previous next

To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, September 20, 1865.
my dear Head,—. . . . Tell me what you think about Lord Derby's Iliad. Sometimes he is not up to the German critics, among whom, if I follow him at all, it is only by accident. But his Miltonic blank-verse, I think, shows that he has a true feeling about his work. It is a great while since I have seen old Potter's Aeschylus, but Lord Derby has sometimes reminded me of that fierce Greek dogmatist. I kept Pope, Chapman, and Cowper on the table, as well as the original; but the English triumvirate seemed to me as pale before Lord Derby, while I was reading him, as he did before the Greek.

On looking again at your Spanish proverb I am a little uncertain —notwithstanding your ever clear and fair chirography—whether you wrote mear el vado, or mear al vado. . . . . Mear el vado may signify, knocking away the very foundations on which you build. But quien sabe? The context, if there is one, might show.

Agassiz is having his own way in Brazil as much as he ever had here. The Emperor does everything for him that he wants, gives him a steamer to go up the Amazon free of every possible charge, puts two engineers aboard who have surveyed the river, etc.

I am sorry to see the death of Hamilton, the Irish mathematician. A great light is put out. I saw him knighted in 1835, and he gave Anna a few days afterwards a grand sonnet, which he wrote on the occasion, and which I now have . . . . It is certainly fine as few sonnets are.


1 Such a gift to a child was, of course, meant for her father. This allusion to the sonnet (already mentioned, Vol. I. p. 425, note) gives an opportunity to present the sonnet itself here which is quite irresistible:—

A Prayer.

O brooding Spirit of Wisdom and of Love,
     Whose mighty wings even now o'ershadow me,
Absorb me in thine own immensity,
     And raise me far my finite self above!
Purge vanity away, and the weak care
     That name or fame of me may widely spread:
And the deep wish leave burning in their stead,
     Thy blissful influence afar to bear,—
Or see it borne! Let no desire of ease,
     No lack of courage, faith, or love, delay
Mine own steps in that high thought-paven way
     In which my soul her clear commission sees:
Yet with an equal joy let me behold
     Thy chariot o'er that way by others roll'd I

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.
Brazil, Clay County, Indiana (Indiana, United States) (1)

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.
Edmund Head (2)
Potter (1)
Pope (1)
Mear (1)
William Hamilton (1)
Fanny Cowper (1)
Chapman (1)
Anna (1)
Louis Agassiz (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.
September 20th, 1865 AD (1)
1835 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: