Joke about Boston, from Van Wyck Brooks

From The Flowering of New England:

One of [Boston publisher James T.] Fields’s jokes was about the Boston man who read Shakespeare late in life but found him far beyond his expectation.  “There are not twenty men in Boston who could have written those plays,” he said.

VWB also tells us about John Bartlett, who was just a guy in Cambridge you went to when you needed to know who said something, until he finally went ahead and published his Familiar Quotations.


Van Wyck Brooks on: Elizabeth Peabody.

Van Wyck Brooks clearly has a little crush on Miss Elizabeth Peabody, “the founder of the American kindergarten.”  More from The Flowering of New England.

As for Miss Peabody’s future, one could see it already.  One pictured her, forty years hence, drowsing in her chair on the lecture-platform or plodding through the slush of a Boston winter, her bonnet askew, her white hair falling loose, bearing still, amid the snow and ice, the banner of education.  If, perchance, you lifted her out of a snowdrift, into which she had stumbled absent-mindedly, she would exclaim, between her gasps, “I am glad to see you!  Can you tell me which is the best Chinese gramar?”  Or she would give you the news about Sarah Winnemucka.  “Now Sarah Winnemucka” – this was the maligned Indian princess who was collecting money to educate her tribe.  Or she would ask if you had read your Stallo.  She took down every lecture she heard, although she seldom wrote what people said: most of her reports were “impressions.”  *

* “I saw it,” Miss Peabody said, when she walked into a tree and bruised her nose.  “I saw it, but did not realize it.”