John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 70 pages of information about John Lothrop Motley. a memoir Volume 1.

II.

1827-1831.  AEt. 13-17.

College life.

Such then was the boy who at the immature, we might almost say the tender, age of thirteen entered Harvard College.  Though two years after me in college standing, I remember the boyish reputation which he brought with him, especially that of a wonderful linguist, and the impression which his striking personal beauty produced upon us as he took his seat in the college chapel.  But it was not until long after this period that I became intimately acquainted with him, and I must again have recourse to the classmates and friends who have favored me with their reminiscences of this period of his life.  Mr. Phillips says: 

“During our first year in college, though the youngest in the class, he stood third, I think, or second in college rank, and ours was an especially able class.  Yet to maintain this rank he neither cared nor needed to make any effort.  Too young to feel any responsibilities, and not yet awake to any ambition, he became so negligent that he was ‘rusticated’ [that is, sent away from college for a time].  He came back sobered, and worked rather more, but with no effort for college rank thenceforward.”

I must finish the portrait of the collegian with all its lights and shadows by the help of the same friends from whom I have borrowed the preceding outlines.

He did not care to make acquaintances, was haughty in manner and cynical in mood, at least as he appeared to those in whom he felt no special interest.  It is no wonder, therefore, that he was not a popular favorite, although recognized as having very brilliant qualities.  During all this period his mind was doubtless fermenting with projects which kept him in a fevered and irritable condition.  “He had a small writing-table,” Mr. Phillips says, “with a shallow drawer; I have often seen it half full of sketches, unfinished poems, soliloquies, a scene or two of a play, prose portraits of some pet character, etc.  These he would read to me, though he never volunteered to do so, and every now and then he burnt the whole and began to fill the drawer again.”

My friend, Mr. John Osborne Sargent, who was a year before him in college, says, in a very interesting letter with which he has favored me: 

“My first acquaintance with him [Motley] was at Cambridge, when he came from Mr. Cogswell’s school at Round Hill.  He then had a good deal of the shyness that was just pronounced enough to make him interesting, and which did not entirely wear off till he left college. . .  I soon became acquainted with him, and we used to take long walks together, sometimes taxing each other’s memory for poems or passages from poems that had struck our fancy.  Shelley was then a great favorite of his, and I remember that Praed’s verses then appearing in the ‘New Monthly’ he thought very clever and
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John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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