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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 13 (search)
sibly associate with him was a sketch in a newspaper bearing the somewhat meaningless title The last shake, suggested by watching the withdrawal of the last man with a hand-cart who was ever allowed to shake carpets on Boston Common. He was, no doubt, a dusty and forlorn figure enough. But to Hale's ready imagination he stood for a whole epoch of history, for the long procession of carpet-shakers who were doing their duty there when Percy marched to Lexington, or when the cannonade from Breed's Hill was in the air. Summer and winter had come and gone, sons had succeeded their fathers at their work, and the beating of the carpets had gone on, undrowned by the rising city's roar. At last the more fastidious aldermen rebelled, the last shake was given, and Edward Everett Hale wrote its elegy. I suppose I kept the little newspaper cutting on my desk for five years, as a model of what wit and sympathy could extract from the humblest theme. Another stroke was of quite a different char