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by [?]

Victor Hugo once said, “The minions of the law go stolidly after vice, and not finding it, they stolidly take virtue instead.”

Besides an awful warning “never to do this thing again,” from a judge in a ferocious wig, the boy got a flogging at home (for his own good), although his father first explained that it was a very painful duty to himself to be obliged to punish his son. The son volunteered to excuse his father, and this brought the youngster ten extra lashes for being so smart.

Long years after, at Rome, Thorwaldsen told the story to Hans Christian Andersen about being caught astride the great bronze horse at Copenhagen, and of the awful reprimand of the judge bewigged.

“And honestly now: I’ll never tell,” said Andersen with a sly twinkle in his blue eyes–“did you ever repeat the offense?”

“Since you promise not to divulge it, I’ll confess that forty-three years after my crime of mounting that horse, I had occasion to cross King’s Market Square at midnight. I had been out to a little social gathering, and was on my way home alone. I saw the great horse and rider gleaming in the pale moonlight. I recalled vividly how I had occupied that elevated perch and been hauled down by the scandalized and indignant officers. I remembered the warning of the judge as to what would happen if I ever did it again. Hastily I removed my coat and hat and clambered up on the pedestal. I seized a leg of the royal person, and swung up behind. For five minutes I sat there mentally defying the State, and saying unspeakable things about all gendarmes and Copenhagen gendarmes in particular.”

I have a profound respect for boys. Grimy, ragged, tousled boys in the street often attract me strangely. A boy is a man in the cocoon –you do not know what it is going to become–his life is big with possibilities.

He may make or unmake kings, change boundary-lines between States, write books that will mold characters, or invent machines that will revolutionize the commerce of the world. Every man was a boy–I trust I shall not be contradicted–it is really so. Wouldn’t you like to turn Time backward, and see Abraham Lincoln at twelve, when he had never worn a pair of boots?–the lank, lean, yellow, hungry boy–hungry for love, for learning, tramping off through the woods for twenty miles to borrow a book, and spelling it out crouching before the glare of the burning logs.

Then there was that Corsican boy, one of a goodly brood, who weighed only fifty pounds when ten years old; who was thin and pale and perverse, and had tantrums, and had to be sent supperless to bed, or locked in a dark closet because he wouldn’t “mind”! Who would have thought that he would have mastered every phase of warfare at twenty-six, and when told that the Exchequer of France was in dire confusion, would say: “The finances? I will arrange them!”

Distinctly and vividly I remember a squat, freckled boy who was born in the “Patch” and used to pick up coal along the railroad-tracks in Buffalo. A few months ago I had a motion to make before the Court of Appeals. That boy from the “Patch” was the judge who wrote the opinion, granting my petition.

Yesterday I rode horseback past a field where a boy was plowing. The lad’s hair stuck out through the top of his hat; one suspender held his trousers in place; his form was bony and awkward; his bare legs and arms were brown and sunburned and briar-scratched. He swung his horses around just as I passed by, and from under the flapping brim of his hat he cast a quick glance out of dark, half-bashful eyes, and modestly returned my salute. When his back was turned I took off my hat and sent a God-bless-you down the furrow after him.