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cided bent, make the educational inflnences that come in their way subserve their own uses; like powerful streams, they are not easily diverted from their course, but merely take up and carry along with them the interposing material. It is possible that a more methodic cducation would have made Mr. Greeley's a more homogeneous character; it might have tempered the impetuosity and passion of the moment by an infusion of the underlying sweetness of his nature; it might, in the light of organic law, have lessened his dependence upon social machinery, and therewith prevented his fluctuating so easily between the extremes of hope and despondency, of faith and distrust. But whether what he gained as a man he would not have lost as a journalist; whether he would have thrown himself so ardently into the work of reform, and dealt existing evils equally effective blows, is doubtful. The age needed him such as he was, and the age made him thus.
In Mr. Greeley's nature there was a strong conservative element—a statement which, in view of his vigorous protests against organized social wrongs, and the liberal welcome he gave to new projects and speculations, may seem paradoxical. But if Mr. Greeley was not, in the conventional sense, a conservative, he was, as is always the case with the highest class of reforiners, conservative at heart. Never, even in the earlier days of his journalism, was he a destructive reformer-one who seeks to substitute, for the organic results of social progress, the mechanical arrangements which an abstract sense of justice may dictate, though this was the aspect in which the exigencies of the times and the necessities of journalism tended to represent himn. The truest conservatism is not that which clings to existing social forms merely because they are sanctioned by time, but that which recognizes a force of organic growth in society, conserving the old as nature's envelopment of the slowly forming new. To this sense of the inherent vitality of society, Mr. Greeley had an open side, though it had not in him that creative force which belongs to genius, and only served as a controlling, repressive element. He was not incapable of tracing old wrongs to their root in what is good and true. He was no friend of abrupt, violent changes; he believed in compromises and compensations. He did not confound the unfortunate inheritors and exponents of organized evils with the evils themselves, like those narrower minds who dispense to the former, only a little more liberally, the hate which is due to the latter, and who, amid the little cloud of dust they raise around themselves, lose sight of the serene heaven which has so long tolerated the evils they attack.
Was Mr. Greeley a consistent man? The charge of inconsistency has been often brought against him, and no estimate of his character and life would be complete without a reference to it. The charge is one to which great minds are most exposed. The narrow-minded are very easily consistent; their thoughts describe an orbit-if orbit it may be calledwhich is fixed and unchangeable; and to such, and from their point of view, the planetary wanderings of the greater spirits are full of recessions and obliqnities. But no general accusation of this kind can be properly met without a preliminary discrimination of what is implied in it. There is an intellectual consistency which demands, on the one hand, a present coherence in the body of one's thought, and, on the other, that new and strange opinions shall not be arbitrarily adopted, but shall be the genuine outgrowth of past thought. There is also a moral consistency, which prescribes that one shall have a distinct aim in life, a definite motive of action, and shall remain true to it. And there is consistency of external conduct, which flows from the selection of the right means and methods, the right course of action, for the accomplishment of the proposed ends. Of an infringement of the latter kind of consistency, we think Mr. Greeley justly chargeable, as we shall show when we come to refer more particularly to his life; but, in the light of what we have said concerning the intrinsic elements of his character, we do not hesitate to bring him forward as a conspicuous illustration of true moral and intellectual consistency.
He had but one great aim—to promote by voice and pen the greatest good of the greatest number, and whatever political or social scheme seemed calculated to this end, into the
advocacy of that he threw himself with all the ardor of his soul. But the conservative force of his nature restrained him from attaching all the importance to special schemes which their advocates claimed for them, who, of course, charged him with fickleness and inconsistency. From socialism he adopted the coöperative feature, nor did he ever cease to urge its advantages as occasion required. He was among the earliest advocates of a larger sphere of activity for woman, of her equal social rights before the law, and her claim tu all the educational advantages open to the other sex; and in this position he stood fast. If other champions of woman have advanced to the claim of political equality, they may, from their point of view, blame him for backwardness, but they may not accuse him of unsteadfastness.
American slavery, in the days of its power, had no heartier hater than Horace Greeley, no more formidable foe; but yet when at last it lay crushed with the rebellion which it caused, there was no inconsistency in his advocacy of a general amnesty toward its old supporters. A weakness you may call it, in which the heart got the better of the head, or a wise foresight, in which the head affirmed the best impulses of the heart, but an inconsistency you may not call it. The proposition was consistent with the whole spirit and tenor of Horace Greeley's life; a good mathematician who had studied the parabola of Mr. Greeley's mental process might have predicted it. And here we are reminded of that characteristic letter, which must ever remain a conspicuous jewel in the life of this man :
“ MY FRIEND :-Of course I threw away the senatorship in 1866– knowing well that I did so—and I did myself great pecuniary harm in 1867 by bailing Jeff. Davis ; but suppose I hadn't done either ? * Either God rules this world, or does not. I believe he does. “Yours,
HORACE GREELEY." The weakness of Mr. Greeley's character flowed, in part, ont of the best part of his nature; in part, they were a reaction from the circumstances of his life. Full of broad human sympathy, he had an inordinate craving for appreciation, and
VOL. XXVI.—NO. LI..
was not inaccessible to flattery. Open and confiding himself, he was easily imposed upon by the pretending confidences of others. Thorough-going in his advocacy of what seemed to him right and good, clear and strong in his convictions, he was impatient of contradiction or dissent, quick to suspect the honesty and good faith of his opponents, and apt, therefore, to be betrayed into unseemly intemperances of speech, though, to his honor be it said, these ebullitions of the moment were forgotten with the occasion that called them forth. He held no parley, however, with undoubted dishonesty and shame, and called things by their right names. Mr. Greeley's success in life, achieved, as it was, from such unpromising beginnings, and that by his own unaided efforts, led him often into a momentary over-estimate of his influence and claims, and into a dogmatic pride of opinion, which contrasted strangely with his child-like docility and gentleness of heart. It was in this quarter, if anywhere, that his character was not thoroughly compact, homogeneous, consistent.
In this review of Horace Greeley as a man, we have not thought it necessary to interweave, however slightly, the incidents of his career. The story of his life was already well known to the general public, and now the leading journals of the day have made it familiar to the world. The picture of the Vermont boy, stretched upon the floor of his father's cabin, reading by the light of the fire; the picture of the awkward 'prentice lad stooping over his “case” in a dingy New York printing office, while the busy thoughts in that large brain are setting up inatter for future articles; the picture of the great editor dealing forth his vehement fulminations against the constituted powers of evil, and making his vigorous appeals to the moral sense of the people; the picture of the genial old man whose face, full of sweetness and light,” is bent over a copy of the journal in which the heart, the thonght, the work of his life are embodied; and finally the picture of the defeated candidate, led from the grave of his dead wife, himself doomed to a swift-following death : these are pictures which will long hold their place in the American heart, and become the theme of many a lesson to the school-boy of the future.
It was a great mistake, the one inconsistency in Mr. Greeley's career, his allowing himself to be diverted from his function as journalist, for which he was preëminently fitted both by nature and the education of circumstances. Journalism has become a distinct and most important force in the social economy of the age. It has its special duties and its special honors, and he, who thinks to make it only a stepping-stone to political preferment, does not comprehend its duties, and is not worthy of its honors. We do not, however, for a moment accnse Mr. Greeley of thus debasing his high calling. Although it must be admitted that Mr. Greeley was ambitious of political distinction, that his personal pride craved this as the final recognition of the great services he had rendered his party and the country, still we believe that his desire for office was chiefly instigated by his best aspirations, his wish to do good, to carry ont beneficent reforms. To which must be added, as an additional motive, the strong self-reliance of the man, his confidence that he could do best himself that which he saw needed the doing. Thus his weaknesses and his best impulses contributed to lead him astray from his chosen path, and his death, regarded as a result of this error, presents accordingly some of the highest elements of dramatic interest. Behold, a noble spirit, misled by his own generous impulses, yielding to pardonable weaknesses, departs, in the fulness of undiminished powers, from his fore-ordained work, and spends hiinself in a vain contest with destiny.
Mr. Greeley's candidacy, notwithstanding his personal popularity, was essentially a weak one. The people are to a great extent under the despotic sway of their imaginations; . they are image-worshippers. When they have formed a distinct image of a man as connected with certain functions, or a definite position in the social economy, they do not like to have that image disturbed ; we find it difficult to conceive him in any other capacity, and are disposed to resent or ridicule the proposition to do so. If a man has become distinguished as senator and has served long as such, the images of the man and the senator become permanently conjoined, and we find it easier to associate the idea of president with some comparatively