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from the awful shock. From that day he began to grow old. But duty was his preserver, as it is to so many; he turned to his work with scarcely intermitted energy, lived in his children and friends, and so "sanctified" the grief he could not "conceal.” Occasionally a cry seems to betray the presence of a nameless agony, as in the seventh stanza of “ Palingenesis."
“ Then said I, • From its consecrated cerements
Only to give me pain;
And turns to weep no more.'”
“ Naught avails the imploring gesture,
Naught avails the cry of pain !
'T is the gray robe of the rain.”
On his marriage with Miss Appleton, Mr. Longfellow was able to buy the Craigie house of Dr. Worcester, who through Mrs. Craigie's death had become sole possessor. The front room to the right of the door on entering was made the library. There he gradually gathered his treasures and relics. There are the precious books and manuscripts. There are the children's chair, and the inkstand of Coleridge, presented to him along with that of Crabbe by Mr. S. C. Hall of London, and the iron
pen made from the fetters of Bonnivard, the “ Prisoner of Chillon,” the handle of wood from the frigate Constitution, encircled with a gold band, studded with three crystals, one from Siberia, one from Ceylon, one from Maine, and the old Danish song-book, and the crayon likenesses of his friends, Emerson, Hawthorne, Sumner. The inkstand was the envy of the poet Dana, the chair and the pen were subjects of touching verses from his own hand. This old room became later a private study; the library was then established in what had once been the grand dining-room.
There was now room enough for all his purposes. The meadows on the opposite side of the street, which gave an uninterrupted view of the river Charles and of the Brighton hills beyond, were purchased. The marsh beyond Charles river was later purchased by subscription and given to Harvard College. The view was thus kept open. Farther along, but not far off, near Mount Auburn Cemetery, was
“ Elmwood," the residence of his friend and successor, J. R. Lowell. The old Craigie mansion, still painted yellow after the fashion of former days, was peaceful and delightful. There was no revelling there, as in past years. There were no great banquets, with scores of guests, princes, and diplomats, flowing bumpers of champagne, songs and toasts, and post-prandial inebriety, but there was cordial hospitality, gayety, friendship, an easy, open, sympathetic conversation, a free, simple, unostentatious display of intellectual treasures. Buoyant steps often crossed the bridge to Boston which the ambitious and extravagant Mr. Craigie built. One constrained to think that never since Washington's day had the old home been so honorably used. The people who came there were respected and loved by all who knew them. Some were known all over the world, some in their academical, professional, or literary circles only, but all were men of character and distinction in their several departments of work. The stranger received courtesy, the friend an unreserved affection.
Mr. Longfellow passed a little more than seventeen years at Cambridge as professor, but the title was bestowed on him always by those who had so long connected it with him. His assiduity in discharging the duties of his office, his interest in the affairs of the college, his intimacy with men of letters living in Cambridge, his residence in the Craigie house, his devotion to pursuits purely literary, his presence in Cambridge as a citizen and gentleman, no doubt contributed largely to this impression, especially among those who were not familiar with academical matters. On his part nothing was done to break the popular association. Why should there have been?
In May, 1868, Mr. Longfellow again visited Europe, this time not for study but for recre
ation. His family went with him. No record of his wandering remains except in the memory of his companions, who, of course, look back with pleasure on the travels, which terminated in his return during the autumn of 1869. On this tour he was welcomed everywhere with distinction, particularly in England, where he was regarded as a household poet. The University of Cambridge conferred on him the title of Doctor of Laws. The next year the University of Oxford bestowed on him the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. The following account of him, as he appeared at this time, may be received as authentic.
“In the latter part of May, 1868, Professor Longfellow revisited Europe, where he was received with marked honors, which naturally reached their climax in England, where it was said by the • Westminster Review' that not one of his contemporaries had had a wider or longer supremacy. The London · Times' published a poetical welcome signed .C. K.,' generally attributed to Charles Kingsley, [really written by Charles Kent.]
Welcome to England thou whose strains prolong
Links the two worlds, its keystone in the skies.' “ Among the numerous festive occasions that were made in his honor was one at which Mr. Gladstone was present. Although it had been decided that no speeches should be delivered, Mr. Gladstone was compelled to respond to the inexorable demands of the company, saying among other graceful things, that, ' after all, it was impossible to sit at the social board with a man of Mr. Longfellow's world-wide fame without offering him some tribute of their admiration. Let them, therefore, simply but cordially assure him that they were conscious of the honor which they did themselves in receiving this great poet
The degree of LL. D., which the University of Cambridge conferred upon him, he had previously received at Harvard in 1859. An English reporter thus describes him as he then appeared, ar
rayed in the scarlet robes of an academic dignitary: • The face was one which, I think, would have caught the spectator's glance, even if his attention had not been called to it by the cheers which greeted Longfellow's appearance in the robes of an LL. D. Long, white, silken hair, and a beard of patriarchal length and whiteness, inclosed a young, fresh-colored countenance, with fine-cut features and deep-sunken eyes, overshadowed by massive black eyebrows. Looking at him, you had the feeling that the white head of hair and beard were a mask put on to conceal a young man's face; and that if the poet chose he could throw off the disguise and appear as a man in the prime and bloom of life.' This was the patriarchal appearance of the poet; of what he was in his early prime we have the following mere glimpse furnished by one who met him on his first trip to Europe. He was just from college, says this gentleman, and full of the ardor excited by classical pursuits. He had sunny locks, a fresh complexion, and clear blue eyes, with all the indications of a joyous temperament.
“In 1868, also, Mr. Longfellow was elected a member of the Reform Club. In July, 1869, he received the degree of D. C. L. at Oxford, and he returned to this country in the China on the 31st of August, 1869. In 1874 Mr. Longfellow was nominated lord rector of the University of Edinburgh and received a large complimentary vote. He was a member of the Brazil Historical and Geographical Society, of the Scientific Academy of St. Petersburg, and of the Royal Academy of Spain, and received other like honors from foreign bodies and associations of a literary and historical character, which thus expressed their appreciation of his literary work and his broad scholarship.”
In 1874 Mr. Longfellow received the degree of LL. D. from Bowdoin. The Academy of Russia, founded by Catherine II., chose him a member in 1873. In 1874 he was the rival of Mr. Disraeli, the successful Conservative candidate for the lord rectorship of Edinburgh University. In 1875 the Emperor of Germany bestowed on him the order of Civil Merit. It was simply as a tribute that the Spanish Academy elected him an honorary member. That he was a member of the Historical and Geographical Society of Brazil ; of the Historical Societies of Massachusetts, and of Maine; of the American Antiquarian Society, was a thing of course. To tell the truth, he was the recipient of nearly every kind of literary honor by which men show their appreciation of genius.
For the rest, his life was uneventful, quiet, industrious, unassuming. He read constantly, and wrote constantly. No one would suspect from anything in his appearance or manner, that the world held him in such esteem. The civil war, with its terrible excitements, in which he shared, and by which his patriotic emotions were stirred to their depths, as is evident by his thrilling verses on the sinking of the Cumberland in Hampton Roads, and by the closing lines of the “ Building of the Ship,” by which Abraham Lincoln was moved to tears, was ended; but it is fair to presume that it left the poet, already more than sixty years old, somewhat exhausted by its agitations. Some of his dearest friends were dead. Felton, “heartiest of Greek professors," was gone. The brighthearted Agassiz was no more.
Charles Sumner still remained; the poet had not written the touching lines in the fourth of the five sonnets, “Three Friends of Mine,"
General Washington, and he always did the honors of it with perfect urbanity, whether the caller knew anything about Washington or himself, and he did not forbear his jest when some remarkably obtuse specimen appeared, as when one to whom he had shown the rooms asked in parting, “ And who be you?” and another, not knowing what else to say, patronized the trees. Still his humor was less radiant than it used to be. To us, who were students at Cambridge and his old pupils, the house was simply the residence of Professor Longfellow. The forty-five years that he lived there more than counterbalanced the comparatively short time of Washington's residence, while to the literary mind the associations with his living presence are more than a match for any tradition, however sacred ; to say nothing of the identification of the ancient mansion with elegant letters, the charm of friendship and the glory of genius conferring an immortality dear to the heart. It is seldom indeed that one house is ennobled by two such names, Washington and Longfellow, — seldom that two such different classes of pilgrims knock at one and the same door. The times had changed. General Washington assumed a stately bearing toward Governor Hancock. Professor Longfellow met everybody more than half-way; but the innate courtesy was the same in both.
“I stay a little longer, as one stays To cover up the embers that still burn,”
but it is plain that the shadows were beginning to gather about him. Bodily he was growing old.
The Craigie house continued to be an object of historical curiosity to visitors in Cambridge, as once, for a few months, the headquarters of
Mr. LONGFELLOW was purely a man of let
From early youth he was interested in books, a student and a writer from the love of it, without aim or purpose beyond literary excellence. He was never an editor, a journalist, a lecturer, a professional man. He had the literary impulse strong and undiluted. It is true that circumstances aided his ambition. Social position and pecuniary competence were given him, but it is probable that his genius would have asserted itself under all circumstances of outward condition, and it is certain that he owed his position of professor at Bowdoin college to his skill as a translator and his
reputation as a young man of decided intellectual taste.
In his childhood, American literature was just beginning to raise its head. There were no popular magazines. There was no reading public. The guild of authors had not seen the light. Literary men had little or no intercourse one with another. “ The Monthly Magazine and American Review” ended in the autumn of 1800, having lived a little more than two years." The Literary Magazine and American Register" was begun at Philadelphia in 1803. None of our popular magazines were extant so early. The “North American
Review was not established till many years later. The weeklies were given up in large measure to theological disputation, narrow in range and polemical in tone ; the daily papers were occupied with local and partisan politics. Such literary productions as there were had, for the most part, a crude or foreign quality. Mr. Charles Brockden Brown of Philadelphia had written his ghostly romances, “ Wieland,” “ Ormond,” “ Arthur Mervyn,” “ Edgar Huntley,” “ Clara Howard,” from six to eight years before Longfellow was born ; Irving issued his
Salmagundi” about the same time (1806–7), and the “History of New York” when the future poet was two years old. He was nine years old when Bryant produced “ Thanatopsis.” Cooper's novels bad not appeared. Hawthorne was his classmate. Whittier was unknown. To all practical intents Longfellow stood alone when he began to write. There is no evidence that he was at all influenced by contemporaneous writers. The cast of his genius was peculiar. He was fresh and sponta
He drew on his own mind. His contribution was therefore of independent value; for although he was not the first in time to bring in the era of American development, he was alone in the cast of his mind and the direction of his gifts.
Of Longfellow as a poet some account will be given in another section. Here something must be said of him as
a writer of prose. Washington Irving returned from Europe in 1832 to find American literature in a very different state from that in which he had left it. The year before, Longfellow, then professor at Bowdoin College, printed his first article in the North American Review," on the “ Origin and Progress of the French Language.” The next year, in the same review, appeared a “Defence of Poetry” from his pen. Nine months later (October, 1832), an article on the “ History of the Italian Language and Dialects,” in the “ North American Review,” came from his diligent hand. In April of the same year, for the same periodical, he wrote a paper
Spanish Devotional and Moral Poetry.” April of the next year brought his article on “ Spanish Language and Literature." October, only three months later, saw in print, in the
same review, a contribution on “Old English Romances," making six articles in less than three years, besides much other professional and academical work, some of it of a very arduous description, done from day to day with great care. This shows remarkable versatility as well as remarkable industry. It shows ability, too, for the articles were learned, precise, elaborate, and the North American Review" was exacting in its demands on contributors. The manuals which Mr. Longfellow prepared for use at Bowdoin evinced an intimate knowledge of the French, Italian, and Spanish languages, as well as a close and extensive acquaintance with similar books in foreign dialects, while his adaptation of the French of “ The Vicar of Wakefield” exhibits an traordinary familiarity with the terms of expression of that difficult tongue.
His removal to Cambridge did not interrupt his labors for the - North American." From 1837 till 1810, five papers are attributed to him, -" The Great Metropolis,” “ Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales,” « Tegnér's Frithiof's Saga,"
Anglo-Saxon Literature," “ The French Language in England." The notice of Hawthorne's book was appreciated by his old classmate, who wrote a characteristic note of thanks. Apart from the hearty spirit which prompted the article, the piece itself attests the perceptive talent of a genuine man of letters. “ This book, though in prose, is written nevertheless by a poet. He looks upon all things in the spirit of love, and with lively sympathies ; for to him external form is but the representation of internal being, all things having a life, an end and aim. The true poet is a friendly man. He takes to his arms even cold and inanimate things, and rejoices in his heart, as did St. Francis of old, when he kissed his bride of snow. To his eye all things are beautiful and holy; all are objects of feeling and song, from the great hierarchy of the silent, saint-like stars that rule the night, down to the little flowers which are stars in the firmament of the earth.' “ It comes from the hand of a man of genius. Everything about it has the freshness of morning and of May. These flowers and green leaves of poetry have not the dust of the highway upon them.”
" Another characteristic of this writer is the exceeding beauty of his style. It is as clear as running waters. Indeed he uses words as mere stepping-stones upon which, with a free and youthful bound, his spirit crosses and recrosses the bright and rushing stream of thought.” He can write thus after having twice visited Europe, where the bracing simplicities of New England thought might have been tempered or even forgotten. But Mr. Longfellow was ever a child of New England. His own endeavor, both as a writer of prose and of poetry, was to express thought in the most lucid phrase possible. There was no Gothic architecture, no painted glass, no mysterious twilight in his style.
Often he preferred to seem commonplace rather than to be obscure, to the unlettered reader. His early manner was more florid than his later, but there was never a time when he sacrificed sense to sound. The impression, fixed in some quarters, that his thoughts were shallow, is commonly due, it may be said, to his resolution to be, at all events, intelligible to the common understanding
A portion of “ Outre-Mer,” as has been said, was published first in “ The New England Magazine” (July, 1831) under the title of “ The Schoolmaster.” The whole work was issued in 1833. It was the record of foreign travel, continuous so far as historical continuity goes, but an account of impressions rather than of incidents, romantic, exuberant, picturesque, buoyant and suggestive, admirably calculated to stimulate the relish for foreign adventure in the young, or to recall its delights to the old. The chapters are overflowing with animal spirits. Eye and ear are open. But the style is simple and chaste, betraying the taste of a sensitive mind which was attracted to none but intellectual scenes, and interested in none but poetical associations.
“Hyperion” was written later, in the Craigie house, and reviewed in the North American” by his friend C. C. Felton (2 vols., New York, 1839). This was a more definitely purposed work than “ Outre-Mer;" more distinctly a romance with plot, incident, interplay of characters; more direct connection of causes and effects. There is much admirable criticism of
men, books, manners; there are subtle glances into personal and national characteristics; there are songs, delightfully translated, most of them printed afterwards among the author's reproductions from the German ; charming stories ; bits of sentiment; flashes of humor, and all suffused with an atmosphere of delicate literary art. The style is exquisite in its purity. It is said that Barry Cornwall, no mean judge of such things, was in the habit of reading the book once a year for the sake of the English. The judgments on Goethe and Jean Paul were well considered and gently expressed.
The pictures of scenery are vivid ; so correct are they, too, that the visitor to Heidelberg, Interlachen, Lauterbrunnen may still with profit use them. Though more than forty years have elapsed since the volumes were published, they are not out of date. If Mr. Longfellow's prose had not been outshone by his verse, these works should cause him to be ranked with writers of the foremost class.
The last of his prose idyls, “ Kavanagh,” published in Boston ten years later (1819), is of slighter construction. The scenery of Pittsfield, the summer residence of Miss Appleton, appears in it, and reminiscences of the schoolmaster, perhaps, crop out, otherwise the story is not remarkable. Gentle, sweet, charming in tone it certainly is, but sparkling, suggestive, or original in motive as certainly it is not. Perhaps the established fame of the author as a poet interfered with its success. However this may have been, the little novel added nothing to his reputation except as a pleasing writer of prose.
Mr. Hubbard Winslow Bryant, librarian and secretary of the Maine Historical Society, in a short speech at the spring meeting of the society (May 25, 1882), said :
“I desire to lay a wreath on the tomb of our beloved poet, and to testify with others to his endearing qualities. I have had the honor of his friendship for several
years, and it was my privilege to be useful to him occasionally as a book-hunter. I first called his attention to the little pamphlet, the Fourth of July oration delivered by his honored father, Esquire Longfellow, in 1804, which he had never before seen. I procured for him, also, at different times, some of the early writings of our American authors.