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think I should be more satisfied if I did the

He sympathised with Sumner's poliwork all myself. Nevertheless, I take things

tical struggles, because Sumner was his very, easily, not expecting perfection, and making the best of all things.

friend; but he regretted them. “ No

thing but politics now," he writes in That was his way: to take things

1848. “Oh, where are those genial easily, and make the best of all things. days when literature was the theme of He did not ignore the active life out

our conversation ?” Eleven years later, side his own little world. He did not,

on December 2nd, 1859, a memorable some men of letters have done,

day in the annals of America, his profess to despise it. It would be

journal shows this note : This will unfair to him to say he had no sym

be a great day in our history; the pathy with it. Sympathy he had

date of a new revolution-quite as for everything and everybody. His

much needed as the old one. Even study-door stood, in his biographer's

now, as I write, they are leading old expressive phrase, always open; and

John Brown to execution in Virginia within beat always an open heart.

for attempting to rescue slaves ! This The affection he seems to have in

is sowing the wind to reap the whirlspired in all who knew him, here as

wind, which will come soon. Then well as in his own country, is rare follow at intervals such passages as indeed in the history of letters; one these : -" Read the newspapers. No

hardly knows, perhaps, where to

good cheer there. Rebellion stalks match it, save in the life of Walter

through the land. South Carolina Scott. It is beautifully and fitly ex

talks nothing but fire and fury. She pressed in the lines Mr. Lowell (his

says she will secede this time. Better successor at Harvard) wrote for his

this than have the North yield, which sixtieth birthday

I am always a little afraid of. I hope “ With loving breath of all the winds, his we shall stand firm, and so end the

matter once for all.”

“ News Is blown about the world ; but to his

comes that Fort Sumter is attacked. friends A sweeter secret hides behind his fame,

And so the war begins! Who can And Love steals shyly through the loud

foresee the end ?

“ We are in acclaim

the beginning of a civil war. To murmur a God bless you ! and there bitter thought !

Dined with Judge

Phillips to meet Bryant.” There is The man to whom such praise could something almost abnormal, though be given can never have been

we certainly would not say disseemed cold, or careless, or unsym- pleasing, in the spectacle of a pathetic. His own work is proof thus serenely pursuing his even life enough to the contrary. Its chiefest in the midst of such tremendous charm lies in the sweet and liberal

With me," he said, “all charity it breathes for all sorts and deep feelings are silent ones.” But conditions of men. One might apply it is hard to conceive any of his feelto him, though in a different sense, ings as very deep. His affection the lines of Coleridge :

for his family and friends was very All thoughts, all passions, all delights,

pure and sweet and genuine ; but great Whatever stirs this mortal frame, depth of feeling is rarely found in All are but ministers of Love,

natures of his mould. And feed his sacred flame.”

An ideal temperament for the man Whatever stirred the life around him, of letters was Longfellow's—if perbut outside his own, served to feed the haps something less so for the poetgentle flame of his universal charity and an ideal life. It was uneventful and good-will. Yet though he looked enough in the common sense. There on all things with a kindly eye, he were his two periods of travel in looked on them with an incurious one. Europe; the first taken to prepare

No. 319.-VOL. LIV.

name

A very

ends."

or

man

scenes.

D

himself for the chair at Bowdoin wanderings. It was during his second College, the second, five years later, visit to Germany that his first wife to ground himself more thoroughly in died; five and twenty years later a the German and other northern lan- yet more tragic fate deprived him of guages. In the first he saw France, his second wife. She died from injuries Spain, Italy, and Germany; and if he received by her dress catching fire, never attained to the extraordinary while she was sealing up, with her mastery over tongues claimed for Sir two little girls, some small packages of William Jones, at least he became their curls which she had just cut off. a very tolerable proficient in the But, save for these two sorrows, and languages and literatures of those the loss of a little daughter, the countries. In the second he paid a seventy-five years of his life were short visit to England, studied for singularly serene and happy ones; his some months at Stockholm and Copen- college duties, his books—those he hagen, passed the winter and spring read and those he wrote—and his in Heidelberg, saw Switzerland and friends made up the sum of his tran. the Tyrol, and so home again. His quil and blameless existence. The letters during this first period fill nearly student in The Tales of a Wayside a hundred pages of the first volume. Inn' might stand well for the author's Very interesting they must have been own portrait, though it was, we are to the home circle, but perhaps a little told, designed for one of his friends less so now to the general reader. Mr. Henry Ware Wales : Full of good temper they are, and a

A youth was there of quiet ways, wish to be pleased with everything A student of old books and days. and everybody. But they are curiously To whom all tongues and lands are known, impersonal. One takes from them so

And yet a lover of his own; little idea either of the young travel

With many a social virtue graced,

And yet a friend of solitude ; ler, or of the countries and people A man of such a genial mood

The chief impression we, for The heart of all things he embraced, our part, have got from them is a And yet of such fastidious taste,

He never found the best too good. pleasant little sketch of Washington Irving working at his Life of Colum- We question whether the tale of bus' in the early summer mornings at

such a man's life was to be best told Madrid-and that was drawn many as Mr. Longfellow has thought. He years after from memory! This, and was hardly the man to be his own the poetical gondolier at Venice who biographer. One of that group of had served Byron, and remembered

friends, of whom only such meagre him as "a little pale man, but full of and tantalising glimpses are vouchsafed vivacity and talent,” are the only im- us in these journals, would have pressions that have stayed with us

drawn, we suspect, a better portrait. from this part of the book. Perhaps One there was—is, we can happily it was with this time, too, as his bio- say—who would have drawn it well; grapher says it was with the later one whom all English men of letters time,—he put the best of himself into are even now preparing to welcome his books; and the best of his travels more among them.

What a is to be got from the pages of • Hype- picture might not Mr. Lowell have rion' and ' Outre-Mer,' the former of given us of his friend ! For he could which must always keep its place

have said, in the beautiful words in among autobiographies, as well for its which Callimachus mourned for the graceful, tender personality, as for its

dead Heraclitus, romantic and literary charm. Thirty

εμνήσθην δ' οσσάκις αμφότεροι years later he was in England once ήλιον εν λέσχη κατεδύσαμεν: 1 more, and, with several members of his

1 “And I reineinbered how often we two family, retracing the track of his early had talked the sun to rest."

seen.

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What pictures, too, could he not have " Athwart the swinging branches cast, given us of the men who went in those

Soft rays of sunshine pour ;

Then comes the fearful wintry blast ; years to Craigie House, that pleasant

Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast ; home, so rich in memories of Wash

Pallid lips say, “ It is past ! ington and “the brave days of old,” We can return no more! so rich now in memories of a gentler

“Look then into thine own heart, and write ! time and fame. Pictures of Emerson

Yes, into Life's deep stream ! and Hawthorne, of Charles Sumner All forms of sorrow and delight, and Prescott and Motley, of Agassiz

All solemn Voices of the Night, and Felton, “ heartiest of Greek Pro

That can soothe thee, or affright,

Be these henceforth thy theme.'” fessors,” as Charles Dickens used to call him; and of the Englishmen who

So he wrote in this thirty-second came there to visit one whom England loved not less than America, of

year, by way of prelude to his first volume of poems,

• Voices of the Dickens himself, and Thackeray, and

Night.' And he did look into his own Clough. What stories might he not

heart, and wrote what he found there. have told of the suppers given in their But he found there soft rays of sunhonour, noctes conceque deum ; of the

shine, and holy thoughts like stars, famous dinners of the Saturday Club; rather than withered leaves, and heavens and that earlier society, which called

black with sin; the forms that came itself “The Five of Clubs,” but by

to him were those of delight rather some wicked wags who were beyond

than sorrow; the voices he heard had the pale was called 6. The Mutual

more power to soothe than affright. Admiration Society." Had Mr. Lowell

Such sorrow as his verse expresses is done for Longfellow, what Dr. Holmes

of that kind that softens and refines has done for Emerson, what a book

the heart, not wrings or crushes it. we might have had !

No one, indeed, could better describe An ideal life, we have said, an ideal

the charm of his verse than he himself temperament, for the man of letters;

has. but perhaps something less so for the poet.

" Come read to me some poem,

Some simple and heartfelt lay, “ Visions of childhood ! stay, oh stay!

That shall soothe this restless feeling, Ye were so sweet and wild !

And banish the thoughts of day. And distant voices seemed to say, • It cannot be! They pass away!

“ Not from the grand old masters, Other themes demand thy lay ;

Not from the bards sublime, Thou art no more a child !

Whose distant footsteps echo

Through the corridors of Time. “ • The land of Song within thee lies, Watered by living springs ;

“ For, like strains of martial music, The lids of Fancy's sleepless eyes

Their mighty thoughts suggest Are gates unto that Paradise,

Life's endless toil and endeavour ; Holy thoughts, like stars, arise,

And to-nigut I long for rest. Its clouds are angels' wings.

“Read from some humbler poet, “Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be,

Whose songs gushed from his heart, Not mountains capped with snow,

As showers from the clouds of summer Nor forests sounding like the sea,

As tears from the eyelids start ;
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly,
Where the woodlands bend to see

Who, through long days of labour,
The bending heavens below.

And nights devoid of ease,

Still heard in his soul the music « « There is a forest where the din

Of wonderful melodies.
Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roars between,

“ Such songs have power to quiet And whosoever looks therein,

The restless pulse of care, Sees the heavens all black with sin,

And come like the benediction Sees not its depths, nor bounds.

That follows after prayer."

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" And the Poet's song again

Passed like music through my brain ;
Night interpreted to me
All its grace and mystery."

on

It is this tender restful charm which gave Longfellow his great, his universal popularity, a popularity which only Lord Tennyson has matched since Byron died. And it will always insure him a certain vogue among the young, and, with a particular order of minds, not only among the young. In the highest moment of his fame we should doubt if it ever occurred to any one to call him a great poet, even among his own countrymen, anxious as they were for one. That he assuredly was not. It is unnecessary to compare him with Poe, if for no other reason than this, that Poe's volume of verse is so scanty, and much of it such mere verbiage. But assuredly Longfellow at his very best never reached such a height as Poe for one moment stood on when he conceived the lines beginning, “Helen, thy beauty is to me." Sometimes, but rarely, he strikes a note that suggests something beyond the words, as in the close of this stanza from the poem called • My Lost Youth':

" I remember the black wharves and the ships,

And the sea-tides tossing free ; And Spanish sailors with bearded lips, And the beauty and mystery of the ships,

And the magic of the sea.”

And again in that passage where Evangeline wanders out into the night from the new home of Basil the blacksmith, the banks of the Têche, crying on her lover who seemed still to fly her as she followed :" Loud and sudden and near the note of a

whippoorwill sounded, Like a flute in the woods; and anon, through

the neighbouring thickets, Farther and farther away it floated and

dropped into silence. Patience!' whispered the oaks from oracu.

lar caverns of darkness ; And from the moonlit meadow, a sigh

responded, “To-morrow!'” And the closing lines of the poem, where the lovers come together at last, will always keep their place among the favourite and familiar passages

of English verse for the infinite pity of the scene, and the tender, melancholy grace of the words. And passages touched with those qualities are frequent enough in his work. Pity he could command ; but the other passions he could not touch. His style is generally very level; he rarely either rises or sinks. He never reaches, nor tries to reach, the grand manner: that was not at all his way: but he never, or hardly ever, falls into mere baldness or verbiage. And he sometimes has singular felicities both of thought and expression : as in this stanza from • The Discoverer of the North Cape': “ Hearty and hale was Othere,

His cheek had the colour of oak;
With a kind of laugh in his speech,
Like the sea-tide on a beach,

As unto the King he spoke."
And in this, from · The Wind over the
Chimney':-
“Sings the blackened log a tine
Learned in some forgotten June

From a schoolboy at his play,
When they both were young together,
Heart of youth and summer weather

Making all their holiday.” When this has been said, and the almost unvarying ease, fluidity, and

And in the shorter piece, ' Daylight and Moonlight'-so short that it may be quoted entirely--there is a sense of something behind the veil, which is not common to him :

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“ In broad daylight, and at noon,

Yesterday I saw the moon
Sailing high, but faint and white,

As a schoolboy's paper kite.
“ In broad daylight, yesterday,

I read a Poet's mystic lay ;
And it seemed to me at most

As a phantom or a ghost.
“ But at length the feverish day

Like a passion died away,
And the night, serene and still,

Fell on village, vale, and hill. “ Then the moon, in all her pride,

Like a spirit glorified,
Filled and overflowed the night
With revelations of her light.

Longfellow.

37

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sweetness of his lines acknowledged lude that we may, perhaps, be par—for there is never any sense of doned for a rather long quotation :strain or effort in his verse; so far as

“ Ye who love the haunts of Nature, it goes it may, indeed, be styled in.

Love the sunshine of the meadow, evitable enough, when all this has Love the shadow of the forest, been granted, it seems to us that the Love the wind among the branches, sum of Longfellow's poetic gifts has

And the rain shower and the snow-storni, been told. His translations, indeed,

And the rushing of great rivers

Through their palisades of pine-trees, will always count to his credit, for And the thunder in the mountains, the dexterity and truth which all who Whose innumerable echoes know have allowed to them. And, of

Flap like eagles in their eyries ;course, had it not been for his sense

Listen to these wild traditions,

To this Song of Hiawatha ! and faculty of poetry he could not “ Ye who love a nation's legends, have done what he did that way. Love the ballads of a people, But they cannot be justly brought

That like voices from afar off into the balance with his creative

Call to us to pause and listen, work.

Speak in tones so plain and childlike,

Scarcely can the ear distinguish After all, his real title to fame as Whether they are sung or spoken ;an American poet rests on ·Hia

Listen to this Indian legend, watha. It is a national poem, just

To this Song of Hiawatha !

“ Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple, as Cooper's Indian novels, The Last

Who have faith in God and Nature, of the Mohicans' and the rest of that Who believe, that in all ages series, are national novels. Evange- Every human heart is human, line' and · Miles Standish' have both

That in even savage bosoms

There are longings, yearnings, strivings, something of the same merit ; but in

For the good they comprehend not, spite of the national setting and That the feeble hands and helpless, colour the sentiment of both poems is Groping blindly in the darkness, really, as one may say, universal. The

Touch God's right hand in that darkness

And are lifted up and strengthened ;lovers might have been parted, to be Listen to this simple story, “ "joined at evening of their days

To this Song of Hiawatha ! again”; John Alden might have Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles played his friend unwittingly false, in

Through the green lanes of the country,

Where the tangled barberry-bushes any country in the world. And then

Hang their tufts of crimson berries the slovenliness of so much of the Over stone-walls gray with mosses, verse, and a certain flatness and Pause by some neglected graveyard, triviality of execution make . Evange

For a while to muse and ponder line,' at any rate, sometimes very

On a half-effaced inscription,

Written with little skill of song-craft, hard to read, for all the charm and

Homely phrases, but each letter pity of its design. But in Hiawatha' Full of hope and yet of heart-break, Longfellow has really broken new

Full of all the tender pathos

Of the Here and the Hereafter ;ground ; and he moves along it with

Stay and read this rude inscription, the bold firm step of a master of the Read this Song of Hiawatha !' soil. It is a real epic, the Indian Edda, as Emerson called it, adding Though we think the plan of Mr. that it was

“sweet and wholesome as Longfellow's book a mistaken one, yet maize." It is that, and more than we may own to have read it with great that ; it has a strength, a movement interest and pleasure. It has been and vitality, a breath of open air and inexpressibly refreshing in

these broad sunlight about it, which are bustling, angry, many-sided times to not general elements of Longfellow's read the story of this simple tranquil writings. And it has his own charm life, devoted to one aim, one business, too, the charm of simplicity, grace, one desire ; of this good, sincere, gentle tenderness. He has so admirably de- soul, who, as he was unstirred by any scribed its characteristics in the pre- high imaginings, so was unvexed by

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