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Lowell (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
Life in Cambridge town. Thomas Wentworth Higginson. No town in this country has been the occasion of two literary descriptions more likely to become classic than two which bear reference to the Cambridge of fifty years ago. One of these is Lowell's well-known Fireside Travels, and the other is the scarcely less racy chapter in the Harvard Book, called Harvard Square, contributed by our townsman John Holmes, younger brother of the Autocrat,—a man mentioned more than once in Lowell's prose Lowell's prose and verse. Emerson said once of John Holmes that he represented humor, while his brother, Dr. O. W. Holmes, represented wit; and certainly every page of this Harvard Square chapter is full of the former and rarer quality. Charles Lamb's celebrated description of the Christ Church hospital and school of his boyhood does not give more of the flavor of an older day. Those who refer to that chapter will see at the head a vignette of Harvard Square in 1822, taken from a sketch made at the period
Menotomy (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
had the increased enjoyment of life that comes from country living. The farm of our old minister, Dr. Abiel Holmes, was next to our house, occupying all the ground now covered by the Hemenway Gymnasium, the Scientific School, the Jefferson Laboratory, and Holmes Field. There, with the dear old doctor's grandson, Charles Parsons, we boys of Professors' Row had the rural delights of husking corn and riding on the haycart. There were farms all over town,—all the way up the West Cambridge (Arlington) road, and also between Old Cambridge and Boston, with an occasional outbreak of ropewalks, spreading, like sprawling caterpillars, through what is now Ward Four. There were also some well-preserved revolutionary fortifications,—one remarkably fine one on what is now Putnam Avenue,—but these have now unfortunately vanished. There were ample woods for wildflowers,— Norton's woods and Palfrey's woods especially,—and I have deposited at the Botanical Garden my early botanical notebooks,
Charles (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
is now Putnam Avenue,—but these have now unfortunately vanished. There were ample woods for wildflowers,— Norton's woods and Palfrey's woods especially,—and I have deposited at the Botanical Garden my early botanical notebooks, showing what rare wild-flowers, such as the cardinal flower, the fringed gentian, and the gaudy rhexia, once grew within the town limits. There were also birds now banished which I ineffectually vexed with bow and arrow, envying hopelessly the double-barreled gun—perhaps equally superfluous —of my elder brother. Often I have taken part in those May parties described so pityingly by Lowell in Biglow Papers. We learned to skate on Craigie's Pond, to swim in the then unpolluted Charles River, to row at Fresh Pond. We were without many things which now make the bliss of boys, —bicycles and kodaks and toboggans,—but after all, the Cambridge village of those days was a pleasant birthplace. Yet in what place is it not a happy thing for a boy to ha
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
States; and those few dozen unquestionably exceeded, in capacity of disorder, the whole 3000 of the present day. They indeed introduced, unaided, more elements of marked variety into Cambridge society than is now obtainable in the whole university. The difference between the richest swell in college to-day and the poorest grind is not to be compared with the difference in habits and bearing between the average Southern and the average Northern student, fifty years ago. These young men from Georgia and Mississippi had almost always fashionable clothes and attractive manners, were often graceful dancers, and took the lead in society; but they were very apt to be indolent, dissipated, quarrelsome, and sometimes they were extremely ignorant. They were attracted here by the wide fame of Judge Story, and disappeared with the Civil War. There seemed to be almost no discipline in the Law School,—people spoke of reading law, but not of studying law,—and the students of this description did
Cambridgeport (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
eding to Somerville. On Quincy Street there was no house between Professors' Row and Broadway, and we used to play in what was said to be an old Indian cornfield, where the New Church Theological School now stands. Between Quincy Street and Cambridgeport lay an unbroken stretch of woods and open fields, and the streets were called roads,—the Craigie Road and the Clark Road, now Harvard Street and Broadway, each with one house on what was already called Dana Hill. Going north from my father'sy the region now called Harvard Square, because I knew it best; although it is worth remarking that the finest library in all Cambridge—that since bequeathed by Thomas Dowse, the leather dresser, to the Massachusetts Historical Society—was in Cambridgeport, and was constantly shown to strangers as a curiosity; and that not far from it stood our one artist's studio, that of Washington Allston. The children of Cambridge had the increased enjoyment of life that comes from country living. The f<
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
rd Square chapter is full of the former and rarer quality. Charles Lamb's celebrated description of the Christ Church hospital and school of his boyhood does not give more of the flavor of an older day. Those who refer to that chapter will see at the head a vignette of Harvard Square in 1822, taken from a sketch made at the period. It seems at first sight to have absolutely nothing in common with the Harvard Square of the present day, but to belong rather to some small hamlet of western Massachusetts. Yet it recalls with instantaneous vividness the scenes of my youth, and is the very spot through which Holmes, and Lowell, and Richard Dana, and Story the sculptor, and Margaret Fuller Ossoli, walked daily to the post-office, or weekly to the church. The sketch was taken in the year before my own birth, but remained essentially unchanged for ten years thereafter, the population of the whole town having increased only from 3295 in 1820 to 6072 in 1830. The trees on the right overs
Simond's Hill (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
there were near it the Holmes House and one or two smaller houses; up the Concord Road, now Massachusetts Avenue, there were but few; the Common was unfenced until 1830; up Brattle Street there were only the old houses of Tory Row and one or two late additions. On the south side of Brattle Street there was not a house from Hawthorn Street to Elmwood Avenue; all was meadow-land and orchards. Mount Auburn Street was merely the back road to Mount Auburn, with a delightful bathing place at Simond's Hill, behind what is now the hospital,—an eminence afterwards carted away by the city and now utterly vanished. Just behind it was a delicious nook, still indicated by one or two lingering trees, which we named The Bower of Bliss, at a time when the older boys, Lowell and Story, had begun to read and declaim to us from Spenser's Faerie Queene. The old willows now included in the Casino grounds were an equally favorite play-place; we stopped there on our return from bathing, or botanizing, o
Dana Hill (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
. Between Quincy Street and Cambridgeport lay an unbroken stretch of woods and open fields, and the streets were called roads,—the Craigie Road and the Clark Road, now Harvard Street and Broadway, each with one house on what was already called Dana Hill. Going north from my father's house, there were near it the Holmes House and one or two smaller houses; up the Concord Road, now Massachusetts Avenue, there were but few; the Common was unfenced until 1830; up Brattle Street there were only thr less regular and decorous return. The outlying settlement of East Cambridge, oftener called Lechmere's Point, was more rarely visited; but when we went to Boston it was by taking Morse's hourly and passing through the then open region, past Dana Hill, to the Port, where we sometimes had to encounter, even on the stage-box, the open irreverence of the Port chucks, who kept up a local antagonism now apparently extinct. Somehow, I do not know why, the Port delegation seemed to be larger and m
Mount Auburn (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
d Dana Hill. Going north from my father's house, there were near it the Holmes House and one or two smaller houses; up the Concord Road, now Massachusetts Avenue, there were but few; the Common was unfenced until 1830; up Brattle Street there were only the old houses of Tory Row and one or two late additions. On the south side of Brattle Street there was not a house from Hawthorn Street to Elmwood Avenue; all was meadow-land and orchards. Mount Auburn Street was merely the back road to Mount Auburn, with a delightful bathing place at Simond's Hill, behind what is now the hospital,—an eminence afterwards carted away by the city and now utterly vanished. Just behind it was a delicious nook, still indicated by one or two lingering trees, which we named The Bower of Bliss, at a time when the older boys, Lowell and Story, had begun to read and declaim to us from Spenser's Faerie Queene. The old willows now included in the Casino grounds were an equally favorite play-place; we stopped t
William Wells Newell (search for this): chapter 3
hy, the Port delegation seemed to be larger and more pugnacious, as Dr. Holmes has pointed out, than the sons of professors and college stewards; and something of this disparity was found, even in Old Cambridge, between the town boys, who represented the village contingent, and the Wells boys, who were mostly the sons of the aforesaid college worthies, and who went to the private day-school and boarding-school of William Wells, in the rambling old house still occupied by his grandson, William Wells Newell, opposite Elmwood Avenue. I can well remember the wide berth I was accustomed to give, as one of the younger Wells boys, to our late excellent fellow-citizen, Alderman Chapman, the rather aggressive leader of the other party; and it was pleasant to me in later years, never quite outgrowing this early shyness in his presence, to see all spoilsmen and tricksters fighting equally shy of that admirable citizen. It may be hastily assumed that in this primeval period Cambridge was the mo
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