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William Lloyd Garrison (search for this): chapter 7
oy, School-days, snow-bound, Ramoth Hill, and Telling the Bees. It was a chance copy of Burns that revealed to the farmer lad his own desire and capacity for verse-writing. When he was nineteen, his sister sent his Exile's Departure to William Lloyd Garrison, then twenty, and the editor of the Newburyport free Press. The neighbors liked it, and the tall frail author was rewarded with a term at the Haverhill Academy, where he paid his way, in old Essex County fashion, by making shoes. He h modestly called a knack at rhyming, and much facility in prose. He turned to journalism and politics, for which he possessed a notable instinct. For a while he thought he had done with poetry and literature. Then in 1833, at twenty-six, came Garrison's stirring letter bidding him enlist in the cause of Anti-Slavery. He obeyed the call, not knowing that this new allegiance to the service of humanity was to transform him from a facile local verse-writer into a national poet. It was the ancie
Sophia Peabody (search for this): chapter 7
emerge; he is absorbed in finding a setting for a preconceived moral ; he is in love with allegory and parable. His own words about his first collection of stories, Twice-told tales, have often been quoted: They have the pale tint of flowers that blossomed in too retired a shade. Yet they are for the most part exquisitely written. After a couple of years in the Boston Custom-House, and a residence at the socialistic community of Brook Farm, Hawthorne made the happiest of marriages to Sophia Peabody, and for nearly four years dwelt in the Old Manse at Concord. He described it in one of the ripest of his essays, the Preface to Mosses from an Old Manse, his second collection of stories. After three years in the Custom-House at Salem, his dismissal in 1849 gave him leisure to produce his masterpiece, The Scarlet letter, published in 1850. He was now forty-six. In 1851, he published The House of the seven Gables, the Wonder-book, and The snow-image, and other tales. In 1852 came Th
ultery, although suggestively enough present in one of the finest symbolical titles ever devised by a romancer, does not once occur in the book. The sins dealt with are hypocrisy and revenge. Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Roger Chillingworth are developing, suffering, living creatures, caught inextricably in the toils of a moral situation. By an incomparable succession of pictures Hawthorne exhibits the travail of their souls. In the greatest scene of all, that between Hester and Arthur in the forest, the Puritan framework of the story gives way beneath the weight of human passion, and we seem on the verge of another and perhaps larger solution than was actually worked out by the logic of succeeding events. But though the book has been called Christless, prayerless, hopeless, no mature person ever reads it without a deepened sense of the impotence of all mechanistic theories of sin, and a new vision of the intense reality of spiritual things. The law we broke, in Dimmesd
with the closest interest. He emerged more and more from the atmosphere of faction and section, and, though he retained to the last his Quaker creed, he held its simple tenets in such undogmatic and winning fashion that his hymns are sung today in all the churches. When The Atlantic monthly was established in 1857, Whittier was fifty. He took his place among the contributors to the new magazine not as a controversialist but as a man of letters, with such poems as Tritemius, and Skipper Ireson's Ride. Characteristic productions of this period are My Psalm, Cobbler Keezar's vision, Andrew Rykman's Prayer, the Eternal Goodness — poems grave, sweet, and tender. But it was not until the publication of Snow-bound in 1866 that hitter's work touched its widest popularity. He had never married, and the deaths of his mother and sister Elizabeth set him brooding, in the desolate Amesbury house, over memories of his birthplace, six miles away in East Haverhill. The homestead had gone ou
nature a dramatist, and his trilogy now published under the title of Christus, made up of The divine tragedy, the golden legend, and New England tragedies, added little to a reputation won in other fields. His sonnets, particularly those upon Chaucer, Milton, the Divina Commedia, a Nameless grave, Felton, Sumner, nature, My books, are among the imperishable treasures of the English language. In descriptive pieces like Keramos and The Hanging of the Crane, in such personal and occasional verfered freshness and picturesqueness of theme. All were tireless workers in spite of every physical handicap; all enjoyed social security and the rich reward of full recognition by their contemporaries. They had their world as in their time, as Chaucer makes the Wife of Bath say of herself, and it was a pleasant world to live in. Grandson of Prescott the brave of Bunker Hill, and son of the rich Judge Prescott of Salem, William Hickling Prescott was born in 1796, and was graduated from Harv
demnation of the unimaginative harshness of the Puritans. His own judgment upon the deep matters of the human conscience was stern enough, but it was a universalized judgment, and by no means the result of a Calvinism which he hated. Over-fond as he was in his earlier tales of elaborate, fanciful, decorative treatment of themes that promised to point a moral, in his finest short stories, such as The ambitious Guest, the gentle boy, young Goodman Brown, the snow image, the great stone face, Drowne's Wooden image, Rappacini's daughter, the moral, if there be one, is not obtruded. He loves physical symbols for mental and moral states, and was poet and Transcendentalist enough to retain his youthful affection for parables; but his true field as a story-teller is the erring, questing, aspiring, shadowed human heart. The Scarlet letter, for instance, is a study of a universal theme, the problem of concealed sin, punishment, redemption. Only the setting is provincial. The story cannot
The word Adultery, although suggestively enough present in one of the finest symbolical titles ever devised by a romancer, does not once occur in the book. The sins dealt with are hypocrisy and revenge. Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Roger Chillingworth are developing, suffering, living creatures, caught inextricably in the toils of a moral situation. By an incomparable succession of pictures Hawthorne exhibits the travail of their souls. In the greatest scene of all, that between Hester and Arthur in the forest, the Puritan framework of the story gives way beneath the weight of human passion, and we seem on the verge of another and perhaps larger solution than was actually worked out by the logic of succeeding events. But though the book has been called Christless, prayerless, hopeless, no mature person ever reads it without a deepened sense of the impotence of all mechanistic theories of sin, and a new vision of the intense reality of spiritual things. The law we broke,
Gouverneur Morris (search for this): chapter 7
wealth nor leisure. He was a furious, unwearied toiler in the field of our national history. Born in 1789, by profession a Unitarian minister, he began collecting the papers of George Washington by 1825. John Marshall, the great jurist, had published his five-volume life of his fellow Virginian a score of years earlier. But Sparks proceeded to write another biography of Washington and to edit his writings. He also edited a Library of American biography, wrote lives of Franklin and Gouverneur Morris, was professor of history and President of Harvard, and lived to be seventy-seven. As editor of the writings of Franklin and Washington, he took what we now consider unpardonable liberties in altering the text, and this error of judgment has somewhat clouded his just reputation as a pioneer in historical research. George Bancroft, who was born in 1800, and died, a horseback-riding sage, at ninety-one, inherited from his clergyman father a taste for history. He studied in Germany a
Childe Harold (search for this): chapter 7
harming young creature of the natural sunshine until his love for the somber Miriam tempts him to the commission of murder: then begins the growth of his mind and character. Perhaps the haunting power of the main theme of the book has contributed less to its fame than the felicity of its descriptions of Rome and Italy. For Hawthorne possessed, like Byron, in spite of his defective training in the appreciation of the arts, a gift of romantic discernment which makes The Marble Faun, like Childe Harold, a glorified guide-book to the Eternal City. All of Hawthorne's books, in short, have a central core of psychological romance, and a rich surface finish of description. His style, at its best, has a subdued splendor of coloring which is only less wonderful than the spiritual perceptions with which this magician was endowed. The gloom which haunts many of his pages, as I have said elsewhere, is the long shadow cast by our mortal destiny upon a sensitive soul. The mystery is our mys
in the best sense of the word occasional, and his prose was only an incidental or accidental harvest of a long career in which his chief duty was that of a professor of anatomy in the Harvard Medical School. He had studied in Paris under sound teachers, and after some years of private practice won the appointment which he held, as active and emeritus professor, for forty-seven years. He was a faithful, clear, and amusing lecturer, and printed two or three notable medical essays, but his chief Boston reputation, in the eighteen-fifties, was that of a wit and diner-out and writer of verses for occasions. Then came his great hour of good luck in 1857, when Lowell, the editor of the newly-established Atlantic monthly, persuaded him to write The Autocratof the Breakfast table. It was the public's luck also, for whoever had been so unfortunate as not to be born in Boston could now listen — as if across the table — to Boston's best talker. Few volumes of essays during the last sixty year
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