The point where this underlying stratum of coolness came in superbly was in his feeling toward critics, who were absolutely powerless to hurt him. He rarely read their attacks, though he had a habit of preserving them; and the really outrageous assaults of Poe
, for instance, fell off from him as from a marble statue.
He was for the last dozen years of his life distinctly the First Citizen of Cambridge
He was always faithful to all public duties, seldom failed to vote or to contribute to all legitimate local needs, was known to sight by everybody, and when the children of Cambridge
subscribed to give him an armchair from the wood of the Chestnut Tree
, he laid it down as a rule that every child who wished to see the chair again should be admitted without objection; a privilege which was long used by hundreds who thronged the door to the despair of his family.
He said on his seventy-fourth birthday that it seemed as if the two numerals ought to exchange places, but died after one more anniversary, on March 24, 1882, having been, as has been said, more continuously and permanently identified with the life of Cambridge
than had been either of her native-born poets.