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Thomas H. Perkins (search for this): chapter 5
age. I was young enough to take a ready part in all their sports, and we often had school in the woods adjoining the house, perhaps sitting in large trees and interrupting work occasionally to watch a weasel gliding over a 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, younger brother of Colonel Thomas H. Perkins, then the leading merchant of Boston. Mr. Samuel Perkins had been at one time a partner of my grandfather and had married his daughter, but had retired, not very successful, and was one of the leading horticulturists near Boston, the then famous Boston nectarine being a fruit of his introducing. His wife, Barbara Higginson, my aunt, had been a belle in her youth, but had ripened into an oddity, and lived in Boston during the winter and in a tiny cottage at Nahant during the summ
ety 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 Chaucer belongs to spring, German romance to summer nights, Amadis de Gaul and the Morte d'arthur to the Christmas time; and found that books of natural history, in Thoreau's phrase, furnish the cheerfulest winter reading. Betti
Barbara Higginson (search for this): chapter 5
sister of Stephen Perkins's, a woman of great personal attractions, kept house for her father, who lived near by, Mr. Samuel G. Perkins, younger brother of Colonel Thomas H. Perkins, then the leading merchant of Boston. Mr. Samuel Perkins had been at one time a partner of my grandfather and had married his daughter, but had retired, not very successful, and was one of the leading horticulturists near Boston, the then famous Boston nectarine being a fruit of his introducing. His wife, Barbara Higginson, my aunt, had been a belle in her youth, but had ripened into an oddity, and lived in Boston during the winter and in a tiny cottage at Nahant during the summer, for the professed reason that the barberry blossoms in the Brookline lanes made her sneeze. The summer life around Boston was then an affair so unlike anything now to be found in the vicinity as to seem like something observed in another country or period. Socially speaking, it more resembled the plantation life of the So
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 forms ofass from each to another by an effort of will, like the process of mind-healing. Tried on the German ballads this method proved very seductive, but when one went a step farther it turned out very superficial; as is therefore all my knowledge of German, though I have read a good deal of it. All this way of living was intellectually very risky, as is the process of boarding one's self --which I have also tried — for the body; and I am glad to have come with no more serious injury through them bo
Theodore Parker (search for this): chapter 5
n 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 lead a manly life even in the pulpit. My d perfect straightforwardness of appeal; but in the direction of pure thought and advanced independence of opinion, Theodore Parker was my teacher. To this day I sometimes dream of going to hear him preach,--the great, free, eager congregation; thh and felt for a moment or two-not, indeed, while the surpliced choir was singing --that I was again in the hands of Theodore Parker. Under the potent influences of Parker and Clarke I found myself gravitating toward what was then called the libeParker and Clarke I found myself gravitating toward what was then called the liberal ministry; one very much secularized it must be, I foresaw, to satisfy me. Even in this point of view my * action was regarded rather askance by some of my more strenuous transcendental friends, even George William Curtis expressing a little disap
Bettine Brentano (search for this): chapter 5
i'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 Chaucer belongs to spring, German romance to summer nights, Amadis de Gaul and the Morte d'arthur to the Christmas time; and found that books of natural history, in Thoreau's phrase, furnish the cheerfulest winter reading. Bettine Brentano and Gunderodethe correspondence between the two maidens being just then translated by Margaret Fuller --also fascinated me; and I have seldom been happier than when I spent two summer days beside the Rhine, many years after, in visiting the very haunts where Bettine romanced, and the spot where Gunderode died. I tried to read all night occasionally, as Lowell told me he had sometimes done, and as a mathematical classmate of mine had done weekly, to my envy; but sleepiness and the mo
Mary Devens (search for this): chapter 5
d not surprise me to read in later days that the former was habitually addressed as Milord, to a degree that vexed him, by waiters in Continental hotels. Such leaders were doubtless good social models, as was also the case with my brother; but I had more continuous influences in the friendship of two fair girls, both of whom were frank, truthful, and attractive. One of them — Maria Fay of convent fame, already mentioned — was a little older than myself, while the other, just my own age, Mary Devens, was the younger sister of Charles Devens, afterwards eminent in war and peace. She died young, but I shall always be grateful for the good she unconsciously did me; and I had with both the kind of cordial friendship, 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 si
Amadis Gaul (search for this): chapter 5
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 Chaucer belongs to spring, German romance to summer nights, Amadis de Gaul and the Morte d'arthur to the Christmas time; and found that books of natural history, in Thoreau's phrase, furnish the cheerfulest winter reading. Bettine Brentano and Gunderodethe correspondence between the two maidens being just then translated by Margaret Fuller --also fascinated me; and I have seldom been happier than when I spent two summer days beside the Rhine, many years after, in visiting the very haunts where Bettine romanced, and the spot where Gunderode died. I tried to
John Lothrop Motley (search for this): chapter 5
ter this I went often to tolerably large parties in Cambridge and Boston, in the latter case under guidance of my brother Waldo, who had now graduated from the Harvard Washington Corps into the Boston Cadets, and was an excellent social pilot. I saw the really agreeable manners which then prevailed in the little city, and cannot easily be convinced that there are now in the field any youths at once so manly and so elegant as were the two especial leaders among the beaux of that day, John Lothrop Motley and his brother-in-law, John Lewis Stackpole. It did not surprise me to read in later days that the former was habitually addressed as Milord, to a degree that vexed him, by waiters in Continental hotels. Such leaders were doubtless good social models, as was also the case with my brother; but I had more continuous influences in the friendship of two fair girls, both of whom were frank, truthful, and attractive. One of them — Maria Fay of convent fame, already mentioned — was a lit
Jean Paul Richter (search for this): chapter 5
ffered arm, saying breathlessly, I am so glad to see you. I have been wishing to talk to you about Sarah Winnemucca. Now Sarah Winnemucca --and she went on discoursing as peacefully about a maligned Indian protege as if she were strolling in some sequestered moonlit lane, on a summer evening. I have said that the influence wrought upon me by Brookline life was largely due to one man and one or two writers. The writer who took possession of me, after Emerson, was the German author, Jean 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 Blacksto
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