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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Olde Cambridge, Chapter 1: old Cambridge (search)
d an appeal, on the day before one Fourth of July, from a broken-down companion of his boyhood who had led a somewhat questionable life, to go down to East Cambridge jail and release another similar worthy, also a playmate, that he might at least spend Independence Day in freedom. Lowell went promptly and paid the fine, which was very likely assessed over again, and for adequate cause, within forty-eight hours. The element of sailor vagrancy, too, was then far more prominent than now. The East India trade was 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 o
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Olde Cambridge, Chapter 5: Lowell (search)
lked up and down what is now Brattle Street, listening reverently to the talk of these older boys, not always profitable, but sometimes most valuable. I remember, for instance, their talking over the plot of Spenser's Faerie Queene years before I had read it, and making it so interesting that we younger urchins soon named a nook with shady apple trees near our bathing place on Charles River the Bower of Blisse. In 1834 Lowell and Story went to college, and my brother afterward to the East Indies, so I was dropped from their circle, except as a boy in a college town watches the works and ways of the students. Both Lowell and Story were popular and socially brilliant in college, but neither gave unmixed satisfaction to the Faculty. Both were of the kind who read old English plays a good deal, and of the rarer number who get some good out of them. Lowell's reputation as a wit was established in the editorship of Harvardiana, as Holmes's had been ten years earlier in The Collegian