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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Olde Cambridge, Chapter 1: old Cambridge (search)
s still a lingering Boston enterprise. Cambridge boys were still sent to sea as a cure for naughtiness, or later as supercargoes, this being a mark of confidence. Groups of sailors sometimes strayed through Cambridge, and there were aromatic smells among the Boston wharves. Lowell in particular had a naval uncle, and he wrote of what had been told from childhood when he said in The Growth of the legend :-- The sailors' night watches are thrilled to the core With the lineal offspring of Odin and Thor. In two respects the group of Cambridge authors had gained from their restricted life certain qualities which some might call bourgeois, and many others admirable. They were all honest men pecuniarily; they habitually paid their debts and lived within their means. Neither in Holmes nor Lowell nor in Longfellow was there anything of that quality of thriftlessness so dear to lovers of the picturesque, but so exasperating to market-men and other base creatures. If the Cambridge m