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Browsing named entities in Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Oldport days, with ten heliotype illustrations from views taken in Newport, R. I., expressly for this work..

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ancing waves. For the wind blew fresh meanwhile, and there were some twenty sail-boats lying — to with reefed sails by the wreck, like so many sea-birds; and when the loose stuff began to be washed from the deck, they all took wing at once, to save whatever could be picked up, -since at such times, as at a conflagration on land, every little thing seems to assume a value,--and at last one young fellow steered boldly up to the sinking ship itself, sprang upon. the vanishing taffrail for one instant, as if resolved to be the last on board, and then pushed off again. I never saw anything seem so extinguished out of the universe as that great vessel, which had towered so colossal above my little boat; it was impossible to imagine that she was all there yet, beneath the foaming and indifferent waves. No effort has yet been made to raise her; and a dead eagle seems to have more in common with the living bird than has now this submerged and decaying hulk with the white and winged creatu
he serene atmosphere that she diffused ever all human life. A few days passed rapidly by us. We walked and rode and boated and read. Little Marian came and went, a living sunbeam, a self-sufficing thing. It was soon obvious that she was far less demonstrative toward her parents than toward me; while her mother, gracious to her as to all, yet rarely caressed her, and Kenmure, though habitually kind, was inclined to ignore her existence, and could scarcely tolerate that she should for one instant preoccupy his wife. For Laura he lived, and she must live for him. He had a studio, which I rarely entered and Marian never, though Laura was almost constantly there; and after the first cordiality was past, I observed that their daily expeditions were always arranged for only two. The weather was beautiful, and they led the wildest outdoor life, cruising all day or all night among the islands, regardless of hours, and almost of health. No matter: Kenmure liked it, and what he liked sh
than to fight against it. It makes us smile a little, therefore, to observe that universal delusion among the summer visitors, that we spend all winter in active preparations for next season. Not so; we all devote it solely to meditations on the season past. I observe that nobody in Oldport ever believes in any coming summer. Perhaps the tide is turned, we think, and people will go somewhere else. You do not find us altering our houses in December, or building out new piazzas even in March. We wait till the people have actually come to occupy them. The preparation for visitors is made after the visitors have arrived. This may not be the way in which things are done in what are called smart business places. But it is our way in Oldport. It is another delusion to suppose that we are bored by this long epoch of inactivity. Not at all; we enjoy it. If you enter a shop in winter, you will find everybody rejoiced to see you — as a friend; but if it turns out that you have co
loops and schooners constantly come and go, careening in the wind, their white sails taking, if remote enough, a vague blue mantle from the delicate air. Sail-boats glide in the distance,--each a mere white wing of canvas, --or coming nearer, and glancing suddenly into the cove, are put as suddenly on the other tack, and almost in an instant seem far away. There is to-day such a live sparkle on the water, such a luminous freshness on the grass, that it seems, as is so often the case in early June, as if all history were a dream, and the whole earth were but the creation of a summer's day. If Petrarch still knows and feels the consummate beauty of these earthly things, it may seem to him some repayment for the sorrows of a lifetime that one reader, after all this lapse of years, should choose his sonnets to match this grass, these blossoms, and the soft lapse of these blue waves. Yet any longer or more continuous poem would be out of place to-day. I fancy that this narrow cove pr
ppose that we are bored by this long epoch of inactivity. Not at all; we enjoy it. If you enter a shop in winter, you will find everybody rejoiced to see you — as a friend; but if it turns out that you have come as a customer, people will look a little disappointed. It is rather inconsiderate of you to make such demands out of season. Winter is not exactly the time for that sort of thing. It seems rather to violate the conditions of the truce. Could you not postpone the affair till next July? Every country has its customs; I observe that in some places, New York for instance, the shopkeepers seem rather to enjoy a field-day when the sun and the customers are out. In Oldport, on the contrary, men's spirits droop at such times, and they go through their business sadly. They force themselves to it during the summer, perhaps,for one must make some sacrifices,--but in winter it is inappropriate as strawberries and cream. The same spirit of repose pervades the streets. Nobody eve
h of gold across the bay,--I can imagine that I discern the French and English vessels just weighing anchor; I see De Lauzun and De Noailles embarking, and catch the last sheen upon their lace, the last glitter of their swords. It vanishes, and I see only the lighthouse gleam, and the dark masts of a sunken ship across the neighboring island. Those motionless spars have, after all, a nearer interest, and, as I saw them sink, I will tell their tale. That vessel came in here one day last August, a stately, full-sailed bark; nor was it known, till she had anchored, that she was a mass of imprisoned fire below. She was the Trajan, from Rockland, bound to New Orleans with a cargo of lime, which took fire in a gale of wind, being wet with sea-water as the vessel rolled. The captain and crew retreated to the deck, and made the hatches fast, leaving even their clothing and provisions below. They remained on deck, after reaching this harbor, till the planks grew too hot beneath their f
August 1st (search for this): chapter 5
An artist's creation. When I reached Kenmure's house, one August evening, it was rather a disappointment to find that he and his charming Laura had absented themselves for twenty-four hours. I had not seen them together since their marriage; my admiration for his varied genius and her unvarying grace was at its height, and I was really annoyed at the delay. My fair cousin, with her usual exact housekeeping, had prepared everything for her guest, and then bequeathed me, as she wrote, to Janet and baby Marian. It was a pleasant arrangement, for between baby Marian and me there existed a species of passion, I might almost say of betrothal, ever since that little three-year-old sunbeam had blessed my mother's house by lingering awhile in it, six months before. Still I went to bed disappointed, though the delightful windows of the chamber looked out upon the glimmering bay, and the swinging lanterns at the yard-arms of the frigates shone like some softer constellation beneath the
September (search for this): chapter 1
Oldport in winter. Our August life rushes by, in Oldport, as if we were all shot from the mouth of a cannon, and were endeavoring to exchange visiting-cards on the way. But in September, when the great hotels are closed, and the bronze dogs that guarded the portals of the Ocean House are collected sadly in the music pavilion, nose to nose; when the last four-in-hand has departed, and a man may drive a solitary horse on the avenue without a pang,--then we know that the season is over. Winter is yet several months away, --months of the most delicious autumn weather that the American climate holds. But to the human bird of passage all that is not summer is winter; and those who seek Oldport most eagerly for two months are often those who regard it as uninhabitable for the other ten. The Persian poet Saadi says that in a certain region of Armenia, where he travelled, people never died the natural death. But once a year they met on a certain plain, and occupied themselves with
September (search for this): chapter 3
the wall. It was a whim of his, he said; and once only I got out of him something about the resemblance of the house to some Portuguese mansion, --at Madeira, perhaps, or at Rio Janeiro, but he did not say,--with which he had no pleasant associations. Yet he afterwards seemed to wish to deny this remark, or to confuse my impressions of it, which naturally fixed it the better in my mind. I remember well the morning when he was at last coaxed into approaching the house. It was late in September, and a day of perfect calm. As we looked from the broad piazza, there was a glassy smoothness over all the bay, and the hills were coated with a film, or rather a mere varnish, inconceivably thin, of haze more delicate than any other climate in America can show. Over the water there were white gulls flying, lazy and low; schools of young mackerel displayed their white sides above the surface; and it seemed as if even a butterfly might be seen for miles over that calm expanse. The bay wa
A drift-wood fire. This ae nighte, this ae nighte, Every nighte and alle, Fire and salt and candle-lighte, And Christe receive thy saule. A Lyke-wake Dirge. The October days grow rapidly shorter, and brighten with more concentrated light. It is but half past 5, yet the sun dips redly behind Conanicut, the sunset-gun booms from our neighbor's yacht, the flag glides down from his mainmast, and the slender pennant, running swiftly up the opposite halyards, dances and flickers like a flame, and at last perches, with dainty hesitation, at the mast-head. A tint of salmon-color, burnished into long undulations of lustre, overspreads the shallower waves; but a sober gray begins to steal in beneath the sunset rays, and will soon claim even the brilliant foreground for its own. Pile a few more fragments of drift-wood upon the fire in the great chimney, little maiden, and then couch yourself before it, that I may have your glowing childhood as a foreground for those heaped relics of
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