshalsea Prison.

Even that room in the prison, however, was more cheerful than the small
back-attic chamber where the boy fell asleep for the second time that
night. He slept on a bed made up on the floor, but his slumber was no
less deep on that account.

The noise of workmen in a timber yard under his window woke Charles when
it seemed much too dark to be morning. It was morning, however, and he
was quickly dressed, and making his breakfast from the penny cottage
loaf of bread, section of cream cheese and small bottle of milk, which
were all he could afford to buy from the man who rented him the room.
Then he took the roll of paper marked with the name of the day from the
drawer of his bureau and counted out the pennies into his pocket. They
were not many; he had to live on seven shillings a week, and he tucked
them away very carefully in a pocket lest he lose them and have to do
without his lunch.

He was not yet due at the blacking-factory, but he hurried away from his
room and joined the crowd of early morning people already on their way
to work. He went down the embankment along the Thames until he came to a
place where a bench was set in a corner of a wall. This was his favorite
lounging-place; London Bridge was just beyond, the river lay in front of
him, and he was far enough away from people to be safe from

As he sat there watching the Bridge and the Thames a little girl came to
join him. She was no bigger than he, perhaps a year or two older, but
her face was already shrewd enough for that of a grown-up woman. She was
the maid-of-all-work at a house in the neighborhood, and she had fallen
into the habit of stopping to talk for a few moments with the boy on her
way to work in the morning. She liked to listen to his stories.

This was the boy's hour for inventing his tales; he could spin wonderful
tales about London Bridge, the Tower, and the wharves along the river.
Sometimes he made up stories about the people who passed in front of
them, and they were such astonishing stories that the girl remembered
them all day as she worked in the house. He seemed to believe them
himself; his eyes would grow far away and dreamy and his words would run
on and on until a neighboring clock brought him suddenly back to his own

"You do know a heap o' things, don't you?" said the little girl, lost in
admiration. "I'd rather have a shillin' though than all the fairy tales
in the world."

"I wouldn't," said Charles stoutly. "I'd rather read books than do
anythin' else."

"You've got to eat though," objected his companion, "and books won't
make you food. 'Tain't common sense." She relented in an instant. "It's
fun though, Charley Dickens. Good-bye 'til to-morrow."

Charles went on down to the old blacking-factory by Hungerford Stairs, a
ramshackle building almost hanging over the river, damp and overrun with
rats. His place was in a recess of the counting-room on the first floor,
and as he covered the bottles with the oil-paper tops and tied them on
with string he could look from time to time through a window at the slow
coal barges swinging down the river.

There were very few boys about the place; at lunch time he would wander
off by himself, and selecting his meal from a careful survey of several
pastry-cook's windows invest his money for the day in fancy cakes or a
tart. He missed the company of friends of his own age; even Fanny, his
oldest sister, he saw only on Sundays when she came back to the
Marshalsea from the place where she worked, to spend the day with her
family. It was only grown-up people that he saw most of the time, and
they were too busy with their own affairs to take much interest in the
small, shabby boy who looked just like any one of a thousand other
children of the streets. Of all the men at the factory it was only the
big clumsy fellow named Fagin who would stop to chat with the lad.

So it was that Charles was forced to make friends with whomever he
could, people of any age or condition, and was driven to spend much of
his spare time roaming about the streets, lounging by the river, reading
stray books by a candle in the prison or in the little attic where he
slept. It was not a boyhood that seemed to promise much.

In spite of this hard life which he led, Charles rarely lost his love of
fun or his natural high spirits. When he was about twelve years old his
father came into a little money, which enabled him to pay his debts so
that he was released from prison. He was also able to send his son to
school. Here he quickly blossomed out into a leader among the boys. He
was continually inventing new games, and queer languages, which were
made by adding extra syllables to ordinary words. Frequently he and
several of his school friends would go out into the street and talk to
each other in this language of their own, understanding what each other
said, but pretending to be foreigners to every one who heard them.

Charles was also continually writing short stories, which he lent to his
friends on payment of marbles or slate-pencils or white mice, which the
boys were very fond of keeping in their desks. He and a few others
built a small theatre and painted gorgeous scenery for it, and then gave
regular plays, which he specially wrote for the theatre, to the great
entertainment of the other boys and the masters. This comfortable school
life was a great contrast to the hard knocks he had to endure when he
was at the blacking factory, and he flourished under its influence and
began to show something of his real talent for entertaining those about

Mr. Dickens, however, soon concluded that Charles ought to be making a
start in some business, and so a few years after he had entered school
he was placed as clerk in the office of a solicitor in Lincoln's Inn.
Here he had to run errands through the busy streets of London's business
life, copy all legal documents, and answer the clients who came to call
on the firm.

The other clerks found young Dickens immensely entertaining. He could
mimic every one who called at the office, and in addition he knew the
different cockney voices of all the rabble of the London streets. He had
learnt to know the queer types of people who drifted about the river
banks and the poorer sections of the city. He knew every small
inflection of their voices and their every trick and gesture, and now he
acted them out to the great delight of the other clerks. But he could
put his powers of mimicry to greater uses. He went to the theatre,
particularly to hear Shakespeare's plays, as often as he could, and then
would repeat long passages from the plays, giving the exact voice and
manner of the leading actors. Many friends predicted that Charles would
be a great actor himself some day, and so perhaps he might had not
his interest all been drawn another way.


At the time he was so much charmed with the thought of becoming an actor
that he wrote to the manager of the theatre at Covent Garden, telling
him what he thought of his own gifts for the stage, and asking if he
might have an appointment. The manager wrote that they were very busy at
that time with a new play, but that he would write him soon when he
might have a chance to meet him. A little later Charles was invited to
go to the theatre and act a short piece in the presence of Charles
Kemble, a very famous actor. When the day arrived, however, he was
suffering from a very bad cold which had so swollen his throat that he
could hardly speak at all. As a result he could not go to the theatre,
and before he had another chance to try his luck he had made up his mind
that he would rather be a writer than an actor.

It did not take Charles long to realize that the law was not to his
taste. He did not like what he saw of lawyers, and was much more apt to
make fun of than to imitate them. Looking about for some more
interesting work, he took to studying short-hand in the evenings. He
found it very hard to learn, particularly as he had to dig it out of
books in the reading-room of the British Museum, but he persevered, and
finally became very skilful, so that when he was sent by one of the
newspapers to report a debate in the House of Commons he did so
extremely well that experts stated "there never was such a short-hand
writer before."

The life of a reporter had great charm for the youthful Dickens. He
liked the adventurous side of it, the chance to see strange scenes and
mix in interesting events. He had a great many strange adventures of his
own, and told later how on one occasion soon after he had become a
reporter, he was sent far out of London to take down a political speech,
and how coming back he had to write out his short-hand notes holding his
paper on the palm of his hand, and by the light of a dull, flickering
lantern, while the coach galloped at fifteen miles an hour through wild
and hilly country at midnight.

In addition to reporting speeches Charles was sent to write notices of
new plays in the theatres and also reviewed new books. He signed these
reviews with his nickname "Boz," and it was not long before these
articles by Boz attracted the attention of a great many judges of good
writing. The chief editor of the _Morning Chronicle_, for which Charles
wrote, said of the youth, "He has never been a great reader of books or
plays and knows but little of them, but has spent his time in studying
life. Keep 'Boz' in reserve for great occasions. He will aye be ready
for them."

So it proved, and he might have been a prominent newspaper man just as
he might have been a great actor had not the desire to see what he could
do with a story seized upon him.

We have Dickens' own words to tell us how he wrote a little paper in
secret with much fear and trembling, and then dropped it stealthily into
"a dark little box, in a dark office, up a dark court in Fleet Street."
A little later his story appeared in the magazine to which he had sent
it, and he tells us how, as he looked at his words standing so gravely
before him in all the glory of print, he walked down to Westminster Hall
and turned into it for half an hour, because his eyes "were so dimmed
with joy and pride that they could not bear the street and were not fit
to be seen there." He had been very much excited over this venture of
his little story. Now he took the fact of its success to indicate that
it was worth his while to practice using his pen as a writer of fiction.

After that Charles Dickens, although he continued working as reporter,
spent his spare hours in writing comic accounts of the various scenes of
London life which he knew so well. These were published as fast as they
were written, over the pen name of "Boz." He was paid almost nothing for
them, but he persevered, prompted by his inborn love of writing and the
fun he had in describing curious types of people.

Then one day a young man who had just recently become a publisher called
at Charles's lodgings and told him that he was planning to publish a
monthly paper in order to sell certain pictures by Robert Seymour, an
artist who had just finished some sporting plates for a book called "The
Squib Annual." Seymour had drawn most of the pictures for this new
venture, and they were almost all of a cockney sporting type. Now
Charles was asked if he would write something to go with the pictures.

Some one suggested that he should tell the adventures of a Nimrod Club,
the members of which should go out into the country on fishing and
hunting expeditions which would suit the drawings, but this did not
appeal to the young writer, as he knew very little about these country
sports, and was much more interested in describing curious people. He
asked for a day or two's time to think the matter over, and then finally
sent the publishers the first copy of what he chose to call the
"Pickwick Papers."

According to a common custom of the time, the author was allowed to
write a story as it was needed by the printer, so that the first numbers
of the "Pickwick Papers" appeared while Charles was still working on the
next ones. This often put him to great inconvenience, as he sometimes
found it hard to invent new adventures to fit Seymour's pictures and yet
had to have the story written by a certain time.

He wrote to a friend one night, "I have at this moment got Pickwick and
his friends on the Rochester coach, and they are going on swimmingly, in
company with a very different character from any I have yet described"
(Alfred Jingle), "who I flatter myself will make a decided hit. I want
to get them from the ball to the inn before I go to bed; and I think
that will take till one or two o'clock at the earliest. The publishers
will be here in the morning, so you will readily suppose I have no
alternative but to stick to my desk."

The public was slow in appreciating the humor of the "Pickwick Papers,"
and the series dragged until Part IV appeared, and with it the character
of Sam Weller. This original and very entertaining figure turned the
scales, and almost instantly there was the greatest demand for the
"Pickwick Papers." By the time the series was finished the name of "Boz"
was constantly on almost every English tongue. Here again fortune had
had much to do with deciding Dickens' career. Had the series failed, he
might have continued merely a reporter, but the humorous figure of
Weller tipped the scales in favor of his adopting the profession of

From that time on one novel after another flowed from Dickens' pen. For
many of their most vivid pictures he was indebted to the hard life of
his boyhood, and the strange people he had known in the days when he
worked in the blacking factory finally grew into some of his greatest
characters. The little maid-of-all-work became the Marchioness in the
"Old Curiosity Shop," Bob Fagin loaned his name to "Oliver Twist," and
in "David Copperfield" we read the story of the small boy who had to
fight his way through London alone.

Those days of boyhood had given him a deep insight into human nature,
into the humor and pathos of other people's lives, and it was that rare
insight that enabled him to become in time one of the greatest of all
English writers, Charles Dickens, the beloved novelist of the
Anglo-Saxon people.


Otto von Bismarck

The Boy of Göttingen: 1815-1898

A tall, slender boy, followed by a great Danish hound, walked down the
main street of the German town of Göttingen in Hanover one spring
morning in 1832. The small round cap, gay with colors, told the world
that the boy was a student at the University, and also that he belonged
to one of the students' clubs, or fighting corps, as they were called.
But this boy looked quite a dandy. A wide sash was tied about his waist,
high-polished boots came up to his knees, and he wore a knot of colors
on his breast, the same colors he sported in his cap, the emblem that he
belonged to the Brunswick student corps. Moreover he carried himself
with rather a haughty manner, and the big dog, following at his heels,
walked in much the same way.

Presently there came strolling along the street a group of a half dozen
boys who wore the round caps of the Hanoverian Club. Something about the
boy with the dog struck them as comical, and they began to laugh, and
nudge each other, and when they came up to the boy they stopped and
stared at him in undisguised amusement. Quick color sprang to his
cheeks, he hesitated, and then came to a full stop. It was not pleasant
to be singled out as a laughing-stock in the main street of Göttingen.

"Well, what are you laughing at?" he demanded, looking squarely at the
group of boys.

One of them waved his hand airily in answer. "At the magnificence of our
new little Brunswicker," he answered mockingly.

"So? And are you accustomed to laugh at magnificence?" The boy's brows
were bent and his lips had set in a very stern line.

"When it amuses us we laugh," put in one of the others.

"Then I'd have you know it's ill manners to laugh, and I'll teach you
better as soon as we get schlägers in our hands."

"And who may you be?" asked the one who had spoken first.

"My name is Otto von Bismarck. I come from Prussia, and I'm a new
student here."

"And which of us will you fight?"

"I'll fight you all. Send your man to me at my room, and I'll agree on
any time and place." Then, with his head held very high the boy walked
on, and the great Dane followed at his heels.

"Bismarck?" said one of the Hanover boys to the others. "It seems to me
I've heard of him. They say he's splendid company."

"He's surely got pluck enough," agreed another. "I like the way he faced
the lot of us." So they went on down the street, discussing the new

Otto, no whit daunted by his adventure, shortly after returned to his
room. He lighted a big china-bowled pipe, and was smoking and reading
when the messenger from the boys he had challenged came to see him. Otto
offered him a pipe, and the two were soon eagerly discussing horses and
dogs and telling about the fine hunting there was to be had in the
different parts of Germany in which their homes lay. They got on
together famously, and finally the visitor, who was the chief of his
corps, said, "What a shame we got into this trouble over nothing. You're
too good a fellow for any of us to fight. We shouldn't have guyed you
that way. Let me see if I can't fix matters up."

"I'm quite ready to fight them all," said Otto stoutly. "I told them so,
and I always stand by my word."

"I know," said the other, who by now had taken a great liking to the
young Prussian. "But you're not the sort to get really angry at such a
little thing, and I like you too much to want to cross swords with you."

"And I like you," answered Otto warmly, "but remember I'm quite ready if
the others aren't of your way of thinking."

The Hanover boy went back to his clubmates, and told them the result of
his talk with Otto. He said the latter was not a coxcomb or a dandy, but
one of the best humored fellows he had ever met, and if he had been
driven to showing his temper on the street that morning it was the
result of their rudeness, and not Otto's ill will. The other boys quite
agreed with what their captain said, and he was asked to carry their
regrets to Otto for the unfortunate meeting and their hope that the
duels might not be fought.

The reconciliation was at once carried out, but the adventure did not
end there as far as the young paladin named Bismarck was concerned. The
Hanover captain, who was a year or two older than Otto, and knew much
more about the University, became his best friend, and soon one boy was
rarely seen without the other. There was no regular Prussian student
corps at Göttingen, and so Otto, when he had reached the University and
had been invited to join the Brunswick Club, had at once accepted. Now
his chum began to show him how much better the Hanover corps was than
that of Brunswick, and argued with him that as it was not a matter of
home pride, but simply a question as to which boys he liked best, he had
better join his new friends' club. It took little persuasion to convince
Otto that his wishes really all lay that way, and so he resigned from
the corps of Brunswick and was received into that of Hanover.

As soon as this news spread through the University the Brunswickers were
very indignant. They declared they had been grossly insulted, and that
Otto von Bismarck should be made to pay for this slight upon them. Their
captain and best swordsman at once challenged Otto to fight with the
schläger. Otto accepted, and the duel quickly took place.

This schläger fighting was an old custom of all the German universities,
and every boy who belonged to a corps was pretty sure to fight one or
more such duels. The schläger is very heavy and clumsy compared with a
dueling sword, and requires a very strong wrist and arm. Instead of
dexterous fencing the fighting is done by downright slashing and cutting
and usually ends when one or the other fighter has received a cut on the
face. The duel takes place with a great deal of ceremony, each student
being attended by a number of his own club, and each corps values as its
highest honor the reputation of having the best fighters in the

Otto proved his strength in this first duel with the Brunswick captain.
He himself received a number of hard blows, but he gave more than he
took, and finally cut his opponent on the cheek. That ended the duel,
and each boy retired satisfied, Otto because he had won, and the
Brunswick captain because he had another scar to prove his fighting

But the Brunswickers were not yet satisfied that their reputation was
entirely cleared, and so in a few days Otto received a challenge from
the next best fighter of their corps, and having fought him was
challenged by another, and so the affair continued until he had met and
defeated almost every student in the Brunswick corps. He fought twenty
schläger duels during his first year at the University, and came out of
them so well that he was ranked as one of the best fighters at
Göttingen, and the Hanoverians were very proud of him.

In only one encounter was the young Prussian wounded. He was fighting
with a student named Biederwig, and the latter's sword-blade snapped in
two as Otto was parrying his fierce attack. The broken edge gave
Bismarck a slight cut on the cheek, and Biederwig at once claimed a
victory. The officers of the clubs, however, decided that the duel was a
drawn encounter. By this time Otto, who was just eighteen, had become
the leader among the students of Göttingen.

Such customs seem strange and almost barbarous to Anglo-Saxon boys, but
this dueling played a large part in the college life of Germans at that
time. Otto was not by nature quarrelsome, but he was bound to hold his
own with his friends, and to do that he felt that he must take his part
in the rough life about him. Very soon after the fight with Biederwig he
was drawn into a much more serious affair.

Among his close friends was a young German baron who had fallen out with
an English student named Knight. Each of them felt that their quarrel
demanded serious settlement and they determined to fight with pistols
instead of swords. At first Otto refused to have anything to do with the
meeting, but at the last minute the Baron's second withdrew, and the
Baron begged Otto to take his place. Otto could not refuse this appeal
of his friend, and so reluctantly consented.

When the two met Otto paced out a much longer distance than was usual in
such cases, and had them stand very far apart. When the word was given
each student fired, but both were so nervous that their shots went very
wide. Then Otto at once interfered, stating that the honor of each was
now fully satisfied, and refusing to let them continue. Here he showed
that masterfulness of character which had already made him a leader,
and which now at once compelled the duelists to submit.

Such a meeting as this was, however, contrary to the laws of the
University, and all the boys who took part in it were at once severely
punished. The other students told how Otto had ended the fight and
begged that he be let off, but the rector would not listen to their
requests, and Bismarck was ordered to undergo eleven days of solitary
confinement. When he was released he was welcomed back by all the
student corps, and became more of a hero than ever.

But Otto von Bismarck's college life was not all fighting. Although he
was not much of a student, he was keenly interested in everything about
him, and fond of arguing on all sorts of subjects. History was his
favorite study; he devoured stories of great kings and statesmen and
soldiers, his keen mind always intent on discovering the reason for the
success or failure of each.

There was then at Göttingen a young American, by name John Lothrop
Motley, who was as much interested in history as was Otto, and even more
fond of an argument. The two became close friends, and often sat up half
the night to settle some dispute between them. Motley was the more
eager, and often the young German would wake in the morning to find his
American friend sitting on the edge of his bed waiting to go on with
their discussion of the night before. It was Motley also who interested
Otto so much in American history that he took a leading part in
celebrating the Fourth of July at Göttingen.

His college life taught the young Prussian student many valuable things
that are not told in books. He grew up with a fine knowledge of the boys
of his own age, and with a strength and courage which made him admired
by all his friends.

A little later, when he was at home on a vacation, he was riding with
several neighbors around a pond. The banks of the pond were very steep.
Suddenly Otto heard a cry behind him. Turning he saw that a groom's
horse had stumbled and pitched the rider into deep water. The man was
terribly frightened, and it was evident that he either did not know how
to swim or was too excited to try to do so. The other horsemen stood
still, doing nothing but call to the groom. Otto, however, tore off his
coat and sword, and plunged in. The man caught at him, and clung to him
so tightly that it looked as though Otto would be pulled down with him.
Once both disappeared entirely under water, but Otto's great strength
saved him, and after a short time he was able to drag the groom to

Great events call for great men, and usually find them. The adventures
of his college life had never found the Prussian boy wanting in nerve or
courage; he had always seized his chance and made the most of it. He did
the same thing as he grew into manhood, and tried for a time life in the
army, then on his father's farmland, and then in Parliament.

Great changes were coming over Europe as Otto grew to manhood; old
countries were falling apart, and new ones being formed, and there was
need of strong men to advise and to check the people. Especially was
this true of Germany, which was then a collection of small kingdoms
loosely joined together. When these kingdoms needed a man to steer them
through the troubled waters that were gathering around them Otto von
Bismarck saw his opportunity and took it.

He became the great statesman of Germany, the "Iron Chancellor" as he
was often called, the man who built the present German Empire, and gave
its crown to his own sovereign, William I, of Prussia. He was a man of
tremendous power, aggressive, fearless, masterful, showing the same
sturdy traits that had made him in his youth the most feared and admired
schläger-fighter in all Göttingen.

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