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[396] College for a long time. He was liked quite as much as he was admired. His exterior was very engaging, both his looks and his manners. His figure was light and agile, his face radiant with intelligence and moral sweetness. He was full of life, enjoyed keenly and pursued eagerly, and crowded every hour with work or pleasure. While he would walk a dozen or eighteen miles for wild-flowers, skate all day, and dance as long as the music would play, he found no study too dry, and would have liked to embrace all science and all literature. He was, moreover, habitually meditative, and loved to ponder deep questions of philosophy and of life. His pale, oval face, and his dark, thoughtful eyes, with their drooping lashes, gave an impression of a poetical nature, and the question was often asked in his early days whether he was a poet. But his expression was more spiritual and his bent more practical than poetical: practical in a sense opposed to imaginative, not to philosophical, for, as already indicated, his inclination to speculation was marked. He always sought to see things as a whole; and though he liked to view every subject in its great features, and in the best light consistent with truth, he loved reality and hated illusion and exaggeration.

That Lowell should have begun early to take an interest in public affairs and public men will readily be supposed from what has been said. He thought it a duty to study and act on all questions of public concern. In one of his books he had written down these words of Marcus Antoninus: ‘Every action of yours which has not a near or remote relation to the public good as its end, destroys the harmony and uniformity of life.’ It is true that boys often copy out these fine things in a glow of feeling, but nothing was more unlike Lowell than superficial enthusiasm. In an oration on ‘Loyalty,’ delivered at the College Exhibition of October, 1857, he expressed his idea of the true relation of a free citizen to the state in words which no one can read lightly who knows how they were followed up. After describing the inferior forms of devotion manifested among nations who considered that the citizen existed only for his country, he said:—

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