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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 1: childhood (search)
lege teach. To this special privilege John Greenleaf Whittier was born in Haverhill, Mass., on Dec. 17, 1807. The founder of the name and family of Whittier in t hundred pounds and of corresponding muscular strength. Later, he removed to Haverhill, about ten miles away, and built a log house near what is now called the Whit, and in which some of his descendants yet live. He was a leading citizen of Haverhill, which was for the greater part of a century a frontier village, subject to fn the town records, even to mentioning the fact that when he came to dwell in Haverhill he brought with him a hive of bees which had been willed to him by his uncle, They came in their own conveyances to Amesbury or its adjoining settlement, Haverhill, and remained for days in succession, the Whittier home entertaining sometimerming as it was practised seventy years ago, and worked faithfully on the old Haverhill homestead until, at the age of thirty years, I was compelled to leave it, gre
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 2: school days and early ventures (search)
aper in his native town of Newburyport, near Haverhill, published in the twelfth number some versesntitled The Exile's departure and signed W., Haverhill, June 1, 1826 ; verses to which the young editor appended this note, If W. at Haverhill will continue to favour us with pieces as beautiful asyouth should be sent to a better school than Haverhill then afforded. The elder Whittier did not pce between Garrison and some young ladies in Haverhill who called themselves Inquirers after truth. I. 331. Garrison wrote after the visit to Haverhill (1833), To see my dear Whittier once more, fhan I, lived three miles from the village of Haverhill, where my father's home was, and was nearly by posting the ledgers of a business man in Haverhill. Through Garrison he was offered the editorociety! Would to fortune I could come to Haverhill, before my return to Hartford — but the thinnot see it in print until he had returned to Haverhill. He wrote about himself thus frankly to M[2 more...]
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 3: Whittier the politician (search)
ith difficulty from the formidable ordeal of following the mighty Sumner: Thy address here was liked well, notwithstanding thy misgivings. Courage. Go on and prosper. Yours truly, J. G. W. And again later, in indorsement of an invitation to speak at East Salisbury (Oct. 27, 1848): We hope thou wilt aid us in this movement [it is to be noticed that he does not use the Quaker form, thee will ] as we wish to make a good demonstration. I hear a fine report of thy labour in W. Amesbury and Haverhill. Good was done. J. G. Whittier. Such kindly words from a man of forty to a callow youth of four and twenty suggest a gratitude for which time brings no forgetfulness; at least, when that man is Whittier. On April 24, 1850, Charles Sumner was elected United States Senator from Massachusetts, on the twenty-sixth ballot, by a majority of one. Whittier, who had taken his accustomed quiet but eager share in all the preliminary negotiations, wrote thus to his friend, Mrs. Lippincott,--know
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 4: Enlistment for life (search)
ome out against that whole enterprise. He received from Garrison, in 1833, an invitation to attend as a delegate the National Anti-slavery Convention, to be held in Philadelphia in December. In answer to this call, he wrote to Garrison from Haverhill, Nov. 11, 1831:-- Thy letter of the 5th has been received. I long to go to Philadelphia, to urge upon the members of my Religious Society the duty of putting their shoulders to the workto make their solemn testimony against slavery visiblte Convention for the nomination of Senators for Essex, my nomination was lost by one vote. I should have rejoiced to have had an opportunity to cooperate personally with the abolitionists of Boston. . . . Can thee not find time for a visit to Haverhill before thee go on to Philadelphia? I wish I was certain of going with thee. At all events, do write immediately on receiving this, and tell me when thee shall start for the Quaker City. Garrison's life, I. 393-94. The obstacle being remov
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 5: the school of mobs (search)
time that actual violence came near Whittier, in his own town of Haverhill, though it missed him, was after there had been established (on Ael J. May of Syracuse, N. Y., preached in the Unitarian pulpit at Haverhill and announced that he should give an antislavery address in the evening. The result is thus described by the historian of Haverhill:-- The evening meeting was entirely broken up by a mob outside, who mults of that otherwise quiet Sabbath evening. Chase's History of Haverhill, p. 505. The preacher thus mobbed was, by universal admission the other avenues being guarded, and hurried in the direction of Haverhill. In the morning they stopped to refresh themselves and their tirhe landlord told them that there had been an abolition meeting at Haverhill the night before, and that George Thompson, the Englishman, and aand mouth with wonder as they drove away. When they arrived at Haverhill they learned of the doings of the mob there, and the fortunate es
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 6: a division in the ranks (search)
anite boulder and flinty shard. Ever the Virtues blush to find The Vices wearing their badge behind, And Graces and Charities feel the fire Wherein the sins of the age expire. It is too late now to dwell on these differences. I choose rather, with a feeling of gratitude to God, to recall the great happiness of labouring with the noble company of whom Garrison was the central figure. I love to think of him as he seemed to me, when in the fresh dawn of manhood he sat with me in the old Haverhill farmhouse, revolving even then schemes of benevolence; or, with cheery smile, welcoming me to his frugal meal of bread and milk in the dingy Boston printing-room; or, as I found him in the gray December morning in the small attic of a coloured man, in Philadelphia, finishing his night-long task of drafting his immortal Declaration of Sentiments of the American Antislavery Society; or, as I saw him in the jail of Leverett Street, after his almost miraculous escape from the mob, playfully in
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 7: Whittier as a social reformer (search)
it seems a little amusing to find Whittier taking for the theme of his first prose newspaper article, Robert Burns, and for his second subject, on the following week, Temperance. These appeared in the Haverhill Gazette, the editor of which, Mr. Thayer, father of the late Professor James B. Thayer, of the Harvard Law School, was one of the earliest American editors to take up this theme. A year later Whittier writes from Amesbury, whither he had removed: I have one item of good news from Haverhill. The old distillery has had its fires quenched at last. C. has sold out, and the building is to be converted into stores. Whittier himself, as I remember well, at Atlantic Club dinners, was one of the few who took no wine among that group of authors. The attitude of Whittier toward reform agitations in general was never better shown than in his prompt response to the announcement of certain limitations placed by George Peabody on the church built largely by his money in Georgetown, M
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 11: early loves and love poetry (search)
sitively that the real object of this poem was a lady of whom Mr. Pickard thus writes in a newspaper communication since the publication of his volume. She died several years ago, the widow of Judge Thomas of Covington, Ky. She was born in Haverhill, and was a distant relative of Whittier's, her maiden name being Mary Emerson Smith. Her grandmother, Mrs. Nehemiah Emerson, was a second cousin of Whittier's father. As a girl she was often at her grandfather Emerson's, and Whittier as a boyt in 1832, but was prevented by a prospect of being elected to Congress from the Essex district. Up to the time of her marriage to Judge Thomas, Whittier's letters to her were frequent, all written in a brotherly tone, and giving the gossip of Haverhill. In one letter, written in 1832, he refers to his just published poem, Moll Pitcher, and says he has in it drawn a portrait of herself. This portrait may be found on pages 26, 27, of the poem, and it is probable that the reason why Moll Pitch
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 12: Whittier the poet (search)
one who has added to his book-lore the large experience of an active participation in the rugged toil, the hearty amusements, the trials and pleasures he describes. Whittier's origin and early life, writes Stedman, were auspicious for one who was to become a poet of the people. His muse shielded him from the relaxing influence of luxury and superfine culture. These could not reach the primitive homestead in the beautiful Merrimac Valley, five miles out from the market-town of Haverhill, where all things were elementary and of the plainest cast. The training of the Friends made his boyhood more simple, otherwise it mattered little whether he derived from Puritan or Quaker sources. Still it was much, in one respect, to be descended from Quakers and Huguenots used to suffer and be strong for conscience’ sake. It placed him years in advance of the comfortable Brahmin class, with its blunted sense of right and wrong, and, to use his own words, turned him so early away fro
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 13: closing years (search)
edy for insomnia — but it was all in vain — his was the sore disquiet of a restless brain, and he would often come down in the morning looking tired and worn from his long night of wakefulness, and say, It is of no use; the sleep of the innocent is denied me. Perhaps I do not deserve it. Claflin's Personal Recollections, p. 40. While reticent and uncomplaining to strangers, we find him through life obliged to write to friends in such phrases as these, I should have been glad to make Haverhill a visit in the winter, but the extremely delicate condition of my health has compelled me to forego that pleasure. I now think some of going next week to New York and Philadelphia, partly to escape our east winds which I dread. I think sickness has a wonderful effect in fanning into life the half-extinguished conscience. It is doubtless better for me and my friends that the hand of sickness is sometimes laid heavily upon me. Being a bad sleeper, seldom, as he said, putting a solid ba
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