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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Chapter 1: Longfellow as a classic (search)
tests by which that standard may be determined. Some occasional expressions of distrust as to Longfellow's permanent fame have been based wholly upon his virtues. Many still cling to Dryden's maxim, Great wits are sure to madness near allied. Those who grew up during the period when the Lake poets of England were still under discussion can well recall that the typical poet was long supposed to be necessarily something of a reprobate, or at any rate wild and untamable; so that Byron and Shelley gained in fame by the supposition that the domestic and law-abiding gifts were far from them. The prominence of Wordsworth was developed in spite of this tradition, and even when the report cheered some of his would-be admirers that he had once been intoxicated at the university, it was damped by the opinion expressed by Theodore Hook that Wordsworth's conceptions of inebriation were no doubt extremely limited. The popular impression in such matters is too deep to be easily removed; and
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Chapter 23: Longfellow as a poet (search)
e, and an unquestioned standing in the literary courts of the civilized world. It was a great advantage, too, that in his more moderate and level standard of execution there was afforded no room for reaction. The same attributes that keep Longfellow from being the greatest of poets will make him also one of the most permanent. There will be no extreme ups and downs in his fame, as in that of those great poets of whom Ruskin writes, Cast Coleridge at once aside, as sickly and useless; and Shelley as shallow and verbose. The finished excellence of his average execution will sustain it against that of profounder thinkers and more daring sons of song. His range of measures is not great, but his workmanship is perfect; he has always the inimitable grace of not too much; he has tested all literatures, all poetic motives, and all the simpler forms of versification, and he can never be taken unprepared. He will never be read for the profoundest stirring, or for the unlocking of the deep
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Chapter 24: Longfellow as a man (search)
ld compare him to the ideal representations of early Christian saints and prophets. There is a kind of halo of goodness about him, a benignity in his expression which one associates with St. John at Patmos saying to his followers and brethren, Little children, love one another! . . . Longfellow has had the rare fortune of being thoroughly appreciated in his own country and in other countries during his lifetime; how different, probably, would have been the career of Byron, of Keats, or of Shelley, had it been thus with them! It would be presumptuous for me, and out of place, to do more here than allude to the universal popularity of Longfellow's works wherever English is spoken; I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that his works are more popular than those of any other living poet. What child is there who has not heard of Excelsior, or of Evangeline, of Miles Standish, or of Hiawatha ? What songs more popular than The Bridge, and I know a maiden fair to see ? Or who, after
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Index (search)
ly, Madame de, 47. St. Gothard Pass, 223. Salem, Mass., 240. Sannazaro, J., 54. Savannah, Ga., 119. Scherb, Emmanuel V., 239. Schlosser, Friedrich Christoph, 112. Schoolmaster, the, 67, 68. Scott, Sir, Walter, 7, 265. Scudder, Horace E., 24, 73, 243; his Longfellow and his Art, mentioned, 53; his Men and Letters, cited, 54 note; quoted, 261; his Lowell, cited, 168 note; on Longfellow, 269. Sebago Pond, 51. Sevigne, Madame de, 121. Shakespeare, William, 2, 5, 8, 32, 66. Shelley, Percy B., 9, 262, 280. Shepley, Rev., David, 19. Sidney, Sir, Philip, 77; his Defence of Poesy, mentioned, 75. Skinner, Mrs., 88. Solis, Anthony de, 188. Southey, Robert, 7, 46. Spain, 50, 55, 66, 83. Sparks, Jared, 118, 178; letter from, to Longfellow, 29, 30. Spectator, the London, 69. Stackelberg, Baron, 95. Stael, Madame de, 121. Stephenson, Samuel, 14. Stettin, 98. Stockoe, Mr., 95. Stockoe, Mrs., 95. Stockholm, 90, 92, 96, 97, 102, 103, 108. Storer, Robert, 10