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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier 8 2 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 7: Whittier as a social reformer (search)
It has been stated that Mr. Whittier at one time expressed to a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society his intention to prepare a full and exhaustive history of the relation of Puritan and Quaker in the seventeenth century, but there seems no evidence that he followed up this project. There was undoubtedly in Whittier, amid all his quietness of life, that impulsiveness which revealed itself in his brilliant eye and subdued decision of manner. A good deal has been said, as Mr. Robert S. Rantoul has admirably pointed out, about Mr. Whittier's fighting blood; whether it came from Huguenot or Norman veins, or from his Indian-fighting ancestors who deserted the meeting trail and camp. He had a good deal of the natural man left under his brown homespun, waistcoat, and straight collar. He had the reticence and presence of an Arab chief, with the eye of an eagle. Among all Howells's characters in fiction, the one who most caught Whittier's fancy was that indomitable old German,
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 9: Whittier at home (search)
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 himself, he was transparent in his expressions and he sought the communion of those only who met him on his own ground. Insincerity was incivility .... He could no
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Chapter 13: closing years (search)
g place. Some humble door among Thy many mansions, Some sheltering shade where sin and striving cease, And flows forever through heaven's green expansions The river of Thy peace. There, from the music round about me stealing, I fain would learn the new and holy song, And find at last, beneath Thy trees of healing, The life for which I long. 1882. Works, II. 333. The following simple and touching picture of his funeral is from the historical address on Whittier by his friend Robert S. Rantoul. I attended his funeral. The day was ideal — a cloudless September sky above, a wealth of autumn beauty all about. No word was uttered in speech or song that day but it was apt, spontaneous, sincere. I think I never joined in obsequies more fit. Their simplicity was absolute. The poet Stedman spoke as few men can, and with a grace and aptness which, perfect as they were, yet seemed unstudied. It was hard to say whether deep feeling or critical characterisation were the leadi
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Index. (search)
3. Powow River, 4. Prentice, George D., his letter to Whittier, 34, 35. Purdy, Mr., 42. Q. Quakers, 5, 112, 155; character of, 118-120. Quebec, 174. Quincy family, 52. R. Radical Club, 100, 102. Ramoth Hill, 141. Rantoul, Robert S., 109; quoted, 86; his delineation of Whittier, 110; his description of Whittier's funeral, 185. Republican party, 68. Reynolds, Mrs., 105. Richardson, Samuel, 165. Richter, Jean Paul, 21. Robinson, Gov. G. D., 110. Rogers, Nathanielt of his poems, 99, 100; acquaintance with an Emperor, 100, 101; receives many letters, 101; his shyness, 102, 103, 110; his sense of humor, 103, 104; seriousness of early poems, 103; compared with Whitman, 106; pleasure in tending fire, 109; R. S. Rantoul's delineation of, 110; acquaintance with fellow-authors, 110-112; his heroes, 112, 113; Hayne's poem on, 113, 114; a liberal Quaker, 115-117; fondness for Rossetti's ballad of Sister Helen, 117-118; his relation to Society of Friends, 118-124