in the fashion of the time when it was built.
It is very sunny, the sun rising so as to shine (at
an acute angle to be sure) through the northern windows,
and going round the other three sides in the course
of the day. There is a pretty staircase with the
quaint old twisted banisters,—which they
call balusters now; but mine are banisters. My
library occupies two rooms opening into each other
by arches at the sides of the ample chimneys.
The trees I look out on are the earliest things I
remember. There you have me in my new-old quarters.
But you must not fancy a large house—rooms
sixteen feet square, and on the ground floor, nine
high. It was large, as things went here, when
it was built, and has a certain air of amplitude about
it as from some inward sense of dignity.”
In an earlier letter he wrote: “Here I am
in my garret. I slept here when I was a little
curly-headed boy, and used to see visions between
me and the ceiling, and dream the so often recurring
dream of having the earth put into my hand like an
orange. In it I used to be shut up without a
lamp,—my mother saying that none of her
children should be afraid of the dark,—to
hide my head under the pillow, and then not be able
to shut out the shapeless monsters that thronged around
me, minted in my brain.... In winter my view is
a wide one, taking in a part of Boston. I can
see one long curve of the Charles and the wide fields
between me and Cambridge, and the flat marshes beyond
the river, smooth and silent with glittering snow.
As the spring advances and one after another of our
trees puts forth, the landscape is cut off from me
piece by piece, till, by the end of May, I am closeted
in a cool and rustling privacy of leaves.”
In two of his papers especially, My Garden Acquaintance
and A Good Word for Winter
, has Lowell given
glimpses of the out-door life in the midst of which
he grew up.
His acquaintance with books and his schooling began
early. He learned his letters at a dame school.
Mr. William Wells, an Englishman, opened a classical
school in one of the spacious Tory Row houses near
Elmwood, and, bringing with him English public school
thoroughness and severity, gave the boy a drilling
in Latin, which he must have made almost a native
speech to judge by the ease with which he handled it
afterward in mock heroics. Of course he went to
Harvard College. He lived at his father’s
house, more than a mile away from the college yard;
but this could have been no great privation to him,
for he had the freedom of his friends’ rooms,
and he loved the open air. The Rev. Edward Everett
Hale has given a sketch of their common life in college.
“He was a little older than I,” he says,
“and was one class in advance of me. My
older brother, with whom I lived in college, and he
were most intimate friends. He had no room within
the college walls, and was a great deal with us.