The Last Leaf eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Last Leaf.
and propeller while the rest of us formed an escort which could be turned into a rescue party if occasion required.  A stout, capacious rowboat followed immediately in the wake of the canoe.  We went down the dark, placid current in the fine summer weather to the Battleground, and then looked into the solemn forest aisle which arches over the narrow Assabeth.  The day was perfect, the flowers and birds were at their best, the pleasant nature was all about us.  All this John Fiske drank in to the full but still more was he touched by the great associations of the environment.  From the bank yonder had been “fired the shot heard round the world.”  The hill-tops, meadows, the gentle river had been loved and frequented by Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson; in these surroundings had bloomed forth the finest flowering of American literature.  No heart could be more sensitive than was his to influences of this kind.  As we moved cautiously about him, anxious about the equilibrium, though he was calm, he discoursed with animation.  The afternoon waned gloriously into the dusk of the happy day.

The little hill-town of Petersham in the back of Worcester County was John Fiske’s summer home, a spot he tenderly loved.  It is a retired place made very attractive in later years through the agency of his brother-in-law, who with wise and kindly art has added to the natural beauty.  I saw John Fiske here in his home of homes to which his heart clung more and more fondly as his end approached.  The weight of his great body, accumulating morbidly in a way which could not be counteracted, fairly overwhelmed at last his bright and noble life.  As the doctors put it, a heart made for a frame of one hundred and sixty pounds could not do the work for three hundred.  When, in his weakness, death was suggested to him as probably near, “Death!” said he simply and sweetly, “why, that only means going to Petersham to stay!” and there among the flowers and fields, remote from the world, though his spirit remains widely and solemnly pervasive, he has gone to stay.



When I went to England in 1886 to collect materials for a life of Young Sir Henry Vane, John Fiske gave me a letter to Dr. Richard Garnett, then Superintendent of the Reading Room in the British Museum.  He afterwards became Sir Richard Garnett and was promoted to be Keeper of Printed Books, perhaps the highest position among the librarians of the world, a post to which he did honour.  Dr. Garnett, slender and alert, the heaped-up litter of volumes and manuscripts in his study telling at a glance where his tastes lay, was nevertheless as he needed to be most practical and business-like.  Though an accomplished litterateur touching with versatility poetry, criticism, history, philosophy, and still other fields, this was his hobby only, his main work being when I knew him to make available for readers crowding from all lands seeking

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The Last Leaf from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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