« ZurückWeiter »
monkey, and jumped up behind him, tore off his
сар, and clutched his hair. Ulysses looked neither to the right nor the left; he spoke not a word, but clung like grim death to the saddle, until the ring-master gave it up, and stopped the
pony: This anecdote is of no consequence, except as exhibiting a native and early-developed trait in Grant's character, — of always doing what he attempted to do. He had undertaken to ride the pony, crowd or no crowd, monkey or no monkey; and he rode him. “The difference in boys,” said Dr. Arnold, “ is not so much in talent as in energy."
Another anecdote illustrates the same trait, but exhibits more strategy and ingenuity. When twelve years old, Mr. Grant's men were hauling heavy logs from the woods. Ulysses drove the horse. One day, when he reached the woods, he found the logs, but not He waited; but the men did not come. l
He determined not to go home without the logs. So, after contriving some time, he hitched the chain to one end of a log, and drew it up on to a tree which had fallen, so that one end was higher than the other. When he had three logs in position, he backed the hind end of the wagon under them, and then, with the chain, hauled the logs on to the wagon, and drove home in triumph. Quite a little feat for a boy of twelve years of age.
He never liked his father's business of tanning. It was disagreeable ; and he early determined not to follow it. He wanted an education. He said he would be a farmer, or trade down the river ; but a tanner he would not be.
His father, with limited means, did not feel, that, in
justice to himself and his other children, he could afford the money to send him to college.
He applied, with the boy's assent, for a vacant cadetship at West Point. The appointment was to be made by Hon. T. L. Hamer, the member of Congress from the district. His term of office expired at noon, March 4, 1839. Mr. Grant's letter, asking for the appointment of his son, reached him on the night of the 3d. On the morning of the 4th, the appointment was made.
It is remarkable, that, without any special preparatory study, he passed the rigid examination which all cadets are obliged to undergo, and was at once admitted to the academy.
The story which has been told, that Grant was “hazed” at West Point, and had a fight with some of the cadets, is an error. Grant had no difficulty, either with the officers or his fellow-cadets. He never struck nor was struck while there by any person whatever.
It was in the years passed at the academy that Grant laid the foundation of his greatness. Wellington, once looking at the playground at Eton with a friend, said, “ 'Twas there Waterloo was won.” It was at West Point that Donelson and Vicksburg and Chattanooga were made possible to Grant. Gibbon says every man has two educations, -- one acquired from others; one more important, which he gives to himself. Grinding gerunds may be study, but is not necessarily education. Education and wisdom are different things. A man may be very learned, and very unwise ; he may know a great deal, and be very ignorant; be highly educated, and be very foolish. A man, like a gun, may be overloaded to his own injury and that of others; may
possess every sense but common sense ; understand words, and be ignorant of affairs. Such men are “wells that hold no water;" or rather they hold it so closely, no one's thirst is quenched. Like Shakspeare's purblind Argus, they are “all eyes, and no sight.” Such are the medical scholars who lose all their patients; legal scholars who lose all their clients; and, last of all, military scholars who lose all their battles. They are educated, but to the death of all usefulness.
But Grant received at West Point the best education a man can receive; namely, that which fits him for his work in life. He was not compelled, as most men are under our college systems, to waste years in studying the rules of Greek accents and scanning Latin verse; making them, often, alive to the “dead languages,' while dead to most living things. He was subjected to a course of physical training which invigorated his body. He was taught fencing, drawing, riding, dancing; he was taught science, mathematics, the modern languages, constitutional and international law, and engineering
Men are not educated by books alone. forbid,” said Plato, “ that to philosophize should be only to read a great many books." " I know neither art nor science,” said Pythagoras; “but I am a philosopher."
Young Grant appreciated and improved all the opportunities which were offered to him. He gave those years diligently to self-improvement in the widest sense. He graduated with a good rank in his class; and, what was better, without vices which enfeebled his body, or mental habits which depraved his mind.
On leaving the academy, he could recall his life there
“ The gods
with a satisfaction similar to that with which Curran so touchingly recalled to Lord Avonmore their early days and nights of study, together :
“ We spent them not in toys or lust or wine,
But search of deep philosophy.”
1 In July, 1843, he entered the United-States army as a brevet second lieutenant in the fourth regiment of infantry. He was ordered to the frontiers of Missouri, among the Indians, then on the outer borders of civilization. Here Lieut. Grant remained nearly two years ; when, in 1845, he was ordered to Corpus Christi, Tex., where United-States troops were gathering under command of Gen. Zachary Taylor. War ensued, not long after, between the United States and Mexico, on the question of boundary-lines. From the first attack on Fort Brown, opposite Matamoras, Lieut. Grant was in every battle in the Mexican War except Buena Vista, - fourteen in all. At Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, Chapultepec, in every engagement, he conducted himself with distinguished bravery, which elicited special mention from his superiors in command. In 1847, he was appointed brevet captain ; his commission dating from the day on which the battle of Chapultepec was fought. In 1853, he was promoted to a full captaincy.
In 1864, Gen. Scott said to Col. Badeau of Gen. Grant's staff, the accomplished historian of his military life, that he remembered a young officer named Grant, who distinguished himself in the Mexican War; and at Appomattox Court House, at the surrender of Gen. Lee, the latter remarked to Grant, that he remembered having seen him in Mexico during the war.
entered into business, and was residing there on the morning of the memorable 12th of April, 1861, when the telegraph flashed the news over the country that the rebels had fired on the old flag at Fort Sumter.
“ The obligations of the intellect," it has been said, are among the most sacred of the claims of gratitude.' Macaulay, in his history of the attack of James the II. on the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, has given us a beautiful picture of the attachment which all men feel for the place of their education, and the gratitude which accompanies it. There are exceptions ; but Grant was not one of these. The country had adopted him and educated 'him. It had a claim of honor on his services in the day of peril; and he joyously recognized the bond, — all the more cheerfully, because it could not be enforced.
There are some things which it is impossible for a noble, manly nature to do.
It would have been impossible for Grant to do as did Robert E. Lee, - be educated, supported, and hon
, ored through life by the munificence of the government; to remain in personal and official intimacy with Gen. Scott, studying his plans, and the numbers of the Union army, until the last day or two before the first battle at Bull Run; then steal into Virginia under pretence of visiting his family, join the rebels, and fight against the government which had made him all
For the honor of human nature, such instances are few. Grant could not have done this, any more than he could have struck the mother who bore him.
None of this generation who witnessed it will ever