Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: John Greenleaf Whittier - His Life, Genius, and Writings
Author: Kennedy, W. Sloane
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Greenleaf Whittier - His Life, Genius, and Writings" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                    JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER

                 His Life, Genius, and Writings

                     BY W. SLOANE KENNEDY

      Author of a "Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow," Etc.

                     REVISED AND ENLARGED


    _INTRODUCTION BY REV. S. F. SMITH, D.D._
    Author of Hymn "America"


    Such music as the woods and streams
    Sang in his ear, he sang aloud

            _The Tent on the Beach_


    For all his quiet life flowed on,
      As meadow streamlets flow,
    Where fresher green reveals alo
      The noiseless ways they go

            _The Friend's Burial_


    CHICAGO NEW YORK
    THE WERNER COMPANY

    COPYRIGHT 1892
    BY D. LOTHROP COMPANY

    COPYRIGHT 1895
    BY THE WERNER COMPANY

    John Greenleaf Whittier



INTRODUCTION.


Who does not admire and love John Greenleaf Whittier? And who does not
delight to do him honor? He was a man raised up by Providence to meet an
exigency in human history, and an exigency in the experiences of the
United States. And he met the exigency with distinguished success. He
was a true exponent of New England life and the New England spirit. He
drew his inspiration from the soil where he was born, from the
necessities of the times, from the demands of human rights, from the
love of God and of man. He was a unique man. We knew not his like before
him. We shall see no other like him after him. He was the product of his
age; and the age in which he lived belonged to him, and he to and in it.
He was a unique literary man. He was so meek and retiring; he was so
keenly sensitive to the wrongs done by man to man; he was so devoid of
self-seeking; so pure and exalted in motive, and so sturdy a defender of
the rights of the oppressed; he was so full of trust in God that we seem
never to have seen his equal among men. His beautiful gentleness of
character and his inflexible and fearless advocacy of the cause of
righteousness--even when such advocacy involved persecution and
personal harm and loss, a rare combination of qualities--remind us of
the sentiment of Oliver Wendell Holmes,

    "The gentle are the strong."

If ever in modern days the character of the apostle John has been
reproduced among men it was in John G. Whittier. See with what sweetness
and meekness the shy and loving Quaker moved through the ranks of
society in times of peace and prosperity, and with what an adamantine
boldness and bravery he stood up before the mob in Philadelphia when his
types and manuscripts were scattered, his printing office burned and
himself threatened with personal violence by the foes of human equality
and freedom. Did he quail before the storm? Not he. Did he abandon his
principles and retire from the arena? Oh, no; no more than did the
apostle John--the apostle of love--forsake his Christian faith when the
persecutors immersed him in boiling oil and exiled him to a desert
island in the Ægean Sea.

The poetry of Mr. Whittier is a complete autobiography. It is a
reflection, as in a polished mirror, of himself. We miss only the
accidents of dates and places, which are of merely external importance;
but we find in his works, amply displayed, the portraiture of the man;
even as the architect records himself and his thoughts in his plans, and
builds his own soul into his edifices. Read the poetry of Mr. Whittier,
and you have no need to ask what kind of man produced it. Behold the
portrait: a thorough New England man, a son of its soil and a legitimate
product of its institutions; a fruit of the simple education which was
open to the people in the times of his youth and manhood; a
philanthropist, loving all righteousness and all men, and scorning all
oppression, injustice and iniquity; a stern advocate of human freedom,
prepared to fight for it even "to the bitter end;" a bachelor, but
having always a sweet and tender side for women; petted by society, but
never tempted to swerve from the straight line of his principles;
holding the faith of his fathers as a birthright and the result of his
honest convictions, but with sympathies as broad as the universe and an
appreciation of the privilege of private judgment on religious matters
as the right and duty of all men; animated by a patriotism which took in
his whole country, but a yearning for his own New England, its people,
its scenery, its institutions and its honor; warmly attached to the
friends whom he met along the pilgrimage of this life, but preserving to
the last the memory and the love of the survivors whom he knew in his
school days in the Haverhill Academy; living very much apart from his
fellow-men, as he did in his latter days, on account of the increasing
infirmities of his age, and absorbed in the world of his own thoughts,
yet ever most affable, and as accessible as a most warm-hearted and
cordial associate; every inch a man, as in stature, so also in soul, but
exhibiting also the simplicity and the loving and confiding spirit of a
child ("of such is the kingdom of heaven"); conscious of his human
weakness and dependence on a higher Power, as he approached the goal of
life, but relying on that higher Power with a sublime courage and a firm
faith. How the man stands forth, like an orator on the stage, in the
presence of throngs of admiring and reverent spectators! Unconsciously
he sets forth in his works, whether they be prose or poetry, an example
of the beauty of righteousness, the charm of philanthropy, the power and
attractiveness of the broadest charity, the fervor of patriotism and the
controlling force of love. The century which is about to close has been
honored and made better, as well as gladder, by his presence in it. He
has enriched its literature. He has elevated its ethics. He has breathed
a divine life into its inspirations. He has warmed its heart.

Mr. Whittier, like another Wordsworth, glorifies the scenes of common
life, and hallows the landscapes of his New England homes. His verses
speak in the dialect of the people, and deal with themes with which they
are familiar. He lifts toil above its drudgery, and sanctifies, as with
a sacred glow, the things with which men in common spheres chiefly have
to do. He admired nature as he saw in it the landscapes which surrounded
his several homes, the rolling green hills of Haverhill and Bradford,
the mighty trees of Oak Knoll, the flowing stream and graceful curves of
the Merrimack; the sober and quiet graces of Amesbury; and with his pen
he stamped upon them immortality.

The sun has set, but no night follows. The singer is gone, but his songs
remain, and will long be a power among men far beyond the places adorned
and honored by his personal presence. We love his poems which on account
of their helpfulness the grateful world will long continue to read. How
little he wrote--did he ever write anything--"which, dying, he could
wish to blot?" and his life was a poem. The seal of Death is on his
virtues, and the seal of universal approval is on his works.


S. F. SMITH.



     CONTENTS.


     Part I.--LIFE.

     I. ANCESTRY                                                   9

     The Poet's Titles. Heredity. Spelling of the Name Whittier.
     Whittier Ancestors. Greenleaf Ancestors. The Husseys and
     Batchelders. Portrait of Whittier's Mother.

     II. THE MERRIMACK VALLEY                                     24

     Description of Essex County, Haverhill, Amesbury, Newburyport,
     Salisbury Beach, and the Isles of Shoals. Extracts from the
     "Supernaturalism of New England." The Spirit of the Age.

     III. BOYHOOD                                                 36

     Birthplace. Kenoza Lake. Whitman and Whittier. The Old Homestead.
     Members of the Household. Harriet Livermore and Lady Hester
     Stanhope. The Poet's School Days. "My Playmate." Ellwood and Burns.
     Old Stragglers. "Pilgrim's Progress." The Demon Fiddler. First
     Poem. William Lloyd Garrison and the _Free Press_. Haverhill
     Academy. Robert Dinsmore, the Quaint Farmer-Poet of Windham.

     IV. EDITOR AND AUTHOR: FIRST VENTURES                        83

     Whittier as Editor of the _Boston Manufacturer_, the _Essex
     Gazette_, and the _New England Review_. First Volume, "Legends of
     New England." The Poet, J. G. C. Brainard. Ballad of "The Black
     Fox." Whittier's Views on the Poetical Resources of the New World.
     "Moll Pitcher."

     V. WHITTIER THE REFORMER                                     97

     Identifies Himself with the Anti-Slavery Movement. Publication of
     his _Brochure_, "Justice and Expediency." Social Martyrdom.
     Prudence Crandall and her Battle with the Philistinism of
     Canterbury, Conn. Tailor Woolman and Saddler Lundy. Account of the
     Philadelphia Convention for the Formation of the American
     Anti-Slavery Society. Whittier's Account of the Convention. William
     Lloyd Garrison draws up the Famous Declaration of Principles.
     Samuel J. May Mobbed at East Haverhill. Whittier and George
     Thompson Mobbed at Concord, N. H. Story of the Landlord and the
     Flight by Night. The Poet's Account of the Mobbing of William Lloyd
     Garrison. Letters of John Quincy Adams. Harriet Martineau on
     Slavery. Attitude of Whittier toward the Quakers on the Slavery
     Question.

     VI. AMESBURY                                                123

     Removal to Amesbury. Description of the Town and of the Poet's
     Residence. The Study. Whittier Corresponding Editor of the
     _National Era_. Various Works Written, including "Stranger in
     Lowell," "Supernaturalism of New England," "Songs of Labor,"
     "Child-Life," "Child-Life in Prose," "Introduction" to Woolman's
     Journal, and "Songs of Three Centuries" (Edited). Whittier College
     Established.

     VII. LATER DAYS                                             141

     Danvers. Oak Knoll. Summerings of the Poet at the Isles of Shoals
     and the Bearcamp House. _The Literary World_ Tribute, and the
     Whittier Banquet at the Hotel Brunswick. The Whittier Club. Various
     Volumes of Poetry Published.

     VIII. PERSONAL                                              153

     Whittier's Personal Appearance Described by Frederika Bremer, Geo.
     W. Bungay, David A. Wasson, and others. Incident of his
     Kind-heartedness to a Stranger. Dom Pedro II. and Whittier at Mrs.
     John T. Sargent's Reception. Letter to Mrs. Sargent. Humor. Love of
     Children. Offices of Dignity and Honor.


     Part II.

     ANALYSIS OF HIS GENIUS AND WRITINGS.


     I. THE MAN                                                  169

     The Moral in Whittier Predominates over the Æsthetic. Love of
     Freedom the Central Element of his Character. Freedom, Democracy,
     and Quakerism, links in one Chain. Quakerism Described; Freedom and
     the Inner Light; Quakerism is Pure Democracy or Christianity, and
     Pure Individualism, or Philosophical Idealism; it Resembles
     Transcendentalism; the Details of the Quaker Religion Considered;
     Quotations from William Penn, Mary Brook, and A. M. Powell;
     Objections to Quakerism; Beautiful Lives of the Quakers; Whittier's
     Attitude Toward the Religion of his Fathers. His Religious
     Development, Doubt, and Trust. Patriotism. Has Blood Militant in
     his Veins. A Representative American Poet. Summing Up.

     II. THE ARTIST                                              196

     Little or no _Technique_. More Fancy than Imagination. The Artistic
     Quality of his Mind a Fusion of that of Wordsworth and Byron. His
     Bookish Lore. The Beauty and Melody of his Finest Ballads. His
     Strength and Nervous Energy. Culmination of his Genius. His Three
     Crazes. Letters to the _Nation_, and to the American Anti-Slavery
     Society. Illustrations of the Predominance of the Moral in his
     Nature. Taine Quoted. Pope-Night. His Over-religiousness. Love of
     Consecutive Rhymes. Minor Mannerisms. Originality.

     III. POEMS SERIATIM                                         217

     Mr. David A. Wasson's Classification of Epochs in the Poet's
     Development. The Author's Classification. Four Periods: 1st,
     _Introductory_; 2d, _Storm and Stress_; 3d, _Transition_; 4th,
     _Religious and Artistic Repose_. General Review of Earlier
     Productions. The Indian Poems. "Songs of Labor." The Ballad Decade.
     "Prophecy of Samuel Sewall." John Chadwick on "Skipper Ireson's
     Ride." The "Barbara Frietchie" Controversy. The Romance of the
     "Countess." Winter in Poetry. "Snow-Bound." "The Tent on the
     Beach." Various Poems.

     IV. THE KING'S MISSIVE                                      254

     Joseph Besse Quoted. Story of the Quaker and the King of England.
     The Debate of Whittier and Dr. Geo. E. Ellis of Boston. Humorous
     Specimen of Quaker Rant from Mather's _Magnalia_. Terrible
     Sufferings of the Quakers.

     V. POEMS BY GROUPS                                          272

     The Anti-Slavery Poems Reviewed. Poems Inspired by the Civil War.
     Hymns. Children's Poems: "Red Riding-Hood," "The Robin," etc.
     Oriental Poems and Paraphrases.

     VI. PROSE WRITINGS                                          279

     Much of his Prose of Historical or Sectarian Interest Only.
     Charming Nature- and Folk-Studies and Sketches. "Margaret Smith's
     Journal." "Old Portraits and Modern Sketches." "Literary
     Recreations and Miscellanies." Specimens of Whittier's Prose.


     Part III.

     TWILIGHT AND EVENING BELL.


     I. TWILIGHT AND EVENING BELL                                301

     Whittier's death at Hampton Falls, N. H. Celebration of his
     birthdays. Funeral and memorial services. Personal reminiscences.
     Fac-simile of letter to Oliver Wendell Holmes.


     APPENDIX.

     BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                375


       *       *       *       *       *



PART I.

LIFE.



CHAPTER I.

ANCESTRY.


The Hermit of Amesbury, the Wood-thrush of Essex, the Martial Quaker,
the Poet of Freedom, the Poet of the Moral Sentiment,--such are some of
the titles bestowed upon Whittier by his admirers. Let us call him the
Preacher-Poet, for he has written scarcely a poem or an essay that does
not breathe a moral sentiment or a religious aspiration. What effect
this predetermination of character has had upon his artistic development
shall be discussed in another place.

The present chapter--which may be called the propylæum or vestibule of
the biographical structure that follows--will deal with the poet's
ancestry, and the information afforded by it, and the two chapters that
succeed will afford unmistakable evidence of the truth that a poet, no
less than a solar system or a loaf of bread, is the logical resultant of
a line of antecedent forces and circumstances. The fine but infrangible
threads of our destiny are spun and woven out of atom-fibres indelibly
stamped with the previous owners' names. Their characters immingle in
our own,--the affluence or the indigence of their intellects, the sugar
or the nitre of their wit, the shifting sand or the unwedgeable iron of
their moral natures.

       *       *       *       *       *

The name Whittier is spelled in thirty-two different ways in the old
records: a list of these different spellings is given in Daniel Bodwell
Whittier's genealogy of the family. The common ancestor of the Whittiers
is Thomas Whittier, who in the year 1638 came from Southampton, England,
to New England, in the ship "Confidence," of London, John Dobson,
master. It is recorded of Thomas Whittier, says his descendant, the
poet, in a half facetious way, that the only noteworthy circumstance
connected with his coming was that he brought with him a hive of bees.
He was born in 1620. His mother was probably a sister of John and Henry
Rolfe, with the former of whom he came to America. His name at that time
was spelled "Whittle." He married Ruth Green, and lived at first in
Salisbury, Mass. He seems afterward to have lived in Newbury. In 1650 he
removed to Haverhill, where he was admitted freeman, May 23, 1666.

It was customary in those days, says the historian of Haverhill, for the
nearest neighbors to sleep in the garrisons at night, but Thomas
Whittier refused to take shelter there with his family. "Relying upon
the weapons of his faith, he left his own house unguarded, and
unprotected with palisades, and carried with him no weapons of war. The
Indians frequently visited him, and the family often heard them, in the
stillness of the evening, whispering beneath the windows, and sometimes
saw them peep in upon the little group of practical 'non-resistants.'
Friend Whittier always treated them civilly and hospitably, and they
ever retired without molesting him."[1] Thomas Whittier died in
Haverhill, November 28, 1696. His autograph appears in the probate
records of Salem, Mass., as witness to a will of Samuel Gild. His widow
died in July, 1710, and her eldest son John was appointed administrator
of her estate. Thomas had ten children, of whom John became the ancestor
of the most numerous branch of the Whittiers. Joseph, the brother of
John, became the head of another branch of the family, and is the
great-grandfather of our poet. Joseph married Mary, daughter of Joseph
Peasley, of Haverhill, by whom he had nine children, among them Joseph,
2d, the grandfather of the poet. Joseph, 2d, married Sarah Greenleaf of
Newbury, by whom he had eleven children. The tenth child, John (the
father of the poet), married Abigail Hussey, who was a daughter of
Joseph Hussey, of Somersworth,--now Rollinsford,--N. H., a town on the
Piscataqua River, which forms the southern part of the boundary line
between New Hampshire and Maine. The mother of Abigail Hussey (the
poet's mother) was Mercy Evans, of Berwick, Me. John Whittier, the
father of the poet, died in Haverhill, June 30, 1830. His children were
four in number: (1) Mary, born September 3, 1806, married Jacob
Caldwell, of Haverhill, and died January 7, 1860; (2) John Greenleaf,
the poet, born December 17, 1807, in Haverhill; (3) Matthew Franklin,
born July 18, 1812, married Jane E. Vaughan; (4) Elizabeth Hussey, born
December 7, 1815, died September 3, 1864. From this statement it will be
seen that Matthew is the only surviving member of the family, besides
the poet himself. Matthew resides in Boston, and has sons, daughters,
and grandchildren.[2]

[Footnote 1: "The History of Haverhill, Mass.; from its first settlement
in 1640 to the year 1860. By George Wingate Chase, Haverhill. Published
by the author, 1861."]

[Footnote 2: The foregoing statements are taken from the Whittier
genealogy. But the author finds that there are a few slight
discrepancies of date between this book and the inscriptions on the
family tombstones in Amesbury. The tombstones say that John Whittier
died "11th of 6 mo., 1831," and that Mary died "1st mo. 7, 1861."]

The name Whittier constantly appears in important documents signed by
the chief citizens of Haverhill. The family was evidently respected and
honored by the community. In 1669 a Whittier was chosen town-constable.
It is recorded that in 1711 Thomas Whittier--probably a son of Thomas
(1st)--was one of a militia company provided with snow-shoes in order
the better to repel an anticipated attack of the Indians. But, in spite
of civil honors, it is well known that, down to comparatively recent
times, the family suffered considerable social persecution and slight on
account of their religious belief. For example, when the citizens built
a new meeting-house, in 1699, they peremptorily refused to allow the
Quakers to worship in it, although petitioned to do so by Joseph Peasley
and others, and although they were taxed for its support. It was not
until 1774 that an act was passed by the State exempting dissenters from
taxation for the support of what we may call the State religion. It is
important to bear this in mind, if we would know all the influences that
went to form the character of the poet.

The poet's paternal grandmother was Sarah Greenleaf, of Newbury. The
genealogist of the Greenleafs says: "From all that can be gathered it is
believed that the ancestors of the Greenleaf family were Huguenots, who
left France on account of their religious principles some time in the
course of the sixteenth century, and settled in England. The name was
probably translated from the French _Feuillevert_.[3] Edmund Greenleaf,
the ancestor of the American Greenleafs, was born in the parish of
Brixham, and county of Devonshire, near Torbay, in England, about the
year 1600." He came to Newbury, Mass., in 1635. He was by trade a
silk-dyer. Respecting the family coat-of-arms the genealogist gives, on
page 116, the following interesting statement:--

    "The Hon. William Greenleaf, once of Boston, and then of New
    Bedford, being in London about the year 1760, obtained from an
    office of heraldry a device, said to be the arms of the family,
    which he had painted, and the painting is now in the possession of
    his grand-daughter, Mrs. Ritchie, of Roxbury, Mass. The field is
    white (argent), bearing a chevron between three leaves (vert). The
    crest is a dove standing on a wreath of green and white, holding in
    its mouth three green leaves. The helmet is that of a warrior (visor
    down); a garter below, but no motto."

[Footnote 3: Whittier has thus alluded to this surmise:--

    "The name the Gallic exile bore,
      St. Malo! from thy ancient mart,
    Became upon our Western shore
      Greenleaf for Feuillevert."]

What more appropriate emblazonment for the escutcheon of our Martial
Quaker poet than a warrior's helmet, and a dove holding in its mouth the
emblem of peace!

Jonathan Greenleaf, born in Newbury, in 1723, is described as possessing
a remarkably kind and conciliatory disposition. "Even the tones of his
voice were gentle and persuasive, and he was very frequently resorted to
as a peacemaker between contending parties. His dress was remarkably
uniform, usually in his later years being deep blue or drab. He seldom
walked fast, his gait being a measured and moderate step. His manners
were plain, unassuming, but very polite. He was very religious, and a
strict Calvinist. Nothing but absolute necessity kept him from public
worship on the Sabbath, and he was scarce ever known to omit regular
morning and evening worship."

Of Professor Simon Greenleaf, the Harvard Law Professor (1833-1845), the
family genealogist says: "For the last thirty years of his life he was
one of the most spiritually-minded of men, evidently intent on walking
humbly with God, and doing good to the bodies and souls of his
fellow-men; scarce ever writing a letter of friendship even, without
breathing in it a prayer, or delivering in it some good message."
Professor Greenleaf published some dozen works, both legal and
religious. It is a curious fact that his son James married Mary
Longfellow, a sister of the Cambridge poet, thus making Whittier and
Longfellow distant kinsmen.[4]

[Footnote 4: It may be added that the ancestral home of the Longfellows
is still standing in Byfield, about five miles distant from the Whittier
homestead in Haverhill. (See the author's Life of Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, p. 15.)]

Another English Greenleaf--contemporary with Edmund, being a silk-dyer
as well as he, and in all probability a near kinsman--was a lieutenant
under Oliver Cromwell, and served also under Richard Cromwell, and was
in the army of the Protector under General Monk, at the time of the
restoration of Charles II.

It is hardly necessary to call the reader's attention to the significant
fact, elicited by the foregoing researches, that, in tracing down two
hereditary lines of the poet's paternal ancestors, we discover that for
many generations those ancestors suffered religious persecution for
loyalty to their religious convictions, and that many of them were
remarkable for their sensitive piety.

       *       *       *       *       *

Turn we now to the maternal ancestry of Whittier.

In 1873 the poet wrote to Mr. D. B. Whittier, of Boston, as follows:--

    "My mother was a descendant of Christopher Hussey, of Hampton, N.
    H., who married a daughter of Rev. Stephen Bachelor, the first
    minister of that town.

    "Daniel Webster traces his ancestry to the same pair, so Joshua
    Coffin informed me. Colonel W. B. Greene, of Boston, is of the same
    family."[5]

[Footnote 5: The name of Daniel Webster's paternal grandmother was
Susannah Bachelor, or Batchelder.]

In the light of the preceding note, the following letter of Col. W. B.
Greene explains itself:--

     "JAMAICA PLAIN, MASS., Sept. 24, 1873.

     "Mr. D. B. WHITTIER, Danville, Vt.

     "DEAR SIR,--Yours of September 20 is just received, and I reply to
     it at once. My grandfather, on my mother's side, was the Rev.
     William Batchelder, of Haverhill, Mass. In the year 1838 I had a
     conversation, on a matter of military business, with the Hon.
     Daniel Webster; and, to my astonishment, Mr. Webster treated me as
     a kinsman. My mother afterwards explained his conduct by telling me
     that one of Mr. W.'s female ancestors was a Batchelder. In 1838 or
     1839, or thereabouts, I met schoolmaster [Joshua] Coffin on a
     Mississippi steamboat, near Baton Rouge. The captain of the boat
     told me, confidentially, that Coffin was engaged in a dangerous
     mission respecting some slaves, and inquired whether my aid and
     countenance could be counted on in favor of Coffin, in case
     violence should be offered him. This he did because I was on the
     boat as a military man, and in uniform. When Coffin found he could
     count on me, he came and talked with me, and finally told me he had
     [once] been hired by Daniel Webster _to go to Ipswich_, and there
     look up Mr. W.'s ancestry. He spoke of Rev. Stephen Batchelder, of
     New Hampshire, and said that Daniel Webster, John G. Whittier, and
     myself were related by Batchelder blood. I did not feel at all
     ashamed of my relatives. In 1841 or 1842 Mrs. Crosby, of Hallowell,
     Me., who had charge of my grandfather when he was a boy, and knew
     all about the family, told me that Daniel Webster was a Batchelder,
     that she had known his father intimately, and knew Daniel when he
     was a boy. At the time of my conversation with her, Aunt Crosby
     might have been anywhere from seventy-five to eighty-five years of
     age. When I was a boy, at (say) about the year 1827 or 1828, I used
     to go often to the house of J. G. Whittier's father, a little out
     of the village (now city) of Haverhill, Mass. There was a Mrs.
     Hussey in the family, who baked the best squash pies I ever ate,
     and knew how to make the pine floors shine like a looking-glass.

     "This is, I think, all the information, in answer to your request,
     that I am competent to give you.

     "Yours respectfully,
     "WILLIAM BATCHELDER GREENE."

In a note addressed to the New England Historical and Genealogical
Society, the poet says: "On my mother's side my grandfather was Joseph
Hussey, of Somersworth, N. H.; married Mercy Evans, of Berwick, Me."

Some of the genealogical links connecting the Husseys of Somersworth
with those of Hampton have not yet been recovered. But this much is
known of the family,[6] that in 1630 Christopher Hussey came from
Dorking, Surrey, England, to Lynn, Mass. He had married, in Holland,
Theodate, the daughter of the Rev. Stephen Bachiler, a Puritan minister,
who had fled to that country to avoid persecution in England. The author
was told by a local antiquary in Hampton, N. H., that there is a
tradition in the town that Stephen Bachiler would not let his daughter
marry young Hussey unless he embraced the Puritan faith. His love was so
great that he consented, and came with his bride to America, where two
years later his father-in-law followed him. Stephen Bachiler came to
Lynn in 1632, with six persons, his relatives and friends, who had
belonged to his church in Holland, and with them he established a
little independent church in Lynn. The progenitive faculty of this
worthy divine must have been highly developed: he was married four
times, and was dismissed from his church at Lynn on account of charges
twice preferred against him by women of his congregation. The recorded
dates show that both he and his son-in-law, Hussey, came to Hampton in
the year 1639. The Hampton authorities had the previous year made Mr.
Bachiler and Mr. Hussey each a grant of three hundred acres of land, to
induce them to settle there. When and how the Husseys became Quakers is
not known to the author. But in Savage's Genealogical Dictionary, II.
507, it is recorded that as early as 1688 a certain John Hussey of
Hampton was a preacher to the Quakers in Newcastle, Del. The mother of
the poet was a devoted disciple of the Society of Friends. That she was
a person of deep and tender religious nature is evident to one looking
at the excellent oil-portrait of her which hangs in the little parlor at
Amesbury. The head is inclined graciously to one side, and the face
wears that expression of ineffable tranquillity which is always a
witness to generations of Quaker ancestry. In the picture, her garments
are of smooth and immaculate drab. The poet once remarked to the writer
that one of the reasons why his mother removed to Amesbury, in 1840, was
that she might be near the little Friends' "Meeting" in that town.

[Footnote 6: See histories of Lynn and Newbury, _passim_.]

Thus among the maternal as well as the paternal progenitors of our
Quaker poet we find the religious nature predominant.



CHAPTER II.

THE VALLEY OF THE MERRIMACK.


In the valley of the Merrimack John Greenleaf Whittier was born
(December 17, 1807), and in the same region he has passed nearly his
entire life, first in the town of Haverhill, and then in Amesbury, some
nine miles distant. To strangers, the hilly old county of Essex wears a
somewhat bleak and Scotian look; but it is fertile in poetical
resources, and the tillers of its glebe are passionately attached to its
blue hills and sunken dales, its silver rivers and winding roads,
umbrageous towns and thrifty homes. Like Burns and Cowper, Whittier is
distinctively a rustic poet, and he and Whitman are the most indigenous
and patriotic of our singers. His idyllic poetry savors of the soil and
is full of local allusions. It is, therefore, essential to the full
enjoyment of his writings that one should get, at the outset, as vivid
an idea as possible both of the Essex landscape and the Essex farmer.

Whittier was born some three miles northeast of what is now the thriving
little city of Haverhill. It was settled in 1640 by twelve men from
Newbury and Ipswich. Its Indian name was Pentucket,--the appellation of
a tribe once dwelling on its site, a tribe under the jurisdiction of
Passaconaway, chief of the Pennacooks. The city is built partly on the
river-terrace of the northern shore, and partly on the adjoining hills.
It is celebrated in colonial history for the heroic exploit of Hannah
Duston, who, when taken captive by a party of twenty savages at the time
of the Haverhill massacre, killed and scalped them all, with the aid of
her companion (also a woman), and returned in safety to the settlement.
A handsome monument has recently been erected to her memory in the city
square; it is a granite structure, with bronze bas-reliefs, and
surmounted by a bronze statue of the heroine. In the public library of
the city (founded in 1873) may be seen a fine bust of Whittier, by
Powers. On February 17 and 18, 1882, almost the entire business portion
of the city was destroyed by fire; eight acres were burned over, and
$2,000,000 worth of property destroyed. Haverhill is eighteen miles east
of Lowell, thirty-two miles northwest of Boston, and six miles northeast
of Lawrence. The manufacture of boots and shoes gives employment to
6,000 men. The population in 1870 was 13,092.

Down to the sea, some seventeen miles away, winds the beautiful
Merrimack, with the deep-shaded old town of Newburyport seated at its
mouth. A little more than half way down lies Amesbury, just where the
winding Powwow joins the Merrimack, but not before its nixies and
river-horses have been compelled to put their shoulders to the wheels of
several huge cotton mills that lift their forbidding bulk out of the
very centre of the village. A horse-railroad connects Amesbury with
Newburyport, six miles distant. At about half that distance the road
crosses the Merrimack by way of Deer Island and connecting bridges. The
sole house on this wild, rough island is the home of the Spoffords.

As you near Newburyport, coming down from Amesbury, you see the river
widened into an estuary, and bordered by wide and intensely green
salt-meadows. Numerous large vessels lie at the wharves, a "gundelow,"
with lateen sail, creeps slowly down the current; the draw of the
railroad bridge is perhaps opening for the passage of a tug, and out at
sea athwart the river's mouth--

    "Long and low, with dwarf trees crowned,
    Plum Island lies, like a whale aground,
    A stone's toss over the narrow sound."

    _Prophecy of Samuel Sewall._

Far off to the left lie Salisbury and Hampton beaches, celebrated by
Whittier in his poems "Hampton Beach," "Snow-Bound," and "The Tent on
the Beach":--

    "Where Salisbury's level marshes spread
      Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
    Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
    Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
      The low green prairies of the sea."

    _Snow-Bound._

Standing on the sand-ridge by the beach, you have before you the washing
surf, and miles on miles of level sand, rimmed with creeping, silver
water-lace, overhung here and there by thinnest powdery mist. Out at
sea the waves are tossing their salt-threaded manes, or flinging the
sunlight from their supple coats--(æonian roar; white-haired, demoniac
shapes)--while at evening you see far away to the northeast the
revolving light of the Isles of Shoals.

    "Quail and sandpiper and swallow and sparrow are here;
    Sweet sound their manifold notes, high and low, far and near;
    Chorus of musical waters, the rush of the breeze,
    Steady and strong from the south,--what glad voices are these!"

So sings the poet of the Isles of Shoals, Celia Thaxter, who, it is
said, was discovered and introduced to the world by Whittier,--her rocky
home being still one of his favorite summer resorts.

Landward, your gaze sweeps the beautiful salt-meadows and rests on the
woods beyond, or reaches still farther to the steeples of Newburyport
rising sculpturesquely in the pellucid atmosphere, and often at evening
filling the air with faint silver hymns that chime with the liquid
undertone of the pouring surf.

The valley of the Merrimack with the surrounding region, is, or was
until recently, full of legends of the marvellous and the supernatural,
which, in this remote and isolated corner of the State, have come down
in unbroken tradition from earlier times. One of the distinguishing
peculiarities of Whittier's genius is his story-telling power, and since
he has not only written many poems about the legends of his native
province, but also published in his youth two small collections of those
legends in prose form, it will be proper to give the reader a taste of
them, both here and elsewhere in the volume, and thus assist him to an
understanding of our poet's early environment.

The following extracts from his "Supernaturalism of New England,"
published in the year 1847, are germane to the subject in hand:--

     "One of my earliest recollections," he says, "is that of an old
     woman residing at Rocks Village, in Haverhill, about two miles from
     the place of my nativity, who for many years had borne the
     unenviable reputation of a witch. She certainly had the look of
     one,--a combination of form, voice, and features, which would have
     made the fortune of an English witch-finder in the days of Matthew
     Paris or the Sir John Podgers of Dickens, and insured her speedy
     conviction in King James' High Court of Justiciary. She was accused
     of divers ill-doings, such as preventing the cream in her
     neighbor's churn from becoming butter, and snuffing out candles at
     huskings and quilting parties. The poor old woman was at length so
     sadly annoyed by her unfortunate reputation, that she took the
     trouble to go before a Justice of the Peace, and made a solemn oath
     that she was a Christian woman and no witch."

            *       *       *       *       *

     "Some forty years ago, on the banks of the pleasant little creek
     separating Berwick, in Maine, from Somersworth, in New Hampshire,
     within sight of my mother's home, dwelt a plain, sedate member of
     the Society of Friends, named Bantum. He passed, throughout a
     circle of several miles, as a conjurer and skilful adept in the art
     of magic. To him resorted farmers who had lost their cattle,
     matrons whose household gear, silver spoons, and table-linen had
     been stolen, and young maidens whose lovers were absent; and the
     quiet, meek-spirited old man received them all kindly, put on his
     huge, iron-rimmed spectacles, opened his 'conjuring book,' which my
     mother describes as a large clasped volume, in strange language and
     black-letter type, and after due reflection and consideration gave
     the required answers without money and without price. The curious
     old volume is still in possession of the conjurer's family.
     Apparently inconsistent as was this practice of the Black Art with
     the simplicity and truthfulness of his religious profession, I have
     not been able to learn that he was ever subjected to censure on
     account of it."

This incident reminds one of some verses in a poem of Whittier's
entitled "Flowers in Winter":--

    "A wizard of the Merrimack--
      So old ancestral legends say--
    Could call green leaf and blossom back
      To frosted stem and spray.

    The dry logs of the cottage wall,
      Beneath his touch, put out their leaves;
    The clay-bound swallow, at his call,
      Played round the icy eaves.

    The settler saw his oaken flail
      Take bud, and bloom before his eyes;
    From frozen pools he saw the pale,
      Sweet summer lilies rise.

           *       *       *       *       *

    The beechen platter sprouted wild,
      The pipkin wore its old-time green;
    The cradle o'er the sleeping child
      Became a leafy screen."

In chapter second of the "Supernaturalism" we have a whimsical story
about a certain "Aunt Morse," who lived in a town adjoining Amesbury:--

     "After the death of Aunt Morse no will was found, though it was
     understood before her decease that such a document was in the hands
     of Squire S., one of her neighbors. One cold winter evening, some
     weeks after her departure, Squire S. sat in his parlor, looking
     over his papers, when, hearing some one cough in a familiar way, he
     looked up, and saw before him a little crooked old woman, in an
     oil-nut colored woollen frock, blue and white tow and linen apron,
     and striped blanket, leaning her sharp, pinched face on one hand,
     while the other supported a short black tobacco pipe, at which she
     was puffing in the most vehement and spiteful manner conceivable.

     "The squire was a man of some nerve; but his first thought was to
     attempt an escape, from which he was deterred only by the
     consideration that any effort to that effect would necessarily
     bring him nearer to his unwelcome visitor.

     "'Aunt Morse,' he said at length, 'for the Lord's sake, get right
     back to the burying-ground! What on earth are you here for?'

     "The apparition took her pipe deliberately from her mouth, and
     informed him that she came to see justice done with her will; and
     that nobody need think of cheating her, dead or alive. Concluding
     her remark with a shrill emphasis, she replaced her pipe, and
     puffed away with renewed vigor. Upon the squire's promising to obey
     her request, she refilled her pipe, which she asked him to light,
     and then took her departure."

     "Elderly people in this region," says our author, "yet tell
     marvellous stories of General M., of Hampton, N. H., especially of
     his league with the devil, who used to visit him occasionally in
     the shape of a small man in a leathern dress. The general's house
     was once burned, in revenge, as it is said, by the fiend, whom the
     former had outwitted. He had agreed, it seems, to furnish the
     general with a boot full of gold and silver poured annually down
     the chimney. The shrewd Yankee cut off, on one occasion, the foot
     of the boot, and the devil kept pouring down the coin from the
     chimney's top, in a vain attempt to fill it, until the room was
     literally packed with the precious metal. When the general died, he
     was laid out, and put in a coffin, as usual; but, on the day of the
     funeral, it was whispered about that his body was missing; and the
     neighbors came to the charitable conclusion that the enemy had got
     his own at last."

It should be understood that the state of society which produced such
superstitions and legends as the foregoing lingers now only in secluded
corners of New England. The railroad, the newspaper, and the influx of
foreign population, have combined to frighten away ghost, conjurer, and
witch, or to drive them up into the mountainous districts. There are
still plenty of quaint and picturesque old Puritan farmers; and their
mythology is antique and rusty enough, to be sure. But the folk-lore of
the early days,--where is it? Let the shriek of the steam-demon answer,
or that powerful magician, the "Spirit of the Age," who, ten thousand
times divided, and slyly hidden in plethoric leathern mail bags, daily
rushes into the remotest nooks and corners of the land, there to enter
into the nooks and corners of the mind of man. The "Spirit of the Age"
has exorcised the spirits of the ingle and the forest.



CHAPTER III.

BOYHOOD.


The birthplace and early home of Whittier is a lonely farm-house
situated at a distance of three miles northeast of the city of
Haverhill, Mass. The winding road leading to it is the one described in
"Snow-Bound." A drive or a walk of one mile brings you to sweet Kenoza
Lake, with the castellated stone residence of Dr. J. R. Nichols crowning
the summit of the high hill that overlooks it. From the hill the eye
sweeps the horizon in every direction to a distance of fifty or a
hundred miles. Far to the northwest rise bluely the three peaks of
Monadnock. Nearer at hand, in the same direction, the towns of Atkinson
and Strafford whiten the hillsides, while southward, through a clove in
the hills, one catches a glimpse of the smoky city of Lawrence.

[Illustration: WHITTIER'S BIRTHPLACE, NEAR HAVERHILL, MASS.]

Two other lakes besides Kenoza lie in the immediate vicinity: namely,
Round Lake and Lake Saltonstall. Kenoza is the lake in which Whittier
used to fish and boat. It was he who gave to it its present name
(meaning pickerel): he wrote a very pretty poem for the day of the
rechristening, in 1859. The lake lies in a bowl-shaped depression. The
country thereabouts seems entirely made up of huge earth-bowls, here
open to the sky, and there turned bottom-upwards to make hills.

No prettier, quieter, lovelier lake than Kenoza exists,--a pure and
spotless mirror, reflecting in its cool, translucent depths the rosy
clouds of morning and of evening, the silver-azure tent of day, the
gliding boat, the green meadow-grasses, and the massy foliage of the
terraced pines and cedars that sweep upward from its waters in stately
pomp, rank over rank, to meet the sky. Here, in one quarter of the lake,
the surface is only wrinkled by the tiniest wavelets or crinkles;
yonder, near another portion of its irregularly picturesque shore, a
thousand white sun-butterflies seem dancing on the surface, and the
loveliest wind-dapples curve and gleam. Along the shore are sweet wild
roses interpleached, and flower-de-luce, and yellow water-lilies. In
such a circular earth-bowl the faintest sounds are easily heard across
the water. Far off you hear the cheery cackle of a hen; in the meadows
the singing of insects, the chattering of blackbirds, and the cry of the
peewee; and the ring of the woodman's axe floats in rippling echoes over
the water.

In one of his earlier essays Mr. Whittier tells the following romantic
story: "Whoever has seen Great Pond, in the East Parish of Haverhill,
has seen one of the very loveliest of the thousand little lakes or ponds
of New England. With its soft slopes of greenest verdure--its white and
sparkling sand-rim--its southern hem of pine and maple, mirrored with
spray and leaf in the glassy water--its graceful hill-sentinels round
about, white with the orchard-bloom of spring, or tasselled with the
corn of autumn--its long sweep of blue waters, broken here and there by
picturesque headlands,--it would seem a spot, of all others, where
spirits of evil must shrink, rebuked and abashed, from the presence of
the beautiful. Yet here, too, has the shadow of the supernatural
fallen. A lady of my acquaintance, a staid, unimaginative church-member,
states that a few years ago she was standing in the angle formed by two
roads, one of which traverses the pond-shore, the other leading over the
hill which rises abruptly from the water. It was a warm summer evening,
just at sunset. She was startled by the appearance of a horse and cart
of the kind used a century ago in New England, driving rapidly down the
steep hillside, and crossing the wall a few yards before her, without
noise or displacing of a stone. The driver sat sternly erect, with a
fierce countenance; grasping the reins tightly, and looking neither to
the right nor the left. Behind the cart, and apparently lashed to it,
was a woman of gigantic size, her countenance convulsed with a blended
expression of rage and agony, writhing and struggling, like Laocoön in
the folds of the serpent." The mysterious cart moved across the street,
and disappeared at the margin of the pond.

The two miles of road that separate Kenoza from the old Whittier
homestead form a lonely stretch, passing between high hills rolled back
on either side in wolds that show against the sky. The homestead is
situated at the junction of the main road to Amesbury and a cross-road
to Plaistow. It is as wild and lonely a place as Craigen-puttock,--the
hills shutting down all around, so that there is absolutely no prospect
in any direction, and no other house visible. But so much the better for
meditation. "The Children of the Light" need only their own souls to
commune with. The expression that rose continually to the author's lips
on visiting this place was a line from "Snow-Bound,"--

    "A universe of sky and snow."

Not that the time was winter, but that the locality explained the line
so vividly,--better than any commentary could do. Locality exercises a
great influence on a poet's genius. Whitman, for example, has always
lived by the sea, and he is the poet of the infinite. Whittier was born,
and passed his boyhood and youth, in a green, sunken pocket of the
inland hills, and he became the poet of the heart and the home. The one
poet wrestled with the waves of the sea and the waves of humanity in
great cities; the other lived the simple, quiet life of a farmer, loving
his mother, his sister, his Quaker sect, freedom, and his own hearth.
Both are as lowly in origin as Carlyle or Burns.

Between the front door of the old homestead and the road rises a grassy,
wooded bank, at the foot of which flows a little amber-colored brook.
The brook is mentioned in "Snow-Bound":--

    "We minded that the sharpest ear
    The buried brooklet could not hear,
    The music of whose liquid lip
    Had been to us companionship,
    And, in our lonely life, had grown
    To have an almost human tone."

Across the road is the barn. The house is very plain, and not very
large. Entering the front door you are in a small entry with a steep,
quaint, little staircase. On the right is the parlor where Whittier
wrote. In the tiny, low-studded room on the left, he was born, and in
the same room his father and "Uncle Moses" died. The room is about
fourteen by fourteen feet, is partly wainscoted, has a fireplace and
three windows.

All the windows in the house have small panes, nine in the upper and six
in the lower sash. The building is supposed to be two hundred and twelve
years old. The kitchen is, of course, the great attraction. Let us
suppose that it is winter, and that we are all cosily seated around the
blazing fireplace. Now, let us talk over together the old days and
scenes. The best picture of the inner life of the Quaker farmer's family
can of course be had in "Snow-Bound,"--a little idyl as delicate,
spontaneous, and true to nature in its limnings as a minute
frost-picture on a pane of glass, or the fairy landscape richly mirrored
in the film of a water-bubble. After such a picture, painted by the poet
himself, it only remains for the writer to give a few supplementary
touches here and there. The old kitchen, although diminished in size by
a dividing partition, is otherwise almost unchanged. It is a cosey old
room, with its fireplace, and huge breadth of chimney with inset
cupboards and oven and mantelpiece. Above the mantel is the nail where
hung the old bull's-eye watch. Set into one side of the kitchen is the
cupboard where the pewter plates and platters were ranged; and here upon
the wall is the circle worn by the "old brass warming-pan, which
formerly shone like a setting moon against the wall of the kitchen":--

    "Shut in from all the world without,
    We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
    Content to let the north-wind roar
    In baffled rage at pane and door,
    While the red logs before us beat
    The frost-line back with tropic heat;
    And ever, when a louder blast
    Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
    The merrier up its roaring draught
    The great throat of the chimney laughed,
    The house-dog on his paws outspread,
    Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
    The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
    A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
    And, for the winter fireside meet,
    Between the andirons' straddling feet,
    The mug of cider simmered slow,
    The apples sputtered in a row,
    And, close at hand, the basket stood
    With nuts from brown October's wood."

    _Snow-Bound._

John Whittier, the father of the poet, is described by citizens of
Haverhill as being a rough but good, kind-hearted man. He went by the
soubriquet of "Quaker Whycher." In "Snow-Bound," we learn something of
his _Wanderjahre_,--how he ate moose and samp in trapper's hut and
Indian camp on Memphremagog's wooded side, and danced beneath St.
François' hemlock-trees, and ate chowder and hake-broil at the Isle of
Shoals. He was a sturdy, decisive man, and deeply religious. Although
there was no Friends' church in Haverhill, yet on "First-Days" Quaker
Whycher's "one-hoss shay" could be seen wending toward the old brown
meeting-house in Amesbury, six miles away.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: KITCHEN IN THE WHITTIER HOMESTEAD, HAVERHILL.
"_Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free._"--SNOW-BOUND.]

The mother has been alluded to in Chapter I. p. 12. Hers was a deeply
emotional and religious nature, pure, chastened, and sweet, lovable, and
kind-hearted to a fault. In "Snow-Bound," she tells incidents of her
girlhood in Somersworth on the Piscataqua, and retells stories from
Quaker Sewell's "ancient tome," and old sea-saint Chalkley's Journal. An
incident in Mr. Whittier's "Yankee Gypsies" (Prose Works, II. p. 326,)
will afford an indication of her kind-heartedness:--

     "On one occasion," says the poet, "a few years ago, on my return
     from the field at evening, I was told that a foreigner had asked
     for lodgings during the night, but that, influenced by his dark,
     repulsive appearance, my mother had very reluctantly refused his
     request. I found her by no means satisfied with her decision. 'What
     if a son of mine was in a strange land?' she inquired,
     self-reproachfully. Greatly to her relief, I volunteered to go in
     pursuit of the wanderer, and, taking a cross-path over the fields,
     soon overtook him. He had just been rejected at the house of our
     nearest neighbor, and was standing in a state of dubious perplexity
     in the street. His looks quite justified my mother's suspicions. He
     was an olive-complexioned, black-bearded Italian, with an eye like
     a live coal, such a face as perchance looks out on the traveller in
     the passes of the Abruzzi,--one of those bandit-visages which
     Salvator has painted. With some difficulty, I gave him to
     understand my errand, when he overwhelmed me with thanks, and
     joyfully followed me back. He took his seat with us at the
     supper-table; and when we were all gathered around the hearth that
     cold autumnal evening, he told us, partly by words, and partly by
     gestures, the story of his life and misfortunes, amused us with
     descriptions of the grape-gatherings and festivals of his sunny
     clime, edified my mother with a recipe for making bread of
     chestnuts; and in the morning when, after breakfast, his dark
     sullen face lighted up and his fierce eye moistened with grateful
     emotion as in his own silvery Tuscan accent he poured out his
     thanks, we marvelled at the fears which had so nearly closed our
     doors against him; and, as he departed, we all felt that he had
     left with us the blessing of the poor.

     "It was not often that, as in the above instance, my mother's
     prudence got the better of her charity. The regular 'old
     stragglers' regarded her as an unfailing friend; and the sight of
     her plain cap was to them an assurance of forthcoming creature
     comforts."

In "Snow-Bound," too, we learn that the good mother often stayed her
step to express a warm word of gratitude for their own comforts, and to
hope that the unfortunate might be cared for also. It is a facetious
saying in Philadelphia that beggars are shipped to that city from all
parts of the country that they may share the never-failing bounty of the
Quakers. However this may be, it is evident that benevolence was the
predominant trait in the character of our poet's mother.

       *       *       *       *       *

Other members of the household in Whittier's boyhood were his elder
sister Mary, who died in 1861; Uncle Moses Whittier, who in 1824
received fatal injuries from the falling of a tree which he was cutting
down; the poet's younger brother Matthew, who was born in 1812, and has
been for many years a resident of Boston,--himself a versifier, and a
contributor to the newspapers of humorous dialect articles, signed
"Ethan Spike, from Hornby"; and finally the aunt, Mercy E. Hussey, the
younger sister Elizabeth, and occasionally the "half-welcome" eccentric
guest, Harriet Livermore.

Elizabeth Hussey Whittier--the younger sister and intimate literary
companion of her brother, the poet--was a person of rare and saintly
nature. In the little parlor of the Amesbury home there hangs a crayon
sketch of her. The face wears a smile of unfailing sweetness and
patience. That her literary and poetical accomplishments were of an
unusually high order is shown by the poems of hers appended to Mr.
Whittier's "Hazel Blossoms," published after her death. Her poem, "Dr.
Kane in Cuba," would do honor to any poet. In the piece entitled the
"Wedding Veil," we have a hint of an early love transformed by the death
of its object into a spiritual worship and hope, nourished in the still
fane of the heart. In the prefatory note to "Hazel Blossoms," Mr.
Whittier says: "I have ventured, in compliance with the desire of dear
friends of my beloved sister, Elizabeth H. Whittier, to add to this
little volume the few poetical pieces which she left behind her. As she
was very distrustful of her own powers, and altogether without ambition
for literary distinction, she shunned everything like publicity, and
found far greater happiness in generous appreciation of the gifts of her
friends than in the cultivation of her own. Yet it has always seemed to
me that, had her health, sense of duty and fitness, and her extreme
self-distrust permitted, she might have taken a high place among lyrical
singers. These poems, with perhaps two or three exceptions, afford but
slight indications of the inward life of the writer, who had an almost
morbid dread of spiritual and intellectual egotism, or of her tenderness
of sympathy, chastened mirthfulness, and pleasant play of thought and
fancy, when her shy, beautiful soul opened like a flower in the warmth
of social communion. In the lines on Dr. Kane, her friends will see
something of her fine individuality,--the rare mingling of delicacy and
intensity of feeling which made her dear to them. This little poem
reached Cuba while the great explorer lay on his death-bed, and we are
told that he listened with grateful tears while it was read to him by
his mother.

"I am tempted to say more, but I write as under the eye of her who,
while with us, shrank with painful deprecation from the praise or
mention of performances which seemed so far below her ideal of
excellence. To those who best knew her, the beloved circle of her
intimate friends, I dedicate this slight memorial."

Many readers of "Snow-Bound" have doubtless often wondered who the
beautiful and mysterious young woman is who is sketched in such vigorous
portraiture,--"the not unfeared, half-welcome guest," half saint and
half shrew. She is no other than the religious enthusiast and fanatical
"pilgrim preacher," Harriet Livermore,[7] the same who startled

            "On her desert throne
    The crazy Queen of Lebanon
    With claims fantastic as her own."

[Footnote 7: For many items of information concerning this strange woman
we are indebted to the sketch of her published by Miss Rebecca I. Davis,
of East Haverhill.]

By the "Queen of Lebanon" is meant Lady Hester Stanhope. Harriet
Livermore was the grand-daughter of Hon. Samuel Livermore, of
Portsmouth, N. H., and the daughter of Hon. Edward St. Loe Livermore, of
Lowell. She was born April 14, 1788, at Concord, N. H. Her misfortune
was her temper, inherited from her father. When Whittier was a little
boy, she taught needlework, embroidery, and the common school branches,
in the little old brown school-house in East Haverhill, and was a
frequent guest at Farmer Whittier's. The poet thus characterizes her:--

    "A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
    Swayed the lithe limbs and dropped the lash,
    Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
    And under low brows, black with night,
    Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
    The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
    Presaging ill to him whom Fate
    Condemned to share her love or hate.
    A woman tropical, intense
    In thought and act, in soul and sense."

When a mere girl, she fell in love with a young gentleman of East
Haverhill, but the parents of both families opposed the match, and were
not to be moved by her honeyed words of persuasion or by her little
gifts. The poet says she often visited at his father's home, "and had at
one time an idea of becoming a member of the Society of Friends; but an
unlucky outburst of rage, resulting in a blow, at a Friend's house in
Amesbury, did not encourage us to seek her membership." She embraced the
Methodist Perfectionist doctrine, and one day strenuously maintained
that she was incapable of sinning. But a few minutes afterward she
burst out into a violent passion about something or other. Her opponent
could only say to her, "Christian, thou hast lost thy roll." She became
an itinerant preacher, and spoke in the meetings of various sects in
different parts of the country. She made three voyages to Jerusalem.
Says one: "At one time we find her in Egypt, giving our late consul, Mr.
Thayer, a world of trouble from her peculiar notions. At another we see
her amid the gray olive slopes of Jerusalem, demanding, not begging,
money for the Great King [God]. And once when an American, fresh from
home, during the late rebellion, offered her a handful of greenbacks,
she threw them away with disdain, saying, 'The Great King will only have
gold.' She once climbed the sides of Mt. Libanus, and visited Lady
Stanhope,--that eccentric sister of the younger Pitt, who married a
sheik of the mountains,--and thus had a fine opportunity of securing the
finest steeds of the Orient. Going to the stable one day, Lady Hester
pointed out to Harriet Livermore two very fine horses, with peculiar
marks, but differing in color. 'That one,' said Lady Hester, 'the Great
King when he comes will ride, and the other I will ride in company with
him.' Thereupon Miss Livermore gave a most emphatic 'no!' declaring with
foreknowledge and _aplomb_ that 'the Great King will ride this horse,
and it is I, as his bride, who will ride upon the other at his second
coming.' It is said she carried her point with Lady Hester, overpowering
her with her fluency and assertion."

       *       *       *       *       *

To pass now to the boy-poet himself. An old friend and schoolmate of
his, in Haverhill, told the author that Whittier, instead of doing sums
on his slate at school, was always writing verses, even when a little
lad. His first schoolmaster was Joshua Coffin, afterward the historian
of Newbury. Another master of his was named Emerson. To Coffin, Whittier
has written a poetical epistle, in which he says:--

    "I, the urchin unto whom,
    In that smoked and dingy room,
    Where the district gave thee rule
    O'er its ragged winter school,
    Thou didst teach the mysteries
    Of those weary A, B, C's, Where,
    to fill the every pause
    Of thy wise and learned saws,
    Through the cracked and crazy wall
    Came the cradle-rock and squall,
    And the goodman's voice, at strife
    With his shrill and tipsy wife,--
    Luring us by stories old,
    With a comic unction told,
    More than by the eloquence
    Of terse birchen arguments
    (Doubtful gain, I fear), to look
    With complacence on a book!--

    I,--the man of middle years,
    In whose sable locks appears
    Many a warning fleck of gray,--
    Looking back to that far day,
    And thy primal lessons, feel
    Grateful smiles my lips unseal," etc.

[Illustration: THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE, HAVERHILL, MASS.]

In "School Days" he gives us another and a pleasanter picture:--

    "Still sits the school-house by the road,[8]
      A ragged beggar sunning;
    Around it still the sumachs grow,
      And blackberry-vines are running.

    Within, the master's desk is seen,
      Deep scarred by raps official;
    The warping floor, the battered seats,
      The jack-knife's carved initial;

    The charcoal frescos on its wall;
      Its door's worn sill, betraying
    The feet that, creeping slow to school
      Went storming out to playing!

    Long years ago a winter sun
      Shone over it at setting;
    Lit up its western window-panes,
      And low eaves' icy fretting.

    It touched the tangled golden curls,
      And brown eyes full of grieving,
    Of one who still her steps delayed
      When all the school were leaving.

    For near her stood the little boy
      Her childish favor singled;
    His cap pulled low upon a face
      Where pride and shame were mingled.

    Pushing with restless feet the snow
      To right and left, he lingered;--
    As restlessly her tiny hands
      The blue-checked apron fingered.

    He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
      The soft hand's light caressing,
    And heard the tremble of her voice,
      As if a fault confessing.

    'I'm sorry that I spelt the word:
      I hate to go above you,
    Because,'--the brown eyes lower fell,--
      'Because, you see, I love you!'"

[Footnote 8: The old brown school-house is now no more, having been
removed to make room for a reservoir.]

It is probable that "My Playmate" is in memory of this same sweet little
lady:--

    "O playmate in the golden time!
      Our mossy seat is green,
    Its fringing violets blossom yet,
      The old trees o'er it lean.

    The winds so sweet with birch and fern
      A sweeter memory blow;
    And there in spring the veeries sing
      The song of long ago.

    And still the pines of Ramoth Wood
      Are moaning like the sea,--
    The moaning of the sea of change
      Between myself and thee!"

Elsewhere in the poem we are told that the little maiden went away
forever to the South:--

    "She lives where all the golden year
      Her summer roses blow;
    The dusky children of the sun
      Before her come and go.

    There haply with her jewelled hands
      She smooths her silken gown,--
    No more the homespun lap wherein
      I shook the walnuts down."

We also learn from the poem that he was the boy "who fed her father's
kine." What a pretty little romance!--and, let us hope, not too sad a
one. Shall we have one more stanza about this lovely little school-idyl?
It is from "Memories":--

    "I hear again thy low replies,
      I feel thy aim within my own,
    And timidly again uprise
    The fringed lids of hazel eyes,
      With soft brown tresses overblown.
    Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
      Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
    Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
      And smiles and tones more dear than they!"

The reading material that found its way to Farmer Whittier's house
consisted of the almanac, the weekly village paper, and "scarce a score"
of books and pamphlets, among them Lindley Murray's "Reader":--

    "One harmless novel, mostly hid
    From younger eyes, a book forbid,
    And poetry (or good or bad,
    A single book was all we had),
    Where Ellwood's meek, drab-skirted Muse,
      A stranger to the heathen Nine,
      Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
    The wars of David and the Jews."

Knowing, as we do, the great influence exerted upon our mental
development by the books we read as children, and knowing that a rural
life, such as Whittier's has been, is especially conducive to tenacity
of early customs, it becomes important to know what the books were that
first formed his style and colored his thought. It seems that Ellwood's
"Davideis; or the Life of David, King of Israel," was one of these. The
book was published in 1711, and had a sale of five or more editions.
Ellwood, born in 1639, early adopted the then new doctrines of George
Fox. He has written a quaint and pictorial autobiography, somewhat like
that of Bunyan or that of Fox. In 1662 he was for six weeks reader to
Milton, who was then blind, and living in London, in Jewin Street. It
was he who first suggested to Milton that he should write "Paradise
Regained."[9]

[Footnote 9: This was in 1665, when Milton was living at Giles-Chalfont.
Ellwood says: "After some common discourse had passed between us, he
called for a manuscript of his, which he delivered to me, bidding me
take it home with me and read it at my leisure; and, when I had done so,
return it to him with my judgment thereon." It was "Paradise Lost." When
Ellwood returned it, and was asked his opinion, he gave it, and added:
"'Thou hast said much here of "Paradise Lost," but what hast thou to say
of "Paradise Found"?' He made no answer, but sat some time in a muse."]

An idea of the execrable nature of his versification may be obtained
from a few specimens. Upon the passing of a severe law against Quakers,
he relieves his mind in this wise:--

    "Awake, awake, O arm o' th' Lord, awake!
              Thy sword up take;
    Cast what would thine forgetful of thee make,
              Into the lake.
    Awake, I pray, O mighty Jah! awake,
    Make all the world before thy presence quake,
    Not only earth, but heaven also shake."

Another poem, entitled "A Song of the Mercies and Deliverances of the
Lord," begins thus:--

    "Had not the Lord been on our side,
      May Israel now say,
    We were not able to abide
      The trials of that day:

    When men did up against us rise,
      With fury, rage, and spite,
    Hoping to catch us by surprise,
      Or run us down by night."

An opponent's poetry is lashed by Ellwood in such beautiful stanzas as
the following:--

    "So _flat_, so _dull_, so _rough_, so _void of grace_,
    Where _symphony_ and _cadence_ have no place;
    So full of _chasmes_ stuck with _prosie pegs_,
    Whereon his _tired_ Muse might rest her legs,
    (Not having wings) and take new breath, that then
    She might with much adoe hop on again."

A striking peculiarity of Whittier's poetry is the exceedingly small
range of his rhymes and metres. He is especially fond of the four-foot
iambic line, and likes to rhyme successive or alternate lines in a
wofully monotonous and see-saw manner. These are the characteristics of
much of the lyric poetry of a hundred years ago, and especially
distinguish the verses of Burns and Ellwood,--the first poets the boy
Whittier read. Burns, especially, he learned by heart, and there can be
no doubt that the Ayrshire ploughman gave to the mind of his
brother-ploughman of Essex its life-direction and coloring,--as respects
the swing of rhythm and rhyme at least. Indeed, we shall presently find
him contributing to the _Haverhill Gazette_ verses in the Scotch
dialect. His introduction to the poetry of Burns was in this wise: He
was one afternoon gathering in hay on the farm, when by good hap a
wandering peddler stopped and took from his pack a copy of Burns, which
was eagerly purchased by the poetical Quaker boy. Alluding to the
circumstance afterward in his poem, "Burns," he says:--

    "How oft that day, with fond delay,
      I sought the maple's shadow,
    And sang with Burns the hours away,
      Forgetful of the meadow!

    Bees hummed, birds twittered, overhead
      I heard the squirrels leaping,
    The good dog listened while I read,
      And wagged his tail in keeping."

By the reading of Burns his eyes were opened, he says, to the beauty in
homely things. In familiar and humble things he found the "tender idyls
of the heart." But the wanton and the ribald lines of the Scotch poet
found no entrance to his pure mind.[10]

[Footnote 10: See Appendix II.]

He had other relishing tastes of the rich dialect of heather poetry. In
"Yankee Gypsies" he says: "One day we had a call from a 'pawky auld
carle' of a wandering Scotchman. To him I owe my first introduction to
the songs of Burns. After eating his bread and cheese and drinking his
mug of cider, he gave us Bonny Doon, Highland Mary, and Auld Lang Syne.
He had a rich full voice, and entered heartily into the spirit of his
lyrics. I have since listened to the same melodies from the lips of
Dempster (than whom the Scottish bard has had no sweeter or truer
interpreter); but the skilful performance of the artist lacked the novel
charm of the gaberlunzie's singing in the old farm-house kitchen."

       *       *       *       *       *

A page or two of these personal recollections of the poet will serve to
fill out the picture of his boyhood life; and, at the same time, give
the reader a taste of his often charming prose pieces:--

    "The advent of wandering beggars, or 'old stragglers,' as we were
    wont to call them, was an event of no ordinary interest in the
    generally monotonous quietude of our farm life. Many of them were
    well known; they had their periodical revolutions and transits; we
    could calculate them like eclipses or new moons. Some were sturdy
    knaves, fat and saucy; and whenever they ascertained that the
    'men-folks' were absent would order provisions and cider like men
    who expected to pay for them, seating themselves at the hearth or
    table with the air of Falstaff,--'Shall I not take mine ease in mine
    own inn?' Others poor, pale, patient, like Sterne's monk, came
    creeping up to the door, hat in hand, standing there in their gray
    wretchedness, with a look of heart-break and forlornness which was
    never without its effect on our juvenile sensibilities. At times,
    however, we experienced a slight revulsion of feeling when even
    these humblest children of sorrow somewhat petulantly rejected our
    proffered bread and cheese, and demanded instead a glass of cider.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "One--I think I see him now, grim, gaunt, and ghastly, working his
    way up to our door--used to gather herbs by the wayside, and call
    himself doctor. He was bearded like a he-goat, and used to
    counterfeit lameness, yet when he supposed himself alone would
    travel on lustily, as if walking for a wager. At length, as if in
    punishment for his deceit, he met with an accident in his rambles,
    and became lame in earnest, hobbling ever after with difficulty on
    his gnarled crutches. Another used to go stooping, like Bunyan's
    pilgrim, under a pack made of an old bed-sacking, stuffed out into
    most plethoric dimensions, tottering on a pair of small, meagre
    legs, and peering out with his wild, hairy face from under his
    burden, like a big-bodied spider. That 'man with the pack' always
    inspired me with awe and reverence. Huge, almost sublime in its
    tense rotundity, the father of all packs, never laid aside and never
    opened, what might there not be within it! With what flesh-creeping
    curiosity I used to walk round about it at a safe distance, half
    expecting to see its striped covering stirred by the motions of a
    mysterious life, or that some evil monster would leap out of it,
    like robbers from Ali Baba's jars, or armed men from the Trojan
    horse!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Twice a year, usually in the spring and autumn, we were honored
    with a call from Jonathan Plummer, maker of verses, peddler and
    poet, physician and parson,--a Yankee Troubadour,--first and last
    minstrel of the valley of the Merrimack, encircled to my wondering
    eyes with the very nimbus of immortality. He brought with him pins,
    needles, tape, and cotton thread for my mother; jack-knives, razors,
    and soap for my father; and verses of his own composing, coarsely
    printed and illustrated with rude woodcuts, for the delectation of
    the younger branches of the family. No love-sick youth could drown
    himself, no deserted maiden bewail the moon, no rogue mount the
    gallows, without fitting memorial in Plummer's verses. Earthquakes,
    fires, fevers and shipwrecks he regarded as personal favors from
    Providence, furnishing the raw material of song and ballad. Welcome
    to us in our country seclusion as Autolycus to the clown in Winter's
    Tale, we listened with infinite satisfaction to his readings of his
    own verses, or to his ready improvisation upon some domestic
    incident or topic suggested by his auditors. When once fairly over
    the difficulties at the outset of a new subject, his rhymes flowed
    freely, 'as if he had eaten ballads, and all men's ears grew to his
    tunes.' His productions answered, as nearly as I can remember, to
    Shakespeare's description of a proper ballad,--'doleful matter
    merrily set down, or a very pleasant theme sung lamentably.' He was
    scrupulously conscientious, devout, inclined to theological
    disquisitions, and withal mighty in Scripture. He was thoroughly
    independent; flattered nobody, cared for nobody, trusted nobody.
    When invited to sit down at our dinner-table, he invariably took the
    precaution to place his basket of valuables between his legs for
    safe-keeping. 'Never mind thy basket, Jonathan,' said my father, 'we
    shan't steal thy verses.' 'I'm not sure of that,' returned the
    suspicious guest. 'It is written, Trust ye not in any brother.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Thou, too, O Parson B.,--with thy pale student's brow and thy
    rubicund nose, with thy rusty and tattered black coat, overswept by
    white flowing locks, with thy professional white neckcloth
    scrupulously preserved, when even a shirt to thy back was
    problematical,--art by no means to be overlooked in the muster-roll
    of vagrant gentlemen possessing the _entrée_ of our farm-house. Well
    do we remember with what grave and dignified courtesy he used to
    step over its threshold, saluting its inmates with the same air of
    gracious condescension and patronage with which in better days he
    had delighted the hearts of his parishioners. Poor old man! He had
    once been the admired and almost worshipped minister of the largest
    church in the town, where he afterwards found support in the winter
    season as a pauper. He had early fallen into intemperate habits, and
    at the age of threescore and ten, when I remember him, he was only
    sober when he lacked the means of being otherwise."

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the books read by Whittier when a boy we must number the
"Pilgrim's Progress" of Bunyan.

In his "Supernaturalism of New England" the poet says: "How hardly
effaced are the impressions of childhood! Even at this day, at the
mention of the Evil Angel, an image rises before me like that with which
I used especially to horrify myself in an old copy of 'Pilgrim's
Progress.' Horned, hoofed, scaly, and fire-breathing, his caudal
extremity twisted tight with rage, I remember him illustrating the
tremendous encounter of Christian in the valley where 'Apollyon
straddled over the whole breadth of the way.' There was another print of
the enemy which made no slight impression upon me; it was the
frontispiece of an old, smoked, snuff-stained pamphlet (the property of
an elderly lady, who had a fine collection of similar wonders, wherewith
she was kind enough to edify her young visitors), containing a solemn
account of the fate of a wicked dancing party in New Jersey, whose
irreverent declaration that they would have a fiddler, if they had to
send to the lower regions after him, called up the fiend himself, who
forthwith commenced playing, while the company danced to the music
incessantly, without the power to suspend their exercise until their
feet and legs were worn off to the knees! The rude woodcut represented
the Demon Fiddler and his agonized companions literally _stumping_ it up
and down in 'cotillions, jigs, strathspeys, and reels.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

So grew up the Quaker farmer's son, drinking eagerly in such knowledge
as he could, and receiving those impressions of nature and home-life
which he was afterward to embody in his popular lyrics and idyls. Above
all, his home education saturated his mind with religious and moral
earnestness. In the second part of this volume will be given some
remarks on Quaker life in America, and an analysis of the blended
influence of Quakerism and Puritanism upon the development of Whittier's
genius. Enough has been said to show that the surroundings of his early
life were of the plainest and simplest character, and not different from
those of a thousand other secluded New England farms of the period.

We are now to follow the shy young poet out into the world. He is
nineteen years of age. The circle of his experiences begins to widen
outward; manhood is dawning; the village paper has taught him that there
are men beyond the mountains. He thirsts for individuality,--to know his
powers, to cast the horoscope of his future, and see if the
consciousness within him of unusual gifts be a trustworthy one. To begin
with, he will write a poem for "our weekly paper." Accordingly one day
in 1826 the following poem, written in blue ink on coarse paper, was
slipped by the postman under the door of the office of the _Free Press_,
in Newburyport,--a short-lived paper, then recently started by young
William Lloyd Garrison, and subscribed for by Farmer Whittier.

The poem is the first ever published by the poet, and is his earliest
known production.[11] The manuscript of it is now in the possession of
Whittier's kinsman, Mr. S. T. Pickard, associate editor of the _Portland
Transcript_, in which journal it was republished November 27, 1880:--

                    THE DEITY.

                            The Prophet stood
    On the high mount and saw the tempest-cloud
    Pour the fierce whirlwind from its reservoir
    Of congregated gloom. The mountain oak
    Torn from the earth heaved high its roots where once
    Its branches waved. The fir-tree's shapely form
    Smote by the tempest lashed the mountain side;
    Yet, calm in conscious purity, the seer
    Beheld the awful devastation, for
    The Eternal Spirit moved not in the storm.

    The tempest ceased. The caverned earthquake burst
    Forth from its prison, and the mountain rocked
    Even to its base: The topmost crags were thrown
    With fearful crashing down its shuddering slopes.
    Unawed the Prophet saw and heard: He felt
    Not in the earthquake moved the God of Heaven.

    The murmur died away, and from the height,
    Torn by the storm and shattered by the shock,
    Rose far and clear a pyramid of flame,
    Mighty and vast! The startled mountain deer
    Shrank from its glare and cowered beneath the shade:
    The wild fowl shrieked; yet even then the seer
    Untrembling stood and marked the fearful glow--
    For Israel's God came not within the flame.

    The fiery beacon sank. A still small voice
    Now caught the Prophet's ear. Its awful tone,
    Unlike to human sound, at once conveyed
    Deep awe and reverence to his pious heart.
    Then bowed the holy man; his face he veiled
    Within his mantle, and in meekness owned
    The presence of his God, discovered not in
    The storm, the earthquake, or the mighty flame,
    But in the still small whisper to his soul.

[Footnote 11: See note on p. 301.]

It is characteristic of the man that his first poem should be of a
religious nature. There is grandeur and majesty in the poem. The
rhetoric is juvenile, but the diction is strong, nervous, and intense,
and the general impression made upon the mind is one of harmony and
solemn stateliness, not unlike that of "Thanatopsis," composed by Bryant
when he was about the same age as was Whittier when he wrote "The
Deity." It was probably owing to its anonymity that the first impulse of
the editor was to throw it into the waste-basket. But as he glanced
over the sheet his attention was caught: he read it, and some weeks
afterward published it in the poet's corner. But in the interval of
waiting the boy's heart sank within him. Every writer knows what he
suffered. Did we not all expect that first precious production of ours
to fairly set the editor wild with enthusiasm, so that nothing short of
death or apoplexy could prevent him from assigning it the most
conspicuous position in the _very next issue_ of his paper?

But one day, as our boy-poet was mending a stone fence along the
highway, in company with Uncle Moses, along came the postman on
horseback, with his leathern bag of mail, like a magician with a
Fortunatus' purse; and, to save the trouble of calling at the house, he
tossed a paper to young Whittier. He opened it with eager fingers, and
behold! his poem in the place of honor. He says that he was so
dumfounded and dazed by the event that he could not read a word, but
stood there staring at the paper until his uncle chided him for
loitering, and so recalled him to his senses. Elated by his success, he
of course sent other poems to the _Free Press_. They attracted the
attention of Garrison so strongly that he inquired of the postman who it
was that was sending him contributions from East Haverhill. The postman
said that it was a "farmer's son named Whittier." Garrison decided to
ride over on horseback, a distance of fifteen miles, and see his
contributor. When he reached the farm, Whittier was at work in the
field, and when told that there was a gentleman at the house who wanted
to see him, he felt very much like "breaking for the brush," no one
having ever called on him in that way before. However, he slipped in at
the back door, made his toilet, and met his visitor, who told him that
he had power as a writer, and urged him to improve his talents. The
father came in during the conversation, and asked young Garrison not to
put such ideas into the mind of his son, as they would only unfit him
for his home duties. But, fortunately, it was too late: the spark of
ambition had been fanned into a flame. Years afterward, in an
introduction to Oliver Johnson's "William Lloyd Garrison and his Times,"
Mr. Whittier said: "My acquaintance with him [Garrison] commenced in
boyhood. My father was a subscriber to his first paper, the _Free
Press_, and the humanitarian tone of his editorials awakened a deep
interest in our little household, which was increased by a visit he made
us. When he afterwards edited the _Journal of the Times_, at Bennington,
Vt., I ventured to write him a letter of encouragement and sympathy,
urging him to continue his labors against slavery, and assuring him that
he could do great things." Indeed, the acquaintance thus begun ripened
into the most intimate friendship and mutual respect. Mr. Whittier told
the writer that when he went to Boston, in the winter of 1828-29, he and
Garrison roomed and boarded at the same house. Mr. Whittier frequently
contributed to the _Liberator_, and was for a quarter of a century
associated with Garrison in anti-slavery labors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before we pass with our young Quaker from the farm to the world at
large, let us correct an erroneous statement that has been made about
him. It has been said that he worked at the trade of shoemaking when a
boy. The truth is that almost every farmer in those days was accustomed
to do a little cobbling of his own, and what shoemaker's work Whittier
performed was done by him solely as an amateur in his father's house.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the year of his _début_ as a poet (1826), he being then nineteen
years of age, Whittier began attending the Haverhill Academy, or Latin
School. Whether his parents were influenced to take this step for his
advantage by the visit of the editor Garrison, and by his evident taste
for learning, is not positively known, but it is quite possible that
such was the case. In 1827 he read an original ode at the dedication of
the new Academy. The building is still standing on Winter Street. While
at the Academy he read history very thoroughly, and his writings show
that it has always been a favorite study with him. He also contributed
poems at this time to the _Haverhill Gazette_. Many of them were in the
Scotch dialect: it would be interesting to see a few of these; but
unfortunately no file of the _Gazette_ for those years can be found. A
friendly rival in the writing of Scotch poems was good Robert Dinsmore,
the "Farmer Poet of Windham," as Whittier calls him. A few specimens of
Farmer Dinsmore's verse have been preserved. Take this on "The
Sparrow":--

    "Poor innocent and hapless Sparrow!
    Why should my moul-board gie thee sorrow?
    This day thou'll chirp, and mourn the morrow
          Wi' anxious breast;
    The plough has turned the mould'ring furrow
          Deep o'er thy nest!

    Just i' the middle o' the hill
    Thy nest was placed wi' curious skill,
    There I espied thy little bill
          Beneath the shade.
    In that sweet bower, secure frae ill,
          Thine eggs were laid.

    Five corns o' maize had there been drappit,
    An' through the stalks thy head was pappit,
    The drawing nowt could na be stappit
          I quickly foun',
    Syne frae thy cozie nest thou happit,
          Wild fluttering roun'.

    The sklentin stane beguiled the sheer,
    In vain I tried the plough to steer,
    A wee bit stumpie i' the rear
          Cam 'tween my legs,
    An' to the jee-side gart me veer
          An' crush thine eggs."

The following elegiac stanza, written by honest Robert on the occasion
of the death of his wife, is irresistibly ludicrous:--

    "No more may I the Spring Brook trace,
    No more with sorrow view the place
      Where Mary's wash-tub stood;
    No more may wander there alone,
    And lean upon the mossy stone,
      Where once she piled her wood.
    'T was there she bleached her linen cloth,
      By yonder bass-wood tree;
    From that sweet stream she made her broth,
      Her pudding and her tea."

Mr. Whittier says that the last time he saw Robert, "Threescore years
and ten," to use his own words,

              'Hung o'er his back,
    And bent him like a muckle pack,'

yet he still stood stoutly and sturdily in his thick shoes of cowhide,
like one accustomed to tread independently the soil of his own
acres,--his broad, honest face seamed by care and darkened by exposure
to all the 'airts that blow,' and his white hair flowing in patriarchal
glory beneath his felt hat. A genial, jovial, large-hearted old man,
simple as a child, and betraying neither in look nor manner that he was
accustomed to

    'Feed on thoughts which voluntary move
    Harmonious numbers.'"



CHAPTER IV.

EDITOR AND AUTHOR: FIRST VENTURES.


The winter of 1828-29 was passed by Whittier in Boston. He once with
characteristic modesty told the writer that he drifted into journalism
that winter, as editor of the _American Manufacturer_, in the following
way: He had gone to Boston to study and read. He undertook the writing
for the _Manufacturer_ not because he had much liking for questions of
tariff and finance, but because his own finances would thereby be
improved. Mr. Whittier's chief personal trait is extreme shyness and
distrust of himself, and he deprecated the idea that he had any special
power as a writer at the time of which we are speaking, saying that he
had to study up his subjects before writing. But undoubtedly he must
have wielded a vigorous pen, and been known to possess a cool and
careful head, or he would not have been invited to assume the
editorship of such a paper. He himself admitted, in the course of the
conversation, that at that time he had political ambitions, and made a
study of political economy and civil politics.

In 1830 we find Whittier at Haverhill again. In March of that year he
was occupying the position of editor of the _Essex Gazette_, and "issued
proposals to publish a 'History of Haverhill,' in one volume of two
hundred pages, duodecimo, price eighty-seven and one-half cents per
copy. 'If the material swelled the volume above two hundred pages, the
price was to be one dollar per copy.'" But the limited encouragement
offered, and the amount of work required to compile the volume, led the
young editor to abandon the project. Whittier was editor of this
_Gazette_ for six months,--from January 1 to July 10, 1830. On May 4,
1836, after he had returned from Philadelphia, he resumed the editorship
of the journal, retaining the position until December 17 of the same
year.

He left the _Gazette_ at the time of his first connection with it, to go
to Hartford for the purpose of editing the _New England Weekly Review_
of that city. His first acquaintance with this Connecticut periodical
had been made while attending the Academy at Haverhill. While there he
happened to see a copy of the _Review_, then edited by George D.
Prentice. He was pleased with its sprightly and breezy tone, and sent it
several articles. Great was his astonishment on finding that they were
accepted and published with editorial commendation. He sent numerous
other contributions during the same year.

One day in 1830, he was at work in the field, when a letter was brought
to him from the publishers of the Hartford paper, in which they said
that they had been asked by Mr. Prentice to request him to edit the
paper during the absence of Mr. Prentice in Kentucky, whither he had
gone to write a campaign life of Henry Clay. "I could not have been more
utterly astonished," said Mr. Whittier once, "if I had been told that I
was appointed prime minister to the great Khan of Tartary."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Whittier was at this time a member of the National Republican
party. He afterward belonged to the anti-slavery Liberty party, a
faction of the Abolitionists which had separated from the Garrison band.
In 1855 Mr. Whittier acted with the Free Democratic party. In the
conversation alluded to a moment ago, the poet laughingly remarked that
the proprietors of the paper had never seen him when he went to Hartford
in 1830 to take charge of their periodical. They were much surprised at
his youth. But at the first meeting he discreetly kept silence, letting
them do most of the talking. Here most assuredly, if never again, his
Quaker doctrine of silence stood him in good stead; since, if we may
believe him, he was most wofully deficient in a knowledge of the
intricacies of the political situation of the time.

Whittier was twenty-four years old when he published his first volume.
It is a thin little book entitled "Legends of New England" (Hartford:
Hanmer and Phelps, 1831), and is a medley of prose and verse. The style
is juvenile and extravagantly rhetorical, and the subject-matter is far
from being massive with thought. The libretto has been suppressed by
its author, and it would be ungracious as well as unjust to criticise it
at any length, or quote more than a single morsel of its verses, which
are inferior to the prose. But one may be pardoned for giving two or
three specimens of the prose stories, for they are intrinsically
interesting. In the preface we have a striking passage, which may be
commended to those who accuse Whittier of hatred of the Puritan fathers,
and undue partiality toward the Quakers. He says: "I have in many
instances alluded to the superstition and bigotry of our ancestors, the
rare and bold race who laid the foundation of this republic; but no one
can accuse me of having done injustice to their memories. A son of New
England, and proud of my birthplace, I would not willingly cast dishonor
upon its founders. My feelings in this respect have already been
expressed in language which I shall be pardoned, I trust, for
introducing in this place:--

    Oh!--never may a son of thine,
    Where'er his wandering steps incline,
    Forget the sky which bent above
    His childhood like a dream of love,
    The stream beneath the green hill flowing,
    The broad-armed tree above it growing,
    The clear breeze through the foliage blowing;
    Or hear unmoved the taunt of scorn,
    Breathed o'er the brave New England born;
    Or mark the stranger's jaguar hand
      Disturb the ashes of thy dead--
    The buried glory of a land
      Whose soil with noble blood is red,
      And sanctified in every part,
    Nor feel resentment, like a brand,
      Unsheathing from his fiery heart!"

The flow of language in these prose pieces is smooth and easy, and the
narratives are in the same vein and style as the "Twice Told Tales," or
Irving's stories, only they are very much weaker than these, and more
extravagant and melodramatic in tone. "The Midnight Attack" describes
the adventure of Captain Harmon and thirty Eastern rangers on the banks
of the Kennebec River in June, 1722. A party of sleeping Indians are
surprised by them and all shot dead by one volley of balls. An idea of
the style of the piece will be obtained from the following paragraphs.
The men are waiting for the signal of Harmon:--

     "'Fire!' he at length exclaimed, as the sight of his piece
     interposed full and distinct between his eye and the wild
     scalp-lock of the Indian. 'Fire, and rush on!'

     "The sharp voice of thirty rifles thrilled through the heart of the
     forest. There was a groan--a smothered cry--a wild and convulsive
     movement among the sleeping Indians; and all again was silent.

     "The rangers sprang forward with their clubbed muskets and hunting
     knives; but their work was done. The red men had gone to their
     audit before the Great Spirit; and no sound was heard among them
     save the gurgling of the hot blood from their lifeless bosoms."

It was one of the superstitions of the New England colonists that the
rattlesnake had the power of charming or fascinating human beings.
Whittier's story, "The Rattlesnake Hunter," is based upon this fact. An
old man with meagre and wasted form is represented as devoting his life
to the extermination of the reptiles among the hills and mountains of
Vermont, the inspiring motive of his action being the death of his
young and beautiful wife, many years previously, from the bite of a
rattlesnake.

"The Human Sacrifice" relates the escape of a young white girl from the
hands of the Matchit-Moodus, an Indian tribe formerly dwelling where
East Haddam now stands. The Indians are frightened from their purpose of
sacrificing the girl by a rumbling noise proceeding from a high hill
near by. In his note on the story Mr. Whittier says: "There is a story
prevalent in the neighborhood, that a man from England, a kind of
astrologer or necromancer, undertook to rid the place of the troublesome
noises. He told them that the sound proceeded from a carbuncle--a
precious gem, _growing in the bowels of the rock_. He hired an old
blacksmith shop, and worked for some time with closed doors, and at
night. All at once the necromancer departed, and the strange noises
ceased. It was supposed he had found the precious gem, and had fled with
it to his native land." This story of the carbuncle reminds us of
Hawthorne's story on the same subject.

The following remarks are prefixed to the poem, "The Unquiet Sleeper":
"Some fifty or sixty years since an inhabitant of ----, N. H., was found
dead at a little distance from his dwelling, which he left in the
morning in perfect health. There is a story prevalent among the people
of the neighborhood that, on the evening of the day on which he was
found dead, strange cries are annually heard to issue from his grave! I
have conversed with some who really supposed they had heard them in the
dead of the night, rising fearfully on the autumn wind. They represented
the sounds to be of a most appalling and unearthly nature."

"The Spectre Ship" is the versification of a legend related in Mather's
"Magnalia Christi." A ship sailed from Salem, having on board "a young
man of strange and wild appearance, and a girl still younger, and of
surpassing beauty. She was deadly pale, and trembled even while she
leaned on the arm of her companion." They were supposed by some to be
demons. The vessel was lost, and of course soon reappeared as a
spectre-ship.

Mr. Whittier's next work was the editing, in 1832, of the "Remains" of
his gifted friend, J. G. C. Brainard. Students of Whittier's poems know
that for many years the genius and writings of Brainard exercised a
potent influence on his mind. Brainard undoubtedly possessed genius. He
was at one time editor of the _Connecticut Mirror_. He died young, and
his work can be considered as hardly more than a promise of future
excellence. Whittier, in his Introduction to the "Remains," shows a nice
sense of justice, and a delicate reserve in his eulogistic estimate of
his dead brother-poet and friend. That he did not falsely attribute to
him a rare genius will be evident to those who read the following
portion of Brainard's spirited ballad of "The Black Fox":--

    "'How cold, how beautiful, how bright
      The cloudless heaven above us shines;
    But 'tis a howling winter's night,--
      'Twould freeze the very forest pines.

    'The winds are up while mortals sleep;
      The stars look forth while eyes are shut;
    The bolted snow lies drifted deep
      Around our poor and lonely hut.

    'With silent step and listening ear,
      With bow and arrow, dog and gun,
    We'll mark his track, for his prowl we hear,
      Now is our time--come on, come on.'

    O'er many a fence, through many a wood,
      Following the dog's bewildered scent,
    In anxious haste and earnest mood,
      The Indian and the white man went.

    The gun is cock'd, the bow is bent,
      The dog stands with uplifted paw;
    And ball and arrow swift are sent,
      Aim'd at the prowler's very jaw.

    --The ball, to kill that fox, is run
      Not in a mould by mortals made!
    The arrow which that fox should shun
      Was never shap'd from earthly reed!

    The Indian Druids of the wood
      Know where the fatal arrows grow--
    They spring not by the summer flood,
      They pierce not through the winter snow!"[12]

[Footnote 12: Mr. Whittier quotes this fine ballad in Vol. II. p. 243 of
his prose works, but with numerous changes of punctuation and phrase.
The differences between the poem as it there appears and as it is given
in his own edition of Brainard, published in 1832, seem to show that he
has amended the ballad and punctuated it to suit himself, or else has
quoted it from memory, or at third or fourth remove. It must be admitted
that the changes are all improvements, however they were made. The
ballad is quoted above, however, as it appears in Brainard's Poems.]

Whittier's Introduction to Brainard's poems reveals a mind matured by
much reading and thought. We hardly recognize in the author and editor
of Hartford the shy girlish boy we so recently left on the farm at
Haverhill. There has evidently been a good deal of midnight oil burned
since then.

The following sentiments respecting the resources and the proper field
of the American poet show that thus early had Whittier taken the manly
and patriotic resolution to find in his native land the chief sources of
poetic inspiration: "It has been often said that the New World is
deficient in the elements of poetry and romance; that its bards must of
necessity linger over the classic ruins of other lands; and draw their
sketches of character from foreign sources, and paint Nature under the
soft beauty of an Eastern sky. On the contrary, New England is full of
romance; and her writers would do well to follow the example of
Brainard. The great forest which our fathers penetrated, the red men,
their struggle and their disappearance, the powwow and the war-dance,
the savage inroad and the English sally, the tale of superstition and
the scenes of witchcraft,--all these are rich materials of poetry. We
have, indeed, no classic vale of Tempe, no haunted Parnassus, no temple
gray with years, and hallowed by the gorgeous pageantry of idol worship,
no towers and castles over whose moonlight ruins gathers the green pall
of the ivy; but we have mountains pillaring a sky as blue as that which
bends over classic Olympus, streams as bright and beautiful as those of
Greece and Italy, and forests richer and nobler than those which of old
were haunted by sylph and dryad."

It is easy to see here a foreshadowing of "Mogg Megone," "The Bridal of
Pennacook," the "Supernaturalism of New England," and a hundred poems
and ballads of Whittier's founded on native themes. The sentiments in
the quotation just made remind one of Emerson's "Nature," the preface of
Whitman to his first portentous quarto, "Leaves of Grass," and
Wordsworth's essay on the nature of the poetic art. But however laudable
was the Quaker poet's resolve to choose indigenous subjects, it cannot
be said that either he or Bryant attained to more than an indigeneity of
theme. In form and style they are imitative. Emerson and Whitman are
our only purely original poets.

Whittier was editor of the _New England Weekly Review_ for about
eighteen months, at the end of which time he returned to the farm at
Haverhill, and engaged in agricultural pursuits for the next five or six
years. In 1831 or 1832 he published "Moll Pitcher," a tale of the Witch
of Nahant. This youthful poem seems to have completely disappeared, and
Mr. Whittier will no doubt be devoutly thankful that the writer has been
unable to procure a copy.



CHAPTER V.

WHITTIER THE REFORMER.

    _"God said: 'Break thou these yokes; undo
      These heavy burdens. I ordain
    A work to last thy whole life through,
      A ministry of strife and pain._

    _'Forego thy dreams of lettered ease,
      Put thou the scholar's promise by,
    The rights of man are more than these.'
      He heard, and answered: 'Here am I!'"_

    WHITTIER, _Sumner_.


On New Year's day of 1831 William Lloyd Garrison issued the first number
of the _Liberator_ from his little attic room, No. 6 Merchants' Hall,
Boston. Its clear bugle-notes sounded the onset of reform and the
death-knell of slavery. It called for the buckling on of moral armor.
Its words were the touchstone of wills, the shibboleth of souls. Cowards
and time-servers quickly ranged themselves on one side, and heroes on
the other. Before young Whittier,--editor, _littérateur_, and poet,--a
career full of brilliant promise had opened up at Hartford. But through
the high chambers of his soul the voice of duty rang in solemn and
imperative tones. He heard and obeyed. The cost was counted, and his
resolution taken. Upon his brow he placed the lustrous fire-wreath of
the martyr, well assured of his power to endure unflinchingly to the end
its sharpest pains. It was the most momentous act of his life; it formed
the keystone in the arch of his destinies.

The first decided anti-slavery step taken by him was the publication of
his fiery philippic, "Justice and Expediency." About this time also he
began the writing of his stirring anti-slavery poems, many of them full
of pathos, fierce invective, cutting irony and satire,--stirring the
blood like a trumpet-call, giving impulse and enthusiasm to the despised
and half-despairing Abolitionists of that day, and becoming a part of
the very religion of thousands of households throughout the land.

It is almost impossible for those who were not participants in the
anti-slavery conflict, or who have not read histories and memoirs of
the struggle, to realize the deep opprobrium that attached to the word
"Abolitionist." To avow one's self such meant in many cases suspicion,
ostracism, hunger, blows, and sometimes death. It meant, in short,
self-renunciation and social martyrdom. All this Whittier gladly took
upon himself; and he knew that it was a long struggle upon which he was
entering. As he says in one of his poems, he was

                "Called from dream and song,
    Thank God! so early to a strife so long,
    That, ere it closed, the black, abundant hair
    Of boyhood rested silver-sown and spare
    On manhood's temples."

That the martyrdom was a severe one to all who took up the cross goes
without saying. Mr. Whittier remarked to the writer that it was at some
sacrifice of his ambition and plans for the future that he decided to
throw in his lot with the opponents of slavery. He knew that it meant
the annihilation of his hopes of literary preferment, and the exclusion
of his articles from the pages of magazines and newspapers. "For twenty
years," said he, "my name would have injured the circulation of any of
the literary or political journals of the country."

When Whittier joined the ranks of the despised faction, Garrison had
been imprisoned and fined in Baltimore for his arraignment of the slave
traffic; Benjamin Lundy had been driven from the same city by threats of
imprisonment and personal outrage; Prudence Crandall was waging her
battle with the Philistinism of Canterbury, Conn.; and the Legislature
of Georgia had offered a reward of five thousand dollars for "the
arrest, prosecution, and trial to conviction under the laws of the
State, of the editor or publisher of a certain paper called _The
Liberator_, published in the town of Boston, and State of
Massachusetts."

But it is not within the province of this biography to give an
exhaustive _résumé_ of the anti-slavery conflict, but only to speak of
such of its episodes as were especially participated in by Mr. Whittier.
How tailor John Woolman became a life-long itinerant preacher of his
mild Quaker gospel of freedom; how honest saddler Lundy left his leather
hammering, and walked his ten thousand miles, carrying his types and
column-rules with him, and printing his "Genius of Universal
Emancipation" as he went; in what way and to what extent the labors and
writings of Lucretia Mott, Samuel J. May, Lydia Maria Child, George
Thompson, James G. Birney, and Gerrit Smith helped on the noble
cause,--to all these things only allusion can be made. For a full
account of those perilous times one must go to the pages of Henry
Wilson's "History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power," and to the
fascinating "Recollections" of Samuel J. May. Let us now return to
Whittier and consider his own writings, labors, and adventures in the
service of the cause.

It was in the spring of 1833 that he published at his own expense
"Justice and Expediency; or, Slavery Considered with a view to its
Rightful and Effectual Remedy, Abolition." [Haverhill: C. P. Thayer and
Co.] It is a polemical paper, full of exclamation points and italicized
and capitalized sentences. The hyperbole speaks well for the author's
heart, but betrays his juvenility. He shrieks like a temperance lecturer
or a stump politician. The pamphlet, however, shows diligent and
systematic study of the entire literature of the subject. Every
statement is fortified by quotation or reference. He enumerates six
reasons why the African Colonization Society's schemes were unworthy of
good men's support, and buttresses up his theses by citations from the
official literature of his opponents. A thorough familiarity with
slavery in other lands and times is also manifested. As a specimen of
the style of the book the following will serve:--

     "But, it may be said that the miserable victims of the System have
     our sympathies.

     "Sympathy!--the sympathy of the Priest and the Levite, looking on,
     and acknowledging, but holding itself aloof from mortal suffering.
     Can such hollow sympathy reach the broken of heart, and does the
     blessing of those who are ready to perish answer it? Does it hold
     back the lash from the slave, or sweeten his bitter bread?

     "Oh, my heart is sick--my very soul is weary of this sympathy--this
     heartless mockery of feeling....

     "No--let the TRUTH on this subject--undisguised, naked, terrible as
     it is, stand out before us. Let us no longer seek to cover it--let
     us no longer strive to forget it--let us no more dare to palliate
     it."

In his sketch of Nathaniel P. Rogers, the anti-slavery editor, Whittier
remarks incidentally that the voice of Rogers was one of the few which
greeted him with words of encouragement and sympathy at the time of the
publication of his "Justice and Expediency."[13]

[Footnote 13: "He gave us a kind word of approval," says Whittier, "and
invited us to his mountain home, on the banks of the Pemigewasset, an
invitation which, two years afterwards, we accepted."]

       *       *       *       *       *

On the fourth day of December, 1833, the Philadelphia Convention for the
formation of the American Anti-slavery Society held its first sitting;
Beriah Green, President, Lewis Tappan and John G. Whittier, Secretaries.
This assembly, if not so famous as that which framed the Declaration of
Independence in the same city some two generations previously, was at
any rate as worthy of fame and respect as its illustrious predecessor.
A deep solemnity and high consecration filled the heart of every man and
woman in that little band. Heart answered unto heart in glowing
sympathy. They did their work like men inspired. Perfect unanimity
prevailed. They were too eagerly engaged to adjourn for dinner, and
"baskets of crackers and pitchers of cold water supplied all the bodily
refreshment." Among those who were present and spoke was Lucretia Mott,
"a beautiful and graceful woman," says Whittier, "in the prime of life,
with a face beneath her plain cap as finely intellectual as that of
Madame Roland." She "offered some wise and valuable suggestions, in a
clear sweet voice, the charm of which I have never forgotten."

       *       *       *       *       *

A committee, of which Whittier was a member, with William Lloyd Garrison
as chairman, was appointed to draw up a Declaration of Principles.
Garrison sat up all night, in the small attic of a colored man, to draft
this Declaration. The two other members of the committee, calling in the
gray dawn of a December day, found him putting the last touches to this
famous paper, while his lamp burned on unheeded into the daylight. His
draft was accepted almost without amendment by the Convention, and,
after it had been engrossed on parchment, was signed by the sixty-two
members present.[14]

[Footnote 14: Twenty-one of these persons were Quakers, as Mr. Whittier
and the writer proved by actual count of the names on Mr. Whittier's
fac-simile copy of the Declaration.]

[Illustration: JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER AT MIDDLE LIFE.]

In the _Atlantic Monthly_ for February, 1874, Mr. Whittier has given an
interesting account of the Convention. Some of his pictures are so
graphic that they shall here be given in his own words:--

     "In the gray twilight of a chill day of late November, forty years
     ago, a dear friend of mine residing in Boston, made his appearance
     at the old farm-house in East Haverhill. He had been deputed by the
     Abolitionists of the city, William L. Garrison, Samuel E. Sewall,
     and others, to inform me of my appointment as a delegate to the
     Convention about to be held in Philadelphia for the formation of an
     American Anti-slavery Society; and to urge upon me the necessity of
     my attendance.

     "Few words of persuasion, however, were needed. I was unused to
     travelling; my life had been spent on a secluded farm; and the
     journey, mostly by stage-coach, at that time was really a
     formidable one. Moreover the few abolitionists were everywhere
     spoken against, their persons threatened, and, in some instances, a
     price set on their heads by Southern legislators. Pennsylvania was
     on the borders of slavery, and it needed small effort of
     imagination to picture to oneself the breaking up of the Convention
     and maltreatment of its members. This latter consideration I do not
     think weighed much with me, although I was better prepared for
     serious danger than for anything like personal indignity. I had
     read Governor Trumbull's description of the tarring and feathering
     of his hero MacFingal, when after the application of the melted
     tar, the feather-bed was ripped open and shaken over him, until

     Not Maia's son with wings for ears,
     Such plumes about his visage wears,
     Nor Milton's six-winged angel gathers
     Such superfluity of feathers,

     and I confess I was quite unwilling to undergo a martyrdom which
     my best friends could scarcely refrain from laughing at. But a
     summons like that of Garrison's bugle-blast could scarcely be
     unheeded by one who, from birth and education, held fast the
     traditions of that earlier abolitionism which, under the lead of
     Benezet and Woolman, had effaced from the Society of Friends every
     vestige of slaveholding. I had thrown myself, with a young man's
     fervid enthusiasm, into a movement which commended itself to my
     reason and conscience, to my love of country, and my sense of duty
     to God and my fellow-men. My first venture in authorship was the
     publication, at my own expense, in the spring of 1833, of a
     pamphlet entitled 'Justice and Expediency,'[15] on the moral and
     political evils of slavery, and the duty of emancipation. Under
     such circumstances, I could not hesitate, but prepared at once for
     my journey. It was necessary that I should start on the morrow, and
     the intervening time, with a small allowance for sleep, was spent
     in providing for the care of the farm and homestead during my
     absence."

[Footnote 15: Mr. Whittier here made a slip of memory. His first
work was "Legends of New England," as he himself testifies, in
his own handwriting, in a memorandum sent to the New England
Historic-Genealogical Society.]

Mr. Whittier proceeds to tell of his journey to the Quaker City, and of
the organization and work of the Convention. The following pen-portraits
are too valuable to be omitted:--

     "Looking over the assembly, I noticed that it was mainly composed
     of comparatively young men, some in middle age, and a few beyond
     that period. They were nearly all plainly dressed, with a view to
     comfort rather than elegance. Many of the faces turned toward me
     wore a look of expectancy and suppressed enthusiasm; all had the
     earnestness which might be expected of men engaged in an enterprise
     beset with difficulty, and perhaps with peril. The fine
     intellectual head of Garrison, prematurely bald, was conspicuous;
     the sunny-faced young man at his side, in whom all the beatitudes
     seemed to find expression, was Samuel J. May, mingling in his veins
     the best blood of the Sewalls and Quincys; a man so exceptionally
     pure and large-hearted, so genial, tender, and loving, that he
     could be faithful to truth and duty without making an enemy.

     The de'il wad look into his face,
     And swear he could na wrang him.'

     That tall, gaunt, swarthy man, erect, eagle-faced, upon whose
     somewhat martial figure the Quaker coat seemed a little out of
     place, was Lindley Coates, known in all Eastern Pennsylvania as a
     stern enemy of slavery; that slight, eager man, intensely alive in
     every feature and gesture, was Thomas Shipley, who for thirty years
     had been the protector of the free colored people of Philadelphia,
     and whose name was whispered reverently in the slave cabins of
     Maryland as the friend of the black man,--one of a class peculiar
     to old Quakerism, who, in doing what they felt to be duty, and
     walking as the Light within guided them, knew no fear and shrank
     from no sacrifice. Braver men the world has not known. Beside him,
     differing in creed but united with him in works of love and
     charity, sat Thomas Whitson, of the Hicksite school of Friends,
     fresh from his farm in Lancaster County, dressed in plainest
     homespun, his tall form surmounted by a shock of unkempt hair, the
     odd obliquity of his vision contrasting strongly with the clearness
     and directness of his spiritual insight. Elizur Wright, the young
     professor of a Western college, who had lost his place by his bold
     advocacy of freedom, with a look of sharp concentration, in keeping
     with an intellect keen as a Damascus blade, closely watched the
     proceedings through his spectacles, opening his mouth only to speak
     directly to the purpose.... In front of me, awakening pleasant
     associations of the old homestead in Merrimack valley, sat my first
     school-teacher, Joshua Coffin, the learned and worthy antiquarian
     and historian of Newbury. A few spectators, mostly of the Hicksite
     division of Friends, were present in broad-brims and plain bonnets,
     among them Esther Moore and Lucretia Mott."

The year 1834 was passed by Whittier quietly on the farm at East
Haverhill. In April of this year the first anti-slavery society was
organized in Haverhill, with John G. Whittier as corresponding
secretary. Not long after a female anti-slavery society was organized in
the same town. The pro-slavery feeling in Haverhill was as bitter as in
other places.

One Sabbath afternoon in August, 1835, the Rev. Samuel J. May occupied
the pulpit of the First Parish Society in Haverhill, and in the evening
attempted to give an anti-slavery lecture in the Christian Union Chapel,
having been invited to do so by Mr. Whittier. In his "Recollections of
the Anti-Slavery Conflict" (p. 152), Mr. May says:--

    "I had spoken about fifteen minutes when the most hideous outcries
    and yells, from a crowd of men who had surrounded the house,
    startled us, and then came heavy missiles against the doors and
    blinds of the windows. I persisted in speaking for a few minutes,
    hoping the blinds and doors were strong enough to stand the siege.
    But presently a heavy stone broke through one of the blinds,
    shattered a pane of glass, and fell upon the head of a lady sitting
    near the centre of the hall. She uttered a shriek, and fell bleeding
    into the arms of her sister. The panic-stricken audience rose _en
    masse_, and began a rush for the doors."

Mr. May succeeded in quieting the fears of the audience, and himself
escaped through the crowd of infuriated ruffians without by walking
between two ladies, one of them the sister of Mr. Whittier and the other
the daughter of a wealthy and determined citizen of the place, who, it
was well known, would take summary vengeance for any disrespect shown to
his daughter. It was well that the audience dispersed when it did, since
a loaded cannon was being drawn to the spot by the furious mob.

This year, 1835, was a year of mobs. On the very same evening that Mr.
May was mobbed in Haverhill, Mr. Whittier and his English friend, the
orator George Thompson, were treated in a similar manner in Concord, N.
H. Whether an account of the Concord mob has been elsewhere published or
not the author cannot say, but the story given here is as he had it from
the lips of Mr. Whittier himself.

"Oh! we had a dreadful night of it," he said. The inhabitants had heard
that an Abolition meeting was to be held in the town, and that the arch
anarchist, George Thompson, was to speak. So on that Sabbath evening
they were on the alert, an angry mob some five hundred strong. Mr.
Whittier, knowing nothing of their state of mind, started down the
street with a friend: the mob surrounded them, thinking that he was
Thompson. His friend explained to them that he was Mr. Whittier. "Oh!"
they exclaimed, "so you are the one who is with Thompson, are you?" and
forthwith they began to assail the two men with sticks and stones. Mr.
Whittier said that both he and his friend were hurt, but escaped with
their lives by taking refuge in the house of a friend named Kent, who
was not an Abolitionist himself, but was a man of honor and bravery. He
barred his door, and told the mob that they should have Whittier only
over his dead body.

In the course of the evening Mr. Whittier learned that the house in
which Thompson was staying was surrounded by the mob. Becoming anxious,
he borrowed a hat, sallied out among the crowd, and succeeded in
reaching his friend. The noise and violence of the mob increased; a
cannon was brought, and at one time the little band in the house feared
they might suffer violence. "We did not much fear death," said Mr.
Whittier, "but we did dread gross personal indignities."

It was fortunately a bright moonlight night, suitable for travelling,
and about one o'clock the two friends escaped by driving off rapidly in
their horse and buggy. They did not know the road to Haverhill, but were
directed by their friends with all possible minuteness. Three miles
away, also, there was the house of an anti-slavery man, and they
obtained further directions there. Some time after sunrise they stopped
at a wayside inn to bait their horse, and get a bite of breakfast for
themselves. While they were at table the landlord said,--

    "They've been having a h--l of a time down at Haverhill."

    "How is that?"

    "Oh, one of them d--d Abolitionists was lecturin' there; he had been
    invited to the town by a young fellow named Whittier; but they made
    it pretty hot for him, and I guess neither he nor Whittier will be
    in a hurry to repeat the thing."

    "What kind of a fellow is this Whittier?"

    "Oh, he's an ignorant sort of fellow; he don't know much."

    "And who is this Thompson they're talking about?"

    "Why, he's a man sent over here by the British to make trouble in
    our government."

As the two friends were stepping into the buggy, Mr. Whittier, with one
foot on the step, turned and said to the host, who was standing by with
several tavern loafers:--

    "You've been talking about Thompson and Whittier. This is Mr.
    Thompson, and I am Whittier. Good morning."

"And jumping into the buggy," said the poet, with a twinkle in his eye,
"we whipped up, and stood not on the order of our going." As for the
host he stood with open mouth, being absolutely tongue-tied with
astonishment. "And for all I know," said the narrator, "he's standing
there still with his mouth open."

Mr. Thompson was secreted at the Whittier farm-house in Haverhill for
two weeks after this affair.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some two months after the disgraceful scenes just described occurred
the mobbing of William Lloyd Garrison in Boston. He had gone in the
evening to deliver a lecture before the Female Anti-Slavery Society. A
furious mob of "gentlemen of property and standing" surrounded the
building. Mr. Garrison took refuge in a carpenter's shop in the rear of
the hall, but was violently seized, let down from a window by a rope,
and dragged by the mob to the City Hall. Mr. Whittier was staying at the
house of Rev. Samuel J. May. His sister had gone to the lecture, and Mr.
Whittier, on hearing of the disturbance, had fears for her safety, and
went out to seek her. He said to the writer that when he reached the
City Hall he saw before him the best dressed mob imaginable. Presently
he heard a cry, "They've got him!" After a short, sharp scuffle Garrison
was got into a carriage by the police, and taken to the Leverett Street
jail, as the only place where he could be safe that night in Boston. Mr.
Whittier and Mr. May immediately went down to the jail to see him.
Garrison said that he could not say, with Paul, that he was dwelling in
his own hired house, and so he could not ask them to stay all night
with him! His coat was not entirely gone, but was pretty badly torn. He
was at first a good deal agitated by the affair, but when they left him
he had become calm and assured. On the same evening, the mob threatened
to make an attack upon Mr. May's house. Mr. Whittier got his sister
Elizabeth safely bestowed for the night in the dwelling of another
friend. He and Mr. May passed a sleepless night, and at one time half
thought that, for safety's sake, they should have stayed in the jail
with Garrison. However, they were not molested.

It is a remarkable testimony to the esteem in which Mr. Whittier must
have been held by the citizens of Haverhill that, notwithstanding their
bitter hatred of Abolitionism, they elected him their representative to
the State Legislature in 1835, and again in 1836. In 1837 he declined
re-election. In the legislative documents for 1835 he figures as a
member of the standing committee on engrossed bills. His name does not
appear in the State records for 1836: it was undoubtedly owing to his
secretarial duties, mentioned below, that he was unable to take his
seat as a member of the Legislature in the second year of his election.

In 1836 Whittier published "Mogg Megone," a poem on an episode in Indian
life. It will be reviewed, with the rest of his poems, in the second
part of this volume. In the same year he was appointed Secretary of the
American Anti-Slavery Society, and removed to Philadelphia. In 1838-39,
while in that city, he edited a paper which he named the _Pennsylvania
Freeman_. It had formerly been edited by Benjamin Lundy, under the title
of the _National Enquirer_. The office of the _Pennsylvania Freeman_ was
in 1838 sacked and burned by a mob. It was about the same time that
Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia was burned to the ground by the
citizens, on the very day after its dedication. Mr. Whittier had read an
original poem on that occasion. The hall had been built at considerable
sacrifice by the lovers of freedom, in order that one place at least
might be open for free discussion. And it was just in order that it
might not be used thus that it was burned by the guilty-thoughted mob.
The keys had been given to the mayor, but neither he nor the police
interfered to prevent the atrocious deed.

In 1837 Mr. Whittier edited, and wrote a preface for, the "Letters of
John Quincy Adams to his Constituents." These stirring letters of Mr.
Adams were called forth by the attacks that had been made on him by
members of Congress for defending the right of negroes to petition the
Government. Mr. Whittier, in his introductory remarks, speaks of the
"Letters" as follows:--

     "Their sarcasm is Junius-like, cold, keen, unsparing. In boldness,
     directness, and eloquent appeal, they will bear comparison with
     O'Connell's celebrated letters to the Reformers of Great
     Britain.... It will be seen that, in the great struggle for and
     against the Right of Petition, an account of which is given in the
     following pages, their author stood in a great measure alone, and
     unsupported by his northern colleagues. On 'his gray, discrowned
     head' the entire fury of slaveholding arrogance and wrath was
     expended. He stood alone,--beating back, with his aged and single
     arm, the tide which would have borne down and overwhelmed a less
     sturdy and determined spirit."

In the same year (1837) Mr. Whittier edited a pamphlet called "Views of
Slavery and Emancipation," taken from Harriet Martineau's "Society in
America." The whole subject of slavery is canvassed by Miss Martineau in
the most searching and judicial manner.

In closing this account of our author's anti-slavery labors, we may
bestow a word on the attitude assumed toward the Abolition movement by
the Quakers as a sect. Through the labors of John Woolman, Benjamin
Lundy, Anthony Benezet, and others, they had early been brought to see
the wickedness of slaveholding, and in 1780 had succeeded in entirely
ridding their denomination of the wrong. They not only emancipated their
slaves, but remunerated them for their past services. Indeed, their
record in this respect is unique for its fine ideal devotion to exact
justice. They were the first religious body in the world to remove the
pollution of slavery from their midst. But the cautious, acquisitive,
peace-loving Quakers seemed content to rest here, satisfied with having
cleared their own skirts of wrong. They could not see the good side of
the Abolition movement. They were scandalized by the violence and
fanaticism of many Abolitionists. Mr. Whittier felt aggrieved by this
attitude of the Friends, but did not on that account break with the
denomination, or abandon the religion of his fathers. In 1868 he wrote
as follows to the _New Bedford Standard_, which had spoken of him in an
article on Thomas A. Greene: "My object in referring to the article in
the paper was mainly to correct a statement regarding myself, viz.: That
in consequence of the opposition of the Society of Friends to the
anti-slavery movement, I did not for years attend their meetings. This
is not true. From my youth up, whenever my health permitted, I have been
a constant attendant of our meetings for religious worship. _This_ is
true, however, that after our meeting-houses were denied by the yearly
meeting for anti-slavery purposes, I did not feel it in my way, for some
years, to attend the annual meeting at Newport. From a feeling of duty I
protested against that decision when it was made, but was given to
understand pretty distinctly that there was no 'weight' in my words. It
was a hard day for reformers; some stifled their convictions; others,
not adding patience to their faith, allowed themselves to be worried out
of the Society. Abolitionists holding office were very generally
'dropped out,' and the ark of the church staggered on with no profane
anti-slavery hands upon it."



CHAPTER VI.

AMESBURY.


After the sacking and burning of the office of the _Pennsylvania
Freeman_, Whittier returned to Haverhill, and soon after (in 1840) he
sold the old farm and removed with his mother to Amesbury, a small town
some nine miles nearer the sea than Haverhill. It is a rural town of
over three thousand inhabitants, and contains nothing of note except the
poet Whittier. The business of the place is the manufacture of woollen
and cotton goods, and of carriages. The landscape is rugged and
picturesque. The town covers a sloping hillside that stretches down to
the Merrimack. Across this river rises a high hill, crowned with
orchards and meadows. In summer time a sweet and quiet air reigns in the
place. There are old vine-covered houses, grassy lawns, cool crofts, and
sunken orchards; bees are humming, birds singing, and here and there
through the trees slender columns of blue wood-smoke float upward in
airy evanescence. Mr. Whittier's residence is on Friend Street, and not
far beyond, on the same street, or rather in the delta formed by the
meeting of two streets, stands the Friends' Meeting-House, where the
poet has been an attendant nearly all his life:--

    "For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
      And holy day, and solemn psalm;
    For me, the silent reverence where
      My brethren gather, slow and calm."

This old meeting-house is alluded to by the poet in "Abram Morrison," a
fine humorous poem published in "The King's Missive" (1881). We there
read how--

          "On calm and fair First Days
    Rattled down our one-horse chaise
    Through the blossomed apple-boughs
    To the old, brown meeting-house."

Whittier's house is a plain, white-painted structure, standing at the
corner of two streets, and having in front of it numerous forest trees,
chiefly maple. Since 1876 the poet has passed only a part of each year
at Amesbury, his other home being Oak Knoll in Danvers, where he resides
with distant relatives.

[Illustration: THE WHITTIER HOUSE, AMESBURY, MASS.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The study at Amesbury of course possesses great interest for us as the
place where most of the poet's finest lyrics have been written. It is a
very cosey little study, and is entered by one door from within and
another from without. The upper half of the outer door is of glass. This
door is at the end of the left-hand porch shown in the view on page 125.
The two windows in the study look out upon a long strip of yard in the
rear of the house,--very pretty and quiet, and filled with pear-trees
and other trees and vines. Upon one side of the room are shelves holding
five or six hundred well-used volumes. Among them are to be noticed
Charles Reade's novels and the poems of Robert Browning. A side-shelf is
completely filled with a small blue and gold edition of the poets. On
the walls hang oil paintings of views on the Merrimack River and other
Essex County scenes, including Mr. Whittier's birthplace. In one corner
is a handsome writing-desk, littered with papers and letters. Upon the
hearth of the Franklin stove, high andirons smile a fireside welcome
from their burnished brass knobs. Indeed, everything in the room is as
neat and cosey as the wax cell of a honey-bee. And over all is shed the
genial glow of the gentlest, tenderest nature in all the land.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the autumn of 1844 was written "The Stranger in Lowell," a series of
light sketches suggested by personal experiences. The style of these
essays reminds one of that of "Twice Told Tales," but it is not so pure.
The thought is developed too rhetorically, and the essays betray the
limitations attending the life of a recluse. But these sketches are
interesting as exhibitions of the growth of the author toward this
peculiar form of essay-writing, and are valuable on that account.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1847 James G. Birney's anti-slavery paper, _The Philanthropist_,
published in Cincinnati, was merged with the _National Era_, of
Washington, D. C., with Dr. Gamaliel Bailey as managing editor, and
John G. Whittier as associate or corresponding editor. Dr. Bailey had
previously helped edit _The Philanthropist_. Both papers were treated to
mobocratic attacks. The _Era_ became an important organ of the Abolition
party in Washington. To it Mr. Whittier contributed his "Old Portraits
and Modern Sketches" as well as other reform papers.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the same year (1847) our author published his "Supernaturalism of New
England." [New York and London: Wiley and Putnam.] This pleasant little
volume shows a marked advance upon Whittier's previous prose work. In
its nine chapters he has preserved a number of oral legends and
interesting superstitions of the farmer-folk of the Merrimack region.
Parts of the work have been quoted elsewhere in this volume. One of the
chapters closes with the following fine passage:--

     "The witches of Father Baxter and 'the Black Man' of Cotton Mather
     have vanished; belief in them is no longer possible on the part of
     sane men. But this mysterious universe, through which, half veiled
     in its own shadow, our dim little planet is wheeling, with its
     star-worlds and thought-wearying spaces, remains. Nature's mighty
     miracle is still over and around us; and hence awe, wonder, and
     reverence remain to be the inheritance of humanity: still are there
     beautiful repentances and holy death-beds, and still over the
     soul's darkness and confusion rises star-like the great idea of
     duty. By higher and better influences than the poor spectres of
     superstition man must henceforth be taught to reverence the
     Invisible, and, in the consciousness of his own weakness and sin
     and sorrow, to lean with childlike trust on the wisdom and mercy of
     an overruling Providence."

In 1849 Mr. Whittier collected and published his anti-slavery poems,
under the title "Voices of Freedom." The year 1850 marks a new era in
his poetical career. He published at that time his "Songs of Labor,"--a
volume which showed that his mind had become calmed by time, and was now
capable of interesting itself in other than reform subjects.

There is not much of outward incident and circumstance to record of the
quiet poetical years passed since 1840 at Amesbury and Danvers. Almost
every year or two a new volume of poems has been issued, each one
establishing on a firmer foundation the Quaker Poet's reputation as a
creator of sweet and melodious lyrical poetry.

In 1868 an institution called "Whittier College" was opened at Salem,
Henry County, Iowa. It was founded in honor of the poet, and is
conducted in accordance with the principles of the Society of Friends.

In 1871 Whittier edited "Child-Life: A Collection of Poems," by various
home and foreign authors. In the same year he edited, with a long
introduction, the "Journal of John Woolman."

The name John Woolman is not widely known to persons of the present
generation; and yet, as Whittier says, it was this humble Quaker
reformer of New Jersey who did more than any one else to inspire all the
great modern movements for the emancipation of slaves, first in the West
Indies, then in the United States, and in Russia. Warner Mifflin, Jean
Pierre Brissot, Thomas Clarkson, Stephen Grellet, William Allen, and
Benjamin Lundy,--all these philanthropists owed much of their impulse to
labor for the freedom of the slave to humble John Woolman. His journal
or autobiography was highly praised by Charles Lamb, Edward Irving,
Crabb Robinson, and others. "The style is that of a man unlettered, but
with natural refinement and delicate sense of fitness, the purity of
whose heart enters into his language."

Woolman was born in Northampton, West Jersey, in 1720. One day, in the
year 1742, while clerk in a store in the village of Mount Holly,
township of Northampton, N. J., he was asked by his employer to make out
the bill of sale of a negro. He drew up the instrument, but his
conscience was awakened, and some years after he began his life-work as
a pedestrian anti-slavery preacher. He refused to ride in, or have
letters sent him by, the stage-coaches, because of the cruelty exercised
toward the horses by the drivers. Neither would he accept hospitality
from those who kept slaves, always paying either the owners or the
slaves for his entertainment. Woolman was most gentle and kind in his
appeals to slave-owners, and rarely met with any violent remonstrance.
Much of his work was within the limits of his own sect, and Mr.
Whittier's introduction gives a valuable and succinct historical
_résumé_ of the steps taken by the Friends to rid their sect of the
stigma of slaveholding.

Mount Holly, in Woolman's day, says Whittier, "was almost entirely a
settlement of Friends. A very few of the old houses with their quaint
stoops or porches are left. That occupied by John Woolman was a small,
plain, two-story structure, with two windows in each story in front, a
four-barred fence enclosing the grounds, with the trees he planted and
loved to cultivate. The house was not painted, but whitewashed. The name
of the place is derived from the highest hill in the county, rising two
hundred feet above the sea, and commanding a view of a rich and level
country of cleared farms and woodlands."

Very amusing is the picture given by Mr. Whittier of the eccentric
Benjamin Lay, once a member of the Society of Friends in England, and
afterward an inhabitant for some time of the West Indies, whence he was
driven away on account of the violence and extravagance of his
denunciations of slavery. He was a contemporary of Woolman. He lived in
a cave near Philadelphia, as a sort of Jonah or Elijah, prophesying woe
against the city on account of its participation in the crime of
slavery. He wore clothes made of vegetable fibre, and ate only vegetable
food. "Issuing from his cave, on his mission of preaching 'deliverance
to the captive,' he was in the habit of visiting the various meetings
for worship and bearing his testimony against slaveholders, greatly to
their disgust and indignation. On one occasion he entered the Market
Street Meeting, and a leading Friend requested some one to take him out.
A burly blacksmith volunteered to do it, leading him to the gate and
thrusting him out with such force that he fell into the gutter of the
street. There he lay until the meeting closed, telling the bystanders
that he did not feel free to rise himself. 'Let those who cast me here
raise me up. It is their business, not mine.'

"His personal appearance was in remarkable keeping with his eccentric
life. A figure only four and a half feet high, hunch-backed, with
projecting chest, legs small and uneven, arms longer than his legs; a
huge head, showing only beneath the enormous white hat large, solemn
eyes and a prominent nose; the rest of his face covered with a snowy
semicircle of beard falling low on his breast,--a figure to recall the
old legends of troll, brownie, and kobold. Such was the irrepressible
prophet who troubled the Israel of slaveholding Quakerism, clinging like
a rough chestnut-burr to the skirts of its respectability, and settling
like a pertinacious gad-fly on the sore places of its conscience.

"On one occasion, while the annual meeting was in session at Burlington,
N. J., in the midst of the solemn silence of the great assembly, the
unwelcome figure of Benjamin Lay, wrapped in his long white overcoat,
was seen passing up the aisle. Stopping midway, he exclaimed, 'You
slaveholders! Why don't you throw off your Quaker coats as I do mine,
and show yourselves as you are?' Casting off as he spoke his outer
garment, he disclosed to the astonished assembly a military coat
underneath, and a sword dangling at his heels. Holding in one hand a
large book, he drew his sword with the other. 'In the sight of God,' he
cried, 'you are as guilty as if you stabbed your slaves to the heart, as
I do this book!' suiting the action to the word, and piercing a small
bladder filled with the juice of poke-weed (_phytolacca decandra_),
which he had concealed between the covers, and sprinkling as with fresh
blood those who sat near him."

There is something overwhelmingly ludicrous about this bladder of
poke-weed juice! And what a subject for a painter!--the portentous,
white-bearded dwarf standing there in the midst of the church, in act to
plunge his gigantic sword tragically into the innermost bowels of the
crimson poke-juice bladder, and from all parts of the house the
converging looks of the broad-brimmed and shovel-bonneted Quakers!

Mr. Whittier further says that "Lay was well acquainted with Dr.
Franklin, who sometimes visited him. Among other schemes of reform he
entertained the idea of converting all mankind to Christianity. This was
to be done by three witnesses,--himself, Michael Lovell, and Abel Noble,
assisted by Dr. Franklin. But, on their first meeting at the doctor's
house, the three 'chosen vessels' got into a violent controversy on
points of doctrine, and separated in ill-humor. The philosopher, who had
been an amused listener, advised the three sages to give up the project
of converting the world until they had learned to tolerate each other."

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1873 Mr. Whittier edited "Child-Life in Prose." It is a collection of
pretty stories, chiefly about the childhood of various eminent persons.
One of the stories is by the editor, and is about "A Fish that I Didn't
Catch."

In 1875 appeared "Songs of Three Centuries." The poet's design in this
work was (to use his own words) "to gather up in a comparatively small
volume, easily accessible to all classes of readers, the wisest
thoughts, rarest fancies, and devoutest hymns of the metrical authors of
the last three centuries." He says, "The selections I have made
indicate, in a general way, my preferences." It is a choice collection,
rich in lyrical masterpieces.



CHAPTER VII.

LATER DAYS.


About a mile westward from the village of Danvers, Mass., a grassy road,
named Summer Street, branches off to the right and north. It is a
pleasant, winding road, bordered by picturesque old stone fences and
lined with barberry and raspberry bushes and gnarled old apple-trees. On
either side are cultivated fields. Oak Knoll, the winter residence of
Whittier, is the second house on the left, some half a mile up the road.

This fine old estate had been occupied for half a century by a man of
wealth and taste. About the year 1875 it passed into the hands of Col.
Edmund Johnson, of Boston, whose wife was Whittier's cousin.

It was planned that the poet should be a member of the household; rooms
were set apart and arranged for him, and he gave the estate its present
name.

It is a spot full of traditions, and well suited to any poet's
residence, most of all for one so versed in New England legends. It is
the very spot once occupied by the Rev. George Burroughs, a clergyman
who was hung for witchcraft in 1692, on the charge, among other things,
of "having performed feats of extraordinary physical strength." He could
hold out a gun seven feet long, tradition says, by putting his finger in
the muzzle, and could lift a barrel of molasses in the same way by the
bung-hole. For acts like these--deemed unclerical, at least, if not
unnatural--he was convicted and hanged; and a well on the premises of
Oak Knoll is still known as the "witch well."

Here, in the home of relatives, the poet has lived since 1876. A
lovelier and more poetical place it would be difficult to imagine. The
extensive, carefully kept grounds, and the antique elegance of the
house, give to the estate the air of an old English manor, or
gentleman's country hall. The house is approached by a long,
upward-sweeping lawn, diversified with stately forest trees, clumps of
evergreens and shrubs and flowers. Down across the road stands a large
and handsome barn, which is as neat as paint and care can make it. In
front of the house the eye ranges downward over an extensive landscape,
as far as to the town of Peabody, in the direction of Salem. Indeed, on
every side of the estate there are broad and distant views of the blue
hills of Essex and Middlesex.

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE PORCH AT OAK KNOLL, DANVERS, MASS.]

In the summer, as you ascend the carriage-road that winds through the
grounds, your eye is captured by the rare beauty of the scene. Yonder is
a tall living wall of verdure, with an archway cut through it. To the
left the grounds sweep gently down to a deep ravine, where a little
rivulet, named Beaver Brook, creeps leisurely out and winds seaward
through green and marish meadows. It is in this portion of the grounds
that the fine oak-trees grow which give to the place its name. Here,
too, is a large grove of pines, with numerous seats within it. There are
trees and trees at Oak Knoll,--smooth and shapely hickories, glistering
chestnuts with cool foliage, maples, birches, and the purple beech. Add
to the picture the rural accessories of bee-haunted clover-fields, apple
and pear orchards, and beds of tempting strawberries. The house is of
wood, salmon-colored, with tall porches on each side, up-propped by
stately Doric columns. In front, with wide sweep of closely cropped
grass intervening, is the magnificent Norway spruce that Oliver Wendell
Holmes, a year or two before Mr. Whittier's death, on one of those
periodical visits to his brother poet that so delighted their two souls,
named "The Poets' Pagoda." A luxuriant vine clusters about the eaves of
the house. On the long porch a mocking-bird and a canary-bird fill the
green silence with gushes of melody, and near at hand, in his study in
the wing of the building, sits one with a singing pen and listens to
their song. To their song and to the murmur of the tall pines by his
window he listens, then looks into his heart and writes,--this
sweet-souled magician,--and craftily imprisons between the covers of his
books, echoes of bird and tree music, bits of blue sky, glimpses of
green landscape, winding rivers, and idyls of the snow,--all suffused
and interfused with a glowing atmosphere of human and divine love, such
as the poet found in this home of his choosing at Oak Knoll. It will not
perhaps be intruding upon the privacies of home to say that the members
of the cultured household at Oak Knoll ever, found in their happy
circle, their highest pleasure in ministering to all needs, social or
otherwise, of their loved cousin the poet. Three sisters dispense the
hospitalities of the house, and a young daughter of Mrs. Woodman's adds
the charm of girlhood to the family life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Readers of Whittier, who know how deeply his writings are tinged with
the scenery, legendary lore and folk-life of his native Merrimack
Valley, will not wonder that a certain _Heimweh_, or home-sickness,
draws him northward, when

                        "Flows amain
    The surge of summer's beauty."

and

    "Pours the deluge of the heat
    Broad northward o'er the land."

It is but one hour's ride by cars from Danvers to Amesbury; and part of
the time in the latter place, and part of the time at the Isles of
Shoals, and in the beautiful lake and mountain region of New Hampshire,
Mr. Whittier passes the warm season. For many years it was his custom to
spend a portion of each summer at the Bearcamp River House, in West
Ossipee, N. H., some thirty miles north of Lake Winnipiseogee. The hotel
was situated on a slight eminence, commanding a view of towering "Mount
Israel" and of "Whittier Mountain," named after the poet. It is a region
full of noble prospects, being just in the out-skirts of the White
Mountain group. Several of the poems of Whittier were inspired by this
scenery, notably "Among the Hills," "Sunset on the Bearcamp," and "The
Seeking of the Waterfall." In the first of these we read how--

    "Through Sandwich notch the west-wind sang,"

and--

    "Above his broad lake Ossipee,
      Once more the sunshine wearing,
    Stooped, tracing on that silver shield
      His grim armorial bearing."

"Sunset on the Bearcamp" contains a stanza considered by some to be one
of the poet's finest:--

    "Touched by a light that hath no name,
      A glory never sung,
    Aloft on sky and mountain wall
      Are God's great pictures hung.
    How changed the summits vast and old!
      No longer granite-browed,
    They melt in rosy mist; the rock
      Is softer than the cloud;
    The valley holds its breath; no leaf
      Of all its elms is twirled:
    The silence of eternity
      Seems falling on the world."

The Bearcamp River House (now no more) was a hostelry whose site,
antique hospitality, and eminent guests were every whit as worthy to be
embalmed in lasting verse as were those of the Wayside Inn of Sudbury.
Before the red, crackling flames of its huge fireplace such literary
characters as Whittier, Gail Hamilton, Lucy Larcom, and Hiram Rich used
to gather on chill summer evenings for the kind of talks that only a
wood fire can inspire. The Quaker poet is a charming conversationalist,
and can _tell_ a story as capitally as he can write one. He has a
goodly _répertoire_ of ghost tales and legends of the marvellous. One of
his best stories is about a scene that took place in Independence Hall
in Philadelphia, when the court remanded a negro to slavery. The poet
says that an old sailor who was present became so infuriated by the
spectacle that he made the air blue with oaths uttered in seven
different languages.[16]

[Footnote 16: For these details about days on the Bearcamp, the writer
is indebted to Dr. Robert R. Andrews, an acquaintance of the poet.]

       *       *       *       *       *

December 17, 1877, was the poet's seventieth birthday, and the occasion
was celebrated in a twofold manner, namely, by a Whittier Tribute in the
_Literary World_, and by a Whittier Banquet given at the Hotel
Brunswick, in Boston, by Messrs. H. O. Houghton and Co., the publishers
of Whittier's works. The _Literary World_ tribute contained poems by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Bayard Taylor, E. C. Stedman, O. W. Holmes,
William Lloyd Garrison, and others. Mr. Longfellow's poem, "The Three
Silences," is one of unusual beauty.


              THE THREE SILENCES OF MOLINOS.

    "Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
      The second of desire, the third of thought;
      This is the lore a Spanish monk, distraught
      With dreams and visions, was the first to teach.
    These Silences, commingling each with each
      Made up the perfect Silence, that he sought
      And prayed for, and wherein at times he caught
      Mysterious sounds from realms beyond our reach.
    O thou, whose daily life anticipates
      The life to come, and in whose thought and word
      The spiritual world preponderates,
    Hermit of Amesbury! thou too hast heard
      Voices and melodies from beyond the gates,
      And speakest only when thy soul is stirred!"

There were letters from the poet Bryant, the historian George Bancroft,
Colonel T. W. Higginson, and Mrs. H. B. Stowe; and there was a pleasant
description of the Danvers home by Charles B. Rice. Mr. Whittier's
"Response" was published in the January number of the paper:--

    "Beside that milestone where the level sun,
      Nigh unto setting, sheds his last, low rays
    On word and work irrevocably done,
    Life's blending threads of good and ill outspun,
      I hear, O friends! your words of cheer and praise,
    Half doubtful if myself or otherwise.
      Like him who, in the old Arabian joke,
      A beggar slept and crowned Caliph woke."

The anniversary of the founding of the _Atlantic Monthly_ happening to
be synchronous with Whittier's birthday, the publishers determined to
make a double festival of the occasion. The gathering at the Hotel
Brunswick was a brilliant one, and the invitations were not limited by
any clique or any sectional lines.

In this same month the admirers of Mr. Whittier in Haverhill,
Newburyport, and neighboring towns, formed a Whittier Club, its annual
meetings to be held on December 17.

The ladies of Amesbury presented to the poet on his birthday a richly
finished Russia-leather portfolio, containing fourteen beautiful
sketches in water-colors of scenes in and about Amesbury, by a talented
Amesbury artist. The subjects of the sketches are those scenes which he
has immortalized in his poems, and include his home, birthplace, the old
school-house, old Quaker Meeting-House, Rivermouth Rocks, etc. The
portfolio was presented to him at Oak Knoll, accompanied by a basket of
exquisite flowers.

Since taking up his residence in Danvers, the poet has published "The
Vision of Echard, and Other Poems,"--including the beautiful ballad,
"The Witch of Wenham,"--and "The King's Missive, and Other Poems."



CHAPTER VIII.

PERSONAL.


As a boy, Whittier grew up slender, delicate, and shy, with dark hair
and dark eyes; his nature silent and brooding, gentle, compassionate,
religious, and sensitive to the beauty of the external world. He is of
the nervous temperament, and his health has never been robust. Indeed,
in later life the state of his health has often been precarious, and his
plans for work have been at the mercy of his nerves. As a young man, and
crowned Laureate of Freedom, Whittier must have presented a striking
appearance, with his raven hair, and glittering black eyes flashing with
the inspiration of a great cause. Mr. J. Miller McKim, a member with
Whittier of the famous Anti-Slavery Convention held in Philadelphia in
1833, thus describes the poet:--

     "He wore a dark frock-coat with standing collar, which, with his
     thin hair, dark and sometimes flashing eyes, and black
     whiskers,--not large, but noticeable in those unhirsute days,--gave
     him, to my then unpractised eye, quite as much of a military as a
     Quaker aspect. His broad, square forehead and well-cut features,
     aided by his incipient reputation as a poet, made him quite a
     noticeable feature in the convention."

Frederika Bremer, in her "Sketches of American Homes," gives an outline
portrait of Whittier as he appeared when forty years of age:--

    "He has a good exterior, a figure slender and tall, a beautiful head
    with refined features, black eyes full of fire, dark complexion, a
    fine smile, and lively but very nervous manner. Both soul and spirit
    have overstrained the nervous cords and wasted the body. He belongs
    to those natures who would advance with firmness and joy to
    martyrdom in a good cause, and yet who are never comfortable in
    society, and who look as if they would run out of the door every
    moment. He lives with his mother and sister in a country-house to
    which I have promised to go. I feel that I should enjoy myself with
    Whittier, and could make him feel at ease with me. I know from my
    own experience what this nervous bashfulness, caused by the
    over-exertion of the brain, requires, and how persons who suffer
    therefrom ought to be met and treated."

       *       *       *       *       *

George W. Bungay, in his "Crayon Sketches" of distinguished Americans,
published in 1852, gives the following picture of Whittier: "His
temperament is nervous-bilious; [he] is tall, slender and straight
as an Indian; has a superb head; his brow looks like a white cloud
under his raven hair; eyes large, black as sloes, and glowing with
expression,-- ... those star-like eyes dashing under such a magnificent
forehead."

       *       *       *       *       *

A writer in the _Democratic Review_ for August, 1845, speaks of "the
fine intellectual beauty of his expression, the blending brightness and
softness of the clear dark eye, the union of manly firmness and courage
with womanly sweetness and tenderness alike in countenance and
character."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. David A. Wasson says that Whittier is of the Saracenic or Hebrew
prophet type: "The high cranium, so lofty, especially in the dome,--the
slight and symmetrical backward slope of the _whole_ head,--the powerful
level brows, and beneath these the dark, deep eyes, so full of shadowed
fire,--the Arabian complexion,--the sharp-cut, intense lines of the
face,--the light, tall, erect stature,--the quick, axial poise of the
movement,"--all these traits reveal the fiery Semitic prophet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The long backward and upward slope of the head, alluded to by Mr.
Wasson, is very striking. It is the head of Walter Scott or of Emerson.
Whittier is now an old man, somewhat hard of hearing, and with the fixed
sadness of time upon his pleasant face. But ever and anon, as you
converse with him, his countenance is irradiated by a sudden smile,
sweet and strange and full of benignity,--like a waft of perfume from a
bed of white violets, or a glint of rich sunlight on an April day. His
is one of those Emersonian natures that everybody loves at first sight.
The very mole under the right eye seems somehow the birth-mark or
sign-manual of kindliness. The quaint grammatical solecisms of the
Quaker and the New England farmer--the "thee's" and the omission of the
_g_'s from present participles and other words ending in
"ing"--give to the poet's conversation a certain slight piquancy and
picturesqueness.[17] About half-past nine every morning, when at
Amesbury, Mr. Whittier walks down for the mail and the news, and perhaps
has a chat with some neighbor on the street, or with the country editor
who is setting up in type his own editorials while he grimly rolls his
quid of tobacco in his cheek. In the spring and early summer the poet's
dress will be after this fashion: black coat and vest, gray pantaloons,
cinnamon-colored overcoat, drab tile hat, and perhaps a small gray
tippet around his neck. As he walks, he salutes those whom he meets with
a little jerky bow. A forty years' residence in Amesbury has made him
acquainted with almost everybody, and he might, therefore, very properly
be somewhat economical of exertion in his salutations. But his abrupt
bow is really the expression of that unbending rectitude and noble pride
in individual freedom that made him the reformer and the poet of
liberty. As a single instance of Whittier's kind-heartedness, take the
following incident, narrated by an anonymous writer in the _Literary
World_ for December, 1877: "When I was a young man trying to get an
education, I went about the country peddling sewing-silk to help myself
through college; and one Saturday night found me at Amesbury, a stranger
and without a lodging-place. It happened that the first house at which I
called was Whittier's, and he himself came to the door. On hearing my
request he said he was very sorry that he could not keep me, but it was
quarterly meeting and his house was full. He, however, took the trouble
to show me to a neighbor's, where he left me; but that did not seem to
wholly suit his idea of hospitality, for in the course of the evening he
made his appearance, saying that it had occurred to him that he could
sleep on a lounge, and give up his own bed to me,--which it is, perhaps,
needless to say, was not allowed. But this was not all. The next morning
he came again, with the suggestion that I might perhaps like to attend
meeting, inviting me to go with him; and he gave me a seat next to
himself. The meeting lasted an hour, during which there was not a word
spoken by any one. We all sat in silence that length of time, then all
arose, shook hands and dispersed; and I remember it as one of the best
meetings I ever attended."

[Footnote 17: The writer remembers once speaking with a laborer whom Mr.
Whittier had employed. The good fellow could not conceal his admiration
for the poet, "Why," he said, "you wouldn't think it, would you, but he
talks just like common folks. We was talkin' about the apples one day,
and he said, 'Some years they ain't wuth pickin','--just like anybody,
you know; ain't stuck up at all, and yet he's a great man, you know. He
likes to talk with farmers and common folks; he don't go much with the
bigbugs;--one of the nicest men, and liberal with his money, too."]

       *       *       *       *       *

Dom Pedro II., Emperor of Brazil, is a reader of Mr. Whittier's poems,
and an ardent admirer of his genius. He has exchanged letters with him,
both in regard to poetry and to the emancipation of slaves.[18] When
his Majesty was in this country, in 1876, he expressed a wish to meet
Mr. Whittier, and on Wednesday evening, June 14, a little reception was
arranged by Mrs. John T. Sargent at her Chestnut Street home, a few
prominent persons having been invited to be present. "When the Emperor
arrived, the other guests had already assembled. Sending up his card,
his Majesty followed it with the quickness of an enthusiastic
school-boy; and his first question, after somewhat hastily paying his
greetings, was for Mr. Whittier. The poet stepped forward to meet his
imperial admirer, who would fain have caught him in his arms and
embraced him warmly, with all the enthusiasm of the Latin race. The
diffident Friend seemed somewhat abashed at so demonstrative a greeting,
but with a cordial grasp of the hand drew Dom Pedro to the sofa, where
the two chatted easily and with the familiarity of old friends.

[Footnote 18: The Emperor has translated Whittier's "Cry of a Lost Soul"
into Portuguese, and has sent to the poet several specimens of the
Amazonian bird whose peculiar note suggested the poem.]

"The rest of the company allowed them to enjoy their _tête-à-tête_ for
some half hour, when they ventured to interrupt it, and the Emperor
joined very heartily in a general conversation."

As the Emperor was driving away, he was seen standing erect in his open
barouche, and "waving his hat, with a seeming hurrah, at the house which
held his venerable friend."[19]

[Footnote 19: Mrs. Sargent's "Sketches and Reminiscences of the Radical
Club," pp. 301, 302.]

       *       *       *       *       *

As a specimen of Mr. Whittier's genial and winning epistolary style, it
is permissible to quote here a letter of his, addressed to Mrs. John T.
Sargent, and included by her in her sketches of the Radical Club:--

     "AMESBURY, Wednesday Eve.

     "MY DEAR MRS. SARGENT,--Few stronger inducements could be held out
     to me than that in thy invitation to meet Lucretia Mott and Mary
     Carpenter. But I do not see that I can possibly go to Boston this
     week. None the less do I thank thee, my dear friend, in thinking of
     me in connection with their visit.

     "My love to Lucretia Mott, and tell her I have never forgotten the
     kind welcome and generous sympathy she gave the young abolitionist
     at a time when he found small favor with his 'orthodox' brethren.
     What a change she and I have lived to see! I hope to meet Miss
     Carpenter before she leaves us. For this, and for all thy kindness
     in times past, believe me gratefully thy friend,

     "JOHN G. WHITTIER."

The modesty and shyness of the poet have already been more than once
alluded to. They form his most distinctive personal or constitutional
peculiarity. It is unnecessary to quote from his writings to illustrate
what is patent to everybody who reads his books, or knows anything about
him.

The poet's personal friends know well that he has a good deal of genial,
mellow humorousness in his nature. To get an idea of it, read his
charming prose sketches of home and rural life, and such poems as the
whimsical, enigmatical "Demon of the Study," as well as "The Pumpkin,"
"To My Old Schoolmaster," and the "Double-Headed Snake of Newbury."
These poems almost equal Holmes's for rich and _riant_ humor.

It is not so well known as it ought to be that the author of
"Snow-Bound" has as deep a love of children as had Longfellow. Before
the Bearcamp House was burned to the ground in 1880, Mr. Whittier used
sometimes to come up from Amesbury with a whole bevy of little misses
about him, and at the hotel the wee folk hailed him as one of those dear
old fellows whom they always love at sight. It is said that Edward
Lear--the friend of Tennyson, and author of "Nonsense Verses" for
children--used to make a hobby-horse of himself in the castles of
Europe, and treat his little friends to a gallop over the carpet on his
back. If Mr. Whittier never got quite so far as this in juvenile
equestrianism, he has at least equally endeared himself to the children
who have had the good fortune to look into his loving eyes and enjoy the
sunshine of his smile. When sitting by the fireside, or stretched at
ease on the fragrant hay in the barn or field, or walking among the
hills, nothing pleases him better than to have an audience of young
folks eagerly listening to one of his stories. If they are engaged in a
game of archery, he will take a hand in the sport, and no one is better
pleased than he to hit the white. His unfailing kindness in answering
the many letters addressed to him by young literary aspirants, or by
others who desire his advice and help, is something admirable: no one
knows how to win hearts better than he.

       *       *       *       *       *

To these notes of personal traits it only remains to add a list of the
offices of dignity and honor which have been held by Mr. Whittier.
Besides his various editorial, secretarial, and legislative positions,
he served as Overseer of Harvard College from 1858 to 1863. He was a
member of the Electoral College in 1860 and in 1864. The degree of
Master of Arts was bestowed upon him by Harvard College in 1860, and the
same degree by Haverford College in the same year. He was elected a
resident member of the American Philosophical Society in 1864, but never
accepted the honor, notwithstanding the fact that his name appeared for
two or three years on the Society's roll. In 1871 he was made a Fellow
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



PART II.

ANALYSIS OF HIS GENIUS AND WRITINGS.



CHAPTER I.

THE MAN.

    _"Not by the page word-painted
    Let life be banned or sainted:
    Deeper than written scroll
    The colors of the soul."_

    MY TRIUMPH.


To analyze and describe the _poetry_ of Whittier is a comparatively easy
task, for it is all essentially lyrical or descriptive, and is
resolvable into a few simple elements. His poetry is not profound; but
it is sweet and melodious,--now flashing with the fire of freedom and
choked with passionate indignation, and now purling and rippling through
the tranquil meadows of legend and song. Such a poem as Emerson's
"Sphinx," groaning with its weight of mystical meaning, Whittier never
wrote, nor could write. Neither is he dramatic, nor skilled in the
subtile harmonies of rhythm and metre. As an artist he is easily
comprehensible. But to fathom the _man_,--to drop one's plummet into
the infinite depths of the human mind, to peer about with one's little
candle among the dusty phantoms and spent forces of the past, and
through the endlessly crossing and interblending meshes trace
confidently up all the greater and the finer hereditary influences that
have moulded a human character,--and then discover and weigh the
post-natal forces that have acted upon that character through a long and
varied life,--this is a very difficult task, and demands in him who
would undertake it a union of historic imagination with caution and
modesty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The moral in Whittier predominates over the æsthetic, the reformer over
the artist. "I am a man, and I feel that I am above all else a man."
What is the great central element in our poet's character, if it is not
that deep, never-smouldering moral fervor, that unquenchable love of
freedom, that--

    "Hate of tyranny intense,
    And hearty in its vehemence,"

which, mixed with the beauty and melody of his soul, gives to his pages
a delicate glow as of gold-hot iron; which crowns him the Laureate of
Freedom in his day, and imparts to his utterances the manly ring of the
prose of Milton and Hugo and the poetry of Byron, Swinburne, and
Whitman,--all poets of freedom like himself?

[Illustration: Handwriting: John G. Whittier]

And what is love of freedom but the mainspring of Democracy? And what is
Democracy but the rallying-cry of the age, the one word of the present,
the one word of the future, the word of all words, and the white,
electric beacon-light of modern life?

At the apex of modern Democracy stands Jesus of Nazareth; at its base
stand the poets and heroes of freedom of the past hundred years.
Christian Democracy has had its revolutions, its religious ferments and
revolts, and its emancipations of slaves. Quakerism is one of its
outcomes. Democracy produced George Fox; George Fox produced Quakerism;
Quakerism produced Whittier; Whittier helped destroy slavery. He could
not help doing so, for with slavery both Democracy and Quakerism are
incompatible. Whittier fought slavery as a Quaker, he has lived as a
Quaker, and written as a Quaker; he has never fully emancipated himself
from the shackles of the sect. To understand him, therefore, we must
understand his religion.

       *       *       *       *       *

The principles of the sect are all summed up in the phrases _Freedom_
and the _Inner Light_. Historically considered, Quakerism is a product
of the ferment that followed the civil war in England two centuries ago.
Considered abstractly, or as a congeries of principles, it has a
sociological and a philosophical root, both of these running back into
the great tap-root, love of freedom, whose iron-tough, writhen fibres
enwrap the dark foundation rocks of human nature itself.

Sociologically speaking, Quakerism is pure democracy, an exaltation of
the majesty of the individual and of the mass of the people. It is the
pure precipitate of Christianity. It is a protest against the hypocrisy,
formalism, tyranny, of priestcraft, king-craft, and aristocracy.

Philosophically, its theory of the Inner Light is identical with the
doctrine of idealism or innate ideas, held by Descartes, Fichte,
Schelling, Cousin. It means individualism, a return to the primal
sanities of the soul. "I think, therefore I am." My thinking soul is the
ultimate source of ideas and truth. In that serene holy of holies
full-grown ideas leap into being,--subjective, _a priori_, needing no
sense-perception for their genesis.

But Transcendentalism differed from Quakerism in this: the former held
that the illumination of the mind was a natural process; but Quakerism
maintains that it is a supernatural process, the work of the "Holy
Ghost." And herein Quakerism is inferior to Transcendentalism. But it is
superior to it in that it does not believe in the infallibility of
individual intuitions, but considers the true criterion of truth to be
the universal reason, the "consensus of the competent." Yet the great
danger that pertains to all moonshiny, or subjective, systems of
philosophy is that their individualism will spindle out into wild
extravagances of theory, and foolish eccentricities of manner and dress;
and we shall find that, practically, Quakerism has as Quixotic a record
as Transcendentalism. To say that both systems have performed noble and
indispensable service in the development of mind is but to utter a
truism.

       *       *       *       *       *

We may now consider a little more closely the peculiarities of doctrine
and life which characterize the Friends. The doctrine of the Inner
Light, or pure spirituality, resulted in such tenets as these: the
freedom of conscience; the soul the fountain of all truth, worthlessness
of tradition and unsanctified learning; the conscience or voice within
the judge of the Bible or Written Word; disbelief in witchcraft, ghosts,
and other superstitions; love of friends and enemies, the potency of
moral suasion, moral ideas, and as a consequence the wickedness of war,
and a belief in human progress as the result of peaceable industry;
universal enfranchisement, every man and woman may be enlightened by the
Inner Light,--hence equality of privilege, no distinction between clergy
or laity or between sex and sex,--the right of woman to develop her
entire nature as she sees fit. In the principles which define the
attitude of the Quaker toward social conventions, we find a queer jumble
of the doctrines of primitive Christianity with the ideas of individual
independence innate in the Germanic mind, and especially in the popular
mind.[20] The Christian gospel of love forbids the Quakers to
countenance war, capital punishment, imprisonment for debt, slavery,
suppressment of the right of free speech and the right of petition.
Their doctrine of equality in virtue of spiritual illumination forbids
them to remove their hats in presence of any human being, even a king;
leads them to avoid the use of the plural "you," as savoring of
man-worship, and to refuse to employ a hired priesthood. Their doctrine
of pure spirituality is inconsistent with sacerdotal rites and
mummeries, such as baptism, the eucharist, forms of common prayer, etc.
Music, poetry, painting, and dancing also have a worldly savor and tend
to distract the mind from its spiritual life. So do rich and gaudy
robes: we must therefore have simplicity of dress. Hear William Penn on
this subject:[21]--

    "I say, if sin brought the first coat, poor Adam's offspring have
    little reason to be proud or curious in their clothes.... It is all
    one as if a man who had lost his nose by a scandalous distemper,
    should take pains to set out a false one, in such shape and splendor
    as should give the greater occasion for all to gaze upon him; as if
    he would tell them he had lost his nose, for fear they would think
    he had not. But would a wise man be in love with a false nose,
    though ever so rich, and however finely made?"

[Footnote 20: The same sterling material that went to the making of the
Quaker went also to the making of the Puritan farmer-and-artisan victors
of Naseby, and Worcester, and Marston Moor. The same faults
characterized each class. In stiff-backed independence and scorn of the
gilt-edged poetry of conventional manners, and in the absurd extreme to
which they carried that independence and scorn, the Quaker and the
Puritan were alike. Only the Quaker out-puritaned the Puritan,--was much
more consistent in his fanatical purism, scrawny asceticism, and
contempt for distinguished manners and the noble imaginative arts.]

[Footnote 21: In his work "No Cross, No Crown."]

       *       *       *       *       *

A natural corollary of the Friends' doctrine of inward supernatural
illumination is their habit of silent worship, or silent waiting.[22]
It is probable that this feature of their religious gatherings has done
much to cultivate that peculiar tranquillity of demeanor which
distinguishes them.[23] They meet the burdens, bereavements, and
disappointments of life with a placid equanimity in strong antithesis to
the often passionate grief and rebellion of other classes of religious
people. Finally, we may add to the list of their characteristics their
great moral sincerity. "With calm resoluteness they tell you your faults
face to face, and without exciting your ill-will."

[Footnote 22: Their ideas on this subject are very well stated in the
following words taken from a Quaker pamphlet by Mary Brook: "Solomon
saith, 'The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the
tongue, are from the Lord.' If the Lord alone can prepare the heart,
stir it up, or incline it towards unfeigned holiness, how can any man
approach him acceptably, till his heart be prepared by him?--and how can
he know this preparation except he wait in silence to feel it?"]

[Footnote 23: See Appendix I.]

The objections to the Quakerism of our day are that it is retractile,
stationary, negative; it is selfish, narrow, ascetic, tame; it has no
iron in its blood; it rarely adds anything to the world's thought. The
Quakers are a hopelessly antiquated sect, a dying branch almost wholly
severed from connection with the living forces of the tree of modern
society. There are, it is true, a goodly number of liberal Quakers, who,
in discarding the peculiar costume of the time of Charles II., which
many of them even yet wear, have also thrown off the intellectual
mummy-robes of the sect. Many adopt the tenets of Unitarianism, or make
that religious body the stepping-stone to complete emancipation from an
obsolete system of thought. But the mass of them are immovable. They
have been characterized substantially in the following words by Mr. A.
M. Powell, himself a Quaker by birth, and an unwilling witness to the
faults of a system of doctrines in which he sees much to admire:--

    "In its merely sectarian aspect, Quakerism is as uninteresting,
    narrow, timid, selfish, and conservative as is mere sectarianism
    under any other name. The Quakers have little comprehension of the
    meaning of Quakerism beyond a blind observance of the peculiarities
    of dress and speech and the formality of the Meeting. They cling to
    the now meaningless protests of the past. They are inaccessible to
    new conceptions of truth. They have dishonored the important
    fundamental principle [of the Inner Light] and tarnished the
    Society's good name by subordinating it to narrow views of religion,
    to commercial selfishness, and to the prevalent palsying
    conservatism of the outside world."[24]

[Footnote 24: Mrs. John T. Sargent's "Sketches and Reminiscences of the
Radical Club."]

       *       *       *       *       *

In all that is said in these pages by way of criticism of the Quakers,
reference is had solely to their doctrines as a system of thought. Of
their sweet and beautiful _lives_ it is hardly necessary to speak at
length. Volumes might be filled with instances of their large-hearted
benevolence and personal self-sacrifice in care for others. The
loveliness of their lives is like a beautiful perfume in the society in
which they move. As you see the Quaker women of Philadelphia, with their
pure, tranquil faces, and plain, immaculate dress, moving about among
the greedy and vile-mannered non-Quaker _canaille_ of that democratic
city, they seem like Christian and Faithful amid the crowds of Vanity
Fair. Their faces are like a benediction, and you thank heaven for them.
The liberal Friends in America have many great and noble names on their
roll of honor. And surely a sect that has produced such characters as
Lucretia Mott, John Bright, and John G. Whittier, must win our
intellectual respect. But it is only because these persons, like Milton,
were in most respects above their sect that we admire them. There are
proofs manifold, however, throughout the prose and poetry of Whittier
that he has nominally remained within the pale of Quakerism all his
days. Doubtless such a course was essential to the very existence in him
of poetic inspiration. His genius is wholly lyrical. A song or lyric is
the outgushing of pure emotion. Especially in the case of the religious
and ethical lyrist is faith life, and doubt death. Doubt, in Whittier's
case, would have meant the cessation of his songs. To break away
entirely from the faith of his fathers would have chilled his
inspiration. He has not, it is true, escaped the conflict with doubt. As
we shall see, no man has had a severer struggle to reconcile his faith
with the terror and mystery of life. But, although his religious views
have been liberalized by science, yet he has never ceased to retain a
hearty sympathy with, and belief in, the Quaker principles of the Inner
Light, silent waiting, etc.

That he has remained within the pale of Quakerism has been an injury to
him as well as a help. It makes him obtrude his sectarianism too
frequently, especially in his prose writings. By the very nature of the
creed, he must either be blind to its faults, or constantly put on the
defensive against the least assault, from whatever quarter it may come.
When he dons the garb of the sectary, he naturally becomes weakened, and
loses his chief charm. We see then that he is a man hampered by a creed
which forbids a catholic sympathy with human nature. He is shut up in
the narrow field of sectarian morals and religion. He cannot, for
example, enter, by historical imagination, into poetical sympathy with
the gorgeous ritual and dreamy beauty of a European cathedral service.
And yet so pure, gentle, and sweet is his nature that it is hard to
censure him for this peculiarity. It is regret rather than censure that
we feel, regret that he has been so bound by circumstances that
prevented his breaking wholly away from hampering limitations, and to be
always, what he so often is, the strong and sweet-voiced spokesman of
the heart of humanity.

Let us hear his gentle confessions of faith. In the autobiographical
poem, "My Namesake," we read:--

    "He worshipped as his fathers did,
      And kept the faith of childish days,
    And, howsoe'er he strayed or slid,
      He loved the good old ways.

    The simple tastes, the kindly traits,
      The tranquil air, and gentle speech,
    The silence of the soul that waits
      For more than man to teach."

In "The Meeting" he has given us an "Apologia pro Vita Sua,"--a defence
of his religious habits. He says he is accustomed to meet with the
Friends twice a week in the little "Meeting" at Amesbury, chiefly for
two reasons: first, because in the silent, unadorned house, with
"pine-laid floor," his religious communings are not distracted by
outward things as they would be if he worshipped always amid the
solitudes of nature; and, secondly, he finds in "The Meeting" a
heart-solace in the memories of dear ones passed away, who once sat by
his side there. He says, in reference to the Quaker service:--

    "I ask no organ's soulless breath
    To drone the themes of life and death,
    No altar candle-lit by day,
    No ornate wordsman's rhetoric-play,
    No cool philosophy to teach
    Its bland audacities of speech,

           *       *       *       *       *

    No pulpit hammered by the fist
    Of loud-asserting dogmatist."

In "Memories" he says:--

    "Thine the Genevan's sternest creed,
    While answers to my spirit's need
      The Derby dalesman's simple truth.
    For thee, the priestly rite and prayer,
      And holy day and solemn psalm;
    For me, the silent reverence where
      My brethren gather slow and calm."

There are two epochs in the religious or philosophical development of
Whittier. The first--that of simple piety unclouded by doubt, the epoch
of unhesitating acceptance of the popular mythology--seems to have
lasted until about 1850, or the period of early Darwinism and
Spencerianism,--the most momentous epoch in the religious history of
the world. This pivotal point is very well marked by the publication, in
1853, of "The Chapel of the Hermits" and "Questions of Life." It is now
that harrowing doubt begins, and restless striving to retain the faith
amid new conditions and a vastly widened mental horizon.
Transcendentalism, too, had just passed the noon meridian of its
splendor. Emerson had written many of his exquisite philosophical poems,
and Parker had blown his clear bugle-call to a higher religious life. It
is evident that Whittier was--as, indeed, he could not help
being--profoundly moved by the new spirit of the times.

With Transcendentalism he must have had large sympathy, owing to the
similarity of its principles to those of Quakerism. And that he was
profoundly agitated by the revelations of science his poetry shows. In
"My Soul and I" (a poem remarkable for its searching subjective
analysis), and in the poem "Follen," he had given expression to
religious doubt, over which, as always in his case, faith was
triumphant. But it is in "The Chapel of the Hermits" and succeeding
poems that he first gave free and full utterance to the doubt and
struggle of soul that was not his alone, but which was felt by all
around him. In respect of doubt "My Soul and I" and "Questions of Life"
resemble "Faust," as well as Tennyson's "Two Voices" and the "In
Memoriam."

    "Life's mystery wrapped him like a cloud;
      He heard far voices mock his own,
    The sweep of wings unseen, the loud,
      Long roll of waves unknown.

    The arrows of his straining sight
      Fell quenched in darkness; priest and sage
    Like lost guides calling left and right,
      Perplexed his doubtful age.

    Like childhood, listening for the sound
      Of its dropped pebbles in the well,
    All vainly down the dark profound
      His brief-lined plummet fell."

    _My Namesake_

The "Questions of Life" are such as these:--

    "I am: but little more I know!
    Whence came I? Whither do I go?
    A centred self, which feels and is;
    A cry between the silences."

    *       *       *       *       *

    "This conscious life,--is it the same
    Which thrills the universal frame?"

    *       *       *       *       *

    "Do bird and blossom feel, like me,
    Life's many-folded mystery,--
    The wonder which it is _To Be_?
    Or stand I severed and distinct,
    From Nature's chain of life unlinked?"

Such questions as these he confesses himself unable to answer. He
shrinks back terrified from the task. He will not dare to trifle with
their bitter logic. He will take refuge in faith; he will trust the
Unseen; let us cease foolish questioning, and live wisely and well our
present lives. He comes out of the struggle purified and chastened,
still holding by his faith in God and virtue. A good deal of the old
Quakerism is gone,--the belief in hell, in the Messianic and atonement
machinery, in local and special avatars, etc. Again and again, in his
later poems, he asserts the humanity of Christ and the co-equal divinity
of all men: see "Miriam," for example. His opinion about hell he
embodies in the sweet little poem, "The Minister's Daughter," published
in "The King's Missive." In short, his religion is a simple and
trustful theism. But there is no evidence that he has ever incorporated
into his mind the principles of the development-science,--the evolution
of man, the correlation of forces, the development of the universe
through its own inner divine potency; or, in fine, any of the
unteleological, unanthropomorphic explanations of things which are
necessitated by science, and admitted by advanced thinkers, both in and
out of the Churches.

As witnesses to his trustful attitude, we may select such a cluster of
stanzas as this:--

    "Yet, sometimes glimpses on my sight,
    Through present wrong, the eternal right;
    And, step by step, since time began,
    I see the steady gain of man;

    That all of good the past hath had
    Remains to make our own time glad,--
    Our common daily life divine,
    And every land a Palestine.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Through the harsh noises of our day
    A low, sweet prelude finds its way;
    Through clouds of doubt, and creeds of fear,
    A light is breaking calm and clear."

    _Chapel of the Hermits_


    "Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
      And tossed by storm and flood,
    To one fixed stake my spirit clings;
      I know that God is good!

           *       *       *       *       *

    "I know not where His islands lift
      Their fronded palms in air;
    I only know I cannot drift
      Beyond His love and care."

    _The Eternal Goodness._


    "When on my day of life the night is falling,
      And in the winds from unsunned spaces blown,
    I hear far voices out of darkness calling
      My feet to paths unknown,

    Thou who hast made my home of life so pleasant,
      Leave not its tenant when its walls decay;
    O love divine, O Helper ever present,
      Be Thou my strength and stay!"

    _At Last._


    "Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
      Forgive our foolish ways!
    Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
    In purer lives thy service find,
      In deeper reverence, praise."

    _The Brewing of Soma._

But Whittier is as remarkable for his faith in man as for his faith in
God. He is in the highest degree patriotic, American. He loves America
because it is the land of freedom. It has been charged against him that
he is no true American poet, but a Quaker poet. The American, it is
said, is eager, aggressive, high-spirited, combative; the Quaker,
subdued and phlegmatic. The American is loud and boastful and daring and
reckless; the Quaker, cautious, timid, secretive, and frugal. This is
undoubtedly true of the classes as types, but it is far from being true
of Whittier personally. He has blood militant in him. He comes of
Puritan as well as Quaker stock. The Greenleafs and the Batchelders were
not Quakers. The reader will perhaps remember the Lieutenant Greenleaf,
already mentioned, who fought through the entire Civil War in
England.[25] But his writings alone furnish ample proof of his martial
spirit. The man and the Quaker struggle within him for the mastery; and
the man is, on the whole, triumphant. Whenever his Quakerism permits, he
stands out a normal man and a genuine American. As Lowell says:--

    "There is Whittier, whose swelling and vehement heart
    Strains the strait-breasted drab of the Quaker apart,
    And reveals the live Man still supreme and erect
    Underneath the bemummying wrappers of sect."

[Footnote 25: Hear Whittier himself on the subject:--

"Without intending any disparagement of my peaceable ancestry for many
generations, I have still strong suspicions that somewhat of the old
Norman blood, something of the grim Berserker spirit, has been
bequeathed to me. How else can I account for the intense childish
eagerness with which I listened to the stories of old campaigners who
sometimes fought their battles over again in my hearing? Why did I, in
my young fancy, go up with Jonathan, the son of Saul, to smite the
garrisoned Philistines of Michmash, or with the fierce son of Nun
against the cities of Canaan? Why was Mr. Greatheart, in Pilgrim's
Progress, my favorite character? What gave such fascination to the grand
Homeric encounter between Christian and Apollyon in the valley? Why did
I follow Ossian over Morven's battle-fields, exulting in the
vulture-screams of the blind scald over his fallen enemies? Still,
later, why did the newspapers furnish me with subjects for hero-worship
in the half-demented Sir Gregor McGregor, and Ypsilanti at the head of
his knavish Greeks? I can account for it only on the supposition that
the mischief was inherited,--an heirloom from the old sea-kings of the
ninth century."--_Prose Works, II._, 390, 391.]

If anybody will take the trouble to glance over the complete works of
Whittier, he or she will find that one of the predominant
characteristics of his writings is their indigenous quality, their
national spirit. Indeed, this is almost too notorious to need mention.
He, if any one, merits the proud title of "A Representative American
Poet." His whole soul is on fire with love of country. As in the case
of Whitman, his country is his bride, and upon it he has showered all
the affectional wealth of his nature. The Quaker may be too obtrusive in
his prose writings, but it is not so in the greater and better portion
of his poetry. When the rush and glow of genuine poetical inspiration
seize him, he invariably rises in spirit far above the weltering and
eddying dust-clouds of faction and sect into the serene atmosphere of
genuine patriotism. Read his "Last Walk in Autumn," where he says:--

    "Home of my heart! to me more fair
      Than gay Versailles or Windsor's halls,
    The painted, shingly town-house where
      The freeman's vote for Freedom falls!"

Read his "Eve of Election":--

            "Not lightly fall
            Beyond recall
    The written scrolls a breath can float;
            The crowning fact,
            The kingliest act
    Of Freedom is the freeman's vote!"

Or take "After Election," a poem that cannot be read without a thrill of
the nerves and a leaping of the heart. You have concentrated in that
wild lyric burst the purest essence of democratic patriotism,--the
trembling anxiety and yearning of a mother-heart. It is a poem
celebrating a victory of peace with all the fiery energy of a war-ode (a
significant fact that the advocates of gory war, as a source of poetic
inspiration, would do well to ponder):--

    "The day's sharp strife is ended now,
    Our work is done, God knoweth how!
    As on the thronged, unrestful town
    The patience of the moon looks down,
    I wait to hear, beside the wire,
    The voices of its tongues of fire.

    Slow, doubtful, faint, they seem at first:
    Be strong, my heart, to know the worst!
    Hark!--there the Alleghanies spoke;
    That sound from lake and prairie broke,
    That sunset gun of triumph rent
    The silence of a continent!

    That signal from Nebraska sprung,
    This, from Nevada's mountain tongue!
    Is that thy answer, strong and free,
    O loyal heart of Tennessee?
    What strange, glad voice is that which calls
    From Wagner's grave and Sumter's walls?

    From Mississippi's fountain-head
    A sound as of the bison's tread!
    There rustled freedom's Charter Oak!
    In that wild burst the Ozarks spoke!
    Cheer answers cheer from rise to set
    Of sun. We have a country yet!"

To sum up now our analysis of the poet's character. We have seen that
the central trait of his mind is love of freedom. (Even his religion,
which is so profound an element in his nature, and so all-pervasive in
his writings, will be found, on a deep analysis, to be a yearning for
freedom from the trappings of sense and time, in order to attain to a
spiritual union with the Infinite.) This love of freedom, this hatred of
oppression, intensified by persecution, both ancestral and personal,
stimulated by contact with Puritan democracy, as well as by the New
England Transcendental movement, and flowering out luxuriantly in the
long struggle against slavery,--this noble sentiment, and that long
self-sacrificing personal warfare in behalf of the oppressed, form the
true glory of Whittier's character. Shy, timid, almost an invalid,
having a nervous horror of mobs and personal indignities, he yet forgot
himself in his love of Man, overcame and underwent,--suffered social
martyrdom for a quarter of a century, never flinching, never holding
his peace for bread's sake or fame's sake, not stopping to count the
cost, taking his life in his hand, and never ceasing to express his
high-born soul in burning invective and scathing satire against the
oppressor, or in words of lofty hope and cheer for the suffering
idealist and lover of humanity, whoever and wherever he was. Whittier is
a hero as well as a poet. He will be known to posterity by a few
exquisite poems, but chiefly by his moral heroism and patriotism. As a
thinker and a poet he belongs, with Bryant and Longfellow, to the
pre-scientific age. The poetry of the future (of the new era of
self-consciousness) will necessarily differ widely from that of the
first half of this century. It will not be distinctively the poetry of
Wordsworth, or Cowper, or Byron, or Longfellow, or Whittier. When the
present materialistic and realistic temper of mind disappears from
literature, and really noble ideal poetry returns, it will be vast in
its scope and range, robust in its philosophy, unfettered by petty
rhymes and classicisms, but powerfully rhythmic and harmonious. The
writings of Shakspere, Goethe, Jean Paul, Hugo, Tennyson, Whitman, and
Emerson are the magnificent proem to it. It will be built upon a
scientific and religious cosmism. It will not discuss Apollo and Luna
and Neptune, and the nymphs and muses, but will draw its imagery from
the heaven-staining red-flames of the sun, the gulfs of space, the
miracles of organic and inorganic life, and human society. It will draw
its inspiration not more from the storied past than from the storied
future foreseen by its prophetic eye. It will idealize human life and
deify nature. It will fall in the era of imagination. (After it will
come another age of criticism.) It will fall in the age of splendid
democracies. And in that age men will look back with veneration, not so
much, perhaps, to the scholar-poets as to the hero-poets, like Whittier,
who put faith in the rights of man and woman, who did believe in divine
democracy, and were not ashamed of it, but nursed it patiently through
its puling infancy, well assured of its undying grandeur when it should
come to man's estate.

We subjoin fittingly to this chapter a characteristic letter of Mr.
Whittier's, in which he speaks lovingly of Robert Burns, that other
poet of freedom and independence of thought for all men.

At the Burns festival in Washington, 1869, the following letter from
John G. Whittier was read:

     "AMESBURY, 1st month, 18th day, 1869.

     "DEAR FRIEND,--I thank the club represented by thee for remembering
     me on the occasion of its annual festival. Though I have never been
     able to trace my ancestry to the Land o' Cakes, I have--and I know
     it is saying a great deal--a Scotchman's love for the poet whose
     fame deepens and broadens with years. The world has never known a
     truer singer. We may criticise his rustic verse and compare his
     brief and simple lyrics with the works of men of longer scrolls and
     loftier lyres; but after rendering to Wordsworth, Tennyson and
     Browning the homage which the intellect owes to genius, we turn to
     Burns, if not with awe and reverence, [yet] with a feeling of
     personal interest and affection. We admire others; we love him. As
     the day of his birth comes round, I take down his well-worn volume
     in grateful commemoration, and feel that I am communing with one
     whom living I could have loved as much for his true manhood and
     native nobility of soul as for those wonderful songs of his which
     shall sing themselves forever.

     "They know little of Burns who regard him as an aimless
     versifier--'the idle singer of an idle lay.' Pharisees in the
     Church, and oppressors in the State, knew better than this. They
     felt those immortal sarcasms which did not die with the utterer,
     but lived on to work out the divine commission of Providence. In
     the shout of enfranchised millions, as they lift the untitled
     Quaker of Rochdale into the British Cabinet, I seem to hear the
     voice of the Ayrshire poet:--

     "'For a' that and a' that,
     It's comin' yet for a' that;
     That man to man the world o'er
     Shall brothers be for a' that.'

     "With hearty sympathy and kind greetings for the Burns Club of
     Washington,

     "I am, very truly, thy friend,
     "JOHN G. WHITTIER."



CHAPTER II.

THE ARTIST.


The title of this chapter is almost a misnomer; for the style, or
technique, of the poet whose works we are considering is so very simple
and unoriginal that he can hardly be said to have a distinctive style of
his own,--unless a few persistent mannerisms establish a claim to it.
His diction, however, is always pictorial, and glows with an intense
Oriental fervor. Fused in this interior vital heat, his thoughts do not
sink, like powerful Jinn, into the deep silence-sphere of the mind, to
fetch thence sparkling treasures, rich and strange: rather, they run to
and fro with lightning swiftness amid the million surface-pictures of
the intellect; rearranging, recombining, and creatively blending its
images, and finally pouring them out along the page to charm our fancy
and feeling with old thoughts and scenes painted in fresh colors and
from new points of view. There is more of fancy than of creative
imagination in Whittier.

       *       *       *       *       *

The artistic quality, or tone, of his mind is a fusion of that of
Wordsworth and that of Byron. In his best ballads and other lyrics you
have the moral sincerity of Wordsworth and the sweet Wordsworthian
simplicity (with a difference); and in his reform poems you have the
Byronic indignation, and scorn of Philistinism and its tyrannies. As a
religious poet, he reveals the quiet piety and devoutness of Cowper; and
his rural and folk poems show that he is a debtor to Burns.

       *       *       *       *       *

He has been a diligent reader,--"a close-browed miser of the scholar's
gains,"--and his writings are full of bookish allusions. But, if the
truth must be told, his doctor's gown does not often sit gracefully upon
his shoulders. His readers soon learn to know that his strength lies in
his moral nature, and in his power to tell a story melodiously, simply,
and sweetly. Hence it is, doubtless, that they care little for his
literary allusions,--think, perhaps, that they are rather awkwardly
dragged in by the ears, and at any rate hasten by them impatiently that
they may inhale anew the violet-freshness of the poet's own soul. What
has just been said about bookish allusions does not apply to the
beautiful historical ballads produced by Whittier in the mellow maturity
of his powers. These fresh improvisations are as perfect works of art as
the finest Greek marbles. In them Whittier at length succeeds in freeing
himself completely from the shackles of didacticism. Such ballads as
"The Witch's Daughter" and "Telling the Bees" are as absolutely
faultless productions as Wordsworth's "We are Seven" and his "Lucy
Gray," or as Uhland's "Des Sänger's Fluch," or William Blake's "Mary."
There is in them the confident and unconscious ease that marks the work
of the highest genius. A shower of lucid water-drops falls in no truer
obedience to the law of perfect sphericity than flowed from the pen of
the poet these delicate creations in obedience to the law of perfect
spontaneity. Almost all of Whittier's lyrics have evidently been rapidly
written, poured forth in the first glow of feeling, and not carefully
amended and polished as were Longfellow's works. And herein he is at
fault, as was Byron. But the delicate health of Whittier, and his
toilsome early days, form an excuse for his deficiency in this respect.
His later creations, the product of his leisure years, are full of pure
and flawless music. They have no harmony or rhythmic volume of sound, as
in Tennyson, Swinburne, Milton, and Shakspere; but they set themselves
to simple melodious airs spontaneously. As you read them, your feet
begin to tap time,--only the music is that of a good rural choir rather
than that of an orchestra.

       *       *       *       *       *

The thought of each poem is generally conveyed to the reader's
understanding with the utmost lucidity. There is no mysticism, no
obscurity. The story or thought unfolds itself naturally, and without
fatigue to our minds. A great many poems are indeed spun out at too
great length; but the central idea to be conveyed is rarely lost sight
of.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the list of his virtues as an artist, it remains to add his frequent
surprising strength. This is naturally most marked in the anti-slavery
poems. When he wrote these, he was in the flush of manhood, his soul at
a white heat of moral indignation. He is occasionally nerved to almost
super-human effort: it is the battle-axe of Richard thundering at the
gates of Front de Boeuf. For nervous energy, there is nothing in the
Hebrew prophets finer than such passages as these:--

    "Strike home, strong-hearted man!
              Down to the root
    Of old oppression sink the Saxon steel."

    _To Ronge._


    "Maddened by Earth's wrong and evil,
      'Lord!' I cried in sudden ire,
    'From thy right hand, clothed with thunder,
      Shake the bolted fire!'"

    _What the Voice Said._


    "Hands off! thou tithe-fat plunderer! play
      No trick of priestcraft here!
    Back, puny lordling! darest thou lay
      A hand on Elliott's bier?
    Alive, your rank and pomp, as dust,
      Beneath his feet he trod:
    He knew the locust-swarm that cursed
      The harvest-fields of God.

    "On these pale lips, the smothered thought
      Which England's millions feel,
    A fierce and fearful splendor caught,
      As from his forge the steel.
    Strong-armed as Thor,--a shower of fire
      His smitten anvil flung;
    God's curse, Earth's wrong, dumb Hunger's ire,--
      He gave them all a tongue!"

    _Elliott._


    "And Law, an unloosed maniac, strong,
      Blood-drunken, through the blackness trod,
      Hoarse-shouting in the ear of God
    The blasphemy of wrong."

    _The Rendition._


    "All grim and soiled, and brown with tan,
      I saw a Strong One, in his wrath,
    Smiting the godless shrines of man
      Along his path."

    _The Reformer._


     As Whittier has grown older, and the battles of his life have
     become (as he expressed it to the writer) like "a remembered
     dream," his genius has grown mellow and full of graciousness. His
     art culminated in "Home Ballads," "Snow-Bound," and "The Tent on
     the Beach." He has kept longer than most poets the lyric glow; only
     in his later poems it is "emotion remembered in tranquillity."

     If asked to name the finest poems of Whittier, would not the
     following instinctively recur to the mind: "Snow-Bound," "Maud
     Muller," "Barbara Frietchie," "The Witch's Daughter," "Telling the
     Bees," "Skipper Ireson's Ride," "King Volmer and Elsie," and "The
     Tent on the Beach"?

     To these one would like to add several exquisite hymns and short
     secular lyrics. But the poems mentioned would probably be regarded
     by most critics as Whittier's finest works of art. They merit this
     distinction certainly; and they furnish remarkable instances for
     those who desire to study the poet's greater versatility in the
     ballad line, as they are all good representatives of his
     wonderfully long range.

            *       *       *       *       *

     The foregoing remark must be our cue for beginning to pass in
     review the artistic deficiencies of Whittier. He has three crazes
     that have nearly ruined the mass of his poetry. They are the reform
     craze, the religious craze, and the rhyme craze. Of course, as a
     man, he could not have a superfluity of the first of these; but, as
     a poet, they have been a great injury to him. We need not deny that
     he has taken the manlier course in subordinating the artist to the
     reformer and preacher; but in estimating his poetic merits we ought
     to regard his work from an absolute point of view. Let us not be
     misunderstood. It is gladly and freely conceded that the theory
     that great poetry is not necessarily moral, and that the aim of
     poetry is only to please the senses, is a petty and shallow one,
     and that the true function of the great poet is also to bear
     witness to the ideal and noble, to the moral and religious. Let us
     heartily agree with Principal Shairp when he says that the true end
     of the poet "is to awaken men to the divine side of things; to bear
     witness to the beauty that clothes the outer world, the nobility
     that lies hid, often obscured, in human souls; to call forth
     sympathy for neglected truths, for noble but oppressed persons, for
     downtrodden causes, and to make men feel that through all outward
     beauty and all pure inward affection God himself is addressing
     them." We may admit all this, and yet find fault with the
     moralizations and homilies of Whittier. The poetry of Dante and
     Milton is full of ethical passion, and occasionally a little sermon
     is wedged in; yet they do not treat us to endless broadsides of
     preaching, as Whittier does in his earlier poems, and in some of
     his later ones. But there is this distinction: the moral in Dante
     and Milton and Shakspere and Emerson is so garnitured with beauty
     that while our souls are ennobled our imaginations are gratified.
     But in many of Whittier's poems we have the bare skeleton of the
     moral, without the rounded contour and delicate tints of the living
     body of beauty. His reform poems have been called stump-speeches in
     verse. His anti-slavery poems are, with a few exceptions, devoid of
     beauty. They should have been written in the manner he himself
     commends in a review of Longfellow's "Evangeline": he should have
     depicted the truth strongly and attractively, and left to the
     reader the censure and the indignation. Mr. Whittier seems to know
     his peculiar limitations as well as his critics. He speaks of
     himself as one--

                       "Whose rhyme
      Beat often Labor's hurried time,
    Or Duty's rugged march through storm and strife,"

     and he has once or twice expressed himself in prose in a way that
     seems to show that he recognizes the artistic mistake in the
     construction of his earlier poems. The omission of the moral
     _envoi_ from so many of his maturer creations strengthens one in
     this surmise. In 1867 Whittier published the following letter in
     the New York _Nation_:

     "TO THE EDITOR OF THE NATION:

     "I am very well aware that merely personal explanations are not
     likely to be as interesting to the public as to the parties
     concerned; but I am induced to notice what is either a
     misconception on thy part, or, as is most probable, a failure on my
     own to make myself clearly understood. In the review of 'The Tent
     on the Beach' in thy paper of last week, I confess I was not a
     little surprised to find myself represented as regretting my
     life-long and active participation in the great conflict which has
     ended in the emancipation of the slave, and that I had not devoted
     myself to merely literary pursuits. In the half-playful lines upon
     which this statement is founded, if I did not feel at liberty to
     boast of my anti-slavery labors and magnify my editorial
     profession, I certainly did not mean to underrate them, or express
     the shadow of a regret that they had occupied so large a share of
     my time and thought. The simple fact is that I cannot be
     sufficiently thankful to the Divine Providence that so early called
     my attention to the great interests of humanity, saving me from the
     poor ambitions and miserable jealousies of a selfish pursuit of
     literary reputation. Up to a comparatively recent period my
     writings have been simply episodical, something apart from the real
     object and aim of my life; and whatever of favor they have found
     with the public has come to me as a grateful surprise rather than
     as an expected reward. As I have never staked all upon the chances
     of authorship, I have been spared the pain of disappointment and
     the temptation to envy those who, as men of letters, deservedly
     occupy a higher place in the popular estimation than I have ever
     aspired to.

     "Truly thy friend,
     "John G. Whittier.
     "AMESBURY, 9th, 3d mo., 1867."

One is reminded by this letter that Wordsworth once said to Dr. Orville
Dewey, of Boston, that, "although he was known to the world only as a
poet, he had given twelve hours' thought to the condition and prospects
of society for one to poetry." In a letter read at the third decade
meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia, Mr.
Whittier said: "I am not insensible to literary reputation; I love,
perhaps too well, the praise and good-will of my fellow-men; but I set a
higher value on my name as appended to the Anti-Slavery Declaration of
1833 than on the title-page of any book."

In his earlier years our poet was wholly ignorant of the fact that an
artist should love beauty for its own sake. The simple-hearted Quaker
and Puritan farmer-youth thought it almost a sin to spend his time in
the cultivation of the beautiful. In his dedication of the
"Supernaturalism of New England" to his sister, he says:--

    "And knowing how my life hath been
    A weary work of tongue and pen,
    A long, harsh strife with strong-willed men,
        Thou wilt not chide my turning,
    To con, at times, an idle rhyme,
    To pluck a flower from childhood's clime,
    Or listen, at Life's noon-day chime,
        For the sweet bells of Morning!"

"Poor fellow!" we say at first. And yet there is something refreshing
and noble in such a spirit. It is with difficulty that the Germanic mind
can bring itself to the study of the beautiful as something of co-equal
worth with the moral. Let us leave that, says the Teuton, to the nation
whose word for love of art is "virtue." How Whittier would have abhorred
in his youth and early manhood the following sentiment by one of the
Latin race:--

    "The arts require idle, delicate minds, not stoics, especially not
    Puritans, easily shocked by dissonance, inclined to sensuous
    pleasure, employing their long periods of leisure, their free
    reveries, in harmoniously arranging, and with no other object but
    enjoyment, forms, colors, and sounds." (Taine's _English
    Literature_, II. 332.)

Or the following from the same work:--

    "The Puritan destroys the artist, stiffens the man, fetters the
    writer, and leaves of artist, man, writer, only a sort of abstract
    being, the slave of a watchword. If a Milton springs up among them,
    it is because, by his wide curiosity, his travels, his comprehensive
    education, and by his independence of spirit, loftily adhered to
    even against the sectarians, Milton passes beyond sectarianism." (I.
    397, 398.)

Here is another passage from Whittier on this same subject. It is almost
a pity to give it, since the author has apparently repudiated the
sentiment by omitting the lines from his complete works. In the
introduction to "Supernaturalism of New England" he says:--

    "If in some few instances, like Burns in view of his national
    thistle, I have--

      'Turned my weeding-hook aside,
       And spared the symbol dear,'

    I have been influenced by the comparatively innocent nature and
    simple poetic beauty of the traditions in question; yet not even for
    the sake of poetry and romance would I confirm in any mind a
    pernicious credulity, or seek to absolve myself from that stern duty
    which the true man owes to his generation, to expose error whenever
    and wherever he finds it."

One more instance. In one of his sketches he is describing an old custom
called "Pope Night," which has been kept up in the Merrimack Valley in
unbroken sequence from the time of the Guy Fawkes plot. The plot is
commemorated by bonfires and effigies of the Pope and others, and
Whittier quotes these lines of a song which is sung on the occasion:--

    "Look here! from Rome
    The Pope has come,
      That fiery serpent dire;
    Here's the Pope that we have got,
    The old promoter of the plot;
    We'll stick a pitchfork in his back,
      And throw him in the fire."

Mr. Whittier was so broad-minded in regard to all matters pertaining to
true growth, and withal so conscientious a student of the best
versification, that is, the most natural, that we soon find him
striving, at least, to free himself from all these minor faults.

Consequently his mannerisms more and more drop away. He is a born
preacher. And presently we see in him a decided advance toward the
delineation of what is simply true and beautiful, without the
appreciable pause by the way, "to point a moral and adorn a tale." For a
preacher is not a poet; and true poetic fire must be dimmed at once,
and the divine afflatus be a lack-lustre thing, when appeals by pious
exhortation are brought in to fill out rhyme and metre. Many of
Whittier's purely religious poems are the most exquisite and beautiful
ever written. The tender feeling, the warm-hearted trustfulness, and the
reverent touch of his hymns speak directly to our hearts. The
prayer-hymn at the close of "The Brewing of Soma" ("Dear Lord and Father
of mankind," etc.), and such poems as "At Last" and "The Wish of
To-day," are unsurpassed in sacred song. Some one has said that in
Whittier's books we rarely meet with ideas expressed in such perfection
and idiosyncrasy of manner that ever afterward the same ideas must recur
to our minds in the words of this author and no other; that is to say,
there are few dicta, few portable and universally-quoted passages in his
writings. But exception must be made in favor of his best hymns. Their
stanzas haunt the mind with their beauty, and you are obliged to learn
them by heart before you can have peace. These purely religious
productions show Whittier's work at high-water mark, and as long as the
English language is spoken, they will be employed by those who require a
vehicle for thought, by which the true worship may be served. There is
only one poet in the world whose works will not suffer by reading his
entire poetical productions in consecutive perusal, and that is
Shakspere. Poetry should be read solely for the refreshment and
elevation of the mind, and only when one's mood requires it.
Unquestionably, if so read, all mannerisms that Mr. Whittier might have
been accused of at an early stage in his authorship would not appear so
conspicuous.

One of the mannerisms of our poet is his inclination toward the
four-foot line with consecutive or alternate rhymes. Almost all of
Burns's poetry is written as just described; and it is evident Mr.
Whittier's ear was naturally inclined to it, from his early love for
Burns, his patron saint, as it were, in those then untrodden fields. An
ear educated by Tennyson, and the other Victorian poets, might be unable
to grasp even the beauty of thought unless conveyed by their especial
methods. One is pleased when rhymes are so masked, so subtly
intertwined, and parted by intervening lines, that each shall seem like
a delicate echo of that which preceded it,--the assonance just
remembered, and no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

A minor mannerism of Whittier is his frequent use of the present
participle in ing, with the verb _to be_; "is flowing," "is shining,"
etc. The jingle of the _ing_ evidently caught the poet's rhyme-loving
ear, and sometimes it really has a very pretty effect. Certain it is he
has used it with great skill, and given his readers insight into another
of his versatile gifts.

As to the originality of our poet there is this to be said: He has a
distinctively national spirit or vision; he is democratic in his
feelings, and treats of indigenous subjects. His vehicle, his poetic
forms and handling, he has treated as minor subjects for thought. He is
democratic, not so powerfully and broadly as Whitman, but more
unaffectedly and sincerely. He has not the magnificent prophetic vision,
or Vorstellungskraft, of Whitman, any more than he has the crushing
mastodon-steps of Whitman's ponderous rhythm. But he has thrown himself
with trembling ardor and patriotism, into the life of his country. It is
this fresh, New-World spirit that entitles him to be called original: he
is non-European. He has not travelled much, nor mingled in the seething
currents of Western and Southern life; but his strong sympathy has gone
forth over the entire land. He also reflects faithfully the quiet scenes
of his own Merrimack Valley. From his descriptions of these scenes we
receive the impression of freshness and originality; and we recognize a
master hand that can so portray them as to make us see the same places,
though only on the printed page.

       *       *       *       *       *

One regrets using a critical pen at all in discussing such a writer. It
would be ungracious to call to a severe account one who places the most
modest estimate upon his own work, and who has distinctly stated that,
up to "about the year 1865, his writings were simply episodical,
something apart from the real object and aim of [his] life." It is hard
to criticise severely one who is unjust to himself through excess of
diffident humility. In the exquisite Proem to his complete poems he
would fain persuade us that he cannot breathe such notes as those of--

                    "The old melodious lays
    Which softly melt the ages through,
            The songs of Spenser's golden days,
            Arcadian Sidney's silvery phrase,
    Sprinkling our noon of time with freshest morning dew."

But not so, O gentle minstrel of Essex! There are poems of thine which
thousands prefer to the best of Spenser's or Sidney's, and which will
continue to exist as long as beauty is its own excuse for being. Thou
too hast been in Paradise, to fetch thence armfuls of dewy roses for our
delight; not mounting thither by the "stairway of surprise," but along
the common highway of daily duty and noble endeavor, unmindful of the
dust and heat and chafing burdens, but singing aloud thy songs of lofty
cheer, all magically intertwined with pictures of wayside flowers, and
the homely beauty of lowliest things. And thou hast imparted to us the
"groping of the keys of the heavenly harmonies," that no one who loves
thy songs, ever loses from his life.



CHAPTER III.

POEMS SERIATIM.


Among the three or four critical papers on Whittier that have up to this
time been published, there is one that is marked by exceptional vigor;
namely, the admirable philosophical analysis by Mr. David A. Wasson,
published in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for March, 1864. The author gladly
acknowledges his indebtedness to this paper for several things,--chiefly
for its keen _aperçu_ into the nature of Whittier's genius, and the
proper psychological grouping of his poems. Mr. Wasson's classification
can hardly be improved upon in its general features. He divides the
literary life of the poet into three epochs,--The Struggle for Life, The
Culture Epoch, and The Epoch of Poetic Realism; and between each of
these he places transitional periods. The lines of his classification,
however, are too sharply drawn, and the epochs seem too minutely
subdivided. Moreover, the present writer would add an introductory or
preparatory period; in other respects it seems to him that the grouping
is as correct as such mathematical measurements of a poet's development
can be. Suppose we group and name the poet's mental epochs as follows:--

             FIRST PERIOD.--INTRODUCTORY. 1830-1833.

     During this quiet, purely literary epoch, Whittier published
     "Legends of New England" and "Moll Pitcher," and edited the
     "Literary Remains of Brainard."


           SECOND PERIOD.--STORM AND STRESS. 1833-1853.

     The beginning of this period was marked by the publication of
     "Justice and Expediency," and during its continuance were written
     most of the anti-slavery productions, the Indian poems, many
     legendary lays and prose pieces, religious lyrics, and "Songs of
     Labor." The latter, being partially free from didacticism, leads
     naturally up to the third period.


                  THIRD PERIOD.--TRANSITION. 1853-1860

     This Mr. Wasson calls the epoch of culture and religious doubt, the
     central poems of which are "Chapel of the Hermits" and "Questions
     of Life." We now begin to see a love of art for art's sake, and
     there are fewer moral stump-speeches. The indignation of the
     reformer is giving place to the calm repose of the artist. And such
     ballads as "Mary Garvin" and "Maud Muller" form the introduction to
     the culminating (or fourth) epoch in the poet's creative life.


           FOURTH PERIOD.--RELIGIOUS AND ARTISTIC REPOSE. 1860-

     During this time have been written nearly all the author's great
     works, namely, his beautiful ballads, as well as "Snow-Bound" and
     "The Tent on the Beach." The literary style is now mature. The
     beautiful is sought for its own sake, both in nature and in lowly
     life. It is a season of trust and _naïve_ simplicity.

The works produced during the Introductory period have already been
discussed in the biographical portion of this volume.

Before passing rapidly in review some of the more important detached
poems of the three latter periods (reserving a number of poems for
consideration by groups), we must be allowed to offer a few criticisms
on the earlier poems in general, meaning by this the ones published
previous to the "Songs of Labor" in 1850. These earlier productions are
to be commended chiefly for two things: (1) the subjects are drawn from
original and native sources, and (2) the slavery poems are full of moral
stamina and fiery indignation at oppression. There are single poems of
great merit and beauty. But the style of most of them is unoriginal,
being merely an echo of that of the English Lake School. Whittier's
poetical development has been a steady growth. His genius matured late,
and in his early poems there is little promise of the exquisite work of
his riper years, unless it is a distinct indication of his rare power of
telling a story in verse. It must be remembered that when Whittier began
to write, American literature had yet to be created. There was not a
single great American poem, with the exception of Bryant's
"Thanatopsis." The prominent poets of that time--Percival, Brainard,
Trumbull, Joel Barlow, Hillhouse, Pierpont, Dana, Sprague--are all
forgotten now. The breath of immortality was not upon anything they
wrote. A national literature is a thing of slow growth. Every writer is
insensibly influenced by the intellectual tone of his neighbors and
contemporaries. Judged in the light of his early disadvantages, and
estimated by the standard of that time, Whittier's first essays are
deserving of much credit, and they have had a distinct æsthetic and
moral value in the development of American literature and the American
character. But their deficiencies are very grave. There is a good deal
of commonplace, and much extravagance of rhetoric. There are a great
many "Lines" called forth by circumstances not at all poetical in their
suggestions. Emotion and rhyme and commonplace incident are not enough
to make a poem. One cannot embalm the memory of all one's friends in
verse. In casting about for an explanation of the circumstance that our
poet has so often chosen tame and uninspiring themes for his poems, we
reach the conclusion that it is due to his solitary and uneventful
life, and to the subdued and art-chilling atmosphere of his Quaker
religion. You get, at any rate, no true impression of the intellectual
breadth of the poet's mind from many of the productions of the period we
are considering: the theme is too weak to support the poetical structure
reared upon it. The poems and essays are written by one untoughened and
unvitalized by varied and cheerful intercourse with men and affairs, a
state of mind that was changed considerably as Mr. Whittier emerged from
his semi-obscurity into a larger comprehension of his own powers.

A minor fault of this period is the too frequent interruption of
explanatory notes, that break and mar the free-flowing melody of
versified thought. We find the same blemish in Longfellow's early work.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the opening of the complete poetical works of Whittier stand two long
Indian poems, with their war-paint and blood--like scarlet maples at the
entrance of an aboriginal forest. The first of these poems, "Mogg
Megone," is every way inferior to the second, or "The Bridal of
Pennacook." "Mogg Megone" was published in 1836, and "The Bridal of
Pennacook" in 1848. Mr. Whittier half apologizes for retaining the
former of these in his complete works. There is, amongst much that,
eliminated, might not be missed, a certain fresh and realistic diction,
or nomenclature. It is picturesque, in portions somewhat dramatic and
thrilling, and now is valuable as a link between the early stage of his
authorship and the advanced culture of later years. In style it is an
echo of Scott's "Lady of the Lake" or "Marmion."

In "The Bridal of Pennacook" we have an Indian idyl of unquestionable
power and beauty, a descriptive poem full of the cool, mossy sweetness
of mountain landscapes, and although too artificial and subjective for a
poem of primitive life, yet saturated with the imagery of the wigwam and
the forest. A favorite article of food with the Indians of Northern Ohio
was dried bear's-meat dipped in maple syrup. There is a savor of the
like ferity and sweetness in this poem. It is almost wholly free from
the strongly-marked faults of "Mogg Megone," and (that test of all
tests) it is pleasant reading. Its two cardinal defects are lack of
simplicity of treatment, and tenuity or triviality of the subject, or
plot. The story is sometimes lost sight of in a jungle of verbiage and
description. In contrasting such a poem with "Hiawatha," we see the
wisdom of Longfellow in choosing an antique vehicle, or rhythmic style.
Aborigines have a dialect of their own; the sentences of an Indian brave
being as abrupt and sharp as the wild screams of an eagle. The set
speeches of the North American Indians are always full of divers stock
metaphors about natural scenery, wild animals, totems, and spirits, and
are so different from those of civilized life that an expert can
instantly detect a forgery or an imitation, so that all incongruities
that attribute the complex and refined emotions of civilized life to the
savage, seriously mar the pleasure of the reader. The descriptions of
natural scenery in these Indian legends of Mr. Whittier's are fine, as
all such writing by his facile pen was ever felicitous. And by virtue of
this descriptive power, these idyls will be held long in grateful
remembrance.

In plan the poem is like the "Decameron," the "Princess," the
"Canterbury Tales," and "Tales of a Wayside Inn." The different portions
are supposed to be related by five persons,--a lawyer, a clergyman, a
merchant and his daughter, and the poet,--who are all sight-seeing in
the White Mountains. The opening description, in blank verse, conveys a
vague but not very powerful impression of sublimity. The musical
nomenclature of the red aborigines is finely handled, and such words as
Pennacook, Babboosuck, Contoocook, Bashaba, and Weetamoo chime out here
and there along the pages with as silvery a sweetness as the Tuscan
words in Macaulay's "Lays." At the wedding of Weetamoo we have--

    "Pike and perch from the Suncook taken,
    Nuts from the trees of the Black Hills shaken,
    Cranberries picked from the Squamscot bog,
    And grapes from the vines of Piscataquog:

    And, drawn from that great stone vase which stands
    In the river scooped by a spirit's hands,
    Garnished with spoons of shell and horn,
    Stood the birchen dishes of smoking corn."

The following stanza on the heroine, Weetamoo, is a fine one:--

    "Child of the forest!--strong and free,
      Slight-robed, with loosely flowing hair,
    She swam the lake, or climbed the tree,
      Or struck the flying bird in air.
    O'er the heaped drifts of winter's moon
      Her snow-shoes tracked the hunter's way;
    And, dazzling in the summer noon,
      The blade of her light oar threw off its shower of spray!"

The "Song of Indian Women," at the close of "The Bridal of Pennacook,"
is admirable for melody, weird and wild beauty, and naturalness. It is a
lament for the lost Weetamoo, who, unfortunate in her married life, has
committed suicide by sailing over the rapids in her canoe:--

               "The Dark Eye has left us,
                The Spring-bird has flown;
              On the pathway of spirits
                She wanders alone.
    The song of the wood-dove has died on our shore,--
    _Mat wonck kunna-monee!_--We hear it no more!

           *       *       *       *       *

                 O mighty Sowanna!
                Thy gateways unfold,
              From thy wigwams of sunset
                Lift curtains of gold!
    Take home the poor Spirit whose journey is o'er,--
    _Mat wonck kunna-monee!_--We see her no more!"

There are two minor Indian poems by Whittier that have the true ring;
namely, the "Truce of Piscataqua" and "Funeral Tree of the Sokokis." The
latter well-known poem is pitched in as high and solemn a key as
Platen's "Grab im Busento," a poem similar in theme to Whittier's:--

    "They heave the stubborn trunk aside,
    The firm roots from the earth divide,--
    The rent beneath yawns dark and wide.

    And there the fallen chief is laid,
    In tasselled garbs of skins arrayed,
    And girded with his wampum-braid."

    _Whittier._


    "In der wogenleeren Höhlung wühlten sie empor die Erde,
    Senkten tief hinein den Leichnam, mit der Rüstung auf dem Pferde.
    Deckten dann mit Erde wieder ihn und seine stolze Habe."

    _Platen._


    In the empty river-bottom hurriedly they dug the death-pit,
    Deep therein they sank the hero with his armor and his war-steed,
    Covered then with earth and darkness him and all his splendid
      trappings.

When the reader, who has worked gloomily along through Whittier's
anti-slavery and miscellaneous poems, reaches the "Songs of Labor," he
feels at once the breath of a fresher spirit,--as a traveller who has
been toiling for weary leagues through sandy deserts bares his brow with
delight to the coolness and shade of a green forest through whose thick
roof of leaves the garish sunlight scarcely sifts. We feel that in these
poems a new departure has been made. The wrath of the reformer has
expended itself, and the poet now returns, with mind elevated and more
tensely keyed by his moral warfare, to the study of the beautiful in
native themes and in homely life. "The Shipbuilders," "The Shoemakers,"
"The Fishermen," and "The Huskers" are genuine songs; and more shame to
the craftsmen celebrated if they do not get them set to music, and sing
them while at their work. One cannot help feeling that Walt Whitman's
call for some one to make songs for American laborers had already been
met in a goodly degree by these spirited "Songs of Labor." What workman
would not be glad to carol such stanzas as the following, if they were
set to popular airs?

    "Hurrah! the seaward breezes
      Sweep down the bay amain;
    Heave up, my lads, the anchor!
      Run up the sail again!
    Leave to the lubber landsmen
      The rail-car and the steed:
    The stars of heaven shall guide us,
      The breath of heaven shall speed."

    _The Fishermen._


    "Ho! workers of the old time styled
      The Gentle Craft of Leather!
    Young brothers of the ancient guild,
      Stand forth once more together!
    Call out again your long array,
      In the olden merry manner!
    Once more, on gay St. Crispin's day,
      Fling out your blazoned banner!

    Rap, rap! upon the well-worn stone
      How falls the polished hammer!
    Rap, rap! the measured sound has grown
      A quick and merry clamor.
    Now shape the sole! now deftly curl
      The glossy vamp around it,
    And bless the while the bright-eyed girl
      Whose gentle fingers bound it!"

    _The Shoemakers._

The publication of "The Chapel of the Hermits" and "Questions of Life,"
in 1853, marks (as has been said) the period of culture and of
religious doubt,--doubt which ended in trust. In this period we have
such genuine undidactic poems as "The Barefoot Boy."

    "Blessings on thee, little man,
    Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
    With thy turned-up pantaloons,
    And thy merry whistled tunes;
    With thy red lip, redder still
    Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
    With the sunshine on thy face,
    Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace."

Also, such fine poems as "Flowers in Winter" and "To My Old
Schoolmaster;" as well as the excellent ballads, "Maud Muller,"
"Kathleen," and "Mary Garvin."

The period in Whittier's life from about 1858 to 1868 we may call the
Ballad Decade,[26] for within this time were produced most of his
immortal ballads. We say immortal, believing that if all else that he
has written shall perish, his finest ballads will carry his name down to
a remote posterity. "The Tent on the Beach" is mainly a series of
ballads; and "Snow-Bound," although not a ballad, is still a narrative
poem closely allied to that species of poetry, the difference between a
ballad and an idyl being that one is made to be sung and the other to be
read: both narrate events as they occur, and leave to the reader all
sentiment and reflection.

[Footnote 26: The beginning of this decade nearly coincides with the
fourth or final period in our classification, upon the consideration of
which we shall now enter.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The finest ballads of Whittier have the power of keeping us in
breathless suspense of interest until the _dénouement_ or the
catastrophe, as the case may be. The popularity of "Maud Muller" is well
deserved. What a rich and mellow translucence it has! How it appeals to
the universal heart! And yet "The Witch's Daughter" and "Telling the
Bees" are more exquisite creations than "Maud Muller": they have a
spontaneity, a subtle pathos, a sublimated sweetness of despair that
take hold of the very heart-strings, and thus deal with deeper emotions
than such light, objective ballads as "Maud Muller" and "Skipper
Ireson's Ride." But the surface grace of the two latter have of course
made them the more popular, just as the "Scarlet Letter" finds greater
favor with most people than does "The House of the Seven Gables,"
although Hawthorne rightly thought the "Seven Gables" to be his finest
and subtlest work.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mark the Chaucerian freshness of the opening stanzas of "The Witch's
Daughter":--

    "It was the pleasant harvest time,
      When cellar-bins are closely stowed,
      And garrets bend beneath their load,

    And the old swallow-haunted barns--
      Brown-gabled, long, and full of seams
      Through which the moted sunlight streams.

    And winds blow freshly in, to shake
      The red plumes of the roosted cocks,
      And the loose hay-mow's scented locks--

    Are filled with summer's ripened stores,
      Its odorous grass and barley sheaves,
      From their low scaffolds to their eaves."

A companion ballad to "The Witch's Daughter" is "The Witch of Wenham," a
poem almost equal to it in merit, and like it ending happily. These
ballads do not quite attain the almost supernatural simplicity of
Wordsworth's "Lucy Gray" and "We are Seven"; but they possess an equal
interest, excited by the same poetical qualities. "Telling the Bees,"
however, seems to the writer as purely Wordsworthian as anything
Wordsworth ever wrote:--

    "Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
      Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"

How the tears spring to the eyes in reading this immortal little poem!
The bee-hives ranged in the garden, the sun "tangling his wings of fire
in the trees," the dog whining low, the old man "with his cane to his
chin,"--we all know the scene: its every feature appeals to our
sympathies and associations.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Double-headed Snake of Newbury" is a whimsical story, in which the
poet waxes right merry as he relates how--

    "Far and wide the tale was told,
    Like a snowball growing while it rolled.
    The nurse hushed with it the baby's cry;
    And it served, in the worthy minister's eye,
    To paint the primitive serpent by.

    Cotton Mather came galloping down
    All the way to Newbury town,
    With his eyes agog and his ears set wide,
    And his marvellous inkhorn at his side;
    Stirring the while in the shallow pool
    Of his brains for the lore he learned at school,
    To garnish the story, with here a streak
    Of Latin, and there another of Greek:
    And the tales he heard and the notes he took,
    Behold! are they not in his Wonder-Book?"

A word about Whittier's "Prophecy of Samuel Sewall." It seems that old
Judge Sewall made the prophecies of the Bible his favorite study. One of
his ideas was that America was to be the site of the New Jerusalem.
Toward the end of his book entitled "Phenomena Quædam Apocalyptica; ...
or ... a Description of the New Heaven as it makes to those who stand
upon the New Earth" (1697), he gives utterance to the triumphant
prophecy that forms the subject of Whittier's poem. His language is so
quaint that the reader will like to see the passage in Sewall's own
words:--

    "As long as Plum Island shall faithfully keep the commanded post,
    notwithstanding till the hectoring words and hard blows of the
    proud and boisterous ocean; as long as any salmon or sturgeon shall
    swim in the streams of Merrimac, or any perch or pickerel in Crane
    Pond; as long as the sea-fowl shall know the time of their coming,
    and not neglect seasonably to visit the places of their
    acquaintance; as long as any cattle shall be fed with the grass
    growing in the meadows, which do humbly bow down themselves before
    Turkey Hill; as long as any sheep shall walk upon Old-Town Hills,
    and shall from thence pleasantly look down upon the River Parker,
    and the fruitful marshes lying beneath; as long as any free and
    harmless doves shall find a white oak or other tree within the
    township, to perch, or feed, or build a careless nest upon, and
    shall voluntarily present themselves to perform the office of
    gleaners after barley-harvest; as long as Nature shall not grow old
    and dote, but shall constantly remember to give the rows of Indian
    corn their education by pairs; so long shall Christians be born
    there, and being first made meet, shall from thence be translated to
    be made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

Moses Coit Tyler, in his "History of American Literature," II., p. 102
(note), says: "Whittier speaks of Newbury as Sewall's 'native town,' but
Sewall was born at Horton, England. He also describes Sewall as an 'old
man,' propped on his staff of age when he made this prophecy; but Sewall
was then forty-five years old."

There are two or three other ballads in which Whittier is said to have
made historical blunders. It really does not seem of much importance
whether he did or did not get the precise facts in each case. The
important point is that he made beautiful ballads. But it will be right
to give, in brief, the objections that have been brought against
"Skipper Ireson's Ride" and "Barbara Frietchie." "The King's Missive"
will be discussed in another place.

       *       *       *       *       *

Apropos of Skipper Ireson, Mr. John W. Chadwick has spoken as follows in
_Harper's Monthly_ for July, 1874:--

    "In one of the queerest corners of the town [Marblehead], there
    stands a house as modest as the Lee house was magnificent. So long
    as he lived it was the home of 'Old Flood Oirson,' whose name and
    fame have gone farther and fared worse than any other fact or fancy
    connected with his native town. Plain, honest folk don't know about
    poetic license, and I have often heard the poet's conduct in the
    matter of Skipper Ireson's ride characterized with profane severity.
    He unwittingly departed from the truth in various particulars. The
    wreck did not, as the ballad recites, contain any of 'his own
    town's-people.' Moreover, four of those it did contain _were_ saved
    by a whale-boat from Provincetown. It was off Cape Cod, and not in
    Chaleur Bay, that the wreck was deserted; and the desertion was in
    this wise: It was in the night that the wreck was discovered. In the
    darkness and the heavy sea it was impossible to give assistance.
    When the skipper went below, he ordered the watch to lie by the
    wreck till 'dorning'; but the watch wilfully disobeyed, and
    afterward, to shield themselves, laid all the blame upon the
    skipper. Then came the tarring and feathering. The women, whose
    _rôle_ in the ballad is so striking, had nothing to do with it. The
    vehicle was not a cart, but a dory; and the skipper, instead of
    being contrite, said, 'I thank you for your ride.' I asked one of
    the skipper's contemporaries what the effect was on the skipper.
    'Cowed him to death,' said he, 'cowed him to death.' He went skipper
    again the next year, but never afterward. He had been dead only a
    year or two when Whittier's ballad appeared. His real name was not
    Floyd, as Whittier supposes, but Benjamin, 'Flood' being one of
    those nicknames that were not the exception, but the rule, in the
    old fishing-days. For many years before his death the old man earned
    a precarious living by dory-fishing in the bay, and selling his
    daily catch from a wheelbarrow. When old age and blindness overtook
    him, and his last trip was made, his dory was hauled up into the
    lane before his house, and there went to rot and ruin.... The hoarse
    refrain of Whittier's ballad is the best-known example of the once
    famous Marblehead dialect, and it is not a bad one. To what extent
    this dialect was peculiar to Marblehead it might be difficult to
    determine. Largely, no doubt, it was inherited from English
    ancestors. Its principal delight consisted in pronouncing _o_ for
    _a_, and _a_ for _o_. For example, if an old-fashioned Marbleheader
    wished to say he 'was born in a barn,' he would say, he 'was barn in
    a born.' The _e_ was also turned into _a_, and even into _o_, and
    the _v_ into _w_. 'That vessel's stern' became 'that 'wessel's
    starn,' or 'storn.' I remember a school-boy declaiming from
    Shakspere, 'Thou little walliant, great in willany.' There was a
    great deal of shortening. The fine name Crowninshield became
    Grounsel, and Florence became Flurry, and a Frenchman named
    Blancpied found himself changed into Blumpy. Endings in _une_ and
    _ing_ were alike changed into _in_. Misfortune was misfartin', and
    fishing was always fishin'. There were words peculiar to the place.
    One of these was planchment for ceiling. Crim was another, meaning
    to shudder with cold, and there was an adjective, crimmy. Still
    another was _clitch_, meaning to stick badly, surely an
    onomatopoetic word that should be naturalized before it is too late.
    Some of the swearing, too, was neither by the throne nor footstool,
    such as 'Dahst my eyes!' and 'Godfrey darmints.' The ancient
    dialect in all its purity is now seldom used. It crops out here and
    there sometimes where least expected, and occasionally one meets
    with some old veteran whose speech has lost none of the ancient
    savor."

Now for "Barbara Frietchie." The incident of the poem was given to
Whittier by the novelist, Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, whose letter we
append. The philanthropist, Dorothea Dix, investigated the case in
Frederick, and she says that Barbara did wave the flag, etc. An army
officer also made affidavit of the truth of the lines. A young Southern
soldier has declared that he was present, and that his was one of the
shots that hit the flagstaff!

On the other side are Samuel Tyler and Jacob Engelbrecht, the latter an
old and greatly respected citizen of Frederick, and living directly
opposite Barbara's house. Jacob wrote to the Baltimore _Sun_, saying
that Stonewall Jackson's corps marched through another street, and did
not approach Dame Frietchie's house at all. Lee's column did pass it, he
says; but he, who stood watching at his window, saw no flag whatever at
_her_ window.

He says that when ten days later General McClellan passed through the
town she did exhibit a flag.

Finally, General Jubal Early comes upon the witness stand, and testifies
that as the Southern troops passed through Frederick, there were only
two cases of waving of Union flags; one of these was by a little girl,
about ten years old, who stood on the platform of a house and waved
incessantly a little "candy flag," and cried in a dull, monotonous
voice: "Hurrah for the Stars and Stripes! Down with the Stars and Bars!"
No one molested her. The other case was that of a coarse,
slovenly-looking woman, who rushed up to the entrance of an alley and
waved a dirty United States flag.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Pipes at Lucknow" is a poem full of martial fire and lyric
rush,--the subject a capital one for a poet. A little band of English,
besieged in a town in the heart of India, and full of despair, hear in
the distance the sweetest sound that ever fell upon their ears, namely,
the shrill pibroch of the MacGregor Clan; and--

        "When the far-off dust-cloud
      To plaided legions grew,
    Full tenderly and blithesomely
      The pipes of rescue blew!"

Another group of ballads comprises "Cobbler Keezar's Vision," "Amy
Wentworth," and "The Countess."

In the first of these, old Cobbler Keezar, of the early Puritan times,
by virtue of a mystic lapstone, sees a vision of our age of religious
tolerance, and wonders greatly thereat:--

        "Keezar sat on the hillside
      Upon his cobbler's form,
    With a pan of coals on either hand
      To keep his waxed-ends warm.

    And there, in the golden weather,
      He stitched and hammered and sung;
    In the brook he moistened his leather,
      In the pewter mug his tongue."

The ballad of "Amy Wentworth" treats of the same subject as "Among The
Hills," namely, a superior woman, of the white-handed caste, falling in
love with and marrying a broad-shouldered, brown-handed hero, with a
right manly heart and brain.

Many and many a poem of Whittier's is spoiled by its too great
length,--a thing that is fatal in a lyric. The long prelude to "Amy
Wentworth" should have been omitted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The scene of the lovely poem entitled "The Countess" is laid in Rocks
Village, a part of East Haverhill, and lying on the Merrimack, where--

    "The river's steel-blue crescent curves
      To meet, in ebb and flow,
    The single broken wharf that serves
      For sloop and gundelow.

    With salt sea-scents along its shores
      The heavy hay-boats crawl,
    The long antennæ of their oars
      In lazy rise and fall.

    Along the gray abutment's wall
      The idle shad-net dries;
    The toll-man in his cobbler's stall
      Sits smoking with closed eyes."

Whittier dedicates his poem to his father's family physician, Elias
Weld, of Rocks Village. The story which forms the subject of the poem is
a romantic one, and exquisitely has our poet embalmed it in verse. From
a sketch by Rebecca I. Davis, of East Haverhill, the following facts
relating to the personages that figure in the poem have been culled:--

The Countess was Miss Mary Ingalls, daughter of Henry and Abigail
Ingalls, of Rocks Village. She was born in 1786, and is still remembered
by a few old inhabitants as a young girl of remarkable beauty. She was
of medium height, had long golden curls, violet eyes, fair complexion,
and rosy cheeks, and was exceedingly modest and lovable. It was in the
year 1806 that a little company of French exiles fled from the Island of
Guadaloupe on account of a bloody rebellion or uprising of the
inhabitants. Among the fugitives were Count Francis de Vipart and Joseph
Rochemont de Poyen. The company reached Newburyport. The two gentlemen
just mentioned settled at Rocks Village, and both married there. Mary
Ingalls was only a laborer's daughter, and of course her marriage with
the count created a sensation in the simple, rustic community. The
count was a pleasant, stately man, and a fine violinist. The bridal
dress, says Miss Davis, was of a pink satin, with an overdress of white
lace; her slippers also were of white satin. The count delighted to
lavish upon her the richest apparel, yet nothing spoiled the sweet
modesty of her disposition. After one short year of happy married life
the lovely wife died. Assiduous attention to a sick mother had brought
on consumption. In the village God's-acre her gray tombstone is already
covered with moss.

The count returned to his native island overwhelmed with grief. In after
years, however, he married again. When he died he was interred in the
family burial-place of the De Viparts at Bordeaux. He left several
children.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Stedman, in his fine synthetic survey of American poetry, published
in _The Century_, has remarked that most of our early poetry and
painting is full of landscape. The loveliest season in America is the
autumn, when, as Whittier beautifully says, the woods "wear their robes
of praise, the south winds softly sigh,"--

    "And sweet, calm days in golden haze
      Melt down the amber sky."

We have plenty of idyls of autumn color, like Buchanan Read's "Closing
Scene," and portions of Longfellow's "Hiawatha." But American winter
landscapes are as poetical as those of autumn.[27] It is probable that
the scarcity of snow-idyls hitherto is due to the supposed cheerlessness
of the snow. But with the rapid multiplication of winter comforts, our
nature-worship is cautiously broadening so as to include even the stern
beauty of winter. There are already a good many signs of this in
literature. We have had, of late, lovely little snow-and-winter
vignettes in prose by John Burroughs of New York, and Edith Thomas of
Ohio; and there is plenty of room for further study of winter in other
regions of the United States. The most delicate bit of realistic winter
poetry in literature is Emerson's "Snow-Storm." Mr. Whittier is an
ardent admirer of that writer--as what poet is not?--and his own
productions show frequent traces of Emersonianisms. He has prefixed to
"Snow-Bound" a quotation from the "Snow-Storm," and there can scarcely
be a doubt that to the countless obligations we all owe Emerson must be
added this: that he inspired the writing of Whittier's finest poem, and
the best idyl of American rural life. It is too complex and diffusive
fully to equal in artistic purity and plastic proportion the "Cotter's
Saturday Night" of Burns; but it is much richer than that poem in
felicitous single epithets, which, like little wicket doors, open up to
the eye of memory many a long-forgotten picture of early life.

[Footnote 27: What is the subtle fascination that lurks in such bits of
winter poetry as the following, collected by the writer out of his
reading?

    "Yesterday the sullen year
    Saw the snowy whirlwind fly."--_Gray._

    "All winter drives along the darkened air."--_Thomson._

    "High-ridged the whirled drift has almost reached
    The powdered keystone of the churchyard porch;
    Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie buried."--_Grahame._

    "Alas! alas! thou snow-smitten wood of
    Troy, and mountains of Ida."--_Sophocles._

    "O hard, dull bitterness of cold."--_Whittier._

    "And in the narrow house o' death
    Let winter round me rave."--_Burns._

    "The mesmerizer, Snow,
    With his hand's first sweep
    Put the earth to sleep."--_Robert Browning._

    "And the cakèd snow is shuffled
    From the plough-boy's heavy shoon."--_Keats._]

"Snow-Bound" was published in 1860, and was written, Mr. Whittier has
said, "to beguile the weariness of a sick-chamber." The poet has obeyed
the canon of Lessing, and instead of giving us dead description wholly,
has shown us his characters in action, and extended his story over three
days and the two intervening nights,--that is to say, the main action
covers that time: the whole time mentioned in the poem is a week. It is
unnecessary to give here any further account of the idyl than has
already been furnished in the account of Whittier's boyhood.

"The Tent on the Beach" is a cluster of ballads. In accordance with a
familiar fiction, they are supposed to be sung, or told, by several
persons, in this case three, namely, the poet himself, "a lettered
magnate" (James T. Fields), and a traveller (Bayard Taylor). All of the
poems are readable, and many of them are to be classed among Whittier's
best lyrics. "The Wreck of Rivermouth," "The Changeling," and
"Kallundborg Church" are masterpieces in the line of ballads. In "The
Dead Ship of Harpswell" we have the fine phrase,--

    "O hundred-harbored Maine!"

Whittier has now become almost a perfect master of verbal melody.
Hearken to this:--

    "Oho!" she muttered, "ye're brave to-day!
    But I hear the little waves laugh and say,
    'The broth will be cold that waits at home;
    For it's one to go, but another to come!'"

There is a light and piquant humor about some of the interludes of the
"Tent on the Beach." The song in the last of these contains a striking
and original stanza concerning the ocean:--

    "Its waves are kneeling on the strand,
       As kneels the human knee,
    Their white locks bowing to the sand,
       The priesthood of the sea!"

"Among the Hills" is a little farm-idyl, or love-idyl, of the New
Hampshire mountain land, and bearing some resemblance to Tennyson's
"Gardener's Daughter." It is an excellent specimen of the poems of
Whittier that reach the popular heart, and engage its sympathies. In the
remotest farm-houses of the land you are almost sure to find among their
few books a copy of Whittier's Poems, well-thumbed and soiled with use.
The opening description of the prelude to "Among the Hills" could not be
surpassed by Bion or Theocritus. In this poem a fresh interest is
excited in the reader by the fact that the city woman falls in love with
a manly farmer, thus happily reversing the old, old story of the city
man wooing and winning the rustic beauty. The farmer accuses the fair
city maid of coquetry. She replies:

    "'Nor frock nor tan can hide the man;
      And see you not, my farmer,
    How weak and fond a woman waits
      Behind this silken armor?

    'I love you: on that love alone,
      And not my worth, presuming,
    Will you not trust for summer fruit
      The tree in May-day blooming?'

    Alone the hangbird overhead,
      His hair-swung cradle straining,
    Looked down to see love's miracle,--
      The giving that is gaining."

In "Lines on a Fly-Leaf," the author of "Snow-Bound" gives in his hearty
adherence to that movement for the elevation of woman, and the securing
of her rights as a human being, which is perhaps the most significant
and important of the many agitations of this agitated age.

       *       *       *       *       *

The poem "Miriam," like "The Preacher," is one of those long sermons, or
meditations in verse, which Whittier loves to spin out of his mind in
solitude. It contains in "Shah Akbar" a fine Oriental ballad.

       *       *       *       *       *

The narrative poem called "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim," published in 1872,
has no striking poetical merit, but is valuable and readable for the
pleasant light in which it sets forth the doings of the quaint people of
Germantown and the Wissahickon, near Philadelphia, nearly two hundred
years ago. It introduces us to the homes and hearts of the little
settlements of German Quakers under Francis Daniel Pastorius, the
Mystics under the leadership of Magister Johann Kelpius, and the
Mennonites under their various leaders. "The Pennsylvania Pilgrim" is a
poem for Quakers, for Philadelphians who love their great park and its
Wissahickon drives, and for antiquarian historical students. We may
regret, if we choose, that the poet has not succeeded in embalming the
memory of the Germantown Quakers in such felicitous verse as other poets
have sung the virtues and ways of the Puritans, but we cannot deny that
he has garnished with the flowers of poetry a dry historical subject,
and so earned the gratitude of a goodly number of students and scholars.

In "The King's Missive, and Other Poems," published in 1881, the most
notable piece is "The Lost Occasion," a poem on Daniel Webster, finer
even than the much-admired "Ichabod," published many years previously.
"The Lost Occasion" is pitched in a high, solemn, and majestic strain.
It is a superb eulogy, full of magnanimity and generous forgiveness.
Listen to a few stanzas:--

                    "Thou
    Whom the rich heavens did endow
    With eyes of power and Jove's own brow,
    With all the massive strength that fills
    Thy home-horizon's granite hills,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Whose words, in simplest home-spun clad,
    The Saxon strength of Caedmon had,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Sweet with persuasion, eloquent
    In passion, cool in argument,
    Or, ponderous, falling on thy foes
    As fell the Norse god's hammer blows,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Too soon for us, too soon for thee,
    Beside thy lonely Northern sea,
    Where long and low the marsh-lands spread,
    Laid wearily down thy august head."

The poem of "The King's Missive" calls for such extended discussion that
a brief chapter shall be devoted to it.



CHAPTER IV.

THE KING'S MISSIVE.

    "_Under the great hill sloping bare
      To cove and meadow and Common lot,
    In his council chamber and oaken chair,
      Sat the worshipful Governor Endicott._"


So run the opening lines of the historical poem contributed by Whittier
to the first volume of the Memorial History of Boston (1880). While the
governor is thus sitting, in comes Clerk Rawson with the unwelcome news
that banished Quaker Shattuck, of Salem, has returned from abroad. The
choleric governor swears that he will now hew in pieces the pestilent,
ranting Quakers. Presently Shattuck is ushered in: "Off with the knave's
hat," says the governor. As they strike off his hat he smilingly holds
out the Missive, or mandamus, of Charles II. The governor immediately
asks him to cover, and humbly removes his own hat. The king's letter
commands him to cease persecuting the Quakers. After consultation with
the deputy governor, Bellingham, he obeys, and the then imprisoned
Quakers file out of jail with words of praise on their lips.

The poem fascinates us, for the incident is dramatic, and focusses in a
single picturesque situation all the features of that little historical
episode of two hundred years ago, _i. e._, the persecution of the
Quakers by the Puritan Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A brief setting
forth of the facts connected with this persecution will not only be full
of intrinsic interest, but is indispensable to a right understanding of
the Quaker poet's inherited character, as well as to a comprehension of
his prose and poetry. One whose ancestors have been persecuted for
generations will inherit a loathing of oppression, as Whittier has done.
And this hatred of tyranny will be intensified in the case of one who is
thoroughly read in the literature of that persecution, and is in quick
and intimate sympathy with the victims, as Whittier is.

But first a word more about the "King's Missive." Joseph Besse, in his
"Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers" (a sort of
"Fox's Book of Martyrs," in two huge antique volumes), says [II., p.
226] that the principal instrument in procuring the royal mandamus
(styled by Whittier the King's Missive) was Edward Burroughs,[28] who
went to the king and told him that "There was a Vein of innocent Blood
open'd in his Dominions, which if it were not stopt might over-run all.
To which the king replied, 'But I will stop that Vein.'" Accordingly, in
the autumn of 1661, Samuel Shattuck was selected to bear a letter to
America. The London Friends hired Ralph Goldsmith, also a Friend, to
convey Shattuck to his destination. They paid him £300 for the service.
The ship entered Boston Harbor on a Sunday in the latter part of
November, 1661.

[Footnote 28: "There is a story," says Dr. George E. Ellis, "that
Burroughs got access to the king out of doors, while his Majesty was
playing tennis. As Burroughs kept on his hat while accosting the king,
the latter gracefully removed his plumed cap and bowed. The Quaker, put
to the blush, said, 'Thee need'st not remove thy hat.' 'Oh,' replied the
king, 'it is of no consequence, only that when the king and another
gentleman are talking together it is usual for one of them to take off
his hat.'"]

"The Townsmen," says Besse, "seeing a Ship with _English_ Colours, soon
came on board, and asked for the Captain? _Ralph Goldsmith_ told them,
_He was the Commander_. They asked, _Whether he had any Letters_? He
answered, _Yes_. But withal told them, _He would not deliver them that
Day_. So they returned on shore again, and reported, that _There were
many_ Quakers _come, and that_ Samuel Shattock (who they knew had been
banished on pain of Death) _was among them_. But they knew nothing of
his Errand or Authority. Thus all was kept close, and none of the Ship's
Company suffered to go on shore that Day. Next morning _Ralph
Goldsmith_, the Commander, with _Samuel Shattock_, the King's Deputy,
went on shore, and sending the Boat back to the Ship, they two went
directly through the Town to the Governour's House, and knockt at the
Door: He sending a Man to know their Business, they sent him Word, that
_Their Message was from the King of_ England, _and that they would
deliver it to none but himself_. Then they were admitted to go in, and
the Governour came to them, and commanded _Samuel Shattock's_ Hat to be
taken off, and having received the Deputation and the _Mandamus_, he
laid off his own Hat; and ordering Shattock's Hat to be given him again,
perused the Papers, and then went out to the Deputy-Governour's, bidding
the King's Deputy and the Master of the Ship to follow him: Being come
to the Deputy-Governour, and having consulted him, he returned to the
aforesaid two Persons and said, _We shall obey his Majesty's Command_.
After this, the Master of the Ship gave Liberty to his Passengers to
come on shore, which they did, and had a religious Meeting with their
Friends of the Town, where they returned Praises to God for his Mercy
manifested in this wonderful Deliverance."

The persecution, it is true, only ceased for about a year (the next
recorded whipping-order bearing date of December 22, 1662). But the
Quakers were greatly encouraged by the interposition in their favor.

In an address before the Massachusetts Historical Society, Dr. George E.
Ellis, of Boston, read a paper criticising Mr. Whittier's "King's
Missive." This address was published in the Proceedings of the Society
for March, 1881. In the "Memorial History of Boston" [I., p. 180] he
asserts that the Quakers were all "of low rank, of mean breeding, and
illiterate." He says that they courted persecution, and that they were a
pestilent brood of ranters, disturbers of the public peace, and dreaded
by the leaders of the infant Commonwealth as they would have dreaded the
cholera. He quotes Roger Williams, who wrote of the Quakers that they
were "insufferably proud and contentious," and advised a "due and
moderate restraint of their incivilities." Dr. Ellis, it is true, takes
the theoretical ground of "the equal folly and culpability of both
parties in the tragedy," but seems entirely to nullify this statement by
his apparently unbiassed, but really partisan treatment of the subject.
When you have finished his paper you perceive that the impression left
on your mind is that the really bitter and unrelenting Puritan
persecutors were long-suffering, angelic natures, while their victims,
the Quakers, were mere gallows' dogs. His theoretical position is summed
up in the following words:--

    "The crowning folly or iniquity in the course of the Puritans was in
    following up their penal inflictions, through banishments,
    imprisonments, fines, scourgings, and mutilations, to the execution
    on the gallows of four martyr victims. But what shall we say of the
    persistency, the exasperating contemptuousness and defiance, the
    goading, maddening obstinacy, and reproaching invectives of those
    who drove the magistrates, against their will, to vindicate their
    own insulted authority, and to stain our annals with innocent
    blood?"--Memorial History of Boston, I., 1882.

Dr. Ellis is right in holding that some of the Quakers were gadflies of
obstinacy, and full of self-righteous pride; but he fails to tell us of
the patience, Christian sweetness, and meekness of character of the
majority of them; and it is only when we turn to the pages of Fox and
Besse that we see the inadequate character of such a picture as that
drawn by Dr. Ellis. In the plain, _naïve_ annals of Besse, the
hard-heartedness and haughty pride of the Puritan magistrates (traits
still amply represented in their descendants) are thrown into the most
striking relief. They glower over their victims like tigers; they are
choked with their passions; they spurn excuses and palliatives; they
demand blood.

In the _Boston Daily Advertiser_ for March 29, 1881, Mr. Whittier
published a long reply to Dr. Ellis, in which he fortified the positions
taken by him in his ballad, showing that he did not mean to hold up
Charles II. as a consistent friend of toleration, and that there must
have been a general jail delivery in consequence of the receipt of the
mandamus. He says:--

    "The charge that the Quakers who suffered were 'vagabonds' and
    'ignorant, low fanatics,' is unfounded in fact. Mary Dyer, who was
    executed, was a woman of marked respectability. She had been the
    friend and associate of Sir Henry Vane and the ministers Wheelwright
    and Cotton. The papers left behind by the three men who were hanged
    show that they were above the common class of their day in mental
    power and genuine piety. John Rous, who, in execution of his
    sentence, had his right ear cut off by the constable in the Boston
    jail, was of gentlemanly lineage, the son of Colonel Rous of the
    British army, and himself the betrothed of a high-born and
    cultivated young English lady. Nicholas Upsall was one of Boston's
    most worthy and substantial citizens, yet was driven in his age and
    infirmities, from his home and property, into the wilderness."

Mr. Whittier further remarks:--

    "Dr. Ellis has been a very generous, as well as ingenious defender
    of the Puritan clergy and government, and his labors in this respect
    have the merit of gratuitous disinterestedness. Had the very worthy
    and learned gentleman been a resident in the Massachusetts colony in
    1660, one of his most guarded doctrinal sermons would have brought
    down upon him the wrath of clergy and magistracy. His Socinianism
    would have seemed more wicked than the 'inward light' of the
    Quakers; and, had he been as 'doggedly obstinate' as Servetus at
    Geneva (as I do him the justice to think he would have been), he
    might have hung on the same gallows with the Quakers, or the same
    shears which clipped the ears of Holder, Rous, and Copeland might
    have shorn off his own."

Let us look a little more closely at the evidence on both sides.

In the fourth chapter of the seventh book of Cotton Mather's "Magnalia"
we have a specimen of Quaker rant. After stating that he is opposed to
the capital punishment of Quakers, but advises shaving of the head, or
blood-letting, the proud and scornful old doctor concludes as follows:--

    "_Reader_, I can foretell what usage I shall find among the
    _Quakers_ for this chapter of our _church-history_; for a worthy man
    that writes of them has observed, _for pride and hypocrisie, and
    hellish reviling against the painful ministers of Christ, I know no
    people can match them_. Yea, prepare, friend _Mather_, to be
    assaulted with such language as _Fisher_ the Quaker, in his
    pamphlets, does bestow upon such men as _Dr. Owen; thou fiery
    fighter and green-headed trumpeter; thou hedgehog and grinning dog;
    thou bastard that tumbled out of the mouth of the Babilonish bawd;
    thou mole; thou tinker; thou lizzard; thou bell of no metal, but the
    tone of a kettle; thou wheelbarrow; thou whirlpool; thou whirlegig.
    O thou firebrand; thou adder and scorpion; thou louse; thou
    cow-dung; thou moon-calf; thou ragged tatterdemallion; thou Judas;
    thou livest in philosophy and logick which are of the devil_. And
    then let _Penn_ the Quaker add, Thou gormandizing Priest, one of the
    abominable tribe; _thou bane of reason, and beast of the earth; thou
    best to be spared of mankind; thou mountebank priest_. These are the
    very words, (I wrong them not!) which they vomit out against the
    best men in the _English_ nation, that have been so hardy as to
    touch their _light within_: but let the _quills_ of these
    _porcupines_ fly as fast as they will, I shall not feel them! Yea,
    every _stone_ that these _Kildebrands_ throw at me, I will wear as a
    _pearl_."

As an offset to this quaint and amusing tirade, and to the charges of
Dr. Ellis, one may read the following words of Whittier, and, by
striking a general average between all the speakers, get a tolerable
approximation to the exact truth. Mr. Whittier says:--

    "Nor can it be said that the persecution grew out of the
    'intrusion,' 'indecency,' and 'effrontery' of the persecuted.

    "It owed its origin to the settled purpose of the ministers and
    leading men of the colony to permit no difference of opinion on
    religious matters. They had banished the Baptists, and whipped at
    least one of them. They had hunted down Gorton and his adherents;
    they had imprisoned Dr. Child, an Episcopalian, for petitioning the
    General Court for toleration. They had driven some of their best
    citizens out of their jurisdiction, with Ann Hutchinson, and the
    gifted minister, Wheelwright. Any dissent on the part of their own
    fellow-citizens was punished as severely as the heresy of strangers.

    "The charge of 'indecency' comes with ill-grace from the authorities
    of the Massachusetts Colony. The first Quakers who arrived in
    Boston, Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, were arrested on board the ship
    before landing, their books taken from them and burned by the
    constable, and they themselves brought before Deputy Governor
    Bellingham, in the absence of Endicott. This astute magistrate
    ordered them to be _stripped naked and their bodies to be carefully
    examined, to see if there was not the Devil's mark on them as
    witches_. They were then sent to the jail, their cell window was
    boarded up, and they were left without food or light, until the
    master of the vessel that brought them was ordered to take them to
    Barbadoes. When Endicott returned, he thought they had been treated
    too leniently, and declared that he would have had them whipped.

    "After this, almost every town in the province was favored with the
    spectacle of aged and young women stripped to the middle, tied to a
    cart-tail and dragged through the streets and scourged without mercy
    by the constable's whip. It is not strange that these atrocious
    proceedings, in two or three instances, unsettled the minds of the
    victims. Lydia Wardwell of Hampton, who, with her husband, had been
    reduced to almost total destitution by persecution, was summoned by
    the church of which she had been a member to appear before it to
    answer to the charge of non-attendance. She obeyed the call by
    appearing in the unclothed condition of the sufferers whom she had
    seen under the constable's whip. For this she was taken to Ipswich
    and stripped to the waist, tied to a rough post, which tore her
    bosom as she writhed under the lash, and severely scourged to the
    satisfaction of a crowd of lookers-on at the tavern. One, and only
    one, other instance is adduced in the person of Deborah Wilson of
    Salem. She had seen her friends and neighbors scourged naked through
    the street, among them her brother, who was banished on pain of
    death. She, like all Puritans, had been educated in the belief of
    the plenary inspiration of Scripture, and had brooded over the
    strange 'signs' and testimonies of the Hebrew prophets. It seemed to
    her that the time had arrived for some similar demonstration, and
    that it was her duty to walk abroad in the disrobed condition to
    which her friends had been subjected, as a sign and warning to the
    persecutors. Whatever of 'indecency' there was in these cases was
    directly chargeable upon the atrocious persecution. At the door of
    the magistrates and ministers of Massachusetts must be laid the
    insanity of the conduct of these unfortunate women.

    "But Boston, at least, had no voluntary Godivas. The only disrobed
    women in its streets were made so by Puritan sheriffs and
    constables, who dragged them amidst jeering crowds at the cart-tail,
    stripped for the lash, which in one instance laid open with a
    ghastly gash the bosom of a young mother!"[29]

[Footnote 29: Mr. Whittier stated to a member of the Massachusetts
Historical Society that it was his intention "at some time to prepare a
full and exhaustive history of the relations of Puritan and Quaker in
the seventeenth century." It may be added that the newspaper articles
quoted above, with the several replications of their authors, may all be
found in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for
1880-81 (see the index of that volume).]

We may conclude this discussion by giving a few instances of Quaker
persecutions, in addition to those mentioned by Mr. Whittier. In England
the members of the sect suffered a whole Jeremiad of woes: they were
dragged through the streets by the hair of the head, incarcerated in
loathsome dungeons, beaten over the head with muskets, pilloried,
whipped at the cart's-tail, branded, their tongues bored with red-hot
irons, and their property confiscated to the State. One First Day,
George Fox went into the "steeple-house" of Tickhill. "I found," he says
in his Journal, "the priest and most of the chief of the parish together
in the chancel. I went up to them and began to speak; but they
immediately fell upon me; the clerk got up with his Bible, as I was
speaking, and struck me in the face with it, so that my face gushed out
with blood, and I bled exceedingly in the steeple-house. The people
cried, 'Let us have him out of the church.' When they had got me out,
they beat me exceedingly, threw me down, and threw me over a hedge. They
afterwards dragged me through a house into the street, stoning and
beating me as they dragged me along; so that I was all over besmeared
with blood and dirt. They got my hat from me, which I never had again."
Fox was at various times thrust into dungeons filled ankle-deep with
ordure, and was shot at, beaten with stones and clubs, etc.

One evening he passed through Cambridge: "When I came into the town, the
scholars, hearing of me, were up and exceeding rude. I kept on my
horse's back, and rode through them in the Lord's power; but they
unhorsed Amor Stoddart before he could get to the inn. When we were in
the inn, they were so rude in the courts and in the streets, that the
miners, colliers, and carters could never be ruder. The people of the
house asked us what we would have for supper. 'Supper!' said I, 'were it
not that the Lord's power is over them, these rude scholars look as if
they would pluck us in pieces and make a supper of us.' They knew I was
so against the trade of preaching, which they were there as apprentices
to learn, that they raged as bad as ever Diana's craftsmen did against
Paul."

In the declaration made by the Quakers to Charles II. it appears that in
New England, up to that time, "thirty Quakers had been whipped;
twenty-two had been banished on pain of death if they returned;
twenty-five had been banished upon the penalty of being whipped, or
having their ears cut, or being branded in the hand if they returned;
three had their right ears shorn off by the hangman; one had been
branded in the hand with the letter H; many had been imprisoned; many
fined; and three had been put to death, and one (William Leddra) was
soon after executed."

Besse, in his "Sufferings of the Quakers," states that one William
Brand, a man in years, was so brutally whipped by an infuriated jailer,
in Salem, that "His Back and Arms were bruised and black, and the Blood
hanging as it were in Bags under his Arms, and so into one was his Flesh
beaten that the Sign of a particular Blow could not be seen." And the
surgeon said that "His Flesh would rot from off his Bones e'er the
bruized Parts would be brought to digest." To all this must be added the
humiliating fact that four persons were hanged on Boston Common for the
crime of being Quakers. Their names were Marmaduke Stephenson, William
Robinson, William Leddra, and Mary Dyer.



CHAPTER V.

POEMS BY GROUPS.


Besides "The King's Missive," Whittier has written numerous other Quaker
poems, the finest of which are "Cassandra Southwick," "The Old South,"
and the spirited, ringing ballad of "The Exiles." In the first two of
these the poet shows a delicate intuition into the feelings that might
have prompted the Quaker women who witnessed for the truth in Boston two
hundred years ago.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing in American literature, unless it be the anti-slavery
papers of Thoreau, which equals the sevenfold-heated moral indignation
of Whittier's poems on slavery,--a wild melody in them like that of
Highland pibrochs; now plaintively and piteously pleading, and now
burning with passion, irony, satire, scorn; here glowing with tropical
imagery, as in "Toussaint L'Ouverture," and "The Slaves of Martinique,"
and there rising into lofty moral atmospheres of faith when all seemed
dark and hopeless. Every one knows the power of a "cry" (a song like
"John Brown's Body," or a pithy sentence or phrase) in any great popular
movement. There can be no doubt that Whittier's poems did as much as
Garrison's editorials to key up the minds of people to the point
required for action against slavery. Some of these anti-slavery pieces
still possess great intrinsic beauty and excellence, as, for example,
"Toussaint L'Ouverture," "The Farewell," "The Slave Ships," and "The
Slaves of Martinique." In these four productions there is little or none
of the dreary didacticism of most of the anti-slavery poems, but a
simple statement of pathetic, beautiful fact, which is left to make its
own impression. Another powerful group of these slavery poems is
constituted by the scornful, mock-congratulatory productions, such as
"The Hunters of Men," "Clerical Oppressors," "The Yankee Girl," "A
Sabbath Scene," "Lines suggested by Reading a State Paper wherein the
Higher Law is Invoked to Sustain the Lower One," and "The Pastoral
Letter."[30] The sentences in these stanzas cut like knives and sting
like shot. The poltroon clergy, especially, looks pitiful, most pitiful,
in the light of Whittier's noble scorn and contempt.

[Footnote 30: "The Pastoral Letter" was an idiotic manifesto of the
clergy of Massachusetts aimed at the Grimké sisters.]

"Randolph of Roanoke" is a noble tribute to a political enemy by one who
admired in him the man. The long poem, "The Panorama," must be
considered a failure, poetically speaking. Its showman's pictures and
preachings do not get hold of our sympathies very strongly.

The Tyrtaean fire in Whittier was so thoroughly kindled by the
anti-slavery conflict that it has never wholly gone out. All through his
life his hand has instinctively sought the old war-lyre whenever a voice
was to be raised in honor of Freedom. The formal close of the
anti-slavery period with him may be said to be marked by "Laus Deo," a
triumphant, almost ecstatic shout of joy uttered on hearing the bells
ring when the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery was passed.

Naturally, the war poems of a Quaker--and even of our martial
Whittier--could not be equal to his peace poems. Still there are many
strong passages in the lyrics written by Whittier during the civil war
of 1861-65. At first he counsels that we allow disunion rather than
kindle the lurid fires of fratricidal war:--

                            "Let us press
    The golden cluster on our brave old flag
    In closer union, and, if numbering less,
    Brighter shall shine the stars which still remain."

    _A Word for the Hour._

So he wrote in January, 1861. But afterward he becomes a pained but
sadly approving spectator of the inevitable conflict:--

    "Then Freedom sternly said: 'I shun
    No strife nor pang beneath the sun,
    When human rights are staked and won.

           *       *       *       *       *

    The moor of Marston felt my tread,
    Through Jersey snows the march I led,
    My voice Magenta's charges sped.'"

    _The Watchers._

As a Friend, he and his brethren could not personally engage in war. But
they could minister to the sick and dying, and care for the slave.

    "THE SLAVE IS OURS!"

he says,--

    "And we may tread the sick-bed floors
        Where strong men pine,
    And, down the groaning corridors,
    Pour freely from our liberal stores
        The oil and wine."

    _Anniversary Poem._

"Barbara Frietchie" is, of course, the best of these war lyrics. The
"Song of the Negro Boatmen" was set to music and sung from Maine to
California during the war days:--

    "De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
      We'll hab de rice an' corn;
    O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
      De driver blow his horn!"

After "Voices of Freedom," in the complete edition of Whittier's poems,
come a cluster of Biblical, or Old Testament poems,--"Palestine,"
"Ezekiel," "The Wife of Manoah to her Husband," "The Cities of the
Plain," "The Crucifixion," and "The Star of Bethlehem." The best of
these, perhaps, are "Cities of the Plain," and "Crucifixion,"--the
former intense and thrilling in style, and suggesting the "Sennacherib"
and "Waterloo" of Byron; the latter a high, solemn chant, and well
calculated to touch the religious heart. Whittier has drawn great
refreshment and inspiration from the thrice-winnowed wheat and the
living-water wells of Old Testament literature.

Allusion has already been made to the hymns of our poet. Hymn-book
makers have had in his poems a very quarry to work. The hymn tinkers,
too, have not spared Whittier even while he was alive, and many of his
sacred lyrics have been "adapted" after the manner of hymn-book makers.
Dr. Martineau's "Hymns of Praise" (1874) contains seven of Whittier's
religious songs; the "Unitarian Hymn and Tune Book" (1868) also has
seven; the Plymouth Collection (1855) has eleven, and Longfellow and
Johnson's "Hymns of the Spirit" (1864) has twenty-two.

The Essex minstrel has written quite a number of children's poems, such
as "The Robin," "Red Riding Hood," and "King Solomon and the Ants." He
has also compiled two books of selections for children, as has already
been mentioned.

Like many authors, Whittier has been attracted, in the autumn of his
life, to the rich fields of Oriental literature. His Oriental poems show
careful and sympathetic study of eastern books. "The Two Rabbis" and
"Shah Akbar" are especially fine. The little touch in the former of "the
small weeds that the bees bow with their weight" is a very pretty one.
In "The King's Missive" we have a few "Oriental Maxims," being
paraphrases of translations from the Sanscrit. "The Dead Feast of the
Kol-Folk," and "The Khan's Devil," are also included in the same volume.

Mr. Whittier has also made successful studies in Norse literature, for
which his beautiful ballads, the "Dole of Jarl Thorkell," "Kallundborg
Church," and "King Volmer and Elsie" are vouchers.



CHAPTER VI.

PROSE WRITINGS.


It is to be feared that the greater portion of the prose writings of
Whittier will be _caviare_ to many readers of this day. He himself
almost admits as much in the prefatory note to the second volume of the
complete edition of his essays. That many of the papers are entertaining
reading, and that they are written often in a light and genial and
vivacious style, is true; and, as he himself hints, they will at least
be welcomed and indulgently judged by his personal friends and admirers.
His prose work was done in a time seething with moral ideas; the air was
full of reforms; the voice of duty sounded loud in men's consciences,
and the ancestral buckler called--

    "Self-clanging, from the walls
    In the high temple of the soul!"

    _Lowell._

That particular era is now passed. The great secular heart is now in its
diastole, or relaxation. Hence it is that the philanthropic themes
discussed by Mr. Whittier thirty years ago (and most of his essays are
of a philanthropic character) possess but a languid interest for the
present reading public. The artistic essays, however, are charming, and
possess permanent interest. Let us except from these the long
productions, "Margaret Smith's Journal" and "My Summer with Dr.
Singletary." Some have thought these to be the best papers in the
collection. But to many they must appear frigid and old-fashioned in the
extreme. They seem aimless and sprawling, mere _esquisses_, tentative
work in a field in which the author was doubtful of his powers. They
would ordinarily be classed under the head of Sunday-school literature.
It has been suggested that the idea of "Margaret Smith's Journal" might
have been derived from the "Diary of Lady Willoughby," which appeared
about the same time. "The Journal" is a reproduction of the antique in
style and atmosphere, and is said to be very successful as far as that
goes. But certainly the iteration of the archaism, "did do," "did
write," etc., gets to be very wearisome. The "Journal" purports to be
written by a niece of Edward Rawson, Secretary of Massachusetts from
1650-1686. The scene is laid in Newbury, where Rawson settled about
1636. We have pleasant pictures of the colonial life of the day, of the
Quakers and Indians and Puritans, and, on the whole, the sketch is well
worth reading by historical students.

"Old Portraits and Modern Sketches" consists chiefly of newspaper
articles on modern reformers. They were originally contributed to the
_National Era_. The portraits drawn are those of John Bunyan, Thomas
Ellwood, James Nayler, Andrew Marvell, John Roberts, Samuel Hopkins,
Richard Baxter,--and, among Americans, William Leggett and Nathaniel
Peabody Rogers,--both anti-slavery reformers and journalists; and,
lastly, Robert Dinsmore, the rustic Scotch-American poet of Haverhill.
The last three papers mentioned are the best.

The second volume of Mr. Whittier's prose writings bears the title
"Literary Recreations and Miscellanies," and consists of various
reviews, thumb-nail essays, and indigenous folk-and-nature studies, made
in the region of the Merrimack. These last are of most interest, and
indicate the field which Mr. Whittier would have cultivated with most
success. In the reviews of the volume the newspapery tone and journalist
diction are rather unpleasantly conspicuous. As a critic, our poet is
not very successful, because he is too earnest a partisan, too merciless
and undistinguishing in his invective or too generous in his praise. For
example, what he says about Carlyle, in reviewing that author's infamous
"Discourse on the Negro Question," is true as far as it goes. But of the
elementary literary canon, that the prime function of the critic is to
put himself in the place of the one he is criticising,--of this law Mr.
Whittier has not, practically, the faintest notion. He considers
everything from the point of view of the Quaker or of the reformer.

Numerous specimens of Mr. Whittier's prose have already been given in
various parts of this volume, but for the sake of illustration we may
add two more. For an example of his serious style take the following
from "Scottish Reformers": "He who undertakes to tread the pathway of
reform--who, smitten with the love of truth and justice, or, indignant
in view of wrong and insolent oppression, is rashly inclined to throw
himself at once into that great conflict which the Persian seer not
untruly represented as a war between light and darkness--would do well
to count the cost in the outset. If he can live for Truth alone, and,
cut off from the general sympathy, regard her service as its own
'exceeding great reward'; if he can bear to be counted a fanatic and
crazy visionary; if, in all good nature, he is ready to receive from the
very objects of his solicitude abuse and obloquy in return for
disinterested and self-sacrificing efforts for their welfare; if, with
his purest motives misunderstood and his best actions perverted and
distorted into crimes, he can still hold on his way and patiently abide
the hour when 'the whirligig of Time shall bring about its revenges';
if, on the whole, he is prepared to be looked upon as a sort of moral
outlaw or social heretic under good society's interdict of food and
fire; and if he is well assured that he can, through all this, preserve
his cheerfulness and faith in man,--let him gird up his loins and go
forward in God's name. He is fitted for his vocation; he has watched all
night by his armor.... Great is the consciousness of right. Sweet is the
answer of a good conscience. He who pays his whole-hearted homage to
truth and duty,--who swears his life-long fealty on their altars, and
rises up a Nazarite consecrated to their service,--is not without his
solace and enjoyment when, to the eyes of others, he seems the most
lonely and miserable. He breathes an atmosphere which the multitude know
not of; 'a serene heaven which they cannot discern rests over him,
glorious in its purity and stillness.'"

For a specimen of our author's vein of pleasantry take the following bit
of satire on "The Training": "What's now in the wind? Sounds of distant
music float in at my window on this still October air. Hurrying
drum-beat, shrill fife-tones, wailing bugle-notes, and, by way of
accompaniment, hurrahs from the urchins on the crowded sidewalks. Here
come the citizen-soldiers, each martial foot beating up the mud of
yesterday's storm with the slow, regular, up-and-down movement of an
old-fashioned churn-dasher. Keeping time with the feet below, some
threescore of plumed heads bob solemnly beneath me. Slant sunshine
glitters on polished gun-barrels and tinselled uniform. Gravely and
soberly they pass on, as if duly impressed with a sense of the deep
responsibility of their position as self-constituted defenders of the
world's last hope,--the United States of America, and possibly Texas.
They look out with honest, citizen faces under their leathern vizors
(their ferocity being mostly the work of the tailor and tinker), and, I
doubt not, are at this moment as innocent of bloodthirstiness as yonder
worthy tiller of the Tewksbury Hills, who sits quietly in his wagon
dispensing apples and turnips without so much as giving a glance at the
procession. Probably there is not one of them who would hesitate to
divide his last tobacco-quid with his worst enemy. Social, kind-hearted,
psalm-singing, sermon-hearing, Sabbath-keeping Christians; and yet, if
we look at the fact of the matter, these very men have been out the
whole afternoon of this beautiful day, under God's holy sunshine, as
busily at work as Satan himself could wish in learning how to butcher
their fellow-creatures, and acquire the true scientific method of
impaling a forlorn Mexican on a bayonet, or of sinking a leaden missile
in the brain of some unfortunate Briton, urged within its range by the
double incentive of sixpence per day in his pocket and the cat-o'-nine
tails on his back!"



PART III.

TWILIGHT AND EVENING BELL.



CHAPTER I.

TWILIGHT AND EVENING BELL.


The passing away from earth of John Greenleaf Whittier occurred on
September 7, 1892, at four-thirty A. M., at Hampton Falls, N. H., in the
very heart of the region he has immortalized by his ballads. The hour
was just as the reddening east was mingling its light with that of the
full harvest moon. Around his bedside were numerous relatives and
friends. He fell asleep in an unconscious state, after an illness of a
week. Let us now go back and, taking up the thread of the narrative
where it was dropped on page 152, run over the incidents that have
intervened in the decade since 1882 in the life of this pleasant
singer--this plain Quaker farmer, who drew such soul-thrilling strains
from his home-made rustic flute as to concentrate upon himself the
attention of the whole world.

In 1883 (January 7) died, in Boston, Whittier's brother, Matthew
Franklin Whittier, whose daughter Elizabeth, before her marriage to
Samuel T. Pickard, was house-keeper for a number of years for her uncle,
the poet, at Amesbury. "Frank," as his associates called him, obtained,
it is said, his position in the Boston Custom House through the
influence of his brother. Says a friend (Mr. Charles O. Stickney):--

    "Frank was not a poet, and being of a practical turn of mind, had
    the good sense not to attempt the impossible; but he was a man of
    intellect, an omnivorous reader, was well posted, and, though
    inclined to seclusion and taciturnity, was nevertheless genial and
    companionable; his conversation spiced with his quiet, quaint humor,
    which bubbled up in some happy _mot_, neat fun, or well-turned bit
    of satire which raised a laugh, but left no sting behind." His
    quaint, humorous dialect articles, over the signature "Ethan Spike,"
    are said to have given Nasby and Artemus Ward their cue. They were
    chiefly contributed to the Portland _Transcript_, the Boston _Carpet
    Bag_, and New York _Vanity Fair_. They all purported to emanate
    from "Hornby," a "smart town" in Maine--"a veritable down-east
    wonderland, whose wide-awake citizens were up to the times and ready
    to settle any great question of the day at 'a special town
    meetin'.'" Mr. Spike was as intense in his anti-slavery views as his
    brother Greenleaf. Specimens of his work may be found in the
    Portland _Transcript_, January 10, 1846, the _Carpet Bag_, October
    14, 1850, and November, 1851.

In 1884 Whittier's seventy-seventh birthday was observed at Oak Knoll,
when the genial old bachelor received with courtesy and hospitality all
who called. Gifts of flowers poured in to serve as foil to the two huge
birthday cakes from relatives.

An editorial writer in one of Boston's chief dailies thus describes a
visit to Mr. Whittier, made in 1884:--

    "Mr. Whittier met us at the door of the pleasant house at Oak Knoll.
    He came out on the piazza, and shook us each by the hand, and said,
    'I am glad to see thee.' He concerned himself about our rubbers and
    waterproofs in the hall-way, and said that we were kind to come. I
    had taken a great fit of shyness on seeing him, and was surprised
    to hear my friend speaking to him in the same quiet tone that she
    had used when alone with me. I listened, and reveled in silence as
    the old poet and the young artist spoke together. He led us into the
    parlor, and they talked of a landscape on the wall, of pictures, and
    of a portrait.

    "Presently he said: 'It is a little cold here. Shall we go into my
    room?' He led the way to the bright library where most of his days
    are now spent. Mr. Whittier happened to glance from the window as we
    stood for a moment speaking with him: he saw our cab waiting for us
    on the drive. The rain had begun again. Then a wonderful thing
    befell.

    "He forbade us to go away within the quarter hour; he forbade us to
    go for three hours. He went out and sent the cabman away, then he
    took us into the library. We sat down in front of the cheery open
    fire, and Mr. Whittier talked with us. He spoke of the claims of
    young people on life, it was different from any talk I had heard; in
    the face of my poets, I used to think that all good people believed
    that life is our creditor and hard taskmaster."

On October 24, 1884, a portrait of Whittier was presented by Charles F.
Coffin, of Lynn, Mass., a devoted friend and admirer of his, to the
Friends' School of Providence, R.I. It was painted by Edgar Parker, of
Boston, and represents Whittier sitting in an arm-chair in an attitude
of peaceful thought.

It is hung in Alumni Hall, between busts of Elizabeth Fry and John
Bright, and is considered to be a worthy memorial of the poet. Letters
on this occasion were read from James Russell Lowell, Dr. Holmes, E. P.
Whipple, John Bright, George William Curtis, Boyle O'Reilly, Matthew
Arnold, and others. From Mr. Whipple's letter the following is an
extract:--

    "I have had the privilege of knowing him intimately for many years,
    and of doing all I could through the press to point out his
    exceptional and original merits as a writer. My admiration of his
    genius and character has increased with every new volume he has
    published and every new manifestation of that essential gentleness
    which lies at the root of his nature, even when some of his poems
    suggest the warrior rather than the Quaker. One thing is certain:
    that the reader feels that the writer possesses that peculiar
    attribute of humanity which we instinctively call by the high name
    of soul; and, whether he storms into the souls of others or glides
    into them, his hot invectives equally with his soft persuasions mark
    him as a man; a man, too, of might; a man whose force is blended
    with his insight, and who can win or woo his way into hostile or
    recipient minds by innate strength or delicacy of nature."

In 1885 the poet's birthday was again quietly celebrated at Oak Knoll,
and in the afternoon Mr. Whittier's portrait was unveiled before a large
audience in the Town Hall of Haverhill.

In September, 1885, occurred a most interesting festival--the reunion of
the graduates of the old Haverhill Academy, for whom the poet cherished
to the end of his life an earnest and outspoken affection. It was here
that Whittier got all the scholastic education he ever had outside of
the district school; the reunion was thoroughly enjoyed therefore by
him, although it was in his honor. For his health was pretty good, and
he was in fine spirits. An interesting letter was received from the
aged Miss Arethusa Hall, a preceptress in the Academy when Whittier
attended it. Among others, Dr. Holmes wrote: "The class of 1829
[Harvard] has a bright record; but how much brighter it would have been
if we could have read upon the triennial and quinquennial catalogues:
Johannes Greenleaf Whittier, A. B., A. M., LL. D., etc! But what, after
all, can all the degrees of all the colleges do for him whose soul has
been kindled by that 'ae spark of Nature's fire,' which Burns caught
from her torch on the banks of Ayr, and Whittier among the mists that
rise from the Merrimack?"

Mr. Whittier presented photographs of himself with his autograph to his
school-mates, promised to think over the sitting for an oil portrait,
and entered with zest into any bit of mirthfulness that sparkled out
during the evening, although, as will be seen from the following
description of a representative of the Boston _Advertiser_, he could
scarcely understand the situation:--

    "In the company was one man who seemed neither to accept nor to
    comprehend the situation. That man was John G. Whittier. His face
    and demeanor that day would have afforded study for a psychologist.
    That it was fifty-seven years since he entered Haverhill Academy he
    remembered with a certain sweet melancholy. That everybody was vying
    with everybody else in making love to him he could not help
    observing. But what it was all about, and why people should persist
    in talking of him when he wanted other, more congenial topics to be
    uppermost--these questions evidently puzzled him. A countenance on
    which was a look of shyness, of surprise, of perplexity; withal, a
    countenance irradiated by reciprocal affection and pleasure in
    seeing others pleased--if any one of the present artists could have
    caught and delineated those features, the painter would have been
    destined to share the immortality of the poet. On such a subject the
    temptation to indulge in reminiscence is strong. But space will
    permit me to mention only two or three characteristic incidents. A
    gifted vocalist had just sung a composition prepared for that day;
    and Mr. Whittier, turning to her, said, 'Friend, I wish that I could
    write a song for thee to sing.' An elocutionist of note read aloud
    one of the author's poems. He listened eagerly, as if it was wholly
    new to him; and a little mist gathered in those deep, dreamy eyes at
    the lines beginning,

         'I mourn no more my vanished years,'

    but there was an answering gleam at the words,

         'The windows of my soul I throw Wide open to the sun.'

    "Two circumstances made that one of the few red-letter days in the
    memory of the present writer. I had known in Kansas a lady who
    belonged to that band of Haverhill Academy pupils whose boast and
    joy it was to have studied and played with the Quaker poet. On
    mentioning this lady's name, I found myself instantly accepted as
    her proxy. For some minutes Mr. Whittier seemed to have no other
    interest than to learn all possible particulars of her and send to
    her all possible expressions of regard.

    "The other circumstance was the result of my connection with the
    _Advertiser_. Taking me into one corner of the room, he asked me to
    sit beside him on the sofa. Then, drawing from his pocket the
    manuscript of the poem which he had written for that occasion and on
    portions of which the ink was not yet dry, the author, in a manner
    irresistibly winning, seemed to take his humble brother of the
    pen-craft into confidence, explaining the motive for various lines
    and passing on to speak of those boyhood days which the poem and the
    occasion recalled."

December 17 again came round in 1886, and found Whittier receiving
friends, presents, and congratulatory telegrams at Oak Knoll. Wendell
Phillips, for example, sent him a handsome cane, and some one else sent
a great frosted cake and a basket that strained its sides to hold the
gift of fruit it contained.

In December, 1887, it occurred to a young lady journalist on the staff
of the Boston _Advertiser_ (Miss Minna C. Smith) that it would be a good
idea to have a "Whittier number" of that journal. The thought was a
fertile one and was put into execution in great haste, but with eminent
success. Poems were contributed by Walt Whitman, Dr. Holmes, James
Jeffrey Roche, Hezekiah Butterworth, Herbert D. Ward, Minot J. Savage,
Margaret Sidney (Mrs. D. Lothrop), Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and others,
and there was a great array of letters from other writers and eminent
persons. Edward Everett Hale told the story of Whittier's Kansas
"Emigrants' Song," how it was sung _en route_ and in the West by brave
pioneers of New England. James Parton, of Newburyport, Whittier's
Amesbury neighbor, wrote that Whittier was carrying his burthen of
eighty years "with considerable ease and constant cheerfulness." He
continued:--

    "I am sometimes asked, 'Is the poet Whittier really a Quaker or only
    one by inheritance?' He is really a Quaker. He wears, it is true, a
    silk hat of the kind familiarly called the stove-pipe, which gleams
    in the brilliant sun of winter, and seems to indicate at once the
    man of Boston and the man of the world. But it is not the
    broad-brimmed hat that makes the Quaker. The poet does actually keep
    a Quaker coat for Sundays and other dress occasions, which coat was
    made by a firm of Orthodox Friends in Philadelphia, the metropolitan
    city of the gentle sect. He also uses the _thee_ and _thou_ in
    conversation, although without attaching the least importance to
    these trifles. But he is also a Friend from heartfelt conviction. A
    few miles from his home is one of the smallest meeting-houses in New
    England, standing alone in a land of farms and fields. It is painted
    white, and looks a little like a small school-house. This edifice
    will seat perhaps forty persons, but the usual congregation numbers
    about fourteen, who on winter Sundays dwindle often to seven and
    sometimes to three. This is the meeting-house which the poet
    Whittier attends whenever he is at home, unless prevented by the
    weather.

    "What an extraordinary thing is this! The poet who has most deeply
    felt and most beautifully expressed the sentiment and soul of New
    England is a member of the sect to which New England was so
    intolerant and so cruel! When the essential New England has ceased
    to exist, it will live again, and live long, in Whittier's poems;
    and he a Quaker! Was there ever before a revenge so complete and so
    sublime?"

Mr. Charles M. Thompson sent for this octogenarian birthday a fine
poetical stanza:--

    "A thousand stars swim on through time,
      Unknown and unregarded in the skies.
    But one, kings followed; one, thy rhyme,
      Led on a land of kings in liberty's emprise!"

Mr. James H. Carleton knew Whittier in connection with a circle of
intellectual and social people that centred around the family of Judge
Pitman in the years just preceding the rise of the abolition movement.
"The Pitmans were neighbors of mine," said Mr. Carleton, "and I (I
hardly know why) was admitted to the meetings of the people who gathered
there. They were the leaders in everything that was progressive. They
have since become widely scattered.

"I remember Mr. Whittier as a leader of these leaders. These people
formed to a large extent his social world at that time. It was the one
place at which Mr. Whittier threw off his natural reserve and took his
proper place. He was a good conversationalist on occasion, and when he
spoke he was worth listening to. I remember him as intensely interested
in whatever subject occupied the attention of the circle. He was never
the first to begin a discussion, but rather bided his time for an
especial opportunity."

Mr. George C. How wrote of Mr. Whittier's friendliness, his cordiality,
and his unassuming manner: "In the few delightful days I spent in his
company in the White Mountain region, I saw no signs of formality or
reserve. He told me, under the trees, many stories of his life and of
his earliest successes. He impresses you strongly as a true and generous
friend to everything and every man he believes good and honest. He does
not like to be lionized, and refused to be introduced to a man whose
only claim to his friendship was that he had read all his works. When,
however, Mr. Whittier learned that this same man was an ardent admirer
of the poet Hayne, a chord of sympathy was struck that made them firm
friends during this stranger's stay."

At Oak Knoll the winter day was clear and sunshiny, if cold, and warm
hearts within laughed the season to scorn. The ladies of Boston, at the
suggestion of Mrs. D. Lothrop, sent up a most unique and exquisite gift;
eighty beautiful roses edged a large basket fringed with fern-sprays,
that held an open book of white roses, across whose face lay a pen of
violets, and on the wide satin book-mark was inscribed the closing
stanza of "My Triumph." The Essex Club of Boston presented a large
album; fruit and flowers flanked a mighty birthday cake in the
dining-room. Mr. Charles F. Coffin, of Lynn, sent a large overflowing
basket of fruit, arranged under his personal supervision, "every fruit
in its season," of exquisite colors and shapes, to express his affection
for his life-long friend, the poet.

The new town of Whittier, in California, sent an advance copy of the
first issue of the town's newspaper; the Governor of the Commonwealth,
as the winter afternoon quickly declined, cut and distributed to the
guests slices of the birthday cake, while all through the day Whittier
passed to and fro from room to room, conversing with young and old, and
hospitable to all.

Whittier himself is reported as saying on his eightieth birthday: "When
a man is eighty years old, it is time to give up active mental work. Oh!
I am able to go about these grounds pretty well. I have never attempted
to imitate Gladstone and chop down trees, but I like to split wood."

This was James Russell Lowell's verse for Mr. Whittier on his eightieth
birthday:--

    "How fair a pearl chain, eighty strong,
      Lustrous and hallowed every one
    With saintly thoughts and sacred song,
      As 'twere the rosary of a nun!"

The excitement and nervous exhaustion attendant upon these birthday
occasions, it always took Mr. Whittier three or four weeks fully to
recover from. Hence in 1889 (and partly on account of the recent death
of a beloved cousin), the poet announced, through the press, that he
should have to ask his friends to spare him any public reception.
However, December 17 was observed as "Whittier Day" very generally
throughout the country, as it had been in 1887, in accordance with the
custom that has grown up of celebrating the birthdays of eminent men in
the schools, and introducing into their courses of supplementary reading
selected portions of the writings of each. Among the gifts received at
Oak Knoll was a painting of a golden vase by Mr. Herman Marcus, of New
York City, to whom the poet had appeared in a dream, bearing in his
hand an elegant portfolio of red morocco, containing a picture of a vase
of Grecian design, richly ornamented, and inscribed with the legend,
"May in the smallest part thy sorrows lie concealed and all the rest be
filled with joy overflowing." The portfolio and the picture on its page
are a close realization of what the donor saw in his dream.

Speaking of visitors, Col. Higginson tells two incidents in point. He
says two nice little boys called one day on Whittier, saying that they
had recently called on Longfellow, and, as he had died soon after, they
thought it best to call at once on Mr. Whittier. One of the poet's
housekeepers once asked him in severe tones whether all "these people"
came on business or whether they were relatives. When told that neither
was the case, she said she did not see what they came for then. "Neither
did I," said Whittier, with laughing eye.

In December, 1890, Mr. Whittier, who had gone down to Amesbury to vote,
had been taken ill there, and hardly expected to be able to get back to
Oak Knoll by the seventeenth. He did arrive, however, on a sunny day.
Many of his friends spared him visits, merely leaving their cards or
sending remembrances. His mail was very large, as usual on this day.

In the summer of 1891 Mr. Whittier's health was so feeble that he was
obliged to abandon his daily walks, except about the grounds at Oak
Knoll. Driving was too fatiguing for him, and his hearing had grown so
bad that he could converse only with difficulty.

In Whittier's poem, "The Red River Voyageur," there is a beautiful
allusion to the "bells of the Roman mission," now the Archepiscopate of
St. Boniface. Archbishop Tache was reminded by Lieut.-Gov. Schultz that
December 17, 1891, was the eighty-fourth birthday of the poet, the
suggestion being made that the anniversary should be greeted by a
joy-peal from the tower of the Cathedral of St. Boniface, in Winnipeg,
Manitoba. His Grace cordially concurred, and the graceful tribute was
rendered at midnight with the last stroke of the clock ushering the
natal day. Mr. Whittier, having been informed of the incident by United
States Consul Taylor, wrote to the Archbishop: "I have reached an age
when literary success and manifestations of popular favor have ceased
to satisfy one upon whom the solemnity of life's sunset is resting; but
such a delicate and beautiful tribute has deeply moved me. I shall never
forget it. I shall hear the bells of St. Boniface sounding across the
continent, and awakening a feeling of gratitude for thy generous act."

Our poet's eighty-fourth birthday (1891), and alas! his last on earth,
was delightfully observed at the home of the Cartlands, his cousins, in
Newburyport, with whom he was spending the winter. Mr. Joseph Cartland
is himself a Quaker, and his white hair and genial cheery temperament
are quite of the old régime. He and his wife were teachers in the
Friends' School at Providence, R. I. Their fine old mansion on High
Street is the identical one built and lived in by Judge Livermore,
father of the shrewish saint and devotee of "Snow-Bound." It may be
stated, too, that it was to succeed one of the Cartlands in the
editorial chair of the _Pennsylvania Freeman_ that Whittier went to
Philadelphia in 1838. In this house is kept the old maple-wood desk,
made by Joseph Whittier, grandfather of the poet, who, by the way,
"wrote on it his first poem." The desk is about one hundred and eighty
years old now. On the back are carved the initials "J. W., 1786," in
large letters. The wood has been smoothed down a little and a coat of
shellac applied. On the back of the drawers are memoranda in chalk and
pencil made by Greenleaf's father. On December 17, 1891, the old piece
of furniture was covered with hundreds of congratulatory letters which
would have made the old farmer Quaker, its builder, rub his eyes in
astonishment, could he have seen them.

"As he walks slowly down the broad stairs of the Cartlands at
Newburyport," says one who saw him on his birthday, "there is much to
suggest his years, it is true, yet no signs of unusual feebleness. He is
erect for a man of eighty-four; his early litheness has not degenerated
into the hopeless leanness of an ill-nourished and uncared-for old age;
his step does not drag after his body as if unwilling to carry the
burden longer; his head is not lowered, awaiting the smite of Time."

Another thus describes Whittier in 1891: "In personal appearance he is
remarkable. Tall, and as straight as one of the young pines in his
favorite grove, it seems impossible that he is at the end of fourscore
years. The crown of his head is bald, and his hair is glossy silver; but
his great black eyes are as clear, bright and piercing as if he were in
the prime of life. He walks with the deliberation and dignity of age,
but without a suggestion of physical feebleness, and while he remains
standing his head is as finely poised as a soldier's. The straightness
of his figure is the more noticeable on account of his Quaker dress, the
coat of which fits him as neatly and closely as if it were the
conventional 'swallow-tail.' When seated and listening, his head drops
slightly forward and aside--a pose which seems peculiar to poetic
natures the world over. He is a most appreciative reader of other men's
books and poems, and talks admirably of all good writings except his
own, of which he can scarcely be persuaded to speak, even to his dearest
intimates."

Mr. S. T. Pickard, and Mr. and Mrs. Cartland received the guests in the
wide hall of the old-fashioned hospitable Quaker home; and the poet
himself wandered here and there about the room, so said the Boston
_Advertiser_, "greeting every guest informally and pleasantly, from the
old and tried comrades of anti-slavery's earliest days to the little
girl in cream-white dress and wide hat, his little friend Margaret
Lothrop, who had to stand on tip-toe to greet the bowed head with her
childish kiss; and whose small hand he held closely as he kept her by
his side."

A pleasant note was received from Phillips Brooks:--

     "DEAR MR. WHITTIER:

     "I have no right save that which love and gratitude and reverence
     may give, to say how devoutly I thank God that you have lived, that
     you are living, and that you will always live. May his peace be
     with you more and more.

     "Affectionately your friend,

     "PHILLIPS BROOKS."

The first guests to arrive were a deputation of fifty from Haverhill,
members of the Whittier Club of that town. Whittier made them a little
speech, saying it was evident that sometimes a prophet was honored in
his own country.

The house was filled with cut flowers--in the window-seats, on the
tables, in the poet's bedroom, up-stairs--all gifts from friends. The
Whittier Club of Haverhill brought eighty-four roses. There was a basket
of English violets from Mr. and Mrs. D. Lothrop. Mr. C. F. Coffin, of
Lynn, sent, as usual, his generous basket of fruit. From Mr. E. C.
Stedman came a painting "High Tide, Hampton Meadows," by Carroll D.
Brown. And some kindly old soul sent a half-dozen pairs of socks--the
spirit that prompted the gift as deeply appreciated as that of others.
Other gifts were: an oil painting of a scene at York Harbor, painted by
J. L. Smith, of Boston, the frame carved by A. G. Smith; a ruler of
various inlaid woods from California, the gift of pupils of the workshop
at West Point, Calaveras County, who wrote a letter, saying that they
would devote the birthday to reading and speaking selections from his
works; a paper-cutter made from the wood of Fort Loudon, of Winchester,
Penn., and sent by the ladies of that place; a hand-painted tray from
artist Florence Cammett of Amesbury; a late photograph of Dr. Holmes,
"with his hat in his hand, and his most man-of-the-world air;" a
souvenir spoon of Independence Hall from W. H. and S. B. Swazey, of
Newburyport; a picture of the old Mission at Santa Barbara, done on
native olive-wood, from Professor John Murray, of California; a handsome
footstool from Elizabeth Cavazza, of Portland, Me.; photogravures of
scenes about the Whittier homestead in Haverhill; a transparency
("Snow-Bound") from Austin P. Nichols; eighty-four roses from the girls
of Lasell Seminary near Boston, and a wreath of evergreens from Mrs.
Annie Fields.

Among the messages was one from a little Indian maiden whom Whittier had
befriended: "Your young Mohawk friend asks for you to-day the Great
Spirit's blessing"--signed, E. Pauline Johnson; a letter came from Abby
Hutchinson, of the Hutchinson singers.

Among those present were, Mrs. Alice Freeman Palmer, Sarah Orne Jewett,
"Margaret Sidney," Mrs. James T. Fields, Mrs. William Claflin, Harriet
McEwen Kimball, T. E. Burnham, Mayor of Haverhill, and others.

Among the company, conspicuous by those natural gifts that make one a
centre for intellectual and genial comradeship, was Mr. D. Lothrop--the
eminent publisher--(since passed away, mourned by all) who probably has
done more than any other man of present times to create a new literature
for children and young people, all achieved when it cost to do it, and
that consumed years of patient, persistent struggling, till his splendid
success was won.

Mr. Whittier writes to his widow, "Thy husband and Mr. Coffin" (the
old-time friend referred to), "were the life of my birthday reception,
and now both are gone before me." (Mr. Coffin died the week after the
birthday.)

Again, to quote one of the many extracts of Mr. Whittier's letters
concerning Mr. Lothrop: "Let me sit in the circle of thy mourning, for I
too have lost in him a friend."

There was much to draw the two men together; both sprang from New
England ancestry, sturdy as the granite hills of their native State;
each possessed the same indomitable will, where a question of right was
involved, and the same breadth of charity for all, of whatsoever creed
or divergence of opinion.

Mr. Whittier partook of but little food in the dining-room, nibbling a
bit here and there, and refusing firmly all offers of tea or coffee. His
eyes, every one noticed, flamed with old-time lustre, whenever he was
interested.

Letters of congratulation were received from Robert C. Winthrop, Celia
Thaxter, Julia Ward Howe, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Andrew P. Peabody,
Rose Terry Cooke (who has since died), George W. Cable, T. W. Higginson,
Charles Eliot Norton, and others.

Donald G. Mitchell wrote that above Whittier's literary art he admired
the broad and cheery humanities of the man.

For the eighty-fourth birthday the Boston _Advertiser_ printed a superb
illustrated Whittier number, as did also the Boston _Journal_. For the
latter Dr. Holmes contributed the following letter:

     MY DEAR WHITTIER:--I congratulate you on having climbed another
     glacier and crossed another crevasse in your ascent of the white
     summit which already begins to see the morning twilight of the
     coming century. A life so well filled as yours has been cannot be
     too long for your fellow-men and women. In their affections you are
     secure, whether you are with them here or near them in some higher
     life than theirs. I hope your years have not become a burden, so
     that you are tired of living. At our age we must live chiefly in
     the past. Happy is he who has a past like yours to look back upon.

     It is one of the felicitous incidents--I will not say accidents--of
     my life that the lapse of time has brought us very near together,
     so that I frequently find myself honored by seeing my name
     mentioned in near connection with your own. We are lonely, very
     lonely, in these last years. The image which I have used before
     this in writing to you recurs once more to my thought. We were on
     deck together as we began the voyage of life two generations ago. A
     whole generation passed, and the succeeding one found us in the
     cabin, with a goodly company of coevals. Then the craft which held
     us began going to pieces, until a few of us were left on the raft
     pieced together of its fragments. And now the raft has at last
     parted, and you and I are left clinging to the solitary spar, which
     is all that still remains afloat of the sunken vessel.

     I have just been looking over the headstones in Mr. Griswold's
     cemetery, entitled "The Poets and Poetry of America." In that
     venerable receptacle, just completing its half-century of
     existence--for the date of the edition before me is 1842--I find
     the names of John Greenleaf Whittier and Oliver Wendell Holmes next
     each other, in their due order, as they should be. All around are
     the names of the dead--too often of forgotten dead. Three which I
     see there are still among those of the living. Mr. John Osborne
     Sargent, who makes Horace his own by faithful study and ours by
     scholarly translation; Isaac McLellan, who was writing in 1830, and
     whose last work is dated 1886; and Christopher P. Cranch, whose
     poetical gift has too rarely found expression.

     Of these many dead you are the most venerated, revered and beloved
     survivor; of these few living the most honored representative. Long
     may it be before you leave a world where your influence has been so
     beneficent, where your example has been such inspiration, where
     you are so truly loved, and where your presence is a perpetual
     benediction.

     Always affectionately yours,

     Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Following is one of two stanzas sent to the Poet of Freedom by his
friend "Margaret Sidney," and which, says the _Advertiser_, with one
other tribute, was the only one of the innumerable letters and poems
sent him that he read in its entirety that day, owing to his failing
eyesight:

    "To be near the heart of Christ
          Was his creed;
    White as truth the life
          That all men may read;
    Strengthful of soul,
          Yet lowly in meekness;
    Dreading no hate of men,
          Scorning all weakness,
    He sounded the warning note,
          When it cost to be brave and true;
    Sang freedom for the slave,
          Then almost death to do.
        'Unbind every shackle,
        Loosen each chain,
        Bid every slave go free!'"

Mr. F. B. Sanborn wrote some interesting autobiographical reminiscences
for the _Advertiser_. He stated: "I can scarcely remember when I did
not read Whittier and Holmes. Their verses were eagerly caught up and
reprinted by all the newspapers, and I knew them by heart before I ever
saw a volume of them. Whittier, indeed, was almost my neighbor, living
only eight miles away across the Merrimack, and sometimes coming for
silent worship or to hear Mrs. Edward Gove speak in the Quaker
meeting-house at Seabrook, only three miles from the farm of my
ancestors. But I did not know this then; I never went there to see him.
He is a distant cousin of mine, both of us tracing descent, through his
daughters, from that stout and ungovernable old Puritan minister,
Stephen Bachiler, who planted the old town of Hampton, in whose wide
limits I was born, and which extended almost to Amesbury."

Another scholarly writer in the same paper wrote instructively of
Whittier in the Massachusetts Legislature. The Legislature of 1835 he
describes as a notable one in the quality of its members and in the work
accomplished. An extra session was held in the autumn. The Speaker of
the House was Judge Julius Rockwell of Pittsfield, with whom Whittier
had already formed a personal acquaintance through Judge Rockwell's
contributions to the _New England Review_. Among the Suffolk County
representatives were such names as Frothingham, Brooks, Otis, Sturgis,
Peabody, and Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, also Col. J. B. Fay, the first
mayor of Chelsea. It is not remembered that Whittier made any set
speech, but he nevertheless did so much and such arduous work as to make
himself ill before the session was half over. Dr. Bowditch, he often
recalled with amusement, told him that, if he followed implicitly the
rules he laid down for him, he might live to see his fiftieth birthday;
otherwise, not.

Perhaps no one man has been more frequently interviewed concerning the
policy of party politics than John G. Whittier. With gifted qualities of
heart and mind, was added wisdom, prudence and sagacity, in all that
related to governmental affairs. The late Henry Wilson once said of him,
"I can rely more safely upon the advice of Whittier than upon any other
man in America."

In the early movements of the Republican party he was acknowledged to
be the power behind the throne. Sumner, wise and learned, could trust to
the advice of Whittier. His correspondence with such men as Giddings,
Chase, Sumner, Wilson, John P. Hale, Upham and other celebrities, upon
national topics, is known to a few of his friends. They contain
sentiments which prove him as wise in statesmanship as he is eloquent in
verse.

How well and faithfully he labored is best expressed in his words:

    "I am not insensible to literary reputation; I love, perhaps too
    well, the love and praise of my fellow-men; but I set a higher value
    on my name as appended to the Anti-Slavery Declaration of 1833, than
    on the title page of any book."

On the subject of the abolishment of capital punishment, Whittier's vote
is found recorded in the affirmative, as might have been expected. He
has said that one of the pleasantest years of his life was that passed
during the session of the Legislature in 1835.

One of the chief reasons why Whittier went seven miles from his Amesbury
home last summer was to "escape pilgrims" (as he called them). One
Sunday after meeting at Amesbury he said to his life-long friend, Miss
Gove, "Abby, has thee a spare room up at thy house?" She responded in
the affirmative, and he went to her home in Hampton Falls for the latter
part of the summer. It was here he penned his last poem--the verses "To
Oliver Wendell Holmes:"

    "The gift is thine the weary world to make
    More cheerful for thy sake,
    Soothing the ears its Miserere pains
    With the old Hellenic strains."

In a letter to one of the editors of the _Critic_ (August 29, 1892), Dr.
Holmes wrote, concerning his birthday:

    "I have received two poems in advance, and our dear friend Whittier,
    whose heart is a cornucopia of blessings for his fellow-creatures,
    has remembered me in the pages of the _Atlantic_, where we have
    found ourselves side by side for so many years. Long may the sands
    of his life keep running, for they come from the bed of Pactolus."

The news of his friend's death was received by Dr. Holmes in Beverly,
just as he was coming in from a drive along the shore. It was a heavy
blow, coming as it did just upon the death of Lowell, Thomas Parsons,
and George William Curtis. He remarked that his acquaintance with
Whittier dated from the year of the founding of the _Atlantic Monthly_.
He had frequently visited him at Oak Knoll. He was there last year, and
the two old fellows walked and talked among the trees and had a good
time together. When the Doctor was leaving, his friend loaded him down
with fruit. It was on one of these recent visits that Dr. Holmes with
characteristic keenness of perception, discovered the beautiful symmetry
of the grand Norway spruce in front of the mansion on the wide sweep of
lawn, and he laughingly named it "The Poet's Pagoda," and this name it
has kept ever since.

To return to "Elmfield," as the old Gove mansion is called. The
old-fashioned house, with its upper balconies, heavy chimneys, and rich
collection of historical relics, stands on a hill not far from the falls
which gave the name to the village--Hampton Falls. The sight from
Whittier's window commanded a little balcony, with a view of the distant
blue sea. One day after another passed quietly away, he rising at
seven, going across through a pine grove to the adjoining tavern for his
breakfast, getting the mail at the little post-office, reading the
papers, looking at the distant sails on the sea through a glass,
conversing with friends or walking in the neighboring orchard, with its
paths and rustic seats. The region is that where his Bachiler and Hussey
ancestors both lived, as Mr. F. B. Sanborn tells us (Boston
_Advertiser_, September 8, 1892). Daniel Webster's Bachiler ancestors
also lived on a farm, a mile and a half from the Gove mansion; namely,
where now stands the villa of Warren Brown. As Mr. Sanborn truthfully
says, Whittier has been the local poet of this whole region of Essex and
adjoining counties. "No poet of New England," he continues, "has lived
so close to the actual habits of the people, in the present and the past
centuries, as did Whittier; and his poems of locality will become as
much a feature of New England literature as are those of Burns and Scott
in their native country. This fidelity to homely fact and profound
sentiment have made Whittier more than any other the patrial and
religious poet of New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. He has done
in verse what Hawthorne did in prose. It was only the accident or
accomplishment of verse which separated these two poets, and made one of
them our most graceful and romantic prose-writer, while the other became
our most spiritual and literal poet."

The truth of these statements comes home to me with force since I made a
week's itinerary through this Whittier ballad land a year ago, and saw
how every mile of coast land was celebrated in storied verse by
Whittier.

On Wednesday, August 31, Mr. Whittier was taken ill. The malady was
acute diarrhea, which by the Saturday following developed a new and
alarming symptom, a remarkable irregularity of the heart's action,
accompanied by partial paralysis of the left side, arms, and vocal
organs. He remained conscious until Tuesday at three P. M., when the
symptoms became markedly worse. He was surrounded by ministering
relatives and friends, who gave him every loving attention, but all were
powerless to stay the hand of death.

When urged to take the nourishment prescribed by his physicians, he
said: "I want water from Abby's (Miss Gove) nice well," and as it was
given, remarked with a bright smile, "That's good--nothing better." Soon
after, as his forehead was being bathed, he said, "That is all that can
be done." To his attending physicians, Drs. Douglass and Howe, and
nurse, he said: "I am worn out--thee have done what thee could--I thank
thee." And as the end drew near the dying poet recognized his niece from
Portland, and remarked in faltering words, "Love--to--the--world." These
were his last words. He died at four-thirty on the morning of the
seventh. At seven o'clock on Friday evening the silent form of the poet
was brought to Amesbury, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. S. T. Pickard, and
Mr. and Mrs. Cartland.

On Saturday morning business was entirely suspended in Amesbury. The
selectmen issued the following proclamation:--

     "To the Citizens of Amesbury:--Our town has been saddened by the
     death of its great poet and one of its noblest and best-loved
     citizens. We feel that our country at large, and the civilized
     world, mourns with us the death of the poet and liberty-loving
     philanthropist, John G. Whittier.

     "Sharing the sadness which must come to the wise and good
     everywhere, we, the people of Amesbury, mourn the loss of a friend
     and neighbor endeared to us by his lovable qualities and the purity
     of his daily life in our midst.

     "We revered him for his greatness, and loved him for himself.
     Always identified with every good work in Amesbury, sustaining the
     right and defending the oppressed, his life for more than half a
     century has been to us a daily sermon.

     "If it be true that

          'The heart speaketh most when the life move,'

     we can only add that such a life, with its fullness of years and
     its crown of blessings, is a rich legacy to the community."

[Illustration: THE GOVE HOUSE, HAMPTON FALLS, N. H., IN WHICH WHITTIER
DIED.]

At ten o'clock the public was admitted to the house, passing in a
continuous line (as at the funeral of dear old Walt Whitman, his brother
poet of Democracy, a few months before in Camden) through the humble
little parlor of the Amesbury home. It was originally intended to hold
the services in the Friends' meeting-house near by; but the dense fog
clearing up and the bright sun coming out--as one beautifully said, "the
mystery of death typified by the shifting and elusive shadows of the
fog, and the glory and hopefulness of the resurrection by the bright
rays of the sun"--it was decided to let the body rest in the house, and
hold memorial services in the quiet garden in the rear of the house.
The funeral arrangements were in charge of William Lloyd Garrison, Jr.,
S. T. Pickard and Judge G. W. Cate, the tenant of the house. The
atmosphere was one of peace and restfulness, and the simplicity of the
life of the Friends was seen in all the arrangements. In the quaint
parlor of the homestead lay all that was mortal of the poet, on whose
face was an expression of supreme peace; his form was encircled by a
delicate fringe of trailing fern. A most beautiful wreath from Dr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes--eighty-four white roses, fringed with carnations
and maidenhair ferns, one for each year of the poet's life,--was laid
around the name-plate on the coffin. It was a touching tribute by the
last one of that remarkable galaxy of poets that marked such a
distinguished era in our American literature. Two crossed palms, with
the Japan lilies Whittier loved so well, encircled by a broad white
satin ribbon, were from Mrs. Daniel Lothrop. The fronds of the long
palms encircled the face of the dead poet as it looked out from the
large engraving between the windows of the parlor. Upon the end of the
ribbon was delicately painted six lines from Whittier's "Andrew
Rykman's Prayer:"

    "Some sweet morning yet in God's
    Dim æonian periods,
    Joyful I shall wake to see
    Those I love who rest in Thee,
    And to them in Thee allied
    Shall my soul be satisfied."

Upon the accompanying card was this: "In memory of my husband's dear
friend. This verse of 'Andrew Rykman's Prayer' was consolation in the
hour of death to both him who wrote it, and to him who loved it.--Mrs.
Daniel Lothrop."

Another exquisite floral offering came with these lines:

    "I know not where His islands lift
      Their fronded palms in air;
    I only know I cannot drift
      Beyond His love and care."

On the back of the card were the words "Oak Knoll."

The alcove behind the casket was filled with floral tributes. Here was a
large St. Andrew's cross of exquisite white roses upon a bed of ivy,
from a very near and dear friend of Mr. Whittier's at Lexington, whose
name is withheld. There was a ladder of hydrangeas, gladioli, carnations
and snow-balls from Mrs. Albert Clarke of Amesbury, an ivy wreath from
Sarah Orne Jewett, a sheaf of wheat from Mrs. Lizzie Cheney and the
Misses Coffin of Lynn, a broken shaft of white carnations from Mr. and
Mrs. J. Henry Hall of Amesbury. A massive wreath of Whittier's own
much-loved pine tassels was hung above the portrait of his sister
Elizabeth, the tribute of Mrs. Joseph A. Purington; the heavy green was
relieved by a spray of bright, contrasting goldenrod. Mrs. Samuel
Rowell, Jr., sent a basket of white roses and maidenhair. There was a
beautiful spray of the passion flower from L. Kelcher, Hotel Winthrop,
Boston, and an hour-glass of white carnations from Mr. J. R. Fogg. Many
touching little clusters of flowers came from the children; and his
neighbors sent a beautiful wreath of fringed gentian--Whittier's
favorite flower. This came from the far Pacific Slope: "Lay one flower
for me upon the bier of the beloved friend who rests. No purer soul
ever passed from earth to Heaven, or bore with it greater love and
blessing than does his.--Ina D. Coolbrith, Oakland, Cal."

In the garden, and overlooked by the windows of the study where Mr.
Whittier wrote and thought for so many years, was gathered to pay the
last tributes of love and reverence to the dead poet, a large and
notable assemblage: Gen. O. O. Howard, E. C. Stedman, Mrs. Alice Freeman
Palmer, Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps-Ward, Gail Hamilton, Lucy Larcom,
Edna Dean Proctor, Horace E. Scudder, T. W. Higginson, ex-Governor
Claflin, Parker Pillsbury, Francis H. Underwood, Edward L. Pierce,
Robert S. Rantoul, Mrs. C. A. Dall, "Margaret Sidney," Harriet Prescott
Spofford, Mrs. Endicott, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Jr., Frank J. Garrison,
etc.

And the sight was one never to be forgotten. Under the soft September
sky, blue and cloudless, in the shade of pear and apple trees which
Whittier himself had planted and tended and loved, were his relatives,
friends, neighbors and men and women whose names are known wherever the
English language is spoken.

It scarcely seemed like a funeral, so unaffectedly natural and sincere
was every spoken word and every act. And the entire absence of formality
and stiffness deprived the occasion of that artificial gloom which is so
often characteristic of funerals.

Perhaps, too, the subtle influence of the balmy air and the beauties of
the place helped to lift the pall that must have hung over many a heart.
It was as if the friends of some dearly beloved man, who was going on a
journey, had gathered to bid him God-speed--not as if they had come to
bid him farewell.

A hollow square was formed around a low platform, and near by was a
table with a Bible upon it. Gentians, one of Whittier's favorite
flowers, and goldenrod formed the only floral ornaments. Back of the
seats stood a dense crowd that must have numbered thousands, almost
filling the garden. Children climbed the trees and looked with open-eyed
wonder on the scene. On an apple bough, his naked legs dangling in the
air almost over the head of Edmund Clarence Stedman, was an urchin who
might have inspired the "Barefoot Boy;" faces peered from many a tree,
from the vine-clad arbor and from the window of a neighboring barn, down
upon the crowd.

The poet's relatives, and members of the Society of Friends from various
places, occupied the seats forming the hollow square, an easy-chair
being reserved for Oliver Wendell Holmes, but he was unable to be
present.

The Friends gave the exercises their peculiar complexion; first one and
then another rising to eulogize their friend as the "Spirit moved them."
Verses of Whittier were recited by "that lovely Quaker lady," Mrs.
Gertrude Cartland, and by Mrs. James H. Chace. Mr. E. C. Stedman was the
last speaker.

He spoke of the personal loss he felt in the poet's death. "To know him
was a consecration, to have his sympathy a benediction. His passing away
was not so much a death as a translation. He is gone, and has not left
his mantle! How could he? Why should he? No one can overestimate his
artless art, his power, vigor and effect in his polemic efforts. No one
put so much heart or so much religion into his writings. He was one of
the great trio of New England poets, of whom there is only one now
left. They are the vanishers of whom he spoke. He was a believer in the
inward life, as a poet should be. He will be his own successor, and
belongs to our time as well as to that earlier time to which he is
linked by his work. We may say of him that the chariot swung low and he
was translated, dividing the waters of truth, beauty, and religion, with
his mantle. The last time I spoke at a memorial service was at Bayard
Taylor's funeral. Taylor was Whittier's friend, and like Whittier he had
a firm belief in immortality."

It is to Mr. Stedman that Whittier dedicated in a few choice lines his
latest volume of verse, "At Sundown," which the poet, as if prescient of
his coming death, had had privately printed and circulated among a few
friends a year before his fatal illness.

The most picturesque and striking figure at Whittier's funeral was that
of the venerable John W. Hutchinson, whose long gray hair fell over a
broad white Rembrandt collar. He and his sister, Abby Hutchinson Patton,
were life-long friends of Whittier, and their voices in the song they
sang--"Close his eyes, his work is done"--were, "like the echoes of
sweet bells from the far-away time of their youth, when they and
Whittier were one in endeavor."

And then the long procession was formed. In the family lot, in the
Friends' section of the Union Cemetery, where are buried his father,
mother, sisters and brother, John Greenleaf Whittier was laid to rest.

The Boston _Journal_, in writing of Whittier's obsequies, gathered up
this tender reminiscence:--

    "We recall the incident of some ten years since, when Mr. Daniel
    Lothrop, the late publisher, while visiting in California, used
    Whittier's poem, 'Andrew Rykman's Prayer' to comfort the bereaved.
    Mr. Lothrop had, as it were, been brought up on Mr. Whittier's
    poems, there being in many ways a great similarity of tastes and
    characteristics between them. Of late years there was a strong
    friendship. The clergyman of a prominent Oakland church had died
    suddenly in the pulpit some few weeks before, and at the large
    memorial meeting Mr. Lothrop was asked without warning by the
    chairman to recite this poem, as he had heard him repeat a few
    lines from it during a consecration meeting. Mr. Lothrop ascended
    the platform and gave the poem entire. There was a profound hush
    throughout the vast assembly, like that following the instant when
    the beloved pastor had suddenly fallen before their eyes. Many were
    in tears, all agreeing that Whittier's strong, uplifting words
    comforted them more than anything else that had been said. Rev. Dr.
    Gordon, in the address at Mr. Lothrop's funeral in the Old South
    Church, appropriately recited this poem for the late publisher, who
    on his death-bed used this poem, as he had in health and strength."

James G. Blaine telegraphed that he had "long regarded Whittier with
affectionate veneration," and over the wire came from Frederick Douglas
the words, "Emancipated millions will hold his memory sacred." Speaking
of Mr. Blaine, a writer, "S. F. M.," in the Boston _Journal_, December
18, 1891, tells of Mr. Blaine's presenting his, "S. F. M.'s," brother
with a morocco-bound copy of the beautiful Mussey edition, and of Mr.
Blaine's reading and re-reading aloud, one Sunday at their house in
Charlestown, Mass., the poem "Among the Hills," which had then just
been issued.

Memorial services on the afternoon of the funeral were held in Danvers,
Haverhill, Salem, Mass., and Vassalboro, Maine. The old Whittier grange
at the cross roads in Haverhill was draped in mourning. The present
owner of the birthplace is Mr. George E. Elliott, a retired wealthy
gentleman of Haverhill; and it is hoped that at no distant day he may be
induced to sell it to the town of Haverhill, who would sacredly keep
this cherished spot marking the nativity of her distinguished son, so
that all lovers of John G. Whittier's poetry may have an opportunity to
see his early home.

The day after the funeral between seventeen and eighteen hundred people
visited the grave. And, as in the case of Walt Whitman's grave, each one
wanted a leaf or flower as a memento, so that it was necessary in both
cases to have the place of sepulture guarded by special watchmen, in
order that anything green be left.

The funeral of the poet was conducted as he himself wished. For in his
will he wrote, "It is my wish that my funeral may be conducted in the
plain and quiet way of the Society of Friends, with which I am connected
not only by birthright, but also by a settled conviction of the truth of
its principles and the importance of its testimonies." Mr. Whittier, by
the way, in his will requests all who have letters of his to refrain
from publishing them unless with the consent of his literary executor,
Mr. S. T. Pickard.

So beautifully ended a most beautiful life--beautiful because just and
heroic in the defense of justice. As says of him James Herbert Morse:--

    "Such was the man--no more than simple man,
      Plain Quaker, with the Norman-Saxon glow;
    But seeing beauty so, and justice so,
      We love to think him the American."

And as Lowell says:--

    "Peaceful by birthright as a virgin lake,
      The lily's anchorage, which no eyes behold
    Save those of stars, yet for thy brother's sake
      That lay in bonds thou blew'st a blast as bold
    As that wherewith the heart of Roland brake,
      Far heard through Pyrenean valleys cold!"

The lines strong and resonant, of Stedman's "Ad Vatem," addressed to
Whittier while living, might well have been uttered over his bier:--

    "Whittier, the land that loves thee, she whose child
    Thou art, and whose uplifted hands thou long
    Hast staid with song availing like a prayer--
    She feels a sudden pang who gave thee birth,
    And gave to thee the lineaments supreme
    Of her own freedom, that she could not make
    Thy tissues all immortal, or, if to change,
    To bloom through years coeval with her own;
    So that no touch of age nor frost of time
    Should wither thee, nor furrow thy dear face,
    Nor fleck thy hair with silver. Ay, she feels
    A double pang that thee, with each new year
    Glad youth may not revisit, like the spring
    That routs her northern winter and anew
    Melts off the hoar snow from her puissant hills."

Many pleasant anecdotes of the Quaker poet appeared shortly after his
death. Col. T. W. Higginson, writing of the Amesbury home, said of
Whittier's mother:--

    "On one point only this blameless soul seemed to have a shadow of
    solicitude, this being the new wonder of Spiritualism just dawning
    on the world. I never went to the house that there did not come from
    the gentle lady very soon a placid inquiry from behind her knitting
    needles, 'Has thee any further information to give in regard to the
    spiritual communications, as they call them?' But if I attempted to
    treat seriously a matter which then, as now, puzzled most inquirers
    by its perplexing details, there would come some keen thrust from
    Elizabeth Whittier which would throw all serious solution further
    off than ever.

    "She was indeed a brilliant person, unsurpassed in my memory for the
    light cavalry charges of wit; as unlike her mother and brother as if
    she had been born into a different race. Instead of his regular
    features, she had a wild, bird-like look, with prominent nose and
    large liquid dark eyes, whose expression vibrated every instant
    between melting softness and impetuous wit. There was nothing about
    her that was not sweet and kindly, but you were constantly taxed to
    keep up with her sallies and hold your own; while her graver brother
    listened with delighted admiration and rubbed his hands over bits of
    merry sarcasm which were utterly alien to his own vein. His manifold
    visitors were touched off in living colors; two plump and rosy
    Western girls among them, who had lately descended upon the
    household beaming with eagerness to see the poet.

    "They had announced themselves as the Cary sisters, who had lately
    sent him their joint poems--verses, it will be remembered, crowded
    with deaths and melodious dirges that seemed ludicrously
    inconsistent with the blooming faces at the door. Mrs. Whittier met
    them rather guardedly and explained that her son was out. 'But we
    will come in and wait for him,' they smilingly replied. 'But he is
    in Boston, and may not be home for a week,' said the prudent mother.
    'No matter,' they said, in the true spirit of Western hospitality;
    'we can stay till he returns.' There was no resource but to admit
    them; and happily the poet came back next day, and there ensued a
    life-long friendship, in which the mother fully shared."

And another reminiscence appeared in the press, touching the poet's
residence in Boston.

When Mrs. Celia Thaxter was boarding at the little English-like inn on
the sunny slope of Beacon Hill called Hotel Winthrop, Mr. Whittier went
there one day to see her. Mrs. Thaxter liked the quiet place, with its
ivied window and its glimpse of the strong, short, green-draped tower of
St. John the Evangelist's, and she praised it to her old friend. That
was some time in 1881, and in November of that year he joined his Oak
Knoll cousins, Mrs. Woodman and her daughter and the Misses Johnson, at
the Winthrop. The ladies of the family came in September, but Mr.
Whittier did not join them until November. He said that he did not want
to lose his vote in Amesbury.

It was a winter full of pleasure to the poet. He was then not too feeble
to go out evenings, and he spent many pleasant hours with friends like
the Claflins and others. But the hours in the parlor of the hotel make
the place historic, and give it a special interest and meaning for his
future biographer. Mr. Whittier had room fourteen (the number of a
sonnet's lines, twice seven, with luck for a poet), and the fire-escape
made a little balcony for him on a corner toward St. John's. The
landlord had a door cut through the thick old wall to the rooms
adjoining, and these were the rooms of Mrs. Woodman and the rest. It is
old Boston decidedly in that quarter. The brick of the houses is mellow
old red, and there is nothing newfangled anywhere about. Mr. Whittier
said he preferred coming here rather than to one of the big hotels,
because there he was "overwhelmed with the service," and here it seemed
"more like Amesbury," where people "are neighborly and drop in without
knocking." He had "always been used to waiting upon himself," and he
"liked being in a place where they would let him."

It was his custom, mornings, to come down into the little reception-room
on the street floor, and "sitting right in that chair where you're
sitting," as the writer was told, he "used to read his letters and throw
all the papers in a pile on the floor and go off and leave them." That
little room was a great place of congregation for "the family," as the
boarders who were there with Mr. Whittier liked to call themselves.

The poet would sit on the sofa with a favored one on each side of him
and the rest in a group about, "often on footstools or on the floor, as
like as not," while he "told stories of war times." Gen. Stevens was
there during one of the poet's long stays; he had been a classmate of
Gen. Lee and of Jefferson Davis at West Point, and he and the abolition
poet discussed these men and their times from the broader view of later
days.

"Once a friend, a lady who had some property in Virginia, wrote Mr.
Whittier of having named a street in a new town for him, and of having
set aside a portion of ground in his name. He replied with thanks,
saying that he had that week received news of no less than three towns
or streets being named for him with a gift of town lots, adding, 'If
this sort of thing goes on much longer, I shall be land poor.'

"During the winters he was at the Winthrop, Mr. Whittier's favorite way
of getting about was in a herdic. They were 'not pretty,' but they 'knew
the way to places.' Politicians used to go there to see him and try to
get him to banquets. But his life-long avoidance of politics in the
minor sense made him easily resist their wiles. 'I have seen Mr. ---- (a
well-known name) come here and just about go down on his knees to get
Mr. Whittier to speak or even to come to a banquet,' says the landlord
(who is, by the way, an old-time character worthy of a novelist's pen),
'but Mr. Whittier would just sit here--right in that chair you're
in--and kind of smile to himself as if to say, "Oh! your talk don't
amount to anything." Well, once Mr. ---- came here and staid and staid
a-talking and persuading, and gave Mr. Whittier an earache if ever a man
had one. But he didn't make anything by it, although he finally had to
take a bed and stay all night.'"

Mr. Charles Brainard visited Whittier soon after the publication of
"Snow-Bound." Finding his house painted and improved, he remarked to
him, "It is evident that poetry has ceased to be a drug in the market."

"The next morning Mr. Whittier's answer came. It was in the winter, and,
as the poet went up to the fire to warm his boots preparatory to putting
them on, he said, 'Thee will have to excuse me, for I must go down to
the office of the Collector.' Then, with a humorous gleam in his eye, he
added, 'Since "Snow-Bound" was published, I have risen to the dignity of
an income tax.'"

To an Englishman who visited him not long before his death, Mr. Whittier
expressed his surprise that his guest should know so much of his poetry
by heart. "I wonder," he said, "thou shouldst burden thy memory with
all that rhyme. It is not well to have too much of it: better get rid of
it as soon as possible. Why, I can't remember any of it. I once went to
hear a wonderful orator, and he wound up his speech with a poetical
quotation, and I clapped with all my might. Some one touched me on the
shoulder, and said. 'Do you know who wrote that?' I said, 'No, I don't;
but it's good.' It seems I had written it myself. The fault is I have
written far too much."

Here is a story illustrating Whittier's kind-heartedness: A young lady,
a neighbor, was asked to take tea at his house. "He had no servant at
the moment, and, with the assistance of his guest, prepared the simple
meal with his own hand. She contributed to the press for her support,
and prepared a minute account of the affair, of which Mr. Whittier
chanced to be advised, and sent off a remonstrance post haste. But when
the young author pleaded the real need of the money which the little
story was to bring her, and the harmlessness to its subject of its
effective details, the former reason (for the latter would never have
overcome his abhorrence of what he must have felt a vivisection)
actually prevailed, and he permitted the publication with a benignant
forbearance."

The Hon. Nathan Crosby, LL. D., writes in the Essex Institute
Collections for 1880.

    "James F. Otis, nephew of the Hon. H. G. Otis, while reading law in
    my office, found in some newspaper a piece of poetry which he said
    he was told had been written by a shoemaker boy in Haverhill, and he
    wished to go and find him. Upon his return he told me he found the
    young man by the name of Whittier at work in his shoe shop, and,
    making himself known to him, they spent the day together in
    wandering over the hills on the shore of the Merrimack, and in
    conversation upon literary matters. The next year he became an
    editor. Mr. Whittier is not only a poet, but is himself a poem."

Mr. Whittier, when interviewed some time ago as to his favorite works,
replied: "Oh! really, I have none. Much that I have written I wish was
as deep in the Red Sea as Pharaoh's chariot wheels. Much of the bread
cast on the waters I wish had never returned. It is not fair to revive
writings composed in the shadow of conditions that make every
acceptable work impossible. In my early life I was not favored with good
opportunities. Limited chances for education and a lack of books always
stood in my way. When I began to write I had seen nothing, and virtually
knew nothing of the world. Of course, things written then could not be
worth much. In my father's house there were not a dozen books, and they
were of a severe type. The only one that approached poetry was a rhymed
history of King David, written by a contemporary of George Fox, the
Quaker. There was one poor novel in the family. It belonged to an aunt.
This I secured one day, but when I had read it about half through I was
discovered and it was taken away from me."

This was about the time when Judge Pickering, of Salem, and a party of
ladies called at the farm-house to see him. "He was then an awkward boy
of seventeen--as he used to tell the story--and was just then under the
barn, looking for eggs. Hearing his name called, he came up with his hat
full and found himself suddenly in the presence of people more elegant
in appearance than any he had ever met. In telling the story, he added
naïvely, 'They came to see the Quaker poet--and they saw him!' This must
have been about the year 1824."

Mr. T. W. Ball (in the Boston _Journal_, Dec. 18, 1891, weekly edition),
the journalist, wrote of his sole interview in 1848 with Whittier, in a
little editorial den at the junction of Spring Lane and Water Street
with Devonshire Street (the building recently torn down), where Henry
Wilson was then editing the Free-Soil paper (owned by him as well). "I
was busy," says Mr. Ball, "getting up some local items one morning, when
a gentleman of staid appearance, with a beaming countenance, a
broad-brimmed fur hat--the old-fashioned fur hat, so different from the
silk tile--and a brownish coat of formal cut, entered the room, and,
after the usual courtesies of salutation, fell into a close chat with
the 'Natick cobbler,' by which popular title the future Vice-President
was then known. It was the summer season, and Wilson was resplendent in
a brown linen coat and a flaming red-checked velvet waistcoat, which was
much affected in those days. As the conversation between the two waxed
interesting, I noticed that the visitor unbuttoned his vest for comfort,
and possessed himself of an exchange paper which he converted into a
fan. The interview closed, and the visitor, buttoning up his vest and
donning his hat, turned to depart, when for the first time he appeared
to take notice of my presence. With a rapid glance at Wilson, he said,
'Henry, who is thy young friend?'

"'Oh, that's William, my local reporter,' was the reply. 'Here, William,
this is Mr. Whittier, the Quaker poet, that you have heard about; shake
hands with him.' I timidly extended my hand, and the great man not only
grasped it with a cordial grasp, but, patting me on the head with his
other hand, said, 'My young friend, thee has chosen a noble calling.'"

Mr. Whittier, in speaking of Longfellow's works a few years ago, said,
"'Evangeline' is a favorite with me. I think it is one of the most
beautiful of poems. Longfellow had an easy life and superior advantages
of association and education, and so did Emerson. It was widely
different with me, and I am very thankful for the kind esteem that
people have given my writings. Before 'Evangeline' was written I had
hunted up the history of the banishment of the Acadians, and had
intended to write upon it myself, but I put it off, and Hawthorne got
hold of the story and gave it to Longfellow. I am very glad he did, for
he was just the one to write it. If I had attempted it I should have
spoiled the artistic effect of the poem by my indignation at the
treatment of the exiles by the Colonial Government, who had a very hard
lot after coming to this country. Families were separated and scattered
about, only a few of them being permitted to remain in any given
locality. The children were bound out to the families in the localities
in which they resided, and I wrote a poem upon finding in the records of
Haverhill the indenture that bound an Acadian girl as a servant in one
of the families in that neighborhood. Gathering the story of her death,
I wrote 'Marguerite.'"

In addition to what has been stated in this volume and elsewhere by me
on the Barbara Frietchie ballad, are to be finally appended a few words,
suggested by the one who sent the raw material of the ballad to
Whittier, namely, Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, who, soon after the
poet's death, at her pretty home in Georgetown, D. C., recalled the
circumstances as they occurred back in 1863. It seems that the story was
told her by a neighbor of hers who was also a relative of Barbara--Mr.
C. S. Ramsburg. Mrs. Southworth's son, who was present, remarked, "What
a grand subject for a poem by Whittier, mother!"

She thereupon sat down, and with tears in her eyes, wrote the incident
out and sent it to Amesbury. Mr. Whittier replied as follows:--

     "AMESBURY, 9mo. 8, 1863.

     "MY DEAR MRS. SOUTHWORTH:--I heartily thank thee for thy very kind
     letter and its inclosed "message." It ought to have fallen into
     better hands, but I have just written out a little ballad of
     "Barbara Frietchie," which will appear in the next _Atlantic_. If
     it is good for anything thee deserves all the credit of it.

     "With best wishes for thy health and happiness, I am most truly thy
     friend,

     "JOHN G. WHITTIER."

It is said that Mr. Whittier expressed regret for having made a bonfire
of nearly all the letters he had received from his correspondents for
over half a century. It is to be hoped that his literary executor will
be liberal-minded in allowing the publication of the most interesting of
Whittier's own letters, for he put a good bit of his sister Elizabeth's
wit and vivacity into his letters; and scarcely a day passed that one or
more of these was not written, overflowing with kindly words and good
humor, though these, it is true, could give no hint of that lambent
gleam of the marvelous eyes, nor of that sudden compression of the upper
lip with which he repressed a smile when he had flashed out a bit of
humor.

Whittier was not only quick in repartee, but quick and lithe in all his
movements, and quick in his mental processes. His friend, Judge G. W.
Cate, says he latterly read books very rapidly by inspection, turning
the leaves and seizing the contents by intuition. The poet's
imagination, continues Judge Cate, was wonderful. Years ago he may have
read an accurate description of some remote place--Malta, Jerusalem, or
some smaller town in the far East. He would then converse at any time as
readily about such a place as if he had been there. It was this vivid
remembrance of places, Whittier himself said, which made him not care so
much to visit them in person. He was never a traveler, not having been
farther from home than Philadelphia (half a century ago), and Washington
somewhat later. He said that he should like to be in California or
Florida for a winter, but the getting there appalled him, and so he sat
contentedly in his Northern study, with its bright open fire, finding in
its crumbling embers a compensatory dream of the _Morgenland_ with its
palms, mirages and luxuriant blossomry. He followed with deep interest
the toils and adventures of his friend Greely in the arctic regions, and
rejoiced with all his neighbors when word came of his rescue. And at
another time he said he "would rather shake hands with Stanley than with
any other man in the world just then."

The sincerest mourners at Whittier's funeral were women. One of the
peculiarities of his life was the devotion and loving care given to him
by noble women--sisters, mother, nieces, cousins and such poet friends
as Lucy Larcom, Mrs. Spofford, Rose Terry Cooke, Sarah Orne Jewett,
Celia Thaxter, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and Mrs. Annie Fields. He was
always an ardent defender of woman suffrage, and such advocates of that
noble cause as Adelaide A. Claflin publicly expressed their sorrow on
the death of their coadjutor and friend.

He was not only liberal in politics, but also in religion, and while
remaining from choice in the creedless church of his fathers, yet he had
sympathies that allied him with the broad humanitarian movements of the
times in religion. There was no shred of bigotry in his nature. Who ever
heard of a persecuting Quaker? It is they who have always patiently
suffered persecution. Whittier, indeed, belonged with the advance guard
of the Friends, in spirit at least, and he said in a letter written
shortly before his death, "For years I have been desirous of a movement
for uniting all Christians, with no other creed or pledge than a simple
recognition of Christ as our leader."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Whittier Club of Haverhill, an organization the poet had thoroughly
enjoyed, not only because it represented the feeling of his native town
toward him, but also from the constant attentions paid him by it, held a
memorial service in Haverhill, October 7. It was a rare day of tribute
and thanksgiving, and all who participated in it felt grateful for the
honor allowed them. It was just a month from the day when the loved poet
and former citizen passed from earth. Mr. George E. Elliott, the owner
of Whittier's birthplace, very generously allowed the club to hold its
meeting in the old homestead, and he furthered in every way their
well-conceived plan by which the several rooms presented an appearance
as near as possible to that of the poet's boyhood. The partition in the
old kitchen, that had been put up of late years, was taken down,
disclosing the array of ancient cupboards and queer little window; there
was the kettle hanging on the crane in the wide fireplace, along whose
hearth one almost expected to see "the apples sputtering in a row," as
of yore. There were the iron fire-dogs and the antiquated chairs, the
wainscoting untouched by the hand of Time, save to grow mellower of
tint, and there was "the sagging beam," the uneven floor and the quaint
staircase, all just as Whittier, the boy, saw and touched and lived
amongst, all those impressible years of his life.

It was a notable company gathered in that old homestead that beautiful
October day--bidden there by the Whittier Club--not large in numbers, as
the invitations were of necessity limited to the capacity of the old
homestead. But they were mostly the poet's dear friends who came to do
honor to his name. There was Lucy Larcom, William Lloyd Garrison, Jr.,
Mrs. Ednah D. Cheney and "Margaret Sidney" (Mrs. D. Lothrop); there was
Charles Carleton Coffin and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Garrison and Miss
Sparhawk, whose father, Dr. Thomas Sparhawk of Amesbury, was one of the
poet's life-long friends. There was the dear Quaker presence of Mrs.
Purington, Mr. Whittier's cousin, and the members of his family at Oak
Knoll, Mrs. Woodman, her daughter, Miss Phebe, and the Misses Johnson;
there was Mr. S. T. Pickard of Portland, Maine, who married the poet's
niece Lizzie, and who is Mr. Whittier's literary executor. And there
were other relatives and friends and Haverhill citizens thronging the
house, and listening outside the little many-paned windows to catch the
echoes of the words being uttered within.

The day was all that one could desire who looked for sympathy in Nature
toward this her favorite child who has so interpreted her woods and
fields, her autumn skies and the trembling line of river and coast. The
old kitchen was filled with chairs, and on them, and crowded in the
doorways and peeping in the windows, were the interested and reverent
listeners. Mr. Charles Howe, the president of the club, presided with
great grace and dignity; with rare tact culling from the large amount of
what waited to be read and said, just such choice extracts and bits of
reminiscence as would best serve the purpose of the hour. Selections
from "Snow-Bound" were read by a member of the club in that room where
"Snow-Bound" was lived, if one may so express it. And to the listeners
there came a vision of wintry fields and whirling storm; of the little
knot of friends drawn close to the friendly comforting fire on the
hearth; in the midst the thoughtful sensitive boy who was to awaken the
love and veneration of future generations all over his country.

There were reminiscences of a visit to his birthplace paid by the poet
some ten years since with Mr. S. T. Pickard, who told to the assembled
company many amusing stories related by Mr. Whittier on that occasion.
There was the quaint staircase down which the poet, when a baby, wrapped
in a blanket, was rolled by his sister only two years older, who
probably thought it the greatest kindness in the world to thus project
her infant brother into space. There was the queer old cupboard where
Mr. Whittier when a boy was dragged by his jacket collar by a tramp who
had forcibly entered the house; and there he was compelled to stand
while the unwelcome visitor searched high and low for any chance jug or
bottle that would yield another supply to his already over-weighted
condition. Seizing a jug from a dark corner, he ejected the cork without
a glance at the contents, and took a long deep draught of whale oil used
for filling lamps. The embryo poet took advantage of the confused
spluttering that ensued, to make good his escape. Mr. Will Carleton
recited with dramatic vigor "Barbara Frietchie," till the walls and
rafters rang. Lucy Larcom read from the poet's writings, and Mr. William
Lloyd Garrison, Jr. recited an original poem. A young English lady, who
was visiting friends of Mr. Whittier's, read by request Tennyson's
"Crossing the Bar," the Poet Laureate's death having just occurred.

There were reminiscences by Dr. Fiske of Newburyport, who told several
characteristic stories connected with Joshua Coffin, the "Yankee
Schoolmaster," and life-long friend of the poet; and Charles Carleton
Coffin, the historian, gave the account of his capture of the big key of
the last slave prison in Richmond, and of his giving it to Mr. Whittier
who returned it to him a year or so ago. At the close of his remarks,
Mr. Carleton hung the key on the nail above the fireplace where, in
Whittier's boyhood, the big bull's-eye watch used to hang. Fitting place
was it for the silent symbol of agony and shame to the slave brother;
and all who witnessed it hanging there, felt the heart beat to a newer
and a keener sense of the debt we owe to him whose songs (as one who
gave a reminiscence that day told us) influenced Abraham Lincoln to
project the Emancipation Proclamation upon the American people. The
beautiful poem of Mr. Whittier's, "My Psalm," was rendered with deep
feeling by Mrs. Julia Houston West for whom, several years ago, the
verses had been set to music. And to bring to a fitting close these
memorial exercises, the assembled company of relatives and friends rose
and sang one stanza of of "Auld Lang Syne."

[Illustration:

    Dr Holmes.

    Beloved physician of an age of ail
      When grave prescriptions fail
    Thy songs have cheer and healing for us all
      As David's had for Saul.

    John G Whittier

    Hampton Falls, NH
    Aug 26 1892

_The above fac-simile of the last verse written by Mr. Whittier, is
kindly loaned us by the "Boston Journal." The following letter was sent
with the verse_:

     HAMPTON FALLS, _August_.

     DEAR MR. WINGATE:

     I have only time and strength to write a single verse expressive of
     my love and admiration of my dear old friend, Dr. Holmes.

     JOHN G. WHITTIER.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:  Although the Contents lists an Appendix, there was
no actual appendix or page 375 in the scanned copy. Other copies of
this book were found to have the same problem.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Greenleaf Whittier - His Life, Genius, and Writings" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home