previous next


To Dr. Francis Lieber.

Boston, July 11, 1843.
dear Lieber,—While waiting for my horse I begin a letter to you. I have often thought of you during my long silence; but various duties at home have absorbed my time. You know of Judge Story's illness and his consequent separation for a while from the Law School. I was called in to perform half of the duties there, and have been much occupied by my lectures. Of course I resided in Boston, and endeavored to keep on in my labors in Court Street; but the double duties absorbed my time. You will understand this better when I add, that I withdrew entirely from society. I did not attend a single party or enjoy any form of hospitality, except the simple kindness of one or two affectionate friends. While Howe and Longfellow were alive, I oscillated between them, passing many nights in their nests; but these have been closed to me for some time. Last Friday I completed my lectures, and now my ‘bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne.’ To you I write my first letter in the first moment of leisure. I know this is no apology, adequate to what you may require; but I know that your friendship is generous as it is warm, and you will receive it all with fresh indulgence and kindness. I close now to mount on horseback. To-morrow I shall resume this sheet.

July 13.

. . . I do not think it essential that the first poets of an age should write war odes. Our period has a higher calling, and it is Longfellow's chief virtue to have apprehended it. His poetry does not rally to battle; but it affords succor and strength to bear the ills of life. There are six or seven pieces of his far superior, as it seems to me, to any thing I know of Uhland or Korner calculated to do more good, to touch the soul to finer issues; pieces that will live to be worn near the hearts of men when the thrilling war-notes of Campbell and Korner will be forgotten. You and I admire the poetry of Gray. There are few things in any language which give me more pleasure than the ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard,’ the ‘Progress of Poesy,’ and the ‘Bard.’ On these his reputation rears itself, and will stand for ever. But I had rather be the author of ‘A Psalm of Life,’ ‘The Light of Stars,’ ‘The Reaper and the Flowers,’ and ‘Excelsior,’ than those rich pieces of Gray. I think Longfellow without rival near his throne in America. I might go further: I doubt if there is any poet now alive, and not older than he, who has written so much and so well. . . . Longfellow is to be happy for a fortnight in the shades of Cambridge; then to visit his wife's friends in Berkshire; then his own in Portland. I am all alone,—alone. My friends fall away from me.

Ever and ever yours,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Berkshire (Mass.) (Massachusetts, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Henry W. Longfellow (7)
Korner (4)
Gray (4)
Uhland (2)
Charles Sumner (2)
Francis Lieber (2)
John Campbell (2)
William W. Story (1)
Samuel G. Howe (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 13th (2)
July 11th, 1843 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: