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by [?]

Edwin should be a lawyer, and be an honor to the family name.

But alas! Edwin was small and had a low forehead and squint eyes. He didn’t care for books–all he would do was draw pictures. Now, all children make pictures–before they can read, they draw. And before they can draw they get the family shears and cut the pictures out of “Harper’s Weekly.” This boy cut pictures out of “Harper’s Weekly” when he wore dresses, and when George William Curtis first filled the Easy Chair. Edwin cut out the pictures, not because they were especially bad, but because he, like all other children, was an artist in the germ; and the artist instinct is to detach the thing, lift it out, set it apart, and then give it away.

All children draw pictures, I said, and this is true, but most children can be cured of the habit by patience and an occasional box on the ear, judiciously administered. All children are sculptors, too; that is to say, they want to make things out of mud or dough or wax or putty; but no mother who sets her heart on clean guimpes and pinafores can afford for a moment to indulge in such inclinations. To give children dough, putty and the shears would keep your house in a pretty litter–lawksadaisy!

Mrs. Abbey hid the shears, put the “Harper’s” on a high shelf and took the boy’s pencils away, and threw the putty out into Fourth Street, below Vine. Then the boy had tantrums, and as a compromise got all his playthings back.

Yes, this squat, beetle-browed, and bow-legged boy had his way. Beetle-browed, bow-legged folks usually do. Caesar and Cromwell had bow-legs, so had Napoleon, and so have Pierpont Morgan and James J. Hill. Charles the First was knock-kneed. Knock-knees are a deformity; bow-legs an accident. Bulldogs have bow-legs; hounds are knock-kneed. Bow-legs mean will plus–a determination to do–the child insists on walking before the cartilage has turned to bone. Spirit is stronger than matter–hence the Greek curve.

Little Edwin Abbey ran the Abbey household and drew because he wanted to–on sidewalks, white steps, kitchen-wall, or the fly- leaves in books.

Rumor has it that Edwin Abbey did not get along very well at school –instead of getting his lessons he drew pictures, and thirty years ago such conduct was proof of total depravity. Like the amateur blacksmith who started to make a horseshoe and finally contented himself with a fizzle, the Abbeys gave up theology and law, and decided that if Edwin became a good printer it would be enough. And then, how often printers became writers–then editors and finally proprietors! Edwin might yet own the “Ledger” and have a collection of four hundred seventy-two clocks.

Through a mutual friend, Mr. Childs was interviewed and Edwin was set to work in the Typesetting Department of the “Ledger.” Evenings and an hour three times a week he sketched in the free class at the Academy of Art.

How long he remained in the newspaper work, I do not know, but there came a day when Mr. Childs and his minions, having no use for Edwin, gave him a letter of recommendation to the Art Department of “Harper’s Weekly.”

That George W. Childs had a really firm friendship for young Abbey, there is no doubt. He followed his career with fatherly interest, and was the first man, so far as I know, who had the prophetic vision to see that he would become a great artist. George W. Childs was a many-sided man. He had a clear head for business, was a judge of human nature, a patron of the arts, a collector of rare and curious things, and wrote with clearness, force and elegance. Men of such strong personality have decided likings, and they also have decided aversions. The pet aversion of Childs was tobacco. All through the “Ledger” office were startling signs, “No smoking!” It was never, “Please do not smoke,” or “Smoking interferes with Insurance!” Not these–the order was imperative. And the mutability of human affairs, as well as life’s little ironies, is now shown in the fact that the name and fame of George W. Childs is deathless through a wonderful five-cent cigar.