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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, I. A Cambridge boyhood (search)
ted cedar-bird which was feeding on the mulberries. By some extraordinary chance he hit it, and down came the pretty creature, fluttering and struggling in the air, with the cruel arrow through its breast. I do not know whether the actual sportsman suffered pangs of remorse, but I know that I did, and feel them yet. Afterwards I read with full sympathy Bettine Brentano's thoughts about the dead bird: God gives him wings, and I shoot him down; that chimes not in tune. I later learned from Thoreau to study birds through an opera-glass. It may appear strange that with this feeling about birds I seemed to have no such vivid feeling about fishes or insects. Perhaps it was because they are so much farther from the human, and touch the imagination less. I could then fish all day by the seashore and could collect insects without hesitation,--always being self-limited in the latter case to two specimens of each species. Since the Civil War, however, I find that I can do neither of th
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 4 (search)
class for praise, even anonymously, was beyond all other laurels, though the satisfaction might be marred occasionally by the knowledge that my elder sister had greatly helped in that particular sentence. When it is considered that Channing's method reared most of the well-known writers whom New England was then producing,that it was he who trained Emerson, C. F. Adams, Hedge, A. P. Peabody, Felton, Hillard, Winthrop, Holmes, Sumner, Motley, Phillips, Bowen, Lovering, Torrey, Dana, Lowell, Thoreau, Hale, Thomas Hill, Child, Fitzedward Hall, Lane, and Norton,--it will be seen that the classic portion of our literature came largely into existence under him. He fulfilled the aspiration attributed to Increase Mather when he wished to become president of Harvard College: to mould not merely the teaching, but the teachers,--non lapides dolare, sed architectos. The controlling influence of a college is determined, of course, by its officers, and I have never felt that we had anything i
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 5 (search)
t in New England, but now practically abandoned,--thus securing freedom from study and thought by moderate labor of the hands. This was in 1843, two years before Thoreau tried a similar project with beans at Walden Pond; and also before the time when George and Burrill Curtis undertook to be farmers at Concord. A like course was for college in one of those edifices. Here at last I could live in my own way, making both ends meet by an occasional pupil, and enjoying the same freedom which Thoreau, then unknown to me, was afterwards to possess in his hut. I did not know exactly what I wished to study in Cambridge; indeed, I went there to find out. Perhaps Iaucer belongs to spring, German romance to summer nights, Amadis de Gaul and the Morte d'arthur to the Christmas time; and found that books of natural history, in Thoreau's phrase, furnish the cheerfulest winter reading. Bettine Brentano and Gunderodethe correspondence between the two maidens being just then translated by Margaret
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 6 (search)
e should be no ordaining council, and there was none. William Henry Channing preached one of his impassioned sermons, The gospel of to-day, and all went joyously on, youth at the prow and pleasure at the helm, not foreseeing the storms that were soon to gather, although any sagacious observer ought easily to have predicted them. It must be borne in mind that during all this period I was growing more, not less radical; my alienation from the established order was almost as great as that of Thoreau, though as yet I knew nothing of him except through The Dial. It must be remembered that two rather different elements combined to make up the so-called Transcendentalist body. There were the more refined votaries, who were indeed the most cultivated people of that time and place; but there was also a less educated contingent, known popularly as Come-Outers, --a name then as familiar and distinctive as is that of the Salvation Army to-day. These were developed largely by the anti-slave
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 8 (search)
true of others just outside the circle,--Motley, Parkman, Thoreau,--and in this way the essential variety in unity was securlmost vanished force, while the eccentric and unsuccessful Thoreau — whom Lowell and even his own neighbors set aside as a mehe leading citizen of Concord, in an effort to persuade Miss Thoreau to allow her brother's journals to be printed, he heard the preliminary question, Why should any one care to have Thoreau's journals put in print? I had to abandon the argument asfrom Theodore Parker's correspondence that his estimate of Thoreau was but little higher than Judge Hoar's. My own relatiohizes about everything. To Worcester came also Alcott and Thoreau, from time to time; the former to give those mystic monoloer participant offered anything but meek interrogatories. Thoreau came to take walks in the woods, or perhaps to Wachusett, ais or Montaigne. Sometimes I joined the party, and found Thoreau a dry humorist, and also a good walker; while Alcott, alth
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 11 (search)
playing with himself in the fierce things he had said. When he laughed, he appeared instantly to follow Emerson's counsel and to write upon the lintels of his doorpost Whim! I was especially impressed with this peculiar quality during our walk in the park. Nothing could well be more curious than the look and costume of Carlyle. He had been living in London nearly forty years, yet he had the untamed aspect of one just arrived from Ecclefechan. He wore an old experienced coat, such as Thoreau attributes to his Scotch fisherman,--one having that unreasonably high collar of other days, in which the head was sunk; his hair was coarse and stood up at its own will; his bushy whiskers were thrust into prominence by one of those stiff collars which the German students call father-killers, from a tradition that the sharp points once pierced the jugular vein of a parent during an affectionate embrace. In this guise, with a fur cap and a stout walking-stick, he accompanied Froude and mys
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, chapter 13 (search)
ut place or power, while others beg their way upward; bear the pain of disappointed hopes, while others gain the accomplishment of theirs by flattery; forego the gracious pressure of the hand, for which others cringe and crawl; wrap yourself in your own virtue, and seek a friend, and your daily bread. If you have, in such a course, grown gray with unblenched honor, bless God, and die. This should be learned by heart by every young man; but he should also temper it with the fine saying of Thoreau, that he did not wish to practice self-denial unless it was quite necessary. In other words, a man should not be an ascetic for the sake of asceticism, but he should cheerfully accept that attitude if it proves to be for him the necessary path to true manhood. It is not worth while that he should live, like Spinoza, on five cents a day. It is worth while that he should be ready to do this, if needful, rather than to forego his appointed work, as Spinoza certainly did not. If I am glad of
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays, Index. (search)
0. Tacitus, C. C., 360. Tadema, Alma, 289. Talandier, M., 304, 305, 306, 309, 300. Taney, R. B., 238. Tappan, S. F., 204, 215. Taylor, Bayard, 0108, 293. Taylor, Henry, 29. Taylor, Tom, 312. Tennyson, Alfred, 67, 272, 287, 291, 292, 294, 295, 296, 314. Thackeray, W. M., 187, 313. Thaxter, Celia, 67. Thaxter, L. L., 66, 67, 76, 94. Thaxter, Roland, 67. Thaxter family, the, 75. Thayer and Eldridge, 230. Therese, Madame, 320. Thomas, C. G., 91. Thompson, William, 198. Thoreau, Miss, 170. Thoreau, H. D., 25, 53, 78, 91, 92, 114, 169, 170, 181, 279, 360. Ticknor, George, 12, 15, 49, 189. Ticknor, W. D., 176. Ticknor & Fields, 183. Tidd, C. P., 228, 229. Todd, Francis, 127. Tolstoi, Count, Leo, 315. Torrey, H. W., 53 58 Tourgueneff (or Turgenev), I. S., 313, 314. Town and Country Club, the, 172. Transcendentalism, 69. Transcendentalists, the, 114. Trenck, Baron, 23. Trollope, Anthony, 287. Trowbridge, C. T., 262. Tubman, Harriet, 328. Tucke