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Chapter 24: Longfellow as a man

Longfellow always amused himself, as do most public men, with the confused and contradictory descriptions of his personal appearance: with the Newport bookseller who exclaimed, ‘Why, you look more like a sea captain than a poet!’ and a printer who described him as ‘a hale, portly, fine-looking man, nearly six feet in height, well proportioned, with a tendency to fatness; brown hair and blue eyes, and bearing the general appearance of a comfortable hotelkeeper.’ More graphic still, and on the whole nearer to the facts, is this description by an English military visitor who met him at a reception in Boston in 1850. I happened upon the volume containing it amid a pile of literary lumber in one of the great antiquarian bookstores of London:—

‘He was rather under the middle size, but gracefully formed, and extremely prepossessing in his general appearance. His hair was light-colored, and tastefully disposed. Below a fine forehead gleamed two of the most beautiful eyes ’

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Henry Longfellow (2)
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