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much in Cambridge or London as it did in Portland, where there has always been a rather superior sort of society. It was like French refinement without being Gallic. No wonder that a famous poet should emanate from such a family. What we notice especially in the Longfellow Letters during this European sojourn is the admonition of Henry's father, that German literature was more important than Italian,--and the poet was always largely influenced by this afterwards; that Henry did not find Paris particularly attractive, and on the whole preferred the Spanish character to the French on account of its deeper under-currents; that he did not seem to realize the danger that menaced him from Spanish brigands, in spite of the black crosses by the roadside; and that he was not vividly impressed by the famous works of art in the Louvre gallery. He only notices that one of Correggio's figures resembles a young lady in Portland. Longfellow would seem to have been always the same in regard
de, which took the world by storm, did not make so much of an impression on him as Hawthorne's Marble Faun, which he read through in a day and calls a wonderful book. Of Adam Bede he says: It is too feminine for a man; too masculine for a woman. He says of Dickens, after reading Barnaby Rudge : He is always prodigal and ample, but what a set of vagabonds he contrives to introduce us to! Barnaby Rudge is certainly the most bohemian and esoteric of Dickens's novels. He liked much better Miss Muloch's John Halifax, --a popular book in its time, but not read very much since. He calls Charles Reade a clever and amusing writer. We find nothing concerning Disraeli, Trollope, or Wilkie Collins. Neither do we hear of critical and historical writers like Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Carlyle, and Froude. He went, however, to call on Carlyle in England, and was greatly impressed by his conversation. The scope of Longfellow's reading does not compare with that of Emerson or Marian Evans; but
James Russell Lowell (search for this): chapter 5
ce. Frederick II. of Germany and Richard I. of England were both good poets, and were as proud of their verses as they were of their military exploits. Frederick II. may be said to have founded the vernacular in which Dante wrote; and Longfellow rendered into English a poem of Richard's which he composed during his cruel imprisonment in Austria. A knight who could not compose a song and sing it to the guitar was as rare as a modern gentleman of fashion who cannot play golf. When James Russell Lowell resigned the chair of poetry at Harvard no one could be found who could exactly fill his place, and it was much the same at Oxford after Matthew Arnold retired. The difference between then and now would seem to reside in the fact, that poetry is more easily remembered than prose. From the time of Homer until long after the invention of printing, not only were ballad-singers and harpers in good demand, but the recital of poetry was also a favorite means of livelihood to indigent s
Clair.Eva St. Clair (search for this): chapter 5
or lost their health under such conditions (in fact Longfellow came near losing his life from Roman fever), and he wrote from Paris: Here one can keep evil at a distance as well as elsewhere, though, to be sure, temptations are multiplied a thousand-fold if he is willing to enter into them. A young man's first experience in London or Paris is a dangerous sense of freedom; for all the customary restraints of his daily life have been removed. Mrs. Stowe says of her beautiful character, Eva St. Clair, that all bad influences rolled off from her like dew from a cabbage leaf, and it was the same with Longfellow throughout. He lived in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and then returned to Portland, the same true American as when he left there, without foreign ways or modes of thinking, and with no more than the slight aroma of a foreign air upon him. Longfellow and his whole family were natural cosmopolitans. There was nothing of the proverbial Yankee in their composition. Whitt
John A. Andrew (search for this): chapter 5
isparage one in order to elevate another. Longfellow was the most popular American poet of his time, but there were others besides Edgar A. Poe who pretended to disdain him. I have met more such critics in Cambridge than in England, Germany, or Italy; and the reason was chiefly a political one. At a distance Longfellow's politics attracted little attention, but in Cambridge they could not help being felt. In 1862 a strong movement emanated from the Harvard Law-School to defeat Sumner and Andrew, and the lines became drawn pretty sharply. As it happened, the prominent conservatives with one or two exceptions all lived to the east and north of the college grounds, while Longfellow, Lowell, Doctor Francis (who baptized Longfellow's children), Prof. Asa Gray, and other liberals lived at the west end; and the local division made the contest more acrimonious. The conservatives afterwards felt the bitterness of defeat, and it was many years before they recovered from this. A resident g
Shakespeare (search for this): chapter 5
Longfellow It has been estimated that there were four hundred poets in England in the time of Shakespeare, and in the century during which Dante lived Europe fairly swarmed with poets, many of them of high excellence. Frederick II. of Germany and Richard I. of England were both good poets, and were as proud of their verses as they were of their military exploits. Frederick II. may be said to have founded the vernacular in which Dante wrote; and Longfellow rendered into English a poem of Richard's which he composed during his cruel imprisonment in Austria. A knight who could not compose a song and sing it to the guitar was as rare as a modern gentleman of fashion who cannot play golf. When James Russell Lowell resigned the chair of poetry at Harvard no one could be found who could exactly fill his place, and it was much the same at Oxford after Matthew Arnold retired. The difference between then and now would seem to reside in the fact, that poetry is more easily remembe
William Cullen Bryant (search for this): chapter 5
year he composed seventeen poems which were published, then and afterwards, in the United States Literary Gazette, where his name appeared beside that of William Cullen Bryant. This was quite exceptional in the history of American literature, and as the editor of the Literary Gazette stated it: A young tree which puts forth so mhat testifies to the quality of the owner like a handsome library. Byron would seem to have been the only other poet that has enjoyed such prosperity, although Bryant, as editor of a popular newspaper, may have approached it closely; but a city house, with windows on only two sides, is not like a handsome suburban residence. Lof his time. Professor Hedge, one of our foremost literary critics, spoke of him as the one American poet whose verses sing themselves; and with the exception of Bryant's Robert of Lincoln, and Poe's Raven, and a few other pieces, this may be taken as a judicious statement. Longfellow's unconsciousness is charming, even when i
Samuel Longfellow (search for this): chapter 5
at the height of his reputation. In 1829 Longfellow returned to Portland and was immediately cho only ceased at Sumner's death in 1874, when Longfellow wrote one of the finest of his shorter poemsspring or summer, he would go out to call on Longfellow; and it was a pleasant sight to see them walittier was dwelling in a country farm-house, Longfellow occupied one of the most desirable residence is not like a handsome suburban residence. Longfellow could look across the Cambridge marshes and exiles set up a business in Hungarian wines, Longfellow made a large purchase of him, which he spoke was a charming group — and the man begged Mr. Longfellow for permission to sell copies of it as it impression should have been circulated that Longfellow was not much of a pedestrian. On the contra Evangeline, which is perhaps the finest of Longfellow's poems, is not a favorite with youthful rea these incidents is sufficient to testify to Longfellow's Hiawatha. The best poetry is that which[54 more...]
Matthew Arnold (search for this): chapter 5
James Russell Lowell resigned the chair of poetry at Harvard no one could be found who could exactly fill his place, and it was much the same at Oxford after Matthew Arnold retired. The difference between then and now would seem to reside in the fact, that poetry is more easily remembered than prose. From the time of Homer uner and amusing writer. We find nothing concerning Disraeli, Trollope, or Wilkie Collins. Neither do we hear of critical and historical writers like Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Carlyle, and Froude. He went, however, to call on Carlyle in England, and was greatly impressed by his conversation. The scope of Longfellow's reading doespetual iambics of Byron and Wordsworth. Evangeline is perhaps the most successful instance of Greek and Latin hexameter being grafted on to an English stem. Matthew Arnold considered it too dactylic, but the lightness of its movement personifies the grace of the heroine herself. Lines like Virgil's Illi inter sese multa VI bra
statue of Venus, by Canova, which he compares to the Venus dea Medici, and his brother Samuel remarks that he was always more attracted by sculpture than painting. Canova was a genius very similar to Longfellow himself, as nearly as an Italian could be made to match an American, and he was then at the height of his reputation. In 1829 Longfellow returned to Portland and was immediately chosen a professor at Bowdoin College, where he remained for the next seven years. When, in 1836, Professor Ticknor retired from his position as instructor of modern languages at Harvard, his place was offered to Longfellow and accepted. This brought him into the literary centre of New England, and one of the first acquaintances he made there was Charles Sumner, who was lecturing before the Harvard Law-School. The friendship between these two great men commenced at once and only ceased at Sumner's death in 1874, when Longfellow wrote one of the finest of his shorter poems in tribute to Sumner's
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