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January, 1877 AD (search for this): chapter 6
one of the Hayes electors should cast his vote for General Bristow, which would throw the election of President into the House of Representatives; and he endeavored to persuade Lowell to do this. Lowell went so far as to take legal advice on the subject, but his counsellor informed him that since the election of John Quincy Adams it had been virtually decided that an elector must cast his vote according to the ticket on which he was chosen. When the electors met at the Parker House in January, 1877, Lowell deposited his ballot for Hayes and Wheeler, and the slight applause that followed showed that his colleagues were conscious of the position he had assumed. When President Hayes appointed Lowell to be Minister to Spain, Lowell remarked that he did not see why it should have come to him. It really came to him through his friend E. R. Hoar, of Concord, who was brother-in-law to Secretary Evarts. His friends wondered that he should accept the position, but the truth was that Lowe
November, 1857 AD (search for this): chapter 6
ore concluding to offer himself. She was compared to the Greek bust called Clyte, because her hair grew so low down upon her forehead, and this was considered an additional charm. Louisa Alcott had a story that at first she refused Lowell's offer on account of what people might say; and that then he composed a poem answering her objections in the form of an allegory, and that this finally convinced her. If he had considered material interests he would have married differently. In November, 1857, the firm of Phillips & Sampson issued the first number of the Atlantic Monthly in the cause of high-minded literature, --a cause which ultimately proved to be their ruin. Lowell accepted the position of editor, and such a periodical as it proved to be under his guidance could not have been found in England, and perhaps not in the whole of Europe; but it could not be made to pay, and two years later Phillips & Sampson failed,--partly on that account, and partially the victims of a pirat
etty princes, and in the other the intolerance of the Established Church. We may assume that is the reason why Lowell admired them; but Lowell was also too critical and polemic to be wholly a poet,--except on certain occasions. In 1847 he published the Fable for critics, the keenest piece of poetical satire since Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, --keen and even saucy, but perfectly good-humored. About the same time he commenced his Biglow Papers, which did not wholly cease until 1866, and were the most incisive and aggressive anti-slavery literature of that period. Soon afterwards he wrote The vision of Sir Launfal, which has become the most widely known of all his poems, and which contains passages of the purest a priori verse. Goethe, who exercised so powerful an influence on Emerson, does not appear to have interested Lowell at all. The most plaintive of Beethoven scherzos,that in the Moonlight Sonata,--says as if it were spoken in words: Once we were happy,
ristocratic wing of the old abolitionists, which was led by Edmund Quincy, Maria Chapman, and L. Maria Child. Lowell was far from being a non-resistant. In fact, he might be called a fighting-man, although he disapproved of duelling; and this served to keep him at a distance from Garrison, of whom he wisely remarked that the nearer public opinion approached to him the further he retreated into the isolation of his own private opinions. He wrote regularly for the Anti-Slavery Standard until 1851, when the death of his father-in-law supplied the long-desired means for a journey to Italy,--more desired perhaps for his wife's health than for his own gratification. It may be the fault of his biographers, but I cannot discover that Lowell took any share in the opposition to the Fugitive Slave bill, or in the election of Sumner, which was the signal event that followed it. In his whole life Lowell never made the acquaintance of a practical statesman, while Whittier was in constant commun
n and not often conspicuous in public life,a family of general good qualities, nicely balanced between liberal and conservative, and with a poetic vein running through it for the past hundred years or more. In the Class of 1867 there was an Edward J. Lowell who was chosen class odist, and who wrote poetry nearly, if not quite, as good as that of his distinguished relative at the same period of life. James Russell Lowell was born at Elmwood, as it is now called, on Washington's birthday in 1819,--as if to make a good staunch patriot of him; and, what is even more exceptional in American life, he lived and died in the same house in which he was born. It was not such a house as the Craigie mansion, but still spacious and dignified, and denoted very fair prosperity for those times. Elmwood itself extends for some thirty rods on Brattle Street, but the entrance to the house is on a cross-road which runs down to the marshes. Beyond Elmwood there is a stonecutter's establishment, an
s not appear to have interested Lowell at all. The most plaintive of Beethoven scherzos,that in the Moonlight Sonata,--says as if it were spoken in words: Once we were happy, now I am forlorn; Fortune has darkened, and happiness gone. Lowell's poetic marriage did not last quite ten years. Maria White was always frail and delicate, and she became more so continually. Longfellow's clear foresight noticed the danger she was in years before her death, which took place in the autumn of 1853. She left one child, Mabel Lowell, slender and pale like herself, and with poetical lines in her face, too, but fortunately endowed with her father's good constitution. Only ten years! But such ten years, worth ten centuries of the life of a girl of fashion, who thinks she is happy because she has everything she wants. If the truth were known we might find that in the twilight of his life Lowell thought more of these ten years with Maria White than of the six years when he was Ambassador t
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