How simply he tells his story, as though his hardships and struggles were of no account, and how clearly the narrative mirrors the brave little fellow of ten!
“My first employment,” he says, “was in sugar making, an occupation to which I became much attached. I now look with great pleasure upon the days and nights passed in the sap-bush. The want of shoes (which, as the snow was deep, was no small privation) was the only drawback upon my happiness. I used, however, to tie pieces of an old rag carpet around my feet, and got along pretty well, chopping wood and gathering up sap.”
During this period he traveled, barefoot, to borrow books, wherever they could be found among the neighboring farmers. With his body in the sugar house, and his head thrust out of doors, “where the fat pine was blazing,” the young enthusiast devoured with breathless interest a “History of the French Revolution,” and the few other well-worn volumes which had been loaned him.
Later, after he left the farm, we see the future journalist working successively as cabin boy and deck hand on a Hudson River steamboat, and cheerfully sending home the few dollars he earned. While employed in this capacity, he earned his first “quarter” in New York by carrying a trunk for one of the passengers from the boat to a hotel on Broad Street.
But his boyish ambition was to be a journalist, and, after a year of seafaring life, he found his niche in the office of a small weekly newspaper, the Lynx, published at Onondaga Hollow, New York.
So, at fourteen, owing to his indomitable will and perseverance, which conquered the most formidable obstacles, Thurlow Weed started on the career in which, despite the rugged road he still had to travel, he built up a noble character and won international fame.
It is February, 1492. A poor man, with gray hair, disheartened and dejected, is going out of the gate from the beautiful Alhambra, in Granada, on a mule. Ever since he was a boy, he has been haunted with the idea that the earth is round. He has believed that the pieces of carved wood, picked up four hundred miles at sea, and the bodies of two men, unlike any other human beings known, found on the shores of Portugal, have drifted from unknown lands in the west. But his last hope of obtaining aid for a voyage of discovery has failed. King John of Portugal, under pretense of helping him, has secretly sent out an expedition of his own. His friends have abandoned him; he has begged bread; has drawn maps to keep him from starving, and lost his wife; his friends have called him crazy, and have forsaken him. The council of wise men, called by Ferdinand and Isabella, ridicule his theory of reaching the east by sailing west. “But the sun and moon are round,” replies Columbus, “why not the earth?” “If the earth is a ball, what holds it up?” the wise men ask. “What holds the sun and moon up?” Columbus replies.