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[283] Algiers excited the admiration of the Arabs. At Algiers, too, he took lessons in the use of a sword, and watched the movements of the French troops as he had already studied the Austrian military system in Italy. He was thus, in several ways, unconsciously preparing himself for his army life. He also became thoroughly proficient in the principal European languages, and applied himself, with his usual intellectual activity, to the study of the great monuments of art and history, drinking in, with a thirsty mind, the culture of the Old World.

During the whole two years, he was battling with his cruel disease. Yet at no time of his life, it would seem, was Lowell more captivating. Everywhere he made new friends, who were apt to think, such was the modesty of his demeanor, that they had achieved an original discovery in becoming aware of his splendid qualities.

When Lowell returned from abroad, in June, 1858, he was still too unwell to think of resuming his former trying occupation, or of living in the climate of the Atlantic coast; and he took the office of local treasurer on the Burlington (Iowa) and Missouri River Railroad. This place did not offer the kind of work he most enjoyed, and he entered on it with great self-distrust; but his success was so decided that, in the opinion of a competent authority, ‘he might, before he left, have been at the head of any railroad in the West that needed a manager.’ He remained at Burlington two years, in which time his health became gradually established, and he began to feel once more a happy confidence that he had a share in the life of this world. But though he had subdued his disease, he never ceased to be conscious of his weakness, as one feels the aching of an old wound.

In the autumn of 1860 Lowell was requested to take charge of the Mt. Savage Iron Works, an important establishment at Cumberland, Maryland. He had come to regard himself as settled at Burlington, and had grown really attached to his mode of life. But he did not hesitate to accept this opportunity of returning to his former plans. In November we find him at Mt. Savage, in a position of great responsibility, at the head

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