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nary conversations. Maria Lowell lent me also Landor's Pentameron, a book with exquisite passages; Alford's poems, then new, and, as she said, valuable for their simplicity; and the fiery German lays of Hoffmann von Fallersleben, some of which I translated, as was also the case with poems from Ruckert and Freiligrath, besides making a beginning at a version of the Swedish epic Frithiof's Saga, which Longfellow admired, and of Fredrika Bremer's novel, The H — family. I returned to Homer and Dante in the originals, and read something of Plato in Cousin's French translation, with an occasional reference to the Greek text. Some verses were contributed by me, as well as by my sister Louisa, at various times, to The Harbinger, published at Brook Farm and edited by the late Charles A. Dana. My first poem, suggested by the fine copy of the Sistine Madonna which had been my housemate at Brookline, had, however, been printed in The present, a short-lived magazine edited by my cousin, Wil
Meiklejohn (search for this): chapter 6
dergraduate department at what seemed to us a ripe old age. Another tonic in the way of cultured companionship was that of James Elliot Cabot, fresh from a German university,--then a rare experience,--he being, however, most un-German in clearness and terseness. I remember that when I complained to him of not understanding Kant's Critique of pure reason, in English, he answered tranquilly that he could not; that having read it twice in German he had thought he comprehended it, but that Meiklejohn's translation was beyond making out. These men were not in the Divinity School, but I met their equals there. The leading men of a college class gravitated then as naturally to the Divinity School as now to the Law School; even though, like myself, they passed to other pursuits afterward. I met there such men as Thomas Hill, afterward President of Harvard; Octavius B. Frothingham; William R. Alger; Samuel Longfellow and Samuel Johnson, who compiled at Divinity Hall their collection of hy
und them. My friend of later years, David Wasson, used to say that his health was ruined for life by two struggles: first by the way in which he got into the church during a revival, and then by the way he got out of it as a reformer. This I escaped, and came out in the end with the radical element so much stronger than the sacerdotal, that I took for the title of my address at the graduating exercises The clergy and reform. I remember that I had just been reading Horne's farthing epic of Orion, and had an ambitious sentence in my address, comparing the spirit of the age to that fabled being, first blinded, and then fixing his sightless eyes upon the sun that they might be set free once more. Probably it was crude enough, but Theodore Parker liked it, and so I felt as did the brave Xanthus, described by Landor, who only remembered that in the heat of the battle Pericles smiled on him. I was asked to preach as a candidate before the First Religious Society at Newburyport, a church
James Elliot Cabot (search for this): chapter 6
dge, and one for the Greek drama. He was the simplest-hearted of men, shy, near-sighted, and lovable; the tragedy of whose life was that his cruel father had sent him to Union College instead of to Harvard; a loss he made up by staying years at the latter, graduating successively at the Law School and the Divinity School, and finally taking his degree in the undergraduate department at what seemed to us a ripe old age. Another tonic in the way of cultured companionship was that of James Elliot Cabot, fresh from a German university,--then a rare experience,--he being, however, most un-German in clearness and terseness. I remember that when I complained to him of not understanding Kant's Critique of pure reason, in English, he answered tranquilly that he could not; that having read it twice in German he had thought he comprehended it, but that Meiklejohn's translation was beyond making out. These men were not in the Divinity School, but I met their equals there. The leading men of
Harriet Martineau (search for this): chapter 6
leavage through all Boston society, leaving most of the more powerful or wealthy families on the conservative side. What finally determined me in the other direction was the immediate influence of two books, both by women. One of these was Miss Martineau's tract, The Martyr age in America, portraying the work of the Abolitionists with such force and eloquence that it seemed as if no generous youth could be happy in any other company; and the other book was Mrs. Lydia Maria Child's Appeal for icans called Africans. This little work, for all its cumbrous title, was so wonderfully clear, compact, and convincing, it covered all its points so well and was so absolutely free from all unfairness or shrill invective, that it joined with Miss Martineau's less modulated strains to make me an Abolitionist. This was, it must be remembered, some years before the publication of Uncle Tom's cabin. I longed to be counted worthy of such companionship; I wrote and printed a rather crude sonnet to
J. G. Palfrey (search for this): chapter 6
IV. the rearing of a reformer Some years before the time when I entered the Harvard Divinity School, it had been described by the Rev. Dr. J. G. Palfrey, then its dean, as being made up of mystics, skeptics, and dyspeptics. This, being interpreted, really meant that the young men there assembled were launched on that wave of liberal thought which, under Emerson and Parker, was rapidly submerging the old landmarks. For myself, I was wholly given over to the newer phase of thought, and afLowell, the father, was yet living, always beneficent and attractive; he still sometimes preached in the college chapel, and won all undergraduate hearts by providing only fifteen-minute sermons. If I belonged in the first two categories of Dr. Palfrey's classification of the Divinity School, I happily kept clear of the third, never having been a dyspeptic, though I lived literally on bread and milk during the greater part of a year, for purposes of necessary economy and the buying of books
Elizabeth Whittier (search for this): chapter 6
among the poets of Greece. It was thus with Hurlbert when he died, although his few poems in Putnam's magazine --Borodino, Sorrento, and the like — seemed to us the dawn of a wholly new genius; and I remember that when the cool and keen-sighted Whittier read his Gan Eden, he said to me that one who had written that could write anything he pleased. Yet the name of the youth was not mentioned among the poets; and the utter indifference with which the announcement of his death was received was a it; and moreover the whole younger community was on my side. It did not help the matter that I let myself be nominated for Congress by the new Free Soil party in 1848, and stumped the district, though in a hopeless minority. The nomination was Whittier's doing, partly to prevent that party from nominating him; and he agreed that, by way of reprieve, I should go to Lowell and induce Josiah G. Abbott, then a young lawyer, to stand in my place. Abbott's objection is worth recording: if elected,
Mary Lowell Putnam (search for this): chapter 6
acation, on purpose to have a fire ready for me in my room on my return from a journey. I think it was on that very evening that he read aloud to me from Krummacher's Parables, a book then much liked among us,--selecting that fine tale describing the gradual downfall of a youth of unbounded aspirations, which the author sums up with the terse conclusion, But the name of that youth is not mentioned among the poets of Greece. It was thus with Hurlbert when he died, although his few poems in Putnam's magazine --Borodino, Sorrento, and the like — seemed to us the dawn of a wholly new genius; and I remember that when the cool and keen-sighted Whittier read his Gan Eden, he said to me that one who had written that could write anything he pleased. Yet the name of the youth was not mentioned among the poets; and the utter indifference with which the announcement of his death was received was a tragic epitaph upon a wasted life. Thanks to a fortunate home training and the subsequent infl
Charles Burleigh (search for this): chapter 6
ed adornment, there were men who --as is indeed noticed in European Socialist meetings to-day-bore a marked resemblance to the accepted pictures of Jesus Christ. This trait was carried to an extent which the newspapers called blasphemous in Charles Burleigh,--a man of tall figure, benign face, and most persuasive tongue, wearing long auburn curls and somewhat tangled tempestuous beard. Lowell, whose own bearded condition marked his initiation into abolitionism, used to be amused when he went about with Burleigh and found himself jeered at as a new and still faltering disciple. Finally, there was the Hutchinson Family, with six or eight tall brothers clustered around the one rosebud of a sister, Abby: all natural singers and one might say actors, indeed unconscious poseurs, easily arousing torpid conventions with The Car Emancipation and such stirring melodies; or at times, when encored, giving The bridge of sighs, which seemed made for just the combination they presented. When, in
Herr Von Schramm (search for this): chapter 6
d associates, but was so woefully disappointed in the result that he left them after a while, falling back upon the world's people, as more carnal, possibly, but more companionable. Without a tithe of my cousin's eloquence, I was of a cooler temperament, and perhaps kept my feet more firmly on the earth or was more guarded in my experiments. Yet I was gradually drawn into the temperance agitation, including prohibition; the peace movement, for which, I dare say, I pommeled as lustily as Schramm's pupils in Heine's Reisebilder; the social reform debate, which was sustained for some time after the downfall of Brook Farm; and of course the woman's rights movement, for whose first national convention I signed the call in 1850. Of all the movements in which I ever took part, except the antislavery agitation, this last-named seems to me the most important; nor have I ever wavered in the opinion announced by Wendell Phillips, that it is the grandest reform yet launched upon the century
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