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Chapter 1: Cambridge and Newburyport

To Miss Nancy Storrow:

May 17, 1844
Dear Aunty:
It was strange to me to reappear in Cambridge society after four years absence. Of course one half the people were the same under whose shadow or by whose side I grew up, and the other half entirely new arrivals. Especially the youthful beaux were mysteries to me. Whence had they arisen, all decked in white cravats, too? . . . Yet I seemed to recognize in each smooth face lineaments not unfamiliar, and I grant the soundness of the system revealed to me by Maria Fay.1 There is no difficulty in the case, she says; by living in Cambridge a few years you get the run of the families and then recognize each new set of youths by their resemblance to their elder brothers! With regard to the little ambling Palfreys. I have reason to think the public misled. I myself have set down Miss Sarah's age (in bonnet and cloak) at threescore and ten, but [2] she glides back into youth in a ballroom; and as for Anna, she is like the youngest Miss Pecksniff —— a regular “gushing thing.” Railroads are feeble images to describe their conversational powers, but their styles are different. Sarah languishes onward with the tremulous impetus of a forty-car freight train; Anna spins ahead like a lively young locomotive racing homeward, upsetting countless urchins (in white cravats) without mercy; and finally, after sundry jolts, bringing up breathlessly, with a smiling bump, against some impassable barrier, and starting thence again with scarce a respite. I could talk to Sarah; she fixed her (rather pretty) dark eyes on me and we meandered over past years, but with Anna I could only let her talk on, lean against the wall, and chuckle inwardly. But she is pretty, fresh, rosy, bright-eyed, and walks a queen among her admirers.

...

This, of course, prepared the way for the Palfrey gala. To return thither. When I say that Mr. Sibley [the college Librarian] went, you will perceive at once that we “mixed some.” But there were all the aristocratic Boston cousins of Mrs. Dean P., whose carriages rumble daily past my windows; there was Miss Everett waltzing with Montgomery Ritchie, old Mr. Otis's handsome grandson; and there was Miss Loring, the musical young lady who went mad after Ole Bull; and there were the distinguished Miss Carys, one of whom hath smiled on Mr. Felton; and there was Jane Norton [sister of Professor Norton] in all her loveliness, gazed at by freshmen with an ardor that [3] might have troubled her gentle Edmund. And there was the supper table-ahl the lobster salad, the Charlotte Russe, the champagne! How the portly professors flocked into the room! I followed after with Sarah Hale [sister of Edward Everett Hale], whose eyes grow brighter yearly, I believe. .. . But to cross the room among the aldermen and instructors was no slight task. ...

To conclude statistically, 225 people were invited, about 100 went and stayed from nine to twelve. Here endeth the legend.

The description of the Palfrey sisters recalls the fact that Miss Sarah, at the age of seventy-five, took morning spins around Fresh Pond on her tricycle.

Fifteen years later, in April, 1861, Mr. Higginson wrote his mother of the Misses Palfrey's father, who was then postmaster of Boston:

Why have Dr. Palfrey's previous pursuits especially prepared him to be a postmaster? Because he has always been a Man of Letters;--Mr. Haven, the Antiquarian Librarian, who said this, says that Dr. Palfrey complains much of poverty, and that his history, which he hoped to make profitable, had not paid its expenses. But he was always rather querulous, I believe.

This Cambridge is a pretty pleasant place to live in, after all. I continue to be a sort of pariah, an outcast of the world; but then I bear it patiently and humbly, and when I meet a freshman with his black coat on, I look up respectfully, as much as to say, “I know it, [4] my dear sir, I know it; I have not so good a right as you to walk about and look as if I were a member of society — but I pray you to let me pass — I am very harmless,” and they generally comply.


From Divinity Hall Wentworth wrote his mother about the graduation exercises:

July 19, 1845
. . The Exercises in the morning were . . . good; almost every fellow did better than I expected. ... Elderly ministers sniffed at radical sentiments, young ones smiled at conservative ditto, and Theodore Parker sneered (at least so imagined) at a severe criticism on Strauss. Affianced damsels looked down blushingly when their several betrotheds came up, and looked up smilingly when the same gentlemen went down. There were at least half a dozen of these interesting damsels, from the queenly Anna Shaw down to Henry Bond's little Woburn rustic; each had reason to be gratified and doubtless each had no doubt which young hero won most laurels. This is the latest form of chivalry — intellect and beauty reciprocally admiring and admired. I fear it will be several years ere those halls witness such another display of either. It is really a superior class, yet, my hopes from it are, for one reason and another, not large. I had the pleasure of introducing myself to my beloved Sunday-School teacher, Samuel May, who really seemed gratified thereat. Then there was a dinner in Harvard Hall, a procession to which was marshalled by Dr. Pierce. We heard, “Brethren, attention,” shouted as if by a superhuman [5] hippopotamus or other aerial loud-voiced beast floating above us, and behold, it was the white-haired old Doctor whose voice had raised the echoes. He is great to see on these occasions, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race — few of the graduating class have a step so elastic or a voice so strong. The dinner was like Commons dinners usually; there is a beautiful equality about these things — the most superb sumptuous collegiate festivals and the everyday “prog” of the cheap table meet on the common ground of two-pronged forks and dark brown geological plum-puddings. However, Dr. Dewey was not there and country ministers have good digestions. . .. I sat with Edward Hale, Sam Longfellow, and [James] Richardson, perhaps the three pleasantest persons in the room. The latter I am going to send you to preach Sunday, July 27 .... If he does n't astonish you I'm mistaken; he's a man of decided genius and great refinement, but has a crack somewhere in his caput; his preaching has been liked by the vulgar. I have never heard it — you must n't settle him. He looks like a Banished Lord.


In 1847 Higginson made sundry visits at Newburyport preparatory to settling there as pastor of the Unitarian Church. In letters to his mother he introduces some of his future parishioners.

March 5, 1847
My second visit to Newburyport was singularly analogous to the first. Then the state of matters overhead [6] made going to church impossible-this time ditto ditto underfoot ....

The week had been radiantly beautiful. Saturday was a snow softening into rain — pleasant prospect. Sunday the sun rose triumphant, however, but what was my horror on finding a state of slosh compared to which the direst experiences of Boston, Cambridge, or Brattleboroa are peace and pavement! A few undaunted females were seen picking their way hen-like along, sadly drabbled as to skirts, while anxious men were seen in all directions jumping across puddles and plumping into the middle of deeper ones. I was starting with anxious boots myself when a sleigh floated down the street and Mr. Noyes requested me to wait for his return trip. Of course the audience was not much . . . greater than the Sunday before, and great were the lamentations, of course, of the saddened parish committee. ...

. . George C. came for me before tea. It was bright and beautiful, and I saw more of the place than I had before. We rode up the fine long street joining Newbury and Newburyport, past Lord Timothy's house with the statues in front, etc., etc.; and by and by got to the [Artichoke] Mills. I had heard of the place before, but had no conception of its beauty even in winter. What must the ravine and grove be in summer!-the superb elm, and the delightful old-looking buildings — so refreshing to see anything old. Mrs. C[urson] and the two damsels received me most cordially and I felt quite at home. One of the happiest families I ever saw. ... It was a glorious moon and [7] yet mild, and we went outside the door a little. Oh, so lovely with the fields of snow and the dark shadows and two white rivers I have seldom been so enchanted with any place at first sight, and I agreed with Ellery's [Channing] remark on the same: “Still, if you should walk there you would go there again.” Instantly Newburyport stock rose fifty per cent in my mind.


One of the first families visited was named Tracy.

We talked away after tea — about Whittier, who lives five miles off and whom they admire much. The story of his first introduction to them is good; some time after Mr. Tracy's insane book of “Miniature Romances” was published, a man knocked at the door one morning. Mr. Tracy opened it and was saluted with “Friend, how does thee do — my name's John Whittier. I have read thy book and wanted to see thee.” So he came in and made a very pleasant visit.

. . . It was pleasing to see these old people living so peaceably on, existing principally in books and seeming so happy.


About his neighbor, Whittier, he wrote again in the same year:

You will be interested to hear of a visit I made Whittier the other day. . . . He had taken up the vague notion of annexing all Mexico and seemed to Lord it in a very loose way too; even said more war would be better than making peace and getting slave territory, though I could n't make out how that was to help the matter. He was n't great on that tack, anyway — on [8] literary matters better. ... He had plenty of humor and talks very freely, making us feel very easy; gave a rich account of a come-outer who came in to their “First day meeting.”

And later in 1849:

The Whittiers were very cordial to us, and I feel sure we shall know more of them. He is, perhaps, the most attractive poet I have known. Mr. Longfellow's polished gentlemanliness can be spared; and though he has not James Lowell's easy brilliancy, he yet makes himself very agreeable, and has the cordiality and affectionateness which J. R. L. wants. The difficulty with the latter is that, however kind and familiar, he never appears the least dependent on any one, or to care to hear the opinion or feeling of another — never to go beyond the sphere of his own thoughts and those of his wife — to hold the world off at arm's length as it were; which, however agreeable to himself, is no way pleasant to others. Now Whittier is willing to put others on a level with himself and make himself very entertaining too — a lovable person decidedly, I should think.

These notes are taken from a journal of the same date:

Talk with Whittier... Among other talk was mentioned Wright's attack on Garrison in the “Chronotype.” . . . “It is essentially true what he says of garrison,” said he. “I know him thoroughly, and know that he is a despot. . . . Garrison identifies the [9] movement absolutely with himself. He is a Robespierre with the same perfect self-consecration and the same absolute incapacity of tolerating those who differ from himself; his course has been from the beginning that of Robespierre, stopping short of bloodshed.”

“It may be partially so,” said I; “but he has been placed in a trying position. At the beginning he stood with remarkable prominence as undisputed sole head of the movement, and he has retained up to this time precisely that position.” ...

“He has been so,” said he, “because he would be so.”

“Not wholly that,” replied I, “for the place has been conceded to him by persons in all external advantages his superior — Wendell Phillips, Mrs. Chapman, E. Quincy.”

“From Phillips,” said Whittier, “that deference is something, but not from Mrs. Chapman. She has been Garrison's evil genius and acted through him her own plans.”

I protested against this and spoke strongly of her power, her magnetic influence, her appearance, etc.

“Ah,” said he, very earnestly, and sighing also, “she once had that power over me, but she lost it forever long since. She has great power, no doubt of that. But I have seen that face of hers look as I never saw another woman look, and such that I never wish to see it again. It was in those trying times, and she had just written me a letter, expressing the strongest regard and confidence in me — stronger than there was any [10] need of expressing. We afterwards met and conversed, and after she had spoken in the strongest terms of denunciation of others . . . sparing no term of opprobrium,--liars and thieves, for instance,--I turned upon her and said, “Thee has heaped all this reproach upon my friends — how do I know that thee will not go to some one else and use the same language of me? Thee has written me a letter expressing more confidence than I ask for, and thee treats me accordingly now;--when I have just seen a letter from thee to--(W. did not say the name) in which thee says of me, “As to Whittier, he is either a fool or a knave.” And thee cannot deny it!” I never saw a face,” said Whittier, “that looked as hers did then; the beauty had all vanished, and she looked more like a demon than a woman. And I have never wished to see her face again.”

“ And all,” said he, “because I would not join them in a crusade against those men. I could not do it. . . I never could or would be a member of any clique.”

“ Ah,” said he, after a pause, “I have long ceased to expect that because men are reformers, they will therefore be better than other people. They are just the same.”

I have written this conversation down as nearly as possible as it passed, from my perfect confidence in Whittier. . . . I am sorry to hear it, but it may not be necessarily inconsistent with the grand qualities which I have admired in Mrs. Chapman.

He afterwards added, “I told her also that to make use of private letters, as she did, in public controversy, [11] was something I would never be guilty of in any cause.”

I remember [hearing] long ago that Mrs. Chapman and Whittier were not on speaking terms; but I never heard him mention her before.

Long afterward I adverted to this subject with Wendell Phillips (December, 1851). He said: “We never accused Whittier of any dishonorable conduct — he showed only timidity. He was identified with us and had much weight; he knew the whole case, knew that right was on one side and wrong on the other; he agreed with Mr. Garrison in the opinions for which he was cast off, he had no right to stand aloof and call it neutrality.”

Higginson alluded to these dissensions in his life of Whittier and said, “It is needless to explore these little divergences of the saints.”

An early letter speaks of the newly married Lowells.

October, 1845
I am sorry you are not going to hear Ole Bull. I came very near seeing him in private last Thursday evening at James Lowell's where a select circle was invited to see him. Mrs. Putnam was there . . . Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Weiss, Mr. Owen (not of Lanark, but “our publisher” ), and one or two others scraped extempermently together. The Lion from the North was to have walked out of Boston at 6 P. M. with John Hopper (Mrs. Child's and Levi's friend), but he appeared not, being lost in Cambridgeport lanes, we supposed. I was sorry, for J. R. L. says he is a charming [12] person to know, so simple and natural and fresh. . . . Nevertheless it was a pleasant evening. I wanted to become acquainted with Mrs. Putnam, but Mr. Longfellow stood in the way — between two such linguists one yet imperfect in his Swedish has no chance. Maria Lowell is not less lovely than Maria White, however, and I so seldom emerge from my cell that it was agreeable; there are so seldom gatherings of intellectual people here, too, in this Athens of America. We are in a forlorn state hereabouts, I think, in more ways than one.


The next reference to the Lowells was made in 1846:

Ere long Maria came up and glided gently in at the door. James looked round with his face so radiant, put his arms around her and seated her in the big chair he had been in. Then sat down close to her and gazed in her lovely face, and as we talked put his hand gently on hers and called her “dearest” and “darling,” and seemed perfectly to idealize her, and I felt that their relation in poetry was cold and barren compared to that in their daily life and I was happy to be with such lovely beings. But alas! Maria has a sad cough. Oh, what a misfortune it would be for the world if she were to pass away....

Maria talked more than I ever heard her before and I should never wish her to stop. She apologized for the aspect of James's room, but said it was much worse before he was married, at any rate. Whereupon James averred that she was like Admiral Van Tromp who carried a broom at his masthead.

[13]

November 18, 1858
. . It is remarkable that James Lowell was . . . entirely unprepared for Maria L.'s death until a few days previous; she had been so frail so long, and he was so unable to entertain the thought of her departure. He was entirely overwhelmed by it and saw no one for several days, I believe; but he is of an elastic nature, and who could mourn long for one like her in heaven?


May, 1854
. . He [Lowell] told some pleasant things which he might have put into his “Fireside tales” but for the feelings of some now living — as of Dr. Waterhouse living in same house with his father-in-law, they hating each other mortally. The latter was bedridden and never knew that Dr. W. lived in the house, for Dr. W. used to walk in daily after breakfast, with hat, coat, and cane, inquire after the old gentleman's health and walk out again, into his own part of the house, there to disrobe himself. J. R. L. thinks that out of all the ex-ministers in Cambridge, a new crop of oddities is ripening.... Finally, he said, to my great regret, that M-. R-. is very intemperate, driven to it, he thinks, by his wife (that “poor little ting” ); but he says he is never so elegant in his manners as when inebriated.

I saw Charles Dana [later editor of the New York Sun ] at Redding's and had some talk. He looks finely and was gay as usual, but I never feel entirely at ease with him — his comers are too clearly defined. [14] He is going to leave Brook Farm, but was indignant at the notion of having relaxed his hold on the associative principles and spoke with great emphasis on that — he is not going into business. ... He may be going to take Miss [Margaret] Fuller's place in the “Tribune” ; he has certainly been wonderfully successful as an editor.


Sundry letters to an old friend of the Divinity School days, Sam Johnson, were written from Newburyport.

June, 1847
Dear Sam:
. . . I feel much troubled about the Irish emigrants. A strong popular feeling is rising about them here, I fear, and destined to rise higher: the native Americans did all they could to provoke them the other night, and finally broke the windows of the Cathedral at Charlestown. This feeling is natural and unavoidable, and I see no remedy but an extended system of emigration.


January, 1848
Dear Sam:
. . .Can you suggest any plan for selling some of my sermons in Salem? Mr. Whipple, the publisher, wants to do so, but doesn't know how. It's hardly worth offering to a bookseller who is not a Free-Soiler, and is there any Free-Soil Reading-Room now extant? The price is six cents single, five dollars per hundred, or five cents wholesale. Perhaps some people would [15] like it for self and friends. All I ask of you is to advise.


March, 1848
. . I should like to see you, Sam, to talk over sundry matters of interest. The last two months experience, perfectly prosperous as it has been, has yet fanned brighter a good many of my doubts as to the existing old bottles into which we are pouring new wine. The more clearly I see, the more fervently I surrender myself to, the new impulse that is come on the world, the new dawning Age of Faith, the more I am penetrated with the inspiration of this great period of commencing Reconstruction;--the more I find everywhere ground of discontent in all our existing religious and ecclesiastical forms. Say what you please, they are of the past; they are not, to be sure, cumbrous, very bad; they are to some extent plastic to new Life; but the new impulse demands a fresh organization to vivify. ... For myself I have tried as hard to make all the forms of my position pliable, serviceable even, as could any one. I have simplified them as much as possible; but had I known beforehand what they would be and how irksome, oftentimes, I think I should never have been permanently settled.


June, 1848
Dear Sam:
. . . I wanted particularly to have your sympathy in Boston when I was led so unexpectedly (as you may have heard) into taking a somewhat presumptuous [16] position which you would have appreciated more than any one who was there. I refer to what you may probably have heard of, my remarks at the Ministerial Conference on Thursday.

I wanted you there, for I felt that I was pleading our cause. There had been much discussion, with this question at the bottom of all — are we to be a sect or take a step toward catholicism? Channing and Parker had spoken for their contemporaries. I told them I rose to speak for the young, and showed how ill they had done their duty to us; how little they had done for us; how they had estranged us and made us feel alone. I showed that they had shown us nothing positive; not a creed, not a practical position,--not a catholicity in both respects. Certainly not the last, for I said there was not a young man in the body who had been encouraged by his elders to think freely and speak freely! Nay, we could not even choose our own Class Preacher at Cambridge! (This made a sensation -indeed, it was all listened to and there were a great many there.) I told them the one thing that interested us in them was the capacity we saw in them of being better than they were — the vanguard of the noble catholic, reconstructive movement. But that they could never be so long as they rallied round a single theological negation, and held conventions with invitations rigidly limited to those of “our denomination,” etc.- In short, Sam, I spoke what I knew to be deep in your heart and mine, and more or less in that of others; I know I spoke strongly, and Fred Knapp, a good witness, said I spoke none too much. [17] Business was waiting to come up afterwards and it was almost the end of the (adjourned) meeting, so there was no public comment on what I had said, and I had to come away and rush to the cars soon after; but I know I must have done good; and at all events showed them how the current was setting.


To his mother, the young minister wrote weekly chronicles of his experiences.

Newburyport, Sunday, December 28
Dearest Mother:
My days, this month, are so busy that it is hard to describe a thing two days old, but you will want to hear about the Christmas tree, which grew, glittered, and disappeared in great prosperity.

. . .For two or three dollars I had bought toys enough at a wholesale store in Boston to supply all the children that good King Herod slew; and the Andrews maidens . . had collected basket on basket of more substantial presents; the piano was populous with little blue and gray legs and radiant with red and yellow speckled hands with no perceptible fingers. For, as you must know, all statistics fail in the presence of Irish children; and there was no guessing, up to the day and hour itself, how many presents would be wanted. The only plan which seemed rational was to write a list of children to be invited and then double the number; so we began with thirty-five and expected seventy. . . . Then there were children to be invited and elder sisters to be excluded, and other children to [18] be got out of the mill, and solar lamps to be borrowed; and Jane and Caroline [Andrews] only half through special mittens for special pets, thought of at the last moment and gaping for thumbs ....

The children were invited at three; that the majority came soon after one, it is needless to say. ... Oh, how shall I tell the next event? I was beneath the tree arranging the light behind it-one shriek burst from a dozen lips. I looked up . . . the tree swept away from above my head and fell upon its face with all its wealth of glory, and this at 3 P. M. I Will you believe that absolutely nothing was injured save a dozen eggs out of fifty, and one toy? Fortunately no lamps were lighted and no children were there.

...

By half-past 5 they were all dispersed, and then came in a few aristocratic infants, . . . whom Greta briefly designated as “the whooping-cough children,” before excluded for fear of that disorder. . . . That closed the pageant — the poor Christmas tree resigned its glories, with nothing to look forward to but the doom touchingly recorded by Hans Andersen in the story of the “Fir tree” (ours was a pine); . . . Jane2 and Caroline went with me to the evening school and taught with their wonted energy; Mrs. Andrews doubtless sat up till after midnight, as usual, sewing for her own children or somebody's else, while Mr. Andrews read the Newburyport Herald or talked [19] on in a low, monotonous undertone, or locked doors and windows twice over and then retired.


Mr. Higginson's outspoken views on slavery finally led to his resignation.

Newburyport, September, 1849
This letter opens very much like any other letter, but it has some novel things to say — things which affect Mary's and my own coming days, which are cloud and sunshine as one chooses to see them. We think them sunshine, and so we hope and trust will you, when you hear the whole.

... The discontents in the parish, created last winter, slumbering through the summer, but not, as I hoped, dead, have been blown into flames again by the necessity I was under of speaking my mind on Fast Day, and the consequences are a crisis which we were -most happily — ignorant of and have only gradually learned, and leave but one course open for us.

Several of the leading and richest men, who talked of leaving last winter, are resolved upon it now; minor ones propose to follow; and even my friends feel grave when they look forward and fancy a gradual procession of staunch members retiring one by one, leaving at last a dozen come-outers in the gallery and one more in the pulpit. My (masculine) supporters are in a numerical minority and a woeful pecuniary minority, and there is a general opinion that “Mr. Higginson ought to know the state of affairs.” No one was, however, willing to take that office . . .. but kind old Mr. Wood [20] (with a heart divided between General Taylor and me) came at last voluntarily and told the whole story; which, indeed, had been previously bursting upon us for a day or two.

It was evident to me at once, on cross-examining him, that the case was hopeless; that the other storm had blown over, but this would not ....

Well — the end of it is that instead of waiting longer to give my six-months notice, we have resolved to give it on the anniversary, a week from next Sunday... bid adieu to Essex Street, pack our bulky goods in a loft till wanted again, and — now comes the sugar

Take lodgings at the Mills!

This martyrdom in the nineteenth century, dearest Mother, is a singular thing; and if you had lived in a narrow street for two years, and just come back withal from as many weeks at the Mills,3 you would know how singular. I have no doubt, if you could look into our hearts at this moment, that you would be indignant at us (even you) for not sympathizing sufficiently in our own misfortunes. But sincerely, if you knew how I especially have longed for this release from a life which did not content me; and how unworthy it has seemed of rational beings to continue living in Essex Street when they could live at the Mills; and other such things which are very familiar to us, you would willingly consent to our being, not noble martyrs, but (the much more commonplace character) contented and merry human beings! [21]

For the year to come, at all events, we feel secure. ... We two can float lightly on the stream; and we are sure of as much money as many laboring families live on, even without doing anything.

Of course I regret the change for the people, for I know how many will feel it. ... But whatever influence I have had over the young people will be a permanent thing, and I shall be able to renew it hereafter.

. . . After all, what is all I have been telling you but one of the sudden changes of weather to which our climate is liable, and which it requires but a small development of spiritual health to disregard? Mary and I never notice the east wind; why should we notice this? We are safe on the moral side, safe on the material, and why not be contented and happy? We are.


September 18, 1849
Well, Sunday I offered my resignation in due form. Most expected something of the sort, though some old ladies did go home in tears declaring that “they did n't expect this,” and “somebody ought to have told them.” I tried to soften all and not exasperate, and succeeded; . .. It produced a very favorable effect all round, and some have taken occasion to declare themselves my friends of whom I did not expect it, especially Mr. Morss, the editor and thinker-general for Newburyport, who has always fought my views vigorously, though cherishing a “sneaking kindness” for me personally. Indeed, now that it is settled, there are symptoms of a sort of reaction, and the murmur of [22] previous discontent is drowned by the chorus of female wailing ....

The state of sentiment among the ladies of the Pleasant Street Society, wedded and single, is peculiar, unanimous, and need not be dwelt upon. Let Anna [his sister] imagine herself in their situation-what would you say or do to the men, my dear? Husbands and fathers have to hold their tongues at home, I fancy, and go and let it out at the Reading-Room.


Artichoke Mills, October, 1849
. . You ought to have the earliest news of our escape from the perils of fatigue, falling furniture, and others incident to moving and final happy transfer to this golden valley of Indian-summer leaves and sunlight. ... There is the most wonderful cascade of yellow leaves along the drooping boughs of the lovely elm that veils our south window, and a yellow grove glistens against the blue water of the Merrimack on the western side; while far away some red oaks set off the faint outline of hill and sky. Inside we have found abundant room . . . and all the class of words, of which “cosy” is the type, rise naturally to the lips on entering it. .... As for Essex Street the last “relic or deed” has been removed and the key surrendered to Mr. Frawth-num [Frothingham] (this is the accurate Newburyport pronunciation)....

Up here we are quite bewildered by the calm that succeeds the storm. It is pleasant to go or stay with a sense of secure possession and not have to husband every moment quite so avariciously; to float among [23] the floating garden of gorgeous leaves which in little clusters overspread the little river, and after trying to count the infinite variety of shapes that are scattered together, feel that one can come back and count more to-morrow; pleasant to realize that the sun will not set to-night only over those quiet hills of West Newbury, and that the frosty dew will glisten every morning. We feel no hurry but that of Nature, who is slowly and surely harvesting every leaf, so that for her gold as for the poorer of California one must look soon or it will be gone. In presence of these things, however, town life seems the merest dream, and it appears a conventionalism only in us when we recognize any world beyond this valley.


The following spring he wrote, still in love with “the Mills” :

. .. That subterranean fire in Nature of which Thoreau speaks seems very near the surface; the buds and catkins are unusually large; we bring in alder blooms, in their winter dress, stiff and black, nearly an inch long, and the water soon brings them out, till they droop to long yellow tresses and then let fall their powdery seeds. We have tried the birch catkins also, but their time is later and they have not yet come out. Meanwhile even outdoors the little muddy lichen-cups rise under the snow, and overhead the oaks and beeches have still a perpetual summer in their withered leaves. There are no pines very near us, but the groves on the point across the river show now in their native greenness, now white with snow, now green with mist. [24]

About his friend, Levi Thaxter, Higginson wrote his mother:

Levi popped in, on his way to the Shoals. He and Mr. Leighton have bought the most beautiful of the islands; are going to bring it under cultivation, have a boarding-house for invalids and aesthetic visitors, and do something to civilize the inhabitants of the other islands. It is really quite the “Locksley Hall” idea “to burst all links of habit,” etc. He is in high spirits with the plan.

Again he wrote in 1849:

We had last week a visit from Levi: . . he lives in a house by himself with his man John, a native, inseparable from him — like Robinson Crusoe precisely and very happy. You should have heard his accounts of his cooking and other experiences and our shouts of laughter. He had been down to Watertown to help fit out Jonas [Thaxter] for California! What a nice place for disposing of all odd sticks that is!--all except Levi, perhaps.

Later the Higginsons spent several days at the Shoals, where Unitarian clergymen were congregating and where the Reverend John Weiss and his host were making things lively.

Meantime little Weiss is uttering all sorts of maledictions; he declares Sam [Longfellow] and I depressed him merely because we preached on Sunday; but I wonder what you would think of his depression. Never [25] a schoolboy in vacation was so full of glee, and his wild pranks with Levi are perpetually startling us, day and night. At night they have fireworks and get up at midnight blazing explosions on the staircase, with a mock alarm of fire, extinguished by themselves, with immense shouting and triumph, “with real water.” By day, the sudden shrieking of a child is heard from Weiss's room. We are astounded, while Levi rushing up reappears with the little man in his arms, his wonderful face contorted into an entirely infantile wretchedness. And so they go on. Weiss has the most beautifully expressive face I have ever seen; in fact his whole body is so small that the expression crowded into every part is more intense than any common person's utmost power; his shoulders say more than most people's mouths, and his glee and drollery are infinite; he takes the most enthusiastic delight in Maria Fay's and Mr. Angier's nightly singings, and his magnificent face is as good a part as any. I think I never knew anybody who made such an impression of genius; and this intense fun and diablerie, which is somewhat repressed among parishioners, works itself all out with Levi of whom he is very fond. We stay at Levi's. ... At the hotel are other clerical gentlemen. ... Celia Leighton looks twenty, though barely fifteen; she has entirely lost her affectation and her beauty and become a plain modest girl: she is thought highly of by her school-mistress and others, but shows no positive traits.

[26]

Artichoke Mills, August 1850
Dearest Mother:
We left ... Appledore last Thursday; having got through one storm, but with the prospect of another. It creates a singular feeling to know for twenty-four hours that you cannot get away from a place; it is an experience I have very rarely had, having commonly the command of my own feet if all else fails. But there was one day when we really could not leave the Shoals; the regular boat remaining in Portsmouth, and there being no other large enough to dare the surging sea. We had, however, no accident calling for succor from Terra Firma, and it needed more than this to depress the spirits of Mr. Weiss, James Lowell, and Levi. We had one day of glorious sea, and we were almost the whole time watching it upon the rocks.

I believe I did not tell you of our expedition to Duck Island, the largest and most solitary uninhabited island of the group: I had often watched the surf breaking over it to the northeast before reaching us, and wished to set foot on it, which can, however, only be done in calm weather. We had a day of such, and two boats of us went. It seemed a strange daring as we approached it; the long seaweed floated around the gray rocks, and the waves broke louder as we approached, more desolately and more forbidding. Seabirds sat in rows on the rocks gazing at the invaders, or soared and screamed above our heads. It was like landing on one of the Orkneys. The island is ... all rock with marshy places, full of reeds and flowers. Among the rocks the gulls make their nests of a little [27] scattered grass, or drop their eggs in the fissures at random. We found here and there an egg or a callow gray nestling, with little web feet. At last I found one half grown which had squeezed itself into a cleft of the rock and kept so still that I stepped over it as a fragment of rock, being precisely the same colors; on looking farther I found two more. Taking them up and putting them down again, they would run away till they found a cleft and then squeeze their heads in and remain perfectly still. Such were the hospitalities of the island.


A little more than a year later, Higginson wrote to his mother of Levi Thaxter's marriage to Celia Leighton, in 1851.

. . You do not fully appreciate this strange and impracticable, but chivalrous and noble person whose immediate future it is hard and even sad to predict; whose past has been wayward and perhaps useless, but aspiring and stainless. ... Levi writes a funny account of the quiet little Kittery Point minister, Reverend Seth Somebody, his survival of the voyage more easily than of Jonas's witticisms, Jonas [Thaxter] the joker, on whose every wink and word the Reverend Seth hung in ecstasy; then his palpitations at the explosion of champagne corks and the feats of his moustached colleague (little Weiss). There were present all the Appledore Islanders, including Captain Fabius Becker from Smutty Nose; all the Weisses (the baby's cradle being kept in the room adjoining), and Jonas and Lucy Thaxter. “We had a merry time,” [28] closes Levi in his letter, “and then I took my dear wife home in the beautiful night, bright and clear with stars and a growing moon.”

A letter about the Thaxters was written much later to Mrs. J. T. Fields:

Cambridge, January, 1898
Dear Mrs. Fields:
I have been reading your paper on Celia Thaxter with such pleasure that I wish to express it, and also to make one or two minor criticisms. I do not see what you mean by saying that Levi Thaxter “went as a missionary to the wild fisher folk at Star.” He was at that time my most intimate friend and we corresponded constantly. He and Weiss went, not to Star, but to the lighthouse to board with the Leightons, and were so delighted that Levi and Leighton bought Appledore (not then so named) and built the hotel — a foolish enterprise for him, it was generally thought. I don't remember his ever living at Star, and to call any interest he had in the fishermen a “missionary” feeling seems to me quite an error. He had a great fancy for them and had a special pet named John, after whom he named “John's Cove” and then his second boy, but the word “missionary,” seems to me quite out of place and to give a wrong picture of him. Should you reprint the paper I wish you would consider this.

I think that on the whole you handle the difficult subject of the relation between the two with great delicacy and substantial truth. . . . The more she plunged with eagerness into the novelty of social [29] attention, the more he shrank from it; and, moreover, devoted himself to a motherly care of the eldest boy. . . . But in youth he was a master of the revels, full of fun and frolic; and his great desire was to be an actor and he spent a year in New York studying, to his father's great dismay. You speak of his deep attachment to his parents; it may have been so to his mother, but certainly not to his father, a rather grim country lawyer whose only desire was to make Levi the same, and who clucked after him like a hen who has hatched ducks.

I dare say you got your impression partly from Celia, who, with all her vehement and delightful straightforwardness, had a tinge of the melodramatic in her descriptions, as when she always speaks of the hotel as “The great house.” . . .

I observe that you do not speak of her strong interest in spiritualism, but you probably include it in your “everywhere and patiently.”


Another friend of that period was William Henry Hurlbut, a fellow student at the Divinity School. In letters to his mother, Mr. Higginson reported some of Hurlbut's experiences abroad:

He not only was blessed by the Pope, but by the society of the Countess Ossoli [Margaret Fuller] whom he admires very much. Why she wedded her “undeveloped and uninteresting Italian” does not appear; Hurlbut says, however, “she probably married him as a representative of an imagined possibility in the Italian character which I have not yet been able to [30] believe in.” He [Count Ossolil is very handsome, of Spanish rather than Italian aspect. He speaks no English, sits at home in the evening in a military frock, and when her visitors come in, goes to a cafe. He will no doubt be thoroughly miserable in America, whither they go in a few months. . . . But above all he describes a visit to the Brownings, to whom Madame Ossoli introduced him. They live in the most charming way, in a large old palace with a great parlor in which they sit in the evening; on the one side a large fireplace with an open fire, close to which sits Mrs. Browning, almost lost in a large armchair; on the opposite side sits her husband, and between them is a third chair for a guest, as they rarely have more than one at a time. On the opposite side of the room are ranged her bookshelves full of well-thumbed books including many Greek ones in rare editions, which H. describes with gusto. The ends of the room are filled with pictures, quaint furniture, statuettes, and all kinds of things picked up by Browning in his all-observant rambles. For he is perfectly what Landor describes him in a sonnet which I had written in the beginning of H.'s Browning:

Since Chaucer was alive and hale
No man hath walked along our roads with step
So active, so inquiring eye, or tongue
So varied in discourse.

H. describes meeting him walking in the street, looking so firm, condensed, and animated, with bright eyes peering about in every direction: and this seems to be his impression of him everywhere — perfect health and [31] freshness, with no fine frenzy, but universal animation and activity. Such, I fancy, Shakespeare might have been, and I quite like to fancy Browning such. She seems frail, but well, for her, “the bold one” having won fire to transform her to health. I should have added that this great hall they live in is hung with its fine old antique tapestry and they wave round the little lady till she looks as shadowy as any of the knights and ladies there portrayed.

After Hurlbut's return, the chronicle was thus continued:

Hurlbut ... was as agreeable as only he can be. . . . Mary considered him occasionally nonsensical, but he entertained me excessively, gave me more information on all subjects than anybody else has (if I could only remember it), and told inimitable stories, which may do for future occasions to repeat to my mama.... Hurlbut, moreover, declares a year at Rome in the very gayest society to be far less perilous to a young damsel's or youth's sobriety and humility than a week in Philadelphia society or a day in Washington — so let fears be laid aside.

[He] told us, as usual, many interesting things. He saw a good deal of the Hunt family, of Brattleboroa--Mrs. H. described to him her house-painting experiences. He thought highly of William Hunt [the artist] and told us something worth repeating. W. H. came to Florence in wretched health, dispirited, indolent and self-indulgent, in danger of sinking into a mere dilettante, though in Paris he had been something more. [32] Hurlbut had an interleaved copy of Jameson's “Italian painters,” with notes by Margaret Fuller. ... In this volume there was an account of Correggio, describing his earnestness of purpose in becoming not merely a self-indulgent dabbler in art, but a regenerator of it, and the author added a complaint of the rarity of such characters, opposite which M. F. had written a note--“And yet all might be such.” This book Hurlbut lent to Hunt. Shortly after a new life seemed to spring up in him and he was wholly transformed; he became earnest, laborious, and invigorated, nor did Hurlbut understand the change till, long afterwards, Hunt referred to this book and said that slight note of M. F.'s struck a chord in him that made the moment an era in his life. This is one of the many fruits of her chance seeds.

He told us about Tennyson's marriage which you will like to hear. It seems that twenty years ago, at the time of his early volumes of poems, he wooed and won a fair maiden; won her heart, but not her head or conscience, for she was very strait in her theology and he very lax in comparison, and with all her efforts she could not bring herself to link their destinies, and so, alas, they parted. Yet she was true to him, and refused other fine offers; and so ten years passed away. Then the poet wrote to her again to ask if any change had come in their fates, and still the stern lady wrote back No. So passed ten years more, and both remained true, in their absence and silence. Then came “In Memoriam” with its inspiration and its faith, and in one week after its appearance there arrived a letter [33] from the lady, avowing her conscience set at rest at last by that wonderful book, and hinting that all barriers were now thrown down! A month more saw them united, and their first pilgrimage was to Arthur Henry Hallam's tomb.

Truly it will be a romantic story which writes the records of this generation of English poets; and this graver wooing of Tennyson's goes well by the graceful tale of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning!

Hurlbut is quite sure that he saw Tennyson, though not knowing it at the time. That is, he saw at Cheltenham a very remarkable looking man walking with a lady, whose expression seemed entirely unlike anything he had seen in England, in its ideality and intensity, and whose whole aspect corresponded entirely to the account he afterwards heard of Alfred, who also, it appeared, was at Cheltenham at that precise time!

This note to Emerson explains itself:

Artichoke Mill, July, 1850
During your absence I made a visit to your study which I would gladly have had a visit to yourself likewise. I saw several things which I coveted, and this first edition of Tennyson was especially tempting; I had pleasant memories of it and had long wished to meet it again. Emboldened perhaps, by Ellery's [Channing] daring spirit, I borrowed it, promising myself to return it in a week. Alas, that the conscience should be so hardened by time, but I have kept it six weeks, and do not feel so guilty as when I first pocketed [34] it. Perhaps the same influence may have softened your surprise at such gipsy habits, and you may accept my thanks as some equivalent.

Very respectfully yours.


In 1850 Mr. Higginson wrote from Artichoke Mills to his mother:

Don't let me forget to say that at South Hingham . . I did see one of the Betseys, and not only see but stay with, and not only a Betsey but a Betsey Cushing -but only a Mrs. B. C. I will candidly confess, not the renowned Missis. “No, ma'am,” said I, as I warmed my feet in a leisurely way at the air-tight. “I have never been in Hingham, but my mother lived here for a time.” “Why, mercy's sake, who was your mother?” was the reply. “Louisa Storrow, ma'am,” said her son with dignity. “Wha-a-t” exclaimed the excellent lady promptly, pausing halfway out of the closet with a sugar-bowl in her hand. “Why, be you Louisa Storer's son?” “Undoubtedly, ma'am,” said I modestly; “did you know her?” “Know her!” said she. “Why, she married General Lincoln's son!” Transfixed with horror, you may conceive how I disclaimed the imputation that my mother had ever demeaned herself so unutterably, though I never heard of General Lincoln except as the steamboat in which we went to Hull. I mentally paralyzed the good lady and perplexed her so utterly that she could only emerge from the closet at last where she had still grasped the sugar-bowl, and setting it down she at last amicably observed, “Well, guess I'd better get your supper first [35] and then we'll see about it.” Again and again during my visit did she renew the charge, and at last, wearied out, abandoned the theory, but only to hurt it with a final suggestion as we sat at breakfast Monday morning--“Well, it must have been your grandma.” This she regarded as a compromise which she could admit, and I left her leaning on that. But she consented to refer the matter to some mysterious aunt of her husband's, who has ere now settled the matter and explained the difference between Storer and Storrow. In other respects the Widow Cushing was a lively elderly lady with an intelligent come-outer nephew.

A letter dated February, 1850, describes the impression made on the writer by Mrs. Kemble:

I had never even seen her before, and the tones of that unequalled voice .. . and the myriad expressions of that unequalled face — perhaps I should rather say those myriad voices and faces condensed into one were all new to me.

. . . The play was the “Midsummer night's dream.” . . .

How shall I describe the immense animal spirits, the utter transformation of voice, face, and gesture, with which this extraordinary woman threw herself into the comedy. .... “Here, Peter Quince,” from a throat whose pinched meagreness the most starved day of Oliver Twist's life never could have equalled — and this on as portly a form as the country can produce, a woman whose arm could floor Mr. Tilden. And the voice matched the throat — from starvation up to the. [36] most burly and deep-chested tone, nothing escaped her.

. . . Shut your eyes, and you would wonder what theatre could command such a variety of talent, down to the least performers; open them, and the illusion was not destroyed, for her face became a different face for every person and the stage might have been covered with men and women and yet added nothing. A stout gentleman sat before me, wiping his forehead and then looking up in the gallery to find Lysander, to whom Hermia so passionately called; I smiled at him, but doubtless did the same thing. ... My pen fails, as I think of Bottom and Titania. The first interview summed it all up — nothing more could carry farther the delicious absurdity — absurdity? No, the wonder and the genius. The great oaf will not show that he is frightened, so walks up and down (you see the illusion in my using this phrase) singing his hoarse, silly song, to show that he is not afraid. Not a ray of anything but a heavy conceit in his round, staring face, not a tinge of a tune in his dull voice, he sings in a sort of hand-organ way about

The ouzel-locks, so black of hue

when-Titania wakes and with a sweet, bewildered, enraptured face, upturned to heaven with all the soul in it, and a voice of accordant tenderness-

“ What angel wakes me from my flowery bed? ” How shall I convey any impression of it? Earth and sky are not farther apart than these two parts as she gave them, and yet throughout, her delicate tact, [37] like the atmosphere, softly and gracefully united the two.

Perhaps the glory of the play lay mainly in this part of the plot. I cannot believe that it was ever given before — for on the stage the palpable grotesqueness of the asses' ears, nay, of the fairy form even, would spoil it all--'t is too airy for anything but the voice and her voice. So perfect was it from beginning to end that though I laughed to tears I have a different sensation now. As Lamb says of one of his great actors in Malvolio, there was an element of pathos in it withal, which comes up to the memory. It is folly and madness, to be sure, when we think of Bottom's sensations, but who would not be foolish or mad in the love of such a creature as Titania. ... Convulsed with laughter as those moments were, I yet look back upon them as if I had heard a requiem; and henceforth Bottom is to my mind as much a creature of pathos as Ophelia.

A letter written in May, 1850, was from Brattleboroa, Vermont, where a water-cure once flourished.

This sheet ... is written in the pride of a half-hour before breakfast, by which you are not to infer that it is possible for breakfast to be late, but for me to be early; in my mother's household nothing is irregular but the sons ...

I am looking out between my words upon a view darker blue than my Merrimack one ever is; but the mist hangs over the top of the mountain and takes off half its natural height; this is wrong; it should come [38] down and disperse below to give us good weather; but the only rule of this rainy month is that the sun always comes out when you don't expect it, and the rain when you expect the sun; so my fingers at this moment cast a shadow on the paper. .... Under these circumstances we thought it best to take all the moisture together and so we had a party of Hydropaths. Some came in tubs, others paddled in punts, and the most desperate invalids came in douches through the ceiling. We had large pails of water for supper. There was Miss Gibbs and Mrs. Greene and the very Reverend Mr. Berteau with a sharp nose, and Lieutenant Greene, of the navy, and Lieutenant Ehninger (think of that ) of the army, who was in the Mexican War (think of that!) and was wounded and left on the field for dead and afterwards made Lieutenant instead (think of that 11), and is a commonplace and uninteresting mortal, after all. .. . Hydropaths keep early hours, and even this broke up soon after ten. Thus we find resources indoors and sometimes run out between the drops. In the evening Louisa plays us songs without words and spirit waltzes and Erlkings and other things tender and terrible.

December 19, 1851
Wednesday night I lectured at Milford, Massachusetts. On the way up from Framingham . .. I observed an excitement among railroad officials about the lecture — conductor asked passengers if they were going, and brakemen asked each other if they were. As I moralized on the good effects of Lyceums among [39] the people, the conductor came along; I asked some questions which revealed me as the lecturer; then the mystery came out. “Sir,” said he, “do you know that the President of the Lyceum is absent, and the Vice-President, who will introduce you, is the engineer of this very train!” Hence the excitement among the brakemen; but the engineer turned out quite a character; he went home with me after lecture and was very agreeable, and our acquaintance ended in my riding down with him on the locomotive the next morning; as novel and exciting a steed as a man can well bestride, I assure you. In the cold frosty morning to skim over those glistening rails at the rate of twenty miles an hour with a dozen cars behind and nothing but a steam-pipe in front gives one a sense of helplessness, I assure you, though my literary friend, Mr. Jackman, reined in the monster as if it had been an enfeebled sheep.

The name of Jenny Lind, the “Swedish nightingale,” is little known to the present generation. But she had a world-wide reputation, and was perhaps the most popular public singer of her day. During her two-year American tour, she was married in Boston to Otto Goldschmidt, who was then conducting the Bach Choir. Mr. Higginson, in a letter dated February, 1852, tells his mother something about the wedding:

Mrs. Ward had known all about Jenny's betrothal for a long time (as had Mrs. John Dwight and hardly anybody else), and Jenny had always said she should drive up there some time unexpectedly and be married, [40] and so it was. She was dressed in Swedish style, at the wedding, in white muslin and veil, with a myrtle crown and small wreath of orange buds. It appears that O. G. has been attached to her for years, but she has resisted; that he came to this country at her recommendation, and he is a very agreeable and cultivated person, and Mrs. Ward liked him extremely. He is also a remarkable business man, Sam Ward thought, and had managed her concerts for some time. She is a perfectly delightful guest; goes singing up and down stairs, and sings every evening. She gave Mrs. Ward a diamond pin with diamond pendants. Her bridesmaid was little Lily Ward (the child who wanted to die so as to have a little conversation with Daniel and ask him how he really felt when in the lions' den!). The Wards have had a letter from them at Northampton in which she signs herself “Jenny Gold-schmidt-doesn't it look prettier?” --while he dates the letter as so many days “from the beginning of his life” --all which is very satisfactory; and they are to stay at Northampton till June and then sail for Europe. Also she is said not to be so rich as has been supposed, and she always expects to sing in public more or less because she would not think it right not to use her power.


March, 1851
I don't know if I have mentioned my principal crony this winter--Professor Crosby, formerly of Dartmouth. You know, perhaps, his history; how he wrote a most admirable and pungent letter to the American [41] Tract Society against endless punishment, and lost his professorship thereby. He is a man of great variety of knowledge and thought, clear, pertinacious, hard-headed, amiable, mild, but without much sentiment; and I have enjoyed him, though Mary compares him to sawdust and all kinds of dry and gritty particles. . .. He has a taste for heretics and comes to see me constantly.


These jottings are from the journal of 1852 and refer to Mr. Higginson's interest in the temperance movement. Marshal Tukey was a picturesque figure in those days, being a dashing, audacious, and most efficient police official, a terror to offenders.

In Boston, January 15.

I went to see Marshal Tukey wishing to make arrangements for a meeting between him and Mr. Neal Dow at the Temperance Convention.

He received me very cordially, remembered my face and smiled when I referred to the Sims case.

“I suppose you think,” said he, “that after working so hard in a bad cause, I ought to be ready to work in a good one.”

“I would not for $25,000 ” (he said) “have accepted an office requiring me to catch fugitive slaves — but after I had taken the office I could not draw back from any of its duties. It is so with the Maine Law — I will execute it, if required, but I would not have accepted the office with that understanding. ....”

“ If I am required by the Government to execute it, [42] I shall do so. A few weeks ago I thought they did not mean to execute it and wished accordingly to get rid of me, but I do not think so now. It can be executed, but it is no slight thing. Forty millions of capital to contend with” (he probably included distillers).

July 18.

Marshal Tukey told our Temperance men that in the course of that interview he went out and into the Mayor's [Quincy] room and mentioned to him that I was there. “Let him go to the Devil — don't have anything to do with him,” was the answer.


Also from the journal:

February 29 (1852)

Ellery said:

There was no electricity in that lecture of Emerson's on Economy — it was dull. No weather in it, no outdoors.

Emerson has no love of beauty or knowledge of it -he gave it all up after he wrote “ Nature ” --he is all humanitarianism — he is every shrewd Yankee merchant-that's what he is. He saw early that he must have a system if he wanted to make any impression — everybody was unsettled and he must be fixed.

“ In fact” (he went on, sitting on the footstool, pipe in mouth, by the stove, staring in), “nobody has any knowledge of beauty; it's the rarest thing. People all go along, just like dogs, without seeing anything in nature. It separates you directly from men, if you care anything about it; you are unsocial and puzzle them. Beauty is just as hard as Emerson is on his side, but his is the popular side — all this humanitarianism business. There is Thoreau, he knows about it — give [43] him sunshine and a handful of nuts, and he has enough.” . ..

Walking in the Joppa street . . he said, “Do you feel as if these New England people were your countrymen? I do not — the Irish and English seem to be so; they settle down at once as if they had lived here all their lives; but every New Englander looks as if he were just stopping here a minute on his way to parts unknown. A Yankee is something between a piece of tobacco and a squash pie — he's always spitting, that's the tobacco; and his complexion, that's the pie,” --so he went on.

This talk is just like Keats's letters.


1 Miss Maria Fay was one of the Cambridge belles in Higginson's youth and lived in the fine old mansion now occupied by Radcliffe College and known as Fay House.

2 The eldest of this remarkable group of sisters was Miss Jane Andrews, author of a juvenile book called Seven Little Sisters, which was translated into Chinese and Japanese.

3 The Higginsons repaired to the refuge at Artichoke Mills, where they lived for two years before going to the next parish at Worcester.

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