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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, V. James Fenimore Cooper (search)
eeley's New Yorker ) a superlative dolt and the common mark of scorn and contempt of every well-informed American ; and so did Webb, when he pronounced the novelist a base-minded caitiff who had traduced his country. Not being able to reach his English opponents, Cooper turned on these Americans, and spent years in attacking Webb and others through the courts, gaining little and losing much through the long vicissitudes of petty local lawsuits. The fact has kept alive their memory; but for Lowell's keener shaft, Cooper has written six volumes to show he's as good as a lord, there was no redress. The arrow lodged and split the target. Like Scott and most other novelists, Cooper was rarely successful with his main characters, but was saved by his subordinate ones. These were strong, fresh, characteristic, human; and they lay, as I have already said, in several different directions, all equally marked. If he did not create permanent types in Harvey Birch the spy, Leather-Stocking
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, VII: Henry David Thoreau (search)
a life-long renunciation of his fellow men; to complain of him as waiving all interest in public affairs when the great crisis of John Brown's execution had found him far more awake to it than Lowell was,--this was only explainable by the lingering tradition of that savage period of criticism, initiated by Poe, in whose hands the thing became a tomahawk. As a matter of fact, the tomahawk had in this case its immediate effect; and the English editor and biographer of Thoreau has stated that Lowell's criticism is to this day the great obstacle to the acceptance of Thoreau's writings in England. It is to be remembered, however, that Thoreau was not wholly of English but partly of French origin, and was, it might be added, of a sort of moral-Oriental, or Puritan Pagan temperament. With a literary feeling even stronger than his feeling for nature,--the proof of this being that he could not, like many men, enjoy nature in silence,--he put his observations always on the level of literatu
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 12 (search)
and I'll begin by thanking you for calling my attention to the error in re Palfrey — which, of course, I shall correct. Another friend has written me to say that Lowell's father was a Unitarian — not a Congregationalist. But Lowell himself told me, the other day, that his father never would call himself a Unitarian, and that he find the author deep in a discussion of Lowell, for instance, and complaining of that poet's prose or verse. Not compactly moulded, Stedman says, even of much of Lowell's work. He had a way, moreover, of dropping like his own bobolink, of letting down his fine passages with odd conceits, mixed metaphors, and licenses which, as ahere are good enough counters in the language for any poet's need. These failings, Stedman says, have perplexed the poet's friends and teased his reviewers. Yet Lowell's critic is more chargeable with diffuseness than is Lowell himself in prose essays, which is saying a good deal. Stedman devotes forty-five pages to Lowell and
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 16 (search)
xisting partnership would end, he should be taken into the firm, which accordingly took place in 1865. The fourth edition of his Familiar quotations, always growing larger, had meanwhile been published by them, as well as an edition de luxe of Walton's Complete Angler, in the preparation of which he made an especial and exceptionally fine collection of works on angling, which he afterwards presented to the Harvard College Library. His activity in the Waltonian sport is also commemorated in Lowell's poem, To Mr. John Bartlett, who had sent me a seven-pound trout. He gave to the Library at the same time another collection of books containing Proverbs, and still another on Emblems. After his becoming partner in the firm, the literary, manufacturing, and advertising departments were assigned to him, and were retained until he withdrew altogether. The fifth and sixth editions of his Quotations were published by Little, Brown & Co., the seventh and eighth by Routledge of London, the
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 19 (search)
he object of joining his elder brother in Switzerland, visiting Italy, wintering in Paris, and returning home in the spring; but this ended in his going for the winter to Heidelberg instead, a place then made fascinating to all young Americans through the glowing accounts in Longfellow's Hyperion. They were also joined by two other classmates,--Edward Holker Welch, afterwards well known in the Roman Catholic priesthood, and John Fenwick Heath, of Virginia, well remembered by the readers of Lowell's letters. All of these four were aiming at the profession of the law, although not one of them, I believe, finally devoted himself to its practice. Migrating afterwards to Berlin, after the fashion of German students, they were admitted to the University on their Harvard degrees by Ranke, the great historian, who said, as he inspected their parchments, Ah! The high School at Boston! which they thought showed little respect for President Quincy's parchment, until they found that Hoch Sch
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, chapter 22 (search)
tment which he may indeed be said to have created in our public schools, and thus indirectly in our colleges. William James Rolfe, son of John and Lydia Davis (Moulton) Rolfe, was born on December 1, 1827, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, a rural city which has been the home at different times of a number of literary and public men, and is still, by its wide, elm-shaded chief avenue and ocean outlook, found attractive by all visitors. Rolfe's boyhood, however, was passed mainly in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he was fitted for college in the high school. He spent three years at Amherst College, but found himself unable to afford to remain any longer, and engaged in school-teaching as a means of immediate support. A bankrupt country academy at Wrentham, about twenty-five miles from Boston, was offered to him rent free if he would keep a school in it, and, for want of anything better, he took it. He had to teach all the grammar and high school branches, including the fitting of boy