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Chapter 7: Cambridge in later life

These letters, when not otherwise specified, were written to Mr. Higginson's sister. The first one refers to the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Cambridge when a reception was given to Longfellow by grammar-school children.

December 31, 1880
... The morning celebration was a charming scene; the way the eleven hundred children received Holmes and Longfellow was delightful, and L. looked infinitely picturesque in a richly furred wrapper, with his long white hair and beard.

October 30, 1881
... I had called on the Freemans at Tremont House; he is an ordinary-looking little squat Englishman with bushy beard; she is cheery and jolly. The thing that strikes them as strange in America is to see black women in the streets; they had hardly seen even black men before. She yearns to see a black baby, but they go soon to a son married in Virginia and will see plenty.

I heard a good answer at Sunday-School from a little Irish child: “Where do you live?” “On the Ma'sh, mum” ; then eagerly, “It's the Old Cambridge Ma'sh, mum.” The aristocratic distinction still holds.


December 8, 1881
Professor Bryce is staying here for three days, and last night we had about thirty people to meet him. . . . To-night I dine with Bryce at the Charles Perkins's before his lecture; he is very easy and agreeable.

June 30, 1883
I have not seen what Mr. Venable has written about Carlyle; but he is doubtless the agreeable old gentleman with whom I dined at Sir Frederick Pollock's and who seemed so much like a living Horace Walpole. He has written the “Annual Obituary” in the “Times” for many years and knows everybody. I should think him candid and fair-minded.

Mrs. Carlyle I have not read yet, but it must be a tragic book. Charles Norton said of the “Reminiscences” that he did not think Froude loved Carlyle, or he could not have done anything so cruel. I think you will be surprised at the self-restraint and good taste of Norton's notes to the “Emerson-Carlyle Correspondence.” For a man so set in his opinions, I think this quite remarkable.

We who are complaining of the aftermath of war, so soon after it has actually ceased, may read with surprise this remark of Charles Francis Adams, nearly twenty years after the close of the Civil War:

August 6, 1883
C. F. Adams, Jr., spent the morning here. He thinks the country not yet recovered from the tremendous [323] excitement of war and demands quiet more than anything; hence the greatest weakness of [Governor] Butler's position.

Thinks there must be a class of professional politicians, but that there is never a time of excitement when a man of character and energy cannot ride over them.

His grandfather, P. C. Brooks, was at time of death the richest man in New England (over two millions), this thirty-five years ago. But his annual expenses for city and country house, greenhouse, etc., were but six thousand dollars a year.

November 28, 1883
This morning I spent in taking Matthew Arnold to schools in Boston: Normal Art, Boys' Latin, Boys' English High, and ditto ditto girls. He is very cordial and appreciative, not in the least cynical or patronizing; shook hands with all the teachers as friendly as if up for office; they all liked him, I think. He is about my height, rather slender, with a Jewish cast of face, and some gaucherie of manner, but always kindly and cordial, takes your arm or puts his hand on your shoulder. He is slow to comprehend, . . . and is still trying to find out what a primary school is or how many pounds sterling twenty-five hundred dollars represent; and he sometimes says things awkwardly, meaning no harm, as when he said to Ellen Emerson of her father in England, “I understand he wished to see me,” which offends Boston and Concord, but really meant nothing. I have heard him say nothing uppish [324] and don't think he felt it. He is much touched with the familiarity he finds among teachers with his father's work. It was amusing to hear him lamenting over his inability to hear Phillips Brooks, when hardly any one can hear him. It is commonly said that he is making himself unpopular, but I don't see why. He has liked every place where he has lectured but Worcester; he did not wish to lecture there because he had “never heard of such a place” ; and only two hundred came to hear him. Probably he does not realize that the general disappointment must affect his lectures.

December 22, 1883
You'd have been amused to see Pere Hyacinthe and me at Mrs. Cilley's, comparing photographs of ourselves with our babies. His is now the sweetest little boy of eight or nine with the most winning little French ways and the most delicious way of speaking in either dialect. ... I was much pleased with le pere and Mme. Loyson, both; he is short and stout, rosy and beaming, the type of one of Beranger's cheery and kindly priests. He talks with great eagerness and cordiality and had been reading the French version of my history, which his little boy has; he has talked chiefly about French and American republicanism and seemed full of thought.

The next letter was written during the presidential campaign of 1884, when Mr. Higginson as a “mugwump” was very active in behalf of Cleveland, speaking on successive nights in many different towns. [325]

University Club, October 30, 1884
. . New York is fairly seething; every day there is some demonstration; first the business men's processions for Cleveland and Blaine respectively; then the review of troops before Cleveland; then a great dinner to Blaine at Delmonico's; to-day an open-air meeting in Wall Street; Saturday another business men's procession for Cleveland. All this in a steady rain. Young men go by with badges for one candidate or the other and . .. business is practically suspended; nobody talks of anything but politics.

On Tuesday, the day of military review, Governor Cleveland was at my hotel. ... I sent up my card and was at once admitted and cordially received. I found him a large man, nearly as tall as I and heavily built ... not exactly clumsy and with a certain heavy dignity or at least imposing quality. His face is better and worse than his pictures; better in expression, but somewhat disfigured by smallpox and therefore decidedly plain, but with a very good clear eye and a frank and honest though not handsome mouth. He has not an air of polish; rather what we would call a Western than Eastern type, but prepossessing through frankness and strength. He seemed quite absorbed in the canvass and at once asked me about it, but showed no pettiness. . . .No one could see him, I think, and regard him as a weak man, but the contrary; and he makes an impression of essential manliness and even goodness, but not of refined manners, while he has too much simplicity and good sense to commit any special gaucherie.


Colonel Higginson was easily moved by any tale of distress; and when ex-Governor Moses, of South Carolina, lately released from Sing Sing, called on him, sending in the card of a prominent Southerner, his unsuspecting host readily responded to the appeal for a loan of money, and when Moses was arrested and confined in the East Cambridge jail, kept him supplied with reading matter.

January 31, 1885
To see Moses in jail at East Cambridge by his request. He a good deal broken down and unnerved; said I could not abhor his crime more than he did; that he was not all bad, but easily influenced; that he had done good to many, but had had no helping hand. Said the first time for years that he had a chance was in getting a position at Chicago . .. and this my complaint of him had overthrown. Since then he had lived the life of a fugitive, worse than prison. Even when at liberty, his days were agony and nights hell. Asked only for a companion in cell, and was chiefly anxious I should know meant no harm by getting my photo. Reminded me that his first alienation from friends was through his siding with the blacks whom I had befriended. Would not take my hand at first. In short, worked skillfully on my feelings, while not committing himself when I spoke of his having assumed a name or having swindled others.

September 15, 1889
. . . I enjoyed my Guilford [Connecticut] trip. It is an old town on the Sound full of old houses, one of [327] them two hundred and fifty years old this year, the oldest in the United States, a stone house in perfect condition. There Rev. John Higginson married Parson Whitfield's daughter. All the old houses were labelled with the year they were built and often with the names of the earlier residents; so that it was like stepping back two hundred and fifty years. I went to a large reception, where everybody, on being introduced to everybody else, would begin by explaining his right to be there. “You see my great-grandmother was a Terry,” etc.

Some wore old costumes at this reception and all seemed to be enacting their ancestors. I stayed with Miss Kate Foote, the author, on a fine old farm; General Hawley married a Miss Foote and they are a very cultivated family. I saw various remote relatives and brought home an old book with preface by John Higginson, and a delightful old love-letter by Rev. Edward Taylor, 1674.

June 9, 1890
I suppose you have heard of Henry Higginson's gift to the college of thirty-five thousand dollars of land across the river for playgrounds--Emery Willard's old farm; and the most amazing thing is that he is to talk to the students about it at Sever Hall to-morrow night, as it is in memory of friends who fell in the war.

June 13, 1890
I wish you could have heard Henry Higginson. It was one of the most thoroughly simple and admirable [328] things I ever heard — a reticent man breaking the habit of a lifetime and talking about an affair of his own. He held the young men perfectly, especially in his terse sketches of the characters of his friends. They will remember it all their lives — that close contact with a perfectly truthful and transparent nature. He spoke without notes, but with a prompter having his manuscript behind him, and he was so simple, and unconcerned about that, it made it seem the only fit way for a man to speak — looking round occasionally at the prompter and saying quietly, “What next?” Some of the best things were inserted offhand and were not in the printed notes; e.g., his saying, “Remember that this is our university; it was John Harvard's, but now it is what we make it.” There was a poetic and ideal atmosphere about it which I feel keenly and I was very proud of being Henry's cousin.

Dublin, N. H., June 20, 1890
We . . . are right among the pine trees with the pretty lake in sight and mountains farther off .... Then close behind us are the children of Thayer, the New York artist, wild, very picturesque little creatures . ... There is a perpetual Pumpelly circus [children of Raphael Pumpelly]. .. . They keep seven ponies and are always riding about the country, bare-backed and astride, boys and girls alike. One boy, Raphael, ... is always galloping about with long curls over his shoulders, like a sort of angelic Comanche. . . . Rob is here, and enjoying it much, but the dogs suffer terribly from getting hedgehogs' quills [329] into their mouths and noses; he has had only one moderate dose, but often their mouths are like pincushions and they have to be put under ether and each quill pulled out by forceps.

July 31, 1890
Last night I got up an entertainment in the Town Hall for the Dublin Library. There were beautiful tableaux arranged by artists, in a full-sized frame — mostly simple figures, Venetian, Swiss, etc. The unique one was a Madonna with children holding lilies (by Bellini), the Madonna being Mary Thayer, the artist's daughter, who has a singularly beautiful face.

Dublin, July 13, 1902
Heard Collyer in a really remarkable sermon in his familiar way on the importance of being our individual selves in the future life. Animals he thought might live forever on earth, for they had no individuality to go on developing, apparently; but human beings needed spheres for constant development. The angel life as commonly described too vague; the angels never had fathers and mothers, never fell in love. He quoted a man who said he preferred hell to annihilation. Told us several good stories; as of seeing picture of Matthew Henry whose commentaries were so severe, and finding that he would turn the scales at three hundred pounds, and reading afterwards that he postponed finishing his work on “The Evidences” until fly-fishing should be over; and of a Reverend Doctor who [330] was dying and asked physician if he could not be kept alive till the season of strawberries was passed.

Dublin, July 31, 1905
Evening. Dined . . . with Mr. and Miss Clemens. . . An interesting talk . .. after dinner.

Clemens lent three thousand dollars in all to Bret Harte when he first came East, though knowing him to be laden with California debts already. When H. asked him for two hundred and fifty dollars, he proffered five hundred dollars. One man to whom B. H. owed three thousand dollars for loans wrote him on his birthday sending all his notes back, and B. wrote one of the most brutal letters he ever saw.

Dublin, August 12, 1905
George De Forest Brush lectured at Club — quite delightful, though extravagant. His essential point was that art came from the love of order; that people instinctively feel the three triangles which outline the Sistine Madonna; and that the row of trees which a farmer sets before his door is a tribute to this.

Cambridge, January 23, 1904
. . .Last night I went in to the Twentieth Century Club dinner, which went off finely. I sat next to the President of Mount Holyoke College who made a capital speech and told some wholly new stories with immense success — as this: a little boy watching a balloon go straight up very, very high, and when it was smallest asking wistfully, “Mother, is God expecting [331] those gentlemen to-day?” or this: she saw at an English seaside place a series of iron chains along the beach with the motto, “Given to the town of by Thomas Jones. The sea is his and he made it.” Also some one spoke of an Irishman who saw the winged Victory of Samothrace and said, “Begorra, it's meself would like to see the other lady that was in the scratch”

The letters to Mrs. Mabel Loomis Todd were written while she and Colonel Higginson were editing the poems of Emily Dickinson.

November 12, 1890
Dear Mrs. Todd:
I am distressed exceedingly to find that among E. D.'s countless letters there are poems as good as any we printed--one on the Blue Jay, one on the Humming Bird, etc. This shows we must have another volume by and by, and must include prose from her letters, often quite as marvellous as her poetry. Howells is doing missionary work in private, and that lovely child Mildred selected as her chief favorite today, in talking with me, your favorite about the two who died and talked between the tombs.

February 9, 1891
Dear Mrs. Todd:
. . . One thing strikes me very much in the book notices. No two critics quote the same poems. Each finds something different. That is a much surer [332] guarantee of permanent interest than where all fasten on one or two poems.

Lay this laurel on the one
Too intrinsic for renown.
Laurel Veil your deathless tree,
Him you chasten, that is He!

She wrote it after re-reading my “Decoration.” It is the condensed essence of that and so far finer.

To Horace E. Scudder, then editor of the “Atlantic” :

March 21, 1896
There is a good French saying, whose author I wish I knew, “Le renom, fruit d'une longue patience de vivre, s'augmente avec l'imbecillite.” I am in a fair way to prove it so, with my very mild renom. I have just had a fourth request for my “Reminiscences,” in series, this time from Lyman Abbott of the “Outlook,” and should have accepted it in preference to either of the others, though not to yours. So I notify you of it, with the courtesy of an engaged maiden who wishes her betrothed to know that he was not her only chance! I have told him of my “prior attachment,” but asked him not to mention it, thinking you might wish to take your own time and way about that. I hope you are enjoying your trip. Once, when your predecessor Fields was going to Europe, I said, “I hope you will not give it all to business; do find time to enjoy yourself!” He replied, with his inimitable smile, “Rely upon me!” and so I rely on you.

Colonel Higginson constantly corresponded with his [333] kinsman, Edmund Clarence Stedman, and Miss Stedman has kindly allowed the use of these extracts.

Newport, November 28, 1875
My Dear Stedman:
. . .I think that you place Matthew Arnold far too high, he seeming to me to rank among the fourth rates as a poet, whatever the merit of his prose. Then I think you dismiss Charles (Turner) Tennyson with much contempt; I have always felt there was a great deal of delicate feeling and felicity in his sonnets.

Per contra, the only serious fault I find with the book [ “Victorian poets” ] is what seems to me the treason to America in two passages (pp. XVII and 125). To those I utterly disagree, and indeed read them with great grief. It is such men as you who ought to see that there is not “a lack of inspiring theme or historic halo of dramatic contrast and material,” and that, as I have urged at length in my “Americanism in literature,” it is the democratic society of the future which, by subordinating the conventional and the individual, is really to afford more material and a far higher style of contrast. I am almost indignant when you speak of the “barren sentiment of a plain New England life” --plain if you please, but not necessarily barren. Emerson and Hawthorne certainly did not find it practically barren, though the latter in one moment of degeneracy made a similar remark. The strength of Whittier has been in finding all needed elements of poetry at home.


In answer to this letter of criticism, Stedman replied that he was speaking only of his personal experience in youth; that it was not the sentiment of Newport or Boston, but of a Calvinistic back-country, where he was injured for life and “almost perished of repression and atrophy.”

January 9, 1888
Do pay proper attention to William Austin, of whom Duyckinck has some account. I think his “Peter Rugg” had marked influence on Hawthorne. At any rate, he anticipated Hawthorne in what may be called the penumbra of his style-passing out of a purely imaginative creation through a medium neither real nor unreal and so getting back to common earth. Brockden Brown could not do this, but always had to come back with a slump upon somnambulism or ventriloquism; and Edward Bellamy, who has I think more of the pure Hawthorne invention than any of our men, fails always in the same way.

Austin's “English travels,” which I have, are racy and remarkable, especially for the period (1804). I knew his daughter and granddaughters, all uncommonly fine women.

Cambridge, May 13, 1903
It is a great pleasure to hear from you again, and all the more since you are seventy, as you allege, and so practically coeval with me, since I, please note, am only seventy-nine and a half and so still among the septuagenarians. I have just been answering, with some difficulty, an authoress who had spoken of me, [335] with the best intentions, as “venerable,” and my thoughts reverted to that halcyon period when I was in my thirties, and I heard a black soldier, peeping through my tent door, by permission of the orderly, remark, “Shoa 'nuf; de ole gem'man, he fas' asleep!” You will doubtless miss Stoddard very much. I knew him intimately and have always thought his poems somewhat overrated. But I suppose he had no equal among us for varied literary knowledge.

Cambridge, May 31, 1905
Dear Stedman:
How fast the literary world goes on, and I suppose we oldsters naturally find the newer books more commonplace, but we may be wrong. I met Yeats several times while in this country, and though I had always admired a few of his things, found him more and more likable, at least. He amused us here by going up to Concord for a Sunday and searching out the minutest memorials of Thoreau, while not interesting himself in the least in anything connected with Emerson and Hawthorne.

The following was written in a copy of “The Monarch of Dreams” which was given to Stedman:

Cambridge, October 24, 1887
This is rather my favorite child, I think, partly because it is the only thing I ever had rejected by a magazine (Scudder in the “Atlantic” ), and yet it has [336] been more praised by many than anything I ever did — including very cool critics such as Lowell and Norton.

This description of a summer in Plymouth, New Hampshire, was found in the journal of 1880:

Our chief drives were over the mountain roads and the greatest delight was to come out on some unexpected view of the beautiful Franconia Notch, which seems the gateway to some happy land. ... One is never wearied of mountain views; in the brightest day there are usually soft cloud shadows sailing over them, and when visible, they are never monotonous. It is always pleasurable in these mountain drives to turn back to the green intervales of Crooked Mountain Pine Place and its outlying mountains, all wooded to the top. These high felicities were seldom much impeded by the care of Dorcas, our landlady's old horse; if her reins were tightened she would tear recklessly down the steepest path, but if the reins were left on her back she would pick her own way, as is the wont of New Hampshire horses, as securely as a donkey. Some of the roads are in point of roughness like donkey-tracks and quite unlike those smooth avenues that surprise the American traveller in Switzerland and in the Scotch mountains.

Dorcas was clearly deficient, as her mistress honestly admitted, in “gimp.” The confession at first bewildered us, since we had never heard of a horse which adorned herself with that feminine appliance. But the discovery of a local phrase is as interesting as that of a [337] local flower, and when, on consulting Webster's Dictionary, we found that beside the “gimp” of the upholsterers there was another “gimp” signifying “smart, spruce, trim, nice,” and found the word farther designated as “not in use,” it became a matter of great satisfaction to find it still lingering in the highlands of New Hampshire. It was as if we had picked up an Indian tomahawk at the site of the aboriginal village on Baker's River; it was like a botanical find, as when we brought home great purple orchises from Campton Bog, or harebells from Livermore Falls, or fragrant handfuls of wild lily-of-the-valley from Holderness woods.

Whatever our mountain drives might be, we came back to the “intervale” with renewed delight. An intervale is more than a river valley; it is a dry meadow, a sometimes inundated prairie. I dare say there are intervales in other countries, though I never happened to see them; but the level breadth of verdure, the soft border of trees, the beautiful adornment of elms, these no country can rival; I do not know that even Japan, which duplicates so much of our flora — as we are trying to duplicate its art — exhibits an American elm. When we first came, the intervale was one vast field of grass with scarcely a fence; and everywhere the tall yellow-red lilies and the gay yellow and black rudbeckia grew amid the grass, as scarlet poppies grow in England. Gradually we saw the grass cut, and daily the fragrant loads were carried into the great barns beyond the intervale, and now in September the rural roads lead through short grass and past clumps [338] of still wild sunflowers and still lingering rose-raspberry — the most conspicuous all-summer bloom. The whole intervale belongs to one farm, originally a thousand acres or a mile square, and stretching far up into the beautiful Holderness woods behind. The boundary of the farm is the Pemigewasset River; and one corer boundary of the farm is described in the old deed, with unconscious repetition, as the “Pont-Fayette bridge.” I have sought in vain for the origin of this French name; and Crooked Mountain Pine Place has no historian. It is known that in 1780 a brigade of New Hampshire troops, commanded by Colonel Poor, served under Lafayette at West Point and in New Jersey; and possibly this bridge may have been first built soon after this time and by some of Lafayette's old soldiers.

The name was given at the time when Lafayette visited Concord, New Hampshire. My informant, formerly town clerk (who remembers when there was only a ford), thinks that the bridge had been built a short time before; at any rate, some leading men from the village went to Concord and saw L. F., and on their return proposed this name for the bridge which was adopted. I can find no reference to it in the town records earlier than 1826, where the name appears several times. It once appeared also as a street sign on the little street leading to the bridge. The curiosity is in the use of the French word “Pont,” which seems as if suggested by the Marquis himself or one of his French companions.

Nothing adds so much to one's happiness in the [339] country as to be collecting something. Our two objects of interest, in our wanderings with Dorcas, were ferns and old chairs. In the woods we watched for new ferns, although we rarely found them; and for ten weeks we looked for furniture on the piazzas and through the farmhouse windows and came away with one. We were often assured that they had all been gleaned from this region, and were sometimes greeted with “Be you Mr.--?” referring to some eminent collector whose vast sweep had anticipated our modest demand. We were shown old kitchen chairs of the humblest description, and treasures were sometimes exhibited to us which were not to be sold; we were told that a dozen fiddle-backed chairs had just been sent to Lowell to the folks there; or that “he” had one chair that he kept because grandmother died in it. There was a good deal of the romance of domestic antiquity, we found, about chairs; we no longer wondered at the number of songs that had been written about them, but found none that could be got for a song. In each village there was an impression that in some remoter village we could find plenty. Our one great success was early in our inquiries and after several failures. We had just been most graciously received by a farmer's wife who had insisted on making up in flowers for the want of chairs, and we were driving along, when my companion looked up from a lap full of gay lilies to exclaim, “There's a chairs” It was seen through a dining-room window, where the farmer was evidently taking his early tea. I hastened to the back door and looked in. The farmer [340] and his son sat at table; before them were tea, bread, butter, cheese, cold meat, and the invariable snowy pie of sour apple. “I beg your pardon,” said I, “but we are furnishing a house and have a fancy for old furniture. Will you sell your armchair?” “Wife,” shouted the farmer to some one unseen, “want to sell your armchair?” “No,” shouted a resounding voice from the pantry, with instantaneous decision, and a bouncing, good-natured woman bustled into the parlor. Then with softened voice she said, “Who wants it?” -and then with milder tones, “Well, I won't say that it might n't depend somewhat on what I could get for it” ; and her vehement repugnance presently yielded to an offer so moderate that I decline to mention the amount. “Well, the chair's yours,” she said abruptly: and the consequence was that all the way home we were wondering, at intervals, whether we could not have got it for less; while doubtless “he” and “she” were wondering at similar intervals whether we would not have given more. These little remorses, these retrospective variations of possible price, form the zest of even possible aesthetic bargainings.

We could not help suspecting that most of the early settlers of this region must have been youths who came here with only an axe on their shoulders and left the family furniture behind-so much less does there seem to be of it than in seaside villages. Yet this may be called the native land of eight-day clocks, most of these made in New England, a century ago, having come from the up-country villages of New Hampshire, [341] and we found one clock-maker in our own village who had collected hundreds of them from this and the neighboring counties for the Boston and New York markets. Spinning-wheels were also to be had without difficulty; but does a spinning-wheel ever look really happy in a new house, even if it be built like Charles Lamb's with conveniences for growing old?

It often occurred to us, in what may be called the summer-visited regions, how extremes have met by the reappearance of early ways among the modern visitors. The oldest cottages had bare floors, so have those of to-day. The older ones had open fireplaces, so have the new. The early settlers eschewed feather beds from necessity; so do the modern visitors from preference. The pioneers drove one-horse carts; so do the moderns. The pioneers wore knee-breeches, so do the.most ambitious youth among the new arrivals. The shawls and afghans and rugs which the summer boarders of to-day are knitting and crocheting simply reproduce in more aesthetic forms the garments and carpets which used in these cottages to be woven and spun. Thus does gracious Queen Anne resume us under her sway; and these aesthetic clubs of which one hears in England, who meet at Hampstead Heath in costume a century and a half old, and who even reprint the “Spectator” and “Tatler” with modern dates, are only carrying to an absurdity that reversion, if such it be, which is touching us all. Human progress, it is always said, moves in a spiral; and I suppose that we have come round to the same point, bare floors and knee-breeches, on a higher plane of civilization. [342]

Every time and place has its supernaturalism. We look on these quiet mountain farms, and fancy their life as prosaic and bare even in the midst of the beauty; and then one comes accidentally upon some tale of local wonder that needs no coloring from the imagination to enhance its strangeness. On the road from Blair's Hotel to Campton Bog, there is a farmer in whose house there has for some eight years occurred a series of local wonders which might, under other circumstances, have rivalled the Rochester knockings in the attention they excited. Some five or six years ago members of the family went away in winter, for a little visiting among their kindred; they remained away a night or two longer than was expected and there was some anxiety in the house. One of the children, a silent and rather dull boy of eight, sat gazing in the fire, and presently said, “There they are sitting together in a room; do not you see them in the coals?” --and gave a general description of the room and their respective positions. Next day the family returned, the account was repeated to them, and proved perfectly correct. The report spread a little, and when a Campton farmer lost his axe, he came, made the boy look in the fire, and recovered it. After this, one of the railway conductors lost a dog and consulted the oracle; the boy gave a good description of the dog, which he had never seen, and told where he was and at the same time described another dog, which was also found and had been lost like the previous one, several weeks. This was described to me by the conductor himself. [343]

On another occasion a lady who was staying at the Profile House visited the points of interest round the Flume House and on her return missed a diamond ring. She returned and looked all about the flume and pool in a rain. Hearing of the boy she drove to Campton, some twenty miles away, and visited him. He said, looking in the fire, that he saw the ring lying under the piazza at the Flume House, where it had slipped through a crack of the floor, after falling from her hand. On looking beneath the piazza it was found.

Several such incidents happened, and one day, when some men came from Lancaster to Plymouth to follow up inquiries about a watch that had been stolen from a dwelling-house, they were advised by the railway conductor aforesaid to consult the strange boy. They accordingly drove up to Campton and bade the boy look in the fire. He said at once, “I see the watch in the house from which it was stolen; you go through a front room with a black shut — up bed in it, then through a passage, then into an unfinished room with a cupboard in the corner; there you will find the watch.” The men laughed at his description; there was no shut — up bed in the house, they said, and no such cupboard. The boy persisting, they took him bodily to Lancaster, where he had never before been. Arrived at the house, he walked straight into the parlor, said, “There is the shut — up bed,” pointing to the piano — a thing he had never before seen — with a black cloth over it; then following through the passage, he went at once to an unfinished room, and to a corner where the planks had been only partly nailed on, making a [344] sort of compartment like a cupboard, into which he put his hand, and then looked round bewildered, saying, “The watch is gone.” They took the lad at once to the fireside, and left him gazing in. He presently, said, “I see the watch; it has been put under a pile of chips in the yard of a house.” He described the house so that it was recognized, went with them to the yard, showed the pile of chips, and there they found the watch. The house was the abode of a young woman who had worked in the dwelling from which the watch had been lost. These wonders have continued at intervals up to the present year; the family making no trade of it, and the boy receiving for his services whatever the applicant may choose to give. This very summer a child was lost from Haverhill, New Hampshire, and the woods were searched for him far and near; some friends came to D to inquire. Looking in the fire, as usual, he said, “I see him lying by a brook, almost dead,” and described the brook. That night a violent storm occurred; and going to the brook in the morning, they found it much swollen, and the lifeless body of the boy was found in the Connecticut River, just below the brook. In this case a large reward (five hundred dollars) had been offered for news of the lost child, and ten dollars were paid to the diviner. The boy is now sixteen or seventeen years old, and of rather dull aspect; the parents are poor, he has had little reading or instruction, and has scarcely ever been away from home, and the stories I give, which I have set down carefully from the narrative of people who know the child, in whom they inspire only a vague [345] wonder, simply add to that vast shadow land of tales uncertified and improbable, but nevertheless haunting the imagination. It is well to add that the family say that an elder sister of this boy, who died several years since at the age of fourteen, had the same faculty in a yet greater degree. The mother says that they were both born “with a veil over their eyes,” but whether this is meant literally or symbolically I do not know.

Two letters that follow were written during the Ogden educational trip of 1904.

. . A fine meeting in a great gymnasium with a great army of pupils all singing in a superbly rousing way the “negro spirituals” I love. The leader, a magnificently big and strong fellow, could fill the Stadium, I think, with his voice alone. On talking with him later, I found that he had studied my “Young folks' history of the United States.” Besides singing we had speeches, and one superb one from a Richmond professor, wholly modern and enthusiastic in new thoughts . . . Last evening we had jovial story-telling in which the Virginians beat out and out and Yankees were nowhere.

In the afternoon we rode in sight of the Blue Ridge, through woods lighted up by the starry dogwood, over the poorest land in the South, 't was said. We saw old [346] deserted cotton-fields, with dry stalks and pods .... Here and there a solitary negro cabin, swarming with women and children. But in some regions the people seemed to be all white, and the new brick cotton mills were worked by white people from the mountains — the class said to be absolutely ignorant. . . . One of our Southern teachers told of going into a kindergarten with about thirty children, all with the saddest faces — even when playing games — and when he spoke to the teacher about it, she said that this was owing to the great repression in their homes, and there was great improvement in this respect over a year before. And she told of one of the fathers, who told her he could not live there any longer because his children were so changed since they went to school. Formerly they were perfectly quiet and silent; now they came home laughing and wanted to play, and he could n't stand it.

We are now just passing from South Carolina into Georgia and just in that “valley of Habersham” of which Lanier sang so beautifully, though none of our hard-working educational party seem to have heard of him. . . . All this is the “New South” region where cotton mills and villages are growing up and you see new buildings and schoolhouses everywhere. . ... To-day we had the Governor of South Carolina, as yesterday of Virginia. People hardly seem to remember the war at all.

Cambridge, March 6, 1902
Prince Henry of Prussia here, and great gathering. [347] He is an attractive, slenderish man of forty, with a high American head rather than a German broad one. Saw him at Professor Munsterberg's, where he appeared easy and smiling, though unusually grave, they say — an attractive man decidedly.

April 12, 1906
To funeral of Professor Shaler. Long procession of students to gate of Yard — the first since Phillips Brooks's.

It left a wonderful impression of the power with coming generations of a single great teacher. Every one of those boys may become a great source of power himself — no one can tell which. The author has vast power also .. .; but it is not brought together in so direct and visible a shape.

The next few pages are composed of brief extracts and musings taken from various note-books and written at different times and places.

We all need action. This is shown by the way it transforms us, just as the water of a brook that glides turbid and dull along its common bed, becomes radiant and of a sunny purity when compelled to find its way over a cascade of rocks.

Most gifted persons cannot keep their souls strong and active without the stimulus of some brooding sorrow. They must sing by night--“learn in suffering what they teach in song.” It is nobler to learn in joy and peace and have the stimulus of simple fresh [348] life suffice. Sorrow thus used is no better than opium or wine, and we become as dependent on its stimulus.

In physical fighting there is always a relief in store for the defeated — the worst that can happen is death. In moral fighting it is not so. The defeated lives to brood over his shame.

One thing, however, I must remember. I cannot live a past experience over again. Life is a spiral, not a circle. If I try for an instant to reproduce a past experience, except in a higher form, I shall fail.

.. I have a passion for red tape and lists and the arrangement of details; understand perfectly Napoleon's loving to read over his army lists, in moments of leisure; give me something that interests me, to codify and arrange, and I am perfectly happy; with a shade less of the element of action, I should be a perfect librarian, in bliss among pamphlets and gluttonous of work.

October 30, 1860
Why should we all (save Emerson) be so impatient to speak? Why not wait till next moment or next sphere, if necessary, and say it deliberately and well? But no, the terrible throb of eager desire for utterance drives men on, like hunger or lust, with no power to calculate or resist.

When you have found a day to be idle, be idle for a day, says a Chinese proverb. But the name of idleness is a misnomer for any day, however spent, by a man [349] whose brain is active. Awaken a man's faculties in a hundred different directions, give him a thousand eager aptitudes all longing for a supply of knowledge and of life, and he can no more be idle than yonder robin whose winged picturesque day is spent putting worms into the gaping beaks of her insatiable offspring. ...

It is not wonderful displays of intellect which interest me; it is the daily life, sensations, and motives of these humble things. The birds are as real and absorbing to me as human beings. That kingfisher, for instance, who lives among the myriad birds and boys of the lake as lonely as an eagle on a mountain: no one ever finds his nest, no one sees him near his young, no one watches his flight or tracks his migration; yet every year he comes silently and fills the lake with his rattle.

To-day went down under a gray sky with Sanborn to see a man go down in a submarine armor to inspect the new causeway; he looked like a gigantic lobster or (F. S. said) a teapot; and it was pretty to trace his subaqueous path by the bubbles coming to the surface. I wonder if in higher spheres they trace us so.

October, 1861
Coming homeward, listened to my crickets with quiet delight. I may well call them mine, since no one else seems to notice their little ways.

I find that to me works of art do not look like those [350] of Nature. I grow tired of pictures — never of a butterfly.

The eternal youthfulness of Nature answers to my own feeling of youth and preserves it. As I turn from these men and women around me, whom I watch gradually submerged under the tide of gray hairs, it seems a bliss I have not earned to find bird, insect, and flower renewing itself each year in fresh eternal beauty, the same as in my earliest childhood.

So perfect is the health and beauty of Nature that there is no room for sorrow or doubt;--I will trust this butterfly against all the dyspeptic theologians or atheists of the world. I know that the sunny heart and the healthy body can gain out of pain and bereavement and sin and privation and nursing only a renewed faith in the eternal law. I know that all which is noblest is immortal.

Tieck's story of the Runenberg is no exaggeration of what I have felt again and again in lonely places. It was one of the educations of my youth, those days at the solitary lake, all hid in woods and steep hill precipices, Hammond's Pond. The old leaky boat, the black water, that darkest spot of all where another boat had sullenly sunk at its moorings and which I hated to approach, as if water spirits had drawn her down.. . .

What could Germany or Scotland have given me, more than that lake and woods and hills? Yet it is [351] not so remarkable a region in itself; dreams, fancies, associations made it. The pine was Shelley's “one vast pine” ; the rocks were those where Mignon's serpents cowered; the lake was the gloomy Mummelsee where the enchanted lily maidens dwell; the pine woods were such as Sterling describes in his “Woodland mountains,” where all grand ideal shapes go by. Yet it was all in the suburbs of Boston and I was nineteen.

It takes time and the long years to saturate every locality with romance and tenderness, but we are doing it slowly and surely in this dear America of ours.

To a literary fame, death comes like the leaves in “Alice's adventures,” by eating which one suddenly grew tall or short. How instantaneously Bayard Taylor's shrunk when he died; when he went to Berlin he had a series of parting fetes as if he were a leader in literature; the moment he died he became an insignificant figure. It was equally instantaneous with Willis and Tuckerman, before him. ... On the other hand, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and even Poe, suddenly rose in dimensions.

The End [352]

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