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We had expected to stay in Boston only until we could find a house in Old Cambridge. This was not so simple a matter as it might seem; for the ancient town had not yet quickened its scholarly pace to the modern step. Indeed, in the spring of 1866 the impulse of expansion was not yet visibly felt anywhere; the enormous material growth that followed the civil war had not yet begun. In Cambridge the houses to be let were few, and such as there were... more...

I think that every man ought to work for his living, without exception, and that when he has once avouched his willingness to work, society should provide him with work and warrant him a living. I do not think any man ought to live by an art. A man's art should be his privilege, when he has proven his fitness to exercise it, and has otherwise earned his daily bread; and its results should be free to all. There is an instinctive sense of this,... more...

PONY’S MOTHER, AND WHY HE HAD A RIGHT TO RUN OFF If there was any fellow in the Boy’s Town fifty years ago who had a good reason to run off it was Pony Baker. Pony was not his real name; it was what the boys called him, because there were so many fellows who had to be told apart, as Big Joe and Little Joe, and Big John and Little John, and Big Bill and Little Bill, that they got tired of telling boys apart that way; and after one of... more...

I have already spoken of my earliest meetings with Lowell at Cambridge when I came to New England on a literary pilgrimage from the West in 1860. I saw him more and more after I went to live in Cambridge in 1866; and I now wish to record what I knew of him during the years that passed between this date and that of his death. If the portrait I shall try to paint does not seem a faithful likeness to others who knew him, I shall only claim that so... more...

During the four years of my life in Venice the literary intention was present with me at all times and in all places. I wrote many things in verse, which I sent to the magazines in every part of the English-speaking world, but they came unerringly back to me, except in three instances only, when they were kept by the editors who finally printed them. One of these pieces was published in the Atlantic Monthly; another in Harpers Magazine; the third... more...


I. UP AND DOWN MADEIRA. No drop-curtain, at any theatre I have seen, was ever so richly imagined, with misty tops and shadowy clefts and frowning cliffs and gloomy valleys and long, plunging cataracts, as the actual landscape of Madeira, when we drew nearer and nearer to it, at the close of a tearful afternoon of mid-January. The scenery of drop-curtains is often very boldly beautiful, but here Nature, if she had taken a hint from art, had... more...

THE PILOT’S STORY. I. It was a story the pilot told, with his back to his hearers,–– Keeping his hand on the wheel and his eye on the globe of the jack-staff, Holding the boat to the shore and out of the sweep of the current, Lightly turning aside for the heavy logs of the drift-wood, Widely shunning the snags that made us sardonic obeisance. II. All the soft, damp air was full of delicate perfume... more...

Elsewhere we literary folk are apt to be such a common lot, with tendencies here and there to be a shabby lot; we arrive from all sorts of unexpected holes and corners of the earth, remote, obscure; and at the best we do so often come up out of the ground; but at Boston we were of ascertained and noted origin, and good part of us dropped from the skies. Instead of holding horses before the doors of theatres; or capping verses at the plough-tail;... more...

It was in the little office of James T. Fields, over the bookstore of Ticknor & Fields, at 124 Tremont Street, Boston, that I first met my friend of now forty-four years, Samuel L. Clemens. Mr. Fields was then the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and I was his proud and glad assistant, with a pretty free hand as to manuscripts, and an unmanacled command of the book-notices at the end of the magazine. I wrote nearly all of them myself, and in... more...

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL The papers collected here under the name of 'My Literary Passions' were printed serially in a periodical of such vast circulation that they might well have been supposed to have found there all the acceptance that could be reasonably hoped for them. Nevertheless, they were reissued in a volume the year after they first appeared, in 1895, and they had a pleasing share of such favor as their author's books have enjoyed. But it is... more...