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HENRY RUSSELL CLEVELAND was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, on the third day of October, eighteen hundred and eight. He was the second son of Richard J. Cleveland, whose enterprise and energy of character have become so widely known, by his interesting “Narrative of Voyages and Commercial Enterprises;" a work alike attractive, from the simple beauty of its style, and valuable, from the lessons of fortitude, patience, and cheerfulness, which it teaches. The maiden name of his mother was Dorcas C. Hiller. As his parents are still living, it would not be becoming to say more, than that few persons have been born and reared under influences more favorable to moral and intellectual growth, than he; and that the judicious kindness, and sympathizing intelligence, which guided his childhood and youth, were always deeply felt and warmly acknowledged by him.
He was, from his birth, a sickly child, of delicate organization, highly susceptible to new impressions, and easily moved to joy or sadness. His perceptions were quick, and he learned with ease, but discovered no particular aptitude for one branch of study, rather than another. His fancy was lively, and his sense of the harmony of numbers early developed. In the amusements and occupations of his childhood, he displayed that quiet perseverance, which was, through life, a conspicuous trait in his character. He was of a very affectionate nature, and his sensitive temperament was powerfully stimulated by praise and caresses.
The first fourteen years of his life were passed in the beautiful village in which he was born, and glided away in the usual employments and studies of that period, without any event of sufficient importance to be recorded in his biography. He was highly fortunate in his instructers. When about six
years old, an academy was established in Lancaster, by his father, and a few other persons, and the valuable services of Mr. Sparks were secured as its teacher, whose pupil he became. He passed from the hands of Mr. Sparks into those of Mr. George B. Emerson, and of the late Mr. Solomon P. Miles, who occupied, in succession, the place of instructer, after Mr. Sparks. The names of these gentlemen are a sufficient assurance, that his early education was well provided for. His moral and intellectual qualities were duly appreciated by them all; and he, on his part, recalled their services, with strong
gratitude, and maintained with them, through life, the most friendly relations.
He entered Harvard College, in the autumn of 1823. He was, at that time, boyish in his appearance, and unformed in his manners, and did not, at first, attract the attention of his teachers or classmates, by the superiority of his talents or the ardor of his application. He seemed to study rather from a conscientious sense of duty, than a keen literary ambition, or a strong love of books. From the first, however, he held a respectable rank as a scholar, and his powers were rapidly unfolded, by the studies and associations of college life ; and, with the development of his powers, his love of excellence, and his desire to excel, equally increased. His clear judgment, lively fancy, and almost instinctive elegance of taste, were conspicuous in his written exercises, and he showed much aptitude for the moral and political sciences, and for intellectual philosophy. For mathematics, and the exact sciences, he had little taste. In the ancient languages he attained a respectable proficiency. He mastered all the required studies of the college course well; but could hardly be called a brilliant scholar in any particular department. He constantly rose in rank, during his college life, and was one of the sixteen members of his class who were chosen into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. His part, at commencement, which was a colloquy on the standard of taste, was written with marked elegance of style. The moral dangers, to which young men are peculiarly ex