« AnteriorContinuar »
Pierre Irving and David Berdan, with whom I was intimate, had just come from Spain, and their conversation I think determined me to go there first.
The “ Journey into Spain,” and my impressions of the country and people, you will find in “Outre-Mer."
Irving, Everett, and Rich were all in Madrid during my stay there. Also Slidell, with whom I made a visit to Segovia and the Escorial, which has been described in his “ Year in Spain.”
From Madrid I went to Cordova, Seville, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malaga, and Granada ; and returning to Malaga, sailed in a Swedish ship to Marseilles, where I first met my life-long friend, yourself.
Italy and the life there you know as well as I do.
From Italy to Germany by way of Venice and Vienna; then through Prague and Dresden to Göttingen, where I cast anchor for six months.
Returned home in August, 1829, and in September began my work at Brunswick.
Married September 14, 1831.
In the spring of 1835 went again to Europe, visiting England, Denmark, and Sweden. Then to Germany by way of Holland.
Mary died at Rotterdam, November 29, 1835. I passed the next winter at Heidelberg, where I met Bryant and his family, and returned home, after a tour in Switzerland, in the autumn of 1836, going at once to Cambridge.
But enough of this. Ever thine, H. W. L.
time, but soon after General Washington's arrival in Cambridge it was prepared for his headquarters. Here, during the siege of Boston, the general lived with his military family, he using as a chamber the southeast corner room of the second story. On the transfer of military operations to the more southerly states the estate was bought by Nathaniel Tracy of Newburyport, who had become rich by privateering; but he did not hold it many years, for his wealth took the wings of extravagance and flew away. In 1786 Thomas Russell, president of the United States Branch Bank, purchased the place, but sold it in 1792 to Andrew Craigie, who had amassed a fortune as apothecary-general to the continental army. It was his widow who lived there when Mr. Longfellow came to Cambridge. Her husband's affairs having been embarrassed by expenses before he died, she eked out her income by letting the
Edward Everett had been her tenant, and Jared Sparks worked on the “Life and Writings of Washington” in the very room occupied by the general. Here, too, Joseph E. Worcester, the maker of the dictionary, had an abiding place. That Mr. Longfellow should have been attracted to such a house was quite natural. It was the most romantic spot near the college buildings, and though somewhat shorn of its ancient glory, - for of the original two hundred acres only eight remained, — an air of lordliness still lingered around it. The mansion was associated with opulence and stateliness, with historic times and celebrated people. The environment was rural, the suggestions were peaceful and scholastic. As he lifted the heavy brass knocker which decorated the front door, he may have thought of the old régime, and General Washington, and the gayly-dressed people who had in times past gone in and out, or sat in the banqueting room. Probably he did not think of Prince Talleyrand, who was once entertained there; or the two hundred guests who are said to have sat at meat, on one occasion, in the grand dining hall; or the toasts in honor of King George; or the bumpers of wine; or the equipages from the neighboring city, not then as accessible as it is now that Mr. Craigie's fine bridge has been made free.
Mrs. Craigie, still a handsome woman, with
From first to last he lived in the so-called Craigie house," a large, square, dignified mansion, standing then in the country, a little removed from the street, with broad fields around it, elm-trees and shrubbery on the lawn, syringas and lilacs bordering the path from the gate, a porch with a flight of steps, a piazza on either side, and a front view of the river Charles, winding through the meadows, altogether a proper dwelling for a poet. The house was built “in good old colony times, when we lived under the king," by John Vassall, in 1759, as a home for himself and his bride, a sister of the last royal lieutenant-governor of the province. When the Revolution made life at Cambridge unpleasant for royalists, Vassall fled to London to enjoy his wealth in peace, and his mansion became the property of the new government. After the battles of Lexington and Concord a regiment of Marblehead fishermen, soldiers under command of Colonel John Glover, occupied it for a short
an imposing turban about her head, taking the slender, scholarly-looking man for a student, declined at first, to show her rooms, but on learning that he was a professor,” that he was Professor Longfellow, the author of “ Outre-Mer,” which everybody was reading, she relented, and with proud pleasure showed her best apartments.
“ You cannot have this," “You cannot have that,” she said, as she opened one noble chamber after another, like a millionaire displaying his treasures. “But here is one you can have,” she exclaimed at length as she threw open General Washington's chamber. It was all that the lodger wanted, and here he set up his establishment.
Mrs. Craigie must have been a character. It is told of her, that one morning her lodger, entering her parlor, found the old lady sitting by an open window quite festooned by cankerworms that had crawled in from the outside. They had fastened themselves to her dress, and hung in clusters from her white turban. Shocked, in his good feeling and his good breeding the kindly poet offered to relieve her from her persecutors. The stately dame calmly raised her eyes from the book she was reading, and in a tone slightly exacerbated with rebuke remarked: “Young man, have not our fellowworms as good a right to live as we?” Even Mr. Longfellow's politeness was daunted by such an admonition.
The duties of the professor were by no means light. Mr. Ticknor, systematic man that he was, had arranged the department in a manner highly beneficial to the college, but for a conscientious teacher somewhat arduous. There were four foreign tutors, for Spanish, Italian, German, and French, the general oversight of whom was committed to the chief. The old division into classes was broken up; a rule of advancement according to individual proficiency was established; a system of voluntary studies, embracing for several years from one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty students, was instituted; and the entire course was made, as far as possible, independent of the college curriculum. The professor superintended the whole, and did as much beside in the way
of instruction as a keen sense of duty suggested. The new incumbent did a great
deal. He lectured on the great authors, – Dante, Cervantes, Molière, Goethe, - corrected exercises, explained difficult passages, stimulated inquiry, threw out hints for study, looked in on the lower recitation rooms to see that all went well there between teachers and pupils, and animated all by his fine intellectual enthusiasm. Even more influential than this fidelity was the invariable courtesy which made every lad feel that he was a gentleman ; a courtesy that was not soft or sentimental, but was tempered with dignity and the reserve that is becoming in a man of mind. So wide was the sway which he exerted in this way that on one occasion, when incipient rebellion was afoot, and other professors, older and more experienced men, failed to make an impression on the excited collegians, the aspect of Mr. Longfellow pacified the angry crowd; when he spoke there was silence," for," said the lads, 6 “ he always treats us like gentlemen.” A higher tribute than that could not be paid, for college boys are a proud, sensitive set, as he knows well who was once a college boy himself. The writer gratefully adds his word to the heartiest that has been said about the accomplished and charming professor. As he was from 1839 to 1843, he was to the end, competent, willing, and urbane, the friend of every youth who wished to learn, the quiet prompter of those who did not, a helper without patronage, a judge without austerity.
Between six and seven years he thus labored. In 1812 he visited Europe for the third time, passing a summer only ; on his voyage home in October, he wrote the “Poems on Slavery” which, beside attesting his strong personal interest in a subject which was then agitating our community, called the attention of a new class of people to the national mischief, gave poetic dignity to a struggling cause, and raised it to consideration in the regards of refined, conservative people, who were deaf to Mr. Garrison, and who attributed fanaticism to the moral zeal of Dr. Channing. To appreciate what it cost to write and publish such pieces at such a time one must take into account the state of public opinion in Massachusetts, the prevailing tone of the society in which the poet moved, and the effort required
“Garlands upon his grave,
And flowers upon his hearse, And to the tender heart and brave
The tribute of this verse.
to overcome the vulgar associations of the reform itself. Longfellow was a man of letters, of “ elegant” letters, a poet, sensitive, fastidious, secluded; not a preacher, journalist, lecturer, or politician of any degree. He took the only part in the controversy he could. That he took the part he did proves that he had conscience as well as taste. In fact his feeling on this subject must have been very strong to have prompted the lines to Dr. Channing and “ The Warning.” To cry to the people of Federal Street Meeting-house
“ His was the troubled life,
The conflict and the pain, The grief, the bitterness of strife,
The honor without stain.
“ Alike are life and death,
When life in death survives, And the uninterrupted breath
Inspires a thousand lives.
But still the music of his song
Between the words.
shows how profound was the apprehension of an outraged and presageful heart. No agitator could utter stronger words. No seer saw more clearly into the mysteries of the future. Only a deeply agitated soul could have given voice to such expressions of horror and foreboding. The words were few but they were weighty.
They who were already convinced, the outspoken anti-slavery people of the community, the abolitionists, in other words, made small account of them. If I remember aright, there were disagreeable things said of the poet because he did not follow up his blow, because he allowed his brave verses to be forgotten, or seemed to be unfaithful to them. But their immediate effect was very great ; the sensation they produced among the heedless and unpersuaded was marked; the conversions were neither few nor inconspicuous. There is no evidence that his own feeling ever changed ; it seems to have satisfied Charles Sumner, who to the last was his intimate friend, and who certainly cannot be accused of lukewarmness. Of Mr. Sumner he wrote the noble lines :
In July, 1843, he married Miss Frances Appleton, daughter of Nathan Appleton of Boston, and sister of Mr. T. G. Appleton of that city. He had met the lady several years before in Europe ; in fact she was “ Mary Ashburton," the heroine of " Hyperion,” a romance of travel, published in 1839, and understood to embody some of the experiences of his second tour abroad. She was a woman of distinguished presence and remarkable beauty, tall and stately, with a graceful manner and “ dial eyes.” Her womanly delicacy shrank, perhaps, from the notoriety conferred on her by the romance, which was on all tables ; her social position may have made her pause before listening to a “professor's” suit, but the marriage brought unmixed happiness to herself and the poet for many years, and was terminated only by her tragic death by fire, in July, 1861. The stricken husband slowly recovered