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[246] civilization. It is this service which makes him an eminent and in some ways our most representative man of letters.

The briefest summary of the events of his life will indicate the variety of his interests and occupations. Born in 1819 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the colonial house where he was to spend most of his life, he went to Harvard College, studied law—and abandoned it for a career of letters. He contributed verses and sketches to the magazines, edited a few numbers of an unsuccessful literary journal, The pioneer, brought out his first volume of poems, A Year's Life, in 1841, a second volume in 1843, and a collection of essays, Conversations on some of the old poets, in 1844.

In December of this year he was married to the poetess Maria White. The nine years of their married life until her death in 1853 mark a distinct period in Lowell's literary work. He contributed constantly both prose and verse to various journals, at first largely for those of the anti-slavery propaganda; and the Mexican War gave the opportunity for The Biglow papers, the first of which appeared in The Boston Courier of 17 June, 1846. In 1848 appeared a second collection of poems, the completed Biglow papers, and The Fable for critics. Lowell had won, in both popular and critical regard, an assured place in what was already an important national literature. The fifteen months which the family spent in Europe in 1851-52 seem to have increased his desire to widen the range of his poetry, but the ambitions that thronged with the return to America were interrupted by the death of his wife. A period of uncertainty followed his bereavement, and circumstances gave him a new occupation.

In 1855 he delivered in Boston a course of twelve lectures (unpublished) on English poetry, and as a result of their success was appointed to succeed Longfellow as Smith Professor of the French and Spanish Languages and Literatures and Professor of Belles Lettres in Harvard College. A few months were spent in Dresden in preparation for a course on German literature, and in the fall of 1856 he began twenty years work as a teacher. In the following year he was married to Frances Dunlap and resumed life in Elmwood. His professorship turned his mind to criticism and scholarship, but did not hasten that stronger poetic flight for which he had felt himself preparing.

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