Chapter 1: childhoodThe American traveller in England who takes pains to inquire in bookstores as to the comparative standing of his country's poets among English readers, is likely to hear Longfellow ranked at the head, with Whittier as a close second. In the same way, if he happens to attend English conventions and popular meetings, he will be pretty sure to hear these two authors quoted oftener than any other poets, British or American. This parallelism in their fame makes it the more interesting to remember that Whittier was born within five miles of the old Longfellow homestead, where the grandfather of his brother poet was born. Always friends, though never intimate, they represented through life two quite different modes of rearing and education. Longfellow was the most widely travelled author of the Boston circle, Whittier the least so; Longfellow spoke a variety of languages, Whittier only his own; Longfellow had whatever the American college of his time could give him, Whittier had none of it; Longfellow had the habits of a man of the world, Whittier those of a recluse; Longfellow touched reform but lightly, Whittier  was essentially imbued with it; Longfellow had children and grandchildren, while Whittier led a single life. Yet in certain gifts, apart from poetic quality, they were alike; both being modest, serene, unselfish, brave, industrious, and generous. They either shared, or made up between them, the highest and most estimable qualities that mark poet or man. Whittier, like Garrison,--who first appreciated his poems,--was brought up apart from what Dr. Holmes loved to call the Brahmin class in America; those, namely, who were bred to cultivation by cultivated parents. Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, were essentially of this class; all their immediate ancestors were, in French phrase, gens de robe; three of them being children of clergymen, and one of a lawyer who was also a member of Congress. All of them had in a degree — to borrow another phrase from Holmes — tumbled about in libraries. Whittier had, on the other hand, the early training of a spiritual aristocracy, the Society of Friends. He was bred in a class which its very oppressors had helped to ennoble; in the only meetings where silence ranked as equal with speech, and women with men; where no precedence was accorded to anything except years and saintliness; where no fear was felt but of sin. This gave him at once the companionship of the humble and a habit of deference to those whom he felt above him; he had measured men from a level and touched human nature directly in its own vigour and yet in its highest phase. Not one of this eminent circle had the keys of common life so absolutely in his hands as Whittier. Had anything been wanting in this respect, his interest in politics would have  filled the gap. First thrilled by the wrongs of the slave, and serving in that cause a long apprenticeship, it was instinctive in him to be the advocate of peace, of woman suffrage, of organised labour. In such outworks of reform he had an attitude, a training, and a sympathy which his literary friends had not. He was, in the English phrase, “a poet of the people,” and proved by experience that even America supplied such a function. Not in vain had he studied the essential dignity of the early New England aristocracy, as he traced the lineage of his heroine, Amy Wentworth, and paced with her the streets of Portsmouth, N. H., a region less wholly Puritan than Massachusetts:--
Her home is brave in Jaffrey Street,All this type of life he had studied in New England history,--none better,--but what real awe did it impose on him who had learned at his mother's knee to seek the wilderness with William Penn or to ride through the howling mobs with Barclay of Ury? The Quaker tradition, after all, had a Brahminism of its own which Beacon Street in Boston could not rear or Harvard College teach. To this special privilege John Greenleaf Whittier was born in Haverhill, Mass., on Dec. 17, 1807.  The founder of the name and family of Whittier in this country, Thomas Whittier, was one of that type of ancestors to which every true American looks back with pride, if he can. Of Huguenot descent, but English training, he sailed from Southampton in 1638, and settled in what was then Salisbury, but is now Amesbury, on Powow River — the poet's “swift Powow” --a tributary of the Merrimac. He was then eighteen, and was a youth weighing three hundred pounds and of corresponding muscular strength. Later, he removed to Haverhill, about ten miles away, and built a log house near what is now called “the Whittier homestead.” Here he dwelt with his wife, a distant kinswoman, whose maiden name was Ruth Flint, and who had come over with him on the packet ship. They had ten children, five of whom were boys, each of these being over six feet in height. Then he naturally built for his increasing family a larger house, “the homestead,” which is still standing, and in which some of his descendants yet live. He was a leading citizen of Haverhill, which was for the greater part of a century a frontier village, subject to frequent incursions from the Indians, one of these resulting in the well-known tragedy of Hannah Dustin. From these raids Thomas Whittier never suffered, though he was one of the town committee to provide fortified houses for places of refuge in case of danger. That he never even bolted his own doors at night is the tradition of the family. This tradition suggests the ways and purposes of the Society of Friends, but it does not appear that Thomas Whittier actually belonged to that body, though he risked name and standing to secure fair treatment for those who led it. Mr. Pickard, the poet's biographer,  tells us that in 1652 he joined in petitioning the legislature, then called “general court,” for the pardon of Robert Pike, who had been heavily fined for speaking against the order prohibiting certain Quakers from exhorting “on the Lord's Day,” even in their own houses. Not only was this petition not granted, but the petitioners were threatened with loss of rights as “freemen” unless they withdrew their names. Sixteen refused to withdraw them, of whom two, Thomas Whittier and Christopher Hussey, were ancestors of the poet, as was one of the prohibited exhorters, Joseph Peasley. These were temporarily disfranchised, but the name of Thomas Whittier often appears with honour in the town records, even to mentioning the fact that when he came to dwell in Haverhill he brought with him a hive of bees which had been willed to him by his uncle, Henry Rolfe, a fellow passenger to this country. This hive of bees, as an emblem of industry and thrift, has been used by some of his descendants as the basis of a monogram.1 In the house thus honourably occupied by a manly progenitor, John Greenleaf Whittier was born, his middle name coming from his paternal grandmother, Sarah Greenleaf, about whom he wrote a ballad, and about whose name — translated, as is supposed, from the French Feuillevert — he has written the poem, “A name.” He was also descended through his maternal grandmother from Christopher Hussey, who had married a daughter of the Rev. Stephen Bachiler, a man of distinguished appearance and character, whose reputation was clouded for two centuries by charges made in his own day, but which now seem to have been dispelled  by his descendants.2 Father Bachiler's striking appearance, dark, thin, and straight, black eyebrows, descended to the two men most conspicuous among his posterity, John Greenleaf Whittier and Daniel Webster. The homestead in which Whittier was reared is to this day so sheltered from the world that no neighbour's roof has ever been in sight from it; and Whittier says of it in “Snow-bound”
With stately stairways worn
With feet of old Colonial knights
And ladies gentle-born.
And on her, from the wainscot old,
Ancestral faces frown,--
And this has worn the soldier's sword,
And that the judge's gown.
No church-bell lent its Christian toneIn a prose paper by him, moreover, “The Fish I Didn't catch,” published originally in the Little Pilgrim, in Philadelphia, in 1843, there is a sketch of the home of his youth, as suggestive of a rustic boyhood as if it had been made in Scotland. It opens as follows:--
To the savage air; no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
The house still stands in which Whittier thus dwelt. It has an oaken frame, composed of timber fifteen inches  square; it is about thirty-six feet long, and is built around a central chimney. The kitchen, which is the chief room, is thirty feet long, and the fireplace is eight between the jambs. The latest houses built by wealth in the rural parts of New England are essentially modelled as to their large rooms from these old colonial houses. The enormous labour required in tempering the cold in these elder dwellings — for warmed throughout they never were — cannot easily be recognized in the modern, which rely on the open fireplaces only for spring and autumn, and on furnaces for the rest. How much more real and genuine seems the conflict with frost and snow upon Whittier's hearth. He describes, in “Snow-bound,” the building of the fire:--
Our old homestead (the house was very old for a new country, having been built about the time that the Prince of Orange drove out James the Second) nestled under a long range of hills which stretched off to the west. It was surrounded by woods in all directions save to the southeast, where a break in the leafy wall revealed a vista of low, green meadows, picturesque with wooded islands and jutting capes of upland. Through these, a small brook, noisy enough as it foamed, rippled, and laughed down its rocky falls by our garden-side, wound, silently and scarcely visible, to a still larger stream, known as the Country Brook. This brook in its turn, after doing duty at two or three saw and grist mills, the clack of which we could hear across the intervening woodlands, found its way to the great river, and the river took it up and bore it down to the great sea. I have not much reason for speaking well of these meadows, or rather bogs, for they were wet most of the year; but in the early days they were highly prized by the settlers, as they furnished natural mowing before the uplands could be cleared of wood and stones and laid down to grass. There is a tradition that the hay-harvesters of two adjoining towns quarrelled about a boundary question, and fought a hard battle one summer morning in that old time, not altogether bloodless, but by no means as fatal as the fight between the rival Highland clans, described by Scott in ‘The Fair Maid of Perth.’ I used to wonder at their folly, when I was stumbling over the rough hassocks, and sinking knee-deep in the black mire, raking the sharp sickle-edged grass which we used to feed out to the young cattle in midwinter, when the bitter cold gave them appetite for even such fodder. ... Nevertheless, the meadows had their redeeming points. In spring mornings the blackbirds and bobolinks made them musical with songs; and in the evenings great bullfrogs croaked and clamoured; and on summer nights we loved to watch the white wreaths of fog rising and drifting in the moonlight like troops of ghosts, with the fireflies throwing up ever and anon signals of their coming. But the Brook was far more attractive, for it had sheltered bathing-places, clear and white-sanded, and weedy stretches, where the shy pickerel loved to linger, and deep pools where the stupid sucker stirred the black mud with his fins. I had followed it all the way from its birthplace among the pleasant New Hampshire hills, through the sunshine of broad, open meadows, and under the shadow of thick woods. . . . Macaulay has sung,--That year young lads in Umbroand this picture of the Roman sheep-washing recalled, when we read it, similar scenes in the Country Brook.
Shall plunge the struggling sheep ;Whittier's Works, V. 320-22.
We piled, with care, our nightly stackHe next paints for us the group around the fireside :--
Of wood against the chimney-back--
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty fore-stick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art
The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turk's heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle, 
Whispered the old rhyme, ‘Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.’
Shut in from all the world without,Here we have, absolutely photographed, the Puritan Colonial interior, as it existed till within the very memory of old men still living. No other book, no other picture preserves it to us; all other books, all other pictures combined, leave us still ignorant of the atmosphere which this one page re-creates for us; it is more imperishable than any interior painted by Gerard Douw. And this picture we owe to a lonely invalid, who painted it in memory of his last household companions, his mother and his sister.  It must be remembered that, in the poet's childhood, the yearly meetings of the Society of Friends at Amesbury were relatively large, and the name of that kindly denomination was well fulfilled by the habit of receiving friends from a distance. They came in their own conveyances to Amesbury or its adjoining settlement, Haverhill, and remained for days in succession, the Whittier home entertaining sometimes as many as ten or fifteen. In such a household Whittier grew up, listening not without occasional criticism to his father's first-day readings from the Scriptures; visiting with his parents the Quarterly Meeting in Salem, passing a leafless tree, pointed out to him as that on which the witches were hung, and seeing on another drive the bridge where the drawtender had died in accordance with a previous ghostly warning. Or else he followed by the fireside his Aunt Mercy's mystic tales, when she narrated the appearance of her lover's spectre, riding on horseback, but moving away without sound of hoofs, and afterward proving to have died at the very day and hour of her vision. Or his father told tales of early trading expeditions to Canada, through the Indian-haunted woods.
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed; The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons' straggling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October's wood.
Our father rode again his rideHis mother, in her turn, pointed out the glimmering reflection of the firelight in the small, thick panes of window glass, and taught him the old rhyme about the witches making tea there, or told him of a point in the Country Brook, where there was a tradition of a witch meeting, consisting of six little old women in sky blue cloaks; or of a bridge where a teamster had once seen a ghost bobbing for eels, or other tales best recorded in the poet's own simple verse.
On Memphremagog's wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper's hut and Indian camp;
Lived o'er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. Francois' hemlock trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away,
And mingled in its merry whirl 
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury's level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
Our mother, while she turned her wheel,Or his uncle told of the “lore of fields and brooks.”
Or ran the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Cochecho town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore;
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free,
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways)
The story of her early days.
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard's conjuring book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua, 
The loon's weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down;
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay
The ducks' black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply with a look more grave
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewell's ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley's Journal, old and quaint,--
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint!--
Himself to Nature's heart so nearAdd to these the two young sisters; the village schoolmaster with his love of books and wandering; and add that strange, half-crazed guest, Harriet Livermore, who had been for a time a convert to the doctrines of Friends until she quarrelled with her lover on a minor point of doctrine and knocked him down with a stick of wood. She then became a preacher of the Second Advent, and travelled for years in Europe to proclaim its doctrines. Lastly, we must add such occasional guests as Whittier himself describes in this narrative:--
That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds.
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle's eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold, 
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripened corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed ia the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink;
In fields with bean or clover gay
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell.
The musk-rat plied the mason's trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.
On one occasion, on my return from the field at evening, I was told that a foreigner had asked for lodging during the night, but that, influenced by his dark, repulsive appearance, my mother had very reluctantly refused his request. I found her by no means satisfied with her decision. “What if a son of mine was in a strange land?” she inquired, self-reproachfully. Greatly to her relief, I volunteered to go in pursuit of the wanderer, and, taking a cross path over the fields, soon overtook him. He had just been rejected at the house of our nearest neighbour; and was standing in a state of dubious perplexity in the street. His looks quite justified my mother's suspicions. He was an olive-complexioned, black-bearded Italian, with an eye like a live coal, such a  face as perchance looks out on the traveller in the passes of the Abruzzi, one of those bandit visages which Salvator has painted. With some difficulty I gave him to understand my errand, when he overwhelmed me with thanks, and joyfully followed me back. He took his seat with us at the supper-table; and, when we were all gathered round the hearth that cold autumnal evening, he told us, partly by words, and partly by gestures, the story of his life and misfortunes: amused us with descriptions of the grape-gatherings and festivals of his sunny clime; edified my mother with a recipe for making bread of chestnuts; and in the morning, when after breakfast his dark sullen face lighted up, and his fierce eyes moistened with grateful emotion as in his own silvery Tuscan accent he poured out his thanks, we marvelled at the fears which had so nearly closed our doors against him; and, as he departed, we all felt that he had left with us the blessing of the poor.But what was the boy himself who was nurtured by that fireside? Whittier tells us this also, in his other poem, “The Barefoot boy.”
Blessings on thee, little manOut of doors the boy took his share of the farm duties, indeed too great a share, he afterward found, for his health. Inheriting the tall figure of his predecessors, he did not inherit their full strength; he was always engaged, like them, in subduing the wilderness; he had to face the cold of winter weather in what would now be called insufficient clothing; it was before that period had arrived when, in Miss Catherine Sedgwick's phrase, the New England Goddess of Health held out flannel underclothing to everybody. The barn, as Whittier himself afterward testified, had no doors: the winter winds whistled through, and snow drifted on its floors for more than a century. There  Whittier milked seven cows; and tended a horse, two oxen, and some sheep. It would seem a healthy and invigorating boyhood, yet he was all his life a recognised invalid, although he lived to be eighty-five, five years older than any of his Whittier ancestors, who were all recorded as stalwart men. These various associations and sources of knowledge took the place of books to the boy's mind; but every old-fashioned family of Friends had its own little bookcase, partly theological, yet also largely biographical, always carefully read. The Whittier library of thirty volumes furnished no exception to this. We have a list of the leading works, and it is characteristic of the period that these included not only some which were distinctly secular, but even some so reprehensible that they are now difficult to find, and quite banished from orderly households. One of his first attempts in verse was a rhymed catalogue of the books in the family library — a list which begins as follows:
Barefoot boy with cheek of tan,
With thy turned — up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace:
From my heart I give thee joy,
I was once a barefoot boy.
O for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned in schools: 
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!--
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy;
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
O for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw
Me, their master, waited for!
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight,
Through the day and through the night
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond, 
Mine on bending orchard trees
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy.
O for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread,
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone gray and rude!
O'er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frog's orchestra;
And to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy.
The Bible towering o'er all the rest,Now the lives of George Burroughs and Henry Tufts were the Gil Bias and even the Guzman d'alfarache of the New England readers of a hundred years ago; the former having gone through many editions, while the latter — by far the wittier and wickeder of the two--was suppressed by the Tufts family, and not more than half a dozen copies are known to exist. Without it the entire life of the revolutionary period cannot be understood, and it helps us to comprehend the breadth and toleration of Whittier's nature, and especially the sense of humour which relieved it, when he gives a characterisation of Burroughs and Tufts that shows him to have read their memoirs. For other books he borrowed what he could find, especially books of tragedy, of which he was always fond; and some were read to him by one of his teachers, Joshua Coffin, afterward a familiar figure for many years to the people of the neighbouring town of Newbury, whose town clerk and historian he wasa man of substantial figure, large head, cordial manners, and one of Garrison's twelve first abolitionists; a man whom I well remember in later years as being all that Whittier describes in him. The place where he is celebrated is in that delightful poem, “To my old schoolmaster” beginning 
Of all other books the best.
William Penn's laborious writing
And a book 'gainst Christians fighting.
A book concerning John's Baptism,
Elias Smith's Universalism.
How Captain Riley and his crew
Were on Sahara's desert threw.
How Rollins, to obtain the cash,
Wrote a dull history of trash. 
The lives of Franklin and of Penn,
Of Fox and Scott, all worthy men.
The life of Burroughs, too, I've read,
As big a rogue as e'er was made.
And Tufts, too, though I will be civil,
Worse than an incarnate devil.
Coffin, then a young Dartmouth College student, used to read aloud on winter evenings, in the Whittier household, the poems of Burns, explaining the Scotch dialect; and finally lent the book to the boy of fourteen, who had heard it with delight. At a later time one of the Waverley novels came into his hands, probably by borrowing, and he and his young sister read it on the sly at bedtime, till their candle went out at a critical passage. Furthermore, he visited Boston in his teens as the guest of Mrs. Nathaniel Greene, one of his Batchelder kindred, there buying his first copy of Shakespeare, and being offered a ticket to the theatre by an accomplished actress, a kindness which he declined, because he had promised his mother to keep away from that fatal peril. He summed up his experience of farming and farmers in this letter to the Essex Agricultural Society, dated “12th mo. 30, 1888.”
Old friend, kind friend! lightly down
Drop time's snowflakes on thy crown!
Never be thy shadow less,
Never fail thy cheerfulness!Whittier's Works, IV. 73.
My ancestors since 1640 have been farmers in Essex County. I was early initiated into the mysteries of farming as it was practised seventy years ago, and worked faithfully on the old Haverhill homestead until, at the age of thirty years, I was compelled to leave it, greatly to my regret. Ever since, if I have envied anybody, it has been the hale, strong farmer, who could till his own acres, and if he needed help could afford to hire it, because he was able to lead the work himself. I have lived to see a great and favourable change in the farming population of Essex County. The curse of intemperance is now almost unknown among them;  the rumseller has no mortgage on their lands. As a rule, they are intelligent, well informed, and healthy, interested in public affairs, self-respectful and respected, independent landholders, fully entitled, if any class is, to the name of gentleman. It may be said that they are not millionnaires, and that their annual gains are small. But, on the other hand, the farmer rests secure while other occupations and professions are in constant fear of disaster; his dealing directly and honestly with the Almighty is safer than speculation; his life is no game of chance, and his investments in the earth are better than in stock companies and syndicates. As to profits, if our farmers could care less for the comfort of themselves and their families, if they could consent to live as their ancestors once lived, and as the pioneers in new countries now live, they could, with their present facilities, no doubt, double their profits at the expense of the delicacies and refinements that make life worth living. No better proof of real gains can be found than the creation of pleasant homes for the comfort of age and the happiness of youth. When the great English critic Matthew Arnold was in this country, on returning from a visit in Essex County, he remarked that while the land looked to him rough and unproductive, the landlords' houses seemed neat and often elegant. “But where,” he asked, “do the tenants, the working people live?” He seemed surprised when I told him that the tenants were the landlords and the workers the owners.