A Look at Life in the Longfellow House (#1)

In this space, we will share a series of varied items — poems, letters, diary entries, or images — that reflect life in the Longfellow House since it was built in 1759.

Here is an extract from the memoir of Josiah Quincy, mayor of Boston, president of Harvard College, and Congressman from Massachusetts:
On a Sunday evening in September, 1794, I went, as was my habit, to the house of Ebenezer Storer, the husband of my paternal aunt (Hannah Quincy). It was a hospitable, pleasant family, entertaining their friends most agreeably, of whom it was the resort on the Sunday evenings. On this evening I was casually introduced to a young lady from New York, a Miss Morton, of whose existence I had never before heard. There was nothing uncommonly prepossessing in her appearance, and she made no impression on my mind or fancy.

Another of my aunts, Mrs. Guild, was also present, and soon asked me to retire with her to an adjoining room, as she wished my advice on some business matters. While thus engaged, the stranger lady, at the request of the company in the parlor, began to sing one of the beautiful songs of Burns, with a clearness of voice and an exquisite taste and feeling which, though I was not very impressible by music, at once struck a chord in my heart never touched before, and excited emotions I had never before experienced.

I at once threw down Mrs. Guild's papers, saying I could attend to nothing else while that lady was singing, and returned to the company. At the request of the company the young lady sung several other songs of Burns with equal excellence and a like effect on myself. I immediately entered into conversation with her, which strengthened and increased my previous impression in her favor. I found an intelligence of no common order, and a well-educated mind, with no apparent desire to attract admiration, and I felt my heart drawn towards her by an impulse apparently irresistible.

On inquiry I found she was to remain in Boston but a single week, and was at a boarding-house with her brother. I knew of no means to pursue a further acquaintance, to seek which I was impelled by a power of which I had previously no conception. My difficulty in this respect, however, was soon removed. She was taken from her boarding-house by Mrs. Craigie, the wife of Andrew Craigie, a gentleman of fortune, who lived in great style at Cambridge in the fine house which had been Washington's head-quarters, and is now the residence of the poet Longfellow. Here I soon found means to cultivate her acquaintance…
Eliza Susan Morton married Josiah Quincy in 1797.

[Source: Edmund Quincy, Life of Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, (1868)]