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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier 1 1 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 1: childhood (search)
his lamp of fire. I was monarch: pomp and joy Waited on the barefoot boy. Out of doors the boy took his share of the farm duties, indeed too great a share, he afterward found, for his health. Inheriting the tall figure of his predecessors, he did not inherit their full strength; he was always engaged, like them, in subduing the wilderness; he had to face the cold of winter weather in what would now be called insufficient clothing; it was before that period had arrived when, in Miss Catherine Sedgwick's phrase, the New England Goddess of Health held out flannel underclothing to everybody. The barn, as Whittier himself afterward testified, had no doors: the winter winds whistled through, and snow drifted on its floors for more than a century. There Whittier milked seven cows; and tended a horse, two oxen, and some sheep. It would seem a healthy and invigorating boyhood, yet he was all his life a recognised invalid, although he lived to be eighty-five, five years older than any