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Powder Mill (Georgia, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
se of a dignified historic past than those stones at my birthplace. Nor did it actually carry me back so far in time. In the same way, our walks, when not directed toward certain localities for rare flowers or birds or insects,--as to Mount Auburn sands, now included in the cemetery of that name, or the extensive jungle north of Fresh Pond, where the herons of Longfellow's poem had their nests,--were more or less guided by historic objects. There was the picturesque old Revolutionary Powder Mill in what is now Somerville, or the remains of redoubts on Winter Hill, where we used to lie along the grassy slopes and repel many British onslaughts. Often we went to the fascinating wharves of Boston, then twice as long as now, and full of sea-smells and crossed yards and earringed sailors. A neighbor's boy had the distinction of being bad enough to be actually sent to sea for a dubious reformation; and though, when he came back, I was forbidden to play with him, on the ground that he
Cambridgeport (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
out from the list of common boys, and to watch him from afar exhibiting to youths of laxer training what seemed to be the weapon. I may here add that the only other child with whom I was forbidden to play became in later life an eminent clergyman. Once we undertook to go as far as Bunker Hill, and were ignominiously turned back by a party of Charlestown boys,--Charlestown pigs, as they were then usually and affectionately called,--who charged us with being Port chucks (that is, from Cambridgeport) or Pointers (that is, from Lechmere Point, or East Cambridge), and ended with the mild torture of taking away our canes. Or we would visit the ruins of the Ursuline Convent, whose flames I had seen from our front door in Cambridge, standing by my mother's side; all that I had read of persecutions not implanting so lasting a love of liberty as that one spectacle. I stood by her also the day after, when she went out to take the gauge of public opinion in consultation with the family but
Cambridge (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
e, and the last are easily 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 th
Bolton (Massachusetts, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
ned unusually unimpaired until her latest years — a noble forehead, clear blue-gray eyes, a rose-tinted complexion, soft brown hair, a pliant figure, with slender hands and feet. 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 whi
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (search for this): chapter 3
; and in the elder Dr. Holmes's house Charles 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
East India (search for this): chapter 3
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 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 be
Oliver Goldsmith (search for this): chapter 3
the disused classical textbooks of my elder brothers, and made a little library to be preserved against that magic period when I too should be a collegian. To these were to be added many delightful volumes of the later English poets, Collins, Goldsmith, Byron, Campbell, and others, given at different times to my aunt by George Ticknor. In some of them --as in Byron's Giaour --he had copied additional stanzas, more lately published; this was very fascinating, for it seemed like poetry in thems had been pried out to be melted into bullets for the Continental army. And it all so linked us with the past that when, years after, I stood outside the Temple Church in London, and, looking casually down, saw beneath my feet the name of Oliver Goldsmith, it really gave no more sense of a dignified historic past than those stones at my birthplace. Nor did it actually carry me back so far in time. In the same way, our walks, when not directed toward certain localities for rare flowers or
Ludwig Von Beethoven (search for this): chapter 3
own early struggles for knowledge. I cannot now recall what she said, but it sank into my heart, at the age of fifteen or thereabouts; and if I have ever done one thing to secure to women better justice in any direction, the first impulse came from that fortunate question and reply. More important, however, than all this, to my enjoyment, at least, was the musical atmosphere that pervaded the house. My youngest sister was an excellent pianist,--one of the first in this region to play Beethoven. Among the many students who came to the house there were three who played the flute well, and they practiced trios with her accompaniment. One of them was John Dwight, afterwards editor of the Journal of music, and long the leading musical critic of Boston; another was Christopher Pearse Cranch, poet and artist; and the third was William Habersham from Savannah, who had a silver flute, of which I remember John Dwight's saying, when it first made its appearance, It has a silver sound. W
A. P. Peabody (search for this): chapter 3
ation. 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 bursar, and one in which he did, as Dr. A. P. Peabody tells us, most of the duties of treasurer. In that capacity he planted, as I have always been told, a large part of the trees in the college yard,--nobody in Cambridge ever says campus, --and had also the wisdom to hang a lamp over each eenominational; and seems to have been for some years a sort of lay bishop among the Unitarian parishes, distributing young ministers to vacant churches without fear or favor. He liked to read theology, but was in no respect a scholar; indeed, Dr. Peabody says that, on receiving for the institution its first supply of Hebrew Bibles, my father went to the president, Dr. Kirkland, with some indignation, saying that the books must all be returned, since the careless printer had put all the title-p
Americans (search for this): chapter 3
mosphere of one's native village — if one is fortunate enough to have been born in such a locality — lie around the memory like the horizon line, unreachable, impassable. Even a so-called cosmopolitan man has never seemed to me a very happy being, and a cosmopolitan child is above all things to be pitied. To be identified in early memories with some limited and therefore characteristic region,--that is happiness. No child is old enough to be a citizen of the world. What denationalized Americans hasten to stamp as provincial is for children, at least, a saving grace. You do not call a nest provincial. All this is particularly true of those marked out by temperament for a literary career. The predestined painter or musician needs an early contact with the treasures and traditions of an older world, but literature needs for its material only men, nature, and books; and of these, the first two are everywhere, and the last are easily transportable, since you can pile the few suprem
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