“Rough and Ready” is presented to the public as the fourth volume of the “Ragged Dick Series,” and, like two of its predecessors, was contributed as a serial to the “Schoolmate,” a popular juvenile magazine. Its second title, “Life among the New York Newsboys,” describes its character and purpose. While the young hero may be regarded as a favorable example of his class, the circumstances of his lot, aggravated by the persecutions of an intemperate parent, are unfortunately too common, as any one at all familiar with the history of the neglected street children in our cities will readily acknowledge.
If “Rough and Ready” has more virtues and fewer faults than most of his class, his history will at least teach the valuable lesson that honesty and good principles are not incompatible even with the greatest social disadvantages, and will, it is hoped, serve as an incentive and stimulus to the young people who may read it.
New York, Dec. 26, 1869.
On the sidewalk in front of the “Times” office, facing Printing-House Square, stood a boy of fifteen, with a pile of morning papers under his arm.
“‘Herald,’ ‘Times,’ ‘Tribune,’ ‘World’!” he vociferated, with a quick glance at each passer-by.
There were plenty of newsboys near by, but this boy was distinguished by his quick, alert movements, and his evident capacity for business. He could tell by a man’s looks whether he wanted a paper, and oftentimes a shrewd observation enabled him to judge which of the great morning dailies would be likely to suit the taste of the individual he addressed.
“Here’s the ‘Tribune’, sir,” he said to a tall, thin man, with a carpet-bag and spectacles, who had the appearance of a country clergyman. “Here’s the ‘Tribune,’ — best paper in the city.”
“I’m glad you think so, my lad. You may give me one. It’s a good sign when a young lad like you shows that he has already formed sound political opinions.”
“That’s so,” said the newsboy.
“I suppose you’ve seen Horace Greeley?”
“In course, sir, I see him most every day. He’s a brick!”
“A what?” inquired the clergyman, somewhat shocked.