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Chapter 16: literary life in Cambridge

Let us now return from the history of Longfellow's academic life to his normal pursuit, literature. It seemed a curious transition from the real and genuine sympathy for human wrong, as shown in the ‘Poems on Slavery,’ to the purely literary and historic quality of the ‘Spanish Student’ (1843), a play never quite dramatic enough to be put on the stage, at least in English, though a German version was performed at the Ducal Court Theatre in Dessau, January 28, 1855. As literary work it was certainly well done; though taken in part from the tale of Cervantes ‘La Gitanilla,’ and handled before by Montalvan and by Solis in Spanish, and by Middleton in English, it yet was essentially Longfellow's own in treatment, though perhaps rather marred by taking inappropriately the motto from Robert Burns. He wrote of it to Samuel Ward in New York, December, 1840, calling it ‘something still longer which as yet no eye but mine has seen and which I wish to read to you first.’ He then adds, ‘At present, ’

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