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Estes Howe (search for this): chapter 6
t least, Lowell did — the value of half-rations. Perhaps Mr. Smalley presses too far the novelty that Lowell found in a circle where there were others besides men of letters; for in truth he had around him just such a circle, so far as it went, at home. Among his intimate friends and club-fellows were great capitalists, like John M. Forbes; men of the world, like Tom Appleton; lawyers and public men, like Judge Hoar; men of science, like Agassiz; physicians like his own brother-in-law, Dr. Estes Howe. The difference was not in quality so much as in quantity. Lowell could not perhaps say, like Stuart Newton the painter: I meet in London occasionally such company as I meet in Boston all the time ; but he could at least go so far as to say that at home he met a sufficient variety of types to know that men of letters did not monopolize the world. When it came to sheer quantity, of course London was overpowering; it was like going from a small preparatory school to Oxford; but, after
ther forms more satisfying, he took up the dropped threads of his life, receiving the Dante Club and the Modern Language Association as if each were the Royal Society. In looking back on London, too, he was able to see its limitations as well as its delights; was ready to recognize the barren fig-tree side of it, in Lord Houghton's phrase; the limitation and disappointment resulting from the very excess and hurry. It is the same side that we see in books of personal recollections, like Lady Eastlake's Diaries or Sir Frederick Pollock's Remembrances, where the writer goes from one brilliant breakfast or luncheon or dinner to the next, meeting all the wits and sages, and bringing away only two or three anecdotes. Lowell himself recognized all this limitation, yet delighted in the retrospect; skimmed for you the cream of it, and then took you out on the piazza to watch the squirrels and robins. Becoming again, in some sense, a recluse, he was such a recluse as Sir Henry Wotton might
Matthew Arnold (search for this): chapter 6
ry school to Oxford; but, after all, a man usually finds, in looking back, that his own schoolmates afforded him a microcosm of the world. Lowell, fortunately, lived to refute very promptly the ignorant pity bestowed upon him in advance by Matthew Arnold, for returning home, after the intoxication of his life in England, to live in Elmwood. Mr. Arnold never in his life had one glimpse of what America is to an American; and those who best knew Lowell had no such fear as this. The first pang Mr. Arnold never in his life had one glimpse of what America is to an American; and those who best knew Lowell had no such fear as this. The first pang over, created by the return to his changed home, and he slipped into his old associations as easily as into a familiar garment. Never was he more delightful than in those later fireside years, even when the fireside had come to be a part of a sick-room. Indeed, he was more agreeable than ever before; his habit of mind was more genial; he was less imperious, more moderate in his judgments — in short, more mellow. He liked to talk of London, as he liked to go there, but without a trace of self-
Americans (search for this): chapter 6
which Lowell was always ready to praise, and his presentation copy of which he bequeathed expressly to the Cambridge Public Library. They show, as does this magazine paper, those especial qualities of trained style which have been familiar to Americans for so many years in the great English weeklies; the clearness, the terseness, the practised ease of execution, the level quality of excellence, as if one remarkably clever man wrote them all. This makes it the more worth while to take exceptiocked and was resumed. It was not, in short, a case of tardy, but of interrupted development. That he gained vastly in the power of self-repression and of mutual deference by going to London is unquestionable. It is the best thing taught to Americans by the admirable discipline of the dinner-tables of that city, that we unlearn the habit of monologue. No one needed this more than Lowell, except perhaps Holmes; the two had sat at opposite ends of the table so long, during the early dinners
is life, receiving the Dante Club and the Modern Language Association as if each were the Royal Society. In looking back on London, too, he was able to see its limitations as well as its delights; was ready to recognize the barren fig-tree side of it, in Lord Houghton's phrase; the limitation and disappointment resulting from the very excess and hurry. It is the same side that we see in books of personal recollections, like Lady Eastlake's Diaries or Sir Frederick Pollock's Remembrances, where the writer goes from one brilliant breakfast or luncheon or dinner to the next, meeting all the wits and sages, and bringing away only two or three anecdotes. Lowell himself recognized all this limitation, yet delighted in the retrospect; skimmed for you the cream of it, and then took you out on the piazza to watch the squirrels and robins. Becoming again, in some sense, a recluse, he was such a recluse as Sir Henry Wotton might have been, or as the tenant of Andrew Marvell's garden. 1896
uld of Madrid — in fact, of Philadelphia or Chicago. He rejoiced to meet old neighbors, to pick up old threads; and began immediately to accumulate new anecdotes about the old Cambridge. He delighted to tell how, on the day before the last Fourth of July, an early contemporary, in somewhat humbler life, had come to him to appeal for still another comrade who had habitually drifted into evil ways and was lodged in the East Cambridge jail. Now, Mr. Lowell, I know you wouldn't want that boy, that Cambridge boy, to spend Independence Day in jail! I know you'll just bail him out. Lowell promptly did so, though knowing well that his beneficiary would devote the Fourth of July to qualifying himself for returning to jail again, which was precisely what happened. So, in other forms more satisfying, he took up the dropped threads of his life, receiving the Dante Club and the Modern Language Association as if each were the Royal Society. In looking back on London, too, he was able to see
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