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r near where Professor Horsford's active imagination has established the Lief's booths of the Norse legends. There have been few moments in life which ever gave a sense of conquest and achievement so delicious as when I first clearly made my way through water beyond my depth, from one sedgy bank to another. Skating was learned on Craigie's Pond, now drained, and afterwards practiced on the beautiful black ice of Fresh Pond. We played baseball and football, and a modified cricket, and on Saturdays made our way to the tenpin alleys at Fresh Pond or Porter's Tavern. My father had an old white pony which patiently ambled under me, and I was occasionally allowed to borrow Dr. Webster's donkey, the only donkey I had ever seen. Sometimes we were taken to Nahant for a day by the seaside, and watched there the swallows actually building their nests in Swallows' Cave, whence they have long since vanished. Perhaps we drove down over the interminable beach, but we oftener went in the steamb
before he is two years old; but he himself said, later, of this precocious teaching that it was sad stuff, and that by haste to make him a clever fellow he had very nearly become a stupid one. My mother made a memorandum in regard to my elder sister, She knows all her letters at three, and of me that at four I had already read a good many books. I still preserve a penciled note from a little playmate, the daughter of a professor, saying, I am glad you are six years old. I shall be four in March. My own daughter could not have written that note when she was seven, and yet she learned to read and write at that age almost without conscious effort. I cannot see that my contemporaries either gained or lost anything by this precocious instruction; and perhaps, in the total development of a child's mind, the actual reading of books plays a much smaller part than we imagine. Probably the thing of most importance, even with books, as an experienced Boston teacher once said, is to have be
December 22nd (search for this): chapter 3
ily transportable, since you can pile the few supreme authors of the world in a little corner of the smallest log cabin. The Cambridge of my boyhood--two or three thousand peopleafforded me, it now seems, all that human heart could ask for its elementary training. Those who doubt it might, perchance, have been the gainers if they had shared it. He despises me, said Ben Jonson, because I live in an alley. Tell him his soul lives in an alley. I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 22,--1823, in a house built by my father at the head of what was then called Professors' Row, and is now Kirkland Street, --the street down which the provincial troops marched to the battle of Bunker Hill, after halting for prayer at the gambrel-roofed house where Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes was born. My father's house — now occupied by Mrs. F. L. Batchelder--was begun in 1818, when the land was bought from Harvard College, whose official he had just become. Already the Scientific School an
born. My father's house — now occupied by Mrs. F. L. Batchelder--was begun in 1818, when the land was bought from Harvard College, whose official he had just become. Already the Scientific School and the Hemenway Gymnasium crowd upon it, and the university will doubtless, one of these days, engulf it once more. My father came of a line of Puritan clergymen, officials, militia officers, and latterly East India merchants, all dating back to the Rev. Francis Higginson, who landed at Salem in 1629, in charge of the first large party for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and who made that historic farewell recorded by Cotton Mather, as his native shores faded away: We will not say, as the Separatists said, Farewell, Rome! Farewell, Babylon! But we will say, Farewell, dear England! Farewell, the Christian church in England, and all the Christian friends there! My father had been, like his father before him,--also named Stephen Higginson, and a member of the Continental Congress in 1783
rles Parsons and I often tumbled about in a library, -indeed, in the very same library where the Autocrat had himself performed the process he recommended. Under these circumstances it seems very natural that a child thus moulded should have drifted into a literary career. The period here described was one when children were taught to read very early, and this in all parts of our country. The celebrated General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, in South Carolina, was reported by his mother in 1745 as beginning to spell before he is two years old; but he himself said, later, of this precocious teaching that it was sad stuff, and that by haste to make him a clever fellow he had very nearly become a stupid one. My mother made a memorandum in regard to my elder sister, She knows all her letters at three, and of me that at four I had already read a good many books. I still preserve a penciled note from a little playmate, the daughter of a professor, saying, I am glad you are six years ol
when I was nine years old, and my chief training came consequently from my mother and my aunt Miss Anne G. Storrow, then known to all the Cambridge world as Aunt Nancy, who was to my mother like a second self in the rearing of her children. My mother's early life was like a chapter in a romance. Captain Thomas Storrow, an English officer, being detained a prisoner in Portsmouth during that war, fell in love with a Portsmouth maiden, who adventurously married him at the age of seventeen, in 1777, and sailed with him to England. These were my mother's parents. The marriage had all the requisite elements of romance — youth, inexperience, two warring nations, and two deeply dissatisfied families. The bride, Anne Appleton, represented two of the best families in the then somewhat aristocratic province of New Hampshire, the Appletons and the Wentworths; the latter, in particular, holding their heads so high that they were declared by a wicked Portsmouth wit to speak habitually of Queen
1629, in charge of the first large party for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and who made that historic farewell recorded by Cotton Mather, as his native shores faded away: We will not say, as the Separatists said, Farewell, Rome! Farewell, Babylon! But we will say, Farewell, dear England! Farewell, the Christian church in England, and all the Christian friends there! My father had been, like his father before him,--also named Stephen Higginson, and a member of the Continental Congress in 1783, --among the leading merchants of Boston, until Jefferson's embargo brought a great change in his fortunes. He had been unsurpassed in those generous philanthropies which have given Boston merchants a permanent reputation; he was, indeed, frequently mentioned --as his cousin, John Lowell, wrote of himas the Howard or the Man of Ross of his day. I still possess a fine oil painting of this last hero of Pope's lay, a picture sent anonymously to the house, during my father's life, with the insc
hat no picture of the original Man of Ross remained in the village; and I was led to suspect that this might be one of the two portraits which were once there, but have disappeared. Mine is certainly not that engraved in the European magazine for 1786, but a far more attractive representation. My father retained warm friends in his adversity, who bought for him the land where the Cambridge house stood, and secured for him the position of steward of the college, the post now rechristened bursarn St. Andrews, in Campobello, then in Jamaica again, Captain Storrow having in the meantime resigned his commission, and having died at sea on his passage to Boston, in 1795. My mother, Louisa Storrow, had been born, meanwhile, at St. Andrews, in 1786. Among my mother's most vivid childish recollections was that of being led, a weeping child of nine, at the stately funeral of her father, who was buried in Boston with military and Masonic honors. After his death his young widow opened a priv
eived, both by her husband's relatives and her own, with all the warmth that might have been expected — that is, with none at all. Yet she had sweet and winning qualities which finally triumphed over all obstacles; and her married life, though full of vicissitudes, was, on the whole, happy. They dwelt in England, in Jamaica, in St. Andrews, in Campobello, then in Jamaica again, Captain Storrow having in the meantime resigned his commission, and having died at sea on his passage to Boston, in 1795. My mother, Louisa Storrow, had been born, meanwhile, at St. Andrews, in 1786. Among my mother's most vivid childish recollections was that of being led, a weeping child of nine, at the stately funeral of her father, who was buried in Boston with military and Masonic honors. After his death his young widow opened a private school in Hingham, Massachusetts, and through the influence of kind friends in Boston, had boarding pupils from that city, only twenty miles away, thus laying for my m
April 8th, 1815 AD (search for this): chapter 3
She had, in all, ten children of her own, of whom I was the youngest. But before my birth the whole scene had suddenly changed. My father's whole fortune went when Jefferson's embargo came; his numerous vessels were captured or valueless. He retired into the country, living on a beautiful sheep-farm in Bolton, Massachusetts, placed at his disposal by a more fortunate friend, Mr. S. V. S. Wilder. There lies before me my mother's diary at this farm, which begins thus: On Saturday, the 8th April, 1815, we left our home, endeared to us by a long and happy residence and by the society of many dear and kind friends, to make trial of new scenes, new cares, and new duties; but though by this change we make some sacrifices and have some painful regrets, we are still experiencing the same goodness and mercy which have hitherto crowned our lives with happiness. I always awake, she adds, calm and serene. My children occupy my mind and my heart, and fill it with affection and gratitude. The
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