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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier 60 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Walcott Boynton, Reader's History of American Literature 6 0 Browse Search
Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 2 0 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Note (search)
Note The thanks of the author are due to various friends and correspondents who have aided him with information or criticism; and especially to his friend Samuel T. Pickard, Esq., the authorized biographer of Whittier, whose invaluable work must always hold the leading place among all books relating to the poet's personal history, and who has also been most generous in the way of private counsel. T. W. H. Cambridge, Mass.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 1: childhood (search)
e family. This tradition suggests the ways and purposes of the Society of Friends, but it does not appear that Thomas Whittier actually belonged to that body, though he risked name and standing to secure fair treatment for those who led it. Mr. Pickard, the poet's biographer, tells us that in 1652 he joined in petitioning the legislature, then called general court, for the pardon of Robert Pike, who had been heavily fined for speaking against the order prohibiting certain Quakers from exhor with him a hive of bees which had been willed to him by his uncle, Henry Rolfe, a fellow passenger to this country. This hive of bees, as an emblem of industry and thrift, has been used by some of his descendants as the basis of a monogram. Pickard's Whittier, I. 5. In the house thus honourably occupied by a manly progenitor, John Greenleaf Whittier was born, his middle name coming from his paternal grandmother, Sarah Greenleaf, about whom he wrote a ballad, and about whose name — tran
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 2: school days and early ventures (search)
cademy] before I do anything. He is one of the best men — to use a phrase of my craft — that ever trod shoe-leather. Pickard, I. 70. After leaving the academy, Whittier plunged with unexpected suddenness into journalism, which took with him to have ideas similar to those of that old churl of a Plato, who was for banishing all poets from his perfect republic. Pickard, pp. 100-2. Moll Pitcher was published (Boston, 1832) anonymously, and again, but this time with his name, eight yealls of our house are just visible. In truth, I am as comfortable as one can well be, always excepting ill health. Mr. Pickard informs us that it is made clear by his other correspondents that the prospects of which Whittier speaks are in the liWhittier speaks are in the line of political promotion; and that he was prevented from accepting the offer by his friends of a nomination for Congress, only because he was below what he supposed to be the legal age, twenty-five. Pickard, I. 1
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 3: Whittier the politician (search)
re he attended a high school, so he was a politician before he was a reformer. The most surprising revelation made by Mr. Pickard's late biography of Whittier was of the manner in which he, like many promising young Americans, was early swept into ease, that I am ready to go on with the contest, and you had better recommend mildness in the process of electioneering. Pickard's Whittier, 168, 169. There are many lapses from a high standard which count for less at twenty-four than at thirty;ticularly mean on the part of the Boston shopkeepers. I never felt so indignant as when I saw the courthouse in chains. Pickard's Whittier, I. 355, 356. This last reference was to the rendition of Thomas Sims, a fugitive slave, during the progress two or three office-holders and their dependents, defend the course of Banks, and applaud the manly speeches of Sumner. Pickard's Whittier, I. 374. I have gone a little in advance of the development of this part of Whittier's nature — that of t
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 6: a division in the ranks (search)
l interest. I have repented of it a thousand times, especially as it gave those who were not intimately acquainted with me a false idea of my character. . . . Pickard, I. 218-19. The only record in the Life of Garrison by his sons — perhaps the most thoroughly executed biography ever written in America, though it could hardfor the antislavery cause than any one, in view of the height and breadth of his previous influence and popularity. The letter addressed to him may be found in Pickard's Whittier, I. 137. In November, 1837, a small volume of Whittier's poems was issued in Boston by the publisher of the Liberator, Isaac Knapp. It was first pby the American Antislavery Society to go through Pennsylvania and find, if they could, seventy public speakers who would take part in the war against slavery. Pickard's Whittier, I. 250. He had at one time planned, when he felt himself more in command of his bodily forces, to attend the World's Antislavery Convention at London
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 7: Whittier as a social reformer (search)
ons. No Friends were members of the convention, although there were several lookers-on. Judging from the little I saw and heard, I do not think the world will be much the wiser for the debate. It may have a tendency to unsettle some minds. Pickard, I. 266-67. It was in connection with The Tent on the beach that Whittier printed in the New York Nation what is perhaps the best statement of the comparative position which poetry and practical reform held in his life. It is as follows:-- many years, is still a living and beautiful reality. And after all, good as thy books are, we know thee to be better than any book. I wish thee could know how proudly and tenderly thee is loved and honoured by the best and wisest of the land. Pickard's Whittier, II. 603-04. Whittier was the only one of his immediate literary circle, except Fields the publisher, who unequivocally supported woman suffrage from the beginning of the agitation. It was of course easier for members of the Soci
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 9: Whittier at home (search)
d stay mine, and he would say, Thee must not touch that, it is just right, and perhaps the next minute he would have the tongs and do just what I had attempted. I have frequently gone in at twilight and found him lying on the lounge, watching the flitting shadows, and repeating aloud from some favourite author, generally Scott or Burns. His mood and conversation at such times were particularly delightful. The beautiful poem, Burning Driftwood was doubtless inspired by such experiences. Pickard, II. 745. One of the very best delineations of Whittier by one of those who approached him on the public or semi-public side is that written by the Hon. Robert S. Rantoul of Salem, Mass.:-- Mr. Whittier was self-contained. In the company of persons whom he did not care for — who could not draw him out — his mind seemed to furnish him with almost nothing to say. He had no small talk. Where there was nothing in common he could be as remote and silent as a mountain peak .... For hi
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 10: the religious side (search)
ined a faithful member. In trying to solve the problem, how far he felt himself strictly bound by the usages of his Society, the following anecdote, as told by Mr. Pickard, is suggestive. On the night before the burning of Pennsylvania Hall in 1838, in Philadelphia, as an antislavery headquarters, there occurred the marriage of Ay. He nevertheless reconciled it with his conscience to escort a young lady to the door, and to call on the wedded pair, next day, with a congratulatory poem. Pickard's Whittier, I. 235. This fairly indicates the hold his early religious training had upon him, when the question was one of outward observances alone. In readinHim is not strong enough to overcome the natural shrinking from the law of death. Even our Master prayed that that cup might pass from Him, if it were possible. Pickard's Whittier, II. 651-53. He said once to Mrs. Claflin:-- The little circumstance of death will make no difference with me: I shall have the same friends i
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 11: early loves and love poetry (search)
ery well; but hang me if I like the people here. I am acquainted with a few girls, and have no wish to be so with many. Pickard's Whittier, I. 93-4. Mr. Pickard however assures us that there are many similar passages in Whittier's early lettersMr. Pickard however assures us that there are many similar passages in Whittier's early letters; and this boyish semi-sentimentalism, even if it reaches the confines of romance, has really no more perilous quality of passion than has Whittier's equally unexpected Hang me! of profanity. What we know about the maturer Whittier is that no man his leaving that city on Dec. 31, 1831. It contains a proposal of an interview, apparently with a view to marriage. Mr. Pickard, his literary editor, frankly doubts the genuineness of this letter, and partly from its signature, Yours most truly, ich came nearest to a love-song, Memories. He asserts positively that the real object of this poem was a lady of whom Mr. Pickard thus writes in a newspaper communication since the publication of his volume. She died several years ago, the wid
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 12: Whittier the poet (search)
purposes with friends, accepting suggestion and correction, while Whittier's poems come always with surprise, and even Mr. Pickard's careful labours add little to our knowledge. Mrs. Claflin and Mrs. Fields give us little as to the actual origins oel Martin first published under the name of The witch's daughter in the National Era for 1857-erroneously described by Mr. Pickard as first published in 1866--was his greatest immediate financial success. It was somewhat enlarged as Mabel Martin in 1877, and he received for it $1000 at the first annual payment. Mr. Pickard pronounces it charming, but I suspect that it is rarely copied, and hardly ever quoted — perhaps because the threeline measure is unfavourable to Whittier's style or to thss, and give me a place in their prayers. May the dear Lord and Father of us all keep you always under His protection. Pickard's Whittier, II. 607-09. In summing up the results of Whittier's twin career as poet and as file-leader, it may be sa
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