called an abolitionist, described the volume as ‘the thinnest of all Mr. Longfellow
's thin books; spirited and polished like its forerunners; but the subject would warrant a deeper tone.’
On the other hand, the editors of ‘Graham
's Magazine’ wrote to Mr. Longfellow
that ‘the word slavery was never allowed to appear in a Philadelphia periodical,’ and that ‘the publisher objected to have even the name of the book appear in his pages.’
His friend Samuel Ward
, always an agreeable man of the world, wrote from New York of the poems, ‘They excite a good deal of attention and sell rapidly.
I have sent one copy to the South
and others shall follow,’ and includes Longfellow
among ‘you abolitionists.’
The effect of the poems was unquestionably to throw him on the right side of the great moral contest then rising to its climax, while he incurred, like his great compeers, Channing
, and Sumner
, some criticism from the pioneers.
Such differences are inevitable among reformers, whose internal contests are apt to be more strenuous and formidable than those incurred between opponents; and recall to mind that remark of Cosmo de Medici
which Lord Bacon called ‘a desperate saying;’ namely, that ‘Holy Writ bids us to forgive our enemies, but it is nowhere enjoined upon us that we should forgive our friends.’