At school he was generally called on when visitors were present to ‘speak his pieces’ for their edification.
It was the custom then for the boys to learn a selection of their own choosing, and to speak every Friday afternoon. At one time the teacher complained that the selections were too short.
Accordingly, several of the boys arranged to have very long ones.
committed to memory twenty pages of Scott
's ‘Marmion,’ and when his turn came, got as far, we will say, as the eighteenth, when the teacher asked how much longer he was going to speak, as there were several others to be heard from, and he did not wish to stay all night.
There were no further objections to short selections after that.
When in his teens, he belonged to several debating clubs, and was well versed in Cushing
At the age of sixteen, or thereabouts, he was Secretary
of the Cambridge Library Association, most of whose members were men of mature years.
He was connected with the Franklin Literary Association before he was twenty, and at one time was its secretary.
A Shakespeare Club of four members used to vie with each other to see who could produce the greatest volume of sound, ‘trying,’ as he used to say, ‘to raise the roof with their oratory.’
From a lad Mr. Elliot
was fond of using tools.
The Fitchburg Railroad had machine and carpenter shops near Union Square then, and he was always welcomed by the men and allowed to use any tools which he wished.
Among other things, he made the patterns and castings for a turning lathe, which he kept by him for many years.
When a small boy, he drew excellent maps and could letter them well, being self-taught.
This probably led to his entering the engineer office of Mr. Stearns
when he was eighteen, at the close of his high school course.
At school he had taken lessons in drawing, and delighted in sketching.
Several of his sketches, which are still preserved, show considerable artistic ability and much care and skill.
The same could be said of his engineering plans and charts, and of his maps.