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cupied by Judge Fay. And as my friend Maria Fay was a cousin of some of the Brothers and Sisters, they made the house an occasional rendezvous; and as there were attractive younger kindred whom I chanced to know, I was able at least to look through the door of this paradise of youth. Lowell's first volume had just been published, and all its allusions were ground of romance for us all; indeed, he and his betrothed were to me, as they seemed to be for those of their circle, a modernized Petrarch and Laura or even Dante and Beatrice; and I watched them with unselfish reverence. Their love-letters, about which they were extremely frank, were passed from hand to hand, and sometimes reached me through Thaxter. I have some of Maria White's ballads in her own handwriting; and I still know by heart a letter which she wrote to Thaxter, about the delay in her marriage,--It is easy enough to be married; the newspaper comers show us that, every day; but to live and to be happy as simple Kin
Charles P. Carter (search for this): chapter 5
endship, without a trace of love-making, yet tinged with refined sentiment, which is for every young man a most fortunate school. They counseled and reprimanded and laughed at me, when needful, in a way that I should not have tolerated from boys at that time, nor yet from my own sisters, wise and judicious though these were. Added to all this was a fortunate visit, during my last year in college, to some cousins on a Virginia plantation, where my uncle, Major Storrow, had married into the Carter family, and where I experienced the hospitality and gracious ways of Southern life. A potent influence was also preparing for me in Cambridge in a peculiarly fascinating circle of young people,--more gifted, I cannot help thinking, than any later coterie of the same kind,--which seemed to group itself round James Lowell and Maria White, his betrothed, who were known among the members as their King and Queen. They called themselves The brothers and sisters, being mainly made up in that wa
orge Sand and of Mrs. Child's Letters from New York, to put myself on more equal terms with that vast army of hand-workers who were ignorant of much that I knew, yet could do so much that I could not. Under these combined motives I find that I carefully made out, at one time, a project of going into the cultivation of peaches, an industry then prevalent in New England, but now practically abandoned,--thus securing freedom from study and thought by moderate labor of the hands. This was in 1843, two years before Thoreau tried a similar project with beans at Walden Pond; and also before the time when George and Burrill Curtis undertook to be farmers at Concord. A like course was actually adopted and successfully pursued through life by another Harvard man a few years older than myself, the late Marston Watson, of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Such things were in the air, and even those who were not swerved by the Newness from their intended pursuits were often greatly modified as to the
September, 1843 AD (search for this): chapter 5
I read, as Emerson says of Margaret Fuller, at a rate like Gibbon's. There was the obstacle to be faced, which has indeed always proved too much for me,--the enormous wealth of the world of knowledge, and the stupendous variety of that which I wished to know. Doubtless the modern elective system, or even a wise teacher, would have helped me; they would have compelled me to concentration, but perhaps I may have absolutely needed some such period of intellectual wild oats. This was in September, 1843. I read in that year, and a subsequent similar year, the most desultory and disconnected books, the larger the better: Newton's Principia and Whewell's Mechanical Euclid; Ritter's History of Ancient philosophy; Sismondi's Decline and fall of the Roman empire; Lamennais' Paroles d'un Croyant and Livre du Peuple; Homer and Hesiod; Linnaeus's Correspondence; Emerson over and over. Fortunately I kept up outdoor life also and learned the point where books and nature meet; learned that Ch
III. the period of the newness Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven. Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book XI. The above was the high-sounding name which was claimed for their own time by the youths and maidens who, under the guidance of Emerson, Parker, and others, took a share in the seething epoch sometimes called vaguely Transcendentalism. But as these chapters are to be mainly autobiographic, it is well to state with just what outfit I left college in 1841. I had a rather shallow reading knowledge of six languages, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Greek, and had been brought in contact with some of the best books in each of these tongues. I may here add that I picked up at a later period German, Portuguese, and Hebrew, with a little Swedish; and that I hope to live long enough to learn at least the alphabet in Russian. Then I had acquired enough of the higher mathematics to have a pupil or two in that branch; something of the f
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