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[160] tongue, indeed, but like the wind in the pines or the waves on the beach, awakening faint echoes and responses, and vaguely prophesying of wonders yet to be revealed.

He was the Tyrtaeus or leading bard of the greatest moral movement of the age; and he probably gained in all ways from the strong tonic of the antislavery agitation. This gave a training in directness, simplicity, genuineness; it taught him to shorten his sword and to produce strong effects by common means. It made him permanently high-minded also, and placed him, as he himself always said, above the perils and temptations of a merely literary career. Though always careful in his work, and a good critic of the work of others, he usually talked by preference upon subjects not literary-politics, social science, the rights of labour. He would speak at times, if skilfully led up to it, about his poems, and was sometimes, though rarely, known to repeat them aloud; but his own personality was never a favourite theme with him, and one could easily fancy him as going to sleep, like La Fontaine, at the performance of his own opera.

In his antislavery poetry he was always simple, always free from that excess or over-elaborateness of metaphor to be seen sometimes in Lowell. On the other hand he does not equal Lowell in the occasional condensation of vigorous thought into great general maxims. Lowell's “Verses suggested by the present Crisis” followed not long after Whittier's “Massachusetts to Virginia,” and, being printed anonymously, was at first attributed to the same author. Whittier's poems had even more lyric fire and produced an immediate impression even greater, but it touched

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