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Chapter 4: literature as a pursuit

Longfellow graduated at Bowdoin College in June, 1825. There was in his mind, apparently, from the first, that definiteness of purpose which is so often wanting when a student takes his first college degree. There was for him no doubt or hesitation: it must be literature or nothing; and this not merely from a preference for the pursuit, but from an ambition, willingly acknowledged, to make a name in that direction. He writes to his friend, George W. Wells, ‘Somehow, and yet I hardly know why, I am unwilling to study any profession. I cannot make a lawyer of any eminence, because I have not a talent for argument; I am not good enough for a minister,—and as to physic, I utterly and absolutely detest it.’ Even a year before this, he had written to his father a letter of some moment, dated March 13, 1824, containing the following ominous passage: ‘I am curious to know what you do intend to make of me,— whether I am to study a profession or not; and if so, what profession. I hope your ideas upon ’

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