MY FIRST BOOK
THE title of my Doctor's thesis and of my first book was The Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement. A Study in Eighteenth Century Literature. It was really the fulfilment of a boyish dream; for the first literary problem to arouse my interest made appeal in my schooldays at Hartford. I was reading a good deal of literature of the Age of Anne, comparing it in my mind with the romances of Walter Scott. What caused that extraordinary change in the tone and fashion of poetry and prose? As a boy, I made up my mind that some day I would find out.
In the Spring of 1890 Professor Beers at Yale suggested that I take for the subject of my thesis the history of English Romanticism. No subject could possibly have interested me more. That summer I was enjoying my first visit in England; and I went to the British Museum to read for a few days. Although I was twenty-five years old, I looked like a boy, and was dressed in bicycle clothes. The man in the Librarian's office at first refused to give me a ticket, telling me that English schoolboys were not allowed in the Reading Room, and that I must not come there to read for my exams. I told him I was an American and a college graduate and was twenty-five years old. He did not believe this; and finally asked, 'Will you swear that you are over twenty-one?' Accordingly I swore, and signed on some dotted line, and was very reluctantly given access to the Reading Room for two days.
At the time I was amused but amused very much more