Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/119

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101
Early Training

churches, and, we gather, in much the spirit in which they approached any other aesthetic experience. As for livelihood, or occupation, the father was always inclined to discourage any immediate decision upon that point, lest a young man might prematurely limit the development of his inner life. We are reminded how small a place is taken in the stories of James by what men do to earn a living. In America, it seemed, there were—apart from the unique case of Daniel Webster—but two possible destinies for a young man. Either he went into business or he went to the dogs. But the immediate family and connections of James were always aspiring to that more liberal foreign order in which was offered the third alternative of a person neither busy nor tipsy,—a cultivated person of leisure.

In 1860 the family went to live in Newport, so that the older brother might work in the studio of William Morris Hunt; and Henry, who had earlier haunted the galleries of Paris with his brother, welcomed this occasion to frequent a place devoted to the making of pictures. In 1862, William being at Lawrence Scientific School, Henry entered the Harvard Law School; still noting, in boarding-house or lecture-room, personalities, chiaroscuro, mise en scene, more than the precedents of law. The Civil War was the one distinctly American fact which seems to have penetrated the consciousness of Henry James. While he was prevented by lameness from going to war himself, it was brought home to him, for one thing, by the participation of two of his brothers. But the war, like everything else, was followed by him, however breathlessly, as a spectacle rich in artistic values. In 1864 the family were living in Boston, and from 1866 they were definitely settled in Cambridge, William entering the Harvard Medical School in that year; and in these days the young author was forming excitingly important literary connections. One friendship dating from this time was that with E. L. Godkin, editor of the newly founded Nation.[1] But most important no doubt was that with the Nortons of Shady Hill, who later introduced him to London society.

In 1870 died the person to whom James refers with the greatest personal affection, his cousin Mary Temple, the model for Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove, as he tells us, and

  1. See Book III, Chap. xx.