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William James (search for this): chapter 5
f teeth and claws. Yet those who knew him felt that he could roar on occasion, if occasion required it. Once at Longfellow's own table the conversation chanced upon Goethe, and a gentleman present remarked that Goethe was in the habit of drinking three bottles of hock a day. Who said he did? inquired the poet. It is in Lewes's biography, said the gentleman. I do not believe it, replied Longfellow, unless, he added with a laugh, they were very small bottles. A few days afterwards Prof. William James remarked in regard to this incident that the story was quite incredible. In his youth Longfellow seems to have taken to guns and fishing-rods more regularly than some boys do, but pity for his small victims soon induced him to relinquish the sport. His eldest son, Charles, also took to guns very naturally, and in spite of a severe wound which he received from the explosion of a badly loaded piece, he finally became one of the most expert pigeon-shooters in the State. At the inter
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 the doctors say that every man of forty knows the food that is good for him, and this is true mentally as well as physically. He refers more frequently to Tennyson than to any other writer, and always in a generous, cordial manner. Of the Idyls of the King he says that the first and third Idyls coul
Anna Greenleaf (search for this): chapter 5
to speak with them. They evidently knew him very well. It is remarkable how the impression should have been circulated that Longfellow was not much of a pedestrian. On the contrary, there was no one who was seen more frequently on the streets of Cambridge. He walked with a springy step and a very slight swing of the shoulders, which showed that he enjoyed it. He may not have walked such long distances as Hawthorne, or so rapidly as Dickens, but he was a good walker. His sister, Mrs. Greenleaf, built a memorial chapel in North Cambridge for the Episcopal society there, and from this Longfellow formed the habit of walking in that direction by way of the Botanic Garden. Somewhere in the cross streets he became acquainted with two children, the son and daughter of a small shop-keeper. They, of course, told their mother about their white-haired acquaintance, and with the fate of Charlie Ross before her eyes, their mother warned them to keep out of his way. He might be a tramp, a
Ralph Waldo Emerson (search for this): chapter 5
s also much of a Yankee in style and manner. Emerson looked like a Yankee, and possessed the cool It was as poetic a friendship as that between Emerson and Carlyle; but whereas Emerson and Carlyle s the best that he could have had. There was Emerson, of course, and Longfellow was always on frie the worldly prosperity of Longfellow. While Emerson was earning a hard livelihood by lecturing innd Professor Child spoke of it on the day of Emerson's funeral as the finest flower in the poet's that came up was the question of autographs. Emerson said that was the way in which he obtained hio it, he would say, if it gives them pleasure Emerson looked on such matters from the stoical pointepresented every shade of political opinion. Emerson, Longfellow, and Lowell were strongly anti-slellow's reading does not compare with that of Emerson or Marian Evans; but the doctors say that evet the least effort of recollection. Such are Emerson's Problem, Whittier's Barbara Frietchie, and[3 more...]
Marble Faun (search for this): chapter 5
f the past. No wonder that in later years he said, in his exquisite verses on the Mountain of the Holy Cross in Colorado, these pathetic words, On my heart also there is a cross of snow. In Longfellow's diary we meet with the names of many books that he read, and these as well as the pertinent comments on them tell much more of his intellectual life than we derive from his letters. Adam Bede, 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
eing 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 e only fair for them to do something for the benefit of the country. Mr. Appleton then said: That is a work for government to do; to which Ruskini replied: Governments do nothing but fill their pockets, and issue this, --taking out a handful of Italian paper currency, which was then much below par. Everyone has his or her favorite poet or poets, and it is a common practice with young critics to disparage one in order to elevate another. Longfellow was the most popular American poet of his
Francis J. Child (search for this): chapter 5
tic recitations. If a popular interest in poetry should revive again, I have no doubt that hundreds of poets would spring up, as it were, out of the ground and fill the air with their pleasant harmonies. The editor of the Atlantic informed Professor Child that he had a whole barrelful of poetry in his house, much of it excellent, but that there was no use he could make of it. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was as irrepressible a rhymer as John Watts himself, and fortunately he had a father whoey were distinguished. He recognized fine traits of character, perhaps real greatness of character, in out-of-the-way places,--men whose chief happiness was their acquaintance with Longfellow. It was something much better than charity; and Professor Child spoke of it on the day of Emerson's funeral as the finest flower in the poet's wreath. Longfellow was one of the kindest friends that the Hungarian exiles found when they came to Boston in 1852. Longfellow helped Kossuth, subscribed to
F. H. Hedge (search for this): chapter 5
at they would like to so much better than they could. This was contemptible enough; but how can one expect a man who discourses on the metaphysics of Hamilton's quaternions to appreciate Longfellow's art, or any art pure and simple. Evangeline, which is perhaps the finest of Longfellow's poems, is not a favorite with youthful readers. He was greater as a man, perhaps, than as a poet. Future ages will have to determine this; but he was certainly one of the best poets of 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 it seems childlike. As a master of verse he has no English rival since Spenser. The trochaic meter in which Hiawatha is written would seem to have been his own invention; At least I ca
ambridge 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 graduate of Harvard, who was accustomed to converse on such subjects as the metaphysics of Hamilton's quaternions, once said that Longfellow was the paragon of schoolgirls, because he wrote what they would like
John Watts (search for this): chapter 5
nies. The editor of the Atlantic informed Professor Child that he had a whole barrelful of poetry in his house, much of it excellent, but that there was no use he could make of it. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was as irrepressible a rhymer as John Watts himself, and fortunately he had a father who recognized the value of his talent and assisted him in a judicious manner, instead of placing obstacles in his way, as the father of Watts is supposed to have done. The account that Rev. Samuel LongWatts is supposed to have done. The account that Rev. Samuel Longfellow has given us of the youth of his brother is highly instructive, and ought to be of service to all young men who fancy they are destined by nature for a poetic career. He tells us how Henry published his first poem in the Portland Gazette, and how his boyish exultation was dashed with cold water the same evening by Judge ----, who said of it in his presence: Stiff, remarkably stiff, and all the figures are borrowed. The Fight at Lovell's Pond would not have been a remarkable poem for
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