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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, The Greek goddesses. (search)
lcestis and Antigone are world-renowned delineations of noble and tender womanhood, and there are many companion pictures. I know not where in literature to look for a lovelier touch of feminine feeling,--a trait more unlike those portrayed by Thackeray, for instance,--than in the Deianira of Sophocles (in the Trachiniae), who receives with abundant compassion the female slaves sent home by Hercules, resolves that no added pain shall come to them from her, and even when she discovers one of tof ideal womanhood. Spenser's impersonations, while pure and high, are vague and impalpable. Shakespeare's women seem at best far inferior, in compass and variety, to Shakespeare's men; and if Ruskin glorifies them sublimely on the one side, Thackeray on the other side professes to find in them the justification of his own. Goethe paints carefully a few varieties, avoiding the largest and noblest types. . Where among all these delineations is there a woman who walks the earth like a goddess?
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, Note (search)
Note The two papers in this volume which bear the titles A Keats manuscript and A Shelley manuscript are reprinted by permission from a work called Book and heart, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, copyright, 1897, by Harper and Brothers, with whose consent the essay entitled One of Thackeray's women also is published. Leave has been obtained to reprint the papers on Brown, Cooper, and Thoreau, from Carpenter's American prose, copyrighted by the Macmillan Company, 1898. My thanks are also due to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for permission to reprint the papers on Scudder, Atkinson, and Cabot; to the proprietors of Putnam's magazine for the paper entitled Emerson's foot-note person ; to the proprietors of the New York Evening post for the article on George Bancroft from The nation ; to the editor of the Harvard graduates' magazine for the paper on Gottingen and Harvard ; and to the editors of the Outlook for the papers on Charles Eliot Norton, Julia Ward Howe, Edward
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, XIV. one of Thackeray's women (search)
XIV. one of Thackeray's women Some years since, there passed away, at Newport, Rhode Island, one who could justly be classed with Thackeray's women; one in whom Lady Kew would have taken delight; one in whom she would have found wit and memory and audacity rivaling her own; one who was at once old and young, poor and luxurious, one of the loneliest of human beings, and yet one of the most sociable. Miss Jane Stuart, the only surviving daughter of Gilbert Stuart, the painter, had dwelt alThackeray's women; one in whom Lady Kew would have taken delight; one in whom she would have found wit and memory and audacity rivaling her own; one who was at once old and young, poor and luxurious, one of the loneliest of human beings, and yet one of the most sociable. Miss Jane Stuart, the only surviving daughter of Gilbert Stuart, the painter, had dwelt all her life on the edge of art without being an artist, and at the brink of fashion without being fashionable. Living at times in something that approached poverty, she was usually surrounded by friends who were rich and generous; so that she often fulfilled Motley's famous early saying, that one could do without the necessaries of life, but could not spare the luxuries. She was an essential part of the atmosphere of Newport; living near the Old Stone Mill, she divided its celebrity and, as al
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 19 (search)
marked individuality, and I remember hearing from one of his grandchildren an amusing account of the scene which occurred, on one of these Sunday evenings, after the delivery of a total abstinence sermon by the Rev. Dr. Channing, of whose parish Colonel Perkins was one of the leading members. The whole theory of total abstinence was then an absolute innovation, and its proclamation, which came rather suddenly from Dr. Channing, impressed Colonel Perkins much as it might have moved one of Thackeray's English squires; insomuch that he had a double allowance of wine served out that evening to each of his numerous grandsons in place of their accustomed wine-glass of diluted beverage, and this to their visible disadvantage as the evening went on. Elliot Cabot entered Harvard College in 1836 as Freshman, and though he passed his entrance examinations well, took no prominent rank in his class, but read all sorts of out-of-the-way books and studied natural history. He was also an early
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Short studies of American authors, Howells. (search)
all this is, that Mr. Howells cannot be, if he would, an artist per se, like Droz, in reading whose brilliant trifles we are in a world where the execution is all, the thought nothing, and the moral less than nothing. Nor does he succeed, like Thackeray, in making a novel attractive without putting a single agreeable character into it: Thackeray barely accomplished this in Vanity fair; Mr. Howells was far less successful in the most powerful and least satisfactory of all his books, A ForegoneThackeray barely accomplished this in Vanity fair; Mr. Howells was far less successful in the most powerful and least satisfactory of all his books, A Foregone Conclusion. The greatest step he has ever taken, both in popularity and in artistic success, has been won by trusting himself to a generous impulse, and painting in The lady of the Aroostook a character worth the pains of describing. The book is not, to my thinking, free from faults: the hero poses and proses, and the drunken man is so realistic as to be out of place and overdone; but the character of the heroine seems to me the high-water mark of Mr. Howells. It has been feared that he wou
James Parton, The life of Horace Greeley, chapter 26 (search)
draw! That airy nothing is, through the instrumentality of the new institution, convertible into solid cash, into a large pile of solid cash. Small fortunes have been made by it in a single winter, by a single lecture or course of lectures. Thackeray, by much toil and continuous production, attained an income of seven thousand dollars a year. He crosses the Atlantic, and, in one short season, without producing a line, gains thirteen thousand, and could have gained twice as much if he had bhabitual, innate, and indestructible. We all know what is the usual course of a person who—as the stupid phrase is—rises from the condition of a manual laborer to a position of influence and wealth. If our own observation were not sufficient, Thackeray and Curtis have told the whole world the sorry history of the modern snob; how he ignores his origin, and bends all his little soul to the task of cutting a figure in the circles to which he has gained admittance. Twenty men are suffocating
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, My out-door study (search)
turn to it from Nature,—as the smallest cambric needle appears rough and jagged when compared through the magnifier with the tapering fineness of the insect's sting. Once separated from Nature, literature recedes into metaphysics, or dwindles into novels. How ignoble seems the current material of London literary life, for instance, compared with the noble simplicity which, a half-century ago, made the Lake Country an enchanted land forever. Is it worth a voyage to England to sup with Thackeray in the Pot Tavern? Compare the enormity of pleasure which De Quincey says Wordsworth derived from the simplest natural object, with the serious protest of Wilkie Collins against the affectation of caring about Nature at all. Is it not strange, says this most unhappy man, to see how little real hold the objects of the natural world amidst which we live can gain on our hearts and minds? We go to Nature for comfort in joy, and sympathy in trouble, only in books. . . . . . What share have th
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Harvard Memorial Biographies, 1860. (search)
wers of reasoning were excellent. His memory was extraordinary; he was not only able to repeat long ballads, of which he was very fond, but could even recite pages of prose which he had not seen for years. Macaulay was his favorite author; and it was his delight to deliver from memory his long and finished periods, with an emphasis which no one who has heard him can forget. His comrades of the mess-room will long remember how he enlivened the dulness of many a winter evening by reciting Thackeray's Ballad of the Drum, or some stirring lay of Aytoun. Napoleon was his favorite hero. When a boy of ten, he would carry about a life of the Emperor under his arm, and read and reread it, and refuse to part from it. Among the volumes of a deserted library at Newbern he came upon Napier's Peninsular War, and he was wont to descant, to his friends on the strategy of the campaigns in Spain and the greatness of the hero of Austerlitz. He was a delightful companion. Many a time it has been
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Milton. (search)
of the time, or at any rate to have the means of acquiring it, and Milton's manner (his style was his own) was very little affected by any of the English poets, with the single exception, in his earlier poems, of George Wither. Mr. Masson also has something to say about everybody, from Wentworth to the obscurest Brownist fanatic who was so much as heard of in England during Milton's lifetime. If this theory of a biographer's duty should hold, our grandchildren may expect to see A Life of Thackeray, or who was who in England, France, and Germany during the first Half of the Nineteenth Century. These digressions of Mr. Masson's from what should have been his main topic (he always seems somehow to be completing his tendency towards the suburbs of his subject), give him an uneasy feeling that he must get Milton in somehow or other at intervals, if it were only to remind the reader that he has a certain connection with the book. He is eager even to discuss a mere hypothesis, though an
insolence of courts. But if George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and General Grant could all return to earth and attend a levee at the same time with the King of some cannibal island and his barbarous cousins, the royal savages would be ranged in a line with the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and the democrats would be expected to pass before them. The next occasion when royalty and democracy met was at the house of the Marquis of Hertford, the Lord High Chamberlain and the successor of Thackeray's Marquis of Steyne. His lordship was giving a dinner to the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne, and had asked a few friends to come in afterward and meet Her Royal Highness and her noble husband. General Grant was not invited to the dinner but was asked to the reception afterward. We arrived before dinner was over, and were not received. A royal guest could not be left by the Lord Chamberlain because an ex-President was in the drawing-room; so General Grant waited till dinner w
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