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Francis James Child (search for this): chapter 5
profession to sculpture, and made Lowell forsake law after his first client. It was the time when Emerson wrote to Carlyle, We are all a little wild here with numberless projects of social reform; not a reading man but has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket. I myself longed at times to cut free from prescribed bondage, and not, in Lowell's later phrase, to pay so much of life for a living as seemed to be expected. I longed anew, under the influence of George 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 T
Sophia Ripley (search for this): chapter 5
rtis, afterwards so eloquent, ever opened his lips at all. I was but twice at Brook Farm, once driving over there in a sleigh during a snowstorm, to convey my cousin Barbara to a fancy ball at the Community, as it was usually called, where she was to appear in a pretty creole dress made of madras handkerchiefs and brought by Stephen Perkins from the West Indies. She was a most attractive and popular person, and was enthusiastic about Brook Farm, where she went often, being a friend of Mrs. Ripley, who was its leading lady. Again I once went for her in summer and stayed for an hour, watching the various interesting figures, including George William Curtis, who was walking about in shirtsleeves, with his boots over his trousers, yet was escorting a young maiden with that elegant grace which never left him. It was a curious fact that he, who was afterwards so eminent, was then held wholly secondary in interest to his handsome brother Burrill, whose Raphaelesque face won all hearts,
Albert Dicey (search for this): chapter 5
d speech, twin blossoms on one stem, delighted Lowell hugely; and it was so unexampled in my own experience that it always inspired in me a slight distrust, as being too good to be true. Perhaps it created a little envy, as was the case with Albert Dicey, when he and James Bryce first visited America, and I met them at a dinner party in Newport. Dicey came in, rubbing his hands, and saying with eagerness, Bryce is very happy; at the Ocean House he has just heard a man say European twice! ADicey came in, rubbing his hands, and saying with eagerness, Bryce is very happy; at the Ocean House he has just heard a man say European twice! Another and yet more tonic influence, though Lowell was already an ardent Abolitionist, came from the presence of reformatory agitation in the world outside. There were always public meetings in Boston to be attended; there were social reform gatherings where I heard the robust Orestes Brownson and my eloquent cousin William Henry Channing; there were anti-slavery conventions, with Garrison and Phillips; then on Sunday there were Theodore Parker and James Freeman Clarke, to show that one might
Edward Gibbon (search for this): chapter 5
ose edifices. Here at last I could live in my own way, making both ends meet by an occasional pupil, and enjoying the same freedom which Thoreau, then unknown to me, was afterwards to possess in his hut. I did not know exactly what I wished to study in Cambridge; indeed, I went there to find out. Perhaps I had some vague notion of preparing myself for a professorship in literature or mathematics and metaphysics, but in the mean time 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
Royal Morse (search for this): chapter 5
at they know being often far more advanced as well as more solidly grounded than was mine. No matter; I was a happy boy, ankle-deep in a yet unfathomed sea. I had two things in addition not set down in the college curriculum, but of the utmost influence on my future career. One of these has always been to me somewhat inexplicable. Cambridge was then a place of distinctly graded society,--more so, probably, than it is now. Lowell has admirably described the superb way in which old Royal Morse, the village constable and auctioneer, varied the courtesy of his salutation according to the social position of his acquaintance. I can remember no conversation around me looking toward the essential equality of the human race, except as it was found in the pleased curiosity with which my elder brothers noted the fact that the President's man-servant, who waited at table during his dinner parties, became on the muster field colonel of the militia regiment, and as such gave orders to Major
Stephen Perkins (search for this): chapter 5
rock or a squirrel in the boughs. I took the boys with me in my rambles and it was a happy time. Another sister of Stephen Perkins's, a woman of great personal attractions, kept house for her father, who lived near by, Mr. Samuel G. Perkins, young the test of English gardening or even of our modern methods, except perhaps in the fruit produced. I remember that Stephen Perkins once took an English visitor, newly arrived, to drive about the region, and he was quite ready to admire everything this party except Dana wore these gay garments and bore on their heads little round and visorless caps with tassels. Mr. Perkins, whose attire was always defiantly plain, regarded these vanities with ill-concealed disapproval, but took greatly to it was usually called, where she was to appear in a pretty creole dress made of madras handkerchiefs and brought by Stephen Perkins from the West Indies. She was a most attractive and popular person, and was enthusiastic about Brook Farm, where sh
James Bryce (search for this): chapter 5
one stem, delighted Lowell hugely; and it was so unexampled in my own experience that it always inspired in me a slight distrust, as being too good to be true. Perhaps it created a little envy, as was the case with Albert Dicey, when he and James Bryce first visited America, and I met them at a dinner party in Newport. Dicey came in, rubbing his hands, and saying with eagerness, Bryce is very happy; at the Ocean House he has just heard a man say European twice! Another and yet more tonicBryce is very happy; at the Ocean House he has just heard a man say European twice! Another and yet more tonic influence, though Lowell was already an ardent Abolitionist, came from the presence of reformatory agitation in the world outside. There were always public meetings in Boston to be attended; there were social reform gatherings where I heard the robust Orestes Brownson and my eloquent cousin William Henry Channing; there were anti-slavery conventions, with Garrison and Phillips; then on Sunday there were Theodore Parker and James Freeman Clarke, to show that one might accomplish something and
Maria White (search for this): chapter 5
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 sisch 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 hea slight greenhouse aroma, but it brought a pure and ennobling enthusiasm; and whenever I was fortunate enough to hear Maria White sing or say ballads in moonlight evenings it seemed as if I were in Boccaccio's Florentine gardens. If this circlef the Transcendental Movement, it was yet born of the Newness. Lowell and Story, indeed, both wrote for The Dial, and Maria White had belonged to Margaret Fuller's classes. There was, moreover, passing through the whole community a wave of that de
John Jay Chapman (search for this): chapter 5
ound myself approaching that maturer period which a clever woman defined as the age of everybody. To be sure, I could recall the time when my brother had come home one evening with the curt remark, Jim Lowell doubts whether he shall really be a lawyer, after all; he thinks he shall be a poet. Now that poet was really launched, and indeed was the best launched man of his time, as Willis said. I used to go to his room and to read books he suggested, such as Puttenham's Arte of Poesie, and Chapman's plays. He did most of the talking; it was a way he had; but he was always original and trenchant, though I sometimes rebelled inwardly at his very natural attitude of leadership. We occasionally walked out together, late in the evening, from Emerson's lectures or the concerts which were already introducing Beethoven. Sometimes there was a reception after the lecture, usually at the rooms of a youth who was an ardent Fourierite, and had upon his door a blazing sun, with gilded rays eman
William Blackstone (search for this): chapter 5
Paul Richter, whose memoirs had just been written by a Brookline lady, Mrs. Thomas Lee. This biography set before me, just at the right time, the attractions of purely literary life, carried on in a perfectly unworldly spirit; and his story of Siebenkas, just then opportunely translated, presented the same thing in a more graphic way. From that moment poverty, or at least extreme economy, had no terrors for me, and I could not bear the thought of devoting my life to the technicalities of Blackstone. Not that the law-book had failed to interest me,--for it was a book,--but I could not consent to surrender my life to what it represented, nor have I ever repented that decision. I felt instinctively what the late Dwight Foster said to me long after: The objection to the study of the law is not that it is not interesting,--for it is eminently so,--but that it fills your mind with knowledge which cannot be carried into another stage of existence. Long after this, moreover, my classmate
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