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Title: James Russell Lowell, A Biography; vol 2/2
Author: Scudder, Horace Elisha
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "James Russell Lowell, A Biography; vol 2/2" ***

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                         JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

                             _A BIOGRAPHY_


                         HORACE ELISHA SCUDDER

                            IN TWO VOLUMES

                                VOL. II

            [Illustration: _Mr. Lowell in his Oxford Gown_]

                         JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

                              A Biography


                         HORACE ELISHA SCUDDER

                            IN TWO VOLUMES

                               VOL. II.


                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                     HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
                    The Riverside Press, Cambridge

                 COPYRIGHT, 1901, BY HORACE E. SCUDDER
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
                       PUBLISHED NOVEMBER, 1901


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

   X. LOWELL AND THE WAR FOR THE UNION                                 1

  XI. POETRY AND PROSE                                                74

 XII. THIRD JOURNEY IN EUROPE                                        151

XIII. POLITICS                                                       185

 XIV. THE SPANISH MISSION                                            221

  XV. THE ENGLISH MISSION                                            259

 XVI. RETURN TO PRIVATE LIFE                                         322

XVII. THE LAST YEARS                                                 379


_A._ The Lowell Ancestry                                             409

_B._ “List of Copies of the Conversations to be
given away by the ‘Don’”                                             419

_C._ A List of the Writings of James Russell
Lowell, arranged as nearly as may be in
order of Publication                                                 421

_D._ The Lowell Memorial in Westminster Abbey                        448

INDEX                                                                453



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL IN 1882.                              _Frontispiece_

From the painting by Mrs. Anna Lea Merritt.

FACSIMILE OF THE SOWER                                                64

ELMWOOD                                                              120

From a photograph.

MR. LOWELL IN HIS STUDY                                              186

From a photograph.

MRS. FRANCES DUNLAP LOWELL                                           318

From a crayon by S. W. Rowse.

THE HALL AT ELMWOOD                                                  394

From a photograph.





When the _Atlantic Monthly_ was founded, its conductors did not conceal
their intention to make it a political magazine. It bore as its sub-head
a title it has never relinquished, “A Magazine of Literature, Art, and
Politics.” The combination under Lowell’s superintendence did not denote
that articles were to be grouped under these heads; it intimated that in
the attitude taken by the magazine both art and politics were to be
discussed by men having the literary faculty, and that apprehension of
subjects which finds its natural training not exclusively in practice
and affairs but in acquaintance with great literature which is, after
all, the express image of art and politics. Thus, the magazine did not
become, as it might in lesser hands, a mere propaganda of reform, or the
organ of a political party, neither did it assume the air of
philosophical absenteeism. If one examines the early numbers he is
struck with the preponderance of imaginative literature aid of that
artistic element which finds expression in historical narrative or in
the essay. The space given to discussion of affairs is not considerable,
but evidently the subjects are chosen with deliberation, and they are
treated if not with distinction yet with a good deal more than merely
newspaper care.

Such articles are found at the latter end of the magazine, a place
indeed naturally adapted to them, since in the practice of printing
opportunity would thus be given for the latest possible consideration of
current events; still, though the latest articles in the successive
numbers, they were written at least a month, and more likely six weeks
or two months even before they could come into the hands of readers, so
that the authors were compelled to see things in the large far more than
writers who might change their judgments over night on the receipt of a

These articles, corresponding, as far as a monthly could parallel a
daily, to the leader of a journal, were usually one to a number. In the
November, 1857, _Atlantic_, the first to be issued, was “The Financial
Flurry,” by Mr. Parke Godwin, who had been an important writer on the
staff of _Putnam’s Monthly_. In December appeared “Where will it End?”
by Edmund Quincy, an enquiry into the outcome of slavery in America,
somewhat in the nature of that gentleman’s contributions to the
_Anti-Slavery Standard_, when he and Lowell were associated there,
though somewhat more moderate in manner. It was vigorous, pointed, and a
reasonable summary of the situation politically, but it was an appeal
to fundamental principles, not to temporary political conditions. In
January Mr. Godwin again wrote the political leader, this time on “The
President’s Message,” which had been delivered by Mr. Buchanan at the
coming together of Congress early in December, and the paper could
therefore be regarded as a prompt consideration of the policy of the new
administration. The article was brief and passed in review the three
main topics of the currency, our foreign relations, and the
Kansas-Nebraska difficulties. In February Mr. Godwin took up more in
detail an examination of the Kansas Usurpation; there was no political
article in March, but in April Lowell took a hand in a characteristic

Mr. Buchanan had been in office a year, and the momentous hour was
approaching when the forces for and against the Union, with all that the
Union stood for in the progress of freedom, were to be marshalled. The
preliminary test of strength was already offered in Kansas, and the
moral and intellectual debate was apparent in Washington. The principles
for which the _Atlantic_ stood were those for which the _Anti-Slavery
Standard_ had stood ten years before, but Lowell was now on a broader
platform, since the _Atlantic_ represented freedom, history, law, and
civilization, where the _Standard_ had represented the attack upon a
pernicious system. Mr. Godwin was again called on to review the first
year of the Buchanan administration, which he did in an article of about
eight _Atlantic_ pages, with the caption “Mr. Buchanan’s
Administration.” The review was methodical and severe. It examined the
record upon four leading points, the Mormon question, the Financial
question, the Filibuster question, and the Kansas question. Mr. Godwin,
a trained journalist of the older school, a man of resources in reading
and scholarship, and a vigorous thinker, handled his subject with skill
and analyzed the situation with clearness, giving the results in an
incisive manner. The article accomplished what it set out to do, and is
a capital example of a shrewd, forcible political leader.

Then Lowell took up the parable, and it is hardly likely that any
observant reader of the April _Atlantic_ failed to note that in stepping
over the white line which separated the first eight from the latter six
pages of the article, he had passed from the domain of one writer to
that of another. It is quite as likely that, however he may have been
impressed with the good sense and virility of the former part of the
article, he was not so piqued by curiosity to know who wrote it, as he
was in the case of the latter part, for that portion is instinct with a
vivid personal note. If the reader of that day were familiar with
Lowell’s political writings of ten years before, he would not fail to
attribute these pages to the editor of the magazine. The same note is
struck in each, though the insouciance of wit is somewhat hidden by a
fiery earnestness here, as if the author could not stop to play by the
way, as he was wont to do when the political thunder-clouds were not
gathering so ominously in the west.

Lowell did not preserve his share of the article among his “Political
Essays,” and this is not strange, not only because his writing was a
detachment of a fuller article, but because with all its undoubted
eloquence it was not so careful and rounded a piece of work as his later
essays in the same field. In the absence of any correspondence on the
subject, it is reasonable to conjecture that, having received Mr.
Godwin’s article and assigned it to the number, he was constrained to
think that forcible as it was in its indictment of Mr. Buchanan’s
administration for errors and blunders, it might well afford the
starting-point for a further arraignment, not of the administration in
particular but of the nation itself so far as that was _particeps
criminis_ with the administration in its rôle of attorney for the

But any such indictment as this must be drawn under the provisions of
the moral law and find its precedents in history, and make its appeal to
the conscience of the people as the final court. Into this business,
therefore, Lowell threw himself with vehemence. He knew his own
country’s history, he knew also the history of man; and the moral ardor,
the almost prophetic power which had been both his inheritance, and the
characteristic of his early manhood when he was almost persuaded to be a
Reformer, now flamed out. It was as if he had been storing energy during
the ten years of comparative silence since the issue of the “Biglow
Papers” and the contributions to the _Standard_.

“Looking at the administration of Mr. Buchanan,” he begins, “from the
point of view of enlightened statesmanship” (which was Mr. Godwin’s),
“we find nothing in it that is not contemptible; but when we regard it
as the accredited exponent of the moral sense of a majority of our
people, it is saved from contempt, indeed, but saved only because
contempt is merged in a deeper feeling of humiliation and apprehension.
Unparallelled as the outrages in Kansas have been, we regard them as
insignificant in comparison with the deadlier fact that the Chief
Magistrate of the Republic should strive to defend them by the small
wiles of a village attorney,--that, when the honor of a nation and the
principle of self-government are at stake, he should show himself
unconscious of a higher judicature or a nobler style of pleading than
those which would serve for a case of petty larceny,--and that he should
be abetted by more than half the national representatives, while he
brings down a case of public conscience to the moral level of those who
are content with the maculate safety which they owe to a flaw in an
indictment, or with the dingy innocence which is certified to by the
disagreement of a jury.”

Regarding this as a logical consequence of the profound national
demoralization which followed the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Bill,
and warming to his subject as he rehearses that deplorable business, he
clears the way for his first proposition, by which he aims to lift the
discussion into the higher air of history and elemental morality. “The
capacity of the English race for self-government,” he proceeds, “is
measured by their regard as well for the forms as the essence of law. A
race conservative beyond all others of what is established, averse
beyond all others to the heroic remedy of forcible revolution, they have
yet three times in the space of a century and a half assumed the chances
of rebellion and the certain perils of civil war, rather than submit to
have Right infringed by Prerogative, and the scales of Justice made a
cheat by false weights that kept the shape but lacked the substance of
legitimate precedent. We are forced to think that there must be a bend
sinister in the escutcheon of the descendants of such men, when we find
them setting the form above the substance, and accepting as law that
which is deadly to the spirit while it is true to the letter of
legality. It is a spectacle portentous of moral lapse and social
disorganization, to see a statesman, who has had fifty years’ experience
of American politics, quibbling in defence of Executive violence against
a free community, as if the conscience of the nation were no more august
a tribunal than a police justice sitting upon a paltry case of
assault.... There is a Fate which spins and cuts the threads of national
as of individual life, and the case of God against the people of these
United States is not to be debated before any such petty tribunal as Mr.
Buchanan and his advisers seem to suppose.”

The difficulty, Lowell sees, is in the lack of any organized public
sentiment, and thus in the weakness of the sense of responsibility. “The
guilt of every national sin comes back to the voter in a fraction, the
denominator of which is several millions,” and the need is of a thorough
awakening of the individual conscience. It is the moral aspect of the
great question before the country which is cardinal, yet the moral must
go hand in hand with common sense, and Lowell contrasts the solidarity
of the South, created by the gravitation of private interest, with the
perpetual bickering of the Northern enemies of slavery amongst
themselves. He calls for less scrutiny of the character of the allies
the anti-slavery people draw to themselves, and more political
forethought and practical sense. “The advantage of our opponents has
been that they have always had some sharp practical measure, some
definite and immediate object, to oppose to our voluminous propositions
of abstract right. Again and again the whirlwind of oratorical
enthusiasm has roused and heaped up the threatening masses of the Free
States, and again and again we have seen them collapse like a waterspout
into a crumbling heap of disintegrated bubbles before the compact bullet
of political audacity.[1] While our legislatures have been resolving and
re-resolving the principles of the Declaration of Independence, our
adversaries have pushed their trenches, parallel after parallel, against
the very citadel of our political equality.”

Hence he calls for an offensive attitude on the part of the lovers of
freedom. “Are we to be terrified any longer,” he asks, “by such Chinese
devices of warfare as the cry of Disunion,--a threat as hollow as the
mask from which it issues, as harmless as the periodical suicides of
Mantalini, as insincere as the spoiled child’s refusal of his supper? We
have no desire for a dissolution of our confederacy, though it is not
for us to fear it. We will not allow it: we will not permit the Southern
half of our dominion to become a Hayti. But there is no danger; the law
that binds our system of confederate stars together is of stronger fibre
than to be snapped by the trembling finger of Toombs or cut by the
bloodless sword of Davis; the march of the Universe is not to be stayed
because some gentleman in Buncombe declares that his sweet-potato patch
shall not go along with it. The sweet attraction which knits the sons of
Virginia to the Treasury has lost none of its controlling force. We must
make up our minds to keep these deep-descended gentlemen in the Union,
and must convince them that we have a work to accomplish in it and by
means of it. If our Southern brethren have the curse of Canaan in their
pious keeping, if the responsibility lie upon them to avenge the insults
of Noah, on us devolves a more comprehensive obligation and the
vindication of an elder doom;--it is for us to assert and to secure the
claim of every son of Adam to the common inheritance ratified by the
sentence, ‘In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread.’ We are
to establish no aristocracy of race or complexion, no caste which nature
and Revelation alike refuse to recognize, but the indefeasible right of
man to the soil which he subdues, and the muscles with which he subdues
it. If this be a sectional creed, it is a sectionality which at least
includes three hundred and fifty-nine degrees of the circle of man’s
political aspiration and physical activity, and we may as well be easy
under the imputation.”

The contempt with which Lowell treats the renewed threats of secession
illustrates the blindness which he shared with most of his friends, and
it is not likely that in after years he would have been so confident
that the South had no higher principles mingled with the baser ones of
love of prosperity and power. The “bloodless sword” of Davis also gave
way in his phrase to the “drippin’ red han’,” and the deep gravity of
war caused him to strike profounder notes. But it is not easy for men of
this generation to realize the galling sense of humiliation which the
men of Lowell’s day felt at the manner in which the general government
was made subservient to the demands of the slave power. So conscious
were they of the steady degeneration of the political sense, that they
were scarcely aware of the counter force of the rising tide of
anti-slavery and union sentiment, so that the great wave which swept
over the North after the attack upon Sumter came with almost as much a
surprise to them as to the South.

It is in confession of this political degeneracy that the article
proceeds, and Lowell lashes his countrymen with scorn for it, but he
refuses to believe that this is to be the fate of the republic. “When we
look back upon the providential series of events which prepared this
continent for the experiment of Democracy,--when we think of those
forefathers for whom our mother England shed down from her august
breasts the nutriment of ordered liberty, not unmixed with her best
blood in the day of her trial,--when we remember the first two acts of
our drama, that cost one king his head and his son a throne, and that
third which cost another the fairest appanage of his crown and gave a
new Hero to mankind,--we cannot believe it possible that this great
scene, stretching from ocean to ocean, was prepared by the Almighty only
for such men as Mr. Buchanan and his peers to show their feats of
juggling on, even though the thimble-rig be on so colossal a scale that
the stake is a territory larger than Britain. We cannot believe that
this unhistoried continent,--this virgin leaf in the great diary of
man’s conquest over the planet, on which our fathers wrote two words of
epic grandeur,--Plymouth and Bunker Hill,--is to bear for its colophon
the record of men who inherited greatness and left it pusillanimity,--a
republic, and made it anarchy--freedom, and were content as serfs,--of
men who, born to the noblest estate of grand ideas and fair expectancies
the world had ever seen, bequeathed the sordid price of them in gold.
The change is sad ’twixt now and then; the Great Republic is without
influence in the councils of the world; to be an American, in Europe, is
to be the accomplice of filibusters and slave-traders; instead of men
and thought, as was hoped of us, we send to the Old World cotton, corn,
and tobacco, and are but as one of her outlying farms. Are we basely
content with our pecuniary good-fortune? Do we look on the tall column
of figures on the credit side of our national ledger as a sufficing
monument of our glory as a people? Are we of the North better off as
provinces of the Slave-holding States than as colonies of Great Britain?
Are we content with our share in the administration of national affairs,
because we are to have the ministry to Austria, and because the
newspapers promise that James Gordon Bennett shall be sent out of the
country to fill it?”

The subordination of the Free States in the administration of the
government is traced to the moral disintegration which has set in, and
after a recital in incisive terms of the act in subversion of true
democracy which they have been compelled to witness, he closes with this
appeal: “It lies in the hands of the people of the Free States to rescue
themselves and the country by peaceable reform, ere it be too late, and
there be no remedy left but that dangerous one of revolution, toward
which Mr. Buchanan and his advisers seem bent on driving them....
Prosperity has deadened and bewildered us. It is time we remembered that
History does not concern herself about material wealth,--that the
life-blood of a nation is not that yellow tide which fluctuates in the
arteries of Trade,--that its true revenues are religion, justice,
sobriety, magnanimity, and the fair amenities of Art,--that it is only
by the soul that any people has achieved greatness and made lasting
conquests over the future. We believe there is virtue enough left in
the North and West to infuse health into our body politic; we believe
that America will reassume that moral influence among the nations which
she has allowed to fall into abeyance; and that our eagle, whose
morning-flight the world watched with hope and expectation, shall no
longer troop with unclean buzzards, but rouse himself and seek his eyrie
to brood new eaglets that in time shall share with him the lordship of
these Western heavens, and shall learn of him to shake the thunder from
their invincible wings.”

The merits and the defects of Lowell’s political writings appear in this
article. There is the divination of the real question, the reference to
moral principles, and the witty phrase; but also there is that sort of
coruscation of language which tends to conceal point and application.
The writing is that of a good talker rather than of a good pleader. The
very breadth of the play of mind in Lowell militated against directness
of attack. He finds the seat of the difficulty not in this or that
political blunder, but in a disintegration of the public conscience
which had long been going on, and he sees no remedy for this but in the
arousing of the individual responsibility. It is the voice of the
preacher, and even so not of the crusading preacher.

He was more in his own field when writing the article on “The American
Tract Society,” since here his wit and satire were engaged on a theme
where fundamental morals and expediency were at issue, and two articles
which followed on Rufus Choate and Caleb Cushing[2] had the incisiveness
of brilliant newspaper work, and a breadth not to be looked for in a
newspaper. “Phillips [the publisher] was so persuaded,” he writes to Mr.
Norton after the first had appeared, “of the stand given to the magazine
by the Choate article that he has been at me ever since for another. So
I have written a still longer one on Cushing. I think you will like
it--though, on looking over the Choate article this morning, I am
inclined to think that on the whole the better of the two. Better as a
whole, I mean, for there are passages in this beyond any in that, I
think. These personal things are not such as I should choose to do, for
they subject me to all manner of vituperation; but one must take what
immediate texts the newspapers afford him, and I accepted the
responsibility in accepting my post.”

It must be remembered that these articles were written two or three
years before the great crisis was reached, and when in the minds of
nearly all public men the question was one of everlasting debate, not
yet of action, except so far as the debate found concrete expression in
the struggle for possession in Kansas. In writing these personal papers
Lowell therefore was using his scorn and satire in defence of the
political idealists of whom he was one, and in attack of the political
trimmers of whom he took Choate and Cushing as representatives. Yet
even in these papers he recurs again and again to those fundamental
political questions which underlie all notions of persons and parties.
This is especially evident in the conclusion of the article on Caleb

“The ethical aspects of slavery,” he contends, “are not and cannot be
the subject of consideration with any party which proposes to act under
the Constitution of the United States. Nor are they called upon to
consider its ethnological aspect. Their concern with it is confined to
the domain of politics, and they are not called to the discussion of
abstract principles, but of practical measures. The question, even in
its political aspect, is one which goes to the very foundation of our
theories and our institutions. It is simply, shall the course of the
Republic be so directed as to subserve the interests of aristocracy or
of democracy? Shall our territories be occupied by lord and serf or by
intelligent freemen? by laborers who are owned, or by men who own
themselves? The Republican party has no need of appealing to prejudice
or passion. In this case there is a meaning in the phrase, ‘Manifest
Destiny.’ America is to be the land of the workers, the country where,
of all others, the intelligent brain and skilled hand of the mechanic,
and the patient labor of those who till their own fields, are to stand
them in greatest stead. We are to inaugurate and carry on the new system
which makes Man of more value than Property, which will one day put the
living value of industry above the dead value of capital. Our republic
was not born under Cancer, to go backward. Perhaps we do not like the
prospect? Perhaps we love the picturesque charm with which novelists and
poets have invested the old feudal order of things? That is not the
question. This New World of ours is to be the world of great workers and
small estates. The freemen whose capital is their two hands must
inevitably become hostile to a system clumsy and barbarous like that of
Slavery, which only carries to its last result the pitiless logic of
selfishness, sure at last to subject the toil of the many to the
irresponsible power of the few.”

In these papers Lowell again separated himself instinctively from the
extreme Abolitionists, the men, that is, who concentrated their
attention exclusively upon the sin of slavery, and refused to use any
political weapons for the overthrow of the system. He did not delay much
over the economic aspects of the matter, but based his attacks almost
wholly upon the eternal principles of Freedom. It was for Freedom,
almost as a personal figure, that he had been a free lance from his
youth, and he had come in his manhood to identify freedom with his
country till he had a passionate jealousy for the fair name of the
nation. He was not blind to the inconsistency which slavery created, but
he refused to accept slavery as a permanent condition, and was strenuous
in his belief that the fundamental, historical, and prophetic life of
the nation was aggressively free, and made for freedom.

Hence he identified himself with the Republican party, in its early
days, with cheerful alacrity, supporting it by his pen and his vote, and
hence, also, as the lines were drawn more closely at the time of the
election of Mr. Lincoln, his political articles in the _Atlantic_ became
more direct and more charged with a statesmanlike rather than with a
merely opportune character. In October, 1860, he printed a paper on “The
Election in November,” which is preserved in his “Political Essays.” It
is a survey of the field on the eve of the great election, in which he
aims to present the issue clearly. He finds it in the death struggle of
the slaveholding interest, which has so long dominated national
politics, but it is to him not a question of political preponderancy,
but of the moral integrity of the non-slaveholding States. “We believe,”
he says, “that this election is a turning-point in our history; for,
although there are four candidates, there are really, as everybody
knows, but two parties, and a single question that divides them.... The
cardinal question on which the whole policy of the country is to turn--a
question, too, which this very election must decide in one way or the
other--is the interpretation to be put upon certain clauses of the
Constitution.” After a witty analysis of the parties which trade most in
the term “conservative,” he makes a keen inquiry into the basis of
Southern civilization, with the purpose of considering what degree of
permanence there is in the society which rests on it, and reaches the
conclusion that “in such communities the seeds of an ‘irrepressible
conflict’ are surely, if slowly, ripening, and signs are daily
multiplying that the true peril to their social organization is looked
for, less in a revolt of the owned labor than in an insurrection of
intelligence in the labor that owns itself and finds itself none the
richer for it. To multiply such communities is to multiply weakness. The
election in November turns on the single and simple question, Whether we
shall consent to the indefinite multiplication of them; and the only
party which stands plainly and unequivocally pledged against such a
policy, nay, which is not either openly or impliedly in favor of it;--is
the Republican party.”

It is interesting to note that Lowell frankly expresses in this article
his regret that Lincoln instead of Seward should have been selected as
candidate for the presidency. He saw in Seward a reasonable and
persistent exponent of the cardinal doctrines of the party, and hence he
wished him at the front as the most conspicuous representative. “It was
assumed that his nomination would have embittered the contest, and
tainted the Republican creed with radicalism; but we doubt it. We cannot
think that a party gains by not hitting its hardest, or by sugaring its
opinions. Republicanism is not a conspiracy to obtain office under false
pretences. It has a definite aim, an earnest purpose, and the
unflinching tenacity of profound conviction.” Evidently he had not yet,
as very few at the East had, made the acquaintance of Mr. Lincoln, but
he accepts the nomination with confidence. “Mr. Lincoln,” he says, “has
proved both his ability and his integrity; he has had experience enough
in public affairs to make him a statesman, and not enough to make him a
politician.... He represents a party who know that true policy is
gradual in its advances, that it is conditional and not absolute, that
it must deal with facts and not with sentiments, but who know also that
it is wiser to stamp out evil in the spark than to wait till there is no
help but in fighting fire with fire. They are the only conservative
party, because they are the only one that is not willing to pawn
to-morrow for the means to gamble with to-day. They have no hostility to
the South, but a determined one to doctrines of whose ruinous tendency
every day more and more convinces them.” And again he emphatically
declares of the members of the party which he believes about to triumph
at the polls: “They believe that slavery is a wrong morally, a mistake
politically, and a misfortune practically, wherever it exists; that it
has nullified our influence abroad and forced us to compromise with our
better instincts at home; that it has perverted our government from its
legitimate objects, weakened the respect for the laws by making them the
tools of its purposes, and sapped the faith of men in any higher
political morality than interest or any better statesmanship than
chicane. They mean in every lawful way to hem it within its present

Lowell confessed in a letter to Mr. Nordhoff,[3] written a few weeks
after the election, when it will be remembered there was very little
evidence to show that the Republican party had not recoiled from its own
success, that he was greatly puzzled to gauge the actual mind of the
public. “But one thing seems to me clear,” he says, “that we have been
running long enough by dead reckoning, and that it is time to take the
height of the sun of righteousness.” It was the time of Buchanan’s
attitude of helplessness, the logical result of a life spent in
adjustment of principle to occasion. “Is it the effect of democracy,”
Lowell asks, “to make all our public men cowards? An ounce of pluck just
now were worth a king’s ransom. There is one comfort, though a shabby
one, in the feeling that matters will come to such a pass that courage
will be forced upon us, and that when there is no hope left we shall
learn a little self-confidence from despair. That in such a crisis the
fate of the country should be in the hands of a sneak! If the
Republicans stand firm we shall be saved, even at the cost of disunion.
If they yield, it is all up with us and with the experiment of

When he wrote this letter, he had already written and indeed printed his
paper on “The Question of the Hour” in the _Atlantic_ for January, 1861.
However apparently inert and even dazed the North might be, and however
paralyzed the federal government, there was little indecision at the
South. South Carolina had already taken steps to “withdraw from the
Union,” and the Southern public men were in a high state of activity.
In this article, which has not been reprinted, Lowell considers briefly
the possibility of disunion through the action of the South. He is
somewhat incredulous of the imminence of this danger, and the real
question of the hour to him is whether the Free States, having taken a
stand for freedom, will maintain their self-possession and spirit. He
groans over the miserable straits to which the nation is reduced by
having at its head in this critical hour a man of such mediocrity as Mr.
Buchanan. Again he makes his familiar point that the political training
of the party in power has caused a distinct degeneration in politics,
and thus has brought about a state of things which renders resistance to
the treasonable conduct of the leaders of secession weak and
ineffective; and he points out with sagacity a source of weakness, which
nearly a generation later was to draw from him a new political moral.

“It has been the misfortune of the United States that the conduct of
their public affairs has passed more and more exclusively into the hands
of men who have looked on politics as a game to be played rather than as
a trust to be administered, and whose capital, whether of personal
consideration or of livelihood, has been staked on a turn of the cards.
A general skepticism has been induced, exceedingly dangerous in times
like these. The fatal doctrine of rotation in office has transferred the
loyalty of the numberless servants of the Government, and of those
dependent on or influenced by them, from the nation to a party. For
thousands of families, every change in the National Administration is
as disastrous as revolution, and the Government has thus lost that
influence which the idea of permanence and stability would exercise in a
crisis like the present. At the present moment, the whole body of
office-holders at the South is changed from a conservative to a
disturbing element by a sense of the insecurity of their tenure. Their
allegiance having always been to the party in power at Washington, and
not to the Government of the Nation, they find it easy to transfer it to
the dominant faction at home.”

Even granting that the secessionists carry out their schemes, the
losers, he points out, would not be the Free States. “The laws of trade
cannot be changed, and the same causes which have built up their
agriculture, commerce, and manufactures will not cease to be operative.
The real wealth and strength of states, other things being equal,
depends upon homogeneousness of population and variety of occupation,
with a common interest and common habits of thought. The cotton-growing
States, with their single staple, are at the mercy of chance. India,
Australia, nay Africa herself, may cut the thread of their prosperity.
Their population consists of two hostile races, and their bone and
muscle, instead of being the partners, are the unwilling tools of their
capital and intellect. The logical consequence of this political theory
is despotism, which the necessity of coercing the subject race will make
a military one.”

A month later the situation had become still more serious, and in his
article “E Pluribus Unum,” which is reprinted in “Political Essays,”
Lowell writes with an earnestness which appears even in the wit and
humor that play over the surface. After discussing with an impatient
scorn the sophisms of secession, he inquires if any new facts have come
to light since the election which would lead the people to reconsider
the resolution then made. “Since the election of Mr. Lincoln, not one of
the arguments has lost its force, not a cipher of the statistics has
been proved mistaken, on which the judgment of the people was made up.”
And then, after reaffirming the limitations of the power to be assumed
by the Republican party, he bursts forth:--

“But the present question is one altogether transcending all limits of
party and all theories of party policy. It is a question of national
existence; it is a question whether Americans shall govern America, or
whether a disappointed clique shall nullify all government now, and
render a stable government difficult hereafter; it is a question, not
whether we shall have civil war under certain contingencies, but whether
we shall prevent it under any. It is idle, and worse than idle, to talk
about Central Republics that can never be formed. We want neither
Central Republics nor Northern Republics, but our own Republic and that
of our fathers, destined one day to gather the whole continent under a
flag that shall be the most august in the world. Having once known what
it was to be members of a grand and peaceful constellation, we shall
not believe, without further proof, that the laws of our gravitation are
to be abolished, and we flung forth into chaos, a hurly-burly of
jostling and splintering stars, whenever Robert Toombs or Robert Rhett,
or any other Bob of the secession kite, may give a flirt of
self-importance. The first and greatest benefit of government is that it
keeps the peace, that it insures every man his right, and not only that
but the permanence of it. In order to do this, its first requisite is
stability; and this once firmly settled, the greater the extent of
conterminous territory that can be subjected to one system and one
language and inspired by one patriotism, the better.... Slavery is no
longer the matter in debate, and we must beware of being led off upon
that side-issue. The matter now in hand is the reëstablishment of order,
the reaffirmation of national unity, and the settling once for all
whether there can be such a thing as a government without the right to
use its power in self-defence.” And he closes with the solemn words:
“Peace is the greatest of blessings, when it is won and kept by manhood
and wisdom; but it is a blessing that will not long be the housemate of
cowardice. It is God alone who is powerful enough to let His authority
slumber; it is only His laws that are strong enough to protect and
avenge themselves. Every human government is bound to make its laws so
far resemble His that they shall be uniform, certain, and unquestionable
in their operations; and this it can do only by a timely show of power,
and by an appeal to that authority which is of divine right, inasmuch
as its office is to maintain that order which is the single attribute of
that Infinite Reason which we can clearly apprehend and of which we have
hourly example.”

The article headed “The Pickens-and-Stealins’ Rebellion,” which appeared
in the _Atlantic_ for June, 1861, was the latest of the political
articles contributed by Lowell to the magazine while he was editor, and
appeared just as he surrendered his charge to Mr. Fields. It was written
immediately after the attack on Fort Sumter and in the glow of that
popular rising which swept away all the flimsy structure of the
politicians and showed the might of that conviction which Lowell never
doubted to lie in the minds of the American people. He longed then for a
great leader. Major Anderson served for a brief hour to typify the
spirit of uncompromising fidelity to duty, but Lowell was disappointed
in Lincoln’s public utterances. He was impatient at the President’s
caution, and especially at the temporizing policy which he pursued
toward the Border States, and he traced the course of events before the
first gun was fired on Sumter with the evident conviction that a firmer
policy would have been surer to defeat the plans of the Confederacy; but
the splendid assertion of the Union spirit fills him with an almost awed
sense of joy. “We have no doubt of the issue,” he writes. “We believe
that the strongest battalions are always on the side of God. The
Southern army will be fighting for Jefferson Davis, or at most for the
liberty of self-misgovernment, while we go forth for the defence of
principles which alone make government august and civil society
possible. It is the very life of the nation that is at stake. There is
no question here of dynasties, races, religions, but simply whether we
will consent to include in our Bill of Rights--not merely as of equal
validity with all other rights, whether natural or acquired, but by its
very nature transcending and abrogating them all--the Right of Anarchy.
We must convince men that treason against the ballot-box is as dangerous
as treason against a throne, and that, if they play so desperate a game,
they must stake their lives on the hazard.... A ten years’ war would be
cheap that gave us a country to be proud of, and a flag that should
command the respect of the world because it was the symbol of the
enthusiastic unity of a great nation.... We cannot think that the war we
are entering on can end without some radical change in the system of
African slavery. Whether it be doomed to a sudden extinction, or to a
gradual abolition through economical causes, this war will not leave it
where it was before. As a power in the state its reign is already over.
The fiery tongue of the batteries in Charleston harbor accomplished in
one day a conversion which the constancy of Garrison and the eloquence
of Phillips had failed to bring about in thirty years. And whatever
other result this war is destined to produce, it has already won for us
a blessing worth everything to us as a nation in emancipating the public
opinion of the North.” Thus in his last sentence he reiterates the
judgment which he had over and over again pronounced in the whole series
of these political papers, for he never lost sight of the fundamental
fact that freedom resides in the spirit of man and is but recorded in
his institutions.

Once more he wrote a prose paper for the _Atlantic_, moved by the
attitude in England, for with others of his kind Lowell took grievously
to heart the comments of the English press and the actions of the
British government. In this paper, published December, 1861, entitled
“Self-Possession _vs._ Prepossession,” he finds unmistakable symptoms of
reaction in England, since 1848, against liberalism in politics, and
tries the criticism of the United States government in which the press
indulged by the action of England toward Ireland and India; and finally
he points out the restrictions imposed on any constitutional government
by the very conditions of its existence, forbidding it to act in advance
of the convictions of its people. This he does to defend the
administration against the charge that it is indifferent to the question
of emancipation. He is impatient indeed of the extreme caution of Mr.
Lincoln and his associates, but he is nevertheless of the opinion that
the time has not yet come for turning the war into a crusade. It is
interesting to mark how uppermost in Lowell’s mind is the cause of
national unity. Time was when he drew near to the position taken by some
of his anti-slavery associates that disunion was preferable to
complicity with slavery; but as the conflict between the two opposing
forces deepened, he took more and more steadily the larger view, and his
democratic principles became bound up with the unity of the nation, and
at last with the supremacy of law as represented by the national cause.

“Is this then,” he breaks out fervently at the close of his paper, “to
be a commonplace war, a prosaic and peddling quarrel about cotton? Shall
there be nothing to enlist enthusiasm or kindle fanaticism? Are we to
have no cause like that for which our English republican ancestors died
so gladly on the field, with such dignity on the scaffold?--no cause
that shall give us a hero, who knows but a Cromwell? To our minds,
though it may be obscure to Englishmen, who look on Lancashire as the
centre of the universe, no army was ever enlisted for a nobler service
than ours. Not only is it national life and a foremost place among
nations that is at stake, but the vital principle of Law itself, the
august foundation on which the very possibility of government, above all
of self-government, rests as in the hollow of God’s own hand. If
democracy shall prove itself capable of having raised twenty millions of
people to a level of thought where they can appreciate this cardinal
truth, and can believe no sacrifice too great for its defence and
establishment, then democracy will have vindicated itself beyond all
chance of future cavil. Here, we think, is a Cause the experience of
whose vicissitudes and the grandeur of whose triumph will be able to
give us heroes and statesmen. The Slave-Power must be humbled, must be
punished,--so humbled and so punished as to be a warning forever; but
slavery is an evil transient in its cause and its consequence, compared
with those which would result from unsettling the faith of a nation in
its own manhood, and setting a whole generation of men hopelessly adrift
in the formless void of anarchy.”

The reserve with which he speaks of the President’s policy is the wise
tone to be adopted in a printed article. In his private letters, where
such caution is not needed, he gives expression openly to his
impatience. In a letter written at the same time as this article, he
says: “I confess that my opinion of the Government does not rise, to say
the least. If we are saved it will be God’s doing, not man’s, and will
He save those who are not worth saving? Lincoln may be right, for aught
I know,--prudence is certainly a good drag upon virtue,--but I guess an
ounce of Frémont is worth a pound of long Abraham. Mr. L. seems to have
a theory of carrying on war without hurting the enemy. He is incapable,
apparently, of understanding that they _ought_ to be hurt. The doing
good to those that despitefully entreat us was not meant for enemies of
the commonwealth. The devil’s angels are those that do his work, and for
such there is a lake of fire and brimstone prepared. We have been
undertaking to frighten the Devil with cold pitch.

“At the same time it looks as if the rebels must be losing more than we.
They _must_ be poorly off for most things that go to make up the
efficiency of an army, and if they can’t attack us what can they do? I
am in a constant state of _un_pleasurable excitement. Jemmy[4] and
Willy[5] are at Leesburg, in full sight of the enemy’s pickets, and I
can’t bear to think of either of them being hurt. Mary was here last
night, and though she puts a good face on it, there was something very
painful to me in the hoarse hollowness of her voice. If they should die
in battle well on into the enemy’s lines, it would be all that one could
ask, but it would be dreadful to have them picked off by those murdering
cowards. Let’s think of something else.”

A month later, and the boys he spoke of so affectionately and
tremulously had fallen. In that most affecting of the second series of
the “Biglow Papers,” “Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Editor of the _Atlantic
Monthly_,” printed at the close of the war, he could refer to them in
verse which holds all the passion of tears. Now, he can only send
tidings to his most intimate friend in a few restrained words: “We have
the worst news. Dear Willie is killed, and James badly wounded. They
must have behaved like men. Think of poor Mary, whose husband is so ill
that he cannot be told of it. She does not _know_ it yet, though she is
prepared. But he will be brought home this afternoon. He was truly a
noble young fellow. Simple, brave, and pure I knew him to be in a very
rare measure. We have the pride of knowing that our men _must_ have
done well. Of the officers of the 20th, two were drowned, and _all_ the
rest (except Col. Lee) wounded. Willie was the only one killed. Wendell
Holmes wounded. Last despatch says, ‘Lowell and Holmes doing well this
morning,’--that’s to-day. Thank God for that, and that they all did
their duty.” Two days later he added: “He came home yesterday afternoon,
his face little changed, they tell me, and with a smile on it. He got
his wound as we could wish. The adjutant of the regiment was hit, Willie
sprang forward to help him, and was shot instantly. Jamie sprang to help
him, and was hit, but will be about again in ten days or so.... It is
some consolation to think that he was struck in so graceful an action,
and his wound is in front, as I knew it would be.”

The depth of feeling which appears in his prose at this time, as he
tries to set forth the essential character of the great conflict, could
scarcely fail to find manifestation in poetry, since that was his native
speech. Yet it required genuine possession of mind. In the years just
preceding the actual breaking out of war Lowell could, as we have seen,
treat with badinage such manifestations as the American Tract Society,
and the speech-making of Choate and Cushing; he could, indeed, pass in
these papers from satire to earnest examination of fundamentals; but
somehow he could not bring himself to use the keener weapon which he had
handled so skilfully in the discussion over Texas and the Mexican War.
“Friendly people say to me sometimes,” he writes to Thomas Hughes, 13
September, 1859, “‘write us more “Biglow Papers,”’ and I have even been
simple enough to try, only to find that I could not.” And a couple of
months later R. G. White writes: “The _Atlantic_ has just come in, and I
miss what you led me to expect from your friend B. O. F. Sawin.” He had
plainly made a deliberate attempt, for in July of this year he was
writing to Mr. Norton: “I have a new ‘Biglow’ running in my head, and I
shall write it as soon as my brain clears off. At present I feel all the
time like the next morning without having had the day before, which is
too bad. I _think_ my new ‘Biglow’ will be funny. If not you will never
see it. It will be on the reopening of the slave trade, and some rather
humorous combinations have come into my mind. We shall see.”

It is not improbable that the impetus to verse came from the stirring of
his personal emotions in the autumn of 1861, when he was following with
anxious yet proud emotions the career of the two nephews whom he loved
with that freedom which an uncle bestows on those who, not his own
children, are yet his children’s nearest kin. It was on 20 September
that he wrote of the “constant state of _un_pleasurable excitement”
under which he labored. On 8 October he writes to Mr. Fields, who had
been urging him to send a contribution to the _Atlantic_: “I set about a
poem last night,--_apropos_ of the times,--and hope to finish it
to-morrow, and if it turn out to be good for anything, I will send it
at once, and you can print it or no as you like.”

This poem was “The Washers of the Shroud,” which appeared in the
November _Atlantic_. The same thought prevails in this poem which found
ampler expression in his prose, as we have seen, a conviction that his
country was not to “join the waiting ghosts of names,” but was to have

                “larger manhood, saved for those
    That walk unblenching through the trial-fires.”[6]

How deeply he felt the poem may be seen not only in the solemn measure
of the verse itself, but in the confession of physical exhaustion in
which the writing of it left him.[7] Most impressive was the coincidence
of the final stanza with the news which reached Elmwood just as the poem
itself fell under the eye of the great public. “God, give us peace!” he
had said in the penultimate stanza,--

    “God, give us peace!--not such as lulls to sleep,
    But sword on thigh, and brow with purpose knit!
    And let our Ship of State to harbor sweep,
    Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit,
    And her leashed thunders gathering for their leap!”

And then,

    “So cried I, with clenched hands and passionate pain,
    Thinking of dear ones by Potomac’s side:
    Again the loon laughed mocking, and again
    The echoes bayed far down the night and died,
    While waking I recalled my wandering brain.”[8]

There is a single sentence in a letter written four days before the
fatal news came which helps to show that side of Lowell’s nature out of
which his best work sprang, the attitude of receptivity to the large
elemental life. Taken in connection with the sudden blow so soon to
fall, it enables one to understand better the power by which Lowell was
aroused to action: “These last rains have been _lifting_ the leaves (si
levan le foglie) with a vengeance, making as clean work as ever Highland
Cateran with cattle. I can’t understand people who call autumn a
melancholy season unless they are cockneys indeed. To a country-bred
fellow like me, the exquisite atmosphere and the dear associations with
nutting and fishing and _trying_ to shoot ducks, and lying under warm
hillsides, make it anything but sad. Even to see the leaves fall is a
pleasure to me which few others match.”

Certain it is that from this time there seemed to be a new and, I think,
loftier and more sustained spirit in his writing upon the great issues
of the day. For one thing, he found vent in a rapid succession of poems
which form the second series of the “Biglow Papers.” Early in December,
1861, he wrote the first, apparently under pressure to return to this
form. “It was clean against my critical judgment,” he writes, “for I
don’t believe in resuscitations--we hear no good of the _posthumous_
Lazarus--but I may get into the vein and do some good;” and it is clear
that the effort did seat him again in the saddle, for he followed his
first paper, which appeared in January, 1862, with five more in
successive months, which were in effect pungent comments on the course
of events in that dark period. He had apparently the stimulus of an
engagement with Mr. Fields, the editor of the _Atlantic_, for we find
him in August confessing his inability to bring to light another paper
which was confined somewhere in his perplexed brain.

Lowell could not of course escape his own shadow cast by the brilliant
success of the first series, although fourteen years in a man’s memory
does not raise such an accumulation of fame as it does in the memory of
spectators. He was doubtless a bit nervous as he essayed to repeat an
earlier impromptu, for such the first series may fairly be called, but
the nervousness really attacked only the beginning of his effort; once
he was fairly under way, the old assurance all came back, and it was
easy enough to indulge in that vernacular which was so imbedded in his
early consciousness as to be not an acquisition but an inheritance. The
Yankee dialect and macaronics, both of which were the lingo of his
boyhood, were so native to his wit that he handled them in maturity as
freely as one’s hand grasps in a return to the country the scythe which
has been swung in boyhood.

It is perhaps more to the point to observe that, as in the earlier
series, the figures of this pastoral had been developed from suddenly
designed sketches until they stood full formed to the reader in the
resultant book, now, upon the resumption of the art, they became simply
accepted types to be illustrated rather than developed; and there is
therefore from the start a firmness of touch and a solidity of modelling
which give to the entire series an air of certainty and ease, as if the
author had no need to add or rub out. There is possibly a little loss of
buoyancy and spontaneity, but if so there is compensation in the touch
of wisdom and especially of deep feeling characteristic of the series as
a whole. Lowell is so sure of the rustic form he is using, and of the
old-fashioned pedantry of Mr. Wilbur, that he can draw more confidently
from deeper soundings, as indeed the very growth of his own nature
compels him to do. Thus, while the satire of the earlier series is more
amusing, that of the second is more biting. For when he was dealing with
the iniquities of the Mexican war, he was after all contemplating what
might be deemed a cutaneous disease as compared with the deadly virus
now attacking the most vital part of the national body, and, moreover,
fourteen years of personal experience such as he had known could
scarcely fail to give him more penetration.

There are one or two surface indications of all this which may be
noticed. Thus, though the Reverend Homer Wilbur of the second series is
the same serene, absconding sort of parson as in the first, now and
then Lowell forgets the impersonation and speaks in his own voice. This
is especially observable in the second of the papers. What Mr. Wilbur
says there respecting the English and their criticism of America can
scarcely be distinguished in manner from Lowell’s own utterances in
prose papers already referred to. And again, in the first number,
written when Lowell was freshly grieving over the loss of his nephews,
there is a trumpet note in the voice of Mr. Wilbur which is both the
perfection of art and the sincerity of feeling. The parson is defending
himself against the charge of inconsistency in allowing his youngest son
to raise a company for the war. He refers with characteristic
complacency to the example he himself had set by serving as a chaplain
in the war of 1812, and adds: “It was, indeed, grievous to send my
Benjamin, the child of my old age; but after the discomfiture of
Manassas, I with my own hands did buckle on his armor, trusting in the
great Comforter and Commander for strength according to my need. For
truly the memory of a brave son dead in his shroud were a greater staff
of my declining years than a living coward (if those may be said to have
lived who carry all of themselves into the grave with them), though his
days might be long in the land, and he should get much goods. It is not
till our earthen vessels are broken that we find and truly possess the
treasure that was laid up in them.”

It is possible that Lowell took a little alarm when he read over the
prose introduction to his second paper, for thereafter there is a
studied care to make Mr. Wilbur speak in his own measured tones, even to
an indulgence in the introduction to the fifth paper in a piece of most
elaborate nonsense mocking the antiquary’s enthusiasm. The manner, at
last, in which Mr. Wilbur’s death is announced, the bringing upon the
scenes for obituary purposes of his colleague the Reverend Jeduthun
Hitchcock, who is deliciously discriminated from his senior yet shown to
have been formed out of the same clay, the posthumous sayings from Mr.
Wilbur’s Table Talk,--all this is conceived in a most sympathetic and
genuine spirit of art. The delineation of old age, indeed, in this
character was, one may guess, something more than artistic imagining.
There is a bit of nonsense which Lowell wrote to Miss Norton in 1864,
which for its full effect ought to be reproduced in facsimile, for he
took the most elaborate pains to transform his hand into that of a poor
trembling old nonagenarian: “Since I lost my last tooth, I am a great
deal more comfortable, I thank you. The new sett maide for me Doctor
Tucker’s great granson works well and I eat comfortable. Let me
recommend Tinto’s hair dyes. It makes all black to be sure, and you look
like your fotograms. My palsy hardly troubles me at all now. My memory
is as good as it ever was, and my hand-writing as good as in my earliest
years. I wrote a little poem last week which Fanny thinks as good as
anything I ever did. It begins

    Let dogs delight to bark and bite
      For ’tis _their_ nature, too.

But I don’t think she hears very well with her new trumpet.

“Certainly I will dine with you on Sunday and shall expect you on
Thursday if Tuesday should be a fair day. The death of Holmes is an
awful warning, but one can’t expect to be very strong at ninety nine. I
remember his mother who died near fifty years ago.”

The fun we make often discloses the gravity that lies behind, as if we
could exorcise a spirit by jesting at it, and Lowell was tormented,
strange to say, by the apprehension of old age long before he approached
it. There is, therefore, something pathetic as well as humorous in the
fragment of Mr. Wilbur’s letter which introduces the “Latest Views of
Mr. Biglow.” It is the imitation palsy again, and yet behind Mr.
Wilbur’s tremulous phrases one reads those strong convictions which
Lowell held to throughout the perplexing days before Gettysburg. “Though
I believe Slavery,” Mr. Wilbur says, “to have been the cause of it [the
war] by so thoroughly demoralizing Northern politicks for its own
purposes as to give opportunity and hope to treason, yet I would not
have our thought and purpose diverted from their true object,--the
maintenance of the idea of Government. We are not merely suppressing an
enormous riot, but contending for the possibility of permanent order
coexisting with democratical fickleness; and while I would not
superstitiously venerate form to the sacrifice of substance, neither
would I forget that an adherence to precedent and prescription can
alone give that continuity and coherence under a democratic constitution
which are inherent in the person of a despotick monarch and the
selfishness of an aristocratical class. _Stet pro ratione voluntas_ is
as dangerous in a majority as in a tyrant.”

Distinct as are the judgments of Mr. Wilbur, it is after all in the
poems from Hosea Biglow and his foil Birdofredom Sawin that we get the
freest and most luminous expression of Lowell’s mind. He began the new
series in a low key by recounting the experience of the renegade Yankee
during the years since the Mexican war, but the affair of the Trent
happened immediately after he had written the first paper, and before
completing Birdofredom’s story he dashed off that quaint fable of the
dialogue between the Bridge and the Monument, ending with the verses
“Jonathan to John,” which was a genuine delivery of his mind. “If I am
not mistaken,” he wrote to Mr. Fields on sending it, “it will _take_.
’Tis about Mason and Slidell, and I have ended it with a refrain that I
hope has a kind of _tang_ to it.” The judgments which he passed in it
were not momentary impulses. Three years later he wrote a letter[9]
which repeats in prose much the same sentiments. It would be difficult
to find a better exponent than Lowell of the temper of educated
Americans toward England, a temper which discriminates sharply between
the England of history and of personal affection and the England that
registered in the nineteenth century the prejudices of a lingering
bureaucratic régime.

In the third, fourth, and fifth papers Lowell used his satire
effectively to sting his countrymen into a perception of the meaner side
of politics, for his incessant cry throughout his political career was
for independence and idealism, and the obverse was an unfailing
denunciation of shams and cowardly truckling to popular views. It was
when he came to the close of the six numbers which he appears to have
agreed to write that he gave himself up to the luxury of that bobolink
song which always swelled in his throat when spring melted into summer.
“Sunthin’ in the Pastoral Line,” like the opening notes of “The Vision
of Sir Launfal,” like “Under the Willows,” “Al Fresco,” and similar
poems, is the insistent call of Nature which is perhaps the most
unmistakable witness in Lowell of a voice most his own because least
subject to his own volition. To be sure, Lowell had a truth he wished to
press,--the need of crushing the rattlesnake in its head of slavery; but
he must needs first clear his throat by a long sweet draught of nature,
and the mingling of pure delight in out of doors with the perplexities
of the hour renders this number of the “Biglow Papers” one that goes
very straight to the reader’s heart.

There is no flagging in this monthly succession, as one reads the
“Papers” now, but Lowell hated the compulsory business of a poem a
month,--as he says in this latest number:--

    “I thought ef this ’ere milkin’ o’ the wits
    So much a month, war n’t givin’ Natur’ fits,--
    Ef folks war n’t druv, findin’ their own milk fail,
    To work the cow that hez an iron tail,
    An’ ef idees ’thout ripenin’ in the pan
    Would send up cream to humor ary man.”

And he wrote to Fields, 5 June, 1862: “It’s no use. I reverse the gospel
difficulty, and while the flesh is willing enough, the spirit is weak.
My brain must lie fallow a spell,--there is no super-phosphate for those
worn-out fields. Better no crop than small potatoes. I want to have the
_passion_ of the thing on me again and beget lusty Biglows. I am all the
more dejected because you have treated me so well. But I must rest
awhile. My brain is out of kilter.” And again in August he wrote to the
same: “Give me a victory and I will give you a poem: but I am now clear
down in the bottom of the well, where I see the Truth too near to make
verses of.”

So it was six months before he wrote again, this time the “Latest Views
of Mr. Biglow.” He carried out his plan, after this interval, of putting
an end to Mr. Wilbur. The verses repeat his impatience for some action,
some great leader, but at the close he bursts forth into exultation over
Lincoln’s proclamation of emancipation. And then, for two years and
more, Hosea keeps silence.

Yet if victory did not arouse him, the greater theme of sacrifice called
out one of his most solemn and stirring odes, that dedicated to the
memory of Robert Gould Shaw, and entitled “Memoriæ Positum R. G. Shaw.”
It may well be read in connection with the other poem suggested by the
events of the war in 1863, “Two Scenes from the Life of Blondel.” There
is in this parable a half confession of failure, a reflection upon
ideals once held gallantly and then trailed in the dust of
disappointment. He seems to have written the first scene, in which
Lincoln is the ideal captain, without at first designing the second, for
he writes to Mr. Fields, who already had the first: “I have written a
Palinode to ‘Blondel,’ and so made two poems of it. The latter half is
half-humorous and, I think, will help the effect. You see how dangerous
it is to pay a poet handsomely beforehand. I don’t know where I shall
stop. I shall be sending an epic presently.... I should like your notion
of the second part of Blondel, which (in the first relief of incubation)
I am inclined to think clever. But there was nothing wiser than Horace’s
ninth year--only it overwhelms us like a ninth wave (that’s Wendell’s,
_tenth_ the Latins said, but I wanted nine), and if we kept our verses
so long we should print none of them. A strong argument for monthly
magazines, you see.” There is so little of the essentially dramatic
about Lowell’s poetry that it is not unfair to hear his voice only
slightly changed in such a poem as this. But all such speculative and
half-moody expressions gave way before the dignity of Shaw’s death. “I
would rather have my name known and blest, as his will be,” Lowell
writes to Colonel Shaw’s mother, “through all the hovels of an outcast
race, than blaring from all the trumpets of repute.” And the ultimate
judgment which he held, despite the confusion wrought by all the meaner
passions of the time which vext his soul, rings out clearly in the final

    “Dear Land, whom triflers now make bold to scorn,
    (Thee! from whose forehead Earth awaits her morn,)
            How nobler shall the sun
    Flame in thy sky, how braver breathe thy air,
    That thou bred’st children who for thee couldst dare
            And die as thine have done!”[10]

For the one note, in the discord of the war, heard more and more clearly
by Lowell, was that of triumph for democracy as incarnate in his
country. No one can read his writings from this time forward without
observing how deep a passion this love of his country was. In earlier
life he had had a passion for Freedom, and the Freedom which was to him
as the Lady to her knight, was very comprehensive and took many forms.
Now, in his maturity, and when he saw the one great blot fading from the
escutcheon, there was a steady concentration of passion upon that
incorporation of freedom in the fair land which seemed to his
imagination to have gotten her soul, and no longer Earth’s biggest
country, but to have

    “risen up Earth’s greatest nation.”

“The Biglow Papers” had appeared in the _Atlantic_. There also had been
printed his “Blondel” and “Memoriæ Positum R. G. Shaw;” but since the
article in December, 1861, “Self-Possession _vs._ Prepossession,” and
another in January, 1863,[11] he had not made that magazine the vehicle
for prose articles on public affairs, as had been his practice during
his editorship of it. Now, at the close of 1863, he entered upon an
engagement which was to give him a new medium for communication, and one
which he used effectively for the next ten years. The _North American
Review_, which had been founded by a number of cultivated gentlemen in
Boston in 1815, was modelled on the famous quarterlies of Great Britain,
and had for fifty years been the leading representative in America of
dignified scholarship and literature. At times it had been spirited and
aggressive, but for the most part it had stood rather for elegant
leisure and a somewhat remote criticism. For the last ten years it had
been conducted in a temperate and careful way by the Rev. Dr. Andrew P.
Peabody, who held by the old traditions. But its fortunes were at a low
ebb, it no longer was a power, and the publishers, hoping to reinstate
it in authority, applied to Lowell to take charge of it. He saw the
opportunity it would give him, and he accepted the offer, but only on
condition that Mr. Norton should be associated with him as active
editor. The advertisement put forth by the publishers was such as to
quiet the minds of any who might be uneasy over a change of conduct;
for, after naming the now editors, it characterized them as “gentlemen
who, for sound and elegant scholarship, have achieved an enviable
reputation, both in this country and in Europe; and whose taste,
education, and experience eminently qualify them for the position they
have assumed. Of the former it may be said that his essays in the
periodical which, under his editorship, reached the summit of its fame,
surpassed in vigor and force those of any contributor; of the latter,
that he has ‘added new honors to the name he bears by the extent and
variety of his knowledge, and by the force and elegance which he has
exhibited both as a writer and a speaker.’ And of both, that their
thorough loyalty to the liberal institutions of our country, and their
sympathy with the progressive element of the times, renders them
peculiarly fitted to conduct the _Review_, which has by competent
authority been pronounced ‘the leading literary organ of the country,’
and of which it has been said ‘it has not its equal in America, nor its
superior in the world.’” The advertisement continued in measured phrases
to announce the policy of the review, and it would have been difficult
for its old subscribers to detect any promise of change, though as a
matter of fact, while the term scholarly could equally well be applied
to it in the next ten years, the scholarship was more exact, the scope
of the review was greatly widened, and for pungency and thoroughness of
criticism, for good English and for breadth of view, it was so
strikingly marked, that it became a signal example of how a magazine
may at once be lifted to a higher level without being compelled to turn
a somersault.

The advertisement, however, which Crosby & Nichols put forth no doubt
with a dignified elation, excited Lowell’s ire, and he gave vent to his
annoyance in a rhymed letter to his colleague:--


                I am mad as a piper
    And could bite those old files like a viper,
    Reading their d--d advertisement
    For donkeys, and not for the wise, meant,
    (Which undoubtedly tickles
    Messrs. Crosby and Nichols
    To the innermost jecur
    Or brain--where they’re weaker!)
    I feel as if the rogues meant to work us
    Like the clowns of a travelling circus,
    Blowing their trumpets before us
    In a brazen and asinine chorus,
    Sending advance troops of blackguards
    To blear all the fences with placards,--
    ‘This is the famous Dan Rice, sirs,
    Whose jokes are beyond any price, sirs,
    And this is that eminent man Joe
    Grimes, so sublime on the banjo,
    And especially great in the prances
    Of the best Ethiopian dances!’
    Why, I feel my shamed visage o’erdarkle
    With my last evening’s waterproof charcoal!
    Dear Charles, all your articles toss by
    And see Messrs. Nichols and Crosby:
    Curl up your moustache like a bandit
    And tell ’em we never will stand it
    To be treated (I put here one _more_ curse)
    Like a couple of literate porkers
    (Nay, a literate one would much rather
    Be made into pork like his father.)
    I’d go, but must hurry to college
    To help the confusion of knowledge,
    So remain
      Your true friend, as you know well,
 !!!!‘The world famous James Russell Lowell
      Shuperior every way vastly
      To the late justly-favorite Astley!!!!’”

Though Mr. Norton took the laboring oar in editing, Lowell put in his
stroke now and then, as may be seen in a letter to Mr. Motley asking for
a contribution.[12] In that he sets forth the situation in a few
sentences: “You have heard,” he says, “that Norton and I have undertaken
to edit the _North American_,--a rather Sisyphian job, you will say. It
wanted three chief elements to be successful. It wasn’t thoroughly, that
is, thickly and thinly, loyal, it wasn’t lively, and it had no
particular opinions on any particular subject. It was an eminently safe
periodical, and accordingly was in great danger of running aground. It
was an easy matter, of course, to make it loyal,--even to give it
opinions (such as they were), but to make it alive is more difficult.
Perhaps the day of the quarterlies is gone by, and those megatheria of
letters may be in the mere course of nature withdrawing to their last
swamps to die in peace. Anyhow, here we are with our megatherium on our
hands, and we must strive to find what will fill his huge belly, and
keep him alive a little longer.”

That this and similar letters were not so much evidence of Lowell’s
energetic assumption of editorial tasks as special efforts coaxed out of
him by his associate, may be inferred from a letter to Mr. Norton
written three days later, in which he begins: “It is abominable that you
should have been gone a whole month without a letter from me,--and yet
so wholly in accordance with natural laws that you must be pleased when
I explain the reason of my silence. That I have thought of you I need
not say. Well, do you understand the nature of a cask, and accordingly
the analogous human nature of a ‘vessel of wrath?’ A cask has a bung
which is kept tight, and a spigot through which it delights to unbosom
itself into the can for refreshment or mirth. But this is not all. It
may be never so small,--a needle might stop it,--but _if_ stopped, not a
drop shall you coax out of the faucet for love or money. Now when I read
your letter, walking in the hot sun along the side of the graveyard, I
was full of good liquor reaming ripe to flow for you. But you bound me
by a vow to write to Motley ere I wrote to you, and in so doing
hermetically sealed the vent, and locked up all my vintage in myself. I
could have written to _you_, but Motley was another thing. And first
came Commencement, then Phi Beta, then the making of my salt hay, and at
last I got it done and a letter also to Howells.”

But if Lowell shirked the drudgery of editing he gave what was much more
worth while to the _Review_ in his frequent contributions. During the
remainder of the war, and during the early stages of the reconstruction
period, he had in nearly every number a political article. The new
editors issued their first number in January, 1864, and Lowell took for
his subject “The President’s Policy.” The last direct public expression
he had given of his estimate of Mr. Lincoln was in his _Atlantic_
article in December, 1861. Two years had passed since that time and the
question was now looming up of the election of Mr. Lincoln’s successor.
The election was to be held in November, 1864, and the four articles
which Lowell wrote in the quarterly numbers of that year are all
practically arguments for the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln. The January
article, combined (with some confusion of tenses) with what he wrote
after the President’s death, now appears under the title “Abraham
Lincoln,” in “Political Essays.” The estimate of the President, made for
the most part when Lincoln was under fire, not only from his political
opponents, but from those who might be expected to support him, is a
clear appreciation of those great qualities of patience and balance of
mind which have come to be recognized as the source of his strength.
Lowell, as we have seen, had not at the outset refrained from a critical
attitude toward Lincoln. Now he confesses his own blunder and throws the
confession into the scales when weighing him. “Mr. Lincoln, as it seems
to us in reviewing his career, though we have sometimes in our
impatience thought otherwise, has always waited, as a wise man should,
till the right moment brought up all his reserves;” and he reads well a
prime element of Lincoln’s power when he makes distinction between the
conscientiously rigid _doctrinaire_ and the statesman who achieves his
triumph by quietly accomplishing his ends. “Mr. Lincoln’s perilous task
has been to carry a rather shaky raft through the rapids, making fast
the unrulier logs as he could snatch opportunity, and the country is to
be congratulated that he did not think it his duty to run straight at
all hazards, but cautiously to assure himself with his setting pole
where the main current was, and keep steadily to that. He is still in
wild water, but we have faith that his skill and sureness of eye will
bring him out right at last.” What especially bound Lincoln’s policy to
Lowell’s confidence was the fact that its pole-star was national
integrity, and in tracing as he does the slow process by which the
President carried the nation with him till the abolition of slavery
became no longer the cry of a party but the logical necessity of a
nation, he practically unfolds the process of his own development.[13]

In the April number of the _North American_ Lowell took for his text
General McClellan’s Report, and applied his powers of analysis to this
for the purpose of constructing the figure of Lincoln’s opponent.
McClellan was no longer in the field, but he was the military critic of
the administration and the man about whom the forces in opposition were
gradually collecting, since he seemed to have been thrown up for this
purpose by the elements which were most active. McClellan’s report,
which had recently appeared, covered the period from July, 1861, to
November, 1862, a period which in the rapid progress of events was
already historical and could be examined in the light of later
movements. To McClellan, however, the Report was an _apologia pro vita
sua_, and nothing had happened since it was written, so essentially was
he a critic rather than a creator. Lowell was quick to see the weakness
of McClellan’s position in defending himself, preliminary to assuming a
position where he was to defend the country, and in making his defence
issue in charges against the authority under whose orders he had acted.
He saw not so much the politician under the soldier’s cloak as a man of
such calibre as fitted him to become the tool of politicians, and so
self-conscious that once he is possessed of the notion of his political
importance he looks at everything from a personal point of view. The
Report gave abundant evidence of this, and Lowell follows him through
the narrative, not as a military critic but as a student of human
nature, and in his summary asks the very pertinent question if a man of
this make-up is a man to put at the head of affairs. “Though we think,”
he says, “great injustice has been done by the public to General
McClellan’s really high merit as an officer, yet it seems to us that
those very merits show precisely the character of intellect to unfit
him for the task just now demanded of a statesman. His capacity for
organization may be conspicuous; but be it what it may, it is one thing
to bring order out of the confusion of mere inexperience, and quite
another to retrieve it from a chaos of elements mutually hostile, which
is the problem sure to present itself to the next administration. This
will constantly require precisely that judgment on the nail, and not to
be drawn for at three days’ sight, of which General McClellan has shown
least. Is our path to be so smooth for the next four years that a man
whose leading characteristic is an exaggeration of difficulties is
likely to be our surest guide?... The man who is fit for the office of
President in these times should be one who knows how to advance, an art
which General McClellan has never learned.”

In the July number Lowell recurs more distinctly to the fundamental
questions involved in the war, since his task is to place in comparison
two historical works issuing from opposite sides, Pollard’s initial
volume of “The Southern History of the War,” devoted to the first year,
and the first volume of Greeley’s treatise, “The American Conflict.” As
these two, and more especially the latter, naturally set about
accounting for the war, Lowell makes them the text for his article, “The
Rebellion: its Causes and Consequences.” The breadth of the theme tempts
him into an introductory discussion of the several modes of writing
history, and an inquiry into the spirit in which history in the making
should be interpreted, but his real business, when he gets at it, is to
examine the political character of the nation at the breaking out of the
war, and to trace the insidious influence of slavery on national
politics. He repeats in newer and more forcible phrases the contention,
so often made by him, that the corruption of government had been going
on steadily under this subtle solvent, and that the hope of the nation
was in the extinction of so disturbing an element. He applies the truth
to the political situation in the approaching election, and warns the
South that “there is no party at the North, considerable in numbers or
influence, which could come into power on the platform of making peace
with the Rebels on their own terms. No party can get possession of the
government which is not in sympathy with the temper of the people, and
the people, forced into war against their will by the unprovoked attack
of pro-slavery bigotry, are resolved on pushing it to its legitimate
conclusion. War means now, consciously with many, unconsciously with
most, but inevitably, abolition.... If the war be waged manfully, as
becomes a thoughtful people, without insult or childish triumph in
success, if we meet opinion with wiser opinion, waste no time in
badgering prejudice till it becomes hostility, and attack slavery as a
crime against the nation, and not as individual sin, it will end, we
believe, in making us the most powerful and prosperous community the
world ever saw.”

Though he wrote hopefully in his public articles, Lowell’s letters show
alternations of hope and discouragement, and intimate how much the war
disturbed his peace of mind. He wrote to Mr. Norton, midway between the
July and October numbers: “I shall say nothing about politics, my dear
Charles, for I feel rather down in the mouth, and moreover I have not
had an idea so long that I should not know one if I saw it. The war and
its constant expectation and anxiety oppress me. I cannot think. If I
had enough to leave behind me, I could enlist this very day and get
knocked in the head. I hear bad things about Mr. Lincoln and try not to
believe them.”

In July the two candidates for the presidency had not been formally
named, but when Lowell came to prepare his article for the October
number, which would appear on the eve of the election, the contest was
at its height, though events were rapidly throwing their votes against
the losing party. Lowell makes capital use of this fact in his article
“McClellan or Lincoln?” which gains in wit through the evident elation
which possesses the writer over the almost certain results. He had
written Motley at the end of July: “My own feeling has always been
confident, and it is now hopeful. If Mr. Lincoln is re-chosen, I think
the war will soon be over.... So far as I can see, the opposition to Mr.
Lincoln is both selfish and factious, but it is much in favor of the
right side that the Democratic party have literally not so much as a
single plank of principle to float on, and the sea runs high. They don’t
know what they are in favor of--hardly what they think it safe to be
against. And I doubt if they gain much by going into an election on
negatives.” By a series of eliminations, he leaves, in his article, the
single point of difference between the policy of Lincoln and that which
McClellan, according to his own showing, would pursue, namely, the
policy of conciliation concerning which McClellan made loud
protestations; and then he proceeds to riddle that assumption. The
article, however, is interesting chiefly for another summary of Lowell’s
judgment of Lincoln:--

“Mr. Lincoln, in our judgment, has shown from the first the considerate
wisdom of a practical statesman. If he has been sometimes slow in making
up his mind, it has saved him the necessity of being hasty to change it
when once made up, and he has waited till the gradual movement of the
popular sentiment should help him to his conclusions and sustain him in
them. To be moderate and unimpassioned in revolutionary times that
kindle natures of a more flimsy texture, may not be a romantic quality,
but it is a rare one, and goes with those massive understandings on
which a solid structure of achievement may be reared. Mr. Lincoln is a
long-headed and long-purposed man, who knows when he is ready,--a secret
General McClellan never learned.... We have seen no reason to change our
opinion of Mr. Lincoln since his wary scrupulousness won him the
applause of one party, or his decided action, when he was at last
convinced of its necessity, made him the momentary idol of the other. We
will not call him a great man, for over-hasty praise is too apt to sour
at last into satire, and greatness may be trusted safely to history and
the future; but an honest one we believe him to be, and with no aim save
to repair the glory and the greatness of his country.”

The reëlection of Lincoln with a convincing majority, and the rapid
crushing of the shell of the Confederacy, conspired at once to give
Lowell a spirit of exultation, tempered with profound regret, and a keen
interest in the results of the war. The one mood appears in the striking
paper on “Reconstruction” which he contributed to the _North American_
for April, 1865, the other in the new “Biglow Paper” which he
contributed to the _Atlantic_ for the same month. The latter was written
earlier and apparently was drawn out of him by the golden persuasion of
Mr. Fields, for we find Lowell writing him 2 February, 1865, when he
sends him No. X. of the “Biglow Papers,” “Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Editor
of the Atlantic Monthly:”

“You pulled the string of this cold shower-bath, so you can’t complain.
But if you don’t like it, I am willing to take back my machine. If on
the other hand you _do_,--and if you don’t, by Jove, count on my undying
hate,--why, suppose you send me the canvas--greenback, I mean, _before_
you print it. This would give us both a sensation which is desirable in
a world where an Emperor offered a kingdom for a new one. Remember in
future that asking poets for verses is almost as fatal as asking them to
read them. ‘Thyself art the cause of this anguish.’ _Item._ I have been
mulling over a fairy story, of which something may come and something
may not.[14] I begin to suspect the egg _may_ be chalk. I have heard of
such things. Even the muses in this degenerate age have learned to
sophisticate. The devil tempts me to tell you I have also a novel in
progress, and an epic poem and a tragedy--also a satire in which those
who don’t like the foregoing are ground to powder. But I have scared you
enough for once, and I really haven’t begun one of ’em, unless it may be
the tragedy which one goes on composing all his life.”

The ground-swell of emotion which stirs the verses written in that
winter of 1865, just before spring came, and when the buds of peace were
already beginning to open, is expressive of that strong personal feeling
which entered into Lowell’s measure of the sacrifice which had been made
when he reckoned on the great gain that was to accrue to the nation.
Poetry, and especially that cast in a homely mould, was his vent for
this feeling. He rarely showed emotion in his prose, but in the article
which he wrote a few weeks later when the end was just in sight, he
discloses in another way, and almost as strongly, the depth of his
nature, for in this article on “Reconstruction” there is scarcely any of
that play of wit which marks his earlier political papers.

    “Come, while our country feels the lift
      Of a gret instinct shoutin’ ‘Forwards!’”

Hosea Biglow had just sung with tearful eyes and firm set lips, and
Lowell’s whole nature seemed to rise in an eager desire to grapple with
the great problem which was to confront the nation as soon as the last
gun had been fired. The quiet, stately opening of the subject as he
recounts with deep pride the attitude of the country, and the splendid
attestation it had given of the staying power of democracy, is followed
by a close examination of the main lines of policy to be followed in the
reconstruction of the insurgent states. “We did not enter,” he says,
“upon war to open a new market, or fresh fields for speculators, or an
outlet for redundant population, but to save the experiment of democracy
from destruction, and put it in a fairer way of success by removing the
single disturbing element. Our business now is not to allow ourselves to
be turned aside from a purpose which our experience thus far has
demonstrated to have been as wise as it was necessary, and to see to it
that, whatever be the other conditions of reconstruction, democracy,
which is our real strength, receive no detriment.”

Hence, after some wise words regarding the treatment of the governing
class at the South, and a penetrating exposition of the relation between
these and the non-slaveholding class, he applies himself most closely to
a study of the situation as regards the blacks, with the conclusion that
the prime necessity is to make them land-holders and to give them the
ballot. There are some sentences which have a mournful sound read
to-day, thirty-five years after the discussion. “We believe the white
race, by their intellectual and traditional superiority, will retain
sufficient ascendancy to prevent any serious mischief from the new order
of things.” “As to any prejudices which should prevent the two races
from living together, it would soon yield to interest and necessity.” He
is aware of the difficulties which beset the subject, but he contends
that the large way is the only way. “If we are to try the experiment of
democracy fairly, it must be tried in its fullest extent, and not
halfway.... The opinion of the North is made up on the subject of
emancipation, and Mr. Lincoln has announced it as the one essential
preliminary to the readmission of the insurgent States. To our mind,
citizenship is the necessary consequence, as it is the only effectual
warranty, of freedom; and accordingly we are in favor of distinctly
settling beforehand some conditional right of admission to it. We have
purposely avoided any discussion on gradualism as an element in
emancipation, because we consider its evil results to have been
demonstrated in the British West Indies. True conservative policy is not
an anodyne hiding away our evil from us in a brief forgetfulness. It
looks to the long future of a nation, and dares the heroic remedy where
it is scientifically sure of the nature of the disease.”

Then came the triumphant close in the surrender of Lee, and he writes to
Mr. Norton: “The news, my dear Charles, is from Heaven. I felt a strange
and tender exaltation. I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry, and ended
by holding my peace and feeling devoutly thankful. There is something
magnificent in having a country to love. It is almost like what one
feels for a woman. Not so tender, perhaps, but to the full as
self-forgetful. I worry a little about reconstruction, but am inclined
to think that matters will very much settle themselves.” He closed his
political articles of the war period with one in July, entitled “Scotch
the Snake, or kill it?” which is in a lighter vein than
“Reconstruction,” and is in its way a quick survey of the underlying
character of the great contest, suggested by an examination of that
scrapbook of the war, Frank Moore’s _The Rebellion Record_. This mirror
gives so many varied reflections that Lowell writes a little at random,
making felicitous comments, but coming back, as so often before, to the
paramount question of slavery and the treatment of the negro. As the
title of his article intimates, he contends for a radical solution of
the problem. “The more thought we bestow on the matter, the more
thoroughly are we persuaded that the only way to get rid of the negro is
to do him justice. Democracy is safe because it is just, and safe only
when it is just to all. Here is no question of white or black, but
simply of man. We have hitherto been strong in proportion as we dared be
true to the sublime thought of our own Declaration of Independence,
which for the first time proposed to embody Christianity in human laws,
and announced the discovery that the security of the state is based on
the moral instinct and the manhood of its members.”

The character, of the work he was noticing led him at the beginning of
his paper into some reflections on the part played by newspapers in
modern times, and the stimulus given to national sensitiveness by the
quick transmission of news. “It is no trifling matter,” he says, “that
thirty millions of men should be thinking the same thought and feeling
the same pang at a single moment of time, and that these vast parallels
of latitude should become a neighborhood more intimate than many a
country village. The dream of Human Brotherhood seems to be coming true
at last. The peasant who dipped his net in the Danube, or trapped the
beaver on its banks, perhaps never heard of Cæsar, or of Cæsar’s murder;
but the shot that shattered the forecasting brain, and curdled the warm,
sweet heart of the most American of Americans, echoed along the wires
through the length and breadth of a continent, swelling all eyes at once
with tears of indignant sorrow. Here was a tragedy fulfilling the
demands of Aristotle, and purifying with an instantaneous throb of pity
and terror a theatre of such proportions as the world never saw. We
doubt if history ever recorded an event so touching and awful as this
sympathy, so wholly emancipated from the toils of space and time that it
might seem as if earth were really sentient, as some have dreamed, or
the great god Pan alive again to make the hearts of nations stand still
with his shout. What is Beethoven’s ‘Funeral March for the Death of a
Hero’ to the symphony of love, pity, and wrathful resolve which the
telegraph of that April morning played on the pulses of a nation?”

It was perhaps with one of these phrases lingering in his mind that he
characterized Lincoln a few weeks later when he came to write his Ode
recited at the Harvard Commemoration. This commemoration was held by
Harvard College, 21 July, 1865, in honor of its sons who had died in the
war. Lowell was asked to write a poem for the occasion, and he has given
in a letter written a score of years later, to Mr. Gilder, a bit of
reminiscence respecting its composition. “The ode itself,” he says, “was
an improvisation. Two days before the commemoration I had told my friend
Child that it was impossible--that I was dull as a door-mat. But the
next day something gave me a jog, and the whole thing came out of me
with a rush. I sat up all night writing it out clear, and took it on the
morning of the day to Child. ‘I have something but don’t yet know what
it is, or whether it will do. Look at it and tell me.’ He went a little
way apart with it under an elm-tree in the College yard. He read a
passage here and there, brought it back to me, and said ‘Do? I should
think so! Don’t you be scared!’ And I wasn’t, but virtue enough had gone
out of me to make me weak for a fortnight after.” Something of this
reaction appears in a letter to Miss Norton, written four days after the
delivery of the poem: “I eat and smoke and sleep and go through all the
nobler functions of a man mechanically still, and wonder at myself as at
something outside of and alien to me. For have I not worked myself lean
on an ‘Ode for Commemoration?’ Was I not so rapt with the fervor of
conception as I have not been these ten years, losing my sleep, my
appetite, and my flesh, those attributes to which I before alluded as
nobly uniting us in a common nature with our kind? Did I not for two
days exasperate everybody that came near me by reciting passages in
order to try them on? Did I not even fall backward and downward to the
old folly of hopeful youth, and think I had written something _really_
good at last? And am I not now enduring those retributive dumps which
ever follow such sinful exaltations, the Erynnyes of Vanity? Did not I
make John Holmes and William Story shed tears by my recitation of it (my
ode) in the morning, both of ’em fervently declaring it was ‘noble’? Did
not even the silent Rowse declare ’twas in a higher mood than much or
most of later verse? Did not I think, in my nervous exhilaration, that
’twould be _the_ feature (as reporters call it) of the day? And, after
all, have I not a line in the _Daily Advertiser_ calling it a ‘graceful
poem’ (or ‘some graceful verses’ I forget which), which ‘was received
with applause?’ Why, Jane, my legs are those of grasshoppers, and my
head is an autumn threshing-floor, still beating with the alternate
flails of strophe and antistrophe, and an infinite virtue is gone out of
me somehow--but it seems _not_ into my verse as I dreamed. Well, well,
Charles will like it--but then he always does, so what’s the use? I am
Icarus now,

[Illustration: _Facsimile of Mr. Lowell’s handwriting_]

with the cold, salt sea over him instead of the warm exulting blue of
ether. I am gone under, and I never will be a fool again.... Like a boy,
I mistook my excitement for inspiration, and here I am in the mud. You
see, also, I am a little disappointed and a little few (un petit peu)
vexed. I did _not_ make the hit I expected, and am ashamed at having
been again tempted into thinking I could write _poetry_, a delusion from
which I have been tolerably free these dozen years.”[15]

There was one other comment made by Lowell on the ode which confirms
these impressions and adds a little to the record of his experience in
writing it. It occurs in a letter to J. B. Thayer, 8 December, 1868,
upon the occasion of a review by Mr. Thayer of the volume of verse just
published in which the ode was included: “I am not sure if I understand
what you say about the tenth strophe. You will observe that it leads
naturally to the eleventh, and that I there justify a certain
narrowness in it as an expression of the popular feeling as well as my
own. I confess I have never got over the feeling of wrath with which
(just after the death of my nephew Willie) I read in an English paper
that nothing was to be hoped of an army officered by tailors’
apprentices and butcher boys. The poem was written with a vehement
speed, which I thought I had lost in the skirts of my professor’s gown.
Till within two days of the celebration I was hopelessly dumb, and then
it all came with a rush, literally making me lean (mi fece magro), and
so nervous that I was weeks in getting over it. I was longer in getting
the new (eleventh) strophe to my mind than in writing the rest of my
poem. In _that_ I hardly changed a word, and it was so undeliberate that
I did not find out till after it was printed that some of the verses
lacked corresponding rhymes.[1]... I had put the ethical and political
view so often in prose that I was weary of it. The motives of the war? I
had impatiently urged them again and again,--but for an ode they must be
in the blood and not the memory. One of my great defects (I have always
been conscious of it) is an impatience of mind which makes me
contemptuously indifferent about arguing matters that have once become

Once more, in writing to the same correspondent in 1877, with regard to
the versification, he says: “My problem was to contrive a measure which
should not be tedious by uniformity, which should vary with varying
moods, in which the transitions (including those of the voice) should be
managed without jar. I at first thought of mixed rhymed and blank verses
of unequal measures, like those in the choruses of ‘Samson Agonistes,’
which are in the main masterly. Of course Milton _deliberately_ departed
from that stricter form of the Greek Chorus to which it was bound as
much (I suspect) by the law of its musical accompaniment as by any sense
of symmetry. I wrote some stanzas of the ‘Commemoration Ode’ on this
theory at first, leaving some verses without a rhyme to match. But my
ear was better pleased with the rhyme, coming at a longer interval, as a
far-off echo, rather than instant reverberation, produced the same
effect almost, and yet was grateful by unexpectedly recalling an
association and faint reminiscence of consonance.”[17]

The ode did at once assert its high character, yet it must be borne in
mind that the very reason of its form acted somewhat against its
immediate popularity. It is truly an ode to be recited, and as a chorus
depends for its power upon a volume of sound, so this ode needs, to
bring out its full value, a great delivery. Lowell himself, always a
sympathetic reader, had no such power of recitation as would at once
convey to his audience a notion of the stateliness and procession of
words which attaches to the ode. The impression of the hour was produced
by the spontaneous outpouring of the heart of Phillips Brooks in prayer.
“That,” says President Eliot, “was the most impressive utterance of a
proud and happy day. Even Lowell’s Commemoration Ode did not at the
moment so touch the hearts of his hearers; that one spontaneous and
intimate expression of Brooks’s noble spirit convinced all Harvard men
that a young prophet had risen up in Israel.”[18]

Lowell’s explanation of the form of the ode is significant. So native to
him was the most genuine literary spirit that he could conceive of the
ode and its delivery as one consistent whole without being perturbed by
the consideration that he was to deliver it and to a modern audience
trained in the reading of poetry, not in the hearing of it. Both the
poetic reciter and the recipients were wanting, and the ode remains, a
noble piece of declamation indeed for whoever has the great gift of
poetic declamation, yet after all as surely to be read and not spoken as
Browning’s dramas are to be read and not acted. It is this fine literary
sense, penetrating even to a supposititious occasion, which clings to
the ode and makes it so far caviare to the general. Yet it would be
false indeed to regard such a statement as final. The fire which burned
in Lowell’s members, leaving him cold afterward, glows in the great
lines, and certain it is that at no other single poem, unless it be
Whitman’s “My Captain,” does the young American of the generation born
since the war so kindle his patriotic emotions.

The sixth stanza was not recited, but was written immediately afterward.
It is so completely imbedded in the structure of the ode that it is
difficult to think of it as an afterthought. It is easy to perceive that
while the glow of composition and of recitation was still upon him
Lowell suddenly conceived this splendid illustration and indeed climax
of the utterance of the Ideal which is so impressive in the fifth
stanza. So free, so spontaneous is this characterization of Lincoln, and
so concrete in thought, that it has been most frequently read, we
suspect, of any single portion of the ode, and it is so eloquent that
one likes to fancy the whole force of the ode behind it, as if Lowell
needed the fire he had fanned to white heat, for the very purpose of
forging this last, firm tempered bit of steel.

Into these threescore lines Lowell has poured a conception of Lincoln
which may justly be said to be to-day the accepted idea which Americans
hold of their great President. It was the final expression of the
judgment which had slowly been forming in Lowell’s own mind, and when he
summed him up in his last line,--

    “New birth of our new soul, the first American,”

he was honestly throwing away all the doubts which had from time to time
beset him, and letting his ardent pursuit of the ideal, his profound
faith in democracy as incarnate in his country, centre in this one man.

In April, 1887, the _Century Magazine_ had a brief article headed
“Lincoln and Lowell,” in which the editor, quoting the pregnant sentence
on Lincoln from Lowell’s recently published address on “Democracy,” is
reminded that Lowell “was the first of the leading American writers to
see clearly and fully, and clearly and fully and enthusiastically
proclaim the greatness of Abraham Lincoln.” And after quoting this sixth
stanza of the ode, he goes back and recalls the political papers in the
_Atlantic_ and _North American Review_, with their references to Lincoln
which we have already noted. The next number of the _Century_ contained
an article in the nature of a postscript, citing the early judgment of
Emerson also on the President. In publishing Nicolay and Hay’s “Life of
Lincoln” in the magazine, the editor naturally was interested to recover
the impression made by Lincoln when he was comparatively an untried
man, on the poets and seers, who have a clearer divination than
politicians. He was in correspondence with Lowell and wished if he could
to learn what Longfellow and Whittier had then said.

Lowell replied under date of 7 February, 1887: “I can recollect nothing
about Lincoln by either L. or W., though this would prove nothing. I
_do_ remember a debate with Dr. Holmes just after Lincoln’s nomination.
It was under the elms in front of the old Holmes house (where he took a
photograph of me by O. W. H. and Sun), and he was much exercised in mind
because Seward had not been the man. I, who had read Lincoln’s speeches,
was entirely content.” The extracts which I have given from Lowell’s
letters and essays make it, however, quite clear that the full
recognition of Lincoln’s greatness was a growth and not an immediate
insight. Nor is this strange. Lowell never saw Lincoln. Had he met him
early in his career, and enjoyed the advantage which comes from personal
sight, as Hawthorne for example did, there is little doubt that he would
have borne away from the interview the impression which was stamped on
so many ingenuous minds, and he would have read the President’s
utterances by the light of that illuminating countenance. That Lowell
did not at once throw away all doubts and accept Lincoln at the
valuation he later placed upon him was due to the facts that Lincoln
revealed himself only by degrees in his speech and act, and that while
he was then making himself known Lowell was cherishing an ideal of his
country and its destiny which called for the loftiest expression of
patriotism. He was above all eager for a demonstration of high courage
and fearless insistence upon national supremacy, when the country seemed
rocking with inconstancy. That he should confess in Lincoln the “new
American” was an evidence that the pure idealism which had marked
Lowell’s political thinking and writing, an idealism moreover conjoined
with shrewd practical sense, had at last found, to his profound
satisfaction, a great exemplar, and the life and death of this wonderful
product of the American soil presaged for him the development of a race
of freemen.




Lowell’s writing during the war, and very largely also during the four
previous years in which he had been engaged on the _Atlantic_, was
mainly of a political character, and it has seemed best not to interrupt
the record with much reference to his other writings and his pursuits
generally during these eight years. But though he felt keenly the great
movement which was breaking up the old union and making way for the new
and greater union, he was too established in his own order of life to
permit that to undergo any violent change. Even in his political
writing, as we have seen, he was first of all a man of letters, with an
imaginative foresight; his occupation both as a teacher and an editor
gave a certain steadying force to his powers, so that though he rebelled
against the irksomeness of routine he was delivered from what might have
been the waywardness of a too self-centred life.

His safety-valve during all this period was in his letters to his
familiar friends, as it was also in the free talk which he held with
them; and this, even though he chafed under restraint and pressure
which seemed to him to lessen his spontaneity. “How malicious you are,”
he writes to Miss Norton, 23 October, 1858, “about what I said of
women’s being good letter writers! What I meant was that they wrote more
unconsciously than we do. I don’t know how it is with other folks, but I
cannot sit down now and write a letter as if I were talking. Good
writing, I take it, can only result from necessity of expression, and an
author satisfies that in so many ways that his letters are apt to be

“I like ‘Miles Standish’ better than you do. I think it in some respects
the best long poem L. has written. It is so simple and picturesque, and
the story is not encumbered with unavailing description, which is a
fault in ‘Evangeline.’ But I quite agree with you about the metre. It is
too deceitfully easy.

    “One might begin at dawn nor end till the purple twilight,
    Stringing verses at will, nor know it was verse he was stringing.
    This is the modern way, the way of steamer and railroad
    Where all the work is done, you scarcely know how, by the Engine.
    Ah, but the Hill of Fame, can they dig it down? can they grade it?
    Difficult always is Good, and he, I guess, who attains it
    Starts with two feet and a staff and bread for To-day in his wallet,
    Footsore dropping at last, repaid by long hope of the summit.”

His college duties he performed with conscientious fidelity, and he
found at times a genuine satisfaction in the free intercourse with his
students over great subjects, yet he could not always overlook the
immaturity of his pupils, and he was impatient at the sort of work
outside of direct teaching which falls to the lot of college professors.
The task of lecturing itself was sure to suggest the incompleteness of
expression, and so offend all his genius as a writer. “Yesterday,” he
writes to Miss Norton, in the fall of 1859, “I began my lectures. I came
off better than I expected, for I am always a great coward beforehand. I
_hate_ lecturing, for I have discovered (entre nous) that it is almost
impossible to learn _all_ about anything, unless, indeed, it be some
piece of ill-luck, and then one has the help of one’s friends, you
know.... I am trying to reform the Spanish and Italian classes. Charles
would be astonished to hear me read the Castilian tongue, now wellnigh
as familiar to me as Castilian soap. If he wouldn’t be, _I am_. I am
about as much ‘Spanish,’ tell him, ‘as a Connecticut segar.’”

At the same time he wrote to Mr. Norton: “I am busier than ever, and, I
fear, fruitlessly. My Italian class are half of them drones, and this
hinders my getting on as I would with the rest. I am studying Spanish,
as I did German in Dresden, reading it in all my leisure time, and
before long mean to make myself thorough in it. At forty a man learns
fast. My Spanish class is a very good one. There are only five, and they
all do their best. _Vacare musis_--what does that mean? I have almost

“I champ the bit sometimes here,” he writes to the same a year later,
“but God’s will be done! _Ancora imparo_, though I be in a go-cart. My
Spanish recitations cost me some time and trouble as yet, for I make the
students parse and construe with never-failing strictness. For this I
have to study the grammar harder than any of them, for my Italian is
always in my way with its slightly differing forms. However, I have
learned more already than I should have thought possible a year ago, and
I think some of the students seem to be interested.”

Now and then he could make his college work and his _Atlantic_ work play
into each other, but not often. “I have as yet only dipped into your
last four volumes,” he writes 12 June, 1860, to R. G. White, “and those
I keep for the same good time (i.e. vacation). I have to prepare some
lectures on Shakespeare, and shall kill two birds with one stone by
making use of your edition, and so enabling myself to write an
intelligent notice of it for the _Atlantic_.”

The _Atlantic_ itself gave him an agreeable change from his class-room
duties, even if it took him along somewhat the same road as when,
shortly after he undertook it, he received a contribution from
Sainte-Beuve on Béranger, and translated it for the number for February,
1858. Two months later he began that series of criticisms on the
successive volumes of Smith’s “Library of Old English Authors,” which he
completed in the _North American_ ten years afterward, and combined into
the long paper printed in the first volume of his “Literary Essays.” As
an instance of minute detective work in criticism, the article is
noteworthy, but we suspect that his readers to-day pass lightly over the
scoring of Hazlitt’s editorship to read the brilliant characterizations
of Elizabethan poets and dramatists, which crop out of the stony soil of
textual criticism. In writing these articles Lowell was recurring to
subjects which had, as we have seen, unfailing interest for him, and one
cannot compare these notes on Chapman, Webster, Marlowe, and others with
the observations that occur in “Conversations with the Old Dramatists,”
without marking the greater mellowness of nature from which the later
criticism proceeds. Lowell writes of them, not as in the first instance
when he was just returned from a voyage of discovery, but as one who has
lived long and familiarly in this rich country of the poetic mind.[19]

Excepting the “Biglow Papers,” a couple of political articles, two or
three poems, and a few brief reviews of books, Lowell did not contribute
to the _Atlantic_ during the four years of the war, and naturally he
turned his prose work into the _North American_ after he became one of
its editors. There, as we have seen, his work was mainly political,
though he also did much reviewing of books; but after the pressure of
war-time was lifted he made the review the vehicle for more strictly
literary articles, and it was plainly a relief to him to spring back to
subjects more congenial to his nature. In January, 1865, when Mr. Norton
supplied the main political paper, Lowell printed that most
characteristic article which in his collected writings bears the title
“New England Two Centuries Ago,” and is in outward form a review of the
third volume of Palfrey’s “History of New England” and of four volumes
of the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. In its
larger part a skilful florilegium of early writings, the paper is also
and emphatically the reflection of Lowell’s mind during the stress of
the war, when he was doubly concerned over the relation between the two
great English-speaking nations and the practical solutions of the
problems presented to democracy in the reëstablishment of order and
union in the United States. He had rising in him, as his Ode shows, a
great passion for the whole country; but as has been well said by
Colonel Higginson, that no one can be a true cosmopolitan who is not at
home in his own country, so it is equally true that national
consciousness has its basis in local pride and affection. The genius of
our political organism, by which one is called on for a double loyalty
to state and nation, a loyalty jeoparded by the heresy of an extreme
state-rights dogma, was finely disclosed in Lowell’s attitude.
Fortunately for us the locality, the community in which our fortune is
cast, has in itself a political essence, so that it is not mere
attachment to the place of birth and breeding which makes its natural
demand on us, but membership in an organism lacking only the crown of
absolute independence to make it a unit of politics. It is a subtle but
very real distinction between state and nation that permits not a
divided but a complex loyalty, and the profound meaning which lies in
the interplay of state and federal power is reflected in the
consciousness of Americans as they bear themselves toward one or the
other authority.

Now New England, though not an entity in politics, has so distinct a
character that each of the states included in that name is
representative of an order which is far more than a geographical
division. Largely by reason of its historic genesis and development, New
England is more an individual than any other group of commonwealths
unless it be the Cotton States, and a man of Massachusetts, clearly the
heart of the whole system, is very sure to think of himself as a New
Englander without prejudice to his loyalty to his own state. Lowell
certainly did. It was through New England, its history, its spirit, its
genius, that he apprehended the very nature of freedom and the
principles of democracy. Mr. Henry James has well said: “New England was
heroic to him, for he felt in his pulses the whole history of her
_origines_; it was impossible to know him without a sense that he had a
rare divination of the hard realities of her past.”[20] And this article
on “New England Two Centuries Ago,” designed to offer something of a
conspectus of a people and land from which he was sprung, whose life
was coursing in his veins, was also an interpretation of the political
faith he held, a faith which he postulated for the final manifestation
of the whole nation that in his imagination he saw rising out of the
confusion of struggle. “I have little sympathy,” he says at the close,
“with declaimers about the Pilgrim Fathers, who look upon them all as
men of grand conceptions and superhuman foresight. An entire ship’s
company of Columbuses is what the world never saw. It is not wise to
form any theory and fit our facts to it, as a man in a hurry is apt to
cram his travelling-bag, with a total disregard of shape or texture. But
perhaps it may be found that the facts will only fit comfortably
together on a single plan, namely, that the fathers did have a
conception (which those will call grand who regard simplicity as a
necessary element of grandeur) of founding here a commonwealth on those
two eternal bases of Faith and Work; that they had indeed no
revolutionary ideas of universal liberty, but yet, what answered the
purpose quite as well, an abiding faith in the brotherhood of man and
the fatherhood of God; and that they did not so much propose to make all
things new, as to develop the latent possibilities of English law and
English character, by clearing away the fences by which the abuse of the
one was gradually discommoning the other from the broad fields of
universal right. They were not in advance of their age, as it is called,
for no one who is so can ever work profitably in it; but they were alive
to the highest and most earnest thinking of their time.”

In this article, also, one may see something of Lowell’s feeling about
England, which again was almost a traditionary sentiment. He saw the
mother country through the glass of New England, and especially valued
that Puritan strain in English history which had found such free play in
New England. “Puritanism,” he says, “believing itself quick with the
seed of religious liberty, laid, without knowing it, the egg of
democracy;” and he found in the governmental attitude of England toward
America in his own day a reminder of the policy exercised after the
Restoration toward New England.

Lowell’s letters make it clear that at this time he was not given to the
enjoyment of much hospitality. Mrs. Lowell was frequently an invalid,
and though he had familiar friends to stay with him, as Rowse the
painter, and gave cordial invitations to such as might be passing
through Cambridge, he neither entertained much himself nor accepted
entertainment at other houses. Now and then some man of letters came
over from England or France and Lowell was asked to meet him. He records
such an experience in a letter dated 20 September, 1861:--

“I dined the other day with Anthony Trollope, a big, red-faced, rather
underbred Englishman of the bald-with-spectacles type. A good roaring
positive fellow who deafened me (sitting on his right) till I thought of
Dante’s Cerberus. He says he goes to work on a novel ‘just like a
shoemaker on a shoe, only taking care to make honest stitches.’ Gets up
at 5 every day, does all his writing before breakfast, and always writes
just so many pages a day. He and Dr. Holmes were very entertaining. The
Autocrat started one or two hobbies, and charged, paradox in rest--but
it was pelting a rhinoceros with seed-pearl.

“_Dr._ You don’t know what Madeira is in England?

“_T._ I’m not so sure it’s worth knowing.

“_Dr._ Connoisseurship in it with us is a fine art. There are men who
will tell you a dozen kinds, as Dr. Waagen would know a Carlo Dolci from
a Guido.

“_T._ They might be better employed!

“_Dr._ Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.

“_T._ Ay, but that’s begging the whole question. I don’t admit it’s
_worse_ doing at all. If they earn their bread by it, it may be _worse_
doing (roaring).

“_Dr._ But you may be assured--

“_T._ No, but I mayn’t be asshŏrred. I _won’t_ be asshored. I don’t
intend to be asshŏred (roaring louder)!

“And so they went it. It was very funny. Trollope wouldn’t give him any
chance. Meanwhile, Emerson and I, who sat between them, crouched down
out of range and had some very good talk, with the shot hurtling
overhead. I had one little passage at arms with T. _apropos_ of English
peaches. T. ended by roaring that England was the only country where
such a thing as a peach or a grape was known. I appealed to Hawthorne,
who sat opposite. His face mantled and trembled for a moment with some
droll fancy, as one sees bubbles rise and send off rings in still water
when a turtle stirs at the bottom, and then he said, ‘I asked an
Englishman once who was praising their peaches to describe to me exactly
what he meant by a peach, and he described something very like a
cucumber.’ I rather liked Trollope.”

Lowell found in the winter of 1865-1866 a most congenial occasion for
society in the meetings in Mr. Longfellow’s study, held for scrutiny of
the proofs of that poet’s translation of the “Divina Commedia.” Mr.
Longfellow records in his Diary, 25 October, 1865: “Lowell, Norton, and
myself had the first meeting of our Dante Club. We read the XXV.
_Purgatorio_; and then had a little supper. We are to meet every
Wednesday evening at my house.” In the first Report of the Dante
Society, Mr. Norton gives a full and interesting account of these
meetings, and of the task they set themselves.

“We paused,” he says, “over every doubtful passage, discussed the
various readings, considered the true meaning of obscure words and
phrases, sought for the most exact equivalent of Dante’s expression,
objected, criticised, praised, with a freedom that was made perfect by
Mr. Longfellow’s absolute sweetness, simplicity, and modesty, and by the
entire confidence that existed between us. Witte’s text was always
before us, and of the early commentators Buti was the one to whom we
had most frequent and most serviceable recourse. They were delightful
evenings; there could be no pleasanter occupation; the spirits of
poetry, of learning, of friendship, were with us. Now and then some
other friend or acquaintance would join us for the hours of study.
Almost always one or two guests would come in at ten o’clock, when the
work ended, and sit down with us to a supper, with which the evening

With the _North American Review_ still making its quarterly demands upon
him, but the political impulse less urgent, Lowell turned naturally to
literary criticism. Thus far, he had not made any deliberate appraisal
of great writers, save in his short paper on Keats, which, from the
occasion that called it out, was rather biographical than critical. He
had in a fragmentary fashion in his “Conversations,” and in a discursive
manner in his lectures, given appreciations of the great poets and
dramatists of England, but in the next decade he was to print a series
of essays which should embody his reading, study, reflection, and poetic
insight in that field of human endeavor where his own work stands, and
which had been since his boyish days the one great subject of his

History, which he read with avidity, was the background from which were
projected the great figures of literature. Philosophy was not for him a
system of independent reasoning, but rather the unclassified winged
thoughts on high themes embodied in great poetic and dramatic art.
Language, always a subject full of interest for him, was attacked, not
from the point of view of a man of science, but from that of one curious
of its human relations and its instrumentality in art. Nor was his
knowledge of the plastic arts more than that which comes incidentally to
a traveller and a general reader and observer, or his interest in them
especially keen. He was very likely to bring the canons of literary art
to bear upon them, sometimes indeed, as might be guessed, with
shrewdness and analogical truthfulness; or he was affected by personal
considerations, as when he writes of Story: “I saw the photographs of
William’s statues, and think them _very_ fine. They are really noble.
The Quincy is admirable--the best thing of the kind our modern times has
produced. In short, to my thinking, William is the only man of them all
who knows how to do the thing. It was a real pleasure to be so
thoroughly satisfied with the work of an old friend.” He recognized
frankly his own limitations in the matter, as indeed he was disposed to
think the defect almost ineradicable in the Saxon, who “has never shown
any capacity for art, nay, commonly commits ugly blunders when he is
tempted in that direction;” and apparently his only suggestion for
bettering the condition was to put before workmen good illustrations of
great art in the books they should find in their libraries, and give
them an acquaintance with Ruskin’s writings.

But literature stood to him as the great exponent of all that was
permanent in the human spirit. “There is much,” he says, “that is
deciduous in books, but all that gives them a title to rank as
literature in the highest sense is perennial. Their vitality is the
vitality not of one or another blood or tongue, but of human nature;
their truth is not topical and transitory, but of universal acceptation;
and thus all great authors seem the coevals not only of each other, but
of whoever reads them, growing wiser with him as he grows wise, and
unlocking to him one secret after another as his own life and experience
give him the key, but on no other condition.”[21] It was with this
principle determining his choice that he proceeded with more or less
conscious assembling to discourse on Carlyle, Emerson, Lessing,
Rousseau, Shakespeare, Dryden, Chaucer, Pope, Milton, Dante, Spenser,
and Wordsworth, as well as to write in many detached passages on the
genius of Goethe. Later he returned to the same general field, and
besides revising his judgment on some of these topics, treated also with
more or less fulness of Gray, Cervantes, Fielding, and Coleridge, while
any one who consults the elaborate index to his prose writings will
readily see how many other authors who belong in the great ranks have
been drawn upon for illustration of the one great theme.

To his reading of all this literature he brought the touchstone of his
own life and experience. In this word “experience,” moreover, must be
included his own highest experiments. His poetry, for the most part, as
we have already seen, does not have its roots in other literature; it
springs from that life which he held in common with those whom he
reverenced for their own acts of literary creation. He quotes the
recommendation of a friend that he should read poetry, feed himself on
bee bread so that he might get into the mood of writing poetry; but,
though all his life long Lowell fed, as by the most natural appetite, on
poetry and other forms of imaginative literature, his own poetry is not
bookish, nor does it borrow in form or phrase. Even when most
impressionable in his youth, the influence upon him of Keats and
Tennyson was more obvious than that of Shakespeare or Marlowe, only
because, eschewing the imitative, his verse took the color of his
generation. The likenesses were always general, and when he essayed
forms of verse most rigid in their historical development, as the sonnet
and the ode, he simply obeyed the law as his great progenitors had done,
finding his freedom within the law, and not in outbreaks and protests.
The conscious intention to be original, he himself says, seldom leads to
anything better than extravagance; and there is a passage in his paper
on Chaucer which sums up a large part of his literary philosophy.[22]

“Poets have forgotten that the first lesson of literature, no less than
of life, is the learning how to burn your own smoke; that the way to be
original is to be healthy; that the fresh color, so delightful in all
good writing, is won by escaping from the fixed air of self into the
brisk atmosphere of universal sentiments; and that to make the common
marvellous, as if it were a revelation, is the test of genius.”

With his large literary essays as works of art I do not purpose
concerning myself; such study lies somewhat outside the range of a
biography, but as these papers formed a considerable and very important
expression of his mind at one period of his life, it is worth while to
look at them with a view to discover how far they serve to disclose him,
to read them by the light of his experience, and to see if he put his
personality into this form of writing. The publication of Carlyle’s
“Frederick the Great” was the occasion of the first of these articles.
In writing of it to Leslie Stephen, when it was reprinted in “My Study
Windows,” he admits that he was harder on Carlyle than he meant to be,
because he was fighting against a secret partiality. The phrase lets one
a little into Lowell’s mind. As far back as in his college days he was
reading Carlyle with gusto, and the breezy description[23] which he gave
of Boston at the period when Carlyle’s “message” acted as a sort of
leaven in the new dough of New England, was a lively reminiscence of his
own tumultuous youth. Thus, upon writing of Carlyle when he himself was
nearing the line of fifty, there was an undercurrent of reminiscence of
his own callowness. He remembered his devotion to the Carlyle of the
“Miscellanies,” and was more or less conscious that he had outlived his
first enthusiasm. With all his admiration for the great critic who
stirred him when he was himself pricking on the plain of Reform, his
point of view was now changed, for he had left Carlyle’s side and come
into more complete possession of his own judgment. The secret influences
which forbade him to be preponderatingly ethical, which kept him from
abandoning himself to the anti-slavery cause, even when he was fighting
in the ranks, and made it impossible for him to be a great teacher,
though quite aware of what constitutes a great teacher, had lessened,
perhaps, his effectiveness in some single direction, but had given him
greater poise and enabled him on rare occasions to bring all his powers
into play, and then to do easily, without conscious effort, the thing he
wanted to do. The “Commemoration Ode” is an instance, and in this
judgment of Carlyle he seems to me unwittingly to be judging the Lowell
who seemed somewhat possible in the days when he first read Carlyle.
There is a sentence in the essay which puts the thing in a nutshell.
“The delicate skeleton of admirably articulated and related parts which
underlies and sustains every true work of art, and keeps it from sinking
on itself a shapeless heap, he [Carlyle] would crush remorselessly to
come at the marrow of meaning. With him the ideal sense is secondary to
the ethical and metaphysical, and he has but a faint conception of their
possible unity.”

It was in the growing conception of this unity that Lowell had moved
away from Carlyle. The constant adjustment of the ideal and the ethical
had been the ripening process in his mind, a process greatly stimulated
by the urgent need he felt during the past few years for finding some
common ground on which his visions of truth and freedom and his
practical sense could meet. It was largely through a great political
realization that Lowell came to be what thenceforth he was, a sane
critic of literature and a poet whose imagination instinctively sought
large moulds. This is not to say that he was indifferent to any other
expression; his nature was too free and spontaneous for that; but if one
is to be measured by the main incidents of his life, it is fair to say
that the Lowell who after this left his impress on his countrymen was a
man of such balance of mind that his judgments and his poems alike had
the weight that comes from this equipoise, and the man thus
characterized could scarcely fail in new relations to show the ease of
one self-centred, and not the restlessness and anxiety of an
experimenter with life.

It is this consciousness of art governed by great laws, whether applied
to life or to literature, that dominates Lowell’s expression, and in the
essay on Carlyle, his keenest criticism is called out by his perception
of Carlyle’s failure in this respect. “Had Mr. Carlyle been fitted out
completely by nature as an artist, he would have had an ideal in his
work which would have lifted his mind away from the muddier part of him,
and trained him to the habit of seeking and seeing the harmony rather
than the discord and contradiction of things.” Again we read in this
passage the unconscious reflection of its writer’s own mind, which once
had been far enough away from this habit. Nothing in Carlyle appears to
interest him more than the lawlessness into which his exuberant humor
had led him, and the narrow escape he had had of being a great poet, and
he sums up his judgment of “Frederick the Great” by saying that “it has
the one prime merit of being the work of a man who has every quality of
a great poet except that supreme one of rhythm, which shapes both matter
and manner to harmonious proportion, and that where it is good, it is
good as only genius knows how to be.”

In the same number of the _Review_ which holds this article on Carlyle
appears a shorter one on Swinburne, which, though dealing with a more
occasional subject, also illustrates the temper in which Lowell was now
writing, and has a special interest, since it deals directly with poetry
and intimates, that when treating of a contemporary writer his mind was
most set on that aspect of poetry which ignores the distinction of time.
The phenomenon of a new poet sends him back into an inquiry into the
very realities of poetry itself. Though he has a few specific criticisms
of Swinburne’s “Chastelard” and his “Atalanta in Calydon,” the theme
which interests him most is the possibility of reënacting antiquity in
poetry, and he devotes the larger part of his paper to a demonstration
of the truth that the result of all such endeavors is to produce the
artificial and not the artistic. In a letter to Mr. Stedman, written
apparently when this subject was fresh in his mind, he repeats his
conclusion with the force of a friendly letter writer. Mr. Stedman had
thanked him for a review of his poem, “Alice of Monmouth,” but asks his
judgment of another poem he had written on an antique theme. “I will
answer frankly,” wrote Lowell, “that I did not like Alektryon, and don’t
think him at all to be compared to his sister Alice,--a strutting fellow
that wants to make me believe he can crow in ancient Greek. Alice is
Christian, modern, American, and that’s why I like her. I don’t believe
in these modern antiques--no, not in Landor, not in Swinburne, not in
any of ’em. They are all wrong. It’s like writing Latin verses--the
material you work in is dead.”

Though Lowell had thus turned with avidity to his more congenial field
of letters, he was not yet to be released from the duty imposed upon him
by his editorship of the _Review_, and by his own political thought, of
taking part in the discussion which Reconstruction raised. In the same
number of the _North American_ which contained the two papers just
noted, he wrote also an article on “The President on the Stump,” which,
after a cursory consideration of the growing division between President
Johnson and Congress, closed with a hypothetical address delivered to a
Southern delegation by an imaginary President Johnson. Into this address
Lowell packed his convictions as to the attitude which should be taken
toward the Southern States by a President who had come from the South.
It was so unusual for Lowell to dramatize, even in poetry, that this
assumption has a singular interest, and, barring the element of Southern
birth, is a close copy of Lowell’s mind at this time. Every man of
thought has his dream of action, and we can read in this speech how
Lowell would have translated his ideals of truth, freedom, and justice
into executive acts, could he, who had watched the conflict closely,
have had the chance that poets picture of being king for a day.

Perhaps all this was in his mind when he wrote in his last “Biglow

    “Ez I wuz say’n’, I hain’t no chance to speak
    So’s ’t all the country dreads me onct a week,
    But I’ve consid’ble o’ thet sort o’ head
    That sets to home an’ thinks wut _might_ be said.”

This last paper, “Mr. Hosea Biglow’s Speech in March Meeting,” followed
in the May _Atlantic_, and said over again the same lesson in the freer
form of verse and with the more familiar dramatic impersonation of the
Yankee countryman. It is an illustration of the greater carrying power
of Lowell’s verse over his prose that the shrewd political philosophy
which lies in the two series of the “Biglow Papers,” closely as it
applied to the political situations in 1846-1848 and 1861-1866, has come
again into play in the very different situation in national politics
following the war for the independence of Cuba, so that while one would
find in the newspapers but few quotations from Lowell’s “Political
Essays” he would find plenty of lines from the “Biglow Papers.”

These two productions were not to be the last of his political writings
at this period. One more was to follow in October, but the impulse to
take part in the discussion of national events was relaxed, and he was
falling back into his more congenial life of devotion to letters in the
quiet retreat of Elmwood. “My dear Charles,” he writes to Mr. Norton, 30
May, 1866, “I snatch a moment from the whirl of dissipation to bring up
for you the annals of Cambridge to the present date. In the first place,
Cranch and his daughters are staying with us--since last Saturday. On
that day I took him to club, where he saw many old friends (he has not
been here for twenty years, poor fellow!) and had a good time. We had a
pleasant time, I guess. With me it was a business meeting. I sat between
Hoar and Brimmer, that I might talk over college matters. Things will be
arranged to suit me, I rather think, and the salary (perhaps) left even
larger than I hoped.

“Cranch and I amuse me very much. They read their poems to each other
like a couple of boys, and so contrive for themselves a very
good-natured, if limited, public. I cannot help laughing to myself,
whenever I am alone, at these rhythmical debauches. The best of it is
that there is always one at least who is never bored. I like him very
much, though it always makes me a little sad that a man with so many
gifts should lack the one of being successful. He brought with him a
fairy story full of fancy, and illustrations, most of which are as
charming and original as can be. I hope to get Fields to publish
it.[24] Cranch wants some such encouragement very much. He begins to
think himself born under an ill star. I fancy the trouble is that he was
not brought up to work, in a nation of day laborers. You know I have a
natural sympathy with the butterflies as against the ants and the bees,
and I think they will all be put in a heavenly poor-house one of these
days, with the industrious rich to work for them, and buy their books
and pictures. Cranch always reminds me of Clough, so you may be sure I
like to have him here. We shall enjoy each other very much if we don’t
quarrel over our poems.

“You will see my verses to Bartlett in the next _Atlantic_,[25] and I
guess you will like ’em. They seemed to me fanciful and easy when I
corrected the proof, with some droll triple rhymes....

“It is now high time to change the conversation and speak of the
weather. We are having it of the rarest April sort--whims of sunshine
dappling a continuous mood of rain erratic thunderclaps ending like my
novel with the first chapter--promising notes of fine to-morrows ending
not in bankruptcy but liquidation. In short, the clerk of the weather
seems suddenly to have bethought him of his remissness with the
watering-pot for the last two years and is making it up all at once. All
the wells (except, of course, that of Truth) will be filled again and
milk will be plenty once more. The greenness of everything is
delicious. I feel as if I were sprouting myself, so keen is my farmer’s
sympathy with my beets and carrots, and especially with a new field of
grass which was becoming _too_ emblematic of flesh, and has been
snatched from the very jaws of death by this intervention of Jupiter
Pluvius. I had just had a new pump set in the well at the foot of the
garden, and had begun to think it would be merely a dry symbol, but this
will set all its arteries a-throbbing.

“Your dream of a stock-farm is a delightful one (there is a yellow-bird
in the cherry-tree by my window drinking the tremulous rain diamonds
that hang under the twigs), but I fear that the only stocks I am young
enough for now are in railroad companies and the like whose golden
fleeces yield a half yearly clip. I am satisfied, though, that nobody
has such a sympathy with the seasons and feels himself so truly a
partner in the trade of nature as a farmer. I find great pleasure in my
own little ventures in this Earth-ship of ours on her annual voyages,
and shall even grow jolly again if my college duties are so arranged
next year that I shall get rid of some of my worries, and be able to
give my trees and crops the encouragement of a cheerful face. Depend
upon it, they feel it and grow in proportion. Fancy the
disheartenmentof a regiment of cabbages or turnips when they see the
commander-in-chief with a long face! Where shall they find the cheerful
juices that shall carry them through a long drouth, or the happy temper
that is as good as an umbrella to ’em in dull wet spells of weather, if
their natural leader be as bloodless as the one, or show no better head
than the other? Doesn’t it stand to reason?”

Six weeks later he wrote to the same friend: “The hot weather we have
been having for some time--95° for nearly a week together--has pretty
nearly used me up. It has made me bilious and blue, my moral thermometer
sinking as the atmospheric rose. But Sunday afternoon we had one of the
finest thunderstorms I ever saw, beginning in the true way with a sudden
whirl of wind that filled the air with leaves and dust and twigs
(_dinanzi va superbo_), followed in due time by a burst of rain. One
flash struck close by us somewhere, and I heard distinctly the crack of
a bough at the moment of its most intense redness. Just at sunset the
cloud lifted in the west, and the effect was one that I always wish all
my friends could be at Elmwood to see. The tops of the English elms were
turned to sudden gold, which seen against a leaden background of
thundercloud had a supernatural look. Presently that faded, and after
the sun had set came a rainbow more extravagant than any I ever saw.
There were seven lines of the glory looking like the breaking of quiet
surf on the beach of a bay. First came one perfect bow--the more
brilliant that the landscape was dark everywhere by the absence of the
sunlight. Gradually another outlined itself at some distance above, and
then the first grew double, triple, till at last six arches of red could
be counted. The other colors I could only see in the two main bows. I
thought it a trick of vision, but Fanny and her sister counted as I
did. A triple arch was the most I had ever seen before. Here is a
diagram.... _d_ is the spectator for whom this wonderful show was
exhibited. I should have made _d_ a capital, thus, _D_, to indicate his
importance in the scene. For have I not read in some old moralist that
God would not have created so much beauty without also creating an eye
to see and a soul to feel it? As if God could not be a poet! The author
of the book of Genesis knew better. However, it is something to have had
an eye see what we are seeing; it seems to double the effect by some
occult sympathy, and my rainbows are always composed of one part rain,
one part sunshine, and one part blessed Henry Vaughan with his ‘Still
young and fine,’ and his ‘World’s gray fathers in one knot!’ The older I
grow the more I am convinced that (there) are no satisfactions so deep
and so permanent as our sympathies with outward nature....

“In some moods I heartily despise and hate myself, there is so much
woman in me ( ... I mean no harm. I was designed, sketched rather, for a
man). Why, I found myself the other day standing in a muse with
something like tears in my eyes, before a little _pirus_ that had rooted
itself on the steep edge of the runnel that drains the meadow above
Craigie’s pond, and thinking--what do you suppose? Why, how happy and
careless the life of such a poor shrub was compared with ours! But I was
in a melancholy and desponding mist of mind, and I snatched myself back
out of it to manlier thoughts. But the reality and sincerity of the
emotion struck me as I mused over it, and I set it down on the debtor
side of my account. Still, _can_ one get away from his nature? That
always puzzles me. Your close-grained, strong fellows tell you that you
can, but they forget that they are only acting out their complexion, not
escaping it. I did not expect to chase my rainbow into such a miserable
drizzle, but for that very reason I will let it go as I have written it,
though I am rather ashamed of having uncovered my nakedness so plumply.
In spite of the heat we have had rain enough to keep the country
beautiful, and my salt marshes have been in their glory. The salt grass
is to other grass like fur compared with hair, and the color of the
‘black grass,’ and even its texture at the right distance remind one of
sable. I have been making night studies of late, having enjoyed, as
folks say, a season of sleeplessness, and I saw the dawn begin the other
night at two o’clock. The first bird to sing was a sparrow. The cocks
followed close upon him, and the phœbe upon them. The crows were the
latest to shake the night out of them.

“The Corporation have given me a tutor and cut my salary down to $1500.
But I think they will give me what they call a ‘gratuity’ if the college
funds justify it. If not, I must take to lecturing.... I am called away
to the hayfield, so good-by. I work more or less every day out of doors
and like it. I am getting back as well as I can to my pristine ways of

He had wished to purchase a little immunity from the routine of college
duties, but he needed to increase his income, for the change in his
college work, though it gave him more liberty, left him with smaller
salary. Except for the months when his editorship of the _Atlantic_ and
his college professorship had jointly given him a fairly comfortable
livelihood, he had always been in an impecunious condition; his writings
had not been especially remunerative, and as he was somewhat dependent
on outside pressure for a stimulus to work, it is probable that his need
of money had furnished this stimulus.

So this summer he was not unwilling to help himself out with some
special tasks on the _British Poets_. “My job,” he writes, “is
correcting Dryden for the next edition. I enjoy it, to be sure, but it
is rather wearisome. I have always had a great respect for Dryden’s
solid ability, and I am glad to read him in this minute way as a study
of his language. I have long thought that he was the last writer of
really first-rate English prose. Make every possible deduction, and I
still think so, and I believe it is because of two things: first, that
the language had not yet been sophisticated by writing for the press;
and second, that he wrote as a gentleman rather than as an author. It is
easy to see why his verse has been so much admired, it is so vigorous
and easy, and there is such mastery of language. Dryden _knew_ a great
deal, and uses his knowledge with an ease of manner that is very
charming to me.

“The work takes about three days to a volume, and I have the first two
to go over again, because I corrected more than they are willing to pay
for (I mean to the printer). I find some strange nonsense, chiefly
caused by punctuation. The Donne, on which I spent three or four weeks
of unremitting work, I have literally lost. Little & Brown don’t want
the expense of printing, and I have lost the book; can’t find it
anywhere. I find another copy--but perfectly clean!”[26]

A proposal was made at this time that he should write the life of
Hawthorne. Longfellow suggested this to Mrs. Hawthorne, who talked with
Lowell about it. He was attracted by the subject, and saw that he would
have abundant material, for Mrs. Hawthorne told him that there were
seventeen volumes of notes, beside the letters which could be collected.
After consideration, however, Mrs. Hawthorne feared to take the risks
involved in having the precious manuscripts go out of her hands, and the
plan was abandoned, Mrs. Hawthorne contenting herself with printing a
portion of the notes in the _Atlantic_, and afterward issuing the
several volumes of Passages from the American, English, French, and
Italian Note-Books.

Lowell was busy also this summer getting ready for publication the
second series of the “Biglow Papers,” his chief labor being in the long
Introduction, which is a justification of his use of the rustic New
England form by a careful tracing of many of the words and phrases and
local pronunciation to the English usage of the seventeenth century,
brought over by the early settlers and domesticated under conditions
which served to preserve them in common speech. And here may be printed
an unfinished letter, written a few months later, in which he sets forth
more familiarly some of his linguistic views: “I am not obstinate, but
Shakespeare does not tack his ‘lesses’ to nouns but to verbs. He says
‘viewless winds’ in ‘Measure for Measure,’ and means as Milton does in
‘Comus’ (‘I must be viewless now’) ‘invisible.’ So in ‘Hamlet,’ when he
says ‘woundless air’ he means ‘invulnerable,’ as you will see by turning
to Act I., scene i. I admit that _less_ ought to be joined to a noun (as
in German _los_ always is), but I think one may sin with Shakespeare or
Milton, for my instance from which latter I have to thank Malone. I
grant that Whittier is no authority--though I suspect he is right in
rhyming for the ear and not for the eye, as used to be the fashion. So
long as we don’t pronounce _arrums_ Hibernice, why shouldn’t he rhyme it
with psalms? Not that I would. I would be conservative about
pronunciation,--the test of good-breeding,--and would leave idioms to
the grace of God, where they properly belong. Boys and blackguards have
always been my masters in language. I have always felt that if I could
attain to their unconscious freedom, I were safe. I would not insist
(for example) with our excellent _Daily Advertiser_ on ‘house to be
let,’ because it is unidiomatic and because it is glossologically wrong.
We took it directly from the French _maison à louer_. Nor would I say
‘by auction,’ because ‘at’ is quite as good. Nor would I say ‘the house
is in process of erection’ for ‘the house is building.’”

Lowell dedicated his second series of “Biglow Papers” to Judge Hoar. “A
very fit thing,” he writes, “it seems to me, for of all my friends he is
the most genuine Yankee.” In the same letter he writes with eagerness of
a new poetic enterprise he had undertaken, or rather of an old one
revived.[27] “I have been working hard, and if my liver will let me
alone, as it does now, am likely to go on all winter. And on _what_ do
you suppose? I have taken up one of the unfinished tales of the
‘Nooning,’ and it grew to a poem of near seven hundred lines! It is
mainly descriptive. First, a sketch of the narrator, then his ‘prelude,’
then his ‘tale.’ I describe an old inn and its landlord, barroom, etc.
It is very homely, but right from nature. I have lent it to Child and
hope he will like it, for if he doesn’t I shall feel discouraged. It was
very interesting to take up a thread dropt so long ago, and curious as a
phenomenon of memory to find how continuous it had remained in my mind,
and how I could go on as if I had let it fall only yesterday.” This was
“Fitz Adam’s Story,” which Mr. Child found no difficulty in liking, so
that Lowell sent it at once to Mr. Fields for the _Atlantic_, where it
appeared in January, 1867. “I mean to work ahead as fast as I can with
the rest,” he wrote to Mr. Fields, and in the spirit which then
possessed him he had high hopes of completing “The Nooning,” having
already, as we have seen, various parts of it ready for final
articulation. He wrote Mr. Fields again, 8 November, 1867, when urged to
send more of the poem: “I cannot get into the mood of my Nooning story
just now,” but evidently he hoped still to go on with it, for he did not
include “Fitz Adam’s Story” in his next collection of poems published in
1869; yet when twenty years more had gone by, and “The Nooning” was
still in fragments, he saw that there was no likelihood of his ever
producing the rounded whole, and so included “Fitz Adam’s Story” in his
latest collection with an apologetic note.

“I am already beginning to feel the relief from those confounded
recitations,” he wrote a month or so after the fall term at college
began, “both in better health and better spirits.” He sent Mr. Fields
not only this poem for the _Atlantic_, but a fairy tale and a poem for
_Our Young Folks_. “You asked me once,” he writes, “for a fairy story,
and I suppose never expected to hear of it again. But it is not safe to
cast bread on _my_ waters. I invented a kind of one at once, and
yesterday and the day before contrived to write it, partly to spite an
infernal pain I was suffering, and which got me under at last. I think I
have told it simply enough, and was surprised to find how easy it was to
write in words mostly of one syllable. I think there are some pleasant
humors in it, but it may have suffered from my being in such a wretched
condition while I wrote it. Please read it yourself, and show it to no
one. To tell the honest truth, I have never read _Our Young Folks_, and
so do not know whether it is suitable or not. Perhaps I could write it
over again, but that might spoil it, for I might not be able to fancy
myself so vividly telling it again as I did before.

“Also: I have a jolly little poem that would do for a Christmas number,
called ‘Hob Gobbling’s Song,’ written years ago for my nephews, now all
dead. Just think of it! and three of the four in battle. Who could have
dreamed it twenty years ago?

“You will think I am mad to bombard you thus, but no, I am only
beginning to feel the sort of spring impulse of my college freedom. I
mean to work off old scores this winter if I can.”

The fairy tale, “Uncle Cobus’s Story,” had pleasant fancy in it, but was
curiously literary in its allusions and in its thinly concealed moral a
parable of Lowell’s own life, with its struggle for supremacy of the two
fairies Fan-ta-si-a and El-bo-gres. The song might fairly be called a
New England survival of Elizabethan fairy lore.

As a result of his industry during the summer and early fall, he was
able to write at the end of October: “I have in my pocket $820 for my
last six weeks’ work, and mean for the first time in my life to make an
investment of money earned!”

The pain, by the way, which he tried to assuage by writing, was some
facial trouble which resulted in a swelling making him look, as he
said, “like a hornpout with the mumps.” He had an odd experience with
ether which he thus describes: “The ether didn’t deaden the pain a bit,
that I could discover. Its only effect was to make my head feel as if it
were violently waggled to and fro. One odd result there was. For a
moment, I lost entirely my present personal identity, and absolutely
_was_ (without anything of that sense of dualism which commonly goes
along with and criticises hallucination) twelve years old and getting
ready to go out shooting as I used. Odd as it seems, it was a most
painful sensation, and all the rest of the night I was haunted by a
feeling that my life was the merest illusion, and I a poor puppet worked
by some humorous higher power, who could by a jerk put me back at Mr.
Wells’s school if he liked.”

In the midst of all this congenial labor he was moved also to write one
more political article, which appeared in the _North American_ for
October, 1866. The President and the Secretary of State had formed that
curious combination which may be said still somewhat to baffle students
of our political history, and Lowell wrote of it,--the last of his
series of political writings growing out of the great conflict and the
early movements toward reconstruction. Under the title, “The
Seward-Johnson Reaction,” he examines all the elements in the situation,
the President, the Secretary, Congress, and the two parties, and, as
before, his study is less an analysis of the component parts than a
reassertion of those fundamental principles which it was his political
philosophy to seek for and expound. Trust in the people was the prime
article of his creed; hence he sought chiefly for evidence of the
settled drift of the nation’s conviction, conscience, and instinct. The
great stake played for in the war was, in his words, the
“Americanization of all America, nothing more and nothing less.” Yet
with all his clear sight of the ideal and his confidence in the ultimate
reason of national thought, Lowell was not a vague theorist nor a
contemner of political activity. On the contrary, one of the most
impassioned sentences in the paper is that in which he speaks of the
dignity of politics. “Now that the signs of the times,” he says, “show
unmistakably to what the popular mind is making itself up, they [members
of Congress] have once more a policy, if we may call that so which is
only a calculation of what it would be ‘safe to go before the people
with,’ as they call it. It is always safe to go before them with plain
principles of right, and with the conclusions that must be drawn from
them by common sense, though this is what too many of our public men can
never understand. Now joining a Know-Nothing ‘lodge,’ now hanging on the
outskirts of a Fenian ‘circle,’ they mistake the momentary eddies of
popular whimsy for the great current that sets always strongly in one
direction through the life and history of the nation. Is it, as
foreigners assert, the fatal defect of our system to fill our highest
offices with men whose views in politics are bounded by the next
district election? When we consider how noble the science is,--nobler
even than astronomy, for it deals with the mutual repulsions and
attractions, not of inert masses, but of bodies endowed with thought and
will, calculates moral forces, and reckons the orbits of God’s purposes
toward mankind,--we feel sure that it is to find nobler teachers and
students, and to find them even here.”[28]

With this paper Lowell took leave of political writing for a long
time.[29] When next we meet him in this field it will be after certain
practical experience in the field of politics has given its own color to
his mind. Now, as if he had shaken off an irksome task, he turned more
entirely to literature. The next three or four years were occupied, as
the calendar of his published writings shows, with diligent excursions
in letters, both in prose and verse. The article on Percival which
appeared in the _North American_ for January, 1867, was an amusing
treatment of a commonplace book, but it was worth preserving for its
humorous presentation of the touchstones of genuine poetry; and from
what Lowell says in his letters of the slight personal acquaintance he
had with Percival, it is quite likely that the encounter gave a little
fillip to his interest; yet one may be permitted to look a little more
closely and find in Lowell’s characterization of the poetic temperament
and sentimentalism, when laid bare through the absence of the clothing
of sound sense and humor, a distant reflection on weaknesses of which he
was conscious when in the depressed mood. There was an assimilating
faculty which he possessed that led him, when reading lives and records
especially of literary careers, to suffer somewhat as the young student
of medicine who is never quite sure that he is not acting as a sort of
proxy for the cases whose diagnosis is laid before him. It is curious to
find Lowell, when engaged on Lessing’s life and works, which he reviewed
in the April _North American_, writing to Mr. Norton:[30] “I find
somewhat to my surprise from his letters that he had the imaginative
temperament in all its force. Can’t work for months together, if he
tries, his forehead drips with _angstschweiss_; feels ill and looks
well--in short, is as pure a hypochondriac as the best. This has had a
kind of unhealthy interest for me, for I never read my own symptoms so
well described before.” And the article itself, if one reads it with
Lowell’s thought about himself in mind, becomes a curiously parallel
record, even to external circumstances, of the two men. It would, of
course, be untrue to say that Lowell was thinking of himself when he was
writing of Lessing, but I cannot help suspecting, as I read the article,
that there was a subconsciousness which gave a force to certain
passages, and that Lowell’s interest in his subject was heightened by
the plucking at his sleeve of his own memories and ambitions.

In writing for the _North American_ the articles on great literature
which were afterward reproduced in his books, Lowell was not only
drawing upon a liberal familiarity with most of the subjects from
repeated readings, but he was sometimes availing himself of earlier
treatment in the form of lectures which he had given in connection with
his college work. He complains, when preparing his article on Rousseau,
that he is always bothered when he tries to do anything with old
material, as he was in this case, inserting in his paper patches from
college lectures; and any one who has had the experience appreciates the
difficulty of turning the _oratio directa_ of the lecture into the
_oratio obliqua_ of the essay,--to mention but one of the “bothers” of
such work. But a comparison of the manuscript of Lowell’s college
lecture with the text of the printed article shows two things: first,
that in going back to his old lecture, Lowell easily took fire from his
own words and, in copying a sentence, ran on into a fuller, more
finished conclusion. For example, in comparing the sonnets of Petrarch
with those of Michelangelo, he says alike in lecture and in article: “In
them (i. e. in Michelangelo’s) the airiest pinnacles of sentiment and
speculation are buttressed with solid mason-work of thought, of an
actual, not fancied experience.” In the lecture, he goes on: “You seem
to feel the great architect in them. Petrarch’s in comparison are like
the sugared frostwork upon cake.” In the article, however, he adds to
“fancied experience,” “and the depth of feeling is measured by the
sobriety and reserve of expression, while in Petrarch’s all
ingenuousness is frittered away into ingenuity. Both are cold, but the
coldness of the one is self-restraint, while the other chills with
pretence of warmth. In Michelangelo’s you feel the great architect: in
Petrarch’s the artist who can best realize his conception in the limits
of a cherry-stone.”[31]

Again, it is evident from the comparison that Lowell’s direct address in
speaking to his class from the written lecture was in form of sentences
little different from what he used when writing for the public. In each
case, his spontaneity was uppermost; he was not especially aware, as he
wrote, either of audience or of readers. In revising his articles for
book publication he altered the impersonal _we_ of the reviewer to the
_I_ of the author, and in doing so merely strengthened the natural voice
in which he spoke. Such papers as “A Good Word for Winter,” or “My
Garden Acquaintance,” are scarcely more direct in the relation of author
and reader than are those papers which have the external form of book
reviews. It was the personality of the man at home in a hospitable
manner that found this expression, and just as some of his happiest
letters were written to persons whom he scarcely knew, but happened to
be called out by some apt occasion, so he wrote and lectured, except on
the most formal themes, with a freedom which was neither disturbed nor
excited by audience or readers. One may notice a difference in this
respect between the political papers and the literary essays. The _I_
scarcely is at home in the former.

The Dante Club had finished its task, and Longfellow’s translation was
published in 1867. The affectionate relation between the two men found
more than one poetic expression during their long neighborly existence,
and when Longfellow’s sixtieth birthday occurred in 1867 Lowell wrote a
poem, and printed it in the daily paper which he knew would be laid on
Longfellow’s breakfast-table. On the appearance of the Dante he wrote,
with Mr. Norton, a joint review which appeared in the _North American_.
Of his own brief part he wrote in humorous dismay to his collaborator:
“I could only wish that the latter part had been more critical if it
were but for Longfellow’s sake. It’s lucky, perhaps, that I got almost
crazy over the insertion I was to make in it, or I should have rushed
into the thing myself--for, though I think his version (as you know)
truly admirable, there are some things to be questioned in it. However,
all the better that I couldn’t. I say I was almost crazy. You see I went
up to Shady Hill--picking up Longfellow on the way and it was _very_
hot, and I brought away an armful of translations, just cutting out
Howells, who was on the same errand. I came home with my prize, wet
through with the only sure result of all earthly toils, and began to
compare. Good heavens! I had Cayley and Ford, and Dayman and Ramsay (and
lots of others that made me ’d--’ say), and Brooksbank and Wright, and
last Rossetti. Well, I addled my brains over ’em--my tables were heaped,
my floor stumbly with my a-versions, as I called them when I looked _at_
them, my in-versions when I read them. Now, to begin with, I have read
Dante so much that I can’t remember a line of him--in short, ’twas
_infandum renovare dolorem_. I spent three days in bothering through
what will make two pages.”

The critical reviews of Longfellow’s Dante from the hands of competent
scholars were few, but one published in a daily journal called out a
letter from Lowell to the friend who sent it to him, which gives with
frankness Lowell’s estimate of the translation. “The review,” he writes,
“does not change my opinion of Mr. Longfellow’s translation--not as the
best possible, by any means, but as the best probable.... Nobody who is
intimate with the original will find any translation of the ‘Divina
Commedia’ more refreshing than cobs. Has not Dante himself told us that
no poetry can be translated? But, after all is said, I think Mr.
Longfellow’s the best thus far as being the most accurate. It is to be
looked on, I think, as measured prose--like our version of Job, for
example, though without that mastery of measure in which our Bible
translators are unmatched except by Milton. I mean where they are at
their best, as in Job, the songs of Debórah and Barak, the death of
Sisera, and some parts of the Psalms. Mr. Longfellow is not a scholar in
the German sense of the word, that is to say, he is no pedant, but he
certainly _is_ a scholar in another and perhaps a higher sense, I mean
in range of acquirement and the flavor that comes of it.”

Specific criticism, with all the painstaking of which he was capable,
was but the obverse of the medal which Lowell struck in his literary
work. On the face was his generous delight in his books. “The
Nightingale in the Study,” written in the summer of 1867, holds in
capital form a genuine confession that there was an appeal to him from
nature in literature which did not antagonize the appeal made to him by
the world of natural beauty, yet sometimes constrained and invited him
in tones he could not resist, even though the birds without were calling
him. Mr. Leslie Stephen who visited him in the summer of 1868, renewing
an acquaintance begun five years earlier and ripening into a friendship
which meant much to Lowell ever after, has given a pleasant account of
the impression made upon him by the poet in his study at Elmwood. “All
round us,” he says, “were the crowded book-shelves, whose appearance
showed them to be the companions of the true literary workman, not of
the mere dilettante or fancy biographer. Their ragged bindings and
thumbed pages scored with frequent pencil marks implied that they were a
student’s tools, not mere ornamental playthings. He would sit among his
books, pipe in mouth, a book in hand, hour after hour; and I was soon
intimate enough to sit by him and enjoy intervals of silence as well as
periods of discussion and always delightful talk.”[32]

It was a quarter of a century since Lowell had collected his fugitive
poems, though he had meantime published the second series of “The Biglow
Papers,” and when 1868 came in he was moved to make a new volume which
should include the poems he had been printing, chiefly in the
_Atlantic_. It was with this in mind that he took up a fragment of a
poem written a score of years before, rewrote and added to it, designing
to make it the title poem in the volume. He printed it first in the June
_Atlantic_, under the title “A June Idyll.” In sending it he wrote to
Mr. Fields: “In the first flush of having just finished and copied it
(for which I was obliged to miss Dickens last night) I am inclined to
think there is something characteristic.... Surely there are good bits
in it, and it is good for more than usual, or good for nothing. If I
haven’t made a spoon, I have certainly spoiled a horn that would have
turned out a very good one. You sometimes find fault with my names. I
have called this ‘A June Idyll,’ which is just what it is. Do you

Mr. Fields, either himself or through a friend, wrote a very
appreciative notice of the poem in the _Boston Advertiser_, which drew
from Lowell this response to his friendly editor:--

    “Such a notice of my Iddle
      Met my eyes in the _Advertiser_!

    “‘To order,’ thought I, ’no, fiddle!
      ’Tis the dull world growing wiser.

    “‘My forehead they twine with bayses,
      They’re eager to shout hosanna,
    My style as pure epic they praises
      Where they used to add acuanha.’

    “‘’Tis always their fate whom at christening
      Your genuine Helicon’s spilt on;
    Long ears are the latest at listening,
      _Vide_ Wordsworth _passim_ on Milton.’

    “So I read it aloud to my family,
      One delicate phrase after t’other,
    And surely the good little Sammle he
      Wasn’t sadder at leaving his mother

    “Than I when I came to the close of it,
      For I wanted, as I’m a sinner,
    (Such poetry seemed in the prose of it)
      To keep up my reading till dinner.

    “But now, oh worst of collapses,
      My Temple of Fame is in ruins,
    Its forecourt, nave, transept, and apse is
      A shelter for foxes and bruins!

    “For all of my Public Opinion
      With the wind in its sails to drive it
    To the port of supreme dominion
      Turns out most especially private.

    “My Fame’s accoucheur sadly yields his
      Place up to the Deputy Cor’ner,
    For my Public Opinion was Fields’s,
      My tradewind a puff from the ‘Corner.’”

That the poem at once found disinterested friends is evident from the
letter which Lowell writes in acknowledgment of the praise which the
poet, Dr. Parsons, gave it. “Something more than half of it,” Lowell
says, “was written more than twenty years ago, on the death of our
eldest daughter; but when I came to complete it, that other death, which
broke my life in two, _would_ come in against my will, so that you were
right in your surmise. I was very glad you liked it, and your letter
touched me deeply, as you may well conceive.”

In September Lowell made out a tentative list of the poems to be
included in the volume, and wrote to Mr. Fields: “I think it best not to
include any humorous poems in this collection. They can come by and by,
if they are wanted. They would jar here. Some I may be able to shorten
somewhat in printing, but commonly I find it hard work to improve them
after they are dry, though I seem to see well enough where and how much
they need it. The poems of the war I shall put by themselves at the end,
so as to close with the Ode as I begin with the Idyll. How I do wish the
whole of them were better--now that I am putting them between stiff
covers to help them stand alone! ‘Bad is the best’ is a good
proverb--but how if the best is bad? Well, here and there one catches a
good strain, but I feel very hopeless about them.”

Lowell meant to call his volume “A June Idyll and other Poems,” but Mr.
Fields pointed out that Whittier’s new volume just about to appear was
to carry the title of “A Summer Idyll.”[33] Lowell retorted: “Why the
devil should Whittier bag my title? I can’t claim a copyright in
‘Idyll,’ that is in the dictionary--but, June ‘Idyll’ was mine. It will
be thought his poem suggested mine, as it was with the ‘Present Crisis,’
though mine was written two years before. However, J. G. W. is welcome
to anything of mine, for he is a trump, and after all the milk is spilt.
But if his volume is not advertised, might I not insist? It’s of more
consequence to me than to him, for I have nothing else that will look so
well in the vanguard. But if it’s all up, how would ‘Appledore and other
Poems’ do? It is a pretty name enough, and the poem is one of my
longest,--though not, perhaps, the one I would otherwise have put first.
My dedication, I think, is good, and that will take the edge off.”

Mr. Fields suggested that he should give the volume the title of his
place, “Elmwood,” but Lowell replied: “I can’t bear ‘Elmwood,’ and the
more I think of it, the more I can’t bear it--’tis turning one’s
household gods upon the town, as it were. No, never! They have endured
me for fifty years, and I won’t desert ’em in their old age. Let me have
my hermitage to myself. (I had eight visitors this morning--one of whom
wanted me to read ‘The Biglow Papers’ to him.) But I have it now.
Instead of ‘June Idyll,’ which was the _pis aller_ of a prosaic mind, I
shall call it ‘Under the Willows.’ Like all great discoveries, it is
simple, and, you may depend upon it, it is _the_ thing. It means
everything and nothing. I can’t make the poem over so as to suit
‘Elmwood,’ and so I shall settle upon this, fixed as a butterfly, stable
as the Horse-railway stables. You can’t move me. The man that moved
Chicago couldn’t move me. I am happy, and discharge my mind of the whole
concern. I shall now devote my evening to the ‘Flying Dutchman’ in
peace, and write you something clever for the _Atlantic_. I snap my
fingers at you and Bazin,[34] wore he even the helmet of Mambrino.
Nothing can touch me further. ‘Under the Willows and other Poems’--it
satisfies every want, and will be immensely popular. The basketmakers
will buy up the first edition and the gunpowder makers the second. Then
comes the general public, mad with curiosity to know what the d--l I
mean. I am charmed with my own powers of invention. A duller man would
have said ‘Under the Elms,’ or some such things. Let me alone for
tickling the fancy of a purchaser. _I_ know what they want.”

To Mr. Norton he writes, reciting his tribulations over the name of his
book, and adds: “I was suddenly moved to finish my ‘Voyage to Vinland,’
part of which you remember was written eighteen years ago.[35] I meant
to have made it much longer, but maybe it is better as it is. I clapt a
beginning upon it, patched it in the middle, and then got to what had
always been my favorite part of the plan. This was to be a prophecy by
Gudrida, a woman who went with them, of the future America.

[Illustration: _Elmwood_]

I have written in an unrhymed alliterated measure, in very short verse
and stanzas of five lines each. It does not aim at following the law of
the Icelandic alliterated stave, but hints at it and also at the
_asonante_, without being properly either. But it runs well and is
melodious, and we think it pretty good here, as does Howells.”

Again we quote a passage from Emerson’s unprinted journal, dated
December, 1868: “In poetry, tone. I have been reading some of Lowell’s
new poems in which he shows unexpected advance on himself, but perhaps
most in technical skill and courage. It is in talent rather than in
poetic tone, and rather expresses his wish, his ambition, than the
uncontrollable interior impulse which is the authentic mark of a new
poem, and which is unanalyzable, and makes the merit of an ode of
Collins or Gray or Wordsworth or Herbert or Byron, and which is felt in
the pervading tone rather than in brilliant parts or lines; as if the
sound of a bell, or a certain cadence expressed in a low whistle, or
booming or humming to which the poet first timed his step as he looked
at the sunset, or thought, was the incipient form of the piece, and was
regnant through the whole.”

There were two essays written in the fall of 1868 which are very
expressive of Lowell’s nature. “My Garden Acquaintance” records
delightfully that attachment to one spot which was made possible not
merely by long life at Elmwood, but by that sympathy with life which
enabled him to suck the juices from nature, not by roving, but by that
attitude of listening and observing which sometimes belongs to
home-keeping wits. “A Certain Condescension in Foreigners,” though it
was at first sight a clearing of his mind such as his letters repeatedly
show, grows warm with that passion for his country and the ideas it
stood for, which had been burned into him by his personal experience in
the war and by his constant brooding over the deep realities which
underlay the meaning of the war. He returned to political writing under
stress of need for copy in the January _North American_ with “A Look
Before and After.” The _Review_ itself had become somewhat more of a
burden to him, for Mr. Norton went abroad in the summer of 1868 for an
indefinite stay, and though Mr. E. W. Gurney, who took his place, was
competent, Lowell felt the responsibility rather more than when he had
easily left the main business to Mr. Norton. Moreover, the special work
which he and his friend had undertaken had, in a measure, been
accomplished, and the _Review_, though winning a _succes d’estime_, had
not that worldly success which reconciles one to drudgery. There is a
half-vexed, half-humorous letter to Mr. Fields, dated Elmwood 10 P.M.
Thursday, 1868, which was 24 September. “The express has just brought,”
he writes, “your note asking for the log of the _North American_ on her
present voyage. The N. A. is teak-built, her extreme length from stem to
stern post 299 feet 6 inches, and her beam (I mean her breadth of beam)
286 feet 7 inches and a quarter. She is an A 1 _risk_ at the
Antediluvian. These statements will enable you to reckon her possible
rate of sailing. During the present trip I should say that all the knots
she made were Gordian, and of the tightest sort. I extract from log as

“11 July. Lat. 42° 1´, the first officer, Mr. Norton, lost overboard in
a fog, with the compass, caboose, and studden-sails in his pocket, also
the key of the spirit-room.

“25 July. Lat. 42° 10´, spoke the Ark, Captain Noah, and got the latest
news. 26, 27, 28, dead calm. 29, 30, 31, and 1 August, head winds N. N.
E. to N. E. by N. 15 August. Double reef in foretopsl, spoke the good
ship Argo, Jason commander, from Colchos with wool.

“17 August, dead calm, schooner Pinta, Capt. Columbus, bound for the New
World, and a market, bearing Sou Sou West half South on our weather bow.
Got some stores from him.

“20. Capt. Lowell cut his throat with the fluke of the sheet anchor.

“So far the log.

“Now for the comment. Toward the 1st September I received notice that
the _Review_ was at a standstill. Mr. Gurney was at Beverly, ill and
engaged to be married. I had not a line of copy, nor knew where to get
one. I communicated with G. and got what he had--viz: two articles, one
on Herbert Spencer, and t’other on Leibnitz. I put the former in type,
but did not dare to follow with the latter, for I thought it would be
too much even for the readers of the N. A. By and by, I raked together
one or two more,--not what I _would_ have but what I _could_. James’s
article on Spanish G.”[36] is good and ought to go in. So of the Siege
of Delhi. We want _something_ interesting, and we must have some
literary notices. As I receive none of the books, of course I had to
depend on others for these, and I have got as many as I could. I have
edited the number for October because it was absolutely necessary,--not,
surely, because I desired it. I have read all the proof and have done
all that I agreed _not_ to do when I made my engagement with Crosby &
Nichols. All I promised to give them was my name on the cover, and I
supposed T. & F. succeeded to their agreement. I have much more than
kept my word. The October number can’t be printed by Saturday.

“But I am altogether willing that it should be, only in that case my
name must be withdrawn from the cover. I never desired to be its editor,
and I put my resignation in your hands. Get some better man, say----,
who can write on all subjects equally ill at a moment’s notice. I wash
my hands of the whole concern. I will read the rest of the proof of this
number if you wish, for that is in the bond, but for January look out
for somebody who can make something out of nothing. I recommend----.”
Six days later he wrote again:--

“Correct estimates from log thus: 25 September. Lat. 42° 10´. Captain
Lowell committed suicide by blowing out his brains with the gafftopsl
halyards. There can be no doubt of the fact, as the 2nd officer
recognized the brains for his (Cap. L.’s), he being familiar with them.

“30 September. Captain L. reappeared on the deck, having only been below
to oversee the storage of ballast, whereof on this trip the lading
mainly consists. What was thought to be his brains turned out on closer
examination to be pumpkin pie, though the second officer was unconvinced
and the Captain himself could not make up his mind.

“The fact is I was cross, and did not quite like being brought up with
such a round turn at my time of life. I had done all I could, and was
hoping that the literary notices would make up for the rest. I had been
disappointed in three body articles by Bigelow, Poole, and Willard (on
von Bismarck). Gurney will take hold of the next number and it will all
go right. Say beforehand how many sheets you are willing to allow, and
we will keep as near the wind as we can, but don’t--well, never mind,
but I am as touchy as if I were even poorer than I am.”

The publication of “Under the Willows” brought Lowell some of those
expressions of admiration and affection for which the friends of a
writer gladly use such occasions. The publishing of a book is like an
announcement of an engagement,--an opportunity for one’s friends to show
their affection unreservedly. Among the notes which pleased Lowell was
one from Mr. Aldrich who had lately come to Boston to edit _Every
Saturday_, and in his pleasure he sent a copy of the special edition of
the Commemoration Ode with this letter.

                 ELMWOOD, 23rd December, 1868.

     MY DEAR SIR,--That note was so pleasant to an old fellow who
     doesn’t think too well of himself, that I can’t help (with a very
     good will and a very balky pen) telling you how much pleasure it
     gave me. That I don’t deserve all the fine things you say of me
     doesn’t make it any the less friendly in you to say them, and I,
     for one, frankly confess that I like a little _lubrication_ now and
     then. It makes our machine (as they used to call it in the last
     century) run easier for a day or two, till its general
     ramshackliness reproduces the familiar friction.

     Now lest the twins should repeat the tragedy of Eteocles and
     Polynikes, and the house of Aldrich be extinguished in an
     internecine duel for the possession of that other fatal volume, I
     send what will enable your paternal anxiety to make a fair division
     between them. If they are proper twins (I am a kind of twins myself
     divided between grave and gay) they will be the one sentimental and
     t’other humorous. Bequeath one sacred tome to each, and keep for
     yourself the cordial feeling that sends both.

     This which you now receive has at least the value of rarity. It is
     one of twelve copies printed in this form. Think of me after I am
     gone on (for in the nature of things you will survive me) as one
     who had a really friendly feeling for everything human. It is
     better to be a good fellow than a good poet, and perhaps (I am not
     sure) I might have shown a pretty fair talent that way, with
     proper encouragement. Any how, I wish you and Mrs. Aldrich, and
     _the_ Twins a Merry Christmas, and am

                 Cordially yours,

That Lowell himself knew how to give pleasure with praise is evident
enough from the several letters which Mr. Norton has printed, to Mr.
Aldrich, to Mr. Howells, to Mr. Gilder, and to other younger writers. He
was constantly sending pleasant messages and writing notes with
unaffected expressions of enjoyment, and his friendly feeling made it
easy for the editor of the _Atlantic_ to consult him with reference to
contributions even from strangers. Thus he wrote to Mr. Howells: “I
would be burned at the stake--nay, I would agree to be shut up alone for
an hour with ---- before I would acknowledge (I spelt it without a d!) a
poem to be good unless it was so. I would be burned at two stakes, and
be shut up with ---- and ---- ere I would say a good word for the verses of
a _rising_ young author. But I expect to see and like your poem in the
next _Atlantic_. It _is_ good, despite Mrs. Howells and the
anapests,--or whatever other kind of pests they were.

“Go by your ear, my dear boy, or by Madam’s and leave Latin prosodies
to ---- and the other profound scholars who understand ’em, but be sure
that the plot of your little poem is so charming that it will take all
the lovers and loved, and who else is worth caring for?

“I tried it on Mrs. Lowell (you know we have a bit of Darby and Joan
left in us still) and she purred at once. No: it is good and subtle (or
subtile, I don’t know which, thanks to Mr. Nichols), but it is either
you like.

“P.S. You have a real vein, so don’t be bothered, but make it as good as
you can and thank the gods.”

And again, in answer to some questions Mr. Howells had asked him
respecting the Isles of Shoals, apropos of the articles by Mrs. Thaxter
then to appear in the _Atlantic_: “‘Londoner’s’ is right. The names of
the islands are ‘Haley’s,’ otherwise (and better) ‘Smutty-nose,’ ‘Star,’
always called ‘Star-island,’ ‘Hog,’ which Mrs. T. no doubt calls
‘Appledore,’--the name of a village that once stood on it,--‘Cedar,’
‘White,’ ‘Malaga,’ and ‘Duck.’ There you have ’em all.

“Now I have a favor to ask of you--_Se io meritai di voi assai o
poco_--and that is to have the sheets of the life of Landor sent me. I
guess I could make something out of them, which perhaps you _boys_
hardly could. By the way, I was very much pleased with your notice of
that fellow’s (Sebright,[37] I think) Congressional reminiscences. It
made me laugh, and was so fine (so subtile) that the man himself,
despite his name, will never feel the edge of it. I always had great
expectations of you,--but I am beginning to believe in you for good. You
are the only one that hasn’t cheated me by your blossom. I like your
flavor now, as once I did your perfume. You young fellows are
dreadfully irreverent--but don’t you laugh--I take a kind of credit to
myself in being the first to find you out. I am proud of you. But see
how Fate takes me down! As I wrote the words, it began to rain on my
hay. _Absit omen._ And may it be long before you are mown!

“As for your gigantic _boongalong_ there in Boston,--I fancy it is like
Niagara, a thing that one can reckon mathematically. It is but one voice
raised to the nth power or so. And I remember that the Colosseum was
where the early Christians used to be martyred. Now I got up this
morning at half past six, and therefore count myself among the early

“I forgot to tell you that George Curtis liked your Venetian poem very
much. So did I.”

His position naturally made him the recipient of many commissions for
securing the publication of poems and other manuscripts, and his
friendliness drew him into many letters of counsel, and it might be
encouragement. To one whose acquaintance he had made through a
contribution which he had accepted when editor of the _Atlantic_, he
wrote in answer to a letter in which she had confessed to discouragement
over hostile attack on a more recent work:--

     That my note gave you any pleasure gives me a sensible
     satisfaction. I am glad to find it _was_ my Miss ---- after all.

     You mustn’t be disheartened. If you had written a foolish thing,
     don’t you see?--nobody would be attacking it. People don’t bring
     artillery to bear on soap-bubbles, but wait till they burst of
     themselves. Don’t allow yourself to be shaken from that equipoise
     of good sense and good temper that drew my attention so strongly in
     your first article. Above all, don’t be drawn into any controversy.
     Keep straight on, as if nothing had happened, and if you have
     anything in you be sure the world will find it out. Publicity is
     one of the painful necessities of authorship. For my own part, I
     would give all the praise I ever received for the right to be
     valued simply for my personal good qualities alone. But you must
     resign yourself. You have given everybody who can command pen, ink,
     and paper the right to talk flippantly and ignorantly and
     unfeelingly of things into which you have put your very heart’s
     blood. But don’t be disheartened. If you honestly _try to think_
     (and it was because you seemed to me to do so that I felt an
     interest in you) you will come out right in the long run. If you
     have the true quality you will at last get the power of _thinking_,
     the only abiding satisfaction and security for happiness which this
     life or the other for that matter affords, a thing rarer than is
     generally supposed. Really to think is to see things as they are,
     and when we have once got firm foot-hold on that rock of ages, our
     own little trials and triumphs take their true proportions, and are
     as indifferent to us, morally, I mean, as the changes of the
     weather. I think you have the root of the matter in you, that is,
     that you are in earnest to do honest work, and not to flaunt in
     the newspapers. For that reason I wish to help you all I can. Don’t
     think I am writing such letters as this every week. On the
     contrary, I am shy of writing letters at all, especially to women.
     But whenever a word from me will cheer you, you shall have it.

     I have directed two books to be sent you by express and beg you to
     accept them as a token of sincere esteem from your friend,

                 J. R. LOWELL.

There is another letter drawn out from him by a stranger who was
concerned over a case of literary honesty, which is interesting as
showing how sensitive Lowell was in all matters pertaining to his art.
“You ask,” he writes, “my judgment on a point of literary morals. In the
case you set forth I find it hard to judge of the facts without some
knowledge of the character of the man, because thoughtlessness, want of
moral sensibility, and loose habits of mind generally, may in the
particular instance tend to lenify our judgment of the ethical quality
of the offence, without in the least changing our opinion of its
discreditable nature as respects good scholarship and honest literature.
There can be no question that every article (such as you describe)
should have had the name of its true author at the head of it, so that
no man who read could fail to know whose work he was reading. Nay, I
think we should be so scrupulous in such matters as to acknowledge even
an apt quotation when we owe it to another man. For example, I suppose
I must have read the ‘Divinia Commedia’ of Dante at least thirty times
with minute attention and yet it had never occurred to me that _cima di
giudizie_ was literally Shakespeare’s phrase, ‘top of judgment,’ till
Mr. Dyce pointed it out in a note on ‘Measure for Measure.’ I should
never think of using it as an illustration without giving credit to Mr.
Dyce. Even had I found the coincidence noted on the margin of my own
copy of Dante, I should still have quoted Dyce for it as having first
mentioned it in print, in order to avoid even the appearance of evil. I
think an honest man can easily resolve any doubt he may have in such
matters by asking himself the simple question, Do I gain any credit that
does not belong to me by letting it pass for my own? If I do, it is
stealing, neither more nor less, for there is no real distinction
between picking a man’s pocket of his money and filching the fruits of
his industry or thought from a book.

“In literature proper, originality consists of such an energy of nature
as enables a man so to infuse thoughts or sentiments common to all with
his own individuality as to give them a new character--flavor would be
the better word--commending them anew to the general palate. Chaucer is
a capital instance in point. He formed himself wholly on foreign models,
helped himself to plots, incidents, and reflections from any and
everywhere, and yet is on the whole fresher than almost any of our
poets. I always liked him the better for remembering in his ‘House of
Fame’ the pipes of those

              ‘little heardgromes
    That kepen bestes in the bromes,’

for he was, I doubt not, paying the debt he owed to some nameless

“In matters of research and scholarship, the question seems to present
itself under a somewhat different aspect. All _learning_ is of necessity
to a great extent second-hand--but here also there is a manifest
distinction between _appropriating_ another man’s scholarship and
_assimilating_ it. In the one case it lies a mere load of indigestible
rubbish upon the brain; in the other, it is dissolved and worked over
into a new substance, giving sustenance and impulse to one’s native
thought. So that after all, whether in literature or scholarship, the
point is not so much what a man has taken, as whether he has made
something new of what he has taken.[38] If he have _not_, then he should
make punctilious acknowledgment of the sources whence he drew. It is one
thing to be indebted to a man for a hint that sets us on a path of
original research and discovery, and quite another to rob him of his
journals and publish them as one’s own. So as to giving credit where it
is due; I would not thank a guide-post, but I must pay a guide. I may
read by a man’s lamp, but if I tap his gas pipe, I ought to attach a
gasometer that shall record precisely how much I borrow.

“The leading case in this branch of literary ethics is the famous one of
Schelling _et als._ against Coleridge. For the defence we should take
into account the defendant’s lifelong habits of mental dissipation, his
own really great learning which might make him careless alike in
borrowing and lending, and above all the effect of opium in blurring the
memory and deadening the nerves of moral sensation. On the other hand,
it would be urged that he _lifted_ (to borrow a word, peculiarly apt
here, from the loose dialect of the border) from foreigners whose
property would be least liable to identification by his countrymen; he
did it by translation and transfusion, thus, as it were, obliterating
the marks of former ownership; and above all (in the case of A. W.
Schlegel) he did it in oral lectures, thus driving his stolen cattle so
hurriedly by in a way to baffle detection.

“You will find in Mrs. Nelson Coleridge’s Introduction to the
‘Biographia Literaria’ an eloquent and even passionate vindication of
her father from the charge of plagiarism. It does her honor as a
daughter, but is hardly convincing. Coleridge’s acknowledgment of
general indebtedness to Schelling and others was, to speak mildly,
wholly inadequate, and his evasions in regard to Schlegel leave a very
painful impression on the mind. If he was not lying, he was so
shamefully inaccurate in dates (to his own advantage) as to have all the
appearance of it.

“Now, your case (I mean the one you present) is in many respects very
like this--almost identical with it indeed....

“In the old trials, one of the questions on which the jury were called
on to pass was, ‘Did he fly for it?’ That is, I suppose, ‘Did he give
that proof of conscious guilt?’ I should ask the same question in this
case. Is there any evidence of an attempt at concealment?

“But, abstractedly from any opinion we may form of the _person_, the
action was one altogether discreditable and contemptible. We cannot be
too scrupulous on any point of morals in a country where members of
Congress see no dishonor in selling appointments to the Army and Navy.”

Dr. Thomas Hill, who was president of Harvard in 1868, asked Lowell in
the summer of that year to look over some papers he had received from
Virginia and to give his opinion of them. They were the letters and
journals of a Virginian gentleman, Mr. John B. Minor, who had visited
New England in 1834, and Lowell found them exceedingly interesting. “Not
the least engaging thing in the journal,” he wrote to the lady who had
sent the papers, “is the character of the author, everywhere showing
itself and everywhere amiable. So far as he is concerned, the whole
journal might be printed _verbatim_, for there is not an indiscreet
word, much less a breach of hospitality, from beginning to end. At the
same time there are, of course, passages here and there which should be
omitted in printing--I think not more than two or three at most--where
he describes the personal appearance of those he met.”

The next day he wrote to Mr. Fields: “There has been put into my hands
to dispose of, the Journal of a Virginia gentleman during a short tour
in New England, partly on foot. The date--1834, which is now ages ago.
There is not a great deal of it, but I found it truly entertaining. I
think I could make selections from it that would run through four or
five numbers of the _Atlantic_.... Now, do you want it? and if so, what
do you think it would be worth? When I say it is entertaining, I do not
mean for fanatics like me, who would cradle I know not how many tons of
common earth for a grain of the gold of human nature, but for folks in
general. It is not only interesting but valuable, and the character of
the author, as it blinks out continually, most engaging. It seems to me
remarkable that there is positively not an ill-natured word from the
first page to the last. Now you know that I have once or twice pressed
Sibylline books upon you which you wouldn’t take. Don’t let this one
slip through your fingers. I think it might be published afterwards in a
small volume with advantage, but of its adaptation to the _Atlantic_ I
have no doubt.”

The journal was printed in the _Atlantic_ in the summer and fall of
1870, Lowell furnishing an introduction to the first number. It was no
doubt under the influence of this new acquaintance with a fine type of
Southern manhood, that Lowell wrote to Mr. Godkin, 20 November, 1868: “I
confess to a strong sympathy with men who sacrificed everything even to
a bad cause, which they could see only the good side of; and now the war
is over, I see no way to heal the old wounds but by frankly admitting
this and acting upon it. We can never reconstruct the South except
through its own leading men, nor ever hope to have them on our side till
we make it for their interest and compatible with their honor to be

Mr. and Mrs. Fields were proposing to make a journey to Europe in the
spring and summer of 1869, and asked Lowell to send his daughter in
their company. Lowell wrote in reply, 19 January, 1869: “I have been
thinking over your very kind invitation to Mabel, and, after turning it
in every possible way, I have come to the conclusion that the only way
to treat a generous offer is to be generous enough to accept it. My
pride stood a little in the way, but my common sense whispered me that I
had no right to feed my pride at my daughter’s expense. And moreover, my
dear Fields, you left me a most delicate loophole for my pride to creep
out of, in conferring on me a kind of militia generalship of the
_Atlantic Monthly_ while you were away. Now, if you will let me make it
something real, that is, if you will let me read the proof-sheets, I can
be of some service in preventing ---- (for example, merely) from writing
such awful English, and mayhap in some other cases, as a consulting
physician. Moreover, I should like to translate for _Every Saturday_
something now and then, as, for instance, the article on Déak and the
dramatic sketch of Octave Feuillet, lately published in the _Revue de
Deux Mondes_. May I?”

While his daughter was travelling with Mr. and Mrs. Fields, Lowell wrote
to Mr. Fields a piece of news anticipative of what came to an event a
little less than ten years later: “Mabel’s letters overrun with
happiness, which I fully share in reading them. I wrote her a long
letter about nothing yesterday--but I did not tell her what you may (_as
a secret for you three_), that I came very near being sent to Spain, and
that in case the Senate should not confirm Sickles in December, the
chances for me are the best. Judge Hoar told me when he was here the
other day, that Mr. Fish was friendly, and that the Assistant Secretary
was ‘zealous even unto slaying,’ as he was himself. So who knows but my
name may get into capitals in the triennial catalogues yet? That, after
all, is the main thing--for is it not a kind of fame as good as the
next? For my own part, I can conceive of no place better to live or die
in than where I was born.

“I hope Mabel makes a jolly companion. She always does for _me_.[40] If
she is as happy as her letters show her, I think she must. Tell her I
should have told her about Spain--but I forgot it. I shall have my
choice of castles to live in, if I go there, of my own building.”

“For awhile last spring,” he wrote in December to Mr. Norton, “I
thought it possible I might be sent abroad. Hoar was strenuous for it,
and I should have been very glad of it then.... However, it all fell
through, and I am glad it did, for I should not have written my new
poem.”[41] The new poem was “The Cathedral” which was issued in book
form at Christmas, 1869, as well as in the _Atlantic_ for January, 1870.
He wrote it during the summer vacation and took great pleasure in the
writing. He had told Mr. Howells what he was about, and on being asked
for the poem for the _Atlantic_ replied: “Up to time, indeed! the fear
is not about time, but space. You won’t have room in your menagerie for
such a displeaseyousaurus. The verses, if stretched end to end in a
continuous line, would go clear round the Cathedral they celebrate, and
nobody (I fear) the wiser. I can’t tell yet what they are. There seems a
bit of clean carving here and there, a solid buttress or two, and
perhaps a gleam through painted glass--but I have not copied it out yet,
nor indeed read it over consecutively.”[42] A little later he could
write to Miss Norton: “The poem turned out to be something immense, as
the slang is nowadays, that is, it ran on to eight hundred lines of
blank verse. I hope it is good, for it fairly trussed me at last and
bore me up as high as my poor lungs will bear into the heaven of
invention. I was happy writing it, and so steeped in it that if I had
written to you it would have been in blank verse. It is a kind of
religious poem, and is called ‘A Day at Chartres.’”[43] He dedicated
the poem with special pleasure to Mr. Fields, who by the bye had
persuaded him to substitute the name used for that he had chosen, a
change which Lowell regretted in writing to Mr. Stephen, as depriving
the poem of certain definite, local, and historical justification. “The
Cathedral” drew from Mr. Ruskin warm praise. “The main substance of the
poem is most precious to me,” he wrote, “and its separate lines
sometimes unbetterable,” and he added some specific criticism on words,
which Lowell met with more of his favorite instances of long-lived words
brought over in the mental baggage of the early New England settlers.
The letter in which he conclusively justifies himself is an excellent
example of the reasoning of a philologist to whom words are alive, and
not specimens in a museum.[44]

A correspondent had enquired in behalf of a friend, as had Ruskin, for
his authority in using “decuman” in the line

    “Spume-sliding down the baffled decuman,”

and he replied: “My friendly catechist has certainly put in a fair claim
to a speedy answer. Whence that word ‘decuman’ got into my memory I have
no notion. It seems to have got embedded there during my eocene period,
and hopped out lively as one of those toads we have all heard of the
moment it got a chance. And the likeness was the nearer that it had ‘a
precious jewel in its head.’ In short, the word was there--it was
canorous, and it expressed just what I meant. So I used it
unsuspiciously. I did not mean to make a conundrum--I never do, but I
had made one. When I was asked for the solution, the answer was ready
enough--‘the tenth wave,’ which was thought higher than the rest. But
when I was asked for my authority! I thought I had met with it in Ovid.
No! In Lucan. No! They both speak of the tenth wave, but not in that
absolute way. I looked in my dictionaries. I found it at last in
Forcellini. Then I went to my Ducange, and the authority cited was one
of the Latin Fathers, I forget which. However, there it was, and with
the meaning I had remembered.”

Although the title, “A Day at Chartres,” carries with it a notion of
less formality, and has a picturesque quality, there is a fitness in the
soberer title that permits the mind to play with the theme. For Lowell
here builds upon the foundation of human life a fane for worship, and in
the speculations which discriminate between the conventional and the
free aspirations of the soul, constructs out of living stones a house of
prayer. Nor is there absent that capricious mood which carved grotesques
upon the under side of the benches at which the worshippers kneeled, so
that when the reader, borne along by the high thought, stumbles over
such lines as

    “Who, meeting Cæsar’s self, would slap his back,
    Call him ‘Old Horse’ and challenge to a drink,”

he may, if he will, console himself with the reflection that the most
aspiring Gothic carries like grimacing touches within its majestic

    “Imagination’s very self in stone.”

That is the epithet Lowell bestows on Chartres Cathedral, and in the few
spirited lines in which he contrasts the Greek with the Goth, and hints
at the historic evolution of the latter, he is in a large way reflecting
the native constitution of his own mind,

    “Still climbing, luring fancy still to climb.”

In the letters which Lowell wrote when “The Cathedral” was stirring his
mind one sees most impressively the struggle which was always more or
less racking him of an unfulfilled poetic power. The very spontaneity of
his nature was in a way an obstacle to expression. He waited for the
waters to be troubled, he was critical of his moods, of his
opportunities, and when the moment was seized, if he could indeed hold
it, he was supremely happy. “How happy I was while I was writing it,” he
says just as the poem is to be published; “for weeks it and I were alone
in the world till Fanny well-nigh grew jealous.” And yet in the very
memory of this bliss he is haunted by the thought of that black care
which rides behind. “You don’t know, my dear Charles, what it is to have
sordid cares, to be shivering on the steep edge of your bank-book,
beyond which lies debt. I am willing to say it to you, because I know I
should have written more and better. They say it is good to be obliged
to do what we don’t like, but I am sure it is not good for me--it wastes
so much time in the mere forethought of what you are to do.” The matter
was not made easier by the pride and honorable resolve not to mortgage
the future for the sake of some present indulgence. Lowell went without
things he wanted rather than get into debt for them, and though he
chafed under the conditions which compelled him to the doing of irksome
tasks, he would borrow no short-lived ease. In making up an account with
Mr. Fields at the close of 1869, when he found himself on the wrong side
of the ledger, he wrote: “You must allow me also to clear off the rest
... as soon as I can. There is no earthly reason why I shouldn’t, and a
great many why I should. I hate any kind of money obligations between
friends. When I have paid this off, the kindness will be left, and the
obligation gone. I shall be able to manage it before long. I never could
see any reason why poets should claim immunity beyond other folks. It is
not wholesome for them.” Even in petty matters he disliked exceedingly
to be under pecuniary obligation. His letters to Mr. Godkin, as printed
by Mr. Norton, show an unconquerable aversion to being a “deadhead”
under any circumstances, and I remember once, when I went with him to
the Museum of Fine Arts for some special exhibition, his annoyance at
finding it was a free day and he could not pay the ordinary toll.

His prose work, in 1869, included his papers on Chaucer and Pope, and
his “Good Word for Winter,” and at the end of the year he issued a
selection from what he had already written, in the first series of
“Among My Books.” But his slowly growing collection of published
writings did not add materially to his income, and he continued to be
embarrassed by the poverty of a landholder who had heavy taxes to pay
and only the meagrest return from the productive part of his estate. The
only relief he could foresee was in the possible sale of some of his

The point to be noted, however, is that with all this pressure of need,
Lowell knew himself so well that he would not, even when a golden bait
was dangled before him, accept invitations to write which required of
him the diligence and the punctuality of the hack workman. No. He would
attend to his college duties, do what he could for the _North American_,
and accept the occasional opportunity which offered for reading a
lecture. He honored his art, and he refused to make it a perfunctory
task. His old friend Robert Carter was now editor of _Appleton’s
Journal_, and very naturally sought contributions from Lowell, but
Lowell replied in a letter written 11 March, 1870:

“Many thanks for your _Journal_, which I have looked through with a
great deal of pleasure, and which I should think likely to do good in
raising the public taste.

“I am much obliged to you also for your proposal, though I cannot accept
it. I have not time. I have not that happy gift of inspired knowledge so
common in this country, and work more and more slowly toward
conclusions as I get older. I give on an average twelve hours a day to
study (after my own fashion), but I find real knowledge slow of
accumulation. Moreover, I shall be too busy in the college for a year or
two yet. It is not the career I should have chosen, and I half think I
was made for better things--but I must make the best of it. Between
ourselves, I declined lately an offer of $4000 a year from ---- to write
four pages monthly in----.

“It takes me a good while to be sure I am right. A five or six page
notice in the next N. A. R.[45] will have cost me a fortnight’s work of
a microscopic kind. My pay must be in a sense of honest thoroughness.”

Lowell lectured in the spring of 1870 at Baltimore, and before the
students of Cornell University. In the summer he enjoyed much making the
personal acquaintance of Thomas Hughes, who visited America at this
time. Lowell had known him by correspondence, and Hughes, who was an
ardent admirer of Lowell and had introduced the “Biglow Papers” to the
English public, somewhat embarrassed the author of those poems by
quoting from them on all occasions. For his work he gave himself to the
reading of old French metrical romances, but the year saw scarcely any
product, though at its close he brought together a group of indoor and
outdoor studies under the title of “My Study Windows.” “I long to give
myself to poetry again,” he writes in October to Miss Norton, “before I
am so old that I have only thought and no music left. I can’t say as
Milton did, ‘I am growing my wings.’” There is a phrase noting a curious
consciousness he had at this time in a letter to Mr. Norton, written 15
October, 1870: “I wrote Jane yesterday a kind of letter, but you must
wait till my ships come in before I can write the real thing. I can’t
get rid of myself enough when I am worried as I am a good part of the
time. It is curious, when I am in company I watch myself as if I were a
third person, and _hear the sound of my own voice_, which I never do in
a natural mood. However, I shall come out of it all in good time.”

His old correspondent, Mr. Richard Grant White, published this year his
“Words and their Uses,” and wrote to Lowell, asking permission to
dedicate the book to him. Lowell replied:--

                 ELMWOOD, 2 August, 1870.

     MY DEAR SIR,--In the midst of my sallow grass and my leaves
     crumpled with drought, a little spring seemed to bubble up at my
     feet in your letter. How could I feel other than pleased and
     honored with your proposal? I wish only I deserved it better--but
     anyhow I can’t find it in my heart to wave aside my crown out of
     modesty, lest Anthony might not offer it again. So I put it on my
     head with many thanks, consoled with the reflection that a wreath
     unmerited always avenges itself by looking confoundedly like a
     foolscap in the eyes of every one but the wearer. So I bow my head
     meekly to your laurels, and thank you very heartily for an honor as
     agreeable as it is unexpected. I shall have the satisfaction of
     knowing that the deserved popularity of your book will carry my
     name into many a pleasant home where it is now unfamiliar, and if
     my publisher’s accounts show a better figure hereafter, I shall say
     it is your doing.

     With a very sincere acknowledgment of the obligation you lay upon
     me to do some credit to your second leaf,

                 I remain, my dear Sir,
Very cordially yours,


After some delays attendant on such business, Lowell was able in the
summer of 1871 to make a sale of a portion of the original estate of
Elmwood which left him the house and a couple of acres for his home, and
an income of four or five thousand dollars a year. It was a modest
living, but it cleared his mind of fretting cares. As he wrote to Mr.
Stephen: “It is a life-preserver that will keep my head above water, and
the swimming I will do for myself.” Of the effect upon his mind he wrote
more freely to his friend Mr. Norton: “I cannot tell you how this sense
of my regained paradise of Independence enlivens me. It is something I
have not felt for years--hardly since I have been a professor. The
constant sense of a ball and chain jangling at my heels, and that those
who are inexpressibly dear to me were at the risk of my giving
satisfaction in an office where what is best in me was too often held in
abeyance by an uneasy self-consciousness forced upon me by my position,
have been greater hindrances than anybody else can ever know. But now I
can draw a full breath of natural air and discarbonate my lungs of the
heavy atmosphere of an unnatural confinement. I look forward to my next
year’s work with cheerfulness. I am no longer chained to the oar, but a
volunteer. Whether I shall recover the wholesome mental unrest which
kept me active when I was younger, I know not, but at least I shan’t
have to print before I am ready, nor to keep on with the spendthrift
habit of splitting up the furniture of my brain to keep the pot
boiling.... I mean to come abroad at the end of the next college year,
and shall pop in on you some day, bringing a familiar odor, half
Cambridge, half pipe. I shall read you my new poem--when it gets
written--and bore you with old French in which I am still plunged to the
ears. I am become a pretty thorough master of it, and wish I knew the
modern lingo half as well.”

“It takes a good while,” he writes to Miss Norton, “to slough off the
effect of seventeen years of pedagogy. I am grown learned (after a
fashion) and dull. The lead has entered into my soul. But I have great
faith in putting the sea between me and the stocks I have been sitting
in so long.” He worked steadily at his college duties, with some
thought, I suspect, of finishing with his professorial work, the
laboriously learned part of his life. The minute, painstaking care to
which he gave to the studies which underlay his college work, so evident
in the annotation of his books, was after all a severe drain upon a
nature that took the greatest delight in imaginative freedom. He seems
hardly to have allowed himself any relief. “I have been reading over
your book[46] again,” he writes to Mr. Fields, 29 February, 1872, “and
found it very interesting and queer. Queer, I say, because it is the
first volume I have read for some months later than the XIV. century,
and I was a little puzzled at first, like Selkirk when he got back among
his own people and heard his own language again. I am glad you have left
out the imaginary nephew. One was apt to stumble over him and apologize
with a ‘Beg pardon, but really had forgotten you were here.’ These
buffers between the reader and the first personal pronoun never lessen
the shock, though they are always in the way. But nobody wants them, for
egotism does not consist in never so many capital _I’s_. Moreover, I am
persuaded that everybody likes it in his secret heart (as he does
garlic), and says he doesn’t for appearances.

“Your Dickens letters are a great deal more interesting than Forster’s
for some reason or other. I fancy it is because they are more natural.
In writing to Forster, Dickens must have felt that he was writing to his
biographer, and had the constraint of sitting before a glass. Indeed, I
was very much disappointed in Forster’s volume.[47] It doesn’t leave an
agreeable impression, which is surely a fault in biography.

“What a dear old affectionate soul Miss Mitford was! I knew nothing
about her before. Even her little vanities are rather pleasant than
otherwise. It is surely a delightful gift to be made happy as easily as

“We are all busy getting ready for Mabel’s departure. I hate to think of
it, though I believe she is as safe as human forethought could make her.
Burnett is all I could wish.”

Miss Lowell was married 2 April, 1872, to Mr. Edward Burnett, and went
with him to Southboro, Massachusetts, where he was carrying on a dairy
and stock farm. Miss Rebecca Lowell died in May, so that the household
at Elmwood was in a measure dissolved. Lowell was busy up to the last
over the long article on Dante which he contributed to the July _North
American_. He was released from his college work, having resigned his
professorship; he let Elmwood to Mr. Aldrich and sailed 9 July for
Europe with Mrs. Lowell, to be absent two years.




When Lowell went to Europe in the summer of 1872, he left his college
routine behind him; with his new-found liberty, he seemed to find all
the expression he cared for in familiar talk with the many friends, old
and new, whom he encountered in his travels, and in letters to friends
at home and abroad. Once only, as will be seen, did he break into
poetry, but the two years of his absence contain so little to add to the
record of his production that it seems the natural course, as it is most
pleasant to the biographer, to let this holiday in Lowell’s life be told
for the most part in his letters. The letters printed by Mr. Norton[48]
are not drawn upon, except now and then for a needful phrase.

       _To Thomas Hughes._

20 July, 1872.

     MY DEAR HUGHES,--Finding I could land in Queenstown, I did so with
     most infinite discomfort, and here I am in Ireland, having on my
     way hither done Blarney Castle which is well-nigh as good as
     Kenilworth. Here, to my surprise, I find a gigantic new R. C.
     Cathedral, See of the Bishop of Kerry. However, I am not writing a
     guide-book. I wish to ask if you are in London, and how long you
     will remain. I am of two minds,--one to go straight to the
     Continent, the other to stay a week or two in London in lodgings
     and see things quietly in that blessed season when everybody is out
     of town. You I “lot” upon seeing. Will you write me at the
     Grosvenor Hotel, Chester (where I shall turn up by and by), and let
     me know? I am not even sure if Parliament have adjourned. Think of
     it! Just like our Yankee impudence, isn’t it? But the truth is, the
     last paper I saw was dated 9th July, and I hate to make
     acquaintance again with the World and its goings-on.

     I must run to my breakfast, or rather to Madame, of whom I have
     visions wandering disconsolate in search of me who am ensconced in
     the smoking-room, where I happened to see an inkstand last night.

                 In the hope of seeing you soon,
Affectionately yours always,

         _To the Same_.

                 CHESTER, 28 July, 1872.

     Your letter and I arrived here together last night. We shall stay
     here three or four days to recruit from the Irish accent,--which
     somehow wearied me wonderfully.

     If lodgings may be had by the week, to renew or no at will, you
     would greatly oblige me by taking plain and inexpensive ones for
     us, where I can let my cup fill again from a tap that rather
     dribbles than runs. Travelling, I find, drains. A pleasant landlady
     I should prefer to splendor. I get more than enough of that in the

     If you should find lodgings, I will engage them, beginning with
     Friday next. If I once get a perch to which I can return at need, I
     can take short flights wherever I will, without such heaps of
     luggage. Will you telegraph or write me here? If no lodgings, tell
     me of some quiet hotel,--not on the American caravanserai system,
     whither we can go.

         _To Miss Grace Norton._

                 11 DOVER STREET, PICCADILLY,
Aug. 4, 1872.

...Dublin interested me much.... From Dublin to Chester, where we
     stayed five days, and where Charles Kingsley (who is a canon there)
     was very kind. We had the advantage of going over the Cathedral
     with him, and over the town with the chief local antiquary. We fell
     quite in love with it and with the delightful walk round the walls.
     We arrived in London night before last.

                 Affectionately yours,

         _To C. E. Norton._

                 11 DOVER STREET, PICCADILLY,
13 August, 1872.

     Give my love to Grace and relieve the anxiety of her mind by
     telling her I have found J. H. at the Tavistock Hotel, Covent
     Garden, where he is Mr. ’Omes. I have tried in vain to get him up
     hither. He goes to Dresden on Thursday to meet some friends whom he
     learned to know at the Fosters’ and whom he likes. Then he is
     coming round slowly to Paris, where we are to meet and decide on
     plans. Meanwhile I have resolved to stay here till you come, if you
     come soon enough.[49] If not, I shall cross over to you. I go down
     to Yorkshire (I mean Cumberland) on Friday or Saturday to see the
     Storys. I can show Fanny York, Durham, and Fountain’s Abbey on the
     way,--and Ripon, though I did not think it much twenty years ago.
     We shall spend a few days with the Storys at “Crosby Lodge on Eden”
     (which has a pleasant name, as if it stood in a garden of
     cucumbers), and then work downward through the Lake Country and so
     back to London. We have very central lodgings here, with what I
     value above all, a pleasant landlady. Our rooms are very small, but
     they can be smoked in, being bachelor apartments construed into the
     dual. As it is not the season, we shall probably have no trouble in
     getting them again when we come back. Now if you are coming over
     early in September, you see it would be better for us to stay till
     you come.

     We have been having a very pleasant time thus far, though I have
     not yet quite got over the feeling of the ball and chain. It will
     take a good while. I do not know whether I told you I had resigned
     my professorship? I did so the night before we sailed that there
     might be no discussion. I found that at any rate my salary ceased
     during my absence, and so I thought it a good chance. I do not
     altogether like this matter of the salary. It prevents any
     professor who has not some private fortune of his own from having
     any vacation at all.[50] But I am glad it happened so, for it just
     turned the scale with me in favor of the wiser decision,--as I
     think it is. I cannot yet get over the dulness it ground into me. I
     begin to think I am too old ever to shake it wholly off....

     We have been seeing all sorts of things (persons are out of town)
     since we have been here. The Hogarths delight me again, and I have
     twice seen the Rake’s Progress, which I did not get at when I was
     here before. Hogarth’s color is as fine as his invention and
     dramatic powers. He astonishes me always by his soft brilliancy and
     harmony. I have _lots_ of things to talk over when we meet.

         _To the Same._

                 11 DOVER STREET, PICCADILLY,
15 September, 1872.

     Here we are back again in our old lodgings, with the nicest of
     possible landladies, Mrs. Bennett. We spent ten days with the
     Storys at Crosby Lodge, and while there went to Naworth and Corbie
     Castles and Lanercost Abbey. Naworth interested me specially as
     being an old border keep tamed to modern civilities, and I liked
     the Howards, father and son, more even than their dwelling. On our
     way north we saw Peterboro, Lincoln, York, Fountain’s Abbey, Ripon,
     Durham, and Carlisle. My old impression was confirmed, and Durham
     lords it over all of them in my memory. Again, also, as twenty
     years ago, the Cumberland people seemed more American in look and
     manner than other English folk. Our visit with the Storys was very
     pleasant--for a friendship of forty years’ standing is no common
     thing--and William is absolutely unchanged. I found that I had
     grown away from him somewhat, but not in a way to lessen our
     cordiality, and as always in such cases, I held my tongue on
     controversial points.

     From Cumberland we went right through to Grasmere, lodging at the
     old Swan Inn (the only one left), which pleased me more than it did
     Fanny. We drove to Dungeon Ghyll Force and Keswick, and then to
     Lichfield. Here I had a most amusing evening in the smoking-room,
     listening to the talk of the city magnates, full of _Philisterei_,
     if you will, but with a full Shakespearian flavor and a basis of
     English good sense that pleased me. From Lichfield through
     Worcester to Hereford and thence to Gloucester, whose cathedral I
     liked best on the whole, its centre tower being less squat than the
     others. But the northern minsters beat ’em.

     Thence to Tintern, where we spent four days, doing Ragland
     meanwhile. From Tintern to Chepstow we took boat down the Wye, and
     very delightful it was. Thence to Bristol, where we slept, saw St.
     Mary Radcliffe and the cathedral, and then through to London. The
     sight of masts at Bristol was a cordial to me, and I thought them
     the finest trees I had seen in England.

     I have not been over well since I have been in England. “Flying
     gout” I am fain to call it, and I am now drinking _Vichy_ in the
     hope to make it fly altogether. But it is partly _dumps_, I fancy,
     for travelling bores me horribly. I am wretched at not finding a
     letter from Mabel here, and J. H. and Rowse have vanished, leaving
     no sign. I shall be all ready to come over so soon as I hear from
     you. You will find me dull, but honestly willing to brighten. A few
     days with you will do me infinite good. It is abroad that one truly
     misses friends. At home one is always expecting them back, and they
     do half come back in a thousand things that daily recall them. But

         _To the Same._

                 11 DOVER STREET, PICCADILLY,
20 September, 1872.

... I will take the room at your hotel to begin on Monday, and
     shall without doubt be in Paris on Monday night at 8.15, according
     to the railway guide. I can only hope that trains are more punctual
     in France than here, where I have literally not found _one_ up to
     time since I landed in Ireland, and often more than an hour behind

     My gout seems to have left off threatening, though it bullied me
     well for some weeks, but I have been out of sorts ever since I got
     here, _why_ I can’t divine. We have had letters from Mabel, in good
     health and happy, which have done me great good....

         _To the Same._

                 HOTEL DE LORRAINE, RUE DE BEAUNE, NO. 7,
16 October, 1872.

... We like our new quarters very much.[51] Moreover, our living
     (_vin et bois y compris_) costs us about fifty francs a week less
     than at the Hotel Windsor, and we get a better dinner here for
     three francs than there for six. Moreover, everything here is
     French. Even the quarter of the town where we are has an
     indefinable Gallic flavor like the soupçon of garlic in their
     cookery. There are three or four regular habitués of the table
     (_dont trois decorés_) who seem to be scientific men; at any rate,
     one is a surgeon, and another who has lots of _esprit_ an _avocat_,
     I suspect. On parle toujours et quelquefois tous ensemble, aussi
     qu’a force d’écouter consciencieusement je m’habitue sans le savoir
     à la langue. Un beau matin je me trouve parlant à merveille
     débitant les mots avec toute l’insouciance d’un aqueduc qui n’a pas
     aucune responsabilité des eaux qu’il verse. Si je veille pendant la
     nuit, je m’occupe à composer des petits discours qui auraient mis
     le peu Massillon hors de lui d’envie.

     Je ne suis pas encore allé chez M. Littré, mais je te remercie
     beaucoup pour la lettre et la presenterai en très peu de jours.
     J’ai acheté une de les plumes d’or que tu m’as louées mais soit la
     pauvreté du papier (à très bon marché) ou bien des idées, elle
     refuse de marcher dans une langue aussi facile que doit lui etre la

     Since your departure, my dear boy, I have bucaneered (’tis a free
     translation of bouquiné, corresponding to my exploits in turning my
     native tongue into French--for I like to be consistent) among the
     stalls, but Fortune packed her trunk (the baggage!) at the same
     time with you, and I have not prospered much. One attribute of
     deity I have not arrogated presumptuously but enjoy by a privilege
     of nature, to wit (_à savoir_), that of confounding the counsels
     of the wicked, for I puzzle the dealers awfully now and then with
     my _discours_. I suppose it must be that I inadvertently mix in too
     much of l’ancien Français. ’Tis as if one should talk pure Chaucer
     to Burnham.[52] However, I bought the seventeen volume Byron for
     $40, and have sent it to my grandson’s (I mean Petit fils--you see
     how I am getting translated) to be bound. If it were not for this
     confounded pen (saving your reverence) I would write you a cheerful
     letter--but what can one do when it takes so long to write the
     first half of a sentence that one forgets the last? I assure you I
     had several clever things to say, but they are stuck in my pen--a
     very unfortunate position of things, because you will see they have
     gone out of my head....

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 1 November, 1872.

... Now for _bouquiniste_ news. I think I did not tell you that I
     had picked up a splendid quarto (with fine port) of Montaigne’s
     Travels. It is a beauty. Also _Nouveaux Memoires pour servir à
     l’histoire du Cartesianisme_, a tiny tome in vellum with Ste.
     Beuve’s autograph and pencil marks. Best of all, I got at an
     auction _Le Chevalier au Cigne_, which I have long vainly sought,
     four volumes quarto _demi mar._ for $33.50. I should not have
     thought it dear at a hundred. I am going out presently after a copy
     of the _Poètes Champenois_, which I have found at Aubry’s, for
     $180. Pillet asked $350 for an incomplete set. After this last
     extravagance I shall retire from business for a while, for I am
     getting beyond my depth. Aubry has a copy of _Renard_ bound for
     $40. Shall I buy it for you? It includes Chabaillé’s supplementary
     fifth volume....

     We are having a nice time, though I felt like Dante when he turned
     round and missed Virgil, when I found that Rowse had flown.
     However, three days after John [Holmes] arrived in excellent health
     and spirits--likes our hotel, and will stay _ad libitum_. His knee
     is not quite right, but otherwise he is robustious. He confided to
     me yesterday that the first time we walked out, he wished me to
     guide him to where he could get some oysters! He thought they would
     quite set him up. He is very droll with his German, and delightful
     to the last degree. In French he is as inarticulate as one of his
     favorite shell-fish. We have a little woman who comes to talk with
     us an hour a day, and so soon as I get _fluid_ I am going to
     Littré. I already enter into conversation at table with gusto.

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 14 November, 1872.

... I am very glad you sent the Emersons to me. I have engaged him
     a lovely little apartment _au premier_ at 8 frs. the day. I think I
     shall take it myself when they go, for I am more and more minded to
     stay the winter through. We are all well and send lots of love to
     all of you. Fanny is at work on French exercises all day, and as
     for me, when I get my French suit of clothes I shall be a thorough
     Gaul. I am ready for a revolution (or at any rate an _e mute_)
     to-morrow. It is pretty chilly here now, and I almost wish the
     Commune had put off their bonfires till the middle of November,
     when they would have done some good. I am writing on a marble
     table, and my fingers are numb as gutta percha.

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 6 December, 1872.

     There has been an untoward gap in my correspondence, because I have
     fallen back a little into home habits, and have been pegging away
     at Old French again.... But the days are so short! and it has been
     such gloomy weather. Fifty-seven days of rain, think of it, and the
     only excitement the _crue_ of the Seine. Yes, we are beginning to
     have another, for we are threatened with a revolution. The Right
     are resolved to push things to extremes, and would rather have a
     military triumvirate than Thiers with a ministry of his own
     choosing. The French look upon Paris as the metropolis of the
     world, but I am more and more struck with a certain provincialism
     of mind shown in the importance they attach to their own
     personality. Every one of them has the flavor of a village great
     man. It is not individuality I mean, but value of self. No man can
     bring himself to get out of the way, even though it is the country
     he is blocking. I pick up a good deal at my _table d’hôte_ and am
     more and more pleased with it.

     I have not yet been to call on Littré, but I shall before long. My
     French still refuses to go trippingly from my tongue. However, I
     manage now to converse at table, and plunge into general discussion
     bravely. In the intervals of the rain (for it does not always rain
     all day long, though it rains every day) I take long walks in every
     direction, and am grown pretty intimate with Paris. I still like it
     and the people. By the way, Clarice (the maid who waits at
     breakfast) said to me this morning: “Les aristocrats ne veulent pas
     que la basse classe soit instruite. Ils croient que le peuple sait
     trop déja. Avec la République nous aurions l’instruction
     obligatoire. Ah, ce serait une chose très bonne pour nous.” I am
     inclined to believe that the people know more than my friend, the
     Marquis de Grammont, thinks!

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 11 January, 1873.

... My life runs on in the same canal. A walk before breakfast
     round the parallelogram formed by the Pont de Solferino at one end
     and the Pont des Arts at the other, then a walk after breakfast
     with John up to the Pont Neuf and across to the courtyard of the
     Tuileries where we sit and collogue over our cigars, feeding the
     sparrows between whiles; then home, and John to Schiller’s Thirty
     Years’ War and I to my Old French. In the dusk I generally take a
     longer walk by myself, or else the same one with John. I have got a
     whole closet full of books, and have reached the end of my tether,
     having just received an account from the Barings showing that I
     have overdrawn £104. However, the books are a kind of investment.
     But I begin to foresee that I shall not stay abroad so long as I
     expected. I thought I was all right now, but as usual my income is
     never so large as my auguries. Fortunately, I like Cambridge better
     than any other spot of the earth’s surface, and if I can only
     manage to live there shall be at ease yet....

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 18 March, 1873.

... I shall probably be in England before you go, for Hughes writes
     me (this is between ourselves) that there is a chance of their
     giving me a D. C. L. at Oxford, which I should like. I am not, I
     think, overfond of decorations, but I should like this one, for I
     cannot get over a superstitious respect for what goes into the
     college triennial catalogue.

         _To Thomas Hughes._

                 PARIS, 19 March, 1873.

... What you say of the quiet lives that would come to the front in
     England in a time of stress, I believe to be true of us also. I
     cannot think such a character as Emerson’s--one of the simplest and
     noblest I have ever known--a freak of chance, and I hope that my
     feeling that the country is growing worse is nothing more than men
     of my age have always felt when they looked back to the _tempus
     actum_.... If I had dreamed you would have run over to Paris,
     wouldn’t I have told you where I was! But, in fact, I have lingered
     on here from week to week aimlessly, having come abroad to do
     nothing, and having thus far succeeded admirably.

         _To Leslie Stephen._

                 PARIS, 29 April, 1873.

... I think I have made up my mind to run over to London for a day
     or two, to bid the Nortons good-by, for I cannot bear to have the
     sea between us before I see them again. If I do, I shall arrive
     about the 7th of May, and I shall count on seeing you as much as
     possible.... I have read your “Are we Christians?” and liked it, of
     course, because I found _you_ in it, and that is something that
     will be dear to me so long as I keep my wits. I think I should say
     that you lump _shams_ and _conventions_ too solidly together in a
     common condemnation. All conventions are not shams by a good deal,
     and we should soon be Papuans without them. But I dare say I have
     misunderstood you.

         _To the Same._

                 PARIS, 3 May, 1873.

     I shall arrive Monday night, and have taken a chamber at the
     Queen’s Hotel, which is described to me as “somewhere behind the
     Burlington Arcade,” which is tolerably central. I shall not think
     of billeting myself on you, especially as you are not yet fairly
     settled. But I wish to see as much of you as may be. I must see
     your new nest as I did the old one, for that was a great
     satisfaction to me, and I recall it often in fancy. I must make the
     acquaintance of Miss Laura, too, in whom I feel an added interest
     now that I have got my step, and am a grandfather.[53] You would
     laugh at the number of perambulators (as they call baby-wagons
     nowadays) and ponies that I have bought for that wonderful boy, as
     I lie awake at night and hear the tramp of the _sergent de ville_
     under my windows. I have carried him through college so many times,
     that he must be a prodigy of learning by this time. I do not know
     whether I ought to betray it even to you, but he has more than once
     shown a tendency to be _fast_, though I have reclaimed him. I am
     quite sure he is steady now, and does not drink more than is good
     for him. That story of the police court was much exaggerated.

     I don’t wonder that you feel sad at the thought of losing the
     Nortons. They have been and are more to me than I can tell. But you
     will see them all again, when you come to make your visit to me,
     which I look upon as pledged. It is as easy to get to us as to
     Switzerland, and you shall sleep now and then in the ice-chest to
     make you comfortable. The roof of the barn is pretty slippery and
     the ground below hard enough to give you a smart Alpine shock. By
     the way, what you say about Switzerland in July delights me.
     Remember that my address is always to the care of the Barings, and
     let me know where you are to be and when. I have a sort of
     glimmering of Lausanne, where I could exist cheaply, for though on
     pleasure I am bent, I am forced to have a frugal mind. But I am
     more and more convinced that a man (especially a grandfather) is
     most comfortable when he has worn his ruts deepest, and I should
     fly over the deep to-morrow if I could. It is ignoble, but it is
     true. I always hated the sights _qu’il faut voir_, and now there is
     no hope of strangeness anywhere. Man is a most uninventive
     animal--you scratch through the nationality and there _he_ is
     underneath--the very bore you were running away from. However, I am
     rested and grown so stout that I have positively had to let out a
     reef in my trousers.

     I reckon on a very jolly time in London, because I shall always be
     in the tremor of going away--though I am almost sorry that I am
     going when I think of saying good-by to the Nortons. I am sorry you
     did not see more of Emerson; he is good to love, and if his head be
     sometimes in thin and difficult air, his heart never is. He must
     have left London, then? Gay told me he met you at the Nortons, and
     kept calling you Stevens, and I irascibly correcting him as I would
     a vicious proofsheet. I don’t know why, but I am always exasperated
     when anybody pluralizes you. Whether it is that I hold you to be
     unique, or that I was once cheated by a man named Stevens, I can’t
     tell. However, Gay is a good fellow and a good artist for all that.
     Why is it that people do so? They always call Child _Childs_ in the
     same fashion.

     My eyes gave out some time ago, so I will only say that I shall go
     straight to Cleveland Place Tuesday morning, and if you dropt in on
     your way down town, it would be the best possible world so long as
     it lasted.

         _To C. E. Norton._

(Passenger by “Olympus.”)

                 PARIS, 13 May, 1873.

     I am so wont to carry Home about with me and to say “here,” when I
     mean Cambridge, even in Paris, that I did not fairly realize to
     myself that you were all going away till I was meditating over my
     pipe on board the Channel steamer. I made up my mind that I would
     fling an old shoe after you in the shape of a good-by that should
     surprise you after you were fairly embarked. I need not say how
     happy my three days with you in London were, nor how sweet it was
     to renew the old, old friendship with you all. We don’t make new
     friends, at least not in the same sense, for it is the privilege of
     old friendship that it knows all our weaknesses and accounts for
     them beforehand, taking almost a kind of pleasure in them as we do
     in bad weather that we have prophesied.

     I wish I could have gone with you to Oxford, but Fanny was so happy
     at seeing me a day sooner than she expected that I was glad I
     didn’t. However, I made a memorandum never to leave her behind
     again in future.... They had taken good care of her while I was
     away, for somehow or other everybody in the house is fond of her.

     The best wish I can make for you is that every day of your passage
     may be as fine as this which is a mixture of all that is sweetest
     in spring time. May the dry masts of your steamer be covered with
     leaves and flowers like Joseph’s rod, and may the porpoises gamble
     about you for the children’s sake....

    No iceberg come anigh thee,
    No curdling east wind try thee,
    The wreaths of the wake
    Whirl in moons for thy sake,
    And the fogs furl off and fly thee!

     My heart is fuller than I dreamed of with this parting, but it is
     not foreboding I am sure. I shall find you all again after many
     days, and we shall have many happy hours together....

         _To T. B. Aldrich._

                 PARIS, 28 May, 1873.

... I shall stay out my two years, though personally I would rather
     be at home. In certain ways this side is more agreeable to my
     tastes than the other,--but even the buttercups stare at me as a
     stranger and the birds have a foreign accent....

     Before this reaches you I shall have been over to Oxford to get a
     D. C. L. So by the time you get it this will be the letter of a
     Doctor and entitled to the more respect. Perhaps, in order to get
     the full flavor, you had better read this passage first, if you
     happen to think of it. Do you not detect a certain flavor of
     parchment and Civil Law?...

         _To Thomas Hughes._

                 PARIS, 2 June, 1873.

... We shall leave Paris to-morrow or next day, stopping in Rheims
     to see the churches, at Louvain for the Town House, and so on to
     Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges.... If I don’t see you in Oxford, I
     shall stop long enough in London to get a glimpse of you. Our plan
     is to go to Switzerland and Germany, and so down to Italy for the
     winter. Then back to Paris, and so over to England on our way home
     next year. I hate travelling with my whole soul, though I like well
     enough to “be” in places....

         _To Mrs. Lewis A. Stimson._

                 BRUGES, 25 June, 1873.

... I have been over to Oxford to be doctored, and had a very
     pleasant time of it. You would respect me if you could have seen me
     in my scarlet gown.... We go from here in a day or two to
     Holland--then up the Rhine to Switzerland, where we join the
     Stephens and Miss Thackeray.

         _To C. E. Norton._

                 VENICE, 30 October, 1873.

... Since we left Bruges, we have been up the Rhine, and then
     across to Nürnberg, where we spent a fortnight in great
     contentment. Before this, however, we had made a pretty good giro
     in the Low Countries, going wherever there was a good cathedral or
     Town Hall.... When we reached Geneva we found ourselves so
     comfortable that we stayed two months and did some reading. I liked
     the town, and especially the walks in its neighborhood, very much.
     Then we went to Chamonix, and then over the Simplon to the Italian
     lakes, whence we came hither. Venice charms me more than ever. We
     keep a gondola and go about leisurely seeing all the lovely
     things.... The weather has not been very good, but there has been
     only one day when we could not go out in the gondola without the
     _coperto_, either toward the Lido or over the lagunes to watch the
     sunset, or through the smaller canals to find that the very back
     lanes of Venice are finer than the highstreets anywhere else....

     I am recovering a little facility in Italian--to be lost again when
     I get beyond the daily sound of it. I give Fanny a lesson every day
     in the Promessi Sposi, which has so often served as a go-cart to
     those who are learning to take their first steps in the language.
     She reads aloud to me, so that I save my eyes and practise my ears
     at the same time. She is a very good scholar for she puts zeal into
     whatever she does, and is making great progress. It is odd to me
     how the familiar phrases cling round my brain like bats to the roof
     of a cage, and are set flying all of a sudden by a chance footfall.
     I am very much struck, by the way, to find how much more vividly I
     remember the Venetian pictures than any others. I can’t help
     thinking it implies a peculiar merit in them. I recall them as I do
     natural objects--the Staubbach for example, or Hogarth....

         _To Thomas Hughes._

                 VENICE, Thanksgiving Day, 1873.

... I can’t “do” anything over here except study a little now and
     then, and I long to get back to my reeky old den at Elmwood. Then I
     hope to find I have learned something in my two years abroad.... I
     am looking forward to home now, and shouldn’t wonder if I took up
     my work at Harvard again, as they wish me to do. We leave Venice
     probably to-morrow for Verona. Thence to Florence, Rome, and

As the year 1874 opened, the question of Lowell’s return to college work
was mooted. He had felt a little piqued at being suffered to leave,
after sixteen years’ continuous service, without any concession from the
college. He thought at least he might have been granted leave of absence
on half pay, and when no proposal of this sort was made, he sent in a
definite resignation. Now the authorities intimated that they hoped he
would resume his old place. He was in doubt what he should do. He had
tasted the pleasures of freedom; he remembered well the uncongeniality
of much of his work; he was painfully conscious of lacking qualities
requisite for success in the profession of teaching; he had, moreover,
been disturbed by physical disabilities, especially in a blurring of
memory and a weakness in his head which alarmed him; the trouble, he
decided, was “flying gout,” a disorder to which he had been more or less
subject for many years, and which never left him for long after this
period. More disturbing still was the “drop of black blood” he had
inherited from his mother, which was apt to spread itself over the pupil
of his eye, darkening everything, and, as he said, temporarily inducing
a mood of suspicion or distrust.

On the other hand, he was at a time of life when uncertainties of income
were likely to create anxiety rather than to stimulate exertion. His
income from the sale of his land had proved less than he anticipated,
and he felt the need of a fixed increase. Moreover, he found that
college life had become more of a habit than he suspected; the putting
of the sea between him and it did not emancipate him, though it gave a
temporary exhilaration. He was timid about experiments in living. Yet he
was unwilling to allow himself to be governed in such a matter wholly by
financial considerations. As he wrote to a friend: “If the worst came, I
could sell my house and go into lodgings, which perhaps wouldn’t be so
unwise after all. At any rate, I can’t let that be a prevailing motive
to decide me about so sacred an office as that of Teacher.”

“I never was good for much as a professor,” he wrote to Mr. Norton, 2
February, 1874; “once a week, perhaps, at the best, when I could manage
to get into some conceit of myself, and so could put a little of my _go_
into the boys. The rest of the time my desk was as good as I. And then,
on the other hand, my being a professor wasn’t good for me--it damped
my gunpowder, as it were, and my mind, when it took fire at all (which
wasn’t often), drawled off in an unwilling fuse instead of leaping to
meet the first spark.” There was, besides all this, a possible
complication with a friend in whose light he would not stand, and
letting this tip the scales, he wrote refusing the reappointment. There
came in reply a letter from the president of the college, removing the
supposed complication and setting the whole matter in such a light that
Lowell revoked his decision and accepted the appointment. It was
characteristic of him, that though asked to send his final answer before
a certain date, he dismissed the subject from his mind, and wrote from
Paris three months later: “I don’t know whether I am a professor or no.
On the second of May it suddenly flashed across me that I was to say
_yes_ or _no_ before the first of that whimsical month, and that I had
forgotten all about it. I meant to say _yes_ on the whole, but if luck
has settled it _no_, perhaps it’s for the best.”

A more consuming interest had driven professorships out of his head. He
was in Florence at the time of this correspondence, and in Florence,
too, when he heard of the death of Agassiz, and on the eve of leaving
for Rome he was moved to write that elegy which, if it does not reach
the height of his odes in poetical spirit, has that endearing quality
which will continue to make it read as long as people continue to take
delight in the verses in which poets celebrate their friendships. But
Goldsmith’s “Retaliation,” Longfellow’s Introduction to the “Tales of a
Wayside Inn,” Emerson’s “Adirondacs,” and Holmes’s occasional poems are
in lighter vein than “Agassiz,” which stands midway in poetry between
such poems and Milton’s “Lycidas.” As in the case of the others, it has
a succession of portraits, but it strikes a deeper note; the elegiac
quality is present, and the complaint, the linking of personal grief
with universal emotion, the widening of sympathy, all serve to leave in
the mind rather the mood of restless enquiry into deep problems of life,
than of sensitive appreciation of a series of portraits. It is perhaps
worth noting that he had just been reading Leslie Stephen’s “Essays on
Free Thinking and Plain Speaking,” and had been stirred by the book into
more or less of an enquiry of his own attitude toward the great
questions of life and immortality. Referring to the book, he wrote to
Mr. Norton: “I emancipated myself long ago, and any friendly attempt to
knock off my shackles is apt to result in barking my shins, don’t you
see? Science has scuttled the old Ship of Faith, and now they would fain
persuade me that there is something dishonest as well as undignified in
drifting about on the hencoop that I had contrived to secure in the
confusion. They undertake to demonstrate to me that it’s a hencoop and
an unworthy perch for a philosopher. But I shall cling fast. ’Tis as
good as a line-of-battle ship if it only keep my head above water. I am
so made that I allow no distinction between natural and supernatural.
There is none for me. I am as supernatural a ghost as was ever met
with. But I like Leslie’s book all the same. It is very able, honest,
and clever--full of wit and trained muscle.” And to Mr. Stephen himself
he wrote later: “My only objection to any part of your book is, that I
think our beliefs more a matter of choice (natural selection, perhaps,
but anyhow not logical) than you would admit, and that I find no fault
with a judicious shutting of the eyes.”[54]

When one compares the portraits in “Agassiz” with the earlier sketches,
sometimes of the same persons, in “A Fable for Critics,” one finds it
easy to mark the mellower, richer tints in the later work. The poem was
indeed almost a real posthumous work. Lowell, removed by an ocean’s
width from his old comrades and his familiar haunts, mingled the dead
and the living in his imagination and found in the whole concourse,
headed by Agassiz himself, a microcosm of that world in which he took
the greatest delight, the world of friendly, wise, and witty men. As in
the case of the Commemoration Ode, it drew virtue from him, for he had
put into it a large part of himself, and had been possessed by it.
Shortly after finishing it, he wrote of his experience in the
composition to Mr. Norton,[55] and later, when there had been time for
the sensation to cool, for an interchange of comment and criticism, and
for the poem itself to meet his eyes in its printed form, he wrote

“To tell the truth, my collapse from the happy excitement of composition
was so great, that when the poem came to me in print, it inspired me
with something like that disgust a freshman feels at sight of an empty
bottle the next morning after his first debauch. I have not been able to
read it through yet, but have only turned to such passages as you
thought needed retouching. In doing this a few others caught my eye. My
dear boy, don’t you see (to answer what I forgot before and what you
remind me of again) that Emerson and Longfellow are both, thank God,
still in the flesh, and that I should not have mentioned them at all,
but that I _saw_ them so vividly I couldn’t help it. This, too, is my
reply to what you say of a resemblance to a passage in Rogers (I thought
it was Beckford). I think I see what you mean, but I regard it not, for
the _thought_ is altogether unlike, and came to me (as the receivers of
stolen goods say) in the way of my business. I had gone out of myself
utterly. I was in the dining-room at Parker’s, and when I came back to
self-consciousness and solitude, it was in another world that I awoke,
and I was puzzled to say which. It was a case of possession but not of
self-possession. I was cold, but my brain was full of warm light, and
the passage came to me in its completeness without any seeming
intervention of mine. I was delighted, I confess, with this renewal of
imagination in me after so many blank years. If there be any verbal
coincidence with Rogers, I shall be surprised and sorry. It had never
occurred to me, and I think if anywhere it must be in the couplet
beginning: ‘In this abstraction.’ But I hope you will turn out to be
mistaken. I am glad the poem is liked, though I cannot yet see it
fairly. I thought it should be good by the state in which it left me and
by the unconscious way in which it came. The only part I _composed_ was
the concluding verses, which I suspect to be the weakest part. The verse
that cost me most trouble was the first, which, do what I would,
insisted on being as Johnsonian as ‘Observation, with extensive view.’
But it is hard to put a wire into a verse without stiffening the latter.

“I surrendered the last verse about Longfellow without a murmur. I
spoiled it by thinking more of the vehicle than what it was to carry.
But Emerson’s nose must stand.[56] I will give you ‘shrewd’ instead of
‘wise,’ however, for it is better and (I think) the word that came
first. I have not left my opinion of either of these two doubtful, for I
have celebrated one in prose, and the other in verse, which is more than
either of ’em has done for me, go to!

“I thank you heartily, my dear Charles, for all your criticisms. I like
to hear them, and when I don’t agree it is not from self-love, of which
(in such matters) I have as little as most men. But I have a respect for
things that are _given me_, as the greater part of this was, and my
poetry ought to show marks of design if it doesn’t. If I have done
anything good, I owe it more largely to your sympathy, which spurred me
out of my constitutional indolence and indifference, than to anything
else. I like to tell you so, for it is true. I value my own natural
gifts (as I think I have a right) but set no great store by my
performance. I came into the world with a strong dose of poppy in my
veins, and love dreaming better than doing. This has been a great
hindrance to me, and I have struggled hard against it, but never against
my consciousness of it.” ...

       *       *       *       *       *

From Florence the Lowells went, 23 February, 1874, to Rome, and were
with the Storys at the Palazzo Barberini.

         _To C. E. Norton._

                 ROME, 26 February, 1874.

... The journey from Florence was one long surprise in the snowy
     mountains. There is much more than common, and I had never seen
     them so before. But the almond-trees are in blossom. Rome saddens
     me, I can’t quite say how. My associations with it are of so
     peculiar and deep a kind, and so astonishingly undeadened by time.
     Generally I find I have forgotten much, but here all my memories
     seem of yesterday....

     I have not much time to myself here in the Palazzo Barberini, as
     you will easily fancy. I am thoroughly glad to find my old friend’s
     statues so much to my liking. The Libyan Sybil, the Salome and the
     Electra I especially like. But he is now at work on an Alcestis
     which will be a long way ahead of anything he has done. It is
     beautifully simple, graceful, and dignified.

         _To the Same._

                 ROME, 2 March, 1874.

... The sun is just about to set, and I see the moon rising white
     over the stone pines that sentinel the gate of the Barberini
     Gardens. We have been at Sant’ Onofrio and seen the incomparable
     view thence. We started for the Vatican, but were too late, and so
     walked on to Sant’ Onofrio. The mountains are white as
     Switzerland--the farther ones I mean. I hardly knew the road from
     Florence hither for this strangeness of snow. But the almond-trees
     are in blossom, and the daisies and violets and other little field
     flowers unknown to me.

         _To Miss Norton._

                 ALBERGO CROCOLLE, NAPOLI,
Marzo 12, 1874.

... We left Rome after a fortnight’s visit to the Storys, which was
     very pleasant _quoad_ the old friends, but rather wild and whirling
     _quoad_ the new. Two receptions a week, one in the afternoon and
     one in the evening, were rather confusing for wits so eremitical as
     mine. I am not equal to the _grande monde_....

     We have been twice to the incomparable Museum, which is to me the
     most interesting in the world. There is the keyhole through which
     we barbarians can peep into a Greek interior--provincial Greek,
     Roman Greek if you will, but still Greek.

         _To C. E. Norton._

                 HOTEL DE LORRAINE,
7 RUE DE BEAUNE, PARIS, 11 May, 1874.

... I expected to arrive here a fortnight earlier than I did, for
     the fine weather began just as we were leaving Rome, and I dawdled
     as one always does in that lovely air. I had one delightful drive
     out to the Tavolato with Story, Dexter, Wild, and Tilton the day
     before we left. We lunched under an arbor of dried canes, drank
     _vino asciulto_, ate a _frittata_ and endless eggs _al tegame_, and
     were like boys on a half-holiday. What a light that was half
     shadow, and what shadows that were all light were over

     They explain all our bad weather here, and it is nearly all bad, by
     the simple formula _ce sont les giboulées_, and you see I have been
     lucky enough to get from a doctor in Rome a phrase that makes me
     more content under the unseasonable performances of my own personal
     meteorology. I have already accumulated a heap of catalogues, but
     have bought no books. I shall buy a few more....

         _To W. D. Howells._

                 PARIS, 13 May, 1874.

... We have taken our passage for the 24th June, and shall arrive,
     if all go well, in time for the “glorious Fourth.” I hope we shall
     find you in Cambridge. I long to get back, and yet am just
     beginning to get wonted (as they say of babies and new cows) over
     here. The delightful little inn where I am lodged is almost like
     home to me, and the people are as nice as can be....

         _To George Putnam._

                 PARIS, 19 May, 1874.

... For my own part, though I have had a great deal of
     homesickness, I come back to Cambridge rather sadly. I have not
     been over well of late. The doctor in Rome, however, gave my
     troubles a name--and that by robbing them of mystery has made them
     commonplace. He said it was _suppressed gout_. It has a fancy of
     gripping me in the stomach sometimes, holding on like a slow fire
     for seven hours at a time. It is wonderful how one gets used to
     things, however. But it seems to be growing lighter, and I hope to
     come home robust and red....

         _To Thomas Hughes,_

                 PARIS, 27 May, 1874.

     To see your handwriting again was almost like taking you by the
     hand. I seem next door to you here, the distance is so short
     compared with the long ferry between me and Mabel.

     I had no thought of reproaching you with not answering my note from
     Venice. I only wished you to know that I had written, for I should
     not have done it if Field had not told me you wished to know where
     I was. I never write if I can help it, and therefore am ready not
     only to forgive, but even to sympathize with those who have the
     same failing.

     If I could get in at Mrs. Bennett’s again I should like it
     particularly, for I was perfectly satisfied there. She was not a
     bit the lodging-house landlady of tradition, but a really refined
     woman, and her household matched her. But I fear that paradise is
     closed against us, for when I was last in London somebody else had
     discovered her, and hired the whole house. If you would be good
     enough to ask and let me know I should be greatly obliged.... I
     should want the lodgings for a fortnight. The steamer’s day is put
     back to the 23d. On the whole I shall go back as young as I came
     except my eyes, which fail me more and more....

         _To the Same._

                 BRUNSWICK HOTEL, LONDON,

     MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,--I was hoping to see your manly and tender
     face once more before I go, but perhaps it is better as it is, for
     I hate farewells--they always seem to ignore another world by the
     stress they lay on the chances of never meeting again in this. We
     shall meet somewhere, for we love one another. Your friendship has
     added a great sweetness to my life, whether I look backward or

     I had a delightful visit to Cambridge. Everybody was as warm as the
     day was cold. When I go home I shall try to be half as good as the
     public orator said I was.... Good-by and God bless you. With most
     hearty love,

                 Yours always,

The reference in the last sentence is to the generous language in which
the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him by the University of
Cambridge. He regarded the decoration as in a measure a friendly
recognition of the University’s daughter in the American Cambridge, but
he could not help being pleased by it. “You don’t know,” he wrote to a
friend, of the public orator’s Latin speech, “what an odd kind of
_posthumous_ feeling it gives one.”

The Lowells sailed from Liverpool 23 June, 1874, and after a foggy and
rainy passage were ten miles from Boston Light Friday evening, 3 July.
There the fog caught them again and forced them to lie off till the
morning, so that they reached Cambridge at half after nine o’clock on
the Fourth of July.




The Lowells returned at once to Elmwood, which the Aldrich family had
relinquished on the first of July, and were welcomed by Mrs. Burnett and
the first grandson, who had come down from Southborough to greet them.
“He is as strong and good-natured as a young mastiff,” Lowell wrote a
week after his return, to Mr. Hughes. “I am already stupidly in love
with him and miss all day long the tramp tramp of his sturdy feet along
the entry.”

“Thus far,” he writes to Mr. Godkin, 16 July, 1874, “I have nothing to
complain of at home but the heat, which takes hold like a bulldog after
that toothless summer of England, where they have on the whole the best
climate this side of Dante’s terrestrial paradise. The air there always
seems native to my lungs. As for my grandson, he is a noble fellow and
does me great credit. Such is human nature that I find myself skipping
the intermediate generation (which certainly in some obscure way
contributed to his begetting, as I am ready to admit when modestly
argued) and looking upon him as the authentic result of my own loins. I
am going to Southborough to-day on a visit to him, for I miss him
woundily. If you wish to taste the real _bouquet_ of life, I advise you
to procure yourself a grandson, whether by adoption or theft. The cases
of child-stealing one reads of in the newspapers now and then may all, I
am satisfied, be traced to this natural and healthy instinct. A grandson
is one of the necessities of middle life, and may be innocently
purloined (or taken by right of eminent domain) on the _tabula in
naufragio_ principle. Get one, and the _Nation_ will no longer offend
anybody. You will feel at peace with all the world.”

The summer was spent happily in the old familiar home. Lowell had no
impulse to stir. He never could find any reason for escaping to the
resorts in the White Mountains. “Why the deuce people fly to the
mountains before the Last Day,” he wrote to Mr. Aldrich, “I can’t
conceive, but when you get over your insanity and come back to the
breezy plains again (thermometer 70° at half-past eight this morning), I
shall hope to see you. My catbird saved one sonata for the first day of
my home-coming and has been dumb ever since.”

Lowell fell to work at once in his study, giving laborious days to Old
French and Old English and feeling a confidence which he expressed
naïvely by saying that he used a pen instead of a pencil in his notes in
his books. When the college term opened in the fall, he renewed his
connection, walking up and down to his class-room and resuming his
teaching of Dante and Old French. After his death the

[Illustration: _Mr. Lowell in his Study_]

more valuable part of his library came into the possession of the
college either by his bequest[57] or by purchase, and the student having
recourse to these books is constantly reminded of the care with which
Lowell read them, pencil or pen in hand, going over the text as if it
were proof-sheets requiring revision, and jotting down now textual
criticism, now ingenious comparison with words and phrases in other
languages. Sometimes he had two texts by him, and revised one by the
other, sometimes his better knowledge or his mother wit enabled him to
supply emendations to some careless editor’s work. The annotations show
his keen philological interest. A word, whether in Old French, English,
or Yankee was at once a lively image and an article in a museum. He
never tired of pursuing the ancestry or the kin or the progeny of these
winged creatures, and the very wealth of his puns testified to the quick
association which his mind kept up with all the material of

So far as the interpretation of mediæval literature went, Lowell’s
intuitive perception and quick poetic sympathy enabled him to touch into
life what to many scholars was a mere cadaver to be dissected; but in
the historical treatment, and more especially in the comparative method,
he was at the disadvantage of entering upon the study before the great
work had been done in this field. It was probably on this account that
though he covered a good deal of ground in his lectures to his classes,
he did not avail himself of this work for publication.

Besides his academic work, Lowell took up also some writing,
contributing verses during the next few months to the _Atlantic_ and the
_Nation_ and making the last of his studies in great literature in an
article on Spenser. A large part of the pleasure of these papers for him
was the opportunity it gave him for a fresh reading of his author. “I
have been very busy with Spenser,” he writes to Mrs. T. S. Perry, 28
February, 1875, “about whom I hope to have something in the next N. A.
R. I have been reading him _through_ again. It is as good as lying on
one’s back in the summer woods.” To another friend he had written just
before: “I have had a bath of Spenser. Your Turkish are nothing to him.”
It is an illustration of the thoroughness with which he revised his work
that this article on Spenser started as a lecture, but when he came to
turn the lecture into a paper, he retained only a passage or two of the
original form.

He confessed in a letter written in the summer of 1875 that he had
become a quicker writer in verse and slower in prose than when he was
younger. The confession may well have grown out of his experience in
writing the two centennial odes for which he was called on this year,
that “For the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Fight at Concord Bridge,”
and that “Read at Cambridge on the Hundredth Anniversary of Washington’s
Taking Command of the American Army, 3rd July, 1775.” Both were very
nearly improvisations, the former being written in the two days before
the celebration, and the latter at short notice after Dr. Holmes could
not be had. The lyrical character of the Concord ode makes it sing a
little more quickly to the ear of youth, and I think that while there
are in it slight allusions to the dead Hawthorne and Thoreau, there is
also a faint echo of the living Emerson. It would be strange indeed if
Lowell, called thus to celebrate the fight which had already been
celebrated in the noblest patriotic hymn in our literature, had not had
the vision of Emerson before him as he wrote. What Emerson, who must
have been present, said of the ode we do not know, but in a letter
written after “Under the Old Elm” had been delivered and printed, Lowell
quotes his comment on the second Ode. “I went,” he says, “to club on
Saturday and nominated----, whom Emerson seconded. Longfellow was there
and James and Quincy and Dr. Howe and Carter and Charlie L. and I. We
had a very jolly club and good talk. Emerson was tenderly affectionate.
He praised my Cambridge poem, saying that when he began it he said:
‘Why, he hasn’t got his genius on, but presently I found the tears in my

Into the second Ode Lowell put more thought and rose to the height of
his great theme, for he was able to look at his country from the
vantage-ground of the personality of Washington, and he read in the
great past an augury of the future which for the moment at least did not
vex his anxious mind. “I took advantage of the occasion,” he wrote to a
correspondent who was Southern born, “to hold out a hand of kindly
reconciliation to Virginia. I could do it with the profounder feeling,
that no family lost more than mine by the civil war. Three nephews (the
hope of our race) were killed in one or other of the Virginia battles,
and three cousins on other of those bloody fields.”

In these two odes as well as in the one given on the great centennial
day, the Fourth of July, 1876, Lowell spoke with no uncertain sound
regarding those eternal truths of freedom and country which made
patriotism with him a solemn passion. But so much the more impossible
was it for him to close his eyes to the signs of defection from high
ideals, or his lips when the impulse of speech came to him. In his poem
on Agassiz written while still in Europe and obliged, as he has
elsewhere said, always to be on the defensive, he gave expression to his
deep scorn in a few lines which have not lost their sting, though a
quarter of a century has passed since they were written. No one whose
memory carries him back to the days of Grant’s second administration can
forget the breathless fear of what next might be disclosed, and an
American like Lowell, compelled to read the elegant extracts of
peculation and fraud in high places which the English press in those
days culled as examples of American public life, was even more keenly
impressed than if he were in the midst of it all and could yet brace
himself with the knowledge of better things mingled with these.[59] But
the second stanza of the Agassiz was mild compared with the condensed
bitterness of “The World’s Fair, 1876,” which he printed in the
_Nation_, or the sarcastic arraignment in “Tempora Mutantur,” printed in
the same journal. The longer poem, with its etchings of Tweed and Fisk,
bitten in with an acid that is keener than any used in the “Biglow
Papers,” is preserved in “Heartsease and Rue,” a record of shame that is
wholesomely unpleasant to recall whenever one is disposed to be
complacent. The other was set up for the same volume, but afterward
withdrawn. It could well be spared from Lowell’s works, but has a
stronger claim in a record of his life and character.


    Columbia, puzzled what she should display
    Of true home-make on her Centennial Day,
    Asked Brother Jonathan: he scratched his head,
    Whittled a while reflectively, and said,
    “Your own invention and own making, too?
    Why, any child could tell ye what to do:
    Show ’em your Civil Service, and explain
    How all men’s loss is everybody’s gain;
    Show your new patent to increase your rents
    By paying quarters for collecting cents;
    Show your short cut to cure financial ills
    By making paper collars current bills;
    Show your new bleaching-process, cheap and brief,
    To wit, a jury chosen by the thief;
    Show your State Legislatures; show your Rings;
    And challenge Europe to produce such things
    As high officials sitting half in sight
    To share the plunder and to fix things right.
    If that don’t fetch her, why, you only need
    To show your latest style in martyrs,--Tweed:
    She’ll find it hard to hide her spiteful tears
    At such advance in one poor hundred years.”

These verses, as may readily be guessed, brought out wrathful
rejoinders, and Lowell was accused of having made a cheap exchange of
his democratic principles for aristocratic snobberies when absent from
his country. The situation called out a vigorous defence of Lowell in an
article by Mr. Joel Benton, entitled “Mr. Lowell’s Recent Political
Verse,” which was published in _The Christian Union_ of 10 December,
1875. Lowell acknowledged the service in a letter to Mr. Benton which
was printed after Lowell’s death in _The Century Magazine_, November,
1891. It is so valuable a witness to Lowell’s mind that I give it here

         _To Joel Benton._

                 ELMWOOD, January 19, 1876.

     DEAR SIR,--I thank you for the manly way in which you put yourself
     at my side when I had fallen among thieves, still more for the
     fitting and well-considered words with which you confirm and
     maintain my side of the quarrel. At my time of life one is not apt
     to vex his soul at any criticism, but I confess that in this case I
     was more than annoyed, I was even saddened. For what was said was
     so childish and showed such shallowness, such levity, and such
     dulness of apprehension both in politics and morals on the part of
     those who claim to direct public opinion (as, alas! they too often
     do) as to confirm me in my gravest apprehensions. I believe “The
     World’s Fair” gave the greatest offence. They had not even the wit
     to see that I put my sarcasm into the mouth of Brother Jonathan,
     thereby implying and meaning to imply that the common-sense of my
     countrymen was awakening to the facts, and that _therefore_ things
     were perhaps not so desperate as they seemed.

     I had just come home from a two years’ stay in Europe, so it was
     discovered that I had been corrupted by association with foreign
     aristocracies! I need not say to you that the society I frequented
     in Europe was what it is at home--that of my wife, my studies, and
     the best nature and art within my reach. But I confess that I was
     embittered by my experience. Wherever I went I was put on the
     defensive. Whatever extracts I saw from American papers told of
     some new fraud or defalcation, public or private. It was sixteen
     years since my last visit abroad, and I found a very striking
     change in the feeling towards America and Americans. An Englishman
     was everywhere treated with a certain deference: Americans were at
     best tolerated. The example of America was everywhere urged in
     France as an argument against republican forms of government. It
     was fruitless to say that the people were still sound when the Body
     Politic which draws its life from them showed such blotches and
     sores. I came home, and instead of wrath at such abominations, I
     found banter. I was profoundly shocked; for I had received my
     earliest impressions in a community the most virtuous, I believe,
     that ever existed.... On my return I found that community
     struggling half hopelessly to prevent General Butler from being put
     in its highest office against the will of all its best citizens. I
     found Boutwell, one of its senators, a chief obstacle to
     Civil-Service reform (our main hope).... I saw Banks returned by a
     larger majority than any other member of the lower house.... In the
     Commonwealth that built the first free school and the first
     college, I heard culture openly derided. I suppose I like to be
     liked as well as other men. Certainly I would rather be left to my
     studies than meddle with politics. But I had attained to some
     consideration, and my duty was plain. I wrote what I did in the
     plainest way, that he who ran might read, and that I hit the mark I
     aimed at is proved by the attacks against which you so generously
     defend me. These fellows have no notion what love of country means.
     It is in my very blood and bones. If I am not an American, who ever

     I am no pessimist, nor ever was, ... but is not the Beecher horror
     disheartening? Is not Delano discouraging? and Babcock atop of
     him?... What fills me with doubt and dismay is the degradation of
     the moral tone. Is it or is it not a result of Democracy? Is ours a
     “government of the people by the people for the people,” or a
     Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of
     fools? Democracy is, after all, nothing more than an experiment
     like another, and I know only one way of judging it--by its
     results. Democracy in itself is no more sacred than monarchy. It is
     Man who is sacred: it is his duties and opportunities, not his
     rights, that nowadays need reinforcement. It is honor, justice,
     culture, that make liberty invaluable, else worse than worthless if
     it mean only freedom to be base and brutal. As things have been
     going lately, it would surprise no one if the officers who had
     Tweed in charge should demand a reward for their connivance in the
     evasion of that popular hero. I am old enough to remember many
     things, and what I remember I meditate upon. My opinions do not
     live from hand to mouth. And so long as I live I will be no writer
     of birthday odes to King Demos any more than I would be to King
     Log, nor shall I think _our_ cant any more sacred than any other.
     Let us all work together (and the task will need us all) to make
     Democracy possible. It certainly is no invention to go of itself
     any more than the perpetual motion.

     Forgive me for this long letter of justification, which I am
     willing to write for your friendly eye, though I should scorn to
     make any public defence. Let the tenor of my life and writings
     defend me.

                 Cordially yours,

The article on Spenser, as I have said, was the last of the series of
considerable studies of great authors which Lowell had been writing for
the past ten years, and he now gathered the final sheaf into a second
series of “Among My Books,” which he had hoped to bring out in the fall
of 1875, but which did not appear until the spring of 1876. His activity
in literature, and the accumulation of his published writings, were
making him more steadily a conspicuous figure and calling out
appreciation and criticisms. To Mrs. Herrick, who had been collecting
material for an article on him, and had applied to him for facts and
dates, he wrote, 6 October, 1875, after the appearance of her article:
“If I were not pleased with what you have written about me, I must
indeed be _difficult_, as the French say. It is not for me to comment on
your discrimination, but I cannot be insensible to the truly feminine
grace and delicate fervor of sympathy which run through the whole
article.... You have given me a real pleasure and a real encouragement.
I have never seen any of Mr. Wilkinson’s criticisms upon me,[61] but I
know no reason to suspect any personal spite. He is ludicrously wide of
the mark in what he says of the early reception of my writings at home
and the later in England. I never belonged to any clique here, and the
highest appreciation I ever received in England (degrees from Oxford and
Cambridge) were when the Geneva delegation had left a very bitter
feeling against everything American. I say this only for your friendly
ears. I dare say I may seem to contradict myself sometimes, for my
temper of mind is such that I never have the patience to read over again
what I have once printed. As for my grammar, you may be quite easy. I
know quite as much about English as Mr. W. is likely to do, and
inherited my grammar, which is the best way of getting it. I think (from
what others have told me) that you hit the nail on the head in saying
that I have a kind of ‘vitality.’ But it is not wise to discuss one’s
own qualities. I will only say that if nature had made me as strong in
the _driving_ as in the _conceptive_ faculties I should have done more
and better.

“I am glad your article is fairly over and out of the way, for now I can
enjoy the pleasure of your friendship without any feeling of
awkwardness. That I have been a help to you is a help to myself, and I
thank you for telling me of it so frankly.

“When I wrote you last I was still very far from well. I am now (though
not recovered) very much better, and my wits are beginning to clear

His birthday in 1876 found him reflecting on the degree to which he was
absconding from active life. “I get so absorbed,” he writes, “in the
pretty shadows on the surface of Time, that I never notice the flowing
of the current, and while I am musing, behold it has brought Next Year
abreast of me.... I am going to dine with Gray, C. J., this afternoon to
meet the Friday Club. I am invited to join it, and have been pondering
over my answer these six weeks. I feel as if it might shake me up a
little, for solitude is gradually making me numb. But I don’t know. I
have the best possible Swift in my head, if I could only get him out. I
have half written it twice, and am now going to begin again. You don’t
believe me when I tell you that my mind is sluggish, but it is.”
Apparently he had planned a paper on Swift of the proportions of one of
his _North American_ articles; what actually appeared was a brief review
of Forster’s “Life of Swift” in the _Nation_. He wrote but little
verse, though he was not neglectful of the work of others. “By the way,”
he wrote to Mr. Howells, 21 March, 1875, “who is Edgar Fawcett? Those
‘Immortelles’ of his in the last _Atlantic_ are in my judgment easily
the best poetry in the number. I have been taken with things of his
before, I remember. Why _did_ you let the other man (whose name I have
forgotten) spoil a charming little poem by writing Ac’tæon? I doubt if
Artemis would have wasted an arrow in him--but Pallas Athene would have
given him the ferule. It was so light and pretty, all the rest of it.”

In a nature like Lowell’s there is more the appearance of sluggishness
than the reality. His industry is evident enough when one adds his
published and uncollected writings to his regular academic duties. What
may easily have provoked the popular notion of his indolence was the
privacy of his life, the fact that he himself was little _en evidence_,
and the casual on-looker seeing him sitting for hours over his books and
pipe, taking his social recreation only in the seclusion of his own
cherished home, and the libraries and dining-rooms of a very small
circle of friends, hardly ever going even to Boston, and drawn when on
his feet rather to Beaver Brook than to the pavements,--such an one
might fancy him almost a scholarly recluse, living anywhere but in the
American present.

But a great deal of the bustle of other men’s lives had its sphere of
activity in Lowell’s mind. He was wont to retreat within himself, but it
was to reflect on what he saw in the world about him. As has been seen
already, he had commented on public affairs in verse which was not to be
credited to his poetic sense so much as to his moral and political
insight, and the tide of feeling was rising in his soul. It needed
occasion only to bring him more actively into the current of affairs.

The changing of the time of which he had written so caustically had
brought about what many to-day are disposed to regard as the lowest ebb
of politics within the memory of man. As Grant’s second administration
drew near its close, there began to be a stirring in the minds of men,
and a resolution to reform the administration of government. The
spectacle especially of the Southern States held in control by a
combination of Northern carpet-baggers and negro politicians, backed by
the Federal army, was one which filled with dismay those who had seen in
the abolition of slavery the beginning of a new life for the nation; and
the sordid view of public life which had resulted from this and from the
unchecked abuse of political power in the distribution of public offices
as rewards for party service, was leading to a determined effort at a
reform of the whole civil service.

Lowell’s letters at this time indicate how deeply he felt the needs of
the hour. In the spring of 1876 a number of young Cambridge men were
inspired with a zeal to better the morale of the Republican party, which
was the party in power and the one whose traditions made its better
element ardent to purify it from the corruption which seemed to be
fastening upon it. The effect of this rally was to call a large public
meeting, and Lowell was invited to preside.

“Though I don’t think the function you wish me to perform,” he wrote in
reply, “quite in my line, I am willing to do _anything_ which may be
thought helpful in a movement of which I heartily approve. I am not so
hopeful, I confess, as I was thirty years ago; yet, if there be any
hope, it is in getting independent thinkers to be independent voters.”

Here Lowell struck the note which had been the key of his political
writing in the agitation against slavery, and that in which all his
active political life after this was to be pitched. Independence, not in
politics only but in the entire domain of human thought, had indeed been
characteristic of all his work heretofore, and it was the solitariness
of a life thus attuned which led to this slight expression of dejection.
But he had been for all that a leader of the intellectual and thoughtful
class in America, and it was a happy omen that collegians were in the
group which was now to call him from his study into the field of
political life.

Lowell not only presided at the meeting in Cambridge, but he became
permanent chairman of the committee then formed for the organization of
voters in Cambridge, a function which had been performed hitherto by
office-holders under the government. The Congressional district to which
Cambridge belonged then included also Jamaica Plain, and similar action
was taken there under the leadership of the Rev. James Freeman Clarke.
As a result of the movement Lowell and Dr. Clarke were selected at the
district convention as delegates to the Republican convention in
Cincinnati which was to nominate a candidate for the presidency.[62]

Lowell was very much interested in the position in which he found
himself, nor could he help looking at himself in this new rôle with an
amusing distrust. “Last night,” he wrote to Leslie Stephen, 10 April,
1876, “I appeared in a new capacity as chairman of a political meeting,
where I fear I made an ass of myself. It was got up by young men who
wish to rouse people to their duty in attending caucuses and getting
them out of the hands of the professionals.... I think the row is likely
to do good, however, in getting us better candidates in the next
presidential election, and waking everybody up to the screaming
necessity of reform in our Civil Service.”

It was about this time also, apparently, that Lowell’s name began to be
connected with the diplomatic service of the country. It would seem as
if his old friend Robert Carter had interested himself in the matter. At
any rate, Lowell wrote him 13 April, 1876: “I am much obliged to you for
your friendly interest, but you misunderstood my note to Page. I wrote
it in haste to save the mail at John’s room, borrowing therefor his last
sheet of paper. What I _meant_ to say was that if, when the Russian
Embassy was offered me, it had been the English instead, I should have
hesitated before saying _no_. But with the salary cut down as it is now,
I couldn’t afford to take it, for I could not support it decently.” A
glimpse of his financial embarrassment at this time is seen in a letter
to the same correspondent two days later, when, replying to the request
for the gift, apparently, of his Fourth of July Ode to a newspaper, he
says: “I can’t afford to give it away. The greater part of my income was
from Western railroad bonds that have stopped payment, and the
_Atlantic_ (to which I have promised what I may write) will pay me $300
for it.” On the 19th of April, he writes again to Mr. Carter: “I return
Mr. Fish’s letter. There is no more chance of their sending me to St.
James’s than to the moon, though I might not be unwilling to go. On the
old salary I might manage, and it might do my health good. I have little
doubt it was offered to L[ongfellow] with the understanding that he
would decline. I have not seen him for a few days. But it is too large a
plum for anybody not ‘inside politics.’ It is the only mission where the
vernacular sufficeth. Meanwhile you will be amused to hear that I am
getting inside politics after a fashion. I shall probably head the
delegation from our ward to the State convention.”

Lowell went to the National Convention at Cincinnati, like others of the
same mind, with the hope of securing the nomination for the presidency
for Mr. Bristow of Kentucky, who as a member of Grant’s cabinet had
shown himself very active in the prosecution of malfeasants. The fact,
moreover, that he came from Kentucky was an additional reason in
Lowell’s mind. “I believed,” he wrote, that a Kentucky candidate might
at least give the starting-point for a party at the South whose line of
division should be other than sectional, and by which the natural
sympathy between reasonable and honest men at the North and the South
should have a fair chance to reassert itself. We failed, but at least
succeeded in preventing the nomination of a man[63] whose success in the
Convention (he would have been beaten disastrously at the polls) would
have been a lesson to American youth that selfish partisanship is a
set-off for vulgarity of character and obtuseness of moral sense. I am
proud to say that it was New England that defeated the New England

In a letter written at two different times in the summer of 1876, to
Thomas Hughes,[65] Lowell dwells at length upon the political situation
and his own hopes and fears. His attitude toward public affairs was that
of one who had not abandoned his fundamental beliefs but was questioning
the methods of carrying them out, and was distrustful of existing
machinery. He reiterates his conviction that the war was fought for
nationality, and that emancipation was a very welcome incident. Hence he
is inclined to lay the emphasis in reunion on the need of reconciliation
with the Southern whites rather than on the protection of the blacks. He
is disposed to sympathize with the Democratic party at the South but
cannot overcome his distrust of the party as a whole. He bids his
correspondent go slow in England in extending the suffrage, but he
reasserts his unshaken faith in the people of his country. As the summer
wears away he is more impatient over the confusion of issues, but on the
whole thinks he shall vote for Hayes.

Lowell’s new interest in politics and his slight active part led his
neighbors to wish to send him to Congress as representative from his
district, and he was urged to stand, but he resolutely refused,
confident that he had not the true qualifications for the office, though
he was touched by the confidence shown in him. He did, however, accept
the honorable position of presidential elector on the Republican ballot.
He let off a little of his mind in the first draft of the verses “In an
Album,” where the last four lines of the first stanza read:--

    “While many a page of bard and sage
    Deemed once the world’s immortal gain
    Lost from Time’s ark, leaves no more mark
    Than Conkling, Cameron, or Blaine.”

It was in the late summer and early fall of 1876, also, when the
political fight was hottest, that Lowell peppered the enemy with the
half-dozen epigrams of which he preserved only one, “A Misconception.”
The allusions in some were to passing incidents, so that footnotes to
his two-line epigrams would now be needed. Some with good memory will
need no key to unlock this:--


    Where currency’s debased, all coins will pass.
    Ask you for proof? The Widow’s might is brass.

But the most definite public expression of his political thought at this
time may be found in the draft of a speech at a caucus in Cambridge
which Lowell preserved among his papers. Apparently Lowell wrote this
out in advance, but it is not likely that he imported into a political
caucus the very academic method of reading a speech.

“I do not propose,” he says, “to make a speech. Still less shall I try
to captivate your ears or win your applauses by any of those appeals to
passion and prejudice which are so tempting and so unwise. Politics are
the most serious of all human affairs, and I prefer the approval of your
understandings to that of your hands and feet.

“The presidential contest of this year is in some respects unlike any
other that I remember. Both parties claim to be in favor of the same
reforms in our currency and our civil service, and both have nominated
men of character and ability for the highest office in our government.
Meanwhile there is a much larger class of voters than usual who are
resolved to cast their ballots less in reference to party ties than to
what in their judgment is the interest of the whole country. The two
parties are so evenly balanced that the action of this class is of
supreme importance. Among these are doubtless some wrongheaded men, some
disappointed ones, and some who think that any change, no matter what,
may be for the better and cannot be for the worse. But in general these
dissatisfied persons are men of more than average thoughtfulness, weight
of character, and influence. They feel profoundly that the great
weakness of the democratical form of government, as they have studied
its workings in this country, is a great and growing want of
responsibility in officials, whether to the head of the government or to
the country, a great and growing indifference (in the selection of
candidates) to the claims of character as compared with those of
partisan efficiency or unscrupulousness. We hear, to be sure, of
responsibility to the People, but in practice this amounts to very
little. Just before election the politicians become tenderly aware of
the existence of the People, they recognize their long lost brother, and
rush into his arms with more than fraternal fervor. In the same way,
just before the 17th of March they show a surprising familiarity with
the history of St. Patrick, though at other times we should hardly
suspect that their favorite study was the lives of the saints. During
the rest of the year the people are busy about their own affairs, and
have neither the leisure nor the inclination to be scrutinizing the
conduct of their public servants. A responsibility to many is
practically a responsibility to none. Now you all know that in battling
with the cankerworm, it is around the stem of the tree that we apply our
preventives, because that is the highway by which the grubs climb to lay
their eggs. The eggs once laid there is no remedy. The stem by which
our political grubs have gone up to deposit the germs of devastation has
been our primary meetings and conventions, the adroit management of
which has too often given us candidates without that self-respect which
makes men responsible to their own conscience, and without that respect
for the better sentiment of the country which might spring from the fear
of lost repute and diminished consideration. They fear no loss of what
they never had. The discontented class of which I have spoken are
resolved to make candidates feel their responsibility at the polls, the
only point at which they are sensitive. I confess that I share largely
in the feeling that leads them to this determination.

“I am and have been in sympathy with the principles of the Republican
party as I understand them, but it has no sacredness for me when it
degenerates into a contrivance for putting unfit men or tainted men into
office, and for making them ‘Honorable’ by courtesy who are not so by
character. When a party becomes an organization to serve only its own
private ends, when it becomes a mere means of livelihood or distinction
on easier terms than God for our good has prescribed, it has become
noxious instead of useful. Now, fellow-citizens, it cannot be denied
that the Republican party has suffered by too long and too easy a tenure
of office. We ought to be thankful to its opponents for the
investigations which have shown us its weak points. Let it never be said
that we object to any investigation of character. Let it always be said
that we object to men who need or fear to be investigated.

“It will not do to appeal to the past history and achievements of the
party. The greatest of poets and one of the wisest of men has said

                  ‘to have done is to hang
    Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
    In monumental mockery.’

It is by their estimate of the chances of what the party _will_ do that
independent voters will be guided in their action. It is of no use to
tell them what it used to be, nor, when they resent its corruption, to
say that things were as bad a hundred years ago. We had hoped the world
was growing better. We would rather not need to be consoled than to have
the finest consolation that was ever manufactured out of the
commonplaces of history. At least I had hoped that we should never hear
of poor old Judas again, whose conduct, if it be an argument for
anything, would go to prove that one man in every twelve _must_ be a
knave. When our knaves follow the example of Judas by going straightway
and hanging themselves, I shall not object to the recalling of his
example from time to time. What we have to do is to purify the party
ourselves, and this we can do only by insisting that the men who are
offered for our choice shall be men of a character so well established
that they are above suspicion and incapable of temptation, at least in
its baser forms; we must insist on having such men, or acknowledge that
our system of popular government has left us none such.

“It is said that the Republican party cannot be reformed from within.
This may or may not be so, but is this less true of the Democratic
party? The first printed ballot I ever saw was in Baltimore just fifty
years ago, and I remember that it had upon it an American flag and
‘Hurrah for Old Hickory!’ That ‘Hurrah for Old Hickory’ introduced into
our civil service that evil system which has led to all the corruption
in our administration, and which, if not cured, will lead to the failure
of our democratical experiment. Many people seem to think that some such
divinity doth hedge a Democracy as was once supposed to hedge a king.
But perpetual motion is as idle a dream in political organization as in
mechanics. It is in the little wheels, in those least obvious to
inspection, that the derangement is likely to begin. Are we to expect
more vigilance from what used to be called the Jacksonian Democracy? I
must be allowed to doubt it.

“But suppose that I am mistaken, suppose that the pretensions of the two
parties as to their zeal for reforms in the Civil Service are entitled
to equal weight, there are other questions to which the answer is by no
means clear. How is it about honest money? about an unmercurial currency
that shall not rise and fall with the temperature of Wall Street, that
shall neither tempt the would-be rich to unsafe speculation nor cheat
the poor of their earnings? Though neither party has been so explicit as
I should think it wise to be, yet I believe our chance is on the whole
better with the Republicans than with their opponents.

“But there is one other argument which with me is conclusive. Nothing,
in my opinion, is more unstatesmanlike, nothing more unwise than to
revive sectional animosities for political purposes. Such expedients,
though used for temporary effect, are lasting in their disastrous
consequences. But scarcely less disastrous would be the fallacious hopes
raised in the South by the success of Mr. Tilden. We are not willing to
risk any of the results of the nation’s victory. One of the most
important of those results was the assertion of our indivisible
nationality. Mr. Tilden and the party which he directs have always been
extreme in their interpretation of the reserved rights of the individual
States, going so far even as to include that of rebellion among them.
Should such principles prevail, revolution would become constitutional,
and we should have another Mexico instead of the country we love. We
should be admitting that the war, so costly to our prosperity, so
incalculably dear in hopeful lives, was both a blunder and a crime. I
for one am not ready for an admission like this. I prefer to feel myself
the citizen of a strong country, to feel in my veins the pulses of an
invincible nationality, whereof I am a member. An indissoluble union is
the chain that holds us to our anchor. Its disjointed links would be old
iron for the junkshop.”

This is not what one looks for in a speech at a party caucus. Neither
the independence of the speaker’s attitude nor his moderate adhesion to
the party in which he enrolls himself are very effective instruments,
and it is clear that despite Lowell’s sympathy with the plain man and
his intimate acquaintance with him as illustrated in his “Biglow
Papers,” he was embarrassed when he came to speak to him in the
collectivity of a public meeting, and scarcely let his natural voice
even be heard. Much must be referred, it is true, to his inexperience
with speaking at public meetings--he was not a speaker in the old
anti-slavery days, but his inexperience was due largely to his
fastidiousness of temper which made him after all in literature rather
than in life pleased with the vision of

    “The backwoods Charlemagne of empires new.”

He found his own voice more surely in his study than on the rostrum, and
it is to his Fourth of July Ode in this centennial year that we must
look for the most comprehensive and most natural expression of his
political sentiment. In poetry he found it easiest to reiterate that
faith which he had in an elemental America, as it were, a faith which
was derived from a belief in God, and that

                    “Life’s bases rest
    Beyond the probe of chemic test;”

but he refuses for all that to take refuge in a mere blind confidence,
admitting a little ruefully that the flight of years had won him

                      “this unwelcome right
    To see things as they are, or shall be soon,
    In the frank prose of undissembling noon!”

The democratic principle, too, which he held so stoutly comes to him now
as the manifestation of human life concretely apprehended rather than
theoretically conceived, and the development of his own maturer judgment
appears in this resolution to find the base of national life in the men
who built the nation, and not in the mere speculation of freedom and

Lowell published the three odes called out by the centennial
celebrations in a little volume entitled “Three Memorial Poems,” which
he inscribed to Mr. Godkin “in cordial acknowledgment of his eminent
service in heightening and purifying the tone of our political thought.”
At the request of his publishers he was also assembling his poems for a
new and so far complete collection in what was to be known as the
Household Edition. Perhaps the title was in his mind when he wrote in
the fall to a correspondent who had expressed his appreciation, “I would
rather be a fireside friend and the Galeotto of household love than
anything else. I was especially pleased that you had found out how much
better the second series of the Biglow is than the first. I had not seen
them for years when I had to read them through for a new edition this
summer, and I found them entertaining.”

In February, 1877, Lowell went to Baltimore to give before the Johns
Hopkins University a course of twenty lectures on the literature of the
Romance Languages during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with
Dante as a central theme. His companion was his friend and colleague
Professor Francis J. Child, who at the same time was discoursing on
Chaucer. The tenth anniversary of the founding of the University was
observed during their stay, and both men were the recipients of
delightful hospitality, while by their lectures and readings and social
gifts they made themselves most welcome guests. “J. L.’s good looks and
insinuating ways,” wrote Mr. Child, “carry off the palm entirely from my
genius and learning, but then I am as much fascinated as anybody, and
don’t mind.” “Child goes on winning all ears and hearts,” wrote Lowell.
“I am rejoiced to have this chance of seeing so much of him, for though
I loved him before, I did not know _how_ lovable he was till this
intimacy.” A year later, Lowell writing to Child from Europe recalls the
month as one of the pleasantest of his life. Lowell stayed with his
kinsman Mr. Spence, but he found a frequent respite from the gayety in
which he was involved in a quiet luncheon with his friend Mrs. Herrick,
who tactfully forebore to make her luncheons additions to the social
functions which excited but wearied as well.

A souvenir of the enjoyment Lowell had in his visit to Baltimore is in a
sonnet which he wrote to a young daughter of President Gilman of the
university. “I shall assume,” he wrote her from Elmwood, 7 April, 1877,
“for my own convenience that there were just fourteen roses in the
lovely sheaf I found in my room when I came in for shelter from the
ill-humor of that February day, so unlike the temperature, both outward
and inward, to which Baltimore had accustomed us. I repay them in
fourteen verses, and I wish it were as easy to match the sweetness of
your sonnet as its numbers. However, I promised you that I would send it
and have not forgotten, but have had so many things to do that I have
delayed paying my debt till you have half forgotten your debtor. The two
quatrains with which my sonnet gets well under way were written on the
spot with your roses comforting two of my benumbed senses. Luckily I
wrote them on the back of an invitation which certifies to the
date--‘Saturday, 24 February.’ The concluding triplets I had partly
written down when I was interrupted, and I finished them this morning. I
wish it were better, but at least the gratitude will last, if not the



    A handful of ripe rosebuds in my room
    I found when all heaven’s mercy seemed shut out
    By clouds morose that dallied with a doubt
    ’Tween rain and snow: meanwhile mine eyes with bloom
    Were comforted, and over Summer’s tomb,
    Out of your gift rose nightingales to flout
    With Easter prophecies the chill without
    And sing the mind clear of the season’s gloom.
    So may your innocent fancy be rarest
    Ever with impulses to timely deeds
    Generous of sunshine, and your life be blest
    With flower and fruit immortal, sprung of seeds
    Sown by those singing birds that make their nest
    In natures thoughtful of another’s needs!

Not long after Lowell’s return from Baltimore rumors began to fly about
that he was to have a foreign mission. Mr. Longfellow notes in his
diary, 7 April, 1877: “In the afternoon Charles Norton called. We
talked of Ruskin and Carlyle, and of Lowell’s having the English
mission.” It was not unnatural that public attention should be called to
him in connection with some diplomatic post, in view of the somewhat
peculiar circumstances connected with his relations to the recent
presidential election. He was one of the electors in Massachusetts upon
the Republican ballot, and when the issue of the election was in doubt
and many believed that Mr. Tilden was the actual choice though Mr. Hayes
was nominally chosen, there were voices that called on Lowell to use his
technical right and cast his vote for Mr. Tilden. It was a curious
comment on affairs. It implied on the part of those who proposed it a
confidence that Lowell was independent enough to use this right. I am
not sure that any other elector was named who might be expected to take
this responsibility. On the other hand, those who urged this course seem
to have been blind to the enormous violation of faith involved in such a
course. The machinery of the electoral system, however it had been
designed at first, had gradually and immutably become a mere device for
the registry of the popular choice; all initiative on the part of the
electors was totally cancelled. Lowell himself never had any hesitation.
As he wrote to Mr. Leslie Stephen: “In my own judgment I have no choice,
and am bound in honor to vote for Hayes, as the people who chose me
expected me to do. They did not choose me because they had confidence in
my judgment, but because they thought they knew what that judgment
would be. If I had told them that I should vote for Tilden, they would
never have nominated me. It is a plain question of trust. The provoking
part of it is that I tried to escape nomination all I could, and only
did not decline because I thought it would be making too much fuss over
a trifle.”

The actual facts of the appointment of Lowell to the Spanish mission
have been so explicitly told by Mr. Howells, who had a grateful part to
play in the transaction, that with his permission I copy his account of
it. “I do not know whether it crossed his mind after the election of
Hayes that he might be offered some place abroad, but it certainly
crossed the minds of some of his friends, and I could not feel that I
was acting for myself alone when I used a family connection with the
President, very early in his term, to let him know that I believed
Lowell would accept a diplomatic mission. I could assure him that I was
writing wholly without Lowell’s privity or authority, and I got back
such a letter as I could wish in its delicate sense of the situation.
The President said that he had already thought of offering Lowell
something, and he gave me the pleasure, a pleasure beyond any other I
could imagine, of asking Lowell whether he would accept the mission to
Austria. I lost no time in carrying his letter to Elmwood, where I found
Lowell over his coffee at dinner. He saw me at the threshold, and called
to me through the open door to come in, and I handed him the letter,
and sat down at table while he ran it through. When he had read it, he
gave a quick ‘Ah!’ and threw it over the length of the table to Mrs.
Lowell. She read it in a smiling and loyal reticence, as if she would
not say one word of all she might wish to say in urging his acceptance,
though I could see that she was intensely eager for it. The whole
situation was of a perfect New England character in its tacit
significance; after Lowell had taken his coffee, we turned into his
study, without further allusion to the matter.

“A day or two later he came to my house to say that he could not accept
the Austrian mission, and to ask me to tell the President so for him and
make his acknowledgments, which he would also write himself. He remained
talking a little while of other things, and when he rose to go he said,
with a sigh of vague reluctance, ‘I _should_ like to see a play of
Calderon,’ as if it had nothing to do with any wish of his that could
still be fulfilled. ‘Upon this hint I acted,’ and in due time it was
found in Washington that the gentleman who had been offered the Spanish
mission would as lief go to Austria, and Lowell was sent to Madrid.”[66]
In a letter to his daughter[67] Lowell says further that he had also the
choice of going to Berlin.

Mr. Evarts, the Secretary of State, was in Boston at this time, and in a
personal conference the preliminary arrangement appears to have been
made. Mr. Hayes also came to Boston in June, and Lowell met him and his
wife, and has left a record of the impression they produced upon him, in
one of his letters written shortly afterward.[68] The anticipation of
this new chapter in his life seems to have given him a divided feeling.
The honor of the place half amused and half pleased him. With the
ingenuous pride of a college man, he thought how his name would look in
capitals in the college triennial, and wished his father, who had a high
sense of that dignity, could have enjoyed the sight. He was too fixed in
his position before the world to be over-elated at the conspicuousness
which the place brought him, and he disliked publicity so much that that
side of the business filled him with a sort of dismay. He welcomed the
opportunity for enlarging his Spanish studies, and he had an honest
desire to represent his country well. “I believe,” he wrote to his
friend Thomas Hughes, “that I can live my own life (part of the time, at
least) in Madrid, and need not have any more flummery than I choose.
What unsettled me first was that a good many people wished to see me
sent to London, and I was persuaded that I might be of some service
there by not living like a Duke, and in promoting a better understanding
between the two countries. But my friends were mistaken in supposing
that I had been thought of for England.... Things are going more to my
mind now, and President Hayes made a most agreeable impression on me
when he was here the other day. He struck me as simple, honest, and full
of good feeling, a very good American to my thinking.... By all means
come to Madrid. I shall have a house there, and a spare bed in it
always. It would be delightful to take you a drive to the Prado in my
own (hired) ambassadorial coach. My ‘Excellency’ will give me cause for
much serious meditation.”

It must not be supposed, however, that the prospect was untouched with
doubt. “I am by no means sure,” Lowell writes to Mr. Reverdy Johnson of
Baltimore, shortly after accepting the post, “that I did wisely in
accepting the Spanish mission. I really did not wish to go abroad at
all, but my friends have been urgent (Godkin among them), and I go.”

Mr. and Mrs. Lowell sailed for Liverpool on the Parthia from Boston,
Saturday, 14 July, 1877. The agent of the steamship company followed
custom in making special provisions for the send-off of a public man,
and a comment on Lowell’s incapability of filling the rôle in every
respect may be read in his good-by note to his friend Mr. Norton, who
had received one of the agent’s invitations: “You will laugh to-morrow,
I hope, when you think of me going down the harbor with the revenue
cutter and a steam tug to bring back those who can’t part with me this
side the outer light. If the agent of the Cunard line had given a
month’s meditation to devising what would annoy me most, he could have
hit on nothing to beat this. When I got his note yesterday morning, I
positively burst forth into a cold sweat. But Sunday will bring peace.”




The preparation which Lowell had received for efficient service as
Minister of the United States to Spain certainly did not lie in the
discharge of so-called political duties. To be delegate to a district
convention and presidential elector would scarcely qualify one for a
diplomatic post, and to many of his countrymen no doubt he seemed but a
dilettante statesman. Yet he was better trained than many a man who has
been more energetic in party organization. He was a fair Spanish scholar
so far as familiarity with the literature goes. When he first entered on
his duties he was, it is true, depressed by his inability to use the
language freely; his pride was mortified with the ease with which others
could use it, and both his French, of such use in diplomacy, and his
Italian got in his way. But a couple of months after he had reached his
post he could say: “I can talk now with comparative ease and write notes
without fear of scandal. What I wanted was the familiar and every-day
forms. I am getting them. But all along I have insisted on conducting my
official business in Spanish, and have already astonished ’em at the
Foreign Office here. They say in their Oriental way that I speak
Castilian like a native and pronounce it perfectly. Of course I haven’t
turned goose since I came, to believe all this, but I really am getting

But if colloquial Spanish was not at first at his command, he had a very
valuable instrument in his familiarity with Spanish literature. The man
who knows and loves the best literature of the country to which he is
accredited has the key wherewith to unlock the nature of the men with
whom he has to deal. Lowell, to whom Calderon was as a nightingale in
his study, was not taken unawares when asked to go to Spain. He did not
need to cram for an examination. When qualifying himself for his post at
Harvard, twenty years before, he had made himself acquainted with
Spanish, and both his studies and his teaching since that day had led
him into such an acquaintance with its language, literature, and
history, that he could say playfully that he knew more Spanish than most

At first sight it might seem that the somewhat isolated and secluded
life he had led would have disqualified Lowell for the life of a
diplomat; that greater commerce with men was essential to the training
of one whose business it was to deal directly with men in matters
possibly of high consequences. But if Lowell was a scholar and somewhat
of a recluse, it must be remembered that his most frequent converse was
with picked men, and that, moreover, in his studies and reading his
attention had been concentrated on literature which was expressive of
great thoughts, great emotions, and great dramatic situations, so that
both in life and in literature he was at home and moved with ease in
high society.

In diplomatic life, the minister can scarcely escape the consciousness
of his representative character. The men with whom he has most to do
remind him of it; they are themselves in the same category. The reader
of Shakespeare’s Histories is struck with the fine impersonation of
their countries which the leading characters convey as it were in the
tones of their voice. France, England, Scotland become in their
impassioned language not geographical entities, nor even nations merely,
but incarnate in them. So at courts, aided by the very trappings and
ceremonies of their office, private gentlemen become for the nonce
figures in a pageant and feel themselves such. They speak, it may be, in
their natural voice, and talk for the most part with ministers of state
as man to man, with friendly accent and in négligé forms even; but the
consciousness of their representative function is never remote, it is
always alert and ready against surprise. I suspect it becomes even more
easy for a scholar than for a man of affairs to play the part well on
such a stage. And it is this same sense which lies behind much of the
sensitiveness as to rank and punctilio. The ambassador takes precedence
of the minister; thus the minister of a great country is irritated at
finding himself in the procession behind the ambassador of a country of
a second order, not because his personal pride is wounded, but because
his country has felt a slight. These things touch a man of the great
world more than a mere man of the world. The scholar who is absolutely
content with high thinking and plain living in his own home may be
abnormally sensitive to appearances in the embassy over which he
presides. It is an illustration of this that when at his presentation to
the King there was some blunder, and Lowell was kept waiting twenty
minutes beyond the hour appointed for his audience, and the introducer
apologized, Lowell replied it was nothing to him personally, but it
should be remembered it was not he, but the United States that was kept

Another illustration appears in the despatch which Lowell sent Mr.
Evarts, 3 February, 1878, detailing the course he pursued when he
received a telegram from the President congratulating the King upon his
approaching marriage. “I communicated the substance of it,” he writes,
“to the Minister of State and asked for an audience that I might present
it in person to His Majesty. On Monday (the 21st ultimo), accordingly, I
was received by King Alfonso in private audience and delivered my
message, at the same time adding that it gave me particular pleasure to
be the bearer of it. The King in reply desired me to convey to the
President his great pleasure in receiving this expression of sympathy
from the chief magistrate of a people with which he wished always to
maintain and draw closer the most friendly relations. A very gracefully
timed compliment to the messenger followed....

“I think that this act of courtesy on the part of the President has
really given pleasure here, and has not been entirely lost in the throng
of special ambassadors who have been despatched hither with numerous
suites to pay the royal compliments of the occasion.

“As these special ambassadors had been received in public audience, I
had some doubt whether I ought to consent, as being in this case the
immediate representative of the President, to be received privately. But
the time was too short for much consideration. The audience was to be at
half-past one o’clock, and I received notice of it only the night
before. Had it been a _letter_ of the President, I should have insisted
on its being received publicly. As it was, I thought it most prudent and
graceful to admit the distinction between extraordinary ambassadors sent
with great pomp to bring gifts and decorations, and a mere minister
plenipotentiary, especially as it would have otherwise been impossible
to deliver the message at all before the wedding. The difficulty was
heightened by my having only just risen from a very severe attack of
illness, which made it necessary for me to economize my strength in
order to take any part at all in the ceremonies.”

To all this must surely be added, that his very abstinence from
political party associations at home deepened Lowell’s sense of his
position. His conception of the nation which he represented was not
embarrassed by the vapors too often engendered by “practical politics.”
He knew his country, as we have already seen by an examination of his
political writings, and even when most full of concern for her
integrity, he always kept before him the ideal of a land devoted to
freedom and progress. That he was an idealist made him more readily an
actor on the diplomatic stage where America met Spain when Lowell
conversed with Silvela. But his idealism did not get in the way of his
plain business sense. Rather it helped him and supplied that
consciousness of dignity which might have forsaken him had he regarded
himself merely as a business agent.

The drawback to his satisfaction with the office was his consciousness
that he disliked business and was not apt at it; and business after all
was what lay constantly beneath all the courtly exchange of civility.
“You would have laughed,” he wrote to an intimate friend, “if you could
have seen my anxiety when I had to give a receipt for an indemnity of
five hundred thousand dollars. I was so afraid of making a blunder. It
kept me awake night after night, even when I had signed it, and gave me
such palpitations of the heart that I have had pains there ever since.
It was not myself I was thinking of--but the guild--I didn’t wish
another of those ‘d--d littery fellers’ to come to grief.” And to Mr.
Putnam he wrote: “I like the Spaniards very well so far as I know them,
and have an instinctive sympathy with their want of aptitude for
business.” Of course he relied much on the subordinate officers of the
legation, but he knew well that he could not leave the business to
them, and he had, besides, for a while the interest in the details of a
life which was novel to him, as well as the pride which would not suffer
him to be a mere figure-head.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Lowells were about a month on their way from Boston to Madrid. They
spent a few days in London, and Lowell was in a holiday mood both there
and in Paris, where they also made a brief halt in the same pleasant inn
in the Latin Quarter in which they had been so much at home three years
before. The tranquil enjoyment of little scenes which his letters from
the two capitals disclose betokens a mind unvexed by many cares. He was
entering upon a new and untried experience, but he was too old to feel
an undue excitement, and too well poised to borrow trouble from
ignorance of superficial duties. He was rid of the rather irksome and
too familiar occupations of the academic life, he was yet in his freedom
to assume novel responsibilities, and he set his face toward Madrid with
an equanimity which was no doubt heightened by the feeling that he was
not Professor Lowell on a vacation, but Minister Lowell about to realize
his new function.

The Lowells reached Madrid on the fourteenth of August, and on the
eighteenth of the month Lowell was presented at court, the King being at
his summer residence at La Granja, about fifty miles from Madrid. He has
given a brief narrative of the ceremony[69] which was his initiation
into diplomatic life, and, as we have seen, he began at once his work
at the legation, insisting upon using his Spanish in all negotiations.
But the first few weeks in Madrid were anything but agreeable, since
besides the worries of house-hunting he was tortured with gout, which
after a couple of months permitted him to hobble to the office, only if
he put on large walking shoes and handled a crutch.

Meantime he had found a pleasant apartment at No. 7 Cuesta de Santo
Domingo, with a large endowment of sunshine. Indeed, the sunshine of
Spain warmed his spirits thoroughly. “The weather,” he writes, “is
beyond any I ever saw. I got out on the balcony this morning, and there
was all the warmth and, what is more, all the freshness and hopefulness
of spring.” And to Mr. Longfellow: “It beats Italy. Such limpidity of
sky!” After he was well adjusted in his new quarters, he wrote: “Our
household is truly _Complutensian_. Our cook is an old Alsacian woman,
toothless as one of Gil Blas’s robbers. She speaks French, German,
Spanish, and perhaps Arabic, for she lived eight years in Algeria. Our
chambermaid, Pepa, is a brown-yellow Spaniard with an immense wad of
false hair on the back of her head, like all her class here. My valet
and factotum is an Italian from Trieste, speaking French, English, and
Spanish. His wife (Fanny’s maid) is a Parisienne. Since Babel there have
been few such chances for learning the languages. My man has four names
according to the tongue I address him in, Giacomo, Santiago, Jacques,
James. With Carolina I sometimes jabber a little German. Our rooms are
not yet furnished, though we have been in them seven weeks. Except the
dining-room. We bought ten old chairs, highbacked and covered with a
flowered plush, which oddly enough exactly matched our wall-paper. They
are handsome, and I believe were just finished when I bought ’em (period
of Philip II.). However, they are worm-eaten, which has a savor of
authenticity about it, and the maker has been more successful in
reproducing the past than Mareschal McMahon seems to be. By the time I
get them home, they will be genuine old Spanish chairs at any rate, and
there is such a thing as considering too nicely.”

His diplomatic duties at first gave him some concern. He wrote to his
daughter, 18 November, 1877: “Mamma has told you of my tribulations with
gout--first in one foot, then in t’other. I could not write any letters
during those six weeks. And then I had my moral acclimatization to go
through with, which is not by any means ended yet. It _was_ rather tough
at first--in a perfectly strange country, the only stranger, as it were,
for all my fellow-diplomats had either been here some years or had
experience elsewhere;--unable to speak the language fluently, and in a
labyrinth of etiquette where, as in some old gardens, if you take a step
in the wrong direction you are deluged with cold water. Well, philosophy
is an admirable umbrella, but when we are caught in a sudden shower it’s
no use remembering how we left it standing in the corner, as we always

Lowell thought himself too old to find the ceremonial parts of his
occupation even amusing. They bored him; but he had a genuine human
interest in the living part of what he saw and did. It was for him like
reading a bit of history, not from books but from men, and it was not
long before he had an opportunity of taking part in a ceremony, the
marriage of the young King; and in the narrative which he gives of the
event, as well as preliminary comments in despatches to the State
Department, 13 December, 1877--6 February, 1878,[70] he not only gives
an agreeable description of the affair, but indicates with some
clearness his own personal interest as a student.

“Nowhere in the world,” he writes, “could a spectacle have been
presented which recalled so various, so far-reaching, and, in some
respects, so sublime associations, yet rendered depressing by a sense of
anachronism, of decay, and of that unreality which is all the sadder for
being gorgeous. The Roman amphitheatre (_panem et circenses_), the
united escutcheons from whose quartering dates the downfall of Saracenic
civilization and dominion in Spain; the banners of Lepanto and of the
Inquisition fading together into senile oblivion on the walls of the
Atocha; the names and titles that recalled the conquest of western
empires, or the long defeat whose heroism established the independence
of the United Provinces, and proved that a confederacy of traders could
be heroic; the stage-coaches, plumed horses, blazing liveries, and
running footmen of Louis Quatorze; the partisans of Philip III.’s
body-guard, the three-cornered hats, white breeches, and long black
gaiters of a century ago, mingled pell-mell with the French shakos and
red trousers of to-day; the gay or sombre costumes from every province
of Spain, some recalling the Moor and some the motley mercenaries of
Lope de Figueroa; the dense and mostly silent throng which lined for
miles the avenue to the church, crowding the windows with white
mantillas, fringing the eaves and ridge-poles, and clustered like
swarming bees on every kind of open ground;--all these certainly touched
the imagination, but, in my case at least, with a chill as of the dead
man’s hand that played so large a part in earlier incantations to recall
the buried or delay the inevitable. There was everything to remind one
of the past; there was nothing to suggest the future.

“And yet I am unjust. There were the young King and his bride radiant
with spirit and hope, rehearsing the idyl which is charming alike to
youth and age, and giving pledges, as I hope and believe, of more
peaceful and prosperous years to come for a country which has had too
much glory and too little good housekeeping. No one familiar with
Spanish history, or who has even that superficial knowledge of her
national character, which is all that a foreigner is capable of
acquiring, can expect any sudden or immediate regeneration. The bent of
ages is not to be straightened in a day by never so many liberal
constitutions, nor by the pedantic application of theories drawn from
foreign experience, the result of a wholly different past.

“If the ninety years since the French Revolution have taught anything,
it is that institutions grow, and cannot be made to order,--that they
grow out of an actual past, and are not to be conspired out of a
conjectural future,--that human nature is stronger than any invention of
man. How much of this lesson has been learned in Spain, it is hard to
say; but if the young King apply his really acute intelligence, as those
who know him best believe he will, to the conscientious exercise of
constitutional powers and the steady development of parliamentary
methods, till party leaders learn that an ounce of patience is worth a
pound of passion, Spain may at length count on that duration of
tranquillity the want of which has been the chief obstacle to her
material development. Looked at in this light, the pomps of the wedding
festival on the 23d of last month may be something more than a mere
show. Nor should it be forgotten that here it is not the idea of Law but
of Power that is rooted in the consciousness of the people, and that
ceremonial is the garment of Authority....

“The ceremony over, the King and Queen, preceded by the Cabinet
Ministers, the special ambassadors, and the grandees of Spain, and
followed by other personages, all in coaches of state, drove at a
foot-pace to the Palace, where their Majesties received the
congratulations of the Court, and afterwards passed in review the
garrison of Madrid. By invitation of the President of the Council, the
Foreign Legations witnessed the royal procession from the balconies of
the Presidency. It was a very picturesque spectacle, and yet so
comically like a scene from _Cinderella_ as to have a strong flavor of
unreality. It was the past coming back again, and thus typified one of
the chronic maladies of Spain. There was no enthusiasm, nothing more
than the curiosity of idleness which would have drawn as great a crowd
to gape at the entry of a Japanese ambassador. I heard none of the
shouts of which I read in some of the newspapers the next day. No
inference, however, should be drawn from this as to the popularity or
unpopularity of the King. The people of the capital have been promised
the millennium too often, and have been too constantly disappointed to
indulge in many illusions. Spain, isolated as in many respects she is,
cannot help suffering in sympathy with the commercial depression of the
rest of the world, and Spaniards, like the rest of mankind, look to a
change of ministry for a change in the nature of things. The internal
policies of the country (even if I could hope to understand them, as I
am studying to do) do not directly come within my province; but it is
safe to say that Spain is lucky in having her ablest recent statesman at
the head of affairs,[71] though at the cost of many other private
ambitions. That he has to steer according to the prevailing set of the
wind is perhaps rather the necessity of his position than the fault of
his inclination. Whoever has seen the breasts of the peasantry fringed
with charms older than Carthage, and relics as old as Rome, and those of
the upper classes plastered with decorations, will not expect Spain to
become conscious of the nineteenth century, and ready to welcome it, in
a day.”

The difference between a despatch and a letter to a friend is scarcely
so marked as the likeness. It is a little more studied, has a little
more the air of a composition, and fewer sly asides, yet it is after all
Lowell speaking of the things that interest him, rather than the
American minister aware of an audience in the State Department. In the
same despatch he carries forward the narrative by an account of his
participation in the ceremonial bull-fight, and in this passage one
might fancy him turning aside for a moment to have a few words
colloquially with Mr. Evarts and half assuming Parson Wilbur’s tone.

“On Friday took place the first bull-fight, at which every inhabitant of
Madrid and all foreigners commorant therein deemed it their natural
right to be present. The latter, indeed, asserted that the teleological
reason for the existence of legations was to supply their countrymen
with tickets to this particular spectacle for nothing. Though I do not
share in the belief that the sole use of a foreign minister is to save
the cost of a _valet de place_ to people who can perfectly well afford
to pay for one, I did all I could to have my countrymen fare as well as
the rest of the world. And so they did, if they were willing to buy the
tickets which were for sale at every corner. The distribution of them
had been performed on some principle unheard of out of Spain and
apparently not understood even there, so that everybody was
dissatisfied, most of all those who got them.

“The day was as disagreeable as the Prince of the Powers of the Air
could make it, even with special reference to a festival. A furious and
bitterly cold wind discharged volleys of coarse dust, which stung like
sleet, in every direction at once, and seemed always to threaten rain or
snow, but, unable to make up its mind as to which would be most
unpleasant, decided on neither. Yet the broad avenue to the amphitheatre
was continually blocked by the swarm of vehicles of every shape, size,
color, and discomfort that the nightmare of a bankrupt livery stabler
could have invented. All the hospitals and prisons for decayed or
condemned carriages seemed to have discharged their inmates for the day,
and all found willing victims. And yet all Madrid seemed flocking toward
the common magnet on foot also.

“I attended officially, as a matter of duty, and escaped early. It was
my first bull-fight, and will be my last. To me it was a shocking and
brutalizing spectacle in which all my sympathies were on the side of the
bull. As I came out I was nearly ridden down by a mounted guard, owing
to my want of any official badge. For the moment I almost wished myself
the representative of Liberia. Since this dreadful day 16,000 spectators
who were so happy as to be present have done nothing but blow their
noses and cough.”

In a private letter written after the festivities, Lowell refers to a
diplomatic dinner and reception which came at the close, and says: “The
uniforms (there are six special embassies here with very long tails) and
diamonds were very brilliant. But to me, I confess, it is all vanity and
vexation of spirit. I like America better every day.” The
picturesqueness soon satisfied, and he shows in this despatch how his
mind dwelt rather on the life which gave rise to and was typified in the
ceremonial. He read it not at all as a supercilious American, whose
pride in the barrenness of show at home might be as great as Castilian
pride in superfluity of decoration, but as a scholar intent on
discovering those fundamental truths of history which are seen all the
more clearly through the medium of a mind at home in the rarefied air of
a genuine American freedom.

Meanwhile his personal tastes led him to the book-shops and he fell to
buying books, easily pardoning any extravagance he might be led into by
the reflection that his treasures would go ultimately to the library of
his college, where indeed they did finally rest. These dips into the
refreshing waves of literature made him conscious of where his real
interest lay, but he was nevertheless not a perfunctory giver of his
service. “I try to do my duty,” he writes to his friend Child, “but feel
sorely the responsibility to people three thousand miles away, who know
not Joseph and probably think him unpractical.” By necessity of his
office, he was compelled to a good deal of social activity, and this,
though it brought him in contact with interesting persons, was so
opposed to a long habit that it wearied him. He found himself looking
critically at the society into which he was thrown. He saw little
evidence of exact scholarship in the educated men, and a general
disposition toward an indolent attitude regarding all important matters.
But the engaging side of the Spanish character appealed to him. As he
wrote to Child: “There is something oriental in my own nature which
sympathizes with this ‘let her slide’ temper of the hidalgos.”

At this time he began confidentially to whisper to friends at home that
he doubted if he could stand it much more than a year; but from the
middle of April, 1877, he took a two months’ leave of absence and with
Mrs. Lowell made an agreeable journey which brought him back in better
content to his life in Madrid. They travelled first from Madrid to
Tarbes, thence to Toulouse, Carcassonne, Nismes, Avignon, and Arles.
From France they went to Genoa, to Pisa and to Naples, whence they took
steamer to Athens, where they stayed a week or so. Lowell’s official
position not only drew upon him a little official ceremony, but it
tinctured his reflections also, leading him to observe and note matters
which might have some bearing upon international questions or might
affect in a way his own special function as minister to Spain.

“I have just come back from the Palace,” he writes to Mr. Norton from
Athens, 31 May, 1878, “where I was presented to the King, a fine young
Dane, good-looking and intelligent, and with whom I cannot help feeling
a great deal of sympathy just now. For never was man or kingdom in a
more difficult position. Greece was quite willing to make a snatch at
the chestnuts in the fire, even at the risk of burning her own fingers,
and they wouldn’t let her. I have seen decayed gentlemen who lived very
comfortably on the former glories of their family, and drove about in an
imaginary coach of their grandfathers’--but with Greece, if one can’t
say exactly _noblesse oblige_, it at least makes her uneasy, and the
laurels of Miltiades are a wakeful bed. She has an immense claim, and no
resources to make it good--not even the documents that prove clear
descent. It is curious, but I have not seen a face of the type that
statues and medals have taught us to consider Greek. In a regiment that
marched by yesterday at least seven eighths of the men, perhaps nine
tenths, had the nose of the dying gladiator, which I take it is
Slavonic. Yet continuity of language is certainly something, and I am so
stupid that I can’t get over my astonishment at seeing the street-signs,
and hearing the newspapers cried in Greek.”

A sudden opportunity to go to Constantinople shortened the stay in
Athens, and Lowell had a glimpse of the Orient. “My Eastern peep,” he
wrote after his return to Madrid, “has been of service in enabling me to
see how Oriental Spain still is in many ways. Without the comparison I
couldn’t be sure of it.”

The return of the Lowells to Madrid was just before the death of the
young Queen Mercedes, and both in his despatch to the government, dated
3 July, 1878, and in his private letters, Lowell gave expression to more
than merely official concern over the sudden taking-off. His despatch,
in particular, is full of such details as would be noticed by one
genuinely alert, and not merely carrying out the performance of official
etiquette. Here, for example, are a couple of passages which show the
artist and the man of feeling much more than the diplomat:--

“During the last few days of the Queen’s illness, the aspect of the city
had been strikingly impressive. It was, I think, sensibly less noisy
than usual, as if it were all a chamber of death in which the voice must
be bated. Groups gathered and talked in undertone. About the Palace
there was a silent crowd day and night, and there could be no question
that the sorrow was universal and profound. On the last day I was at the
Palace, just when the poor girl was dying. As I crossed the great
interior courtyard, which was perfectly empty, I was startled by a dull
roar, not unlike that of the vehicles in a great city. It was
reverberated and multiplied by the huge cavern of the Palace court. At
first I could see nothing that accounted for it, but presently found
that the arched corridors all around the square were filled, both on the
ground floor and the first story, with an anxious crowd, whose eager
questions and answers, though subdued to the utmost, produced the
strange thunder I had heard. It almost seemed for a moment as if the
Palace itself had become vocal.

“At the time of the royal marriage I told you that the crowd in the
streets was indifferent and silent. My own impression was confirmed by
that of others. The match was certainly not popular, nor did the bride
call forth any marks of public sympathy. The position of the young Queen
was difficult and delicate, demanding more than common tact and
discretion to make it even tenable, much more, influential. On the day
of her death, the difference was immense. Sorrow and sympathy were in
every heart and on every face. By her good temper, good sense, and
womanly virtue, the girl of seventeen had not only endeared herself to
those immediately about her, but had become an important factor in the
destiny of Spain. I know very well what divinity doth hedge royal
personages, and how truly legendary they become even during their lives,
but it is no exaggeration to say that she had made herself an element of
the public welfare, and that her death is a national calamity. Had she
lived she would have given stability to the throne of her husband, over
whom her influence was wholly for good. She was not beautiful, but the
cordial simplicity of her manner, the grace of her bearing, her fine
eyes, and the youth and purity of her face, gave her a charm that mere
beauty never attains.” How the death of the Queen affected Lowell’s
imagination may further be seen in the sonnet which he then wrote, but
which was not published till he collected his final volume of poetry.

The furlough which Lowell had taken greatly refreshed him, and he took
up his life again with vigor and gayety, applying himself not only to
the duties of the legation, but to the better acquisition of the Spanish
language, a fuller knowledge of the literature, and the study of those
larger matters of Spanish polity and character with which it became a
minister to acquaint himself. “I have come back,” he wrote to his
daughter, “a new man, and have flung my _blue_ spectacles into the paler
Mediterranean. I really begin to find life at last tolerable here, nay,
to enjoy it after a fashion.”

Here is an outline of his days, as he gives it in a letter to a friend:
“Get up at 8, from 9 sometimes till 11 my Spanish professor, at 11
breakfast, at 12 to the legation, at 3 home again and a cup of
chocolate, then read the papers and write Spanish till a quarter to 7,
at 7 dinner, and at 8 drive in an open carriage in the Prado till 10, to
bed at 12 to 1. In cooler weather we drive in the afternoon. I am very
well,--cheerful and no gout.”

He set to work systematically on Spanish with a cultivated Spaniard who
could speak no English, and with whom he read and talked every day,
besides turning French and English literature into Spanish. “I am
working now at Spanish,” he writes, 2 August, 1878, “as I used to work
at Old French--that is, all the time and with all my might. I mean to
know it better than they do themselves--which isn’t saying much.
Considering how hard it has always been for me to _speak_ a
language--even one I knew pretty well--I am making good progress, for I
did not begin till my return six weeks ago. Before that I hadn’t the
spirit for it.” Of his tutor, Don Herminigildo Gines de los Rios, he
adds: “He is a fine young fellow who lost a professor’s chair for his
liberal principles, and is now professor in the Free University they are
trying to found here. I like him very much.”

Three months later he wrote: “I am beginning to talk Spanish pretty
well, but my previous knowledge of the language is a great hindrance.
This may seem a paradox, but it isn’t. What I mean is that I know too
much to catch it by ear. I understand all that is said to me, and
accordingly cannot (without a conscious effort) pay attention to the
forms of speech. They go in at one ear and out at the other. But I can
write it now with considerable ease and correctness. I am to be admitted
to the Academy this month, I believe.”

Lowell had been a year now at his post, and could venture to write of
the internal politics of Spain with greater assurance because he had a
more exact knowledge. His despatch to the government, No. 108, dated 26
August, 1878,[72] is a studied analysis of the character of the parties
and leaders that composed the political situation. He begins by
explaining his own reticence heretofore. “I have always been chary,” he
writes, “of despatches concerning the domestic politics of Spain,
because my experience has taught me that political prophets who make
even an occasional hit, and that in their own country, where they may
be presumed to know the character of the people, and the motives likely
to influence them, are as rare as great discoverers in science. Such a
conjunction of habitual observation with the faculty of instantaneous
logic that suddenly precipitates the long accumulation of experience in
crystals whose angles may be measured and their classification settled,
can hardly be expected of an observer in a foreign country. Its history
is no longer an altogether safe guide, for with the modern facility of
intercommunication, influences from without continually grow more and
more directly operative, and yet wherever, as in Spain, the people is
almost wholly dumb, there are few means of judging how great the
infiltration of new ideas may have been. Where there is no well-defined
national consciousness with recognised organs of expression, there can
be no public opinion, and therefore no way of divining what its attitude
is likely to be under any given circumstances.”

In forming his judgment Lowell seems to have used the broad means which
great ambassadors have always had recourse to. That is, he did not
merely sift the opinions he received from Spaniards, or put himself
under the tutelage of any one man, but he attended the debates of the
Cortes, he read the more intelligent journals, he talked with leaders of
Spanish opinion, and be availed himself of converse with those
foreigners travelling in Spain, whose impressions could be valued, and
behind all lay an old acquaintance with Spanish history and literature,
constantly added to, and an apprehension of Spanish character,
reënforced by personal intercourse. In a word, he went about the
business of an American minister to Spain with the same painstaking care
and the same breadth of view which, as a scholar, he would employ on the
interpretation of a great piece of literature. He did not neglect the
commercial side of his business, but he properly made it subordinate,
holding that he was not merely representing the country as an eminent
consul, but was assisting at the high court of international comity. In
the analysis which he attempts, he testifies to the kind of training
which he brings to the task, by fixing his attention mainly on the
leaders of parties, and studying their characters and aims. Especially
is this true of his acute examination of the qualities of Señor Cánovas
del Castillo, whom he regards as not only the ablest politician, but
capable also of being Spain’s most far-seeing statesman, and he makes
his observation more effective by the comparison which he draws between
him and Señor Castelar.

Mr. Adee, who, when Lowell went to Spain, was chargé d’affaires, in his
intelligent and appreciative Introduction to “Impressions of Spain,”
remarks that “necessarily lacking the knowledge of the true springs of
national impulse deep down in the heart of the masses, he dealt with the
surface indications, and analyzed the character and motives of the men
on top, whose peculiarities most caught his attention.” It is quite as
much to the point that Lowell did not assume a profound knowledge of
the Spanish people, and that he wrote of the phenomena most on the field
of his own activity as a minister resident. He was, moreover, too sound
a scholar and too shrewd a man to indulge in philosophizing on a nation
from the data furnished even by long study and some personal experience.
Nevertheless, whatever he lets fall about Spain, as well as his more
studied expression, indicates that kind of insight which was one of
Lowell’s gifts of nature, and stood him in good stead as a critic of
books, of men, and of nations.

It may militate against a respect for Lowell’s judgment in such matters,
that after a score of years the vaticinations which he ventured to
express in this despatch have not yet found a realization; yet twenty
years is a short period in a nation’s life, and these opinions carry
with them so much political faith, and are delivered with so much
moderation, that they form interesting reading to-day, and may well be
repeated here.

“My own conclusion,” he writes, “is that sooner or later (perhaps sooner
than later) the final solution (of existing political problems) will be
a conservative republic like that of France. Should the experiment there
go on prosperously a few years longer, should the French Senate become
sincerely republican at the coming elections, the effect here could not
fail to be very great, perhaps decisive. In one respect, the Spanish
people are better prepared for a Republic than might at first be
supposed. I mean that republican habits in their intercourse with each
other are and have long been universal. Every Spaniard is a caballero,
and every Spaniard can rise from the ranks to position and power. This
also is in part from the Mahometan occupation of Spain. _Del rey ninguno
abajo_ is an ancient Spanish proverb implying the equality of all below
the King. Manners, as in France, are democratic, and the ancient
nobility here as a class are even more shadowy than the dwellers in the
Faubourg Saint Germain.

“In attacking Señor Cánovas the opposition papers dwell upon the
censorship of the press, upon the reëstablishment of monachism under
other names, and upon the onerous restrictions under which the free
expression of thought is impossible. The ministerial organs reply to the
first charge that more journals were undergoing suspension at one time
during the liberal administration of Señor Sagasta than now, and this is
true. The fact is that no party, and no party leader, in Spain, is
capable of being penetrated with the truth, perhaps the greatest
discovery of modern times, that freedom is good above all because it is
safe. Señor Cánovas is doing only what any other Spaniard would do in
his place, that is, endeavoring to suppress opinions which he believes
to be mischievous. But of the impolitic extreme to which the principle
is carried under his administration, though, I suspect, without his
previous consent, the following fact may serve as an example. Señor
Manuel Merelo, professor in the Instituto del Cardenal Cisneros,
published in 1869 a compendium of Spanish history for the use of
schools. In speaking of the Revolution of 1868, he wrote, ‘It is said
that the light conduct (_las léviandades_) of Queen Isabel II. was one
of the causes of this catastrophe.’ After an interval of nine years, he
has been expelled from his chair and his book suppressed.

“If any change should take place, which I confess I do not expect, but
which, in a country of personal government and _pronunciamentos_, is
possible to-morrow, I think the new administration will find that with
the best intentions in the world a country which has been misgoverned
for three centuries is not to be reformed in a day. At the same time, I
believe Spain to be making rapid advances toward the conviction that a
reform is imperative, and can only be accomplished by the good-will and,
above all, the good sense of the entire nation. There are strong
prejudices and rooted traditions to be overcome, but with time and
patience I believe that Spain will accomplish the establishment of free
institutions under whatever form of government.”

In the course of Lowell’s incumbency, General Grant visited Spain on his
journey round the world, and the embassy, of course, was busy in its
attention to the great American. Lowell’s despatch to his government is
a model of orderly, dignified statement of the incidents attending
Grant’s visit, without the least of that free, personal note which
characterizes so many of Lowell’s despatches. His letters home on the
same event naturally are more gossipy, but they express well his
admiration of Grant’s qualities.

In the spring of 1879 Lowell seems to have been in some uncertainty
about his continued stay. There had been some talk of transferring him
to Berlin, which he did not desire, but the President emphatically
declared his wish that Lowell should remain at Madrid. He longed to be
at home, yet since he had become adjusted to the place, he wished to
secure the advantage and increase his acquaintance with Spain and the
character of the Spanish. He was alert and ready now to make more
confident notes regarding the people among whom he was living. In
speaking of a friend who had been most kind to them, and who had a
quartering of English race in her, he says:--

“She speaks both languages equally well, but is, I think, cleverer in
Spanish, and gives it a softness of intonation which is almost
unexampled here where the voices of the women are apt to be harsh and
clattering like those of the Irish. Doesn’t Madame Daulnay say something
of the kind? Nothing strikes me more than the rarity of agreeable
voices, and (what I never noticed in any other country) one hears in the
street the same tones as in the _salon_. I am for once inclined to admit
an influence of climate. To jump from the physical to the moral, the
Spaniards are the most provincial people conceivable, as much so as we
were forty years ago. It is comfortable, for they think they have the
best of everything--even of governments, for aught I know. But the
everything must be Spanish. Even their actors they speak of in a way
that would be extravagant even of Rachel, and I never saw worse.
Perhaps the most oriental thing in this semi-oriental people is the
hyperbole of praise which the critics allow themselves. It is quite
beyond belief. The press, by the way, at least that of Madrid, is
remarkably decorous, and never hints at private scandal. It may be
because the duel is still a judicial ceremony--though hardly, for there
is never any harm done. It may be that every one is conscious of a
skylight in his own roof, through which a stone might come. On the
whole, I think it is a relic of the old Spanish _hidalguia_, of which in
certain ways I think there is a good deal left. But I don’t pretend to
know the Spaniards yet--if ever I shall. When a man at sixty doesn’t yet
know himself, he is apt to get startled and carried off by the readiness
with which he hears shallow men pronounce judgment on a whole people.
The only way to do this, I suppose, would be to read all history, to
compare the action of different races or nations under similar
circumstances (if circumstances ever are similar), and then, eliminating
all points of likeness common to human nature, to analyze what was left,
if anything should be left.”

Since it was determined that he should continue to be minister to Spain,
Lowell proposed to use his yearly furlough by a hurried visit home in
the summer of 1879, leaving Mrs. Lowell at Tours. “I wish Fanny could
spend the summer with you in Maiche,” he writes to Mr. John W. Field
who, with his wife, had been their companions for a while in Spain; “but
we both think the other plan wiser, though not so agreeable. She will
learn more French in Tours, and I think we can find a good family for
her to go into through the French _pasteur_ or the British chaplain, for
there are both in the town. I hope to be in Paris by the 25th, and to
find you still here. Delay for a day or two, I beseech you, for my sake.
I can’t stay long, for I have to give a week to my friends in England on
my way through. I can hardly contain myself at the thought of going
home. It excites me more than I could have conceived--at my time of
life! Were I as young as you it wouldn’t be surprising.”

This was written 15 June, 1879. On the 20th he wrote a line to the same
friend to say that they could not start that day, as they had intended,
and he could not say when they should, since Mrs. Lowell was not well
enough to travel. “Nothing serious,” he adds, but as the days passed his
tone changed. Serious indeed her illness proved to be. On the 9th of
July he wrote: “Twice yesterday the doctors thought all was over. No
motion of the heart could be detected--the hands and feet and nose
became cold--and the dear face had all the look of death--the eyes
altogether leaden and fixed. She had been without speech for twelve
hours. What speech she had had for several days had been mere delirium.
Suddenly at about six in the afternoon she revived as by a miracle, said
she wished to be changed to another bed, was willing to take stimulants
in order to strengthen her for it, and insisted that she could move
herself from one bed to the other. This, of course, was out of the
question. After being changed she was perfectly tranquil, though
excessively weak. During the operation she spoke French to the Sœur who
is nursing her, English to me, and Spanish to her maid, all coherently.
Both doctors declared they had never seen such a case, or heard of it,
and that according to all experience she ought to have died ten times
over and days before. I have had two, one to relay the other, so that
one could be at her bedside all the time. One has slept in the
house--when he _could_ sleep. The question now is of building up
strength. It has been typhus of the most malignant kind. That has run
its course. All danger is not yet over, but hope has good grounds. The
chances are now in her favor, especially as she wishes to live. I will
tell you more hereafter. God be praised!”

But the recovery was very slow, with many relapses and with periods of
mental disorder. The original purpose was held to as long as it seemed
possible, but at last, as summer passed into autumn and autumn into
winter, it was plain that all plans of travel must be abandoned. Mr.
Field made them a flying visit, then both Mr. and Mrs. Field came to
Madrid to be with them and give them help and comfort. Their friends
Señor and Señora de Riaño were most attentive, and Mr. Dwight Reed,
Lowell’s secretary, had been almost indispensable. “I should have gone
quite desperate without him,” Lowell writes; and again, 18 October:
“Reed has been a great help. He comes every day to dinner and distracts
me a little with rumors from the outer world. He is a thoroughly
kind-hearted and affectionate fellow. But I can’t tell you what the
loneliness of my night has sometimes been, when I have heard the clock
strike every hour and every quarter till daylight came again to bring
the certainty that she was no better.”

It was not till the end of December that Lowell could speak and write of
his wife with anything like relief from the burden of anxiety. During
this time he took long walks with his friend Mr. Field, and attended to
his necessary work at the legation. His spirits began to rise, but the
strain he had been undergoing had been intense. Later, when the critical
condition was over, though relapses still occurred, he could rehearse
something of his experience: “I have had a very long and very terrible
trial, which the strange country and alien tongue have made worse, and
these ups and downs almost desperate. And yet without the intervals of
reason and hopeful convalescence from time to time, I know not how I
could have endured it. Indeed I cannot now comprehend how I pulled
through. Friendship has helped us, it is true. During the first weeks
Doña Emilia de Riaño (Gayangos’s daughter) came every night to watch
with Fanny, and her husband, Don Juan, came to see me every day. And my
secretary, a most true-hearted, affectionate fellow, sat up with me
night after night when I could not sleep, and kept me from eating into
myself all the time. Otherwise I was without even an acquaintance, for
everybody leaves Madrid during the summer. Lately the dear Fields have
been a great prop.

“If I could only get her away! But that is out of the question at
present. And all the while I have had to write cool little bulletins to
Mabel, turning the fair side outward when my heart was aching with
anxiety and apprehension. I must have expiated many sins this summer. I
feel now as if nothing could kill me, and am saddened more than ever
with a conclusion arrived at long ago by experience, that this poor
human nature of ours _gets used_ to almost anything--a conclusion of
far-reaching and, in some ways, disheartening consequence.”

       *       *       *       *       *

As the year waned, Lowell found himself required to give his attention
to the change of the Spanish ministry, a political event which caused
more excitement than he had seen at any time during his stay in Madrid.
He analyzed the situation in his despatch to the government, No. 222,
dated 15 December, 1879, and in his conclusion wrote: “It is hardly yet
time to estimate the effect of recent events on the peninsular or
colonial destinies of the country, but the result thus far has been to
weaken the man who has hitherto been acknowledged leader and inspirer of
the Liberal-Conservative, and one might say therefore of the Dynastic,
party of Spain. Yet it should be remembered in estimating his chances
that he is a man of far greater resources, of prompter courage in taking
responsibility, and of more convincing and persuasive oratory than any
of his contemporaries and rivals in party-leadership. All sorts of wild
rumors are in circulation, but I am inclined to await events rather than
to trust in the vaticinations of journalists who mutually excite and
outbid each other in the bewildering competition of immediate

Twelve days later, in despatch No. 223, Lowell returned to the subject
of the change of ministry, and after some shrewd and witty conjectures
as to the course of events, drawn in part from his study of the Spanish
mind, he took up a more serious matter.

“The crucial question for the new cabinet will not, I conceive, arise
from domestic politics, but rather from the economic reforms demanded by
the Island of Cuba. Señor Cánovas assured me a week ago that he ‘was
ready and should be glad to concede any reforms that would not produce a
deficit in the Cuban budget, but that he could not consent to make the
island a burden on the peninsula.’ The minister of Ultramar said
substantially the same thing to me last evening. I told him smilingly
that I had a deep interest in the matter, because I feared that I should
have my hands full of Cuban claims if they delayed much longer.

“The Cuban deputies and senators are, I believe, very much discontented
with the turn things have taken. Several have already gone home, and
more are to follow. The affairs of Cuba certainly look ominous, but
those who prophesy a general movement for separation there seem to
forget that the island is inhabited by two distinct and mutually
suspicious races, and that the whites, being of Spanish origin, are as
obstinately divided in political sentiment as their kinsmen here.
General Grant’s visit to Cuba seems to attract some attention. The
Minister for Foreign Affairs asked me about it yesterday. I answered
carelessly that I knew nothing more than what I saw in the newspapers;
that the same motives no doubt carried the general thither that had
carried him to Europe and Asia; that he was also to visit Mexico, a
circumstance which I had seen connected by some journalists with an
apocryphal movement in that country for annexation to the United States.
You can infer what rumors are rife by a question asked me by the
Pro-nuncio here, ‘whether negotiations were on foot for a purchase of
Cuba by the United States.’ I told him that such a report was very
likely to arise from the well-known fact that General Prim when in power
had favored such a scheme, and turned the conversation to something

Early in 1880, entirely without Lowell’s knowledge or motion, a
suggestion from one or two friends, conspiring with the wishes of the
State Department at Washington, led to the offer of a transfer from
Madrid to London. On 22 January, Lowell wrote to his daughter: “Day
before yesterday I was startled with a cipher telegram. My first thought
was ‘Row in Cuba--I shall have no end of bother.’ It turned out to be
this: ‘President has nominated you to England. He regards it as
essential to the public service that you should accept and make your
personal arrangements to repair to London as early as may be. Your
friends whom I have conferred with concur in this view.’ You see that is
in very agreeable terms, and at least shows that Government is satisfied
with my conduct here. I was afraid of its effects on mamma at first; but
she was pleased, and began at once to contrive how I could accept, which
she wished me to do. I answered: ‘Feel highly honored by the President’s
confidence. Could accept if allowed two months delay. Impossible to move
or leave my wife sooner.’”

How intimately Lowell connected the change with the condition of his
wife, and how her state subdued any exhilaration he might have felt,
appears further from a letter written 13 February, 1880, to a friend who
had been moving in the matter at home. “I did not know that you had any
hand in it when I wrote to Mr. Evarts and told him that had I been
consulted I should have had grave doubts about accepting. Accordingly I
wish you would contrive to let them know at Washington that I was in
utter ignorance of what my friends were doing. Indeed, I hardly know
even now what I shall (or rather what I can) do. When the telegram came
Fanny had been going on well for six weeks, but about a fortnight ago
came another relapse and she is now in a very nervous state again,--not
absolutely out of her head, but incapable of controlling herself.... If
this relapse should prove transitory like the others, I shall probably
be obliged to leave Fanny here, and go to London for my presentation,
and then come back on leave. For I cannot very well renounce the
appointment now after having consented to accept it. Fanny was so well
when the telegram came that I did not hesitate to consult her about it.
She was very much pleased and insisted on my accepting, but now I have
the dreadful suspicion that it was the excitement of this news that
upset her again. It is true that the change did not show itself for more
than a week, and there are reasons for attributing it to physical
causes, but I cannot shake off the bitter reproach of having been
imprudent. And yet what could I do? The doctor had told me that in a
month at farthest I should be able to move her, and she was so perfectly
herself then that I had no fears. It is now twelve o’clock (noon) and
she is still asleep. The nurse thinks her better. She woke for a few
moments, took some beef tea, and dropped off again. Sleep is always good
for her. I hope it is a good sign that this relapse has not been so bad
as the last before it. Before that she had been better for a few days
only and I was never sure that the excitement of the brain was more than
diminished. But when this began she had been perfectly self-possessed
for weeks, and we took great comfort together in the twenty-third psalm.
I am glad I was born long enough ago to have some _superstitions_ left.
They stand by one somehow, and the back feels that it has a brother
behind it.[73] I long to be at home again, and it will not be a great
while now. If we get to England, it is more than half way.”

Lowell carried out the plan he had outlined. His friends, Mr. and Mrs.
John W. Field, were in Madrid, and he left Mrs. Lowell under their
watchful supervision, and went reluctantly to England, reaching London 7
March, 1880. His friends kept him informed daily by telegraph and letter
of the condition of the invalid, and it so chanced that she had another
relapse shortly after he had left her. He was in despair, and heaped
reproaches upon himself for having gone; yet when he reasoned, he saw he
had done only what he must do. A more reassuring telegram came on the
9th of March, and on the 14th he was persuaded that Mrs. Lowell had
issued from this crisis and come fairly out on the other side. In a week
more, he had had his audience with the Queen, and taking brief leave of
absence, had set out for Madrid, whence he was now able to remove his
wife to England. The life of both of them was brightened during the
summer that followed by the coming of Mr. and Mrs. Burnett on a brief
visit from America.




The two and a half years that Lowell passed at Madrid formed an
excellent preparation for the more important post which he was to occupy
near the Court of St. James. The etiquette of a high diplomatic position
does not differ greatly in the different capitals; if anything, more
punctilio would be observed in Madrid than in London. It was something,
at any rate, to have become wonted to the function of a minister
plenipotentiary. But this was a trifle compared with the advantage which
Lowell enjoyed in the possession now of self-confidence. He had tried on
the coat and found it fitted him well; he could wear it in London where
he would be in a far more conspicuous position. He had practised the
diplomatic art in a country where the language was foreign and the race
unfamiliar, and if in his short residence he could, with some assurance,
analyze the internal political conditions, he might hope more quickly to
be able to apprehend nice discriminations in the current politics of a
country where he was at home in language, literature, and history.

It is scarcely to be doubted that his performance of diplomatic duties
in Spain had made it easy for the President to appoint him to the
highest foreign station. But it is also likely that the choice was made
mainly upon the ground of Lowell’s fitness to act as a mediator between
the two countries. With the exception of Motley, there never had been an
American minister to England who was first and foremost a man of
letters, and yet in no other field of human endeavor was there so great
a community of intelligence. Literature had been honored in its
representatives in many courts of Europe and in consular offices, but
the presumption is that heretofore political and commercial relations
with England had been of so complex a character that it was thought
desirable to have a trained man of affairs or of law and statesmanship
at the post. Moreover, it was a great political prize, and men of
letters are, as a rule, non-combatants in politics. But Lowell had been
initiated in Spain, and it was a far more simple process, so far as
political effect might be considered, to transfer him to England than to
have made that a direct appointment.

The educated men of America were delighted with the appointment. They
felt at once that they had a spokesman. And it may fairly be said that
Americans generally were gratified; for a man of letters who has won
high recognition, especially if his work has been in the field of
poetry, history, or general literature, occupies a secure place in the
regard of his countrymen, and is subject to less suspicion or jealousy
than one in any other conspicuous position. By its very nature a
literary reputation is widespread and not local. A very great lawyer,
unless he has also been in the public eye as a member of government, is
taken on trust by all but his professional brethren. A great author
through the process of growing great has become known to increasing
numbers of his countrymen. It is doubtful if any other author, save
Longfellow, would at once have been so accepted by Americans as their
proper representative in London.

On the other side, though the English as a great reading body are not
very familiar with American literature, the leaders of opinion, the
class that stands nearest the government, know it generously, and while
it would be necessary to make the acquaintance of a representative of
American law, business, or politics, a representative of American
letters and scholarship would already be a familiar name. Certain it is
that Lowell in going to London went at once into the midst of friends.
He had been there but two or three days when he wrote: “I am overwhelmed
already with invitations though I have not put my arrival in the
papers;” and a few days later: “I lunched with Tennyson yesterday. He is
getting old and looks seedy. I am going in to take a pipe with him the
first free evening. Pipes have more thawing power than anything else.”

And yet it must not be forgotten that Lowell himself had been a frank
critic of England and carried in his own mind a temper which it might
seem would be in the way of a perfectly cordial relation. In his
political papers and in the second series of the “Biglow Papers” he had
been very outspoken. His well-known article on “A Certain Condescension
in Foreigners,” with its pungent sentences, was not easily to be
overlooked, and there is a letter[74] which Mr. Norton prints, written
in 1865, that may be taken as a truthful report of the attitude held by
Lowell toward England during the great war, and modified only slightly
by time. There was therefore a little consciousness on his part as if he
were not wholly a _persona grata_, and also that he must stand by his
colors, which gave him a certain brusqueness in his early public
appearances. It did not take long, however, for him to adjust himself in
his new relations, for after all it was the greater England to which he
was sent, and the world with which he came immediately into contact was
very hospitable. At the same time, throughout his stay in England he
showed a certain vigilance as the champion of American institutions,
speech, and manners which gave him the air of combativeness. An
Englishman who was often his host said: “I like Mr. Lowell. I like to
have him here. I keep him as long as I can, and I am always in terror
lest somebody shall say something about America that would provoke an
explosion.” Mr. Smalley, who quotes this, adds that Lowell had seen the
inside of more country houses in England than any American who ever
lived; and that there was not one in which he had not let fall some
good American seed.[75]

“Sometimes,” says Max Müller, “even the most harmless remark about
America would call forth very sharp replies from him. Everybody knows
that the salaries paid by America to her diplomatic staff are
insufficient, and no one knew it better than he himself. But when the
remark was made in his presence that the United States treated their
diplomatic representatives stingily, he fired up, and discoursed most
eloquently on the advantages of high thoughts and humble living.”[76]

The official business which occupies an American minister in England is
the formal occasion for accrediting him to the Court; but there has been
a growing disposition to treat this as after all a secondary
consideration beside the less tangible one of increasing good feeling
between the peoples of the two countries. Special envoys, telegrams, and
despatches might serve for the transaction of business, but just as the
countless personal letters which pass between correspondents on both
sides of the Atlantic go to make the invisible web which unites the two
nations, so the personal intercourse which the American minister has
with Englishmen may have a weighty effect in preserving an _entente

The English more than any other nation have cultivated the dinner-table
and the social meeting for the purpose of exchanging ideas regarding
public affairs. Where an American public man will send for a reporter
of a widely read newspaper if he has some important message to deliver
to his constituents or the people at large, the Englishman will accept
an invitation to a dinner of some society, and take that occasion for
making a speech which will be reported and commented on in all the great
dailies of the city and the provinces. Dinners, unveilings,
cornerstones, meetings of societies,--these all become the accepted
occasions for the propagation of ideas, and the most unrhetorical people
in civilization blurt out their views at such times with a certain scorn
of eloquence and admiration of candor. Moreover, the smallness of the
great legislative chambers conduces to the conversational tone, and thus
public speakers are trained to the disuse of oratory.

It was natural that Lowell should be in demand on such occasions, and it
was inevitable that he should make a remarkable impression. He had for
years cultivated the art of speaking to small assemblies when he had a
congenial subject and a responsive audience. He had the readiness of a
practised writer, and he had above all a spontaneousness of nature which
made him one of the best of conversationalists. It was but a slight
remove from his lecture-room at Harvard, or his study at Elmwood, to an
English dinner-table, and the themes on which he was called upon to
speak were very familiar to him. Literature, the common elements of
English and American life, the distinctiveness of America, these were
subjects on which he was at home, and he brought to his task a manner
quiet yet finished by years of practice. Had set orations been his
business, he would scarcely have made so remarkable an impression as he
made by his off-hand speeches. Yet it must not be supposed that these
were careless, impromptu affairs. He was helped by his readiness, but he
did not rely upon it. He thought out carefully his little address, and
sometimes wrote it out in advance even when he made no use of
manuscript. It was not unalloyed pleasure. “I am to speak at the Academy
dinner to-morrow,” he writes to a friend, after he had had a couple of
years practice in such functions, “which does not make me happy,--and
not a fit word to say has yet occurred to me. They think I like to
speak, I ‘do it so easily.’” He was not one to rise with the declaration
that he had nothing to say, and then to say it. He respected his
audience, and above all, with all his bonhomie, he never forgot that he
was not a private guest, but the representative of a great nation. Not
that he always harped on the one string of a community of nature and
interest in the two countries, but he remembered that he was invited not
simply as a man of letters but as the American minister.

When Lowell went to England he apprehended difficulty in maintaining the
position of an American minister on his salary, which could not greatly
be increased from his modest fortune. Indeed, he said frankly that it
would have been quite impossible to play the host as it should be
played, except for the unhappy fortune which compelled Mrs. Lowell to
withdraw from society. His friends told him, with that candor which
makes English society at once so refreshing and so amusing, that since
Mrs. Lowell could not entertain, he was quite at liberty to accept all
manner of invitations, and be under no obligation to return them. So his
public duties called him in many directions socially, and he was able,
besides doing a little business by the way in these diversions, to see
the best of the intellectual life of the day. He had a choice group of
friends who had known him before he was a public man, and his position
gave shim the entrée in all society, but he whispered: “I think on the
whole I find no society so good as what I have been accustomed to at

All this brought him, moreover, an endless correspondence which quite
effectually interfered with the friendly letters which had been so
natural an outlet of his moods. “Did you ever happen,” he writes to Mr.
Field, 20 August, 1880, “to be watching the top of a post when a
snowstorm was beginning? You would have seen first a solitary flake come
wavering down and make a lodgment, then another and another, till
finally a white nightcap covered the whole knob. My head is very like
that wooden protuberance, and that’s the way letters descend upon it.
While I am answering one a dozen more have fallen, and if I let a day go
by, I am overwhelmed. And days go by without my knowing it. You tell
Mabel that five have passed since you wrote--which is simply absurd. I
think it was about fifteen minutes ago that I got it.”

“During Mr. Lowell’s service as Minister to England,” writes Mr. R. R.
Bowker, who was at this time resident in London, “Mrs. Lowell was
constantly an invalid, as the after effect of typhus fever while in
Spain, and it was delightful to see Mr. Lowell’s gallantry--for no other
word expresses it--as she was brought down in her invalid chair to the
dining-room or drawing-room. But she never lost the happy laugh so
characteristic of her, and her charm of direct and pleasant manner. Her
condition made it impossible for Mr. Lowell to give receptions or large
dinners, so that his household guests were confined to a few Americans.
In an invitation to dine on Christmas day of 1880, he writes: ‘We shan’t
be very jolly, but there will be a spice of home.’ It was at that
dinner, I think, that Mrs. Lowell had quite set her heart on having
cranberry sauce with the turkey, and so had obtained from that wonderful
American storehouse at 45 Piccadilly a supply of cranberries. But the
servants, who had mostly come with the Lowells from Spain, could not be
made to understand what was wanted, and it was only when, two or three
courses after the turkey, Mrs. Lowell hit upon calling for the ‘compote
rouge’ that we obtained our cranberry sauce as a separate course....

“Mr. Lowell was always charmingly gallant, and on one occasion at the
house in Lowndes Square there was present a young American actress from
whom he asked some recitation. She offered to read the balcony scene
from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but said she had no Romeo, whereupon Mr. Lowell
volunteered, the Juliet reciting from behind the sofa, and the most
charming of Romeos, though somewhat elderly for the part, reading from
in front.”

The duties of his office in the first part of his service were not
onerous except as multitudinous details bring weariness, but the long
illness of President Garfield during the summer of 1881 brought a strain
upon the emotions, and called for the constant exercise of a refined
courtesy. For, aside from the formal exchange of sympathy which would be
inevitable under such circumstances, there was that spontaneous and
varied expression of grief on all sides, to which Lowell refers with so
much feeling and such exquisite reserve of speech in the address on
Garfield which was given at the Memorial Meeting in Exeter Hall, 24
September, 1881, and is preserved in “Literary and Political Addresses.”
Lowell was there speaking to Americans in the presence, as it were, of
all England, and the note of sobriety and deep feeling and strong faith
which he struck still has the beauty and richness with which it fell on
the ears of his sympathetic audience. He was constantly called upon
during that anxious season of the President’s illness to respond to
letters of sympathy. A despatch which he sent to the Secretary of State
a fortnight after the blow shows the same dignity in his official
communication, and illustrates also the atmosphere in which he was
living throughout the summer. It is No. 219, and is dated 16 July,

“Warm expressions of sympathy with the President, with Mrs. Garfield,
and with the people of the United States, and of abhorrence of the
atrocious attempt on the President’s life have reached this Legation
from all parts of England and Scotland. From the Queen to the artisan,
the feeling has been universal and very striking in its manifestation.
The first question in the morning and the last at night for the first
ten days after the news came was always: ‘How is the President?’ Had the
President’s life not been spared, the demonstration of feeling would
have been comparable with that which followed the assassination of Mr.

“The interest of the Queen was shown in an unusually marked way, and was
unmistakable in its sincerity and warmth. By her special request all our
telegrams were at once forwarded to her at Windsor. At Marlborough
House, on the 14th she sent for me, in order to express in person her
very great satisfaction that the condition of the President was so

“I need not waste words in telling you with what profound anxiety your
telegrams were awaited, nor how much encouragement and consolation were
brought by the later ones. I may be permitted to thank you, however, for
the entire composure which characterized them, and which enabled me to
maintain my own while prophets of evil were hourly sending me imaginary

“The impression produced here by the President’s dignity and fortitude
may be almost called a political event, for I believe that it has done
more to make a juster estimate of American character possible here than
many years of commercial or even social intercourse would have done.”

It was with a great sense of relief from tension, after the death of the
President, that Lowell took a leave of absence, and made a short trip to
Italy. “I am just starting,” he writes to T. W. Higginson, 8 October,
1881, “for the continent on a leave of absence which I sorely need. Wish
me joy, I am going to Italy! Whether I may not find somebody else in my
chair at the Legation when I come back is one of those problems that I
cannot solve, and care little about, though now that I have made
friendships here I should like to stay on a little longer. Did you know
that I have five grandchildren?”

Unfortunately Mrs. Lowell was not sufficiently restored to health to
accompany him, but he had the good fortune to find Mr. and Mrs. Field at
the end of his journey. “We reached Flushing,” he wrote Mrs. Lowell from
Frankfort, 10 October, “at half-past six in the morning and there took
the train for this place. We travelled several thousand miles, as it
seemed to me, through Holland, every now and then seeing a hunchbacked
church gathering its village under its wings like a clucking hen when
she sees the hawk in the air, at every turn a windmill and low fields
bordered with trees that always look just beginning to grow--Heaven
knows why. After crossing the Prussian frontier, the dead level
continued as far as Cologne. The only difference was that the trees
were larger and often one saw pretty linden-alleys leading up to the
little towns. The railway officials had a more close-buttoned military
air, and were always saluting invisible superiors.”

On the 12th he wrote from Weimar: “I left Frankfort at noon on Monday
and got here towards seven in the evening. The first half of the journey
was through one of the loveliest valleys (of the broad and basking kind)
I ever saw. The only name I recognized in this part of the way was
Offenbach, where Goethe had his adventures with Lilli a hundred and more
years ago, but after passing Elm the names grew more familiar and
famous. _Fulda_, Gotha, Erfurt, _Eisenach_. Weimar is a neat little
capital which looks about as large as Salem, and where the one stranger
is as much stared at as there. _Why_ it is a capital, and especially why
it should be where it is, puzzles me. The park is really delightful,
with fine trees and one of the most beautiful streams running through it
I ever saw. The water is so clear as to seem almost luminous, the
water-mosses are as green as those of the sea, and some horse-chestnuts
that had fallen in shone like live coals. I walked about the town all
the forenoon.”

He paid a visit to Goethe’s house and the next day went on to Dresden,
where he reflected that it was just twenty-five years since he was
living there, a young man then, an old man now, but that he should find
the Sistine Madonna and a few other old friends as young as ever. From
Dresden he went to Venice, and there he found his friend Mr. Field. “He
is as young and social as ever,” he wrote to Mr. Norton, 31 October;
“has made the acquaintance here of everybody he didn’t know before, and
goes with me to Florence on Thursday. The Brownings have also been here,
but go to-morrow morning. The weather has been _brutto assai_, only two
partly fine days during the time I have been here, and to-day it rains.
We hear of three inches of snow at Vicenza, and I can well believe it,
so cold has it been. _Che tempo straongante!_ Still, Venice has been
beautiful and dear for all that. Browning begins to show his seventy
years (he will be seventy next February) a little, though his natural
[force] be not abated. I hear that I am to stay in England, all rumors
to the contrary notwithstanding.[77] Fanny continues better. She did not
venture to come with me. I shall probably go on as far as Rome, and get
back to London in time for the best fogs.”

To Mrs. Lowell be wrote from Venice, 1 November: “To-day the sky is
bright for the third time since my arrival. All the other days have been
cloudy or rainy, with a cold _tramontana_ blowing steadily and
strongly.... You remember that Lady Gordon told me I should find a
_bateau mouche_ plying on the Grand Canal. I did not expect to be
personally inconvenienced by it; but as it lessened the custom of the
gondoliers they have all struck work this morning, and one can’t get a
_barca_ for love or money. Poor fellows, they will find, as others have
done, that steam is stronger than they.... I have given up Rimini owing
to the cold, and shall start for Florence day after to-morrow with
Field, who is younger and livelier than ever,--and makes more
acquaintances every day than I should in a year.”

The two spent a week in Florence and then went to Rome where they
foregathered with Story, and after a few days there Lowell set out alone
on his return to London. He made a brief stay in Paris, and wrote thence
to Mr. Field, 29 November, 1881: “I walked a good deal yesterday and
felt very well, but to-day my head aches and things have come back. I
met young Longfellow, who was to start for London last evening; also
Thornton Lothrop, who came back with me to my hotel (where, by the way,
I have a small suite--drawing-room, dining-room, two bedrooms with their
own door of entrance on the staircase--first floor--for twenty-five
francs, _service y compris_), and gave me heaps of Boston and Cambridge
news. I am going to breakfast with him at the Bristol presently. I
called at the Hôtel de Lorraine[78] and met the Revolution in person.
The whole Hôtel de France part--the whole inside that is--was a heap of
rubbish in the street. With some trouble I penetrated to Madame
Guillaume, who led me into a tiny cavern in the rear, where I found
Madame Garrier transformed into a cave-dweller. I expected to hear the
growl of the _ursus speluncæ_, or whatever they call him. The darkness
of a pocket (without any _chink_ in it) would be illumination compared
with it.... But Madame was very cordial. Presently Marie came in grown a
tall girl and with very pretty manners. I took her out into the light
and found her the image of her father. Him I did not see. Doubtless he
was talking politics or taking snuff with some gossip or other of his. I
remember he always disappeared in moments of crisis like the repair of
the _salle à manger_ which took place in my time. He is a singed cat,
having seen two revolutions and the Commune.”

It was after his return to London that Lowell was in the thickest of the
contention which began not long after his appointment to the post of
American minister and continued through more than half of his term, as
long, that is, as the period of acute disturbance of the relations
between England and Ireland. Other international questions arose during
his term of service, but none that called for the exercise of so much
sound diplomatic discretion, or gave rise to so much angry criticism.
Lowell’s judgment regarding Irish affairs was not the result merely of
what he now saw and heard in London. No American who had followed public
questions at home could escape the formation of some opinion respecting
the Irish character and the relation in which Ireland stood to England,
and through her emigrants to America. In 1848, when Smith O’Brien,
Meagher, and other Irish leaders were agitating for reform through
insurrection, Lowell commented on the situation in one of his editorial
articles in the _National Anti-Slavery Standard_. He had no faith in the
measures which these leaders proposed; he thought the only radical cure
for the evils of Ireland lay in peasant proprietorship and education.
“The only permanent safeguard,” he writes, “against famine is to give
the people a deeper interest in the soil they cultivate and the crops
they raise. It is the constant sense of insecurity that has made the
Irish the shiftless and prodigal people which they are represented to be
by all travellers. Education will be of no avail unless at the same time
something be given them on which they can bring it to a practical
bearing. Take away English opposition and the present insurrection is
directed against--what? We confess ourselves at a loss for an answer.
The only insurrection which has done Ireland any real service was the
one headed by Father Mathew. The true office of the Irish Washington
would be to head a rebellion against thriftlessness, superstition, and
dirt. The sooner the barricades are thrown up against these the better.
Ireland is in want of a revolution which shall render troops less
necessary rather than more so.”

When Lowell was earnestly opposing the suicidal course of the South
before the actual outbreak of the war for the Union, secession being
then the shibboleth, he took Scotland and Ireland in their relation to
Great Britain for parallel historic instances in support of his
position. “There is no such antipathy,” he wrote, “between the North
and the South as men ambitious of a consideration in the new republic,
which their talents and character have failed to secure them in the old,
would fain call into existence by asserting that it exists. The
misunderstanding and dislike between them is not so great as they were
within living memory between England and Scotland, as they are now
between England and Ireland. There is no difference of race, language,
or religion. Yet, after a dissatisfaction of near a century and two
rebellions, there is no part of the British dominion more loyal than
Scotland, no British subjects who would be more loath to part with the
substantial advantages of their imperial connection than the Scotch; and
even in Ireland, after a longer and more deadly feud, there is no sane
man who would consent to see his country irrevocably cut off from power
and consideration to obtain an independence which would be nothing but
Donnybrook Fair multiplied by every city, town, and village in the
island. The same considerations of policy and advantage, which render
the union of Scotland and Ireland with England a necessity, apply with
even more force to the several States of our Union.”[79]

When, therefore, Lowell found himself in England as the representative
of the United States at a period when the chronic irritation between
England and Ireland was at an acute stage through the operation of the
so-called coercion act, it is not surprising that be should take a very
lively interest in affairs. As a part of his diplomatic duty, he kept
his government informed not so much of the facts which were the news of
the day, as of the interpretation to be put upon the political
situation. Accordingly, on 7 January, 1881, he wrote to Mr. Evarts, then
Secretary of State:--

“Seldom has a session of Parliament begun under more critical
circumstances. The abnormal condition of Ireland and the question of
what remedy should be sought for it have deeply divided and embittered
public opinion. Not only has the law been rendered powerless and order
disturbed (both of them things almost superstitiously sacred in
England), but the sensitive nerve of property has been rudely touched.
The opposition have clamored for coercion, but while they have persisted
in this it is clear that a change has been gradually going on in their
opinion as to how great concessions would be needful. It seems now to be
granted on all sides that the Irish people have wrongs to be redressed
and just claims for rights to be granted. I think that the government
have at least gained so much by the expectant and humane policy which
they have persevered in under very great difficulties, and in spite of a
criticism the more harassing as it seemed to have some foundation in
principles hitherto supposed to be self-evident.

“Added to this was the fact (at least I believe it to be a fact) that
there was a division of opinion in the Cabinet itself. This probably led
to the one mistake in policy that has been made by the prosecution of
Mr. Parnell and some of his associates--a mistake, because, in the
exceedingly improbable contingency of the jury agreeing to convict, the
belief will be universal in Ireland that they have been packed, and the
government will have a dozen martyrs on its hands of whom it would be at
a loss how to dispose,--a half-ludicrous position which could not fail
to involve a loss of prestige.

“There can be no doubt that Mr. Parnell was unpleasantly surprised by
the land league, and has been compelled to identify himself with a
movement having other and more comprehensive (perhaps more desperate)
aims than that which he originated. So far as can be judged, a great
deal of the agitation in Ireland is factitious, and large numbers of
persons have been driven by timidity to profess a sympathy with it which
they do not feel. This, of course, strengthens the probability of its
being possible to allay it by generally acceptable measures of reform. I
am sure that the reasonable leaders or representatives of Irish opinion
see the folly of expecting that England would ever peaceably consent to
the independence of Ireland; that they do not themselves desire it; and
that they would be content with a thorough reform of the land laws and a
certain amount of local self-government. Both of these measures, you
will observe, are suggested in the speech from the throne. You will
readily divine that one of the great difficulties with which the
ministry has had to struggle has been the presentiment that a change in
the conditions of land tenure in Ireland will be followed by something
similar, certainly by an agitation for something similar, on this aide
the Irish channel.

“The Cabinet, I am safe in saying, are earnestly desirous of doing
justice to Ireland, and not only that, but of so shaping reform as to
make the cure as lasting as such a cure can be. No government can
consent to revolution (though this was deemed possible in some quarters
as respects some governments twenty years ago), but the present ministry
are willing to go all lengths that are feasible and wise in the way of
reform and reparation. Their greatest obstacle will be the overweening
expectations and inconsiderate temper of the Irish themselves, both of
them the result of artificial rather than natural causes. For no reform
will be effectual that does not gradually nullify the unhappy effects
produced by the influence, through many generations, of the pitiable
travesty of feudal relations between landlord and tenant, making that
relation personal instead of mercantile, and thus insensibly debauching

“The condition of Ireland is not so disturbed now as it has been at
several periods during the last eighty years, and precisely the same
system of organization was brought to bear against the collection of
tithes fifty years ago that has now been revived to resist the payment
of what are considered excessive rents. The landlords are represented as
the minions of a foreign and hated domination, and the use of the
epithet _foreign_ has at least this justification, that there is
certainly an imperfect sympathy between the English and Irish characters
which prevents each from comprehending either the better qualities of
the other or, what is worse, the manner of their manifestion.

“I cannot perceive that the public opinion of the country has withdrawn
itself in any appreciable measure from sympathy with the Cabinet, though
there is considerable regret among thoughtful liberals that coercion
should have been deemed necessary and that the proposed reforms should
not have gone farther. If the Irish could only be brought to have as
much faith in Mr. Gladstone as he has desire for their welfare, there
might be more hope than I can now see for a permanent solution of the
Irish question.”

Mr. Evarts acknowledged the despatch with commendation for its lucid
treatment of the subject, but Lowell soon found himself involved in
something closer at hand than academic discussion. About three weeks
after this despatch, he had occasion to write again of the state of
affairs, and to note the final passage of the so-called coercion bill.
At the close of this despatch his wrote: “The wild and whirling words of
some Irishmen and others from America have done harm to something more
than the cause of Irish peasantry, by becoming associated in the public
mind with the country whose citizenship they put off or put on as may be
most convenient. In connection with this, I beg leave to call your
attention to an extraordinary passage in the letter of Mr. Parnell to
the Irish National Land League, dated Paris, February 18, 1881, in which
he makes a distinction between ‘the American people’ and ‘the Irish
nation in America.’ This double nationality is likely to be of great
practical inconvenience whenever the coercion bill becomes law. The same
actor takes alternately the characters of a pair of twins who are never
on the stage simultaneously.”[80]

In his capacity of critic, Lowell heartily condemned the measure taken
by the British government. In a letter to the American consul in Cork,
he wrote: “The ‘coercion act,’ so-called, is an exceptional and
arbitrary measure. Its chief object is to enable the authorities to
arrest persons whom they suspect of illegal conduct, without being
obliged to produce any proof of their guilt. Its very substance and main
purpose are to deprive suspected persons of the speedy trial they
desire. This law is, of course, contrary to the spirit and foundation
principles of both English and American jurisprudence; but it is the law
of the land and it controls all parties domiciled in the proclaimed
districts of Ireland, whether they are British subjects or not, and it
is manifestly entirely futile to claim that naturalized citizens of the
United States should be excepted from its operation.”[81]

But Lowell was not a mere looker-on in London, He was charged with the
very delicate duty of discriminating between men who were American
citizens and innocent of any infraction of British laws and men who used
the cloak of naturalization, whether genuine or pretended, to cover
illicit actions and designs. He had to uphold the real dignity of the
American citizen, and at the same time to avoid entangling his country
and Great Britain by an unwary protection of some one who had no title
to protection. The cases which now began to succeed each other with
confusing rapidity involved not only a mass of correspondence and the
sifting of evidence, but the application constantly of personal
judgment, and the exercise of much ingenuity in the reading of
character. An illustration may be found in a despatch of Lowell to his
government, dated 4 June, 1881. After an analysis of the political
situation, he says:--

“I think that the necessity of a radical and prompt reform in the
relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland is forcing conviction into
the mind of even the Conservative Party, though the violence of language
and the incitement to violence of action on the part of those who claim
to be the true friends of Ireland are doing much to endanger the success
of remedial measures.

“Among the most violent are often the Irishmen who have been naturalized
in America, and then gone back to Ireland with the hope, and sometimes,
I am justified in saying, with the deliberate intention, of disturbing
the friendly relations between the United States and England. Such a one
called upon me the other day. His name was----, naturalized in 1875 at
Baltimore, and going over to Ireland immediately after on the plea that
his health could not resist the American climate. He is now at least a
remarkably robust and florid man. He told me that he was a draper in
Charleville, County Cork, and hearing that a warrant was out for his
arrest, he had come over to London to claim my protection. He had been
acting as treasurer of the Land League in that place. He professed not
to know on what grounds the warrant had been issued, but I satisfied
myself in the course of our conversation that he knew perfectly well it
was for seditious language and incitement to violence. He favored me
with a good deal of this sort of rhetoric with a manner that implied no
earnestness of conviction, and as if repeating something he had learned
by rote. He several times repeated that the ‘best thing would be a war
between England and the United States.’ After hearing this man’s talk,
my belief was that he had purposely exposed himself to the chances of
arrest in the hope of adding to the difficulties of the government. I
asked him if he had considered the enormous interests at stake, quite
apart from any moral consideration, and that England was our greatest
customer for cattle, corn, and cotton? He merely repeated what he had
said before as to the desirability of war. ---- declared that he meant to
return to America whenever his health would permit, but admitted that it
would take at least five years to wind up his business, and I think his
intention may fairly be questioned. As he declared himself ready to be
quiet for the future if not arrested, I thought it prudent to mention
his name unofficially to Lord Granville, and to suggest that the warrant
should not be put in force unless further offence were given.

“I have spoken at some length of his case, because I think it of some
importance that the Department should be informed as to the kind of
persons who may ask its intervention, and as to the doctrines they
preach. Under ordinary circumstances they would be harmless, and are
made mischievous only by the excited state of the country. My own
judgment is that the ministry have gone to the extreme limit of public
opinion in their concessions to Irish necessities; that they are
perfectly honest in their desire to be generously just; and that the
best friends of Ireland are not those who, however sincerely, throw
obstacles in their way. The real cure, which I believe to be a larger
measure of Home Rule, will be made easier by the better state of things
which, in the opinion of those best competent to judge, is likely to
result from the passage of the Land Bill.”

In the early stages of what proved to be a long and vexatious series of
Irish-American cases, Lowell laid down a course of action which he seems
to have adhered to consistently. The United States consul at Dublin had
on his hands a case which was especially troublesome, because the claim
of the arrested man to American protection rested on statements of
citizenship which were contradictory, and created naturally a suspicion
as to the validity of the claim. After cautioning the consul to make
certain enquiries, he adds: “If the fact of his American citizenship
should thus be ascertained to your satisfaction, I desire then that you
should carefully examine into the grounds of his arrest, and if the
precise facts justify the belief that no substantial charge of his
complicity with treasonable or seditious objects can be made out, you
will communicate this to the authorities in Ireland and request his
discharge or to be informed why he is detained. You will please
intimate, in respectful terms and without any warmth or suggestion of
threats, that you are making these enquiries under my instructions, and
are acting precisely as British consuls in the United States acted soon
after the civil war, under the directions of the British minister at
Washington, in cases of summary arrests of British subjects. It is my
duty to protect, so far as I can, all citizens of the United States,
whether native or naturalized, who are shown to be innocent of designs
to subvert civil order, and I should not perhaps require in such cases
evidence of innocence so full and conclusive as that which might be
required in a court of law. At the same time I shall by no means try to
screen any persons who are evidently guilty of offending against the
criminal laws of Great Britain.”

Mr. Blaine, who had succeeded Mr. Evarts as Secretary of State, on being
advised of Lowell’s action in this case, wrote that it received “the
entire commendation of the Department as discreet and proper.” And a
few weeks later, as the case became somewhat more involved, he wrote
again: “The prudence you have shown in dealing with ----’s claim to
citizenship is commendable, and the statements as to the law in his
case, made in your letters to him, are in full accord with the
interpretation of this Department.” Mr. Blaine then laid down
instructions to meet certain hypothetical cases, and not long after had
occasion to call Lowell’s attention to another apparent act of injustice
in the arrest of a naturalized American citizen. The friends of the man
in America had besieged Mr. Blaine in his behalf, and Mr. Blaine wrote
an eloquent despatch to Lowell, in which he said: “If American citizens
while within British jurisdiction offend against British laws, this
government will not seek to shield them from the legal consequences of
their acts, but it must insist upon the application to their cases of
those common principles of criminal jurisprudence which in the United
States secure to every man who offends against its laws, whether he be
an American citizen or a foreign subject, those incidents to a criminal
prosecution which afford the best safeguard to personal liberty and the
strongest protection against oppression under the forms of law, which
might otherwise be practised through excessive zeal.”

Lowell replied somewhat dryly: “It will give me great pleasure to
communicate to Lord Granville the views you have so clearly and
eloquently expressed as to the injustice of some of the features of the
so-called ‘Protection act,’[82] and especially its retroactive
character. But I would respectfully suggest whether any step would be
gained toward the speedy trial or release of ---- by an argument against
the law itself under which he was apprehended. So long as Lord Granville
expressly declines to make any distinction between British subjects and
American citizens in the application of this law, a position which I
presume may be justified by precedents in our own diplomatic history, I
submit to your better judgment whether the only arguments I can use in
favor of ---- must not be founded upon some exceptional injustice in the
way in which he has been treated. If this shall appear by the report of
the consul to have been practised, I shall press for his trial or
release with great earnestness. But if it shall be shown that he has
experienced no more harshness than the majority of his fellow-prisoners
have suffered, I do not feel by any means sure that your instructions
would authorize me to make any special application on his behalf.”
Lowell finally secured the release of the man by pointing out that his
health was suffering by his imprisonment, and it is not unlikely that
Lord Granville was glad of so good an excuse to remove one of the
perplexities by which his government was embarrassed.

The whole unhappy business may be said to have been at its height when,
in February, 1882, a resolution of the House of Representatives called
upon the President for detailed information respecting the arrest of
American citizens in Ireland. The State Department accordingly called on
the American minister in London to furnish this information, and in his
despatch dated 14 March, 1882, Lowell recounts all the cases which up to
that time had come under his notice, with all the correspondence
relating thereto. There were ten, and the number was increased by a few
more before the business was settled. At the close of the despatch,
enumerating the ten cases, Lowell says very pertinently:--

“I may be permitted to add that I have had repeated assurances from the
highest authority that there would be great reluctance in arresting a
naturalized citizen of the United States were he known to be such. But
it is seldom known, and those already arrested have acted in all
respects as if they were Irishmen, sometimes engaged in trade, sometimes
in farming, and sometimes filling positions in the local government.
This I think is illustrated by a phrase in one of Mr. ----’s letters, to
the effect that he never called himself an American. He endeavors, it is
true, in a subsequent letter, to explain this away as meaning _American
born_; but it is obviously absurd that a man living in his native
village should need to make any such explanation. Naturalized Irishmen
seem entirely to misconceive the process through which they have passed
in assuming American citizenship, looking upon themselves as Irishmen
who have acquired a right to American protection, rather than as
Americans who have renounced a claim to Irish nationality.”

It is not surprising that the whole affair caused much fury of words
both in Congress and out. An organization existed which was bent on
making all the trouble it could for the British government, and there
was still plenty of political capital in Irish wrongs. A great
mass-meeting was held in New York at which Lowell was denounced
severely, and from this time till his return from England every
opportunity was taken by a certain class of men to sneer at him for what
they were pleased to regard as his apostasy from American principles. He
was defended, however, both in Congress and in the press. His course was
well summed up in an editorial article, in which the writer says:--

“Mr. Lowell, who has been denounced by Mr. Randall for his ‘sickening
sycophancy to English influence,’ has treated the matter not as an
English, Irish, or American question, but purely as a point of
international law. He has had no sympathy with the coercion legislation,
and has even taken pains to characterize it as exceptional and
arbitrary.... That law [the ‘protection’ law] legalized the arrest of
the suspects in districts where the writ of _habeas corpus_ had been
suspended, and where the natives were not allowed the privilege of a
jury trial. To have demanded their unconditional release, when no
discrimination had been made between them and the natives, would have
been an open affront to a friendly power. What Mr. Lowell did was to
follow the best precedents of criminal jurisdiction in international
cases, several of which had been established during the American civil
war, when British subjects were arbitrarily arrested and denied the
privilege of trial. At the same time, he has conducted the negotiations
with the Foreign Office with so much tact and decision that we are
inclined to expect a speedy clearance of the Irish jails from suspects
whose citizenship in the United States is authenticated.” And the next
day the same journal said: “Mr. Lowell’s negotiations for the release of
the Irish-American suspects have been crowned with partial success.
Before the mass-meeting at Cooper Institute disgraced itself by heaping
reproaches upon him, the Department of State had received official
information that all but three of these prisoners had been set at
liberty in response to the request of the United States minister.... Mr.
Frelinghuysen[83] reports that the negotiations have been carried on
between the two governments for some time ‘in a spirit of entire
friendship.’ This result had been promoted by the cordial relations
existing between Lord Granville and Mr. Lowell. The fact that our
government has been represented in these negotiations by one of our
foremost men of letters has been a most fortunate circumstance. Mr.
Lowell had won the respect and admiration of the best men in English
public life, and when he came to plead for these suspects his personal
character and popularity were of direct service to them.... Mr. Mr.
Lowell made, as our cable despatches have stated, every effort
consistent with diplomatic usage, and at the same time performed a most
delicate duty with such consummate tact as to remove all sources of

The whole situation was plainly one that called for great tact, and for
that delicate use of language in which the shadows of words are not to
be left out of account. It was probably with reference to this
particular encounter that the London _Spectator_ said shortly after
Lowell’s death: “There was a question at one time whether the late Lord
Granville or Mr. Lowell were the more accomplished and subtle in
conveying, without offence, the suggestion or conviction which it might
be the duty of either of them to impress on any one to whom the
communication might not be welcome. And probably this is a point which
would be very differently determined by different people. But though
equal in courtesy and grace of manner to Lord Granville, we should say
that Mr. Lowell had the greater power of the two to impress his meaning,
even where it was a meaning painful and difficult to enforce, without
conveying even the slightest tincture of personal discourtesy. Lord
Granville was perhaps even fuller of the _suaviter in modo_, but Mr.
Lowell never forgot the necessity, where the necessity existed, of
conveying also the impression of the _fortiter in re_. With all his
grace, there was a plainness of purpose in him which could not be

Lowell himself, writing to Dr. Holmes shortly before leaving England,
recalls the situation and says: “Some of my Irishmen had been living in
their old homes seventeen years, engaged in trade or editing nationalist
papers, or members of the poor-law guardians (like MacSweeney), and
neither paying taxes in America nor doing any other duty as Americans. I
was guided by two things--the recognized principles of international
law, and the conduct of Lord Lyons when Seward was arresting and
imprisoning British subjects. We kept one man in jail seven months
without trial or legal process of any kind, and, but for the
considerateness and moderation of Lyons, might have had war with
England. I think I saved a misunderstanding here.... When I had at last
procured the conditional (really unconditional) release of all the
suspects, they refused to be liberated. When I spoke of this to Justin
McCarthy (then the head of the Irish Parliamentary party, Parnell being
in Kilmainham), he answered cheerfully, ‘Certainly: _they are there to
make trouble_.’”[86] One of the intimations of what lay in his mind
throughout all the delicate business may be read in a note to Mr. John
W. Field, 19 January, 1884: “I wonder, by the way, when we shall see an
American politician able to appreciate and shrewd enough to act on
Curran’s saying about his countrymen, that ‘an Irishman is the worst
fellow in the world to run away from.’”

And after his return to America, he wrote to Lady Lyttelton: “You must
make up your mind to let Ireland have her head. She may no doubt choose
to go over a precipice, though I don’t think that she would, and at any
rate a whole legion of devils would go with her as with the Gadarene
swine; at best it is all up playing Sisera, for the stars in their
courses are rather beyond reach even of the newspapers.” That Lowell had
a keen appreciation of the genuine spirit of patriotism which moved the
Irish in America in his generation may be discerned by any one who will
read the closing sentences in his address on “The Independent in

Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton in an article[87] published just after
Lowell’s death, tried to sum up his intellectual qualities in a word,
and thought he found the expression in “sagacity.” “In life,” he says,
“his most striking characteristic--a characteristic indicated not only
by the watchful gray eyes and the apparently conscious eyebrows that
overshadowed them, but in every intonation of his voice, and every
movement of his limbs--was a marvellous sagacity.” “What is called his
wit,” he adds, “is merely this almost preternatural sagacity in rapid
movement. What is called his humor is this same sagacity at rest and in
a meditative mood.” Without pushing this analysis so far, there is no
doubt that in his diplomatic capacity Lowell did draw upon his native
genius for quick perception and interpretation. The gift which he had
multiplied by use in the criticism of literature and in the diagnosis of
political situations at home, was at his service both in Madrid and
London. It made him not a mere fencer in a diplomatic game, but a man of
resources in the serious representation of his country’s interests. That
he could couch his demands or protests in witty phrase added to his
power of persuasion; and he could not associate as an equal with English
statesmen without applying his sagacity to their problems even where
these did not immediately concern his own people. Perhaps it was after
Majuba that he wrote in one of his despatches: “I asked Lord Lyons
whether he did not think suzerainty might be defined as ‘leaving to a
man the privilege of carrying the saddle and bridle after you have
stolen his horse.’ He assented.”

       *       *       *       *       *

There was, perhaps, something in the adjustment of Lowell to his
surroundings which set the springs of poetry flowing intermittently. At
any rate, he was content, conscious that he was of service in a high
position, happy both in his own health--“I have never seen a climate
that suited me so well,” he wrote--and in his wife’s improvement, and
surrounded by congenial companions. These things do not necessarily make
for poetry, but Lowell had by this time come into that mellow stage when
what he did had about it an absence of apparent effort, when his ripe
experience and equipoise of life found easy expression, and poetry was
a solace and a pastime. To be sure, there is something to make one smile
behind his hand when one sees the American minister sending his “Phœbe”
across the Atlantic and following it with almost daily corrections, yet
one listens to the note with the feeling that the poet is putting into
the reminiscence of a far-off sound not a little of his present
apprehension of himself. Nay, the poem in its first form broke at last
into two stanzas, wisely omitted in the final recension, which are
almost bald in their apologetic confession:--

    “Let who has felt compute the strain
      Of struggle with abuses strong,
    The doubtful course, the helpless pain
      Of seeing best intents go wrong.

    “We who look on with critic eyes
      Exempt from action’s crucial test,
    Human ourselves, at least are wise
      In honoring one who did his best.”

On New Year’s Day, 1882, Lowell sent another poem, “Estrangement,” to
Mr. Gilder for the _Century_. “I am pleased,” he wrote, “that you liked
the little poem I sent you, and the more that you asked for another.
Here is one you are welcome to, if you like it. I rather do, but that is
nothing, and I shall like you none the less if you don’t. Treat me like
a gentleman and not like a poet,--I mean as you would a gentleman and
not a poet. I am tough and have myself played Herod to many an infant
muse, and mine is approaching her second childhood.”

His social life drew from him occasional verses, as when he planted a
tree at Inverary, or thanked Miss Dorothy Tennant, who afterward married
Henry M. Stanley, for a drawing of little street Arabs, or sent a sonnet
home in honor of Whittier’s seventy-fifth birthday, or gave a posset cup
to a god-child. He was happy in pleasing young friends with verses,
sometimes inserting them in books which he gave them, or writing them in
their albums.

Early in 1882 he was saddened by the sudden death of R. H. Dana, one of
the earliest of his friends and lately fresh in his recollection since
he had seen much of him in his recent stay in Rome. “We had known each
other,” he wrote to Mr. George Putnam, “at least fifty-five years. He is
a great loss, and the more that his career was incomplete. He never
filled the place he ought in public affairs. One weakness neutralized
the legitimate effect of his very remarkable abilities. Death seems to
be hitting right and left among my contemporaries. So far as I am
concerned, I take the warning with perfect equanimity.” It was somewhat
in the same mood that he wrote to his friend Field: “I have no news
except that for about a week I have been _having a head_ again. I have
temporarily reformed and live cleanly like Falstaff. No wine, no black
coffee, and--you won’t believe it, but ’tis true--no baccy till
afternoon and then a short allowance. You see I am in earnest. At the
same time that I take these precautions I confess that I don’t _hanker
arter_ much more of this world, and shouldn’t mind much if--. I notice
that the men in my platoon are dropping right and left. I wish I
relished life as much as you. Give my love to----, who will see by the
way I spell her name that I am in good humor though I feel as if I had
Luke’s iron crown on.”

He was drawn in colored chalks at this time by Mr. Sandys, and another
portrait also was painted by Mrs. Merritt, which now hangs in the
Faculty Room in University Hall at Harvard. “I am off for private view
at Academy,” he writes to Mr. Field, 28 April, 1882; “two portraits of
myself there. They are very unlike each other, and my duty to the artist
requires me to try and look as much like each as I can. What am I to do?
They will be in different rooms doubtless, and so I can manage it

It was a light matter to toy with verse now and then, but as for prose,
the most be attempted beyond his despatches to his government were the
speeches he made now and then. Mr. Aldrich had asked for a paper on a
certain subject for the _Atlantic_, and he replied, 8 May, 1882: “If I
could, how gladly I would! But I am piece-mealed here with so many
things to do that I cannot get a moment to brood over anything, as it
must be brooded over if it is to have wings. It is as if a setting hen
should have to mind the doorbell. Now, you must wait till I come home to
be Boycotted in my birthplace by my Irish fellow-citizens (who are kind
enough to teach me how to be American) who fought all our battles and
got up all our draft-riots. Then, in the intervals of firing through my
loopholes of retreat I may be able to do something for the _Atlantic_. I
am now in the midst of the highly important and engrossing business of
arranging for the presentation at Court of some of our fair citoyennes.
Whatever else you are, never be a minister!” Mr. Bowker relates of
Lowell that “at one time he had given offence to an American lady of
doubtful reputation, who had asked him to present her at Court, and on
his dexterously evading that responsibility, had asked him point blank
whether he was unwilling because he had heard certain things about her.
He could not answer in the negative, and she went off vowing vengeance.
A few months afterwards, when the Irish criticisms were hottest, she
reappeared and had the effrontery to tell him that she had stirred up
the whole business herself, out of revenge. Mr. Lowell added, on telling
this story, that he proposed to accomplish at least one thing, to keep
his country respectable, even if he had to resign to do it.”

One of the most admirable of his little speeches was that on unveiling
the bust of Fielding at Taunton, 4 September, 1883. He spoke as an
author, as one who had reflected upon the great office of literature,
and as a critic who could measure Fielding’s power by the standard of
Shakespeare and Cervantes, and perhaps even more effectively as one of
the English race who was enough differentiated by his American birth,
and enough instructed by his familiarity with racy men of the soil, to
appreciate the essential English manliness of the great writer. This
address is indeed one of the most striking commentaries on the fitness
of Lowell to act as a spokesman for the common Englishry of two
countries. His point of view was at once that of an onlooker and of one
indigenous. Three years later, when reprinting the address in his volume
“Democracy and other Addresses,” he refers to one passage in the speech
as follows: “I am constantly bothered by the disenchanting effect of my
sense of humor (of which I speak in the Fielding address) which makes me
too fair to both sides. This often makes me distrustful of myself. I am
sometimes inclined to call Genius not ‘an infinite capacity for taking
pains’ (though that is much), but an infinite capacity for being

There was a somewhat humorous episode in Lowell’s career in the autumn
of 1883. It is a time-honored custom at the ancient and sturdy little
University of St. Andrews for the student body to elect once a year a
Lord Rector of the University whose duties are limited to a single
address. There is a tacit understanding that politics shall not enter
into the election, and that the choice shall be the students’ own,
without interference from the officers of the faculty. This does not of
course preclude an interest on the part of professors, and Shairp,
Campbell, and Baynes especially took a lively interest in the proposal
that Lowell should succeed Sir Theodore Martin. At first Mr. Mallock
appeared as opposition candidate, but his name was withdrawn when it was
found that he had been set up by some indiscreet person with a view to
bettering his chances for Parliament, and the Right Hon. Edward Gibson
was proposed. A protest was lodged against Lowell’s nomination on the
ground that he was an alien. The whole business created a lively
discussion in and out of print, and _Punch_ entered the lists with these

    “An alien? Go to! If fresh, genial wit
    In sound Saxon speech be not genuine grit,
    If the wisdom and mirth he has put into verse for us
    Don’t make him a ‘native,’ why, so much the worse for us.
    Whig, Tory, and Rad should club votes, did he need ’em,
    To honor the writer who gave _Bird o’ Freedom_
    To all English readers. A few miles of sea
    Make Lowell an alien? Fiddle-de-dee!
    ’Tis crass party spirit, Bœotian, dense,
    That is alien indeed--to good taste and good sense.”

The excitement ran high, and Lowell was elected by a considerable
majority. But his opponents pushed the matter further, and demonstrated
that he was really ineligible by reason of his “extra-territoriality.”
As Lowell put it in writing to Professor Child: “My official
extra-territoriality will, perhaps, prevent my being rector at St.
Andrews, because it puts me beyond the reach of the Scottish Courts in
case of malversation in office. How to rob a Scottish University
suggests a serious problem.” To avoid further complications Lowell
resigned. He good-humoredly told his friends at home that his only
regret was in being prevented from adding the dignified line “Univ.
Sanct. Andr-Scot-Dom. Rect.” to his name in the Harvard catalogue. His
student friends could do nothing but accept the situation. Later, they
begged him, when they knew he was to be at St. Andrews, to address them
unofficially. It was not long before the expiration of his term as
American minister, and he wrote, 27 January, 1885:--

“Circumstances over which I have no control will prevent my being with
you at St. Andrews next Friday. I feel deeply touched by the continued
kindness of the students of your ancient University, and greatly honored
by their wish to see me and hear me. I am somewhat consoled in my
disappointment by the reflection that neither your eyes nor your ears
will lose so much as is kindly implied by the invitation with which you
have honored me. It is I who miss a pleasure whose loss I shall always
regret; for young friends have a charm and value of their own, as he
feels most sensibly who has reached a period in life when old ones are
only too frequently saying good-by forever.”

When the commotion over the rectorship was going on, Lowell was having a
holiday in Paris, where he was able to take Mrs. Lowell for a couple of
months. An anonymous writer in the _Atlantic Monthly_,[88] who saw the
Lowells at this time, has recorded some impressions created by Lowell’s
conversation, and among them one respecting his interest in the Jewish
race. When he was writing his paper on Rousseau, his interest was
awakened, and the interest took a personal turn as he associated his
own family name of Russell with that of the French philosopher. He was
led to enquire into the representation of the race in America, and no
doubt his interest was heightened by his sojourn in Spain. But it was
after he went to England, where be had manifold opportunities for making
observations, that the whole subject of the Jewish element in society
came to be a very frequent topic of conversation with him. It was just
such a subject as would appeal to his love of paradox, his subtle
curiosity, and his liking for brilliant forays into new territory. It
does not appear that Lowell ever set down in writing his deliberate
convictions. Rather he kept this theme for the pastime of conversation,
driving the ball indeed at times with an energy which would suggest the
professional athlete.

“One evening,” says the writer in the _Atlantic_, “I was dining with Mr.
and Mrs. Lowell and three other friends, and he began to lament the
renaming of old streets which was going on, and the obliteration of the
last traces of the Paris of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,--the
Paris of the schoolmen and their open-air debates. He spoke of the local
history that lay in the mere names of streets and squares,--Rue du
Fouarre, Rue des Gauvais Garçons, and several more of which he gave the
origin and legend. In the midst of this picturesque and learned
disquisition he stumbled upon the class of a celebrated philosopher of
those times, seated on their bundles of straw,--a well-known teacher
whose name I cannot now recall,--and stated that he was a Jew.

“He instantly began to talk of the Jews, a subject which turned out to
be almost a monomania with him. He detected a Jew in every hiding-place
and under every disguise, even when the fugitive had no suspicion of
himself. To begin with nomenclature: all persons named for countries or
towns are Jews; all with fantastic, compound names, such as Lilienthal,
Morgenroth; all with names derived from colors, trades, animals,
vegetables, minerals; all with Biblical names, except Puritan first
names; all patronymics ending in _son_,--_sohn_, _sen_, or any other
version; all Russels, originally so called from red-haired Israelites;
all Walters, by long descended derivation from wolves and foxes in some
ancient tongue; the therefore Cecilia Metella, no doubt St. Cecilia too,
consequently the Cecils, including Lord Burleigh and Lord Salisbury; he
cited some old chronicle in which he had cornered one Robert de Cæcilia
and exposed him as an English Jew. He gave examples and instances of
these various classes with amazing readiness and precision, but I will
not pretend that I have set down even these few correctly. Of course
there was Jewish blood in many royal houses and in most noble ones,
notably in Spain. In short, it appeared that this insidious race had and
permeated the human family more universally than any other influence
except original sin. He spoke of their talent and versatility, and of
the numbers who had been illustrious in literature, the learned
professions, art, science, and even war, until by degrees, from being
shut out of society and every honorable and desirable pursuit, they had
gained the prominent positions everywhere.

“Then he began his classifications again: all bankers were Jews,
likewise brokers, most of the great financiers,--and that was to be
expected; the majority of barons, also baronets; they had got possession
of the press, they were getting into politics; they had forced their
entrance into the army and navy; they had made their way into the
cabinets of Europe and become prime ministers; they had slipped into
diplomacy and become ambassadors. But a short time ago they were packed
into the Ghetto: now they inhabited palaces, the most aristocratic
quarters, and were members of the most exclusive clubs. A few years ago
they could not own land; they were acquiring it by purchase and mortgage
in every part of Europe, and buying so many old estates in England that
they owned the larger part of several counties.

“Mr. Lowell said more, much more, to illustrate the ubiquity, the
universal ability of the Hebrew, and gave examples and statistics for
every statement, however astonishing, drawn from his inexhaustible
information. He was conscious of the sort of infatuation which possessed
him, and his dissertation alternated between earnestness and drollery;
but whenever a burst of laughter greeted some new development of his
theme, although he joined in it, he immediately returned to the charge
with abundant proof of his paradoxes. Finally he came to a stop, but not
to a conclusion, and as no one else spoke, I said, ‘And when the Jews
have got absolute control of finance, the army and navy, the press,
diplomacy, society, titles, the government, and the earth’s surface,
what do you suppose they will do with them and with us?’ ‘That,’ he
answered, turning towards me, and in a whisper audible to the whole
table, ‘that is the question which will eventually drive me mad.’”

On the return of the Lowells from Paris to London they moved into a
larger and more commodious house still in Lowndes Square, but No. 31.
“We have been having a mild winter,” Lowell writes to Mr. Field, 19
January, 1884, “with only a couple of days or so of frost thus far.
Everything is looking as green as summer (by everything I mean the grass
in the Parks) and the thrushes are using up all their best songs before
the curtain of spring rises. The Season hasn’t begun yet, but I am
dining out more or less as usual. Fanny goes too sometimes, but can’t
stand much of it. You will have seen that I have resigned my rectorship,
but I was at once chosen president of the Birmingham and Midland
Institute so that I might have another chair to sit down in.”

It was in the double office of American minister and poet that he took
part in the ceremonies attending the unveiling of the bust of Longfellow
in Westminster Abbey, 2 March, 1884. But the personal relation which he
bore the poet was uppermost in his mind, especially as he was renewing
his intercourse with the family in the person of two of Longfellow’s
daughters who were living in England at this time and were present at
the unveiling. The occasion was not one for critical judgment, but in
the course of his brief speech he made a felicitous point on sonnet
writing. “I have been struck particularly,” he said, “with this quality
of style in some of my late friend’s sonnets, which seem to me in unity
and evenness of flow among the most beautiful and perfect we have in the
language. They remind one of those cabinets in which all the drawers are
opened at once by the turn of the key in a single lock, whereas we all
have seen sonnets with a lock in every line with a different key to
each, and the added conundrums of secret drawers.”

In April came the tercentenary commemoration of the University of
Edinburgh, when Lowell was present and received the degree of Doctor of
Laws. The same degree was conferred on him at his own University a few
weeks later.

In May he was called on for two addresses. On the seventh of the month
he attended the annual dinner of the Provincial Newspaper Society at the
Inns of Court Hotel, London, and a few words which he then said, because
spoken apparently without premeditation, are worth recording as
expressing a judgment held by him with great sincerity. “I have my own
theory,” he said, “as to what after-dinner speaking should be. I think
it should be in the first place short; I think it should be light; and
I think it should be both extemporaneous and contemporaneous. I think it
should have the meaning of the moment in it, and nothing more. But I
confess that when I get up here and face you, representing what you call
the Provincial Press--and if you will allow me by way of an
interjection, I may state that it has been my fortune to live in a
number of countries, where it has sometimes been my duty to study the
National Press, and I have always and everywhere found it provincial: I
have never yet encountered a truly cosmopolitan newspaper--when I feel
myself standing for the first time in the presence of a collection of
editors, I experience a very serious emotion. I feel as if I were
talking to the ear of Dionysius, at the other end of which the world was
listening. I do not see any reporters here--I am glad I do not. I cannot
help taking this opportunity, with so many persons who have the
formation of public opinion before me, of saying one or two words on the
growing change which has taken place in the methods of forming public
opinion. I am not sure that you are always aware to how great an extent
you have supplanted the pulpit, to how great an extent you have
supplanted even the deliberative assembly. You have assumed
responsibilities, I should say, heavier than man ever assumed before.
You wield an influence entirely without precedent hitherto in human
history. I do not wish the dinner to be too solemn, but, as I tell you,
I have been solemnized standing in this presence. I came here intending
only to say a few words of kindly thanks for the friendliness which you
have shown toward the country I have the honor to represent, and to me
as representing it. But, I cannot forbear to say that, if I were an
editor, I should have written up in the room in which I write, ‘Woe to
me if I preach not the gospel:’ I mean so much of the Word of God as is
manifest to me, and I should strive to preach that word, and to convey
it to my fellow-men. I have always thought the case of clergymen a hard
one, because they are expected to be inspired once a week. But what is
this to yours who must be inspired every day, and who have undertaken to
edit the whole world every morning? There has been nothing, as I was
just saying, that has, in the history of man, occupied such a position
as the Press. You have the formation of public opinion. There is not a
man here who values any more than I do, or ever have done, the opinion
of Tom, or the opinion of Dick, or the opinion of Harry. But when Tom,
Dick, and Harry agree, then we begin to call it public opinion. I am not
sure that it always deserves that name; but I am sure of this, that
public opinion is of value in precise proportion to the material it is
made of. I am sure of this, that two factors go towards the making of
that material. One is the editor, and the other is the reader.”

Three days later, 10 May, 1884, he delivered, as president of the
Wordsworth Society, the address on that poet which is included in his
“Literary and Political Addresses.” He deprecated the notion that he
could add materially to what he had written of Wordsworth in his more
deliberate earlier paper,[89] for as he says: “Without unbroken time
there can be no consecutive thought, and it is my misfortune that in the
midst of a reflection or of a sentence I am liable to be called away by
the bell of private or public duty.” The speech contains one or two
critical passages which may be added to the sum of Lowell’s comment on
Wordsworth; but to the student of Lowell’s mind as affected by new
conditions and registering itself in new terms, the speech is more
interesting because of the main thought in it, that which occupies him
upon passing in review the work of Dr. Knight who had by his new edition
of the poet enabled the student to perceive more clearly the development
of Wordsworth’s thought. Precisely that examination which we are
desirous of making of Lowell, Lowell set out to make of Wordsworth; but
the eye of the student reveals something of the mind that prompts the
eye’s excursion, and Lowell was in a way suggesting the movement of his
own thought when, upon enquiring what was the solution by which
Wordsworth attempted as he grew in years to justify his own early
radicalism with his later conservatism, he found a very powerful
influence in that religious conception which dominated Wordsworth’s
later thought. “I see no reason to think,” he says, “that he ever
swerved from his early faith in the beneficence of freedom, but rather
that he learned the necessity of defining more exactly in what freedom
consisted, and the conditions, whether of time or place, under which
alone it can be beneficent, of insisting that it must be an evolution
and not a manufacture, and that it should coördinate itself with the
prior claims of society and civilization.” But the roots of freedom were
planted in the individual nature, and there they were to be nourished.
Development of character--yes, but by what means? “Observation convinced
him that what are called the safeguards of society are the staff also of
the individual members of it; that tradition, habitude, and heredity are
great forces, whether for impulse or restraint. He had pondered a
pregnant phrase of the poet Daniel, where he calls religion ‘mother of
Form and Fear.’ A growing conviction of its profound truth turned his
mind towards the church as the embodiment of the most potent of all
traditions, and to her public offices as the expression of the most
socially humanizing of all habitudes.”

Lowell was analyzing Wordsworth’s poetry with a view to reaching
definite understanding of the principles which prompted it, and
especially which led to the gradual yet none the less sure change in the
philosophy of the poetry. I think in the whole interesting discussion
which Lowell here entered upon one may read his own mind, more or less
conscious of change in its attitude and finding in the mirror of another
poet some image of itself. In becoming wonted to English life, Lowell
was lessening a certain protest against institutional religion which was
characteristic of the community into which he was born, and had been a
part of his own intellectual and moral expression. In a letter to Mrs.
Herrick written in 1875, he had answered a question of hers regarding
his religious faith:--

“You ask me if I am an Episcopalian. No, though I prefer the service of
the Church of England, and attend it from time to time. But I am not
much of a church-goer, because I so seldom find any preaching that does
not make me impatient and do me more harm than good. I confess to a
strong lurch towards Calvinism (in some of its doctrines) that
strengthens as I grow older. Perhaps it may be some consolation to you
that my mother was born and bred an Episcopalian.”

In this passage Lowell betrays very naturally his New England mind. He
inherited the prevailing notion that the Episcopal Church was an
exotic,--he speaks of attending the service of the Church of England,
when he probably is thinking of his occasional visits with his daughter
to Christ Church in his own Cambridge; and he could not help looking
upon the sermon as the central point in religious worship. But the
preference which he had for the service was easily strengthened by
association with it where it was the rule and not the exception; not
only so, but that observation which he used so keenly showed him in
England the existence of a highly organized society, very congenial to
him, in which not only was church-going a matter of course, but religion
as a spirit was not dissociated from the forms of worship, rather it was
thought of largely in those terms. Hence it was that Lowell in adjusting
himself as he did to the life about him was undergoing more or less
conscious a change in the attitude of his mind toward the whole field of

To some this would seem an indication that Lowell was becoming
Anglicized. But how confidently could this be asserted of his political
faith? That was a very integral part of his nature. From youth to age he
had declared and reiterated his faith in freedom, in the largest
liberty, and especially in that political equality which was the basis
of all that was holiest and most enduring in the America of which he was
so passionate a lover,--the America which he saw in a vision, and was
able to see even through the vapors which might rise from mephitic
ground. When the autumn of 1884 came, the political signs pointed to a
change of party in the administration of government at home, and in the
event of an accession to power of the Democratic party, it was plain
that Lowell would be recalled from his post as minister near the Court
of St. James. Four years of friendly intercourse with Englishmen and
Englishwomen, of a somewhat more intimate acquaintance with the springs
of government than falls to the lot of the mere looker-on; not only
that, but the advantage which an alienated American has of viewing his
country from a new vantage ground, for distance in space has some of the
properties of distance in time, and an American in Europe has almost the
point of view of an American of the next century,--all this may well
have led Lowell to reflect on the fundamentals of politics, and have
served to give point to his reflections when he came to give the address
expected of the incoming president of the Birmingham and Midland
Institute. Moreover, the place where he was to speak reminded him of
that great industrial factor which enters so powerfully into modern
conceptions of the state.

It is fair, therefore, to take his address on Democracy, given 6
October, 1884, as a careful and deliberate expression of his political
faith. Yet it must be borne in mind that he was somewhat hampered by his
official position as well as inspired by it. He stood for the great
democratic country, was its spokesman, but he was not speaking to his
own countrymen, and might easily be misconstrued by foreigners if he
attempted to weigh Democracy in balances designed for apothecaries’
stuff, and not for hay wagons. As he himself said four years later: “I
was called upon to deliver an address in Birmingham, and chose for my
theme ‘Democracy.’ In that place I felt it incumbent on me to dwell on
the good points and favorable aspects of democracy as I had seen them
practically illustrated in my native land. I chose rather that my
discourse should suffer through inadequacy than run the risk of seeming
to forget what Burke calls ‘that salutary prejudice called our country,’
and that obligation which forbids one to discuss family affairs before
strangers. But here among ourselves it is clearly the duty of whoever
loves his country to be watchful of whatever weaknesses and perils there
may be in the practical working of a system never before set in motion
under such favorable auspices, or on so large a scale.”[90]

One need not be nicer than his author, and it is clear from what Lowell
wrote afterward that he was somewhat surprised at the importance
attached to this utterance at Birmingham. In truth, it was the natural
and in a measure the unstudied expression of a man whose convictions
were not lightly held, had been tested by long experience, and were the
warp and woof of his political loom. Studied the address was, so far as
it became him not to disregard his official self, and above all not to
suffer his creed to be modified by his surroundings; but, bating all
this, the speech was the mellow judgment of a man who was about to
retire from a post where he had been an intermediary between the two
freest nations on earth, and it represented his deliberate thought upon
the foundations of that freedom.

He strikes the keynote of his discourse in his opening sentence: “He
must be a born leader or misleader of men, or must have been sent into
the world unfurnished with that modulating and restraining balance-wheel
which we call a sense of humor, who, in old age, has as strong a
confidence in his opinions and in the necessity of bringing the universe
into conformity with them as he had in youth.” Here was Lowell, not
unmindful of the zeal of his youth, standing up in the serenity of age
and about to repeat his credo in accents which could not be the
self-same as those with which he had early sung. Wherein, then, does
“Democracy” disclose essential agreement with its author’s ardent faith
in youth, or departure from the ideals then enjoyed? The one note always
struck by Lowell when he was singing of freedom and democracy was that
of the impregnable defence of these great truths in free and
conscience-governed character, and it is this note with which his
address concludes: “Our healing is not in the storm or in the whirlwind,
it is not in monarchies, or aristocracies, or democracies, but will be
revealed by the still small voice that speaks to the conscience and the
heart, prompting us to a wider and wiser humanity.” And in testing
current views by his unalterable faith in humanity, he cleaves with no
uncertain stroke. At the time of his address Henry George’s doctrine was
preached by its most eloquent expounder, Henry George himself, and
Lowell says frankly: “I do not believe that land should be divided
because the quantity of it is limited by nature,” but a moment after,
“Mr. George is right in his impelling motive; right, also, I am
convinced, in insisting that humanity makes a part, by far the most
important part, of political economy.” So, too, he distinguishes at once
between a socialism which means “the practical application of
Christianity to life, and has in it the secret of an orderly and benign
reconstruction,” and State Socialism, whose disposition is to “cut off
the very roots in personal character--self-help, forethought, and
frugality--which nourish and sustain the trunk and branches of every
vigorous commonwealth.”

What strikes one as most final in this discourse as an exponent of
Lowell’s attitude is his thinking through to the substance of things and
his indifference to names or to terms except as they define realities.
“Democracy in its best sense,” he declares, “is merely the letting in of
light and air.” He never did believe in violent changes; in his most
ardent crusade against the gigantic evil of slavery, he refused to go
with his associates who were ready to sever a union which seemed to
protect slavery. But with growing age it may be said that he was more
averse to any change except that which was scarcely perceptible at any
one moment of its progress. “Things in possession,” he says, “have a
very firm grip,” and I think the whole address is tinged with a sense of
inertia, almost of weariness, even though it rises to moments of fine
courage and the expression of an unshaken faith. Was this anything more
than the brooding tone of a man who after all his experience was
unquestionably a man of thought rather than a man of affairs?

The election of Cleveland to the presidency made it clear that Lowell
was to bring to a close his diplomatic life in England, though some of
his friends both there and in America clung to the illusion that the
light way in which he wore the party dress might make it possible for a
Democratic president to retain in office a man who had made himself so
acceptable. Some even went so far as to see in such a policy the
initiation of a new course in administration, by which ambassadors and
ministers representing the United States should hold their appointments
irrespective of change of party in administration, since the foreign
policy of the government was practically continued on the same line,
whichever party was in power. Shortly before the election Lowell wrote
to Mr. Norton: “I follow your home politics with a certain personal
interest. The latest news seems favorable to Blaine. I suppose in either
event I am likely to be recalled, and I should not regret it but for two
reasons,--certain friendships I have formed here, and the climate, which
is more kindly to me than any I ever lived in. It is a singularly manly
climate, full of composure and without womanish passion and
extravagance.” After the election he wrote to the same friend: “As for
myself, my successor was already named, and the place promised him in
case of Blaine’s election. This I knew long ago, and I cannot quite make
up my mind whether it is my weakness of good-nature and _laizzez-faire_
that makes me willing to stay, or a persuasion of what is best for me.
Everybody here is so continually lamenting my departure that I dare say
my judgment isn’t worth much in the matter. My position is complicated
in two ways,--the necessity of engaging a house, and now by Mabel’s
intention of coming abroad for some time with her children. This would
change the aspect of things entirely, for they are naturally the
strongest magnets that draw me homewards. If she come, I may stay,
whatever Cleveland thinks best.” To Mr. Field he wrote, 11 December,
1884: “We are well and waiting to hear our fate. I should be indifferent
but for a few friendships here. All England is writing to express
regret. But I am old enough to think that they will survive the loss of
me.... Fanny is better than at any time since she left Spain, and quite
willing to stay here now that the chances are against it. But she _will_
not believe that anybody would recall me! She doesn’t know the depths of
human depravity.”

So wonted had Lowell become to his English surroundings that some of his
friends in England laid plans to keep him with them, and sounded him as
to his willingness to be nominated for the professorship of English
language and literature which had lately been established in Oxford.
“Had he consented to stand,” says an editorial article in the _London
Times_,[91] “not even a Board determined to sink Literature in Philology
could have passed over his claims. But he declined for two reasons.
There were claims of family over in Massachusetts; and, greatly as he
loved the mental atmosphere of England, he thought it his duty not to
accept a definitely English post. And the sense of duty is strong in
that old Puritan stock from which he sprang.”

But there came an event which made all speculation regarding his plans
vain and illusory. On

[Illustration: _Mrs. Frances Dunlap Lowell_]

the 19th of February, 1885, Mrs. Lowell died after a short, sharp
illness. The loss struck a chill in his heart which made him dumb for
the most part, but he wrote to his friends, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Field,
who had been sharers in his profound anxiety during those painful days
in Madrid:--

                 LONDON, 6 March, 1885.

     DEAR OLD FRIENDS,--What shall I say to you, even though I have the
     sad comfort of feeling that whatever I say will be said to those
     who loved her and knew the entire beauty of her character. But I
     must at least say how deeply grateful I am to you whose friendly
     devotion in Madrid did so much to prolong a life so precious. She
     was given back to us for five years, and for the last two of them
     was hopeful enough about her health to enjoy her life. She had
     grown easy in her ceremonial duties, and (since the death of her
     mother and sisters) had no desire to return home. It is all
     bitterly sad.

     It seems there was no hope from the first,--though I naturally
     thought it an attack like that of three years ago which she would
     pull through. The doctors all believed as I did. But they think now
     that there was some organic and incurable lesion of the
     brain,--perhaps a tumor,--and that this disturbance was the cause
     of her fever in Spain instead of being its consequence.

     Everybody here has done for me everything that kindness could
     do,--especially Lady Lyttelton, Mrs. Smalley, and Mrs. Stephen.
     Lady L. has been all that the tenderest sister could be.

     God bless you, dear old friends!

                 Good-by, affectionately yours,

To an old and attached friend of his wife he wrote: “You will have a sad
pleasure in knowing that she suffered no pain. In her last consciousness
when I asked her if she suffered, she shook her head. But I cannot write
about these things coolly, and hate to put sentiment on paper where it
lacks the witness of sincerity which the voice carries with it. And yet
I am glad to write to you who knew how noble she was. You knew also her
goodness and perfect faith, and are as sure as I am that she sees God.”

In fulfilling a wish of his wife, Lowell wrote to his old friend, Mrs.
W. W. Story, 31 March: “I send you General Wallace’s book by to-day’s
post. It was touchingly characteristic that I should find it on her
writing-desk done up and addressed to you. She never forgot or neglected
a duty. But, not knowing the requirements of the Post Office, she had
closed it at both ends, and sealed it. So I was obliged, much to my
regret, to have it done up in the right way. But I ordered her original
address to be left inside that it might show she had not forgotten.

“I am on the whole glad to be rid of my official trammels and trappings.
I do not know yet when my successor will arrive, but hardly look for
him before July. I shall then go home, but whether to stay or not will
be decided after I have looked about me there. If I decide to stay I
shall certainly visit the Old World pretty regularly, and shall be sure
to turn up in Rome.”

Lowell added one more to his public addresses before leaving England,
that delivered on unveiling the bust of Coleridge, in Westminster Abbey,
7 May, 1885. It is a slight, graceful performance, but in it I think we
may hear now and then that echo of his own thought about himself which
we have more than once caught in his addresses, as when he says: “His
critical sense rose like a forbidding apparition in the path of his
poetic production;” and again: “We are here to-day not to consider what
Coleridge owed to himself, to the family, or to the world, but what we
owe to him. Let us at least not volunteer to draw his frailties from
their dread abode. Our own are a far more profitable subject of
contemplation. Let the man of imaginative temperament, who has never
procrastinated, who has made all that was possible of his powers, cast
the first stone.”

Early in June, 1885, Lowell left England, that held his wife’s grave,
and returned lonely to his old home.




Elmwood was let, and if it had been vacant Lowell could hardly have gone
back there at once to live. There were too many ghosts in the house, he
said. He made no attempt to take up again his college work, though he
held his title of Smith Professor with _emeritus_ added, and as his
daughter had abandoned her plan of taking her children abroad, he made
his home with her at Deerfoot Farm, Southborough, Massachusetts, about
two hours by rail from Boston, in a pretty country where there was
little intrusion of manufactures. He always had also a home in Boston at
the house of his sister, Mrs. Putnam. He was at once besieged with
invitations from many friends; as he wrote to Mr. Gilder: “I have been
all these days in the condition of a bird of Paradise, unable to perch,
no matter I might wish it, and perhaps embarrassed by the number of
friendly roosts offered to my choice--yours not the least seductive
among them.” He made up his mind to attend the Commencement at Harvard,
though he dreaded both the heat and the emotion,--as he wrote: “O for a
good freezing English July day!” He found himself deluged with
letters--it was almost as bad as in London. Many he was unable to
answer, many answered themselves after Napoleon’s easy-going philosophy,
but with the return to private life and in the absence of any routine
duties, Lowell took up again with a careless prodigality the occupation
of letter-writing. He had left friends in England who had endeared
themselves to him, and whose letters to him readily drew a response, and
to his old friends he was always faithful, so that, taking Mr. Norton’s
two volumes as a gauge, we find that he wrote twice as many friendly
letters in the five years after his return to America as in the five
years just preceding.

“I am already,” he writes to Mr. Norton, 22 July, 1885, “in love with
Southborough, which is a charmingly unadulterated New England village,
and with as lovely landscapes as I ever saw.... ’Tis an odd shift in the
peep-hole of my panorama from London to this Chartreuse. For the present
I like it and find it wholesome. I fancy myself happy sometimes--I am
not sure--but then I never was for long;” and to Mrs. Clifford he wrote,
2 August: “I am planting my cabbages diligently and growing as much like
them as I can. One must have confidants of one kind or another, and
where one is cut off from women, one must follow Wordsworth’s advice and
seek an intimacy with nature in whose impartial eyes cabbages are as
interesting as--I was going to say strawberry-leaves, but remembered
that you were an Englishwoman. I _wasn’t_ going to say women, though
logically I ought. Perhaps they are as safe. I am trying to make myself
tolerable to five grandchildren, though I am not so sure that I have
enough of the Grandfather in me to go round among so many.”

There is a playful allusion in this letter to a side of Lowell’s nature
which is hinted at also in his choice of correspondents. He was
peculiarly dependent upon the companionship of women, and he attracted
to himself the wittiest and most responsive. For it was not so much the
cushioned comfort that he looked for, as the cosiness of good fellowship
and the intellectual equality which he sometimes found and always
prized. He loved the generous natures with whom he had good converse,
and his talk and letters went freely to these habitual dwellers in a
world of honest sentiment. As in so many other cases, this side of
Lowell’s life found its expression in poetry, and there is no
exaggeration in the sonnet “Nightwatches,” written after the death of
one who had stood to him in this free, intimate relation for many years.

In August he went to Washington to close his business with the State
Department, and made with great pleasure the acquaintance of Mr. Bayard,
then Secretary of State, and later like him to represent the country in
London. He met President Cleveland also, and saw in him “a legitimate
birth of Democracy and not a byblow like Butler and his kind.”

Lowell was solicited both by the editor of the _Atlantic_ and other
friends to take up again his contributions to literature, but he put
them off. He had no inclination to write--he was glad of the solace of
books and letters, but the spur to literary activity had been dulled.
Yet he kept his Muse at least as a sort of friendly companion, as when
on the seventy-fifth birthday of his neighbor and associate Dr. Asa Gray
he wrote:--

    “Just Fate, prolong his life well spent,
    Whose indefatigable hours
    Have been as gaily innocent
    And fragrant as his flowers!”

For a time he was content to drift, and to let the indolence which he
had overmastered all his life get the upper hand of him now, even though
the pressure of circumstance still lay heavy on him. “I am delighted,”
he wrote 13 December, 1885, to Mr. John W. Field, “to hear that you are
getting on so well--better than I feared--and cannot enough admire your
pluck. ’Tis all the more admirable in a man like you who have the art of
finding (or making) life worth living so much more than most of us. As
for me I am a little tired now and then, and consent to grow old only
because I can’t decently help it.... As for my coming on to
Washington--I don’t know what to say. I should like to see you and
Eliza, but don’t see how I can find the time at present. I have a great
deal to do if I could only do it. But I am beginning to feel ‘old and
slow,’ as Ulysses said to Dante. Especially do I feel slow as compared
with what I once was.... I am just now bothered with an address to be
given next week at the opening of a public library in Chelsea. When I
have done that I mean to hold my tongue for evermore. Why should I make
myself wretched when there is so much that will do it without my help?”

The address at Chelsea was the one on “Books and Libraries,” included in
his “Literary and Political Addresses,” an address, almost
conversational in its manner, marked not so much by felicity of
expression as by a sanity of tone and the easy deliverance of a full

A public function quite in accord with his academic and literary tastes
was the presidency, which he accepted, of the American Archæological
Institute. He took also the post of chairman of a committee to raise
funds for the society’s school at Athens. “I find myself a little out of
place,” he writes to Mr. Reverdy Johnson, 28 December, 1885, “but I
consented to serve because I was so thoroughly persuaded both of the
excellence of the object proposed and of the honor it has already done
and is likely to do us in convincing Europe that we are not wholly given
over as a nation to the pursuit of material good. The English school
received its final impulse from the existence and success of ours.”

At the end of January, 1886, Lowell went to Washington, at the urgent
request of the Copyright League, to advocate the cause of international
copyright. Two separate bills designed to bring this about had been
offered in the Senate by Senators Hawley and Chace, and there was to be
a hearing on them before the Committee on Patents. Several publishers,
authors, and members of the League had argued in favor of some action,
and one gentleman, the late Mr. Gardiner G. Hubbard, had appeared in
opposition. Mr. Hubbard, who was well known as the most active promoter
of the then rather new Bell telephone, argued that an author’s right in
his literary property differed from that in any other kind of property;
“that while he has the manuscript of his thoughts in his own possession,
it is his own, and that when he gives it out to the world it ceases to
be his own and becomes the property of the world.”[92] He laid great
stress, further, on the grounds of the granting of copyright by
Congress, as for the benefit of the public, and not for the benefit of
authors, and finally claimed that an international copyright would be
injurious to the public by tending to raise the price of books.

Lowell came in while Mr. Hubbard was speaking, and was called upon by
the chairman, Senator Platt of Connecticut, as soon as Mr. Hubbard had
sat down. He had not intended to address the committee other than by
answering such questions as might be put to him, but the last speaker’s
positions nettled him, and he began at once by attacking them.

“There are one or two things in the very extraordinary speech which Mr.
Hubbard has just addressed to you which, I think, call for some comment
on my part. He began by stating what is a very common fallacy, that
there could be no such thing as property in books. It is generally put
in another way, that there can be no such thing as property in an idea.
There is a feeling, I know, among a great many people that books, even
when they are printed, are like umbrellas, _feræ naturæ_; but by Mr.
Hubbard we are carried farther back than that, to the very conception of
the book.

“Now, nobody supposes that there can be property in an idea. The thing
is a fallacy on the face of it. What we do suppose is that there is a
property in the fashioning that is given to the idea, the work that a
man has put into it, and I think the Constitution has already recognized
that in granting patents. Patents are nothing but ideas fashioned in a
certain way. For instance, the Bell telephone is precisely a parallel
case to that of books, and I think there are a great many people in this
country who are interested in the Bell telephone and believe it to be

“It appears to me that a great deal of what is said in opposition to the
view of those who favor an international copyright is, like the
statement of Mr. Hubbard, purely hypothetical. He tells you that it
would make books dearer. I do not think he has the slightest evidence on
which to show you that it would make books dearer. My own decided
opinion is that it would make books cheaper. When he says, also, that it
is an attempt of publishers to make large profits on small editions,
instead of small profits on large editions, I think he should have a
more general knowledge of the book trade--nay, of the modern tendencies
of trade in general--before he makes an assertion of that sort. It is
based on the practice in England of publishing one expensive edition,
and even in England the price of the book very soon falls. But the
custom there has been pretty much dictated to the publishers by the
owners of circulating libraries; and already there is a revolt against
it, which is becoming intensified on the whole, and I believe a reform
in that respect will take place there.

“I have one practical example to offer on the other side. For instance,
Mr. Douglas, of Edinburgh, reprints a great many American books and pays
a copyright for them. He prints them beautifully in little volumes of
most convenient size, and sells them for a shilling. That is not very
dear. He pays his copyright, remember. I myself am perfectly satisfied
that the reading public in America, being much larger than in England,
and demanding cheap books, the result of a copyright law, if we ever get
one, will be to transfer the great bulk of the book trade from England
to this country, and with it the publishing of books. That is my firm
belief. But that is purely hypothetical, like Mr. Hubbard’s argument.
Yet it seems to me there would be certain reasons for thinking so in
what we know of the instincts and tendencies of trade. If the larger
market be here, and if books have to be printed in a cheaper form in
order to suit that market, I think they will be so printed and so far as
the American public is concerned, it appears to me that if they get
their books cheaply it does not so much matter where they are printed.

“I, myself, take the moral view of the question. I believe that this is
a simple question of morality and justice; that many of the arguments
which Mr. Hubbard used are arguments which might be used for picking a
man’s pocket. One could live a great deal cheaper, undoubtedly, if he
could supply himself from other people without any labor or cost. But at
the same time,--well, it was not called honest when I was young, and
that is all I can say. I cannot help thinking that a book which was, I
believe, more read when I was young than it is now, is quite right when
it says that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation.’ I believe this is a
question of righteousness. I do not wish to urge that too far, because
that is considered a little too ideal, I believe. But that is my view of
it, and if I were asked what book is better than a cheap book, I should
answer that there is one book better than a cheap book, and that is a
book honestly come by. That would be my feeling.”

A series of questions and answers followed which travelled over a good
deal of space, from the habit of book-buying in the two countries to the
rights and wrongs involved in copyright, and Lowell drew upon personal
experience and observation in a way to confirm emphatically the title
which he once gave himself, “I am a bookman.” “My own impression is,” he
said in the course of this conversation, “that the gathering of private
libraries is diminishing; at least I think it is on the whole, according
to my own observation. I mean to say that fewer persons, in proportion
to the number of educated people in a community, collect libraries now
than formerly, because large libraries are now more readily within the
reach of so many people.... There [in England] the collection of
libraries has also diminished very much, but is still large in country
houses and so on. People who are rich wish to have a handsome copy of a
book in their library, and for that purpose this handsome edition is
published. But if you will pardon me for digressing for a moment from
this subject, it seems to me there are a great many ways in which our
laws about books are very disadvantageous to the country. I think,
myself, that the tax on books is a barbarism.” Senator Teller here asked
him if he meant the revenue tax. “Yes; it has prevented me from buying a
great many books in the course of my life which would have been very
valuable to me, and the imprints [reprints?][93] were comparatively
valueless when I got them. I cannot at this moment as I could if I lived
in any other country of the world, even Turkey, subscribe to a foreign
society and receive its publications without the trouble of going to the
post-office and paying the duty; and, as I happen to live up in the
country now, that is very inconvenient. To be sure, as they know me, I
am able to get the books sent up to the post-office of the town where I
am living and pay my tax there, but it seems to me a very bad system.”

The chairman asked Lowell if people who read the cheap reprints of
English books preserved them to any extent; to which he replied: “No, I
think they are not preserved at all. It is a marvel where they go to.
Those books get out of print quickly. I remember that I religiously
preserved all the books that were sent me early in my life in order to
give them to the college library, because I said, whether worthless or
not they will disappear; and many of those books have disappeared, and
cannot be bought at all, or procured, except the copies preserved there.
They go back to the paper maker as waste paper. I wish to say before I
sit down, in reference to the gentleman who is to follow me,[94] that I
doubt if there is a class in the community who have a more profound
sympathy with the typographical unions than we have. It is not that we
wish to deprive them of their bread. I personally have a very strong
sympathy with all labor organizations, and I think, as I have said, the
result of a copyright law will be to give them more work rather than

Both authors and those publishers who sympathized with the movement were
concentrating their efforts at this time to secure the passage of an act
which should effect international copyright. There was considerable
diversity of opinion, especially regarding the clause which required all
foreign books to be set up and printed in this country, if they were to
be protected by copyright, but the largest support was given to the bill
introduced by Senator Chace and stands now as law, practically as then
drawn. The editors of the _Century_ collected vigorous expressions of
opinion from the most representative writers and published the testimony
in the number for February, 1886. In response to the request for an
opinion, Lowell came into the editor’s office one day, said he had
something in his head, and wanted a pen with which to write it out. Then
he sat down and wrote the famous scorcher:--

    “In vain we call old notions fudge,
      And bend our conscience to our dealing;
    The Ten Commandments will not budge,
      And stealing will continue stealing.”

This was printed in facsimile at the head of the testimony. But though
Lowell was an uncompromising advocate of justice in this matter, perhaps
because he was so uncompromising, the most active advocates of the bill
had to use a good deal of _finesse_ in making his support available. The
act for securing international copyright was not a partisan measure, but
it was in the hands of the Republicans in Congress, mainly, and Lowell
with his emphatic independence in politics was not at this time a
_persona grata_ with Republican politicians, who were incensed by the
falling out of the ranks of men of character and influence. The act was
passed finally 3 March, 1891.

There was one form of public appearance which Lowell reluctantly allowed
himself to take up in this winter of 1886. The rage for Authors’
Readings had set in, and under the guise of charity of one sort or
another, society compelled its favorites to stand and deliver their old
poems. “I am having proof sheets,” he wrote to Mr. Field, 30 March,
1886, “and I have been reading in public with O. W. H. and oh, don’t I
wish I had never written a verse! Take warning by me, old boy, and if
you make a rhyme by accident, duck yourself in holy water to wash the
Devil clean out of you,--or they’ll have you on a platform before you
can say Jack Robinson, or even d--n.” A keener thrust came to him now
and then when he was urged to read poems which others could read, it
might be, with equanimity, but which were for him like raising the lid
of a coffin.

The proof sheets to which he refers in this letter were of the small
volume “Democracy and other Addresses,” a volume which appeared in the
spring of 1886, just before Lowell went back to England for the summer.
Here he gave himself up to those pleasures which he could enjoy but
sparingly when he was in the official harness. His friends welcomed him
most cordially, and he made a round of visits. He looked on upon the
game of English politics with the eye of a trained observer, but
resisted all enticements to write or speak for the English public,
though he did preside at one dinner. “I made an epigram (extempore) one
day on the G. O. M.,” he writes to his daughter, “and repeated it to
Lord Acton.

    His greatness not so much in genius lies
    As in adroitness, when occasions rise,
    Lifelong convictions to extemporize.

This morning I find the last lines quoted by Auberon Herbert in a
letter to the _Times_, but luckily without my name. It is a warning.”

“I am living a futile life here,” he writes to Mr. Norton, “but am as
fond of London as Charles Lamb. The rattle of a hansom shakes new life
into my old bones, and I ruin myself in them. I love such evanescent and
unimportunate glimpses of the world as I catch from my flying perch. I
envy the birds no longer, and learn better to converse with them. Our
views of life are the same.” It was the summer also when Dr. Holmes made
his royal progress through England, and Lowell had the pleasure of
seeing the hearty welcome his old friend received. To Mr. Field he
wrote, 27 July, 1886:--

“I met Mrs. Archibald Forbes the other day and had much talk with her
about you. She did not give me much comfort,--except in telling me that
you had gone away from Washington for the summer. This means, I suppose,
that you are well enough to go to Ashfield, which I take as a good sign.
I constantly meet old friends of yours here who ask after you
affectionately. I give them what comfort I can by telling them how
bravely both of you bear up under your common sorrow....

“Old Mrs. Proctor told me a good story lately which may amuse you. She
was breakfasting with Rogers. Thackeray and Kinglake were there among
others. So was Abraham Hayward, who began abusing Houghton (then Monkton
Milnes), a great favorite of hers. Kinglake tried in vain to divert or
stop him. At last Mrs. P. in a pause broke out with, ‘Mr. Hayward, for
the first time in my life I wish I were a man that I might call you out
and make you, for the first time in your life, a gentleman!’ She is as
young as ever and as jealous of her lovers, tolerating no rivals.

“I am to meet Doña Emilia next Friday at dinner, and shall take upon
myself to give her your kindest regards. I fear she is not very well,
but she is so fond of London that it will be better for her than a
course of the waters at Wiesbaden. I shall be very glad to see her
again. I last met her in London four years ago.... By the way, I saw Don
Palo (Francisco) Giher at Oxford whither I went to help Holmes on with
his gown. It was a pleasant surprise to me when he rushed forward with
both hands outstretched in the Master’s drawing-room at Balliol and
began at me in Spanish. As the window was behind him I could not see his
face and did not at once recognize him. My Spanish naturally creaked a
little on its hinges after such long disuse, but, with that _hidalquia_
which is common to all his race, he told somebody afterwards that I
spoke the most exquisite Castilian! Even at twenty I shouldn’t have
believed--and at sixty-seven!

“I have been whirling round like a marble on the van of a windmill and
am worn as smooth. I roll off on the slightest incline. But I can lie
still on the lap of an old friendship such as ours. Good-by and God
bless you.”

When Lowell went abroad in the spring of 1886 he had been asked to give
the address in November at the 250th anniversary of the founding of
Harvard University. The thought of it harassed him during the summer. “I
am distressed with the thought of that abominable address,” he wrote
near the end of July. “I have not yet accepted and would decline could I
give any better reason than that I have nothing to say. Nobody ever
thinks _that_ of any importance! What have I done to have this fly
thrust into my pot of ointment which grows more precious every day by
diminution like the Sibyl’s leaves?” And after his return to Deerfoot
Farm late in September, when he could not avoid his destiny, he wrote:
“I am in direful dumps about my address,--the muse obstinately dumb.”
Once more, 6 October, he wrote: “I have been mulling over my address and
to-day mean to break into it in earnest by blocking out an exordium. It
doesn’t take hold of me, and I always feared it wouldn’t. It isn’t
exactly in my line. To fill so large a bowl as an hour I shall have to
draw on the cow with the iron tail,--and pumping is an exercise that
always wearies me beyond most.”

His equanimity was further shaken by a disagreeable experience when the
son of an old friend, making a show of a friendly visit, led him on into
discourse about England and English affairs, and then, relying on his
memory, decanted the conversation into an article for a New York paper
with which he was connected. “If he had reported what I really said,
instead of his version of it, I should not feel so bitterly,” was
Lowell’s comment, and to a friend he wrote: “As for ---- he _knew_ that I
didn’t know he was interviewing me. To any sane man the shimble-shamble
stuff he has made me utter is proof of it. I say ‘made me utter’
deliberately, because, though he has remembered some of the subjects
(none of my choosing) which we talked about, he has wholly
misrepresented the tone and sometimes falsified the substance of what I
said.... The worst of ----’s infidelity (I mean to keep my temper) is
that it is like a dead rat in the wall,--an awful stink and no cure.”

It is not easy to say just what gave rise to the peculiarly American
academic custom of making a celebration to consist of an oration and a
poem, but Harvard was fortunate in being able to summon from her
graduates Holmes to deliver a poem and Lowell an oration. To Lowell
himself the occasion was stimulating, not only because of the pride and
loyalty with which he regarded the college, but because he had given it
twenty years of service, and came back to it now after nearly a decade
in which he had abundant opportunity for comparison of its fruit with
that which hung on the boughs of older institutions. As one reads again
an address which was listened to with eagerness, one follows the course
which Lowell’s thought took with a deepening sense that he was speaking
out of a full mind, not so much upon the specific questions of
university education as upon the large aspects of education and life
which rose to view as an historical survey laid them bare. The address
was the outcome of Lowell’s life as a scholar broadening into the
experience of a man who had had to do with the affairs of a great world.
The affectionate pride which he had in New England as exemplified in his
historic study, “New England Two Centuries Ago,” had grown into a
feeling of reverence which leads him in the opening passages of his
address to set forth the founders of the college in a manner to leave on
the minds of his hearers the impression of an august body chosen out of
the greatest of their time to lay the foundation of a noble institution;
and toward the close of his address he returns to this theme and
presents it anew with an eloquence and beauty of phrase that make the
passage one which may be read without fear beside the sonorous Latin
which faced the audience in Sanders Theatre.

“They who, on a tiny clearing pared from the edge of the woods, built
here, most probably with the timber hewed from the trees they felled,
our earliest hall, with the solitude of ocean behind them, the mystery
of forest before them, and all about them a desolation, most surely (_si
quis animis celestibus locus_) share our gladness and our gratitude at
the splendid fulfilment of their vision. If we could have but preserved
the humble roof which housed so great a future, Mr. Ruskin himself would
almost have admitted that no castle or cathedral was ever richer in
sacred associations, in pathos of the past, and in moral significance.
They who reared it had the sublime prescience of that courage which
fears only God, and could say confidently in the face of all
discouragement and doubt, ‘He hath led me forth into a large place;
because He delighted in me, He hath delivered me.’ We cannot honor them
too much; we can repay them only by showing, as occasions rise, that we
do not undervalue the worth of their example.”

It was out of this natural consideration of the origin of the University
that Lowell passed by an historical process to an analysis of the
objects had in founding it and the spirit in which these objects had
been pursued. He troubled himself not at all with the external affairs
of the college and used no time in tracing its material development. He
had found its chief office to be that of maintaining and handing down
the traditions “of how excellent a thing Learning was,” and his main
contention was that the chief office of the University still is to train
in learning rather than in knowledge. It was in urging this that he made
a plea for the broad and not the special interpretation of the term
Learning. As the result of his own study and observation he contended
earnestly for the Humanities as the paramount interest.

Lowell admitted in a letter he wrote to G. H. Palmer, one of the most
intelligent advocates of those new methods in education which found
their fullest expression in what is known as the “elective system,” that
he based some parts of his address rather on his experience as a teacher
there than on the later conditions of teaching in the college; but
after all his dispute was with the elective system, for he distrusted
what looked to him like a departure from the “unbroken experience and
practice of mankind.” One does not need to doubt or believe in this
particular collegiate method to give full assent to Lowell’s dictum that
“the most precious property of culture and of a college as its trustee
is to maintain higher ideals of life and its purpose, to keep trimmed
and burning the lamps of that pharos, built by wiser than we, that warns
from the reef and shallows of popular doctrine.” For as he moves forward
in his address, he is drawn inevitably into a consideration of what was,
first and last, the fundamental social question with him, the democratic
idea. He had refrained, as we have seen, from touching in his English
address on Democracy upon the perils which beset it in its American
stronghold, but here, at home, in the very heart of its stoutest
defence, he must needs use these perils to emphasize his doctrine that
the prime business of the college is to “set free, to supple, and to
train the faculties in such wise as shall make them most effective for
whatever task life may afterwards set them, for the duties of life
rather than for its business, and to open windows on every side of the
mind where thickness of wall does not prevent it.”

The whole address is an exemplification of how surely Lowell’s mind had
come to base all speculations on the broad bottom of a political
organism. And as he was still unequivocally an idealist, the very
melancholy of his foreboding, cropping out in this and other addresses,
bore testimony not to his faintheartedness but to his apprehension of
the distance which prevailed between his ideal and the fact. He saw in
the whole the sum of the particulars, and, as individual character
working in freedom was the ultimate end in persons, he would listen to
nothing else when he applied his ear to the movement of the people; and
thus it was that he distrusted any departure of the University in its
methods from that line which had resulted in the historic democracy that
he believed to have found its true exemplar in New England.

When Lowell was in England in the summer of 1886 he had written to Mr.
Gilder that his friend Miss Mary Boyle had some letters of Landor which
she had intrusted to him for publication, and he proposed to preface
them with an introduction of his own if Mr. Gilder would publish the
paper in the _Century_. His letters show that he was moved not by any
desire to write on Landor, but to help an old friend, and now that his
Harvard address was off his hands, he applied himself to the task. He
had the curiosity to look up his early paper on Landor in the
_Massachusetts Quarterly_,[95] in which he remarks he found one good
sentence and one other that he could not understand.[96] He sent the
paper to Mr. Gilder, 23 December, 1886: “I send you a Christmas gift. I
have made more of it than I expected, but you may eat only the plums if
you like and give to the poor the pudding in which I have hidden them.
The letters, thank Heaven, are better than I thought. The last (on
Powers’s death) is charming. I have arranged them as well as I could
without books. There is one on the Chinese War which I could date could
I remember the year of that outrage--1841 or 2? You might find out.

“Have I added too much of my own? And is it dull? _I_ am, but that’s
nothing to the purpose. I could easily have held my peace, but I
promised to play the Master of Ceremonies and must proclaim the rank of
my guests.

“I am sorry that some of the letters are copied on both sides. Most of
them are in proper form. Send me proof here unless I say otherwise.

    If the hunting up of Christmas gifts hasn’t killed her,
    Give my love to Mrs. Gilder.”[97]

The paper, which is included in “Latest Literary Essays and Addresses,”
was a most agreeable compound of criticism and personal reminiscence,
and contains what Lowell rarely ventured on in his printed work, but now
and then in his letters with real success--the portraiture of a man.

The article did not appear for a year; meanwhile he was in
correspondence with Mr. Aldrich respecting some poems, and he had
engaged to write the introduction to a subscription book, “The World’s
Progress.” He had the assurance that the work thus introduced was a
serious one, but his introduction had no special relation to it; it was
an independent paper. “It rather attracts me,” he wrote, “through my
sense of humor. It will be pure creation made out of nothing, not even
nebula or star-dust,” and he added, what was indeed the secret of his
undertaking the work, “the money it will fetch me will be a great
medicine. Grandfathers get miserly. I never saved a penny till I had two
[grandchildren].” As the new year opened, and he found himself in the
midst of this set task: “I don’t get on with the world at all since I
half promised to write an introduction to ‘The World’s Progress,’ a
megatherium of a book in two volumes, quarto. I hear their heavy
footfall behind me wherever I go, and am sure they will trample me into
the mud at last.”

The Introduction, though undertaken apparently with a reluctant rather
than an eager mind, and bearing indeed some marks of a perfunctory
performance, is yet not only interesting in itself but valuable as a
mirror in which to catch a passing reflection of its author’s mind.
Aware that the book to follow would deal largely with those advances in
civilization which publishers and writers in their bookkeeping like to
record to the credit of the world, he cannot forbear at the outset
gently reminding his readers that with all our statistics we cannot
“make ourselves independent of the inextinguishable lamps of heaven,”
and with a sort of under-the-breath doubt if he may not be letting his
own temperament get in the way of more exact standards of measurement,
he allows himself for a moment to pause over the changes in
civilization, which accepted as progress do yet obliterate some very
wonderful prints which the foot of man has made. It is the old song of
_laudator temporis acti_, sung to the air of his own brooding age.

But having thus, as it were, satisfied his conscience by discharging the
debt he owed to his own personal taste in the matter of what constitutes
progress, he takes up the real business of the Introcduction and quickly
becomes forgetful of himself the philosopher in the pleasure which the
poet and artist in him may take with a very large and plastic substance.
Near the close of the paper he writes: “Should the doctrines of Natural
Selection, Survival of the Fittest, and Heredity, be accepted as Laws of
Nature, they must profoundly modify the thought of men and,
consequently, their action.” He himself, with his aversion to the
speculations of science, had but a bowing acquaintance with those
investigations of Darwin and Huxley and their fellows which brought
about so great a revolution of thought in his lifetime, and clearly was
impatient of what he regarded as the encroachment of science upon the
humanities in the formation of intellectual beliefs; but he was, after
all, a child of his time, and his thought had been, whether he would or
no, modified by the results of scientific investigation. At any rate, he
had the poet’s faculty for appropriating results, and the picture which
he draws in this Introduction of the evolution of the earth and of man’s
early mastery of it is a striking piece of imaginative writing, touched
here and there with a dash of wit which one almost fancies was Lowell’s
intellectual aside to the Balaam-like prophecy he was compelled to

It is, however, when he emerges in his thought upon those great plains
of society where his mind was most wont to dwell, that Lowell falls into
an earnestness of tone which quite as surely indicates that he had been
warmed by the fire he had kindled into a healthy and natural vigor, and
when, from a rapid survey of the world’s past growing more and more
present under his touch, he comes to forecast the world’s future, it is
with a voice familiar through his recent addresses and poems and letters
that we hear him speak. Again he recurs to that significant element in
modern life about which his mind was constantly revolving, the
political organization of men in its relation to their individual
character, and his definitions of Democracy are here more precise, more
carefully formulated than in any of his writings. The main passage is so
notable that it deserves to be read again, apart from its context, as
the last statement made by one whose whole life was, in a measure,
occupied with an exposition of the truths here laid down.

“In casting the figure of the World’s future, many new elements, many
disturbing forces, must be taken into account. First of all is
Democracy, which, within the memory of men yet living, has assumed
almost the privilege of a Law of Nature, and seems to be making constant
advances towards universal dominion. Its ideal is to substitute the
interest of the many for that of the few as the test of what is wise in
polity and administration, and the opinion of the many for that of the
few as the rule of conduct in public affairs. That the interest of the
many is the object of whatever social organization man has hitherto been
able to effect seems unquestionable; whether their opinions are so safe
a guide as the opinions of the few, and whether it will ever be
possible, or wise if possible, to substitute the one for the other in
the hegemony of the World, is a question still open for debate. Whether
there was ever such a thing as a Social Contract or not, as has been
somewhat otiosely discussed, this, at least, is certain,--that the basis
of all Society is the putting of the force of all at the disposal of
all, by means of some arrangement assented to by all, for the
protection of all, and this under certain prescribed forms. This has
always been, consciously or unconsciously, the object for which men have
striven, and which they have more or less clumsily accomplished. The
State--some established Order of Things, under whatever name--has always
been, and must always be, the supremely important thing; because in it
the interests of all are invested, by it the duties of all imposed and
exacted. In point of fact, though it be often strangely overlooked, the
claim to any selfish hereditary privilege because you are born a man is
as absurd as the same claim because you are born a noble. In a last
analysis, there is but one natural right; and that is the right of
superior force. This primary right having been found unworkable in
practice, has been deposited, for the convenience of all, with the
State, from which, as the maker, guardian, and executor of Law, and as a
common fund for the use of all, the rights of each are derived, and man
thus made as free as he can be without harm to his neighbor. It was this
surrender of private jurisdiction which made civilization possible, and
keeps it so. The abrogation of the right of private war has done more to
secure the rights of man, properly understood,--and, consequently, for
his well-being,--than all the theories spun from the brain of the most
subtle speculator, who, finding himself cramped by the actual conditions
of life, fancies it as easy to make a better world than God intended, as
it has been proved difficult to keep in running order the world that
man has made out of his fragmentary conception of the divine thought.
The great peril of democracy is that the assertion of private right
should be pushed to the obscuring of the superior obligation of public

Having thus discoursed upon what is most fundamental in political
thinking, he passes, after a brief reflection upon the growing function
of the press, to enquire into that new factor in the problem of the
future which takes the name of Socialism. He distinguishes here, as
elsewhere, between socialism as a new reading of the law of rights and
duties, and State Socialism. He repeats his warning against this form
which he holds destructive of a genuine democracy, for he distrusts the
robbery of man’s freedom of development in character for the sake of
paying him back in the paper promises of security from misfortune. The
whole latter part of this Introduction, in spite of its hurried manner,
is a footnote to the history of Lowell’s thought on some of the greatest
of themes.

The intimation given above, that Lowell could not quite afford the
luxury of being a bystander in his old age, reminds us how close he
sailed to the wind throughout his life, yet how faithfully he kept off
the reefs of debt. At times he had enough to live on comfortably; when
he could not live what is called comfortably, he simply drew in, and at
least knew not the discomfort of living beyond his means. He had not now
the resources of his professorship, and he was fain to increase the
income which his small estate and his copyrights brought him by such
tasks as the Introduction we have considered, and other more congenial
literary labors. His reputation, fortunately, had now turned capital so
far as the quick assets of his writing went. He could command good
prices from editors, but by a not uncommon fortune periodical work
yielded him much better return than his accumulating books. In a letter
written to Thomas Hughes, 10 January, 1887, he makes this frank
statement of his affairs: “Rejoice with me that I am getting popular in
my old age, and hope to pay my this year’s trip to the dear old Home
without defrauding my grandchildren.[98] I get twenty-five cents, I
think it is, on copies [of “Democracy”] sold during the first eight
months after publication, and then it goes into my general copyright,
for which I am paid £400 a year. Not much after nearly fifty years of
authorship, but enough to keep me from the almshouse.”

His friends sometimes chided him for not reckoning in his price the
worth of his name, but he had it not in him to drive sharp bargains.
Still, now and then he braced himself, as when he wrote to a friendly
editor respecting a poem he had sent him: “Another magazine would have
given me----. I am not speaking of intrinsic but of commercial values,
of course. I think one ought to make hay while the sun shines, and mine,
after a good deal of cloudy weather, seems to be shining now. As I don’t
know how long this meteoric phenomenon is to last, I must be diligent
with my windrows and cocks that my crop may be in the mow before a
change of weather. As an author, you will sympathize with me, while as
editor, you will ask me blandly how flint-skins are quoted in the last
prices current. I fancy you with that dual expression of countenance
typified by Hamlet as ‘one dropping and one auspicious eye’--only I see
that I have got the epithets in the wrong order for the metre.”

In the letter to Mr. Hughes last quoted, Lowell says: “I am going to
talk on politics to the people of Chicago on my next birthday,” and he
went to Chicago to fulfil this engagement. The Union League Club of that
city had proposed to celebrate Washington’s birthday by public exercises
in Music Hall, consisting mainly of Lowell’s address, which was
announced to be on “American Politics.” The house was completely filled
and Lowell was given a hearty welcome. The audience, however, was
greatly taken aback at the first words of the speaker, for he said when
he came forward that he had changed his subject and would speak not on
“American Politics,” but upon the principles of literary criticism as
illustrated by Shakespeare’s Richard III., a paper which he had read in
1883 before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, and which was
included, after his death, in “Latest Literary Essays and Addresses.” He
went on to say that in announcing politics as the subject of his address
he had not fully realized the conditions under which it was to be
delivered; that he was accustomed to speak frankly, but that he found
himself the guest and, in a manner, the representative of the Club. What
he had to say would plainly give offence to his hosts, and he was thus
compelled on the score of courtesy to change his subject.

The situation was one which might have led those present to detect some
irony in Lowell’s politeness. The Union League Club was a Republican
organization under the control of the Blaine wing of the party. It had
succeeded in getting rid of those Republicans who had been hostile to
Blaine, amongst whom was the gentleman who was Lowell’s host. But Lowell
had made no concealment of the position he occupied. He made it clear
enough at this time, a couple of days later when he was a guest of the
Harvard Club of Chicago: “I stood outside of party,” he then said, “for
nearly twenty-five years, and I was perfectly happy, I assure you....
Party organization, no doubt, is a very convenient thing, but a great
many people, and I feel very strongly with them, feel that when loyalty
to party means worse disloyalty to conscience, it is then asking more
than any good man or any good citizen ought to concede.”

Upon his return from Chicago Lowell gave six lectures on the Old
Dramatists before the Lowell Institute. Though in accepting the
invitation he was returning to an early love he had never forsaken, the
preparation was a burden. “I haven’t time for a word more,” he wrote to
Mr. Gilder, 3 March, 1887, “for I begin a course of lectures next
Tuesday and haven’t yet begun to write them, though I have done a deil
o’ thinking,” and to Mr. Higginson on 8 March: “I am fagged to death. I
never ought to have consented to the Lowell Lectures. If I get over them
without breaking down, I shall be happy. After they are (if _I_ am not)
over, I will try to do what you ask. But my brains are husks just now.”
Perhaps there was no better barometer of Lowell’s spirits than his
temper regarding out of door life. Time was when the frosty winter air
was elixir to him, but now he writes: “It is growing colder as my legs
inform me--for I have had no fire to-day. I look out of window and see
that the sun is gone behind a cloud, and the white lines of snow along
the walls marking out the landscape as if for a tennis-court of Anakim.
I don’t like winter so well as I used. It tempts the rheumatism out of
all its ambushes, as the sun thaws out snakes. And the walking is like
bad verses.” The confession gains force when one considers that all his
life Lowell had been indifferent to the need of a top coat, and
preferred to work in his study at a temperature of 60°.

In his first lecture Lowell said that he should have preferred to
entitle his course “Readings from the Old English Dramatists with
illustrative comments,” and that is practically what he made of his
work. The slim volume in which, after his death, the six lectures were
contained, does not at all stand for six hours’ entertainment of his
audience; long passages which he read from printed books do not appear
at all, as there were no passages in his written lectures which
introduced or followed them. Lowell was recurring to a familiar theme,
and his intention plainly was to speak freely out of a full mind. He
does not appear to have re-read his early “Conversations;” he had not
seen it, he said, for many years, and he was not quite sure just what
its subjects were. A comparison of the two treatments separated by
forty-four years shows curious likenesses and differences. As will be
remembered, the young critic was so zealous over his ideas of reform
that Chapman and Ford, the only dramatists he treated, and Chaucer, were
often no more than mere prompters in the discussion of some current
phase of morals or society. A little of this disposition to vagrancy
reappears in these later talks, for they are quite as informal in their
way as were the earlier Conversations. But in place of the topics
connected with reform, there are more cognate themes. Since he is to
speak of Marlowe, he finds it easy to make, by way of preface, an
enquiry into the refinement which had been going on in the language, and
so, by natural association, to one of his old themes, the sanctity of
the English tongue. In introducing Webster also, he has some quiet
criticism on the function of Form; and when he passes to Chapman, an
enquiry into the personal element in literature leads him into some
remarks on biographies, autobiographies, and the modern zest for
intimacies in the lives of men, remarks which gain some earnestness, no
doubt, from experiences which he had undergone.

But for the most part, he keeps closely to his business of inviting his
hearers to share with him the enjoyment of the dramatists whom he reads
and comments on, and when we compare the actual appreciation and
criticism in the two books, the difference is mainly in the mellowness
and quiet assurance which pervade the later treatment, and in the fact
that in the earlier book he was more concerned with what in
old-fashioned terms were the “beauties” of the poets, in the later, with
the art and the constructive faculty.

In his half-homeless condition, Lowell looked with eagerness to his
summers in England. There he had in its leisurely form the social life
which had come to be a real solace to him, and there too he found the
world arranged for the ease and comfort of a solitary. He sailed for
England this year on the 21st of April, and found himself shortly in his
familiar lodgings in London. He liked the sense of world activity which
he felt in the heart of that great city. “Nothing can be more
bewildering,” he wrote to his daughter, “than the sudden change in my
habits and surroundings. Were it merely from the dumbness of
Southborough to the clatter and chatter of London, it would be queer
enough; from the rising and falling murmur of the mill to this roar of
the human torrent. But I can hardly help laughing sometimes when I think
how a single step from my hermitage takes me into Babylon. Meanwhile it
amuses and interests me. My own vitality seems to reënforce itself as if
by some unconscious transfusion of the blood from these ever-throbbing
arteries of life into my own.”[99]

There were two places in England, outside of London, in which he
especially delighted: one was St. Ives in Cornwall, the resort of his
friends Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Stephen, the other was Whitby in Yorkshire.
For six years, with the exception of 1885, he had made a summer stay in
Whitby. It was then a quiet, primitive place; now it knows the flood of
summer excursionists. Lowell liked the folk he met there, who reminded
him of New England country folk. He liked the walks in the neighborhood
and the sounding sea, and he was wont to invite to his lodgings friends
whose companionship he cared for. An appreciative follower in Lowell’s
footsteps has made an agreeable record of the memories he left behind in
Whitby, especially with the two Misses Gallillee, with whom he
lodged.[100] The paper deals with the picturesque properties of the
little village, and has also a faint fragrance from the very human
reminiscences of Lowell that remained in the minds of those who came
near to him. “In the eyes of the positive little person--an innate
Yankee of Yorkshire blood--whose duty it was to change the courses on
these occasions, literary men as such have no glamour at all. Her
acquaintance includes a number, and her North Country vocabulary has
terms wherewith to dispose of them briefly. But there is neither
reservation nor qualification in the tone in which she says of the
conclusion of a certain discussion, listened to between times in the
serving, ‘I never forgot it.’ It had wound up in a round-robin
agreement, according to which each person present was to say by what he
should best like to be remembered. The host spoke last, and the sentence
in which his admiring hearer puts him on record is, ‘By kindly acts and
helpful deeds.’”

Yet much at home as he was in Whitby, Lowell could not well resist the
contagion which attacks all summer wanderers. As he wrote to Lady
Lyttleton from Whitby, 7 September: “I am a bird of passage now, and
that makes me feel unsettled wherever I am, but I have enjoyed my stay
here, and the hogsheads of fresh air I have drunk have done me good....
I go down to Somersetshire on Saturday to Mr. Hobhouse, who has promised
to show me Wells Cathedral, the only one in England I have not seen.
Thence I go to the Stephens.” During this summer he was fitfully engaged
in bringing together such poems as he had written since the volume
“Under the Willows,” or had written before but had not included in that
volume, and he continued his work upon it after his return to Deerfoot
Farm in the fall. He pondered over what he should include, what leave
out, and the medley which resulted caused him, in the volume “Heartsease
and Rue,” to distribute the contents without regard to chronology under
a variety of headings,--Friendship, Sentiment, Fancy, Humor and Satire,
Epigrams. “My book will be a raft manned by the press-gang, I fear,” he
wrote. “There will be some hitherto unprinted things in it--many of them
trifles--some of which, however, please my fancy and may another’s here
and there.” As he went on with the work of collection, he grew more and
more distrustful. “I feel,” he wrote 22 December, 1887, “like a young
author at his first venture. I think there will be some nice things in
the book, but fear that _my_ kind of thing is a little old-fashioned.
People want sensation rather than sense nowadays.” Again, 4 January,
1888, he writes: “I am wondering more and more if my poems are good for
anything after all. They are old-fashioned in their simplicity and
straightforwardness of style,--and everybody writes so plaguily well
nowadays. I fear that I left off my diet of bee bread too long and have
written too much prose. A poet shouldn’t be, nay, he can’t be anything
else without loss to him as poet, however much he may gain as man.”

Yet he liked the little task of collecting the volume, and there was a
pleasurable content in his uneventful country life with his books and
pipe. “My mind is busy,” he wrote, “and I like it. I am sitting in the
sun without fire and I like that. My pipe tastes good and I like that
too, for it enables me to treat with indifference some alarums and
incursions of the gout which I was sharply aware of yesterday and this
morning. No weather-sign is so truthful as this: If your pipe is savory,
nothing is the matter with you. Put that in _your_ pipe and smoke it!”

Lowell’s friendliness showed itself in the informal visits he liked to
make to his friends when he was in town, and the familiar letters he
wrote from the country. He was rather more ready to entertain a
correspondent with a bit of criticism than to heed the calls made on him
by editors for the same kind of writing done with formal purpose. Thus
he writes to Mrs. Bell from Deerfoot Farm, Thanksgiving Day, 1887: “A
second-rate author two hundred years old has a great advantage over his
juniors of our own day. If he himself have not the merit of originality,
his language has that of quaintness which sometimes gives him a charm
similar in its effect though very inferior in quality. I think this is
true of Feltham, though it be now more than twenty years since I have
looked into him. I had read him in the day of my superstition when one
takes all established reputations for granted, and read him over again
after Experience had let fall her fatal clarifying drops into my eyes.
Woe’s me, how he has dwarfed! I wrote my opinion of him on the flyleaf
of my little quarto edition, and all I can recollect of him is that I
called his style ‘lousy with Latinisms.’ Pardon me. Swift was still read
when I was young, and how resist the alliteration? I can pardon Browne’s
Latinisms, nay, his Græcisms too, and even like them. They are resolved
in the powerful menstruum of his thought. They are farsought and yet
seem not farfetched. Feltham’s are stuck-in like plums in his poor
pudding and make the dough more dismal by contrast. He hasn’t _stoned_
them and we crush between our teeth something hard and out of place
that leaves an acrid taste behind it. I remember one phrase of his that
tickled me--the ‘spacious ears’ of the elephant. It fits another animal,
and sometimes when I have been assfixiated by an audience I have been
tempted to beg of them to ‘lend me their spacious ears.’

“I think it possible that I gave Longfellow the references to him, for I
was reading him about the time the Dante translation was going on. I
could tell if I had my copy here and could take a look at the flyleaves.

“I may do Feltham wrong. The _navicella di nostro ingenio_ draws more
water as we grow older, and grounds in the shallows where we found good
water-fowling in our youth.

“No doubt the book is in the Athenæum,--but wait, please, till I can
lend you my copy. It is at Elmwood, and I can get it after I come back
from New York, whither I go to be baited for the benefit of the
International Copyright League. I wish there were a concise and elegant
Latinism for D--n! I would bring it in gracefully here.

“I didn’t mean to write all this and shouldn’t if I hadn’t had something
else I ought to be doing. How tempting the duty that lies farthest from
us always is, to be sure!”

It may have struck the reader how little comment, comparatively, Lowell
made during his life upon his fellows in American literature. We must
except of course his poetic criticism in “A Fable for Critics” and
“Agassiz;” but in his prose criticism he occupied himself most
constantly with the dead, not the living. When, later, he spoke on “Our
Literature” at the Washington Centennial in New York he confined himself
to generalities. It is worth noting, therefore, that on an occasion when
he was called on to preside at an Authors’ Reading for the benefit of
the Copyright League[101] he prefaced his argument for an international
copyright act with a résumé of the course of American literature, and
some more specific characterization of the contemporaries with whom his
own name always will be associated. As a somewhat unwonted personal
sketch, even though scarcely more than an off-hand deliverance, it may
well be given here as one of the last of Lowell’s public addresses.

“When I was beginning life, as it is called,--as if we were not always
beginning it!--the question ‘Who reads an American book?’ still roused
in the not too numerous cultivated class among us a feeling of resentful
but helpless anger. The pens of our periodical writers fairly sputtered
with rage, and many a hardly suppressed imprecation might be read
between their lines. Their position was, in truth, somewhat difficult.
We had had Jonathan Edwards, no doubt; and people were still living who
thought Barlow’s ‘Hasty Pudding’ a lightsome _jeu d’esprit_, and who
believed that Dwight’s ‘Conquest of Canaan’ was a long stride towards
that of posterity and the conversion of the heathen there. We had had
Freneau, who wrote a single line,--

    ‘The hunter and the deer a shade,’

which had charmed the ear and cheated the memory of Scott (I think it
was) till he mistook it for his own. We had the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’
and two or three naval ballads which, to my ear, have the true rough and
ready tone. Philip Cook, of Virginia, had written a few graceful and
musical lyrics. We had ‘McFingal,’ as near its model as any imitation of
the inimitable can be, but far indeed from that intricate subtlety of
wit which makes ‘Hudibras’ a metaphysical study as well as an
intellectual delight. We had in the ‘Federalist’ a mine of political
wisdom by which even Burke might have profited, and whose golden veins
are not yet exhausted, as foreign statists and jurists are beginning to
discover. But of true literature we had next to nothing. Of what we had,
Duyckinck’s scholarly ‘Cyclopædia of American Literature’ gives us an
almost too satisfactory notion. Of what we had not, there was none to
tell us, for there were no critics. We had no national unity, and
therefore no national consciousness, and it is one of the first
conditions of a virile and characteristic literature that it should feel
solid and familiar earth under its feet. New England had indeed a kind
of unity, but it was a provincial unity, and those hardy commonwealths
that invented democracy were not and could not yet be quite in sympathy
with the new America that was to adopt and expand it. Literature thrives
in an air laden with tradition, in a soil ripe with immemorial culture,
in the temperature, steady and stimulating, of historic associations.
We had none of these. What semblance we had of them was English, and we
long continued to bring earth from the mother-country to pot our
imported plants with, as the crusaders brought home that of Palestine to
be buried in. And all this time our native oak was dropping its unheeded
acorns into the crannies of the rock where by and by their sturdy roots
would make room for themselves and find fitting nourishment.

“Never was young nation on its way to seek its fortune so dumfounded as
Brother Jonathan when John Bull, presenting what seemed to his startled
eyes a blunderbuss, cried gruffly from the roadside, ‘Stand, and deliver
a literature!’ He was in a ‘pretty fix,’ as he himself would have called
it. After fumbling in all his pockets, he was obliged to confess that he
hadn’t one about him at the moment, but vowed that he had left a
beautiful one at home which he would have fetched along--only it was so
everlasting heavy. If he had but known it, he carried with him the
pledge of what he was seeking in that vernacular phrase ‘fix,’ which
showed that he could invent a new word for a new need without asking
leave of anybody.

“Meanwhile the answer to Sydney Smith’s scornful question was shaping
itself. Already we had Irving, who after humorously satirizing the
poverty of our annals in his ‘Knickerbocker,’ forced to feel the pensive
beauty of what is ancient by the painful absence of it, first tried to
create an artificial antiquity as a substitute, and then sought in the
old world a kindlier atmosphere and themes more sympathetic with the
dainty and carefully shaded phrase he loved. He first taught us the
everliving charm of style, most invaluable and most difficult of
lessons. Almost wholly English, he is yet our earliest classic, still
loved in the Old Home and the New. Then came Cooper, our first radically
American author, with the defects of style that come of half-culture,
but a man of robust genius who, after a false start, looked about him to
recognize in the New Man of the New World an unhackneyed and
unconventional subject for Art. Brockden Brown had shown vivid glimpses
of genius, but of a genius haunted by the phantasms of imagination and
conscious of those substantial realities they mocked only as an opium
eater might be. His models were lay figures shabby from their long
service in the studios of Godwin and the Germans. Cooper first studied
from the life, and it was the _homo Americanus_ with our own limestone
in his bones, our own iron in his blood, that sat to him. There had been
pioneers before him, like Belknap and Breckenridge, who had, in
woodman’s phrase, blazed the way for him, but he found new figures in
the forest, autochthonous figures, and on the ocean, whose romance he
was the first to divine, he touched a nerve of patriotic pride that
still vibrates. I open upon my boyhood when I chance on a page of his
best. In prose we had also Channing, who uttered the perceptions, at
once delicate and penetrating like root fibres, of a singularly
intuitive mind in a diction of sober fervor where the artist sometimes
elbows aside the preacher; and Webster, the massive simplicity of whose
language and the unwavering force of whose argument, flashing into
eloquent flame as it heated, recalled to those who listened and saw
before them one of the most august shapes manhood ever put on, no
inadequate image of Pericles. We had little more. Emerson was still
letting grow or trying in short flights those wings that were to lift
him and us to Heaven’s sweetest air. Hawthorne, scarce out of his teens,
had given in ‘Fanshawe’ some inkling of his instinct for style and of
the direction his maturer genius was to choose, but no glimpse of that
creative imagination, the most original and profound of these latter
days. Our masters of historical narration were yet to come.

“In poetry we were still to seek. Byrant’s ‘Waterfowl’ had begun that
immortal flight that will be followed by many a delighted eye long after
ours shall have been darkened; Dana had written some verses which showed
a velleity for better and sincerer things; Willis was frittering away a
natural and genuine gift; Longfellow was preluding that sweet, pure, and
sympathetic song which persuaded so many Englishmen that he must be a
countrymen of theirs. In his case the question certainly became not ‘Who
reads an American book?’ but ‘Who does _not_ read one?’ Holmes had
written one imperishable poem.

“This was the state of things when I was a boy. That old question, once
so cruelly irritating, because it was so cruelly to the point, has long
ago lost its sting. When I look round me on this platform, I see a
company of authors whose books are read wherever English is read, and
some whose books are read in languages that are other than their own.
The American who lounges over an English railway-book-stall while his
train is making-up sees almost as many volumes with names of his
countrymen on their backs as he sees of native authors. American
Literature has asserted and made good its claim to a definite place in
the world. Sixty years ago there were only two American authors, Irving
and Cooper, who could have lived by their literary incomes, and they
fortunately had other sources of revenue. There are now scores who find
in letters a handsome estate. Our literature has developed itself out of
English literature, as our political forms have developed themselves out
of English political forms, but with a difference. Not as parasitic
plants fed from the parent stock, but only as new growths from seeds the
mother tree has dropped, could they have prospered as they have done.
And so our literature is a part of English literature and must always
continue to be so, but, as I have said, with a difference. What that
difference is, it would be very hard to define, though it be something
of which we are very sensible when we read an American book. We are, I
think, especially sensible of it in the biography of any of our
countrymen, as I could not help feeling as I read that admirable one of
Emerson by Mr. Cabot. There was nothing English in the conditions which
shaped the earlier part of Emerson’s life. Something Scottish there
was, it may be said, but the later life at Concord which was so
beautiful in its noble simplicity, in its frugality never parsimonious,
and practised to secure not wealth but independence, that is--or must we
say was?--thoroughly American. Without pretension, without swagger, with
the need of proclaiming itself, and with no affectation of that
commonness which our late politicians seem to think especially dear to a
democracy, it represented whatever was peculiar and whatever was best in
the novel inspirations of our soil. These inspirations began to make
themselves felt early in our history and I think I find traces of their
influence even so long ago as the ‘Simple Cobbler of Agawam,’ published
in 1647. Its author, Ward, had taken his second degree at Cambridge and
was a man past middle life when be came over to Massachusetts, but I
think his book would have been a different book had he written it in
England. This Americanism which is there because we cannot help it, not
put there because it is expected of us, gives, I think, a new note to
our better literature and is what makes it fresh and welcome to foreign
ears. We have developed, if we did not invent, a form of racy, popular
humor, as original as it is possible for anything to be, which has found
ideal utterance through the genius of ‘Mark Twain.’ I confess that I
look upon this general sense of the comic among our people and the ready
wit which condenses it into epigram, as one of the safeguards of our
polity. If it be irreverent it is not superstitious; it has little
respect for phrases; and no nonsense can long look it in the eye without

       *       *       *       *       *

“Heartsease and Rue” was published in the early spring of 1888 and
immediately afterward Lowell printed in the _Atlantic_ his poem
“Turner’s Old Téméraire, under a Figure symbolizing the Church.” This
poem and “How I consulted the Oracle of the Goldfishes,” which appeared
in the _Atlantic_ for August, 1889, were printed in the thin posthumous
volume of “Last Poems,” and belong thus in the group which most
effectively represents Lowell’s mood on the profoundest themes at the
end of his life. The first poem in “Heartsease and Rue,” that on
Agassiz, which heads the section entitled Friendship, has already been
noted in connection with the time when it was written. A little of the
same pathos of parting with old friends is in the postscript of the
letter to Curtis, and in this as in the former, the poet’s mind runs on
naturally in its speculation to the new To Be. A single hint of a
thought which filled many of Lowell’s hours occurs in the poem when he

    “With bits of wreck I patch the boat shall bear
    Me to that unexhausted Otherwhere;”

but it is in the group of poems referred to above that one sees most
clearly a recurrence to the great underlying questions of faith. With a
half-mocking smile Lowell asks in “Credidimus Jovem regnare” if science
has found the key which religion has lost, and falls back on the
somewhat lame conclusion that he had best keep his key, which may be
but a rusty inheritance, on the chance that the door and lock may some
day be made to fit the key. Again, in the poem “How I consulted the
Oracle of the Goldfishes,” where he muses over the realities and
illusions of the spiritual world, he does not deny the doubts that have
arisen in his own mind, but after all refuses to permit even his doubts
to dismay him.

    “Here shall my resolution be:
    The shadow of the mystery
    Is haply wholesomer for eyes
    That cheat us to be over-wise,
    And I am happy in my sight
    To love God’s darkness as His light.”

Nor will he allow himself, even when contemplating what he regards as
the obscuration of the Church’s light, to look upon this as the last
state of organic faith. He takes that noble painting by Turner, “The
Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last berth, to be broken up,” and sees
science, “a black demon, belching fire and steam,” drag it away “to
gather weeds in the regardless stream.” Ruskin makes the picture an
unconscious expression by the painter of his own return to die by the
shore of the Thames, “the cold mists gathering over his strength, and
all men crying out against him, and dragging the old ‘Fighting
Téméraire’ out of their way, with dim, fuliginous contumely;” but surely
this is rather the passionate comment of a disciple making his master’s
work prophetic. Lowell’s poem strikes a deeper than a personal note. It
is a fine imaginative conception, a rare interpretation of a great work
of art by another work of art, and what is noticeable in the cry of the
poem is the protest which Lowell, in his instinctive faith, makes
against the finality of his own interpretation. He sees in imagination
the splendid history of the church, and no fighter under Nelson could
have witnessed this desolate funeral of the great ship with more anguish
than Lowell has thrown into his pathetic words; but as the English
sailor could have righted himself with a vision of the glories of the
future English navy, so Lowell closes his dirge with a triumphant

    “Shall nevermore, engendered of thy fame,
    A new sea-eagle heir thy conqueror name,
    And with commissioned talons wrench
    From thy supplanter’s grimy clench
    His sheath of steel, his wings of smoke and flame?

    “This shall the pleased eyes of our children see;
    For this the stars of God long even as we;
    Earth listens for his wings; the Fates
    Expectant lean; Faith cross-propt waits,
    And the tired waves of Thought’s insurgent sea.”[102]

In taking another great painting as the prompter of his verse, Titian’s
so-called “Sacred and Profane Love,” Lowell again is not so much
interpreting the painter’s thought as he is using the canvas for a
mirror in which to read his own soul, and though in printing “Endymion”
he adds the gloss “a mystical comment,” one may guess that Lowell in
this twilight of his life, musing upon the ideals which had beckoned him
from earliest days, still saw in the heavens that vision of beauty, of
truth, and of freedom which had never been dethroned in his soul.
Faithfulness to high emprise,--that at least he could declare of himself
amidst all the doubt that beclouded his intellectual vision, and it was
fitting that the poet should, in this veiled figure of Endymion, see the
reflection of his own face and form.

In sending “Endymion” to his publishers for insertion in the volume
“Heartsease and Rue,” Lowell had written from Deerfoot Farm, 20
December, 1887: “I hoped to have sent this [‘Endymion’] by Monday
morning’s post, but for two days after my return my head continued to be
cloggy and my vein wouldn’t flow. I have at last managed to give what
seems to me as much consecutiveness as they need to what have been a
heap of fragments in my note-books for years. Longer revolution in my
head might round it better, but take it as a meteorolite, splintery
still, but with some metallic iridescence here and there brought from
some volcanic star. Let it come among poems of sentiment, and as the
longest, first if possible.”

He was still looking forward at this time to full labors. He had been
urged by his publishers to undertake the volume on Hawthorne in the
_American Men of Letters_ series. He had signified his assent in
general, some time before, and seemed now to be deliberately
contemplating the task, for he wrote four days after the last:--

“I think there have been one or two volumes published within a few years
about _old_ Salem. I should be glad to have them sent to me at
Southborough. I have one little job of writing to finish, after which I
shall revise my poems and prose for a new edition. I don’t know whether
it be second childhood, but I am beginning to take an interest in them.
Then I mean to take up Hawthorne in earnest....”

Before “Heartsease and Rue” was published Lowell had begun the task of
setting in order all his writings. With some hesitation he published in
the spring of 1888 a volume of “Political Essays,” in which he gathered
the articles printed in the _Atlantic_ and _North American Review_
during the stormy war period, but he added as the final number his
address on “The Independent in Politics,” given in New York, 13 April,
1888. It may be noted that, with no apparent definiteness of purpose,
Lowell did in the closing years of his life sum up, in forms which
occasions for the most part suggested, his leading principles and
doctrines, as if in a series of valedictories. Thus “Democracy” was a
confession of his fundamental belief in the region of world-politics;
his address at Harvard was the one word on scholarship which at the end
of a scholar’s life he most wished to say; his address before the
Copyright League had touched on points in the great theme of literature
which had been of lifelong interest; in his serious poetry, as we have
seen, he touched upon those great themes of both worlds which, as a seer
of visions all his life, he could not fail to find deepening in his
thought; and now he took the opportunity furnished by a friendly
audience to set forth some of those principles which had formed his rule
of conduct throughout a life that had found active employment in
citizenship. There is no lack of definiteness in this address, and yet
the period just before its delivery, when he may be supposed to have
prepared it, was one of even unwonted depression.

“It isn’t pleasant to think one’s self a failure at seventy,” he wrote
27 March, 1888, “and yet that’s the way it looks to me most of the time.
I _can’t_ do my best. That’s the very torment of it. Why not reconcile
one’s self with being second-rate? Isn’t it better than nothing? No,
’tis being nowhere.” And on being expostulated with, he wrote again: “It
isn’t the praise I care for (though of course I should like it as well
as Milton did, I suppose),--I mean the praise of others,--but what I
miss is a comfortable feeling of merit in myself. I have never even
opened my new book since it was published--I haven’t dared.”

It would be idle to seek too narrowly for the causes of this
despondency. As we have had frequent occasion to note, Lowell all his
life was subject to fluctuation of moods. The most comprehensive cause
was no doubt in the very constitution of his temperament, and as he was
overclouded at times, so for him the sun when it shone was more
brilliant than to many. But one asks most anxiously, are such moods
superficial or do they trench upon the very citadel of being, sapping
and mining the walls, so that if entrance is made, the very heart stops
beating. In all the shifting of Lowell’s mind there were great
fundamental beliefs from which he would not be separated. It may be that
in those deepest laid foundations of being, where the bed-rock of faith
in spiritual realities is discovered to be a ledge of the rock of ages,
Lowell finally, as we have seen, confessed to an ultimate expression of
faith, which was that of a child in the dark; but how was it as regards
that firm belief in his country which had been a passion with him all
his days, and was in truth an elemental faith with him? It is hard to
read his last political discourse, “The Place of the Independent in
Politics,” without a little sense of pain mingled with one’s admiration
for the serenity of the temper with which Lowell made what was in effect
a confession of his political faith; for when one comes to rest his
hopes for his country in the remnant, he confesses almost to as much
doubt as confidence. It must of course be remembered that Lowell had
given expression to his large faith in democracy in his Birmingham
address, and he calls the attention of his audience to this as an
explanation of the terms in which he is to address his own countrymen.
He might properly use a note of warning among a people whose cardinal
doctrine was the democratic principle, and he was justified
unquestionably in giving frankly his impressions of the low point to
which political organizations had fallen. Still, in undertaking to
account for the evolution of the democratic idea in American life, he
was questioning whether after all opportunity had not much to do with
it, and whether now that the walls were closing about this new country,
the force of evolution had not been largely spent. The dangers imminent
in the constant inflow of an ignorant body of foreigners, in the easy
good-nature with which the American tolerated abuses, and in the
aristocratic character of a civil service as diseased as the rotten
borough of English politics,--these dangers rose before him,
threatening, alarming. He had lost faith largely in the organic action
of parties, chiefly because he saw in them the passive instruments of
unscrupulous politicians; and he found the correction of this great evil
in the increasing power of a neutral body. He even went so far as to
find the only hope of salvation in the action of the Independents. “If
the attempt should fail,” the attempt that is to reform the parties from
without, “the failure of the experiment of democracy would inevitably

This is not the place to discuss the merits of such a question. What I
wish is to show the working of Lowell’s mind on those political subjects
which had occupied him from boyhood. He was consistent throughout in
holding lightly to any allegiance to party, and in valuing highly the
integrity of the individual conscience, and his plea, gathering force as
it proceeds, is for such a spirit of devotion to the great ideals of the
country as shall compel the union of like-minded patriots in
accomplishing the great active reforms that press upon the minds of
thoughtful men.

“What we want,” he says in conclusion, “is an active class who will
insist in season and out of season that we shall have a country ...
whose very name shall not only, as now it does, stir us as with the
sound of a trumpet, but shall call out all that is best within us by
offering us the radiant image of something better and nobler and more
enduring than we, of something that shall fulfil our own thwarted
aspiration, when we are but a handful of forgotten dust in the soil
trodden by a race whom we shall have helped to make more worthy of their
inheritance than we ourselves had the power, I might almost say the
means, to be.”

No, Lowell’s last word to his countrymen in domestic politics was not
one of despair, however it may have been tinged with a sense of
temporary defeat. It was because of his strong love that he was jealous
of the honor of his country. The sadness is that of one weary in the
fight, but the last note, as in the other instances of his
valedictories, was a call to action and the reassertion of his undying
faith in his country. Yet, as in the other instances, there is the
pathetic note of faith in spite of the evidence of sight.

Once again, a little later than this, he was called on to preside at a
dinner of the Civil Service Reform Association, and something of what he
then said may be quoted as showing how hope and courage came to the
front with him when great national issues were in question. “If I am
sometimes inclined to fancy,” he then said, “as old men will, that the
world I see about me is not so pleasant as that on which my eyes first
opened, yet I am bound to admit on cross-examining myself, that it is on
the whole a better world, better especially in the wider distribution of
the civilized and civilizing elements which compose it, better for the
increased demands made upon it by those who were once dumb and helpless
and for their increasing power to enforce those demands. But every
advance in the right direction which I have witnessed has seemed
painfully slow. And painfully slow it was, if measured, as we are apt to
measure, by the standard of our own little lives, and not, as we should,
by that larger life of the community which can afford to wait.

“Every reform like that in which we are interested has to contend with
vested interests, and of all vested interests abuses are those which are
most adroit in putting a specious gloss on their monopolies and most
unscrupulous as to the weapons to be used in their defence. The evil
system which we would fain replace with a better has gone on so long
that it almost seems part of the order of nature. It is a barbarous and
dangerous system. When I was in Spain I saw reason to think that the
decay of that noble nation, due, no doubt, to many causes, was due above
all to a Civil Service like our own that had gone farther on the
inevitable road which ours is going.

“It should seem that a reform like ours, so reasonable, so convenient,
so economical, would at once commend itself to the good sense of the
people. And I think there are manifest signs that it is more and more so
commending itself. The humanity of our day is willing (as our ancestors
were not) that the state should support its inefficient members. But did
humorist ever conceive a more wasteful way of supporting them than by
paying them salaries for performing ill the minor and more mechanical
functions of government, thus making this inefficiency costly to every
one of us in his daily affairs? Even supposing them capable of becoming
efficient, the chances are that, just when they have learned their
business, they will be dismissed to make room for other apprentices to
pass through the same routine. My own experience has convinced me that
not only our social credit, but our business interests have suffered
greatly by the theory still more or less prevalent that a man good for
nothing else was just the thing for one of the smaller foreign




Lowell went again to England in the spring of 1888, and in June to
Bologna, where he was a delegate from Harvard on the occasion of the
celebration of the eight hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the
University. He received from Bologna the degree of Doctor of Letters. He
left London for the continent on Saturday the 9th of June and was back
in a week. He had a most uncomfortable experience, being attacked
severely by the enemy which now seemed to be always lying in wait for
him. He gave an outline of his discomfiture in a letter written to Mr.
Norton three weeks after his return to London.

“My gout began in Bologna. It announced itself on Tuesday by an illness
which prevented me from venturing out, and so a very pretty speech in
Italian which I had in my head remained there to the great loss of
mankind. Doctor Weir Mitchell[103] came to me at once on hearing of my
disorder, so that I was able to be out next day to receive my degree
with the rest. As I walked home from the ceremony I found myself very
lame and foreboded what was coming to pass. I got off with Story to
Milan by the train leaving Bologna at 1 A.M. I spent Thursday in Milan,
where I provided myself with felt slippers, and next day started for
London to escape being ill in an Italian inn. I got through the
thirty-one hours’ journey fairly well with the help of the Glasgow
delegates Ramsay and Ferguson, who helped me in every way. I don’t think
my journey did me any harm. By the time I reached Calais on Saturday I
was able to get on my boot again and thought I had got over the worst,
but next day I had to resign myself to my sofa, and for ten days was in
intense pain. The whole foot in every joint and the ankle were inflamed.
For three days the other foot (in the toe joint only) took sides with
its mate, and I was discouraged. This, however, passed off, and last
Thursday [5 July] I was able to be dressed. To-day I have my boots on,
though _stropeato. Ecce tutte._”

He was in Whitby again in August, living as he liked so well now to do
with his books and letters and few friends and the walks which were
little more than easy strolls. He wrote to his friend Mrs. Leslie
Stephen who was at St. Ives in Cornwall: “I am still pretty lame (do you
know I begin to think that I am really seventy at last, and not playing
that I am) and can take only short walks. But I hope that the air here
will gradually blow the years out of me again. And the fish diet, too, a
far more invigorating animal here than in your sleepy Southern waters
which have done nothing but sun themselves and doze since Sir Cloudesley
Shovel’s days. What are your pilchards when you contrive to catch ’em,
and your gurnards (of which latter indeed nothing is left but a
petrified head fit only for the table of a geologist that ever I heard
of) to our cod and whiting and ling, to speak of no others, with their
flesh hardened by constant struggle with our cold Northern waters? Why,
your poor fellows have to come all the way hither to catch even a
herring, while we have them fresh from the sea every morning. I wish I
could send you a few as we know them. And where is your Abbey? We are
under the special protection of B. V. Sanctæ Hildæ with the added flavor
in our prayers that she was a king’s daughter and therefore of our set,
and with that sympathy for our special infirmities that comes of
knowledge. If you have any saint ’tis some fellow with a name you can’t
pronounce, and who understands nothing but Cornish, whereas Hilda spoke
English, as Freeman has proved over and over again.”

To Mr. Norton, who had been advising with him on some points in the
translation of Dante, he wrote from Whitby: “You put me some pretty
stiff conundrums, but I will try.... The swoon at the end of the canto
(Inferno III.) is a nut too hard for my hammer. I have turned it and
tapped it on every corner that seemed hopeful without making so much as
a crack in it. Tambernic and Pietrapana might fall on it in vain. I must
have expressed myself clumsily in my last letter. I did not mean to
counsel paraphrase in the text, but at foot of page for the help of the
Philistine to whom all poetry is a dead language. At best the
translation of a poem is a waxen image of the living original, and being
too literal is to dress it in the very clothes it wore as if the reality
were in them.

“I do not know whether I told you that my last attack of gout had left
me more infirm than ever before. I am still lame in both feet, though I
insist on walking in the hope of getting limber and because without
exercise I can’t sleep. We have had disastrous weather here, a cold of
Antenora, with fierce winds to drive it in. Even the stones of the Abbey
seem to feel it and shudder. I am sitting by a fire as I write. For the
first time I begin to think myself capable of growing old.[104]

“I am in the same lodgings as last year, which is a pleasure to me, with
kind, simple people, who do all they can to make me happy. They are very
like our New England country folk, except in accent, almost the same
thing in fact.”

In this letter Lowell intimates one of the physical ills that were
attacking him, the loss of sleep. One of his friends and admirers, Canon
Stubbs, gave this reminiscence,[105] not long after Lowell’s death.
“Some years ago,” he writes, “I was in the habit of meeting him from
time to time at the country house of a common friend. One especial
evening--a ‘golden night of memory’--I shall never forget. After dinner
one of the guests asked Lowell to read one of his own poems. This
request he playfully put aside, but he began to talk to us about
Wordsworth, and read to us part of the ‘Laodamia,’ commenting, as he
read, much I confess to my surprise, on the narrowness and limited
experience of Wordsworth, and the one-sided development of his
intellectual powers. Then some chance expression turned the current of
his talk, and he began describing, with all the quaint humor and
delightful raillery of which he was so complete a master, a special
antidote to sleeplessness which he said he had himself lately
devised,--the invention of new chapters in Cæsar’s Commentaries on the
Gallic War. I wish I could remember the chapter which he then recited.
The aptness of the Latin phraseology was irresistibly funny. It told
‘how Vercingetorix and his army, retreating before Cæsar, had taken
refuge on a high, rocky hill, strongly fortified and precipitous on
every side, from which at first Cæsar had despaired of dislodging him
without a long siege. But while Cæsar was considering these things an
opportunity of acting successfully seemed to offer. He noticed a fissure
in the rock, which on investigation by night was discovered to pierce
the hill from side to side. [Here we expected the anachronism of
dynamite or gunpowder. But no; Lowell more justly appreciated the
natural genius of Cæsar.] Knowing that the winter was now nigh at hand,
Cæsar ordered two legions of soldiers to block up with clay and twisted
willow work the opposite ends of the rocky cleft, and then, having
filled the chasm with water, to await the issue. That night the frost
came; the water expanded; the high rock was cleft asunder; and down came
Vercingetorix and his army. For this success’--Lowell concluded--‘a
supplication of twenty days was decreed by the Senate upon receiving
Cæsar’s letter.’”

After a visit to St. Ives, Lowell returned to London and remained there
till the middle of November. His friends the Misses Lawrence were at
Wildbad. As he never quite finished his couplets to Mrs. Gilder, so he
never quite exhausted the playful names he gave these two ladies. “O
Giminy,” he wrote from London, 1 October “(for I have exhausted all
other ways of expressing your twinship in my affection, and any opening
exclamation will suit the context), O Giminy, I say, how can you be
happy in a hotel that Klumpps with a double p like a man with a club
foot, and in a town which, by its own confession, is both wild and bad?
What are you doing there? Taking the baths? You can’t soak the goodness
out of you, if you try never so hard, that’s one comfort. You ‘admired
the traces of the Romans at Treves’ did you? Pray, did you see the Holy
Coat? _That_ is what the place is famous for, bless your innocent souls.
And then your single room at Munich with ‘2 or 3 Bismarcks, as many
Gladstones and Döllingers’ in it. Do you expect me to believe _that_? It
would have been uninhabitable had there been only one apiece of them,
and you know it. You trifle with my understanding. Smoky London, indeed!
The sky to-day is like a gigantic blue bell tipped over to pour out the
sunshine it cannot contain. And the town is emptily delightful and one
does not see a soul one knows from one end of the week to t’other. I
shouldn’t mind its being fuller by a dozen or so, my Ambidue among them.
Indeed, I was thinking yesterday of writing to ask where you were and
when you were coming back to the lovers who (all but one of them) make
me so jealous. The middle of October seems a great way off to that
single inoffensive one, but ’tis better than nothing. I shall be here
till the middle of November, and you will let me know the moment you
come, won’t you?

“I haven’t the least notion where Wildbad is, and you give no
geographical details, so I don’t feel sure that this will ever reach the
Hôtel Klumpppppp though there can’t be two of that name even in this
most patient of worlds. Did Wagner ever set it to music? Methinks
’twould have suited his emphatic and somewhat halting genius. But I
shall try for a guide-book, and if this never reaches you, I shall be
consoled with thinking that you will never know how little you have

“I am very well, almost as well as before my gout; but I am rather dull,
as you were just saying to each other. However, your return will
brighten me, and you shall take me to the play and the opera and Madame
Tussaud’s just as often as you please. And I invite myself to dine with
you too--I mean two. Am I not generous? The nearer I get to the end of
my sheet (like a prisoner escaping and doubtful where he was going to
drop) the more I wonder where Wildbad is. I shall ask at a foreign
book-shop. That is the simplest plan, for they are all kept by German
Jews who know every place where Christians are plundered the world over.
And if a Bad of any kind does not come within that definition I am
greatly mistaken. My only doubt would be as to whether you were
Christians? Well, you have always treated me as if you were. Good-by.”

Lowell spent a night at Chester with Mr. Hughes and sailed from
Liverpool 22 November. He spent the winter of 1888-1889 at his sister’s,
Mrs. Putnam’s, in Boston. He found himself physically depressed and
disinclined to any effort. A hasty acceptance of an invitation to
lecture in Philadelphia brought him intolerable discomfort, and he
begged to be let off, if it could be done without prejudice to his
hosts. “It is absurd,” he wrote, “but I was made so. I won’t torment
myself by speaking in public any more. With any such engagement on my
mind, I can do nothing else, and indeed do nothing but think about
that.” Dr. Mitchell at once released him, and Lowell wrote in reply, 27
December, 1888: “I got your welcome letter last evening, and when I
first looked in the glass this morning I was pleased to find my hair
less gray than when I went to bed. You never wrote a better
prescription. My mind has been relieved of what really seemed to me an
intolerable weight, for, whether it be from old age or whatever cause, I
have been undoubtedly inert both in body and mind since my attack of
gout last summer.” On the same day he wrote to Mr. Gilder: “Many thanks
for your welcome home. I am miserably dumpy, thank you, with the remains
of my tedious fit of gout last summer, which continues to hold my
frontier posts as the British did ours after the treaty of 1783. But I
hope to go on to Washington early in February in time to get back for my
seventieth birthday, which I can’t spend in the tents of Kedar.”

Lowell’s visit to Philadelphia and Washington is pleasantly reflected in
his letters. His son-in-law, Mr. Burnett, was at that time a member of
the House of Representatives, and Lowell, though he expressed a fear
lest his lion’s mane should blow off, was entertained agreeably and came
away with an admiration for many of the public men he met. His
seventieth birthday came shortly after his return to Boston, when he was
given a dinner at the Tavern Club over which Mr. Norton presided. “I was
listening to my own praises for two hours last night,” he wrote to Mrs.
Fields, “and have hardly got used to the discovery of how great a man I
am.” He heard these praises again in a more public way when the _Critic_
of New York made its number for 23 February a “Lowell birthday number,”
having collected warm tributes of affection and admiration from seventy
men and women of note in America and England. By an ingenious
alphabetical arrangement the editor displayed his letters from Y to A,
the astronomer Young heading the list and the poet Aldrich closing it.
The English names naturally were fewer in number, but they included
Tennyson and his son, Gladstone, Lord Coleridge, Lang, Locker-Lampson,
and Palgrave; amongst his own countrymen were those yet his seniors,
Holmes, Whittier, Mrs. Stowe, the elder Furness, and President Barnard,
while the poet Parsons born in the same year and a host of juniors
joined in the chorus of loving praise. As Dr. Horace Howard Furness
truly said: “It is no small tribute, in itself, to Mr. Lowell that we
should all be thus ready to praise him to his face.”

Lowell had set the date for his annual pilgrimage to England at 27
April, but a pressing invitation to speak on the 30th of that month at
the great celebration in New York of the hundredth anniversary of
Washington’s inauguration as first president, which he tried in vain to
decline, compelled him to postpone his departure for nearly a month.
Meanwhile he worked somewhat fitfully at literature, belabored as he was
with letters and social distractions. Mr. Aldrich asked him to write for
the _Atlantic_ a paper on John Bright, who had just died. At first he
thought he could write it, but a fortnight later he wrote: “There is no
use in trying. Cold molasses is swift as a weaver’s shuttle compared
with my wits. I have essayed every side of the subject like a beetle in
a tumbler and find myself on my back after each attempt. So you must
let me give it up.” It was characteristic of his unfailing interest in
all genuine literature, new or old, that he should at the same time have
written to Mr. Aldrich his pleasure in a poem, “Deaths in April,” in the
current _Atlantic_. “Too intricate and even obscure I thought it here
and there, but perhaps the intricacy is of forest-boughs and the
obscurity nothing more than the gloom which they teach light to
counterfeit. Never mind, ’tis the Muses’ utterance.”[106]

The special piece of writing which did occupy him for awhile, an
introduction to Isaak Walton’s “Complete Angler,” may fairly be called
one of the happiest of his literary appreciations. He writes, to be
sure, to Dr. Mitchell that he is “thoroughly fagged” with the work, but
to the unsuspecting reader who comes upon it in the volume of Lowell’s
“Latest Literary Essays and Addresses” there is the sense only of a
quieter tone than he finds in the Gray, for example, in the same volume.
There is no lack of acuteness, rather one is struck with the delicacy of
the criticism, but the special charm is in the delight which Lowell
takes in his sunny-tempered author. It is as if he had been thoroughly
fagged when he took Walton down and as he read the “Lives” and the
“Complete Angler” was drawn within the cheerful mind of Walton and
warmed himself at the open fire of his charity. The paper has the value
one finds so often in Lowell’s writings, of reflecting the writer’s
mood, and one who has followed Lowell into the recesses of his
consciousness of age can scarcely fail to bear him company when he finds
him writing of Walton: “But what justifies and ennobles these lower
loves (of music, painting, good ale, and a pipe), what gives him a
special and native aroma like that of Alexander, is that above all he
loved the beauty of holiness and those ways of taking and of spending
life that make it wholesome for ourselves and our fellows. His view of
the world is not of the widest, but it is the Delectable Mountains that
bound the prospect. Never surely was there a more lovable man, nor one
to whom love found access by more avenues of sympathy.”

The after-dinner speech for which Lowell consented to postpone his
summer journey to England was in response to the toast “Our Literature.”
The speech appears as the last piece of literature which Lowell
published in his collected writings, and it is a coincidence that this
should stand at the end of his career, when at the beginning, if we may,
not unnaturally, count _The Pioneer_ as his formal bow in the profession
of letters, stood the announcement of his outlook on national
literature. Nearly forty-seven years lie between the two deliverances.
As a young man of twenty-three he scouted the idea of an artificial
division between the literature of America and that of England, he
deprecated the too close dependence upon the current judgments of
English writers for the press, and he pleaded eagerly for a natural
literature in America, the free reflection of a free people. Now, with
the reflection of age he considers in his brief space those fundamental
principles which make for the endurance of a national literature,--the
right sense of proportion between things material and things spiritual,
the necessity of inviolable standards, the dependence upon the whole
literature of the world. His last word is a word of hope, as was
befitting a prophet of literature, standing at the end of the first
century of a nation’s life, as years are measured from the consciousness
of existence.

“The literature of a people should be the record of its joys and
sorrows, its aspirations and its shortcomings, its wisdom and its folly,
the confidant of its soul. We cannot say that our own as yet suffices
us, but I believe that he who stands a hundred years hence where I am
standing now, conscious that he speaks to the most powerful and
prosperous community ever devised or developed by man, will speak of our
literature with the assurance of one who beholds what we hope for and
aspire after become a reality and a possession forever.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Lowell sailed for England 18 May, 1889, and spent five months there at
his customary haunts in London and in Whitby, revisiting his old friends
and preferring the intimate associations to the social functions. “You
ask me so many things,” he writes to Mrs. Clifford from Radnor Place, 17
June, “in such a breathless way--all of them disparate, and some of them
desperate--that I know not which way to turn. Besides, haven’t you
confessed that you set springes in your notes? And how can I tell but
that every? is a springe (they look like it), and that I may not find
myself dangling like an unwary hare with no chance ever to put my foot
into anything again? However, I will tread cautiously and give each of
’em a little preliminary shake to see if there be any mischief in ’em.

“1st. Will I come to tea Thursday? I turn it over gingerly--it lies
quite still and doesn’t seem likely to go off with a jerk. I think it
harmless and answer ‘yes.’ I don’t like the artist being there with her
pictures, for that may incur me the expense of several fibs, and I am
not sure how many I have left.

“2d. Do I know Miss----? This looks more suspicious and I give it a wide

“3d. Have I read ‘A Conversation in a Balcony’? Here I seem safe enough
because I haven’t. So I reply boldly, ‘I have sent for it and will read

“4th. Will I take your head off? This is a specific proposition and
therefore less likely to have any _dolus_ hidden in it, and you offer me
a prodigious bribe. But no, I won’t! I have a better opinion of your
top-piece than you have (for the moment), and think it more useful and
becoming where it is. Moreover, there was never head heard of that
looked well after it was off except Charlotte Corday’s, and this is
worth your consideration, and I am sure (since you are a woman) will
have it. So we will wait. But I will come Thursday.”

There is a playfulness about all Lowell’s letters during this last
summer he was to spend in England, a pleasure in little things, as in
his walks and encounters, and a deep draught of delight in the sea. His
month at Whitby lengthened to six weeks, and he was reluctant to leave
this secluded corner. Here he read Dante and Milton, Lope de Vega and
Calderon, Byron, and some old French texts. He felt uncommonly well, and
he even wrote a poem, “The Brook,” for which the _New York Ledger_ had
offered a generous sum.

When Lowell returned to America he went back to Elmwood. Mrs. Burnett
had arranged to return with her children and make a home there for her
father, and it was with a long sigh of content that he settled himself
in a place which was endeared to him by lifelong attachment. Yet it was
with some discomposure that he looked upon the changes going on in the
neighborhood. The village of Cambridge had long ago become a city,
though still retaining a lingering village air, but now houses were
creeping toward the confines of the town and filling those great empty
spaces which had given him the sense of delightful roominess. He was a
genuine conservative as regards places, and no doubt his English
residence had confirmed his conviction that it was well to strike root
deeply in planting the family, which is the greatest conservative force.
A few years before, when he was minister to England, I brought him news
of the neighborhood, and his brow clouded as I reported the rumor that
more horse-car tracks were to be laid near Elmwood. “I never, never
will go back there to live,” he declared vehemently, “if they make these
inroads on my place.” He had been forced to reduce the area of the
estate as it was in his father’s day and his youth, but he was jealous
of any further encroachment on the integrity of his little patch of
land, and in a world of change about him clung tenaciously to his

       *       *       *       *       *

During the winter of 1889-1890 Lowell occupied himself with preparing a
uniform edition of his writings, and answered one or two of the
applications he had for poems or papers. His own needs were few, he
lived simply, and he was under no stress of necessity, but he was eager
to turn over with increment the little estate he had to his daughter and
her children. Mr. Howells had interested himself in procuring a poem
from Lowell for _Harper’s Monthly_, for which a liberal sum was paid,
and Lowell, when the transaction was over, wrote him: “I happened to
want the money, and though one cannot write a poem for money, one is
glad to get what one can for it once written. You partly know how it is
with me. My heart’s desire is to leave Mabel as independent as I can,
and what I leave will, at best, hardly go round among so many. Now I had
got myself into a place where I could not keep certain promises I had
made without encroaching on my principal. Your benefice will just tide
me over. The sacredness of my little pile has become almost a cult with

[Illustration: _The Hall at Elmwood_]

In preparing his writings for a new definitive edition, Lowell did much
more than merely see to an orderly arrangement. He took great pains with
his prose, going over his various papers with care, and tucking in new
sentences, or erasing sentences he did not like. He did not meddle much
with his poetry; he wished indeed he might get rid of some of his
juvenilia, and it was suggested that he should dismiss them to the
back-yard of an Appendix. The question was raised if it would be well to
date his poems, for the student of literature rightly values the
opportunity of marking development in the author he is at work on, but
the objection was made that such dating coming from him would be
authoritative, and would give sanction to those publishers who lined the
legal fence and were ready to seize upon an author’s work the moment it
was technically out of copyright, whether the author were living or not,
and whether he and his family still had an interest in an undisturbed
possession. It was in answer to all this that be wrote me: “_Manet
litera scripta_ is a law which might have given points to that of the
Medea and Persians. There is no good in squirming. If one could only
learn it early enough! I must bear my penalty. I must march through
Coventry with my tatterdemalions, whether I like it or not. As for
dates, as I have never kept copies of my books (in some of which dates
were given), I could not hunt them down without more trouble than it is
worth. I had not thought of the bucaneer (I leave out one intrusive _c_)
objection till you suggested it. It is enough. Let them go hang!--both
dates and bucaneers. And my Lord Chief Justice Holt (wasn’t it he who
first made the unrighteous distinction between the property of authors
and that of their worsers?), let him swing amidst of ’em! This settles
the Appendix.”

Lowell loved the minutiæ of verbal criticism. It was part of his
jealousy for the purity of the language, and meant that touch which the
artist gives. Slovenliness was his abhorrence, and free as he was with
the vernacular, he made a clear distinction between the undress and the
dress occasions of speech. I transmitted to him at this time a criticism
which took him to task for the use of the form “try and.” He replied: “I
am much obliged to Mr. ---- for his friendly interest in my English. The
phrase ‘try and,’ like ‘come and,’ is to some extent conversational, but
it is idiomatic. There is plenty of authority for it. Here is one from
Thackeray, who uses it often:--

“Don’t they try and pass off their ordinary-looking girls? &c.’[107]

“You will observe that in the passage criticised by Mr. ---- I am
supposing another person to speak, and therefore made it purposely
familiar. ‘Come and’ occurs in the first motto of the Bay Colony: ‘Come
over and help us’--from the Bible, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help
us.’ Matthew Arnold uses it, and I think it is in Shakespeare also.”

In the spring of 1890 Lowell suffered from what he called the “first
severe illness of my life.” It proved indeed to be the beginning of the
end. For six weeks he kept his bed, and when he was able at last to
crawl about, his physician forbade even the briefest journey. He had
been asked to give an address in Vermont, and he was obliged to write:
“I am not yet allowed even to drive out or to use my legs except in
loitering about my own grounds. So you see that Castleton is as
impossible to me as Mecca.... Let me add that I have a special
partiality for Vermont as the New England State which maintains most
persistently our best traditions.”

To Mr. Godkin he wrote, 29 April: “I have had rather a hard time of it,
and for a day or two Wyman had fears. The acute symptoms ceased a month
ago, and I am now doing well, but my malady has somewhat demoralized me
and I must consent to be an invalid for a good while yet. ’Tis my first
experience and I don’t like it. Moralists tell us that pain is for our
good, but even the gout has failed to make me think so, and this was
even harder to bear.” But he had been amusing himself with some verses
on “infant industries” which he sent in this letter, giving them the
title, “The New Septimius Felton.” They were printed in the _Nation_
with the title, “The Infant Prodigy.”

On the second of May he wrote from Elmwood to Mr. Gilder, who was to
give the poem that year before Φ. Β. Κ. in Cambridge: “You may be sure
that I shall support you with my sympathetic presence at Φ. Β. Κ. if my
legs will by that time support me, as I have now every reason to think
they will. I made an excursion to Cambridge (by horse-car) yesterday, my
first adventure of the kind for fourteen weeks, and am none the worse
for it.”

Of course a summer in England was out of the question, and Mr. Leslie
Stephen, one of the friends who made so large a part of an English
summer to Lowell, came instead to America to see Lowell once more in his
home. There he found him amongst his books and with the squirrels
gambolling outside, but the days of long walks were over, and even the
social pleasures which Lowell could share with his guest were few and

He saw the completion of the revision of his writings, and the ten
comely volumes standing all a-row were a fair evidence to him that he
was not so indolent as he was wont to call himself. His malady left him
little power for any continuous work, but he wrote the introduction to a
reprint of the first edition of Milton’s “Areopagitica,” a brief paper
on Parkman for the _Century Magazine_, and a trifle for the
Contributors’ Club in the _Atlantic Monthly_. It may be that he glanced
at the six volumes of his own prose when he wrote of Milton: “He must
have known, if any ever knew, that even in the ‘sermo pedestris’ there
are yet great differences in gait, that prose is governed by laws of
modulation as exact, if not so exacting, as those of verse, and that it
may conjure with words as prevailingly. The music is secreted in it, yet
often more potent in suggestion than that of any verse which is not of
utmost mastery.” And then follows a brief sentence which has in it the
very charm he is praising. “We hearken after it as to a choir in the
side chapel of some cathedral heard faintly and fitfully across the long
desert of the nave, now pursuing and overtaking the cadences, only to
have them grow doubtful again and elude the ear before it has ceased to
throb with them.”

It was characteristic of him that he should write to Mr. Gilder: “...Now
what I wish to know is, how soon do you want the Parkman? I have
just had an offer of a thousand dollars for a short paper of
reminiscences, and I think I might make something that would at least
_do_, out of my boyhood. I want the money--I always do, more’s the pity,
but want it particularly just now that I may help a friend who is in
straits. May I write this first? The Parkman is more than half done, and
all thought out.” Plenty of money lay within Lowell’s grasp if he would
sell his name and a few hours of work, but he never had been able to
make merchandise of his art, and it cost him an effort, when he was
asked to name a price, to cast his name into the balance. His
publishers, finding him putting off the volume on Hawthorne, held out
the promise of a very liberal payment as soon as they could have the
book, but he did not get beyond the preliminary business of re-reading
his author. Yet the needs of a friend offered the requisite stimulus.

The article in the Contributors’ Club was a humorous defence of certain
American locutions and forms of spelling against half-learned
objections. It was a return to a favorite theme and contains an amusing
sketch of a proof-reader whom we take to be his old friend Mr. George
Nichols. The club is in a vein which naturally assumes a half antique
manner, and the treatment shows that smiling acceptance of the
prejudices of learning which is the scholar’s defence against the logic
of the pedant. Even this trifle, unsigned, and inconspicuous in its
setting, could not get printed finally without two or three hurried
notes from its author, amending and adding to it, and the last proofs
were returned with a sigh: “I thought the thing livelier than I find
it--it kicked so lustily in the womb. But nothing is good after ’tis

If Lowell was growing old, so also were others with whom he had had
lifelong associations. Whittier was twelve years his senior, and though
all his life an invalid, never lost his singing voice, and Lowell wrote
him, 16 December, 1890:--

     DEAR FRIEND WHITTIER,--I had meant to write you a word of thanks
     for your “Captain’s Well” [in the _New York Ledger_], but that with
     some other good intentions was hindered of fruition by my illness.
     It seemed to me in your happiest vein--a vein peculiarly your own.
     Tears came into my eyes as I read it.

     Since I could not write then, I do it now to wish you and all of us
     many happy returns of your birthday. It is partly a selfish wish,
     for the world will seem a worse world to me when you have left it,
     but it is not wholly so. The universal love and honor which attend
     you, and in which I heartily join, are of excellent example, and it
     is well that you should live long to enjoy them.

                 Faithfully yours,

Dedications, those shy birds, came fluttering about Lowell in these
days. One was in an anonymous volume of verse from a friend dear for her
own sake and her mother’s. It had come to him in manuscript first and
then revised. When it came first, he wrote: “I am perfectly satisfied
with the dedication--how should I not be? But how, in any case, could I
look such a gift horse in the mouth? I should like it _quand même_ as a
proof of your affection, for that is the main thing; ‘Only, only call me
dear!’” and two days later, when an alternate form came: “Yes, I like
this better. I could not have discussed what you should say in such a
case, but you have shown your woman’s wit (as I thought you would) in
divining what I stole from Coleridge and he from Lessing.”

Dr. Weir Mitchell inscribed to him his volume “A Psalm of Death and
other Poems,” and Lowell acknowledged the honor: “I am very proud of my
book. You know how in the tray for visiting cards those of the more
socially distinguished drift to the top (by a kind of natural selection)
where they may be better seen of such, and so your volume lies
conspicuously on my table by some happy chance, that everybody who
comes to see me is sure also to pick it up and look at it. I read it
through as soon as I got it and with entire satisfaction. Without
partiality I like it better than any of its predecessors, and I have
told you how much I like _them_. Your touch, I think, is more assured,
and the slag more thoroughly worked out of the ore. I shan’t tell you
which I like best any more than I should think of showing any preference
among my grandchildren, though I am conscious that I obscurely feel
something of the kind. Without indelicacy, however, I may mention a
favorite passage. It occurs on the leaf following the title-page, and
seemed to me every way admirable. It will be a treasure to me so long as
I live. I have had no sharp attack since the middle of November, but for
the last three weeks have been in so wretched a valetudinarian way that
Mabel has called in Wyman again. I am beginning to think ’tis Old Age
after all. I fancy I know how a bear feels during hibernation when he is
getting near the end of his fast.”

A fortnight after this Lowell wrote again of himself, to his friends the
Misses Lawrence: “I ought to have written long ago to thank you for your
dear remembrance of me at Christmas. It was not ingratitude but sheer
unconsciousness of the goings on of Time. I have been a wretched
valetudinarian, and the days dribble away from me ere I am aware. I
don’t mean that I have been seriously ill again; but I don’t get strong
and seem in a lethargy half the time. However, I still reckon on the
approaching visit of Doctor Spring, whose prescriptions have always done
me good. They are simple enough,--birds and bees and things,--but they
do wonders for me. My great bother now is that the least exertion tires
me. Yet I believe I am as happy as most men. At any rate, I have had my
share. You have been a part of it, and I have you still, thanks to your
persistent kindness.

“We have had a better winter than you (thanks to our admirable form of
government), but more snow than for several years. This has made the
roads merry with sleighs. I myself have been out in a sleigh two or
three times and enjoyed it in a quiet way. To-day it is raining and
eating away the snow very fast.... Spite of your crusty winter I should
have been glad to share it with you. I am so true a lover that I love my
London even in the sulks. ’Tis the best place for dwelling in the world
except this house where I was born.”

Not long after Lowell began his work at Harvard, he came into his
class-room one day, and before giving his regular lecture, spoke to his
students a few pointed words regarding Dr. Henry Ware Wales, who had
recently died, and whose name is perpetuated in the University by the
books he gave and by the Sanscrit professorship which he founded. Dr.
Wales had been his friend from boyhood, and Lowell spoke kindly and
touchingly of his amiability and generosity; but then he passed to a
graver theme suggested by the superb courage with which his friend faced
Death. As one reads these passages in connection with Lowell’s own
final experience, one cannot fail to hear almost a prophetic voice.
Little stress has been laid in these pages on the keen suffering which
marked the closing months of Lowell’s life, but suffering there was,
almost unbearable. Above this physical pain, however, rose the
courageous spirit which does not lose itself in vain murmurings.
Something of his cheerful encounter with death appears in his letters,
and he made light to his friends of his pain; but the physicians who
attended him knew through what he was passing.[108] Hear then how he
spoke of Dr. Wales thirty-five years earlier, when he himself was in
full vigor.

“I saw him frequently in Rome a few months before his death, and I can
speak from my own knowledge. Just before coming to Rome, I had been
reading over the Philoctetes of Sophocles, little thinking that I was so
soon to find the story of that hero acted over again under my eyes by a
coeval and friend. Like Philoctetes, his grievous wound was in a single
limb, or rather in a single joint--and yet there he lay, otherwise a
strong man, utterly helpless, and hopeful only of that release which
comes to all. His island of Lemnos was the bed from which he could not
rise. He was perfectly aware of his situation. He had studied medicine,
and knew that his death warrant was signed. And here it was that he
showed a courage and a firmness which were truly heroic. He told me
that he had no hope, that he saw death approaching, and I shall never
forget the expression of his face as he said it. He looked into the
distance as if he literally saw the messenger of his doom, and measured
him with a fearless and unquailing eye, as a braver man measures an
antagonist. He spoke alike without levity and without selfish
sentimentality. He did not wish to die, nor did he pretend it, but like
a true man he fronted Death like an equal, advanced to meet him
cheerfully, and did not wait to be dragged to his door like a culprit. I
have stood on many battlefields, but here I was present at the battle
itself. I saw what the ancients declared the noblest prospect for human
eyes,--at once the noblest and most tragic,--a brave man meeting Fate.
For it was Fate,--the wound was apparently a trifling one, but the arrow
was poisoned. There was no escape.

“Rome was at its gayest, and he knew it. The great Easter throng was
gathered before St. Peter’s to receive the blessing of him whom his
subjects curse. The great dome shone with that illumination so beautiful
that one might almost rank it as a new constellation suddenly created
upon the purple evening sky of Italy. And all the while he lay there
chained--suffering pains which no opiate could entirely deaden--and
uttered no complaint, nay, was cheerful. And now it was that his studies
stood him in good stead. As he had been faithful to virtue and honorable
aims, so were they now not unfaithful to him. He felt the truth upon
his sleepless pillow of Cicero’s _pernoctant nobis_. Those invisible
visitants that thronged his chamber came not with faces of reproach, but
with countenances of hope and consolation, on which truly the light of
Easter morning, of the Resurrection, was shining.

“It is proverbial that all men die game. But it was not the mere act of
dying which tried his courage and serenity. It was the lying in prison
under sentence of Death, and it was the prison of the Inquisition, too,
where he was hourly tortured.

“It is not, then, as our benefactor, it is not as my schoolmate,
classmate, and the friend of nearly twenty-five years, it is not merely
as the scholar, that I feel impelled to commemorate him here. It is as
an example of how refined studies refine and elevate the character, how
they give a vantage ground impregnable to chance and pain and death; it
is as the heroic man, quietly and without hope of fame or credit,
fighting the good fight in that single combat in which any one of us at
any time may be compelled to take up the gauntlet of that foe who fights
with enchanted weapons, against which there is no hope.

    “He is now dead and nailed in his chest.
    I pray to God to give his soul good rest.”

The spring of 1891 came and Lowell had cheerful hope of further work. He
had not dismissed literature because he had collected his writings into
a series of books. He meant to write more, to bring together more
scattered papers for a volume and to make at least one more collection
of his poems. Meanwhile he read--his books were close at hand and his
constant friends. He re-read Boswell’s Johnson for the fourth time, and
he read the recently published full diary of Walter Scott. He took up
novel reading, rather a new taste, and amused himself with
contemporaneous society in England as depicted by Norris. At Mr.
Bartlett’s suggestion, the whist club to which he had been so faithful
held one more meeting which he made out to attend. But though he could
go out but little, he had a pleasant glimpse of the world that lay about
his house,--the earliest and the best known world to him. He had had a
flat dish with stones in it conveniently placed in his garden, and
connected it with his water pipe so that his little friends the
thrushes, the orioles, and squirrels might have free use of the modern
improvements to which he was indifferent enough.[109] Outside of his
bedroom window a pair of gray squirrels had nested, and as he was
imprisoned there by the illness which now closed in about him, he looked
with kindly interest on their gambols in the treetops. His is friends
came as he could see them, and he entertained them with humorous
diatribes on his gaoler gout. Now and then he could pencil a letter or
note, sending a message perhaps to some equally bound sufferer, as when
he commiserated his old friend Judge Hoar, shut up with an attack of
inflammatory rheumatism, and whimsically cautioned him against
mistaking it for the gout which he himself was enduring. A faint smile
plays about these last expressions of his kindly nature, as he seems to
wave the world aside that he may take his friends by the hand. Death
found him cheerful, and he passed away in the middle of the bright



I. _Paternal._[110]

1. The first American ancestor of the Massachusetts Lowells was PERCEVAL
LOWELL, written also LOWLE, who came from Somersetshire, England, in
1639, when he was 68 years old, and was one of the early settlers of
Newbury, Mass., which was organized in 1642. He wrote a poem on the
death of Governor Winthrop, and died in Newbury, 8 January, [1664/5].

2. Perceval Lowell brought with him to America two sons, JOHN and
RICHARD, and a daughter JOAN. John, the elder brother, was made a
Freeman in 1641; he was a deputy from Newbury to the General Court in
1643-1644. He died in Newbury in 1647, aged 52 years.

3. His son JOHN was born in England, and came to America when he was ten
years old, with his father and grandfather. He was a cooper by trade,
and made his home first in Boston and then in Scituate. He was thrice
married, the third time to Naomi Sylvester, a sister of his second wife;
he moved later to Rehoboth, Mass., but finally returned to Boston, where
he died 7 June, 1694. He had nineteen children in all.

4. EBENEZER LOWELL, fifteenth son of John Lowell, his mother being
Naomi [Sylvester] was born in Boston in 1675, and married in 1694
Elizabeth Shailer. He was a cordwainer, which sounds more dignified than
shoemaker, and died in Boston, 10 September, 1711.

5. JOHN LOWELL, son of Ebenezer and Elizabeth [Shailer] Lowell, was born
in Boston, 14 March, 1703/4. He was graduated from Harvard in 1721, and
married Sarah, daughter of Noah and Sarah [Turell] Champney, 23
December, 1725. On 19 January, 1726, he was ordained pastor of the Third
Parish in Newbury, which became the First Parish in Newburyport, when
under that name the part of Newbury up to that time designated the
Waterside was set off as a separate township in 1764. Mrs. Lowell died
in 1756, and the Rev. John Lowell married again in 1758 Elizabeth,
daughter of Robert Cutts, Jr., and widow of the Rev. Joseph Whipple. The
Rev. John Lowell died in Newburyport, 15 May, 1767.

6. JOHN, son of John and Sarah [Champney] Lowell, was born in Newbury,
17 June, 1743. He took his bachelor’s degree at Harvard in 1760, and
under the arrangement of those days, which recorded the members of a
class in order of social dignity, he was seventh in a class of
twenty-seven. He studied law in Boston with Oxenbridge Thacher [H. U.
1698], and was admitted to practice in 1763. He returned to his native
town and at once became prominent in public affairs. In 1767 he drew up
a report upon a letter from the selectmen of Boston concerning the
measures to be taken to frustrate the encroachments of Great Britain. He
served for several years as one of the selectmen of Newburyport, and in
May, 1776, was one of the five representatives of the town in the
General Court. He removed to Boston in 1777, and the next year was
chosen a representative to the General Court from Boston. In 1779 he was
elected a member of the convention for framing the constitution of the
State. In 1781 he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress. In
1782 he was appointed by Congress one of the three judges of the newly
created Admiralty court of appeals. In 1784 he was one of the
commissioners to establish the boundary line between Massachusetts and
New York. On the adoption of the constitution of the United States,
President Washington appointed him Judge of the U. S. District Court in
Massachusetts. In 1801 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Circuit
Court for the first circuit, under the new organization of the

He married, in 1767, Sarah, daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth [Cabot]
Higginson, and had by her three children, Anna Cabot, John, and Sarah
Champney. His wife, Sarah, died 5 May, 1772, and he married again, 31
May, 1774, Susanna, daughter of Francis and Mary [Fitch] Cabot, by whom
he had two children, Francis Cabot, founder of the factory system in
Lowell, and Susanna. His second wife, Susanna, died 30 March, 1777, and
he married a third time Rebecca, daughter of James and Katharine
[Graves] Russell, of Charlestown, and widow of James Tyng, of Dunstable,
Mass. By her he had four children, Rebecca Russell, Charles, Elizabeth
Cutts, and Mary. He died in Roxbury, Mass., 6 May, 1802.

He was for eighteen years a member of the corporation of Harvard
College, and was one of the founders of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. His son, the Rev. Charles Lowell, stated: “My father
introduced into the Bill of Rights the clause by which slavery was
abolished in Massachusetts. My father advocated its adoption in the
convention, and when it was adopted, exclaimed: ‘Now there is no longer
slavery in Massachusetts; it is abolished and I will render my services
as a lawyer gratis to any slave suing for his freedom if it is withheld
from him,’ or words to that effect.”

7. CHARLES LOWELL, son of John and Rebecca [Russell] Lowell, was born in
Boston, 15 August, 1782. He was graduated from Harvard College in 1800,
travelled in Europe 1802-1805, and on his return to Boston was made
pastor of the West Congregational Church in that town, and remained its
pastor, either active or emeritus, till he died. He was married, 2
October, 1806, to Harriet Brackett, daughter of Keith and Mary [Traill]
Spence. He was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society
in 1815, and was its recording Secretary from 1818 to 1833, and
corresponding Secretary from 1833 to 1849. He was stricken with partial
paralysis in the autumn of 1851, and died 20 January, 1861.

The children of Charles and Harriet Traill [Spence] Lowell, were

     1. Charles Russell, born 30 October, 1807; he married Anna Cabot
     Jackson, 18 April, 1832, and died 23 June, 1870; their children

     i. Anna Cabot Jackson, married to Dr. Henry Elisha Woodbury.

     ii. Charles Russell, Jr., commissioned Brigadier General, who died
     20 October, 1864, from wounds received at the battle of Cedar

     iii. Harriet, married to George Putnam.

     iv. James Jackson, commissioned first lieutenant, 20 Massachusetts
     Volunteers, and died 4 July, 1862, from wounds received at
     Glendale, Va., five days previous.

     2. Rebecca Russell, born 17 January, 1809; died, unmarried, 20 May,

     3. Mary Train Spence, born 3 December, 1810, died 1 June, 1898; she
     married, 25 April, 1832, Samuel Raymond Putnam, and their children

     i. Alfred Lowell Putnam.

     ii. Georgina Lowell Putnam.

     iii. William Lowell Putnam, who was commissioned 10 July, 1861, 2d
     lieutenant, 20th Massachusetts Volunteers, and was killed in the
     battle of Ball’s Bluff, 21 October, 1861.

     iv. Charles Lowell Putnam.

     4. William Keith Spence, born 23 September, 1813; died 12 February,

     5. Robert Traill Spence, born 8 October, 1816, died 12 September,
     1891; he married Marianna Duane, 28 October, 1845, and their
     children were--

     i. Harriet Brackett Spence.

     ii. Marianna.

     iii. Percival.

     iv. James Duane.

     v. Charles.

     vi. Rebecca Russell.

     vii. Robert Traill Spence, Jr.

     6. JAMES RUSSELL, born 22 February, 1819; died 12 August, 1891.

     When the Rev. Delmar R. Lowell was collecting material for _The
     Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America_, he had for use two
     letters from Lowell, which he has printed in facsimile in his
     volume, and kindly permits me to copy.

                 ELMWOOD, 12 July, 1875

     DEAR SIR,--Whether Coffin was right in making Ebenezer born in 1685
     or no, I cannot say, but Rev. John L. of Newbury was son of _an_
     Ebenezer, and I doubt if there were two contemporaneous with each
     other. This John--my great-grandfather, can hardly have doubted his
     descent from Perceval, since I have books from his library in which
     he spells his name Lowle; and I have always understood that a
     silver seal of arms (in my brother’s possession) came from him. My
     father (as you rightly suppose) had more knowledge on this point
     than any one else, but I fear he never made any written record of
     it. If I should find any such, I shall gladly communicate it to
     you. That you and I are kinsmen I have never doubted since I had
     the pleasure of seeing you some thirty odd years ago; when I was
     struck with your likeness to the portrait of my ancestor, the Rev.
     John of Newbury. As he graduated in 1721, his father _must_ have
     been born earlier than 1685, one would think, unless, indeed, the
     parson was as precocious as his son and grandson, both of whom
     graduated before they were seventeen. But this is hardly probable.
     Ebenezer’s father, I remember, was named John.

     My father had talked with men who remembered his great-grandfather,
     Ebenezer, as a very respectable old gentleman with a goldheaded
     cane. Dining once with a friend in Philadelphia, I was surprised to
     see a handsome tankard with _our_ arms on it. He told me it came to
     him by inheritance from the Shippens, one of whom had married a
     Lowell. I believe we have the right to quarter Levesege, one of our
     forbears having married an heiress of that name. Theirs is a very
     pretty coat, three dolphins _passant, or_.

     If you are making out a pedigree you must be on your guard, for I
     have been told that all the foundlings of the city of Lowell (and
     there are a good many of them) are christened with the name. And it
     is sometimes assumed. Some twenty years ago I received a letter
     from a person in New York informing me that he was about to assume
     the name. I paid no attention to the letter, thinking it a trick
     (as I am sometimes the subject of such) to get an autograph, but,
     sure enough, he presently sent me a newspaper in which was
     advertised a legal authentication of his change of name.

     The family came from Yardley in Worcestershire, where, I believe,
     some monuments of them remain in the churchyard. They were a
     _visitation_ family. I hoped to visit Yardley the last time I was
     in England, but was prevented by being suddenly summoned to
     Cambridge to receive a degree. The only Lowells now left in England
     that I could find are the descendants of Rev. Samuel of Bristol,
     England, who went back from America--or, rather, whose father went.
     My father saw him in England seventy years ago, and the
     relationship between them was recognized on both sides. How near it
     was I have no means of knowing. I have somewhere, but cannot lay my
     hand on it, a deed of the first John Lowle of Newbury. It is
     witnessed by Somebody who came out as clerk with Perceval, and
     seems to be in his handwriting. _How_ we are descended from
     Perceval I know not, but Ebenezer must have known who his
     grandfather was, and his son would hardly have ventured (in those
     more scrupulous days) to have assumed arms that did not belong to
     him. Perceval wrote some verses (neither better nor worse than such
     usually are) on the death of the first Governor Winthrop. You will
     find them (with a palpable error or two of copier or printer) in
     the appendix to the second volume of Winthrop’s “Life and Letters.”

                 I remain,
Very truly yours,

       *       *       *       *       *

                 ELMWOOD, 23d July, 1875.

     DEAR SIR,--I have no doubt you are right in putting the birth of
     Ebenezer L. in 1675. My father in his family Bible says he died “in
     1711 _æt._ 36.” The faded ink shows that this was written many
     years ago, and I have no doubt he had authority for it. He goes on
     to say that his widow “married Philip Bougardus, Esq., and died
     1761, leaving one daughter married to Eneas Mackay.”

     I have searched in vain for a bundle of pedigrees (collected by my
     father) which seem to have gone astray during my two years’ absence
     in Europe. They carried the family back to the thirteenth century
     (I think), and were obtained from the Heralds’ Office.

     I don’t wonder you think the blunted arrows unsightly. They are all
     wrong. The arms are a hand grasping three _crossbow bolts_, a very
     different thing, and with very formidable points to them, as I
     trust those of the family will always have. I brought home three of
     them from Germany in ’52. They are shaped thus [Illustration:
     right-facing arrow], the shaft of oak, the _feathers_ of lighter
     wood, and the head steel. The transverse section of the head would
     be a diamond ◇.

     I think it plain that my father knew all about Ebenezer, wherever
     he got it. If I can aid you in any way, I shall be glad to do so.

                 I remain,
Very truly yours,

II. _Maternal._[111]

1. ROBERT CUTT is supposed to have come from England to this country
previous to 1646, going first to the Barbadoes, where he married Mary
Hoel, and afterward to Portsmouth, N. H. He removed thence to Kittery,
Me., and died there 18 June, 1674.

2. ROBERT, sixth child of Robert and Mary [Hoel] Cutt, was born in 1673.
He married Dorcas Hammond, 18 April, 1698, and died 24 September, 1735.

3. MARY, daughter of Robert and Dorcas [Hammond] Cutt, was born 26
December, 1698. She married, 16 May, 1722, William Whipple, afterward
one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and died 28
February, 1783.

3a. ELIZABETH, sister of Mary (3), was born 20 March, 1709. She married,
20 March, 1709, Rev. Joseph Whipple, brother of William Whipple, just
named; and after his death she married for her second husband, 23
October, 1727, Rev. John Lowell (son of Ebenezer).

4. MARY, daughter of William and Mary [Cutt] Whipple, was born 13
January 1728/29, 1 September, 1748, Robert Traill, a merchant in
Portsmouth, from the Orkney Isles, who remained a British subject, and
left the country in November, 1775. Mary [Whipple] Traill died 3
October, 1791. Robert Traill, after the Revolution, was a collector of
the revenues in the Bermudas.

5. MARY, only daughter of Robert and Mary [Whipple] Traill, baptized 24
May, 1753, married Keith Spence, of Kirkwall, Orkney, who had settled as
a merchant in Portsmouth. Later he became purser of the frigate
Philadelphia. Mrs. Spence died 18 January, 1824.

6. HARRIET BRACKETT, daughter of Keith and Mary Whipple [Traill] Spence,
was born 26 July, 1783; she married the Rev. Charles Lowell, 2 October,
1806, and died 30 March, 1850.


1. Blanche, born 31 December, 1845; died 19 March, 1847.

2. Mabel, born 9 September, 1847. She married, 2 April, 1872, Edward
Burnett, of Southborough, and died at Elmwood, 30 December, 1898. Their
children are:

     i. James Russell Lowell Burnett, now James Burnett Lowell, his name
     having been changed at the request of his grandfather.

     ii. Joseph.

     iii. Francis Lowell.

     iv. Esther Lowell.

     v. Lois.

3. Rose, born 16 July, 1849; died 2 February, 1850.

4. Walter, born 22 December, 1850; died 9 June, 1852.


This is the heading of a sheet in his own handwriting which Lowell drew
up for Robert Carter’s instruction. He entrusted the distribution of the
books to his friend, as he himself was off on his wedding journey.

     1. W. L. Garrison, with author’s respects.

     2. C. F. Briggs (by Wiley & Putnam, N. Y.), with author’s love.

     3. Mrs. Chapman, with author’s affectionate regards.

     4. T. W. Parsons, copy of _Poems_ and _Conversations_ with author’s
     love (a note to go with these).

     5. John S. Dwight (left at Monroe’s bookstore, Boston), with
     author’s love.

     6. W. Page, with author’s love.

     7. R. C., with author’s love.

     8. Rev. Dr. Lowell. Dedication Copy. Ask Owen to send it up.

     9. Charles R. Lowell, Jr., with uncle’s love (No. 1 Winter Place).

     10. _Rev. Chandler Robbins, with author’s sincere regards (Monroe’s

     13. J. R. L. 3, through Anti-slavery office, care J. M. McKim.

     14. Mr. Nichols (printing office), with author’s sincere regards.

{15. R. W. Emerson, with author’s affectionate respects.
{16. N. Hawthorne, with author’s love.

     Both these in one package, directed to Hawthorne and left at Miss

     17. _Frank Shaw, with author’s love_.

     18. C. W. Storey, Jr., with happy New Year. I suppose Mr. Owen will
     allow me 20 copies, as he did of the _Poems_.

     If the “Don” thinks of any more which I have forgotten, let him
     send them with judicious inscriptions.

     19. “To Miss S. C. Lowell, with the best New Year’s wishes of her
     affectionate nephew, the author.” (Mr. Owen will send this up.)

     20. Joseph T. Buckingham, Esq., with author’s regards and thanks.

A letter to Lowell from John Owen, dated 10 April, 1845, mentions a copy
of the book which Lowell had sent with a letter to Miss Brontë.


     NOTE. Titles of Poems are set in _Italic type_. Titles of books are
     in small capitals, either ROMAN or _ITALIC_ as the books are in
     prose or verse. Conjectural writings have their titles enclosed in

[The titles as far as the _Class Poem_ are of contributions to


     _Imitation of Burns._ September.

     _Dramatic Sketch._ September.

     New Poem of Homer. September.

     A Voice from the Tombs. October.

     _What is it?_ October.

     Hints to Theme Writers. October.

     Obituary. October.

     _The Serenade._ October.

     The Old Bell. October.

     The Idler, No. I. November.

     _Saratoga Lake._ November.

     Hints to Reviewers. November.

     Skillygoliana, I. November.


     _Scenes from an Unpublished Drama, by the late G. A. Slimton, esq._

     _Skillygoliana_, II. January.

     Chapters from the Life of Philomelus Prig. February.

     _Skillygoliana_, III. February.

     The Idler, No. II. March.

     Skillygoliana, IV. April.

     _A Dead Letter._ May.

     [_Extracts from a Hasty Pudding Poem._] June.

     _Translations from Uhland._ i. Das Ständchen; ii. Der Weisse
     Hirsch. June.

     _To Mount Washington, on a second visit._ July.

     _Song_: “A pair of black eyes.” July.

     _CLASS POEM._ |“Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so; |
     Some said, It might do good; others said, No.” | Bunyan. |
     MDCCCXXXVIII. | Poem dated, Concord, August 21, 1838.


     _Song_: “Ye Yankees of the Bay State.” Boston Post, 27 February.

     _Threnodia on an Infant._ Southern Literary Messenger, May. Signed
     H. P.


[All the contributions this year were to the Southern Literary

     _Sonnet_: “Verse cannot tell thee how beautiful thou art.” March.
     Signed H. P.

     _Song_: “What reck I of the stars when I.” March. Signed H. P.

     _Sonnet_: “My friend, I pray thee call not _this_ Society.” March.
     Signed H. P.

     _The Serenade_: “Gentle, Lady, be thy sleeping.” April. Signed H.

     _Music._ May. Signed H. P.

     _Song_: “O, I must look on that sweet face ones more before I die.”
     June. Signed H. P.

     _Song_: “Lift up the curtains of thine eyes.” June. Signed H. P.

     _Sonnet_: “O, child of nature! oh, most meek and free.” June.
     Signed H. P.

     _Isabel._ June.

     _The Bobolink._ July. Signed H. P.

     _Ianthe._ July. Signed H. P.

     _Flowers._ July. Signed H. P.


     _A | YEAR’S LIFE.| by | James Russell Lowell._ | Ich habe gelebt
     unb geliebet. | Boston: | C. C. Little and J. Brown | MDCCCXLI.

     _Callirhoë_, by H. Perceval, dated 1841. Graham’s Magazine, March.

     _Ballad_: “Gloomily the river floweth.” Graham’s Magazine, October.

     _Merry England._ Graham’s Magazine, November.

     _The Loved One._ National Anti-Slavery Standard, 16 December.

     _Sonnet_: “Great truths are portions of the soul of man.” The
     Liberty Bell.


     _Sonnet to Keats_, dated March, 1841. Boston Miscellany, January.

     [_Agatha_], dated September, 1840. Boston Miscellany, January.

     _To Perdita Singing_, dated February, 1841. Boston Miscellany,

     _Song_: “Violet! sweet violet!” Graham’s Magazine, January.

     _Sonnet_: To the Spirit of Keats. Arcturus, January.

     _Sonnet_: Sunset and Moonshine. Arcturus, January.

     _Sonnet_: “Poet! thou art most wealthy, being poor,” dated November
     25, 1841. Arcturus, February.

     _An Ode_: “In the Old Days of awe and keen-eyed wonder,” dated
     December, 1841. Boston Miscellany, February.

     _Sonnet_: “Like some black mountain glooming huge aloof,” dated
     October, 1841. Boston Miscellany, February.

     _Rosaline._ Graham’s Magazine, February.

     _Sonnet_: “If some small savor creep into my rhymes.” Graham’s
     Magazine, February.

     _Fancies about a Rosebud pressed in an old copy of Spenser._
     Graham’s Magazine, March.

     [Getting up.] Boston Miscellany, March.

     [Disquisition on Foreheads. By Job Simifrons.] Boston Miscellany,

     The Old English Dramatists. (Unsigned.) Boston Miscellany, April.

     _Sonnet_: “Whene’er I read in mournful history,” dated 25
     September, 1841. Boston Miscellany, May.

     The Old English Dramatists, No. II. Boston Miscellany, May.

     _The Two_, dated November, 1840. Boston Miscellany, May.

     The First Client. (Unsigned.) Boston Miscellany, May.

     _Sonnet_: “My Father, since I love, thy presence cries,” dated
     November 29, 1841. Arcturus, May.

     _Sonnet_: “The hope of truth grows stronger day by day,” dated
     December 10, 1841. Arcturus, May.

     _Sonnet_: “I love those poets, of whatever creed,” dated April 20,
     1841. Arcturus, May.


      I. “As the broad ocean endlessly upheaveth.”
     II. “Once hardly in a cycle blossometh.”
    III. “The love of all things springs from love of one.”
     IV. “A poet cannot strive for despotism.”
      V. “Therefore think not the Past is wise alone.”
     VI. “Far ’yond this narrow parapet of time.”

    The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, May.

    Reprinted in Poems as “On reading Wordsworth’s Sonnets in
    Defence of Capital Punishment.”

     _Farewell._ Graham’s Magazine, June.

     _A Dirge._ Graham’s Magazine, July.

     _A Fantasy_, dated 12 January, 1842. Boston Miscellany July.

     [_The True Radical._] Boston Miscellany, August.

     The Old English Dramatists, No. III. Boston Miscellany, August.

     _Sonnet_: “Poet, if men from wisdom turn away.” (Unsigned.)
     National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1 September.

     _The Shepherd of King Admetus._ Boston Miscellany, September.

     _An Incident in a Railroad Car_, dated Boston, April, 1842. The
     United States Magazine and Democratic Review, October.

     [_To an Æolian Harp at Night_], dated February, 1842. Boston
     Miscellany, December.

     _Sonnet_: “Great Truths are portions of the Soul of man.” The
     Liberty Bell.

     _Sonnet_: “If ye have not the one great lesson learned.” The
     Liberty Bell.

     _Pierpont_: “The hungry flames did never yet seem hot.” The Liberty


     Introduction. The Pioneer, January.

     [_Voltaire._] The Pioneer, January.

     [_The Follower._] The Pioneer, January.

     _Sonnet_: “Our love is not a fading earthly flower.” The Pioneer,

     The Plays of Thomas Middleton. The Pioneer, January.

     _The Rose._ The Pioneer, January.

     [Dickens’s “American Notes.”] The Pioneer, January.

     [Hawthorne’s Historical Tales for Youth.] The Pioneer, January.

     _A Parable._ The United States Magazine and Democratic Review,

     _The Moon._ Graham’s Magazine, February.

     Song Writing. The Pioneer, February.

     _To M. O. S._ The Pioneer, February.

     [The Book of British Ballads.] The Pioneer, February.

     [Longfellow’s “Poems on Slavery.”] The Pioneer, February.

     [Macaulay’s “Lays of Ancient Rome.”] The Pioneer, February.

     [_Two Sonnets to Wordsworth._] Graham’s Magazine, March.

     _The Street._ The Pioneer, March.

     _Stanzas on Freedom_, sung at the Anti-Slavery Picnic in Dedham, on
     the Anniversary of West-Indian Emancipation, 1 August.

     _In Sadness._ Graham’s Magazine, August.

     _Prometheus_, dated Cambridge, Mass., June, 1843. The United States
     Magazine and Democratic Review, August.

     _Forgetfulness._ New York Mirror [copied into National Anti-Slavery
     Standard, 7 September.]

     _A Glance behind the Curtain._ The United Magazine and Democratic
     Review, September.

     _A Reverie._ Graham’s Magazine, October.

     _The Fatherland._ The United States Magazine and Democratic Review,

     _POEMS_ | by | James Russell Lowell | Cambridge: | Published by
     John Owen. | MDCCCXLIV.


     _Rallying Cry for New England against the Annexation of Texas_, by
     a Yankee. Boston Courier, 19 March.

     New Translations of the Writings of Miss Bremer. North American
     Review, April.

     Introduction to Whittier’s “_Texas: Voice of New England_.” Boston
     Courier, 17 April.

     _A Mystical Ballad._ Graham’s Magazine, May.

     _New-Year’s Eve, 1844; a Fragment._ Graham’s Magazine, July.

     _On the Death of a Friend’s Child_, dated Cambridge, Mass.,
     September 3, 1844. The United States Magazine and Democratic
     Review, October.

     _A Chippewa Legend._ The Liberty Bell.

     CONVERSATIONS | ON SOME OF | THE OLD POETS | by | James Russell
     Lowell |

    “Or, if I would delight my private hours
    With music or with poem, where, so soon
    As in our native language, can I find
    That solace?”
               PARADISE REGAINED.

     Cambridge: | Published by John Owen | MDCCCXLV.


     _To the Dandelion._ Graham’s Magazine, January.

     _A Song to my Wife._ The Broadway Journal, 4 January.

     _The Epitaph_: “What means this glosing epitaph?” dated Rockwood,
     7 February, 1844. The Broadway Journal, 11 January.

     Our Position. Pennsylvania Freeman, 16 January.

     _Now is always best._ The Broadway Journal, 25 January.

     _An Epigram on Certain Conservatives._ The Broadway Journal, 25

     [Texas]. The Pennsylvania Freeman, 30 January.

     _Anti-Texas_, written on occasion of the Convention in Faneuil
     Hall, January 29. Boston Courier, 30 January, under title _Another
     Rallying Cry by a Yankee_.

     Edgar Allan Poe. Graham’s Magazine, February.

     [The Prejudice of Color]. The Pennsylvania Freeman, 13 February.

     _Remembered Music._ The Broadway Journal, 15 February.

     The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The Broadway Journal, 22

     The Church and the Clergy. The Pennsylvania Freeman, 27 February,
     27 March.

     _The Ghost-Seer._ The Broadway Journal, 8 March.

     [President Tyler’s Message on the African Slave Trade]. The
     Pennsylvania Freeman, 13 March.

     [The Union]. The Pennsylvania Freeman, 10 April.

     _An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg._ Graham’s Magazine, May.

     Review of Fitz-Greene Halleck’s “Alnwick Castle, with other Poems.”
     The Broadway Journal, 3 May.

     _Lines on reading of the capture of certain fugitive slaves near
     Washington._ Boston Courier, 19 July.

     _To the Future._ Graham’s Magazine, August.

     _Orpheus._ The American Review, August.

     _To a Pine Tree_, dated Elmwood, July 16, 1845. The Harbinger, 2

     _A Contrast._ The Liberty Chime.

     _The Falconer_, afterward, abridged, _The Falcon_, dated 26
     November, 1845. The Liberty Bell.

     _The Happy Martyrdom._ The Liberty Bell.

     _Verses suggested by the Present Crisis_, afterward _The Present
     Crisis_. Boston Courier, 11 December.

     _An Interview with Miles Standish._ Boston Courier, 30 December.


     _To the Past._ Graham’s Magazine, January.

     _Lines on the Death of Charles Turner Torrey._ Boston Courier, 23

     Anti-Slavery in the United States. London Daily News, 2 February,
     18 March, 17 April, 18 May.

     A Letter from Mr. Ezekiel Biglow of Jaalam to the Hon. Joseph T.
     Buckingham, editor of the Bottom Courier, inclosing a poem of his
     son, Mr. Hosea Biglow (_Biglow Papers_, I.) Boston Courier, 17

     Daniel Webster. National Anti-Slavery Standard,[112] 2 July.

     _The Royal Pedigree._ Boston Courier, 4 December.

     _The Oak._ Standard, 31 December.


     _Letter from Boston_, postmarked 27 December, 1846. The
     Pennsylvania Freeman, January.

     _Above and Below._ The Young American, January.

     _Si descendero in infernum, ades._ The Harbinger, 10 January.

     _The Search._ Standard, 25 February.

     The New Timon. North American Review, April.

     _Hebe._ The Young American, May.

     D’Israeli’s Tancred, or the New Crusade. North American Review,

     _Letter from a Volunteer in Saltillo_ (_Biglow Papers_, II.).
     Boston Courier, 18 August.

     _The Landlord._ The People’s Journal, 4 September.

     _What Mr. Robinson thinks_ (_Biglow Papers_, III.). Boston Courier,
     2 November.

     _Extreme Unction._ The Liberty Bell.

     _Remarks of Increase D. O’Phace, esquire_ (_Biglow Papers_, IV.).
     Boston Courier, 28 December.


     _POEMS_ | by | James Russell Lowell.| Second series. | Cambridge:
     Published by | George Nichols.| Boston: | B. B. Mussey and Company.
     | 1848. Copyright, 1847.

     Review of Tennyson’s “Princess.” Massachusetts Quarterly Review,

     Browning’s Plays and Poems. North American Review, April.

     _Ode to France_, dated February, 1848. Standard, 6 April.

     The French Revolution of 1848. Standard, 13 April.

     Shall we ever be Republicans? Standard, 20 April.

     _The Debate in the Sennit_ (_Biglow Papers_, V.). Boston Courier, 3

     _The Pious Editor’s Creed_ (_Biglow Papers_, VI.). Standard, 4 May.

     _A Parable._ Standard, 18 May.

     An Imaginary Conversation. Standard, 18 May.

     _A Letter from a Candidate for the Presidency_ (_Biglow Papers_,
     VII.). Standard, 1 June.

     The Sacred Parasol. Standard, 8 June.

     _Freedom._ Standard, 15 June.

     The Nominations for the Presidency. Standard, 29 June.

     Sympathy with Ireland. Standard, 29 June.

     _A Second Letter from B. Sawin, esq._ (_Biglow Papers_, VIII.).
     Standard, 6 July.

     What will Mr. Webster do? Standard, 13 July.

     _Leaving the Matter open_, a Tale by Homer Wilbur, A. M., reprinted
     in Introduction to _Biglow Papers_. Standard, 27 July.

     _To Lamartine._ Standard, 3 August.

     The Buffalo Convention. Standard, 10 August.

     The Irish Rebellion. Standard, 24 August.

     Fanaticism in the Navy. Standard, 31 August.

     Exciting Intelligence from South Carolina. Standard, 7 September.

     Editorial article, beginning: “When we first went to the theatre,
     that which delighted us most, among the thousand and one marvels,
     was the swiftness with which a change of costume was effected.”
     Standard, 14 September.

     _To the Memory of Hood._ Standard, 21 September.

     _Another Letter from B. Sawin, esq._ (_Biglow Papers_, IX.).
     Standard, 28 September.

     Editorial article, beginning: “Chance has thrown in our way a stray
     number of the ‘Christian Observer.’” Standard, 5 October.

     Review of “The Conquerors of the New World and their Bondsmen.”
     Standard, 12, 26 October.

     _The Day of Small Things_, afterward _To W. L. Garrison_. Standard,
     19 October.

     READER! _Walk up at once (it will soon be too late) and | buy at a
     perfectly ruinous rate_ | a | FABLE FOR CRITICS; | or | BETTER-- |
     _I like, as a thing that the reader’s first fancy may strike, | an
     old-fashioned title-page, | such as presents a tabular view of the
     volume’s contents--_ | A GLANCE | AT A FEW OF OUR LITERARY
     PROGENIES| (_Mrs. Malaprop’s word_)| from | THE TUB OF DIOGENES; |
     WONDERFUL QUIZ, | _who accompanies himself with a rub-a-dub-dub_,
     FULL OF SPIRIT AND GRACE, | _on the top of the tub_. | SET FORTH IN
     | _October the 21st day, in the year ’48_. BY | G. P. PUTNAM,

     _Ode_, written for the celebration of the introduction of the
     Cochituate water into the city of Boston, 25 October.

     _The Ex-Mayor’s Crumb of Consolation_: a Pathetic Ballad. Standard,
     26 October.

     _To John G. Palfrey._ Standard, 2 November.

     Calling things by their Right Names. Standard, 9 November.

     Melibœus Hipponax. | _THE BIGLOW PAPERS_, | Edited, | with an
     Introduction, Notes, Glossary, | and Copious Index, | by Homer
     Wilbur, A. M., | Pastor of the First Church in Jaalam, and
     (prospective) member of | many Literary, Learned and Scientific
     societies, | (_for which see page v._) | Cambridge: Published by
     George Nichols.

     _The Sower._ Standard, 16 November.

     Editorial article, beginning: “If, as it has been often said,
     America be a kind of posterity in relation to Europe.” Standard, 23

     Editorial article, beginning: “The recent decision of the English
     Government.” Standard, 30 November.

     The Works of Walter Savage Landor. Massachusetts Quarterly Review,

     _Ambrose._ Standard, 7 December.

     The President’s Message. Standard, 14 December.

     Review of Whittier’s Poems. Standard, 14 December.

     El Dorado. Standard, 21 December.

     A Washington Monument. Standard, 28 December.


     _The Mill_, afterward _Beaver Brook_. Standard, 4 January.

     Editorial article, beginning: “There is no need of any speculation
     as to the course Whigs as Whigs will take.” Standard, 11 January.

     Our Southern Brethren. Standard, 18 January.

     Politics and the Pulpit. Standard, 25 January.

     Ethnology. Standard, 1 February.

     _The Parting of the Ways._ Standard, 8 February.

     Mr. Calhoun’s Report. Standard, 15 February.

     The Moral Movement against Slavery. Standard, 22 February.

     Editorial article, beginning: “Next to the charge of being
     possessed with only a single idea.” Standard, 1 March.

     _A Day in June_, afterward, enlarged, _Al Fresco_. Standard, 8

     Editorial article, beginning: “The long succession of Democratic
     rulers has at length been broken.” Standard, 15 March.

     Mr. Clay as an Abolitionist.--Second appearance in Fifty Years.
     Standard, 22 March.

     _Lines_ suggested by the Graves of Two English Soldiers on Concord
     Battle-Ground. Standard, 29 March.

     _An Oriental Apologue._ Standard, 12 April.

     Editorial article, beginning: “The German poet Schiller in a little
     poem.” Standard, 19 April.

     Anti-Slavery Criticism upon Mr. Clay’s Letter. Standard, 26 April.

     _King Retro._ Standard, 10 May.

     Editorial article, beginning: “In the Standard of April 19th an
     article was copied.” Standard, 10 May.

     _Bibliolatres._ Standard, 24 May.

     Mobs. Standard, 14 June.

     _Two Sonnets_, afterward named _Trial_. Standard, 28 June.

     Longfellow’s Kavanagh: Nationality in Literature. North American
     Review, July.

     The Roman Republic. Standard, 12 July.

     Fourth of July in Charleston. Standard, 26 July.

     Moderation. Standard, 9 August.

     _Eurydice._ Standard, 23 August.

     _Kossuth._ Standard, 6 September.

     Editorial article, beginning: “Our readers have had, from time to
     time, the privilege of seeing extracts from Southern newspapers.”
     Standard, 20 September.

     Editorial article, beginning: “Every now and then we see it
     asserted.” Standard, 4 October.

     _To ---- _: “We, too, have autumns, when our leaves.” Standard, 18

     Canada. Standard, 1 November.

     _The Lesson of the Pine_, afterward enlarged and entitled, _A
     Mood_. Standard, 15 November.

     California. Standard, 29 November.

     Review of “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,”
     Massachusetts Quarterly Review, December.

     General Bem’s Conversion. Standard, 6 December.

     Editorial article, beginning: “The last European steamer brings us
     what is said to be the final determination of the Turkish
     government in regard to the Hungarian exiles.” Standard, 13

     _The Burial of Theobald._ The Liberty Bell.

     _The First Snow-Fall._ Standard, 27 December.


     What shall be done for the Hungarian Exiles? Boston Courier, 3

     _New Year’s Eve, 1850._ Standard, 10 January.

     A Review of Judd’s “Philo.” Standard, 24 January.

     Editorial article, beginning: “When King Log first made his avatar
     among the frogs.” Standard, 21 February.

     Compromise. Standard, 7 March.

     Mr. Webster’s Speech. Standard, 21 March.

     _Out of Doors._ Graham’s Magazine, April.

     Editorial article, beginning: “In the comment which we made a
     fortnight ago on Mr. Webster’s speech.” Standard, 4 April.

     _Mahmood the Image Breaker._ Standard, 18 April.

     _Dara._ Graham’s Magazine, July.

     _The Northern Sancho Panza and his vicarious Cork tree._ Standard,
     18 July.

     Pseudo Conservatism. Standard, 14 November.

     _A Dream I had._ Standard, 28 November.

     _To J. F. H._, afterward _An Invitation to J. F. H._ Graham’s
     Magazine, December.

     Mr. Bowen and the Christian Examiner, I. Boston Daily Advertiser,
     28 December.


     Mr. Bowen and the Christian Examiner, II. Boston Daily Advertiser,
     2 January.

     _Anti-Apis._ Standard, 30 January.

     _Appledore_, No. V., in _Pictures from Appledore_. Graham’s
     Magazine, February.

     _The Unhappy Lot of Mr. Knott._ Graham’s Magazine, April.

     _On Receiving a piece of Flax Cotton_, dated 18 April, 1851.
     Standard, 1 May.


     _The Fountain of Youth._ Putnam’s Magazine, January.

     _Our Own, his Wanderings and Personal Adventures._ Putnam’s
     Magazine, April, May, June.

     A Moosehead Journal. Putnam’s Magazine, November.


     _The Singing Leaves._ Graham’s Magazine, January.

     _A Winter Evening Hymn to my Fire._ Putnam’s Magazine, March.

     _Without and Within._ Putnam’s Magazine, April.

     Fireside Travels. Putnam’s Magazine, April, May.

     Leaves from my Italian Journal. Graham’s Magazine, April, May,

     [_Without and Within, II. The Restaurant._] Putnam’s Magazine, May.

     _The Windharp._ Putnam’s Magazine, December.

     _Auf Wiedersehen._ Putnam’s Magazine, December.


     _Hakon’s Lay._ Graham’s Magazine, January.

     _My Appledore Gallery_, No. I. _August afternoon_, afterward with
     changes I.-IV. of _Pictures from Appledore_. The Crayon, 3 January.

     _My Appledore Gallery_, No. II. _Sunset and Moonset_, afterward VI.
     of _Pictures from Appledore_. The Crayon, 31 January.

     _Invita Minerva._ The Crayon, 30 May.


     _The Origin of Didactic Poetry._ Atlantic Monthly, November.

     _Sonnet_: “The Maple puts her corals on in May.” Atlantic Monthly,

     The Round Table. Atlantic Monthly, November.

     _My Portrait Gallery._ Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Memoir of Shelley, prefixed to The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe
     Shelley. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.


     Béranger (translated from Sainte-Beuve). Atlantic Monthly,

     _The Nest._ Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Review of Guerrazzi’s Beatrice Cenci. Atlantic Monthly, March.

     _Happiness._ Atlantic Monthly, April.

     Mr. Buchanan’s Administration. Atlantic Monthly, April.

     Review of Smith’s Library of Old Authors. Atlantic Monthly, April,

     _Epigram on J. M._ Atlantic Monthly, May.

     _Beatrice_, afterward _Das Ewig-Weibliche_. Atlantic Monthly, June.

     _Shipwreck._ Atlantic Monthly, June.

     Review of Dramatic Works of John Webster. Atlantic Monthly, June.

     The American Tract Society. Atlantic Monthly, July.

     _The Trustees’ Lament._ Atlantic Monthly, August.

     The Pocket Celebration of the Fourth. Atlantic Monthly, August.

     _The Dead House._ Atlantic Monthly, October.

     A Sample of Consistency. Atlantic Monthly, November.


     White’s Shakespeare. Atlantic Monthly, January, February.

     Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Holland’s “Bitter-Sweet.” Atlantic Monthly, May.

     Allibone’s “Dictionary of Authors.” Atlantic Monthly, June.

     Trübner’s “Bibliographical Guide to American Literature.” Atlantic
     Monthly, June.

     Notice of “Index to Catalogue of Boston City Library.” Atlantic
     Monthly, June.

     Notice of “Memoir of Theophilus Parsons.” Atlantic Monthly, July.

     Dana’s “To Cuba and Back.” Atlantic Monthly, July.

     Palmer’s “The New and the Old.” Atlantic Monthly, September.

     Copeland’s “Country Life.” Atlantic Monthly, September.

     Review of “Dictionary of Americanisms,” and other works on
     Language. Atlantic Monthly, November.

     Coolidge and Mansfield’s “History and Description of New England.”
     Atlantic Monthly, November.

     Gould’s “Reply to the Statement of the Trustees of the Dudley
     Observatory.” Atlantic Monthly, November.

     _Italy, 1859._ Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Notice of “Forty-four Years of the Life of a Hunter, being
     Reminiscences of Meshach Browning.” Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Milburn’s “Ten Years of Preacher-Life.” Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Notice of “A First Lesson in Natural History.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Dante. Appleton’s New American Encyclopædia. Reprinted, May, 1886,
     in fifth annual report of the Dante Society.


     Notice of “Sir Rohan’s Ghost.” Atlantic Monthly, February.

     _To the Muse._ Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Marsh’s “Lectures on the English Language.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Hawthorne’s “The Marble Faun.” Atlantic Monthly, April

     Notice of “Poems by Two Friends.” Atlantic Monthly, April.

     Norton’s “Notes of Travel and Study in Italy.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Webster’s “American Dictionary of the English Language.” Atlantic
     Monthly, May.

     Worcester’s “A Dictionary of the English Language.” Atlantic
     Monthly, May.

     Coles’s “Dies Iræ.” Atlantic Monthly, June.

     Collins’s “A Voyage down the Amoor.” Atlantic Monthly, June.

     Lowell’s “Fresh Hearts that failed Three Thousand Years ago.”
     Atlantic Monthly, June.

     The New Tariff Bill. Atlantic Monthly, July.

     Wedgwood’s “A Dictionary of English Etymology.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Leslie’s “Autobiographical Recollections.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Trowbridge’s “The Old Battle Ground.” Atlantic Monthly, September.

     July reviewed by September (with W. B. Rogers). Atlantic Monthly,

     The Election in November. Atlantic Monthly, October.

     Mr. Jarves’s Collection. Atlantic Monthly, October.

     Olmsted’s “A Journey in the Back County.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Whittier’s “Home Ballads and Poems.” Atlantic Monthly, November.

     A Plea for Freedom from Speech and Figures of Speech Makers.
     Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Bryant’s “A Forest Hymn.” Atlantic Monthly, December.

     Stoddard’s “Loves and Heroines of the Poets.” Atlantic Monthly,

     Palmer’s “Folk Songs.” Atlantic Monthly, December.


     The Question of the Hour. Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Prior’s “Ancient Danish Ballads.” Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Chambers’s “Edinburgh Papers.” Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Holland’s “Miss Gilbert’s Career.” Atlantic Monthly, January.

     E. Pluribus Unum. Atlantic Monthly, February.

     Parton’s “Life of Andrew Jackson.” Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Rose Terry’s “Poems.” Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Holmes’s “Elsie Venner.” Atlantic Monthly, April.

     The Pickens-and-Stealins’ Rebellion. Atlantic Monthly, June.

     _Ode to Happiness._ Atlantic Monthly, September.

     _The Washers of the Shroud._ Atlantic Monthly, November.

     Self-Possession _vs._ Prepossession. Atlantic Monthly, December.


     _Birdofredum Sawin, Esq., to Mr. Hosea Biglow_, Atlantic Monthly,
     January, March.

     Arnold’s “On Translating Homer” and Newman’s “Homeric Translation
     in Theory and Practice.” Atlantic Monthly, January.

     _Mason and Slidell: a Yankee Idyl._ Atlantic Monthly, February.

     Müller’s “Lectures on the Science of Language.” Atlantic Monthly,

     _A Message of Jeff Davis in Secret Session._ Atlantic Monthly,

     _Speech of Honble Preserved Doe in Secret Caucus._ Atlantic
     Monthly, May.

     _Sunthin’ in the Pastoral Line._ Atlantic Monthly, June.


     _In the Half-Way House._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     _Latest Views of Mr. Biglow._ Atlantic Monthly, February.

     Russell’s “My Diary, North and South.” Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Story’s “Roba di Roma.” Atlantic Monthly, April.

     _Two Scenes from the Life of Blondel._ Atlantic Monthly, November.


     _Memoriæ Positum_ R. G. S. Atlantic Monthly, January.

     The President’s Policy. North American Review, January.

     Longfellow’s “Tales of a Wayside Inn.” North American Review,

     Whittier’s “In War Time.” North American Review, January.

     Stedman’s “Alice of Monmouth.” North American Review, January.

     _The Black Preacher._ Atlantic Monthly, April.

     McClellan’s Report. North American Review, April.

     Gurowski’s Diary. North American Review, April.

     Diplomatic Correspondence. North American Review, April.

     Beecher’s Autobiography. North American Review, April.

     Thackeray’s “Roundabout Papers.” North American Review, April.

     Chaucer’s “Legende of Goode Women” and “Child’s Observations on the
     Language of Chaucer.” North American Review, April.

     Jean Ingelow’s Poems. North American Review, April.

     Barnes’s “Poems in the Dorset Dialect.” North American Review,

     _To a Friend who sent me a Meerschaum._ Spirit of the Fair, 12

     FIRESIDE TRAVELS. | By | James Russell Lowell. | _“Travelling makes
     a man sit still in his old age with satisfaction and travel over
     the world again in his chair and bed by discourse and thoughts.”_


     Boston: | Ticknor and Fields. | 1864.

     The Rebellion: its Causes and Consequences. North American Review,

     Hazlitt’s “Poems of Richard Lovelace.” North American Review, July.

     The Next General Election, [afterward, McClellan or Lincoln.] North
     American Review, October.


     _On Board the ’76._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Palfrey’s “History of New England.” North American Review, January.

     _Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Editor of the “Atlantic Monthly.”_
     Atlantic Monthly, April.

     Reconstruction. North American Review, April.

     _Gold-Egg: a Dream Fantasy._ Atlantic Monthly, May.

     Scotch the Snake, or Kill it. North American Review, July.

     Lord Derby’s “Translation of the Iliad.” North American Review,

     _Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemoration._ Atlantic Monthly,

     Thoreau’s “Letters.” North American Review, October.

     Parkman’s “France and England.” North American Review, October.


     _What Rabbi Jehosha said._ The Nation, 18 January.

     _A Worthy Ditty._ The Nation, 25 January.

     Carlyle’s “Frederick the Great.” North American Review, April.

     The President on the Stump. North American Review, April.

     Swinburne’s “Tragedies.” North American Review, April.

     _Mr. Worsley’s Nightmare._ The Nation, 5 April.

     _Mr. Hosea Biglow’s Speech in March Meeting._ Atlantic Monthly,

     _To J. B. on sending me a seven-pound trout._ Atlantic Monthly,

     _At the Commencement Dinner_, on acknowledging a toast to the Smith
     Professor, 19 July.

     _The Miner._ Atlantic Monthly, August.

     The Seward-Johnson Reaction. North American Review, October.

     Wendell Phillips in Congress. The Nation, 4 October.


     Fitz Adam’s Story. Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Ward’s “Life and Letters of Percival.” North American Review,

     _Hob Gobbling’s Song._ Our Young Folks, January.

     _A Familiar Epistle to a Friend._ Atlantic Monthly, April.

     Lessing. North American Review, April.

     _An Ember Picture._ Atlantic Monthly, July.

     Rousseau and the Sentimentalists. North American Review, July.

     Parkman’s “France and England in North America.” North American
     Review, July.

     Uncle Cobus’s Story. Our Young Folks, July.

     _The Nightingale in the Study._ Atlantic Monthly, September.

     The Winthrop Papers. North American Review, October.

     A Great Public Character. Atlantic Monthly, November.


     _In the Twilight._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     Witchcraft. North American Review, January.

     Shakespeare Once More. North American Review, April.

     _After the Burial._ Atlantic Monthly, May.

     _A June Idyl._ Atlantic Monthly, June.

     Dryden. North American Review, July.

     _The Footpath._ Atlantic Monthly, August.

     “Poems of John James Piatt.” North American Review, October.

     Mr. Emerson’s New Course of Lectures. The Nation, 12 November.

     _UNDER THE WILLOWS | and | Other Poems._ By | James Russell Lowell.
     | Boston: | Fields, Osgood & Co., | Successors to Ticknor and
     Fields. | 1869.

     My Garden Acquaintance. The Atlantic Almanac, 1869.


     _The Flying Dutchman._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners. Atlantic Monthly,

     A Look before and after. North American Review, January.

     Bartlett’s “Familiar Quotations.” North American Review, July.

     A Good Word for Winter. The Atlantic Almanac, 1870.


     _The Cathedral._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     _THE CATHEDRAL._ | By | James Russell Lowell. | Boston: | Fields,
     Osgood & Co. | 1870.

     Hazlitt’s “Library of Old Authors.” North American Review, April.

     AMONG MY BOOKS. | By | James Russell Lowell, A. M. | Professor of
     Belles-Lettres in Harvard College. | Boston: | Fields, Osgood & Co.
     | 1870.

     Chaucer. North American Review, July.

     A Virginian in New England Thirty-five Years Ago, Introduction to.
     Atlantic Monthly, August.


     Pope. North American Review, January.

     Goodwin’s “Plutarch’s Morals.” North American Review, April.

     MY STUDY WINDOWS. | By | James Russell Lowell, A. M. | Professor of
     Belles-Lettres in Harvard College. | Boston: | James R. Osgood and
     Company. | Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood & Co. | 1871.


     Masson’s “Life of John Milton.” North American Review, January.

     The Shadow of Dante. North American Review, July.


     _Agassiz._ Atlantic Monthly, May.

     _An Epitaph._ The Nation, 1 October.

     _Jeffries Wyman._ The Nation, 8 October.


     Spenser. North American Review, April.

     _Sonnet to F. A._ Atlantic Monthly, May.

     _Ode read at the Concord Centennial._ Atlantic Monthly, June.

     _Joseph Winlock._ The Nation, 17 June.

     James’s “Sketches.” The Nation, 24 June.

     _Sonnets from over Sea._ Atlantic Monthly, July.

     _Under the Great Elm._ Atlantic Monthly, August.

     _The World’s Fair, 1876._ The Nation, 5 August.

     _Tempora Mutantur._ The Nation, 26 August.

     _The Dancing Bear._ Atlantic Monthly, September.


     Forster’s “Swift.” The Nation, 13, 20 April.

     “The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.” The Nation, 27

     _A Misconception._ The Nation, 10 August.

     _Campaign Epigrams_: A Coincidence; Defrauding Nature; The Widow’s
     Mite. The Nation, 14 September.

     _Campaign Epigrams_: Moieties; The Astronomer Misplaced. The
     Nation, 12 October.

     AMONG MY BOOKS. | Second Series. | By James Russell Lowell, |
     Professor of Belles-Lettres in Harvard College. | Boston: | James
     R. Osgood and Company, | Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood
     & Co. | 1876.

     _An Ode for the Fourth of July, 1876._ Atlantic Monthly, December.


     _Birthday Verses._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     _Bankside._ The Nation, 31 May.

     Motley (a Note). The Nation, 7 June.

     _THREE MEMORIAL POEMS._ | By | James Russell Lowell.| Εῖς οἰωνὸς
     ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης | Boston: | James R. Osgood and
     Company, | Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood & Co. 1877.

     _Night Watches._ Atlantic Monthly, July.


     After dinner speech at _Déjeuner_ to American actors. Reported in
     The Era, London, 2 August.


     Garfield. Spoken in London, 24 September.

     _Phœbe._ The Century, November.

     Stanley. Speech at Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, 13 December.


     _Estrangement._ The Century, May.


     Fielding. Address at Taunton, England, 4 September.


     Wordsworth. Given 10 May.

     Democracy. Delivered at Birmingham, England, 6 October.


     Coleridge. Address at Westminster Abbey, 7 May.

     An after dinner speech at the Celebration of Forefathers’ Day in
     Plymouth. 21 December.

     Books and Libraries. Address at Chelsea, Massachusetts, 22

     Speech as presiding officer at dinner of Massachusetts Reform
     League, 29 December. Printed in Boston Post, 30 December.


     _International Copyright._ The Century, February.

     Gray. New Princeton Review, March.

     Oration in Sanders Theatre on the Two Hundred and Fiftieth
     Anniversary of the Foundation of Harvard University. Delivered 8

     DEMOCRACY | and Other Addresses | by | James Russell Lowell |
     Boston and New York | Houghton, Mifflin & Company | The Riverside
     Press, Cambridge | 1887 [Copyright, 1886.]


     _Credidimus Jorem regnare._ Atlantic Monthly, February.

     _Fancy or Fact?_ Atlantic Monthly, March.

     Speech at Authors’ Reading, 28 November.

     The Progress of the World. Introduction to “The World’s Progress.”
     Gately & O’Gorman, Boston.


     _The Secret._ Atlantic Monthly, January.

     _Endymion_: A Mystical Comment on Titian’s “Sacred and Profane
     Love.” Atlantic Monthly, February.

     Some Letters of Walter Savage Landor, Introduction to. The Century,

     The Late Mrs. Ann Benson Procter. The Nation, 29 March.

     _Turner’s Old Téméraire_: under a Figure symbolizing the Church.
     Atlantic Monthly, April.

     The Place of the Independent in Politics. Address delivered before
     the Reform Club of New York, 13 April.

     POLITICAL ESSAYS | By | James Russell Lowell | Boston and New York
     | Houghton, Mifflin and Company | The Riverside Press, Cambridge |

     _HEARTSEASE AND RUE_ | By | James Russell Lowell | Boston and New
     York | Houghton, Mifflin and Company | The Riverside Press,
     Cambridge | 1888


     “Our Literature.” Response to a toast, on the hundredth Anniversary
     of Washington’s Inauguration, 30 April.

     _How I consulted the Oracle of the Goldfishes._ Atlantic Monthly,

     Introduction to Walton’s “Angler,” published by Little, Brown & Co.

     The Study of Modern Languages. Address before the Modern Language
     Association of America.


     _The Infant Prodigy._ Signed F. de T. The Nation, 1 May.

     _In a Volume of Sir Thomas Browne._ Atlantic Monthly, July.

     _Inscription for a Memorial Bust of Fielding._ Atlantic Monthly,

     Introduction to Milton’s “Areopagitica,” published by the Grolier

     WRITINGS OF JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL. Riverside Edition. 10 volumes.
     Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

     “Thou Spell, avaunt!” Atlantic Monthly, December.

     _My Brook._ New York Ledger, 13 December.



     LATEST LITERARY ESSAYS | and Addresses | of James Russell Lowell. |
     Boston and New York | Houghton, Mifflin & Company | [1892 |
     Copyright, 1891.]

     _His Ship._ Harper’s Monthly, December.

     Shakespeare’s Richard III. Atlantic Monthly, December. (Read first
     before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, in 1883.)


     _On a Bust of General Grant._ Scribner’s Magazine, March.

     The Old English Dramatists. Harper’s Monthly, June.

     Marlowe. Harper’s Monthly, July.

     Webster. Harper’s Monthly, August.

     Beaumont and Fletcher. Harper’s Monthly, October.

     Massinger and Ford. Harper’s Monthly, November.

     THE | OLD ENGLISH DRAMATISTS | By | James Russell Lowell | Boston
     and New York | Houghton, Mifflin and Company | The Riverside Press,
     Cambridge | 1892.

     Parkman. The Century, November.


     LETTERS OF | James Russell Lowell | Edited by Charles Eliot Norton
     | New York | Harper & Brothers Publishers | 1894 [In two volumes.]

     Humor, Wit, Fun and Satire. The Century, November.

     The Five Indispensable Authors [Homer, Dante, Cervantes, Goethe,
     Shakspere]. The Century, December.


     The Function of the Poet. The Century, January.

     Criticism and Culture. The Century, February.

     The Imagination. The Century, March.

     Unpublished Fragments from College Lectures: i. The Study of
     Literature; ii. Translation; iii. Originality and Tradition in
     Literature; iv. Choice in Reading; v. The Search for Truth; vi.
     Close of Lectures at Cornell University; vii. Elements of the
     English Language; viii. The Poetic and the Actual; ix. Poetry in
     Homely Lines; x. Style; xi. Piers Ploughman; xii. Montaigne; xiii.
     The Humorous and the Comic; xiv. First Need of American Culture.
     The Harvard Crimson, 23 March-4 May.

     Fragments: i. Life in Literature and Language; ii. Style and
     Manner; iii. Kalevala [with translation]. The Century, May.

     Lowell’s Letters to Poe. Scribner’s Magazine, August.


     _LAST POEMS_ | of | James Russell Lowell | Boston and New York |
     Houghton, Mifflin and Company | The Riverside Press, Cambridge |


     _THE POWER OF | SOUND_ | a Rhymed | Lecture by James Russell Lowell
     | Privately | Printed | New York | MDCCCXCVI


     LECTURES | ON | ENGLISH POETS | By | James Russell Lowell |

   --“Call up him who left half-told
    The story of Cambuscan bold”

     Cleveland | The Rowfant Club | MDCCCXCVII


     IMPRESSIONS OF | SPAIN | James Russell Lowell | Compiled by |
     Joseph B. Gilder | with an introduction by A. A. Adee | Boston and
     New York | Houghton, Mifflin and Company | The Riverside Press |

     _Verses written in a copy of Shakspere._ The Century, November.


     _Verses_: i. Written in a gift copy of Mr. Lowell’s Poems; ii.
     Written in a copy of “Among my Books;” iii. Written in a copy of
     “Fireside Travels.” Atlantic Monthly, December.


     _From the London Times, Wednesday, 29 November, 1893_

Mr. Leslie Stephen yesterday unveiled the memorial which has been placed
in honor of the late James Russell Lowell at the entrance to the
Chapter-house, Westminster Abbey. The memorial includes a window and a
bust underneath, which is said to be an admirable likeness of the late
American Minister. The window has been erected by Messrs. Clayton and
Bell, and consists of three lights. In the centre is the figure of Sir
Launfal, from Lowell’s poem of that name, below is an angel with the
Holy Grail, and in the lowest compartment the incident of Sir Launfal
and the leper is represented. The right light has the figure of St.
Botolph, the patron saint of the church of Boston, Lincolnshire, from
which the Massachusetts city, Lowell’s birthplace, derived its name;
below is the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. The light on the left
contains the figure of St. Ambrose, one of the reputed authors of _Te
Deum Laudamus_; below is a group representing the emancipation of
slaves. In trefoils above the side-lights are shields bearing the arms
of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Mr. A. J. Balfour was asked to take the chief part in yesterday’s
ceremony, but was prevented by illness from attending.

The Dean of Westminster presided, and the Chapter-house was filled with
a numerous audience. Among those who had been invited, and the greater
number of whom were present, were the Lord Chancellor and Lady
Herschell, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, the Speaker of the House of
Commons, the Earl of Rosebery, Lord Knutsford, the Dowager Countess of
Derby, the Earl and Countess of Pembroke, Lady Arthur Russell, Lord and
Lady Coleridge, Lord and Lady Reay, Lord Aberdare, the Earl and Countess
Brownlow, Lord and Lady R. Churchill, Adeline Duchess of Bedford, Lord
and Lady Playfair, the Countess of Ashburton, Mr. J. Chamberlain, M. P.,
and Mrs. Chamberlain, Mr. Shaw Lefevre, M. P., the diplomatic
representatives of America, Italy, Greece, Russia, Spain, Denmark,
Germany, and France, Judge Hughes, Professor Huxley, Archdeacon Farrar,
Sir Henry James, M. P., Sir J. Hassard, representing the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Mr. Rathbone, M. P., General and Mrs. Clive, Miss Balfour,
Mr. and Mrs. Gosse, Mrs. Lynn Linton, Mr. Spencer Lyttelton, Dr.
Martineau, Mrs. Richmond Ritchie, Mr. and Mrs. Smalley, Mr. W. Besant,
Miss Bradley, Mr. and Mrs. Darwin, Mrs. A. Murray Smith, Mr. and Mrs.
Birrell, Mr. F. W. Gibbs, Mr. Austin Dobson, Mr. George Meredith, Mrs.
Humphry Ward, Mr. Dykes Campbell, Mr. G. Du Maurier, and Mrs. Matthew
Arnold. Sir William Harcourt was unavoidably prevented from attending by
Ministerial business.

The Dean of Westminster said that he had been asked to take the chair on
this interesting and suggestive occasion. They had met in that venerable
and stately building to pay some tribute to the memory of one who, from
the first day which he spent in this country up to the date of his
death, had endeared himself to an ever-widening circle of friends, and
who had for many years been the representative in the Queen’s dominions
of that great Republic of the West. He would leave it to others to speak
of Mr. Lowell’s great qualities, and of the position which he held as a
poet, a humorist, and essayist. Mr. Lowell was worthy to be reckoned
among the great writers of our tongue--Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser,
Milton, Dryden, and those poets whom we had so lately lost. They all
deeply regretted the absence of Mr. Balfour and its cause, but they
gratefully recognized the service which Mr. Leslie Stephen was rendering
them by his presence. There was no one to whom the task of speaking of
Mr. Lowell could so wisely be entrusted. In the presence of the American
Ambassador he might, perhaps, be allowed to speak of the special fitness
of the place in which they were assembled--which was a part of the
ancient Abbey, the very heart and centre of that Benedictine monastery,
and used solely as the daily meeting-place of the monks. There was no
spot in the kingdom or in the world which could compare in historic
interest and significance with that in which they were met. That part of
the Abbey with which so many associations had gathered, and which was
now known by the name of Poets’ Corner, dated from the period of the
commencement of the House of Commons, whose members in the earliest days
and for three centuries of its existence were summoned within the walls
of the Chapter-house. Thus the room where they were sitting was not only
the meeting-place of the Benedictine monks of Westminster, but it was
also for a long period the ordinary meeting-place of the Commons of
England. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the Chapter-house was
vested in the Crown, and was still so vested, and it was by the
permission of the First Commissioner of Works that the present meeting
to do honor to a great American was held. For three more centuries after
the Commons had ceased to be summoned to the Chapter-house, the house
was used, he would not say as a lumber-room, but as a record-room in
which were stored the invaluable documents which belonged to the House
of Commons and the various Government offices. One deficiency, however,
long remained, which his dear and illustrious predecessor long tried to
remove. The late Dean endeavored to induce successive Governments to
fill the windows with stained glass, but without success. After his
death, however, one of the windows was filled. No meeting could have
been more representative of the whole English-speaking race than the one
which was held when that window was unveiled. He could imagine that he
was still hearing the words which fell from Mr. Lowell on that occasion,
_Si monumentum quæris, circumspice_. No words could have been more
eloquent or impressive than those used by the American Minister of that
day. That was the first time he himself had the pleasure of hearing Mr.
Lowell’s voice. The next historic meeting in that room was one called to
unveil a painted window, the gift of the Queen, which was inserted in
memory of Lady Augusta Stanley. That meeting, also, Mr. Lowell attended.
Two years afterwards he had had the privilege, in his capacity of Dean,
of summoning a meeting with a view to honor the American poet
Longfellow, to whom a memorial stood in Poets’ Corner. A fourth meeting
was held in memory of one to whom as poet and thinker the older
generation owed so much. It had been his privilege to place a bust in
memory of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Lowell on that occasion made one
of the most sympathetic and appreciative speeches to which he had ever
listened. They would all agree that no more suitable spot could be
chosen on which to perpetuate the memory of one who was not only for
many years the representative in this country of the great American
Republic, but was so great an ornament to that language and literature
which were the common heritage of Americans and Englishmen alike.

       *       *       *       *       *

Speeches were made also by Mr. Leslie Stephen, Mr. J. Chamberlain, M.
P., and Mr. Bayard, the American Ambassador.


     [Titles of periodicals, and of books, articles, and poems by J. R.
     L. are printed in _Italic_ type.]

Abolitionists, scored by J. R. L. in _Class Poem_, i. 56;
  J. R. L. identifies himself with, 191, 197;
  independence of, in 1848, 213;
  separated from, ii. 16.

Adams, John, J. R. L. remembers hearing of the death of, i. 19.

Adee, Alvin A., on J. R. L.’s insight into Spanish character, ii. 244.

Adirondack Club, formed by W. J. Stillman, i. 404;
  its membership, 405.

“Adirondacs, The,” by R. W. Emerson, i. 404; ii. 175.

“Africa,” by M. W. L., i. 369.

African coast, approach to, i. 313.

_Agassiz_, i. 400;
  compared with other poems, ii. 175;
  the portraits in, 176;
  J. R. L. on, 177, 178;
  the patriotic feeling in, 190.

Agassiz, Louis, a member of the Adirondack Club, i. 405;
  death of, ii. 174.

_Aladdin_, taken from _Our Own_, i. 353.

Alcott, Amos Bronson, characterised in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 240.

Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, a tenant of Elmwood, i. 1;
  J. R. L. thanks him for his praise of _Under the Willows_, 125;
  takes possession of Elmwood, 150;
  J. R. L. to, on a doctorate, 169;
  leaves Elmwood, 185;
  J. R. L. to, on fleeing to the mountains, 186;
  J. R. L. to, on contributions to the _Atlantic_, 297, 388.

Alfonso, king of Spain, J. R. L. presents him with the
      President’s congratulations, ii. 224;
  J. R. L. is presented to, 227;
  his marriage described, 230.

_Al Fresco_, i. 269; ii. 41.

Allen, Alexander Viets Griswold, ii. 69, note.

_Ambrose_, i. 228.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, J. R. L.’s membership in, i. 446, note.

American Archæological Institute, ii. 326.

“American Conflict, The,” by Horace Greeley, reviewed by J. R. L., ii. 53.

American Literature, J. R. L. on, ii. 361-368.

_American Politics_, the address J. R. L. did not give, ii. 351.

_American Review, The_, Poe’s “Raven” published in, i. 163.

_Among My Books_, first series, published, ii. 144;
  second series, 196.

Anderson, Major Robert, ii. 25.

_Another Rallying Cry by a Yankee_, i. 168.

Antwerp, ii. 170.

“A pair of black eyes,” poem beginning, i. 54.

Appleton, Thomas, goes to hear J. R. L. lecture, i. 373.

_Appleton’s Journal_, edited by R. Carter, ii. 144.

_Arcturus_, a literary journal, i. 95.

“Areopagitica,” Milton’s, J. R. L. writes an introduction to, ii. 398.

“Are we Christians?” J. R. L. on, ii. 165.

Art, J. R. L.’s relations to, ii. 86.

“Atalanta in Calydon,” ii. 92.

_Athenæum, The_, quoted, ii. 293.

Atlantic Club, The, i. 447.

_Atlantic Monthly_, origin of, i. 408-413;
  its value to Whittier, 417;
  its sale, 418;
  its timeliness, 419;
  its anonymous character, 422;
  policy of, as
affirmed by J. R. L., 424;
  interest of the public in, 425;
  its freedom from competition, 427;
  reviewing in, 430;
  clubs that sprang from, 446;
  designed to be a political magazine, ii. 1;
  compared with _Standard_, 3;
  J. R. L.’s political articles in, 17;
  the second series of _Biglow Papers_ asked for by editor of, 35;
  an anonymous writer in, describes J. R. L.’s comments on the Jews, 301.

_Auf Wiederschen_, i. 368.

“Auld Lang Syne,” by Max Müller, quoted, ii. 263.

Authors’ readings, ii. 333;
  address by J. R. L. before, 361.

“Autobiography of a Journalist” referred to, i. 404.

“Autocrat, The, of the Breakfast Table,” i. 426.

Azeglio, Massimo d’, i. 395.

Bachi, Pietro, instructor in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese
      at Harvard in J. R. L.’s youth, i. 27.

Ballads in J. R. L.’s early years, i. 12.

“Band, The,” i. 89.

Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, J. R. L. comments on, ii. 194.

Barlow, Joel, ii. 361.

Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett, afterward Mrs. Browning,
      contributes to the _Pioneer_, i. 111;
  reviewed by Poe, 165.

Bartlett, John, friend of J. R. L., and member with him of whist club, i. 271;
  verses to, by J. R. L., ii. 96;
  calls the whist club together for the last time, 407.

Bartol, Rev. Cyrus Augustus, colleague of Charles Lowell,
      discourages the publication of his sermons, i. 8, note;
  C. L’s attitude toward, as regards salary, 234, note.

Beaver Brook, J. R. L.’s early rambles to, i. 19.

_Beaver Brook_, i. 228, 232.

Bell, Mrs. Helen Choate, J. R. L. to, on Feltham, ii. 350.

Bell telephone, ii. 328.

Benton, Joel, defends J. R. L., ii. 192;
  and draws out a letter in response, 193.

Béranger, J. R. L. translates Sainte-Beuve’s article on, ii. 77.

Bernini, the angels of, i. 319.

Bethune, Rev. George Washington, i. 155.

Beverly, J. R. L. describes life at, i. 365, 366.

_Bibliolatres_, i. 228.

Biglow, Hosea, J. R. L. regrets making him a bad speller, i. 261;
  thinks of educating him, 261.

_Biglow Papers_, first series, quoted, i. 21;
  begun in _Boston Courier_, 201;
  published also the _Standard_, 256;
  origin of, in J. R. L.’s mind, 257;
  their success referred to by J. R. L, 260;
  progenitors of, 261;
  bad spelling in, 261;
  revised for publication, 261, 262;
  the apparatus of, 263;
  success of, 264;
  expressive of New England, 265;
  and of Lowell, 265;
  eclipsing _A Fable for Critics_, 266;
  relation of, to _Sir Launfal_, 268;
  second series, 400;
  not liked by Mrs. Lowell, 428;
  introduced by Hughes in England, 454;
  demand for more, ii. 32;
  first of second series written, 34;
  second series compared with first, 36;
  quoted in newspapers after the Spanish war, 94;
  Introduction to second series, 102.

Birmingham and Midland Institute, address before, ii. 313.

Black, Charles C., a friend of J. R. L. in Italy, i. 317;
  helps him to London papers, 320;
  gets up private theatricals, 331.

_Blackwood’s Magazine_, reputation of, in America, i. 419;
  model of the _Atlantic_, 421.

Blaine, James Gillespie, J. R. L. rejoices over the defeat of, ii. 204;
  corresponds with J. R. L when Secretary of State, 285;
  is succeeded by Mr. Frelinghuysen, 290, note;
  had chosen successor to J. R. L. in anticipation of
     election to the presidency, 317;
  divides the Union League Club in Chicago, 352.

Blarney Castle, J. R. L. visits, ii. 152.

Bliss, Edward Penniman, ii. 202, note.

Blondel, a prototype of Lincoln, ii. 43.

Bologna, J. R. L receives degree at, ii. 379.

_Books and Libraries_ quoted, i. 30; ii. 326.

Boott, Francis, i. 318.

Bores, passage on, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 246.

_Boston Courier_, J. R. L. contributes to, i. 168, 174.

_Boston Daily Advertiser_, J. R. L.’s lecture reported in, i. 373;
  on Commemoration Ode, ii. 64.

_Boston Miscellany, The_, a literary journal, i. 98;
  J. R. L’s contributions to, 98, 99;
  is merged in _Arcturus_, 99.

Boswell’s Johnson frequently read by J. R. L., ii. 407.

Bowen, Francis, controversy of, with Mrs. Putnam, i. 304.

Bowker, Richard Rogers, gives an account of the Lowells in London, ii. 267;
  on J. R. L.’s perplexities in presenting ladies at court, 298.

Boyle, Miss Mary, entrusts Landor’s letters to J. R. L., ii. 342.

Brackett, Dr., of Portsmouth, i. 19.

Bradburn, George, projects a magazine, i. 7.

“Brahma,” by Emerson, the quidnuncs on, i. 415;
  J. R. L. on, 415, 416.

Brattle, Thomas, i. 2.

Bremer, Fredrika, describes the Lowell household, i. 298.

Brewster, Sir David, a teacher of Charles Lowell, i. 7.

Briggs, Charles Frederick (Harry Franco), i. 110;
  J. R. L. makes the acquaintance of, 114;
  criticises _A Legend of Brittany_, 129;
  letter to, from M. W., 129;
  projects _Broadway Chronicle_, 130;
  condemns customary marriage ceremonies, 131, note;
  starts the _Broadway Journal_, 156;
  seeks contributions from J. R. L. and M. W. L., 156;
  offers to make a contract with J. R. L., 157;
  upon compensation, 158;
  objects to J. R. L.’s first article, 159;
  abandons his paper, 160;
  corresponds with J. R. L. regarding Poe, 163-166;
  receives a visit from J. R. L. and M. W. L., 173;
  J. R. L. to, on his anticipated child, 179;
  J. R. L. to, after the birth of Blanche, 181;
  is amused over J. R. L.’s French exercise, 182, and note;
  J. R. L. to, on Anti-Slavery, 183;
  and on the training of Blanche, 185;
  is notified of _A Fable for Critics_, 238;
  asks after it, 239;
  has it offered to him as a New Year’s gift, 240;
  accepts it, and proposes distribution of profits, 242;
  writes J. R. L. to retain passage on Miss Fuller, 245;
  does not like Bryant, 245;
  hears of _Sir Launfal_, 266;
  comments on _The Changeling_, 279;
  writes to J. R. L. of Willis and Mrs. Clemm, 282;
  begs J. R. L. not to undertake editorship, 287;
  J. R. L. writes to him of _The Nooning_, 300;
  is editor of _Putnam’s Monthly_, 348;
  looks to J. R. L. for contributions, 350;
  receives _Our Own_, 351;
  J. R. L. to, on magazines popularity, 352;
  on _Cambridge Thirty Years Ago_, 354;
  prints M. W. L’s verses, 358;
  J. R. L. to, on the death of M. W. L., 360;
  on his own appointment at Harvard, 376.

Bright, Henry, sends grouse to Longfellow, i. 346.

Bright, John, J. R. L. essays to write a paper on, ii. 388.

Bristol, J. R. L. visits, ii. 157.

Bristow, Benjamin H., a candidate for the presidency, ii. 203.

_British Poets_, J. R. L. helps edit the, i. 364; ii. 101.

_Broadway Chronicle, The_, projected by C. F. Briggs, i. 130.

_Broadway Journal, The_, edited by C. F. Briggs, i. 154;
  J. R. L. and M. W. L. contribute to, 156, 538-160;
  is discontinued, 160.

_Brook, The_, ii. 393.

Brooks, Phillips, makes prayer at Harvard Commemoration, ii. 364.

Brown, Charles Brockden, ii. 364.

Browning, Robert, poems of, reviewed by J. R. L., i. 290, 291;
  met by J. R. L., 381;
  his dramas to be read, not seen, ii 70;
  met by J. R. L. in Venice, 272.

Bruges, ii. 170.

Bryant, William Cullen, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 245;
  criticise J. R. L., 245, note;
  J. R. L. uneasy over his judgment on, 253;
  A New Englander in New York, 420;
  his “Waterfowl,” ii. 365.

Buchanan, James, criticised by Parke Godwin in the _Atlantic_ ii. 3;
  and by J. R. L., 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 21.

Buckingham, J. T., editor of _Boston Courier_, J. R. L. addresses, i. 174;
  a hater of slavery, 175.

Bulfinch, Charles, architectural works of, i. 26.

Bull-fight, J. R. L. witnesses a, ii. 234.

Burke, Edmund, ii. 362.

Burleigh, C. C., editor of _Pennsylvania Freeman_, i. 152.

Burnett, Edward, marries Mabel Lowell, ii. 150;
  entertains J. R. L. in Washington, 387.

Burnett, Mabel Lowell, _see_ Lowell, Mabel;
  edits Donne with Mr. Norton, ii. 102, note;
  makes J. R. L. a grandfather, 166;
  meets J. R. L. on his return from Europe, 185;
  J. R. L. writes to her of Mrs. Lowell’s illness, 253;
  and of his transfer to England, 255;
  with her husband visits England, 258;
  makes a home for J. R. L. in his last days, 393.

Butler, Benjamin Franklin, J. R. L. comments on, ii. 194;
  a byblow of Democracy, 324.

Byron, his “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” i. 250, note;
  his “muddy stuff,” 337, 338.

Cabot, Arthur, buys Elmwood, i. 5.

Cabot, James Elliot, i. 411;
  his “Life of Emerson,” ii. 366.

Cæsar, J. R. L. offers a new paragraph to his Commentaries, ii. 383.

Calderon, i. 269.

Calhoun, John Caldwell, satirized by J. R. L., i. 215-218.

California, J. R. L. on discovery of gold in, i. 177.

Cambridge, England, J. R. L. visits, to receive a degree, ii. 184.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, the birthplace of J. R. L., i. 1;
  its character as a college town, 25;
  its connection with Boston in J. R. L.’s boyhood, 26.

_Cambridge Thirty Years Ago_, addressed to W. W. Story, i. 22;
  published in _Putnam’s Monthly_, 353.

Campagna, the, J. R. L.’s first view of, i. 318;
  his walks in, 322, 328, 338.

Cánovas del Castillo, J. R. L. comments on, ii. 233, 244, 246;
  views of, on Cuba, 254.

Carlisle, ii. 156.

Carlyle, Thomas, satirized by J. R. L. in his _Class Poem_, i. 57;
  in the apparatus of _Biglow Papers_, 263;
  paper on, by J. R. L., ii. 89;
  modification of judgment concerning, 90;
  assessed, 91.

Carman, Bliss, ii 389.

Carter, Robert, associated with J. R. L. in the _Pioneer_, i. 99;
  his career, 100, 101;
  writes a card explaining J. R. L.’s silence, 107;
  letters of J. R. L. to, from New York, 109-114;
  letter of J. R. L. to, on going to Philadelphia, 152-155;
  J. R. L. writes to, in Pepperell 274;
  writes on the Hungarian question, 304;
  letter to, from J. R. L. at Terracina, 343;
  reports J. R. L.’s lecture before Lowell Institute, 373;
  asks J. R. L to write for _Appletons’ Journal_, ii. 144;
  interests himself in J. R. L’s political preferment, 202;
  wishes to print the Fourth of July ode, 203.

Cass, Lewis, satirized by J. R. L., i. 215-217.

Castellar y Rissoll, Emilio ii. 244.

_Cathedral, The_, quoted, i. 17, 18, 380;
  composition of, ii. 139;
  first called _A Day at Chartres_, 140;
 the pleasure it gave J. R. L., 142.

Caucus, speech of J. R. L. at, ii. 206-211.

“Centurion, The,” in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 242.

_Century Magazine, The_, on Lincoln and Lowell, ii. 71;
  interested in international copyright, 333.

_Certain Condescension in Foreigners, A_, ii. 122, 262.

Chace, Senator, of Rhode Island, ii. 326.

Chamonix, ii. 171.

_Changeling, The_, i. 274;
  praised by Briggs, 279.

Channing, Edward Tyrrel, i. 36.

Channing, William Ellery, ii. 364.

Channing, William Francis, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193.

Chapman, George, ii. 354.

Chapman, Mrs. Maria Weston, manages bazaar, i. 181;
  one of the editors of the _National Anti-Slavery Standard_, 192;
  proposes to J. R. L. to contribute, 196;
  overrates his popularity, 197.

Chartres, J. R. L. visits, i. 380;
  gives title at first to _The Cathedral_, ii. 140.

“Chastelard,” ii. 92.

Chaucer, treated by J. R. L. in _Conversations_, i. 134;
  quotation from paper on, ii. 88;
  his appropriation of others’ work, 132.

Chelsea, J. R. L.’s address at, ii. 326.

Chester, J. R. L. at, with Canon Kingsley, ii. 153.

Chicago, address at, by J. R. L., ii. 351.

Child, David Lee, editor of the _Standard_, i. 192.

Child, Francis James, edits the _British Poets_, i. 364;
  J. R. L. shows him the _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 63, 68, note;
  likes _Fitz Adam’s Story_, 104;
  accompanies J. R. L. to Baltimore, 213;
  his popularity there, 214;
  J. R. L. to, on the St. Andrews affair, 300.

Child, Mrs. Lydia Maria, the “Philothea” of, i. 80;
  characterised by J. R. L. in the _Pioneer_, 105;
  her “Letters from New York,” 114;
  her editorship of the _Standard_, 192;
  in _A Fable for Critics_, 245.

_Chippewa Legend, A_, i. 125.

Chivers, T. H., i. 375.

Choate, Rufus, J. R. L.’s article on, ii. 14.

Choir, village, J. R. L.’s characterization of, i. 20.

Christ, and Christianity, i. 169.

Christ Church, Cambridge, ecclesiastical home of loyalists, i. 2;
  J. R. L. attends, ii. 311.

Church, the, J. R. L.’s comments on, in _Conversations_, i. 141-145;
  a bulwark of Paganism, 170.

_Church and the Clergy, The_, J. R. L.’s articles in
      _Pennsylvania Freeman_, i. 169.

Civil-service reform, importance of, ii. 194, 202;
  reference to, at caucus, 210;
  address on, by J. R. L., 377.

Clarke, James Freeman, in politics, ii. 201.

_Class Poem_ by J. R. L., i. 48, 50, 51, 53, 54, 56-61.

Clemm, Mrs., Poe’s mother-in-law, J. R. L.’s relations with, i. 282.

Cleveland, Grover, elected president, ii. 316;
  J. R. L.’s judgment on, 324.

Clifford, Mrs. W. K., J. R. L. to, on confidants, ii. 323;
  J. R. L. to, in response to an invitation, 391.

Clough, Arthur Hugh, comes to America on same boat with J. R. L., i. 346;
  his reception in Boston and Cambridge, 346;
  describes the Lowell household, 347;
  J. R. L.’s judgment of his “Bothie,” 347;
  Cranch reminds J. R. L. of, ii. 96.

Coercion Act, J. R. L. on, ii. 281.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, J. R. L. becomes
      acquainted with the poems of, i. 32;
  J. R. L. compares his own odes with those of, ii. 44, note;
  his want of scruple in matters of literary honesty, 134;
  J. R. L. on unveiling the bust of, 321.

Colosseum at Rome, i. 338.

_Commemoration Ode_, i. 400;
  tried on F. J. Child, ii. 63;
  exhausts J. R. L., 64;
  to be read aloud, 66;
  its composition, 67;
  its power to stimulate, 70;
  a shrine of Lincoln, 71.

Concord, Massachusetts, J. R. L. sent there in suspension from college, i. 47;
  his life there, 50-56.

“Conquest of Canaan,” Dwight’s, ii. 361.

Contributors’ Club, article in, by J. R. L., ii. 398.

_Conversations on some of the Old Poets_, quoted, i. 17;
  books published, 132;
  its contents analyzed, 134-145;
  reviewed by Poe in the _Mirror_, 163;
  compared with later work on same subject, ii. 354.

Cooke, Philip Pendleton, ii. 362.

Cooper, James Fenimore, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 254;
  has no desire to start a magazine, 419;
  characterized, ii. 364.

Copyright, J. R. L. on, ii. 326-332.

“Cornwallis, The,” village drama of, i. 25.

_Courtin’, The_, i. 300.

Cranch, Christopher Pearse, visits J. R. L., ii. 95;
  his ill-success, 96.

Crawford, Thomas, i. 332.

_Crayon, The_, Stillman’s journal, i. 367, 378.

_Credidimus Jovem regnare_, ii. 368.

_Critic, The_, publishes a “Lowell Birthday number,” ii. 387.

Cromwell, treated poetically by J. R. L., i. 124;
  wanted by him for America, ii. 28.

Crosby & Nichols, publishers of the _North American Review_, ii. 47.

Cuba, Spanish relations with, ii. 254;
  rumors of American purchase of, 255.

Curtis, George Ticknor, recalls Mr. Wells’s school, i. 23.

Curtis, George William, and _Putnam’s Monthly_, i. 348;
  his “Prue and I,” 350.

Cushing, Caleb, J. R. L.’s article on, ii. 14, 15.

Dall, Mrs. Caroline Healey, quoted on Charles Lowell, i. 10.

Dana, Edmund, brother of R. H. D., Jr., i. 22.

Dana, Richard Henry, ii. 365.

Dana, Richard Henry, Jr., an early friend of J. R. L., i. 22;
  death of, commented on by J. R. L., ii. 296.

Dante, quoted by J. R. L. in his college days, i. 54;
  in Florence, 314;
  teaching of, by J. R. L., 385;
  influence over J. R. L., 390;
  portrait of, given by J. R. L. to his class, 393;
  “New Life” of, given also, 393;
  the church in which he was baptized, 394;
  not used in examination, 395;
  Longfellow’s translation of, scrutinized by the Dante Club, ii. 84;
  and reviewed by J. R. L. and C. E. Norton, 113;
  article on, by J. R. L., 150;
  some interpretation of, by J. R. L., 381.

_Darkened Mind, The_, a record of J. R. L.’s mother, i. 91;
  quoted, 305.

Darley, Felix Octavius Carr, marriage of, i. 440.

Davis, Mr. (and Mrs.) Edward M., friends of Mrs. White and M. W., i. 151;
  arrange for J. R. L.’s work in Philadelphia, 152;
  entertain the Lowells at their home, 173;
  J. R. L. writes to, 176, 177;
  written to on birth of Blanche, 178.

Davis, Jefferson, J. R. L’s phrases on, ii. 9, 10.

_Day in June, A_, i. 269.

“Days” by Emerson, J. R. L. on, i. 414.

_Dead House, The_, i. 435.

Declaration of Independence, i. 209.

“Decuman,” J. R. L.’s defence of the word, ii. 140.

Dedications to J. R. L., ii. 401.

Deerfoot Farm, J. R. L.’s residence at, ii. 322.

_Democracy_, ii. 312-316.

_Democracy and Other Addresses_, ii. 334;
  copyright on, 350.

Dickens, Charles, compared with Thackeray by J. R. L., i. 297;
  letters of, published by Forster and Fields, ii. 149.

_Dirge, A_, extracts from, i. 147.

Dixwell, Epes Sargent, a New England scholar, i. 23.

Dr. Primrose, the name given by J. R. L. to his father, i. 11.

Donne, John, on Elizabeth Drury, i. 361;
  his poems revised by J. R. L., ii. 102;
  edited for Grolier Club, 102, note.

Douglas, David, the Edinburgh publisher, ii. 329.

Downing, Major Jack, i. 261.

“Dred” by Mrs. Stowe, i. 409, 412.

Dresden, J. R. L. settles down in, for study, i. 381;
  his winter in, 383.

Dresel, Otto, i. 442.

Dryden, John, J. R. L. edits poems of, ii. 101.

Dublin, J. R. L. at, ii. 153.

Dunlap, Elizabeth, i. 400.

Dunlap, Frances, governess of Mabel Lowell, i. 401;
  her character, 401;
  characterized by J. R. L., 401;
  marries J. R. L., 241;
  _see_ Lowell, Frances Dunlap.

Durham, J. R. L’s impression of, ii. 156.

Duyckinck, Evert Augustus, J. R. L. writes to, with sonnets, i. 95;
  writes to J. R. L. proposing a book, 135;
  J. R. L. writes to, about Hawthorne, 283;
  his and his brother’s Cyclopædia of American Literature, ii. 362.

Dwight, John Sullivan, contributor to the _Pioneer_, i. 105.

Dwight, Timothy, ii. 361.

Edwards, Jonathan, ii. 361.

_Election in November, The_, ii. 17.

Eliot, Charles William, on _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 69.

Eliot, Samuel, remembers J. R. L.’s boyhood, i. 24.

Eliot, Dr. S. R., treats J. R. L. for trouble with his eyes, i. 109;
  is a _compagnon du voyage_, 380.

Elmwood, birthplace of J. R. L., i. 1;
  one of the loyalist houses, 2;
  described, 4;
  its successive owners, 4-6;
  as a nesting-place for J. R. L., 15, 16;
  J. R. L. will not use it as a title to a volume, ii. 119;
  J. R. L.’s final return to, 393.

Elwyn, Dr., i. 155.

Ely, J. R. L. at, i. 345.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, characterizes Charles Lowell, i. 8;
  J. R. L. goes to hear him lecture in his junior year at college, 49;
  his acquaintance made by J. R. L. in Concord, 50;
  animadverted on in class poem, 56, 57;
  letter to, by J. R. L. in exculpation, 58, 59;
  his abandonment of the ministry, 64;
  characterizes “Philothea,” 80;
  introduced into _A Fable for Critics_, 239, 240, 243, 254;
  on J. R. L.’s magazine project, 287;
  as a friend of Thoreau, 293;
  characteristic of, 297;
  promises to write for _Putnam’s_, 350;
  his “Adirondacs” quoted, 404;
  a member of the Adirondack Club, 405;
  dines with Mr. Phillips, 410;
  J. R. L. to, on his signature of article, 414;
  on “Days,” 414;
  his Brahma, 415;
  J. R. L. to, on his contributions, 416;
  his importance to the _Atlantic_, 420;
  advised by J. R. L. respecting his publisher, 451.
  Comments of, on J. R. L.’s poetry, ii. 33, note;
  on Lincoln, 71;
  extract from his journal on J. R. L.’s poetry, 121;
  is with J. R. L. in Paris, 161;
  his character, 164;
  good to love, 167;
  in _Agassiz_, 177, 178;
  on J. R. L.’s _Under the Old Elm_, 189;
  characterized, 365;
  his Life by J. E. Cabot, 366.

Emiliani, i. 329.

_Endymion_, ii. 371.

England, J. R. L. finds reaction in politics since 1848, in, ii. 27;
  J. R. L. an exponent of American temper toward, 40.

Episcopal church, J. R. L. on, ii. 311.

_Epistle to George William Curtis, An_, quoted, i. 17;
  postscript to, ii. 368.

_E Pluribus Unum_, ii. 23;
  quoted, 276.

Erskine, Fanny, i. 329.

“Essays on Free Thinking and Plain Speaking,” J. R. L. on, ii. 175.

_Estrangement_, ii. 295.

Eudamidas, brother of Agis, i. 434.

_Eurydice_, i. 228.

Evarts, William Maxwell, J. R. L. sends despatch
      to on congratulating the king of Spain, ii. 224;
  and on the king’s marriage, 230;
  and on a bull fight, 234;
  J. R. L. to, on the Irish question, 277;
  approves J. R. L.’s course, 280.

_Every Saturday_, J. R. L. proposes to translate for, ii. 137.

Exhibition Day at Harvard, i. 26.

_Ex-Mayor’s Crumb of Consolation, The_, i. 259.

_Fable for Critics, A_, quoted, i. 139, 166;
  begun, 238;
  specimens of it sent to Briggs, 239;
  a gift to that friend, 240;
  proposed disposition of profits by J. R. L., 241;
  by Briggs, 242;
  interrupted, 243;
  resumed, 245;
  passage in it on bores, traced, 246;
  its title-page, 249;
  published, 250;
  comparison with Hunt’s “The Feast of the Poets,” 250;
  no mystery about its authorship, 251;
  J. R. L.’s afterthought of it, 252;
  its ephemeral character, 253;
  its permanent qualities, 254;
  its expression of its author, 254;
  thrown into the shade by the _Biglow Papers_, 255;
  the apostrophe to Massachusetts in it, 266;
  contrasted with _Agassiz_, ii. 176.

“Faery Queene, The,” the first poem read by J. R. L., i. 14;
  discussed by the boys J. R. L. and W. W. S., 24.

_Falconer, The_, afterward _The Falcon_, i. 180.

_Fancy’s Casuistry_, i. 406.

Fawcett, Edgar, J. R. L. praises, ii. 199.

Fay, Maria, letter to, from J. R. L. of
entrance into Rome, i. 318;
  of Christmas, 323.

Fayerweather house in Cambridge, i. 3.

“Feast of the Poets, The,” by Leigh Hunt, i. 250;
  compared with the _Fable_, 251.

“Federalist, The,” as a piece of American literature, ii. 362.

Feltham, Owen, ii. 359.

Felton, Cornelius Conway, professor of Greek at
      Harvard in J. R. L.’s youth, i. 27;
  one of the editors of an annual, 93;
  has a copy of _A Fable for Critics_ sent him, 249;
  at supper at Longfellow’s, 346;
  discovers a cryptic joke of J. R. L., 434.

Field, John W., meets J. R. L. at Orvieto, i. 384;
  visits the Lowells with his wife, ii. 251;
  a friend to J. R. L. in his troubles. 252;
  with his wife stays with Mrs. Lowell while J. R. L. goes to England, 258;
  J. R. L. writes him on letter-writing, 266:
  his sociability, 272;
  J. R. L. writes him from Paris, 273;
  J. R. L. to, on his own abstinence, 296;
  letter from J. R. L. to, on death of Mrs. Lowell, 319;
  and on growing old; 325.

Fielding, Henry, J. R. L. on, ii. 298.

Fields, James Thomas, wants J. R. L. to write a novel, i. 348;
  asks also for his Lowell Institute lectures, 373;
  succeeds J. R. L. as editor of the _Atlantic_, 453;
  calls forth the second series of _Biglow Papers_, ii. 35;
  J. R. L. to, on sending him _Mr. Hosea Biglow to
      the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly_, 57;
  J. R. L. to, on sending him _Fitz Adam’s Story_, 105;
  and a tale and poem for _Our Young Folks_, 105;
  writes a notice of _A June Idyll_ which calls out
      a poetical response from J. R. L., 116;
  discusses title of J. R. L.’s book, 119;
  J. R. L. sends him the log of the _North American_, 122;
  asked to print the journal of a Virginia gentleman, 135;
  takes J. R. L.’s daughter Mabel to Europe, 137;
  _The Cathedral_ dedicated to him, 140;
  publishes “Yesterdays with Authors,” 149.

“Financial Flurry, The,” by Parke Godwin, ii. 2.

_Fireside Travels_, first title given to _Cambridge Thirty Years Ago_, i. 354.

_First Snow-Fall, The_, i. 274.

Fischer, Peter, i. 392.

Fish, Hamilton, ii. 203.

_Fitz Adam’s Story_, i. 302;
  read by F. J. Child, ii. 104.

Florence, the Lowells in, i. 314-316.

Follen, Charles, characterized by J. R. L. in the _Pioneer_, i. 106.

Follen, Eliza Lee, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193.

Foote, Henry Stuart, satirized by J. R. L., i. 215.

Forbes, Mrs. Archibald, ii. 335.

“Forerunners,” Emerson’s, i. 378.

Foster, Stephen, portrait of by J. R. L., i. 231.

_Fountain of Youth, The_, i. 351.

Fountain’s Abbey, ii. 154, 156.

_Fragments of an Unfinished Poem_, i. 302, 353.

France, the revolution in, characterized by J. R. L., i. 204-206.

“Frederick the Great,” Carlyle’s, ii. 89.

“Free Lance in the Field of Life and Letters, A,” ii. 197, note.

Freiligrath, Ferdinand, wishes to succeed Longfellow, i. 375.

Frelinghuysen, Frederick Theodore, succeeds Mr. Blaine
      in State department, ii. 290, note.

Frémont, John Charles, J. R. L. looks wistfully toward, ii. 29.

French, Old, J. R. L.’s studies in, ii. 186. 187.

_French Revolution of 1848, The_, i. 204.

Freneau, Philip, his one line, ii. 361.

“Friendship,” Thoreau’s essay on, noticed by J. R. L., i. 293.

Frost, Rev. Barzillai, the clergyman with whom J. R. L.
      studied at Concord, i. 47, 48, 61.

Fugitive Slave Bill, ii. 6.

Fuller. [Sarah] Margaret, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 244-247;
  criticises J. R. L., 244, note.

Furness, Horace Howard, on praise of J. R. L., ii. 388.

Gallillee, the Misses, ii. 356.

Gardner, Francis, master of Boston Latin School, i. 23.

Garfield, James Abram, his illness and the sympathy of England, ii. 268;
  his death, 270.

Garrison, William Lloyd, characterized by J. R. L. in the _Pioneer_, i. 105;
  treatment of, by J. R. L. in _London Daily News_, 187;
  his character sketched, 189;
  the verses upon him, 190;
  his _Liberator_, 192;
  what he thought of J. R. L., 197;
  his views on anonymous articles, 199;
  two poems on, by J. R. L., 258-260;
  his ineffectiveness compared with the Charleston batteries, ii. 26.

Gay, Sydney Howard, one of the editors of _Standard_, i. 192;
  sole editor, 192;
  letter to, by J. R. L. defining relations with, 194-200;
  his views on signed articles, 199;
  confers with J. R. L., 202;
  writes respecting J. R. L.’s terms, 203;
  has no time to compliment J. R. L., 212;
  his earnestness, 228;
  edits a contribution by J. R. L., 229;
  values J. R. L.’s work, 229, 230;
  not absolute in his control of _Standard_, 230;
  his financial aid of J. R. L., 281;
  J. R. L. writes to, of his own delinquency, 295;
  loses a child, 305;
  is invited to join the Lowells in Europe, 307;
  enquires into the landing of the Pilgrims, 307, note;
  has a hand in the reissue of _Biglow Papers_ in England, 454.

Geneva, ii. 171.

George, Henry, ii. 315.

Gerry, Elbridge, lives at Elmwood, i. 5.

Gesu, music at the church of, i. 326.

Ghent, ii. 170.

Gibraltar, Straits of, i. 313.

Gibson, Right Hon. Edward, ii. 300.

Giher, Don Palo, ii. 336.

Gilbert, William Schwenck, topical songs of, i. 258.

Gilder, Richard Watson, J. R. L. writes to, on the
      _North American_ and Lincoln, ii. 51, note;
  J. R. L. to, on composition of _Commemoration Ode_, 63;
  J. R. L. sends poems to, 295;
  J. R. L. sends Landor’s letters to, 342;
  and writes rhymes on Mrs. Gilder, 343, note;
  J. R. L. to, 387;
  gives poem at Harvard, 397.

Gilman, Miss Alice, J. R. L. to, with sonnet, ii. 214, 215.

Gines de los Rios, Don Herminigildo, Spanish teacher of J. R. L., ii. 242.

Giotto, portrait of Dante by, i. 393.

Girandola, the, i. 341.

Gladstone, William Ewart, Irish lack of faith in, ii. 280;
  epigram on, 334.

_Glance behind the Curtain, A_, i. 124.

Gloucester, J. R. L. on cathedral art, ii. 157.

Godkin, Edwin Lawrence, J. R. L. to, on impeachment, ii. 109, note;
  J. R. L. to, on grandchildren, 185;
  _Three Memorial Poems_ inscribed to, 213;
  advises J. R. L. to accept the mission to Spain, 220.

Godwin, Parke, and _Putnam’s Monthly_, i. 348;
  writes for _Atlantic_, ii. 2, 3, 4.

Goethe, J. R. L. comments on, i. 79;
  associations of, with Offenbach and Weimar, 271.

Gold Democrats, political advantage of the, i. 213.

_Gold-Egg; a Dream Fantasy_, ii. 58, note.

Goldsmith, Oliver, his “Retaliation,” ii. 174.

Goodwin, William Watson, ii. 145, note.

_Good Word for Winter, A_, ii. 34, note, 112, 143.

_Graham’s Magazine_, notice of J. R. L. in, i. 97;
  J. R. L. asked to write for, 153;
  his early contributions to, 161;
  article on Poe contributed to, 162;
  _Leaves from my Italian Journey_ published in, 364.

Grant, Ulysses Simpson, second administration of, ii. 191;
  visits Spain, 247;
  his visit to Cuba thought significant in Spain, 255.

Granville, Lord, on Irish-Americans, ii. 287;
  compared with J. R. L, 291.

Grasmere, ii. 156.

Gray, Ana, J. R. L.’s lines on, ii. 325.

Gray, Thomas, J. R. L. compares his own odes with those of, ii. 44, note.

Greece, J. R. L.’s impressions of, ii. 238.

Griswold, Rufus Wilmot, on Poe, i.
  J. R. L.’s characterization of, 164.

Grolier Club publishes Donne, ii. 102, note.

Gurney, Ephraim Whitman, ii. 122, 123.

Hale, Edward Everett, quoted, i. 24;
  his reference to “The Band,” 89.

Hale, Nathan, an editor of _Harvardiana_, i. 45;
  editor of _Boston Miscellany_, 98.

Halleck, Fitz Greene, reviewed by J. R. L., i. 160.

Hallowell, Mrs. R. P., reminiscence by, i. 173.

Hallyar, J., i. 332.

_Hamadryad, The_, i. 289.

Hamilton College invites J. R. L. to give a poem, i. 379.

_Harper’s New Monthly Magazine_, i. 319.

Harvard College, i. 25;
  its modest proportions in J. R. L.’s boyhood, 26;
  its great days, 26, 27;
  its officers, 27;
  its courses of study, 29;
  its discipline, 30;
  holds commemoration over soldiers, ii. 63;
  address before, on 250th anniversary, 337.

_Harvard Crimson, The_, publishes extracts of lectures by J. R. L., i. 396.

_Harvardiana_, the college paper of which J. R. L. was an editor, i. 44, 45.

“Hasty Pudding,” Barlow’s, ii. 361.

Hasty Pudding Club, i. 40.

Hawley, Joseph Roswell. ii. 326.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, contributor to the _Pioneer_, i. 105;
  his reference to. J. R. L. in “The Hall of Fantasy,” 117;
  characterized in _A Fable for Critics_, 254;
  aided by J. R. L. and others, 283;
  his letters and action in the case, 283-286;
  promises contributions to _Putnam’s_, 350;
  his importance to the _Atlantic_, 420;
  his advantage in seeing Lincoln, ii. 72;
  Life of, suggested to J. R. L., 102;
  characterized, 365;
  J. R. L. to write his life, 372.

Hawthorne, Sophia, M. W. L. to, i. 155;
  publishes her husband’s “Note-Books,” ii. 102.

Haydon, Benjamin Robert, and John Keats, i. 116;
  discourses on the Elgin marbles, 117.

Hayes, Rutherford Birchard, J. R. L. votes for, ii. 216;
  his invitation to J. R. L. through W. D. Howells,
      to take a foreign embassy, 217;
  comes to Boston, where J. R. L. meets him, 218;
  the impression he makes on J. R. L., 219.

Hayward, Abraham, abuses Monckton Milnes, ii. 335.

Hazlitt, William Carew, as editor, ii. 78.

_Heartsease and Rue_, collected, ii. 357;
  published, 368.

Heath, John Francis, aids J. R. L. in the
      publication of _A Year’s Life_, i. 93.

Hemans, Charles, i. 332.

Herbert, Auberon, ii. 335.

Hereford, ii. 157.

Herrick, Mrs. Sophie Bledsoe, characterizes Mrs. F. D. Lowell, i. 404;
  on composition of _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 65, note;
  writes an article on J. R. L., 196;
  and calls out a response, 197;
  entertains J. R. L. in Baltimore, 214;
  J. R. L. to, on church-going, 311.

Higginson, Thatcher, schoolmate of J. R. L., i. 22.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, day-scholar with J. R. L.
      at Mr. Wells’s school, i. 22;
  his recollection of J. R. L.’s boyhood, 24;
  his “Old Cambridge” on J. R. L.’s suspension, 47;
  J. R. L. to, on T. Parker, 290, note;
  Underwood writes to, about a projected magazine, 354, note;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on the independence of the _Atlantic_, 426;
  J. R. L. to, on _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 67, note;
  his saying on cosmopolitanism, 79;
  J. R. L. to, on Italy, 270.

Hilda, B. V. Sancta, the patroness of Whitby, ii. 381.

Hill, Thomas, ii. 135.

Hillard, George Stillman, editor of an annual, i. 93;
  is go-between for J. R. L. and others with Hawthorne, 284.

Hitchcock, Rev. Jeduthun, successor to Parson Wilbur, ii. 38.

Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood, J. R. L. makes the acquaintance of, i. 50;
  member of the Adirondack Club, 405;
  his speech at Stillman’s dinner,
  J. R. L. dedicates second series of _Biglow Papers_ to, ii. 104;
  J. R. L.’s last note to, 407.

_Hob Gobbling’s Song_, ii. 106.

Hogarth, J. R. L.’s pleasure in, ii. 155, 171.

Holmes, John, friend of J. R. L. and member with him of whist club, i. 271;
  his whimsical mode of giving a gift, 311;
  letter to, from J. R. L., descriptive of life in Florence, 315;
  letter to, from J. R. L., giving impressions of Rome, 342;
  a member of the Adirondack Club, 405;
  on his brother’s musical gifts, 448;
  hears _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 64;
  J. R. L. finds him in London, 154;
  and in Paris, 161;
  companion to J. R. L. in Paris, 163.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 248, 254;
  has a copy of the book sent him, 249;
  writes of it to J. R. L., 251;
  is written to about it by J. R. L., 252, note;
  his poem at dinner given to J. R. L., 379;
  dines with Mr. Phillips, 411;
  J. R. L. makes it a condition precedent to the
      editorship of the _Atlantic_, that he shall be a contributor, 413;
  how he was regarded by some of the public, 426;
  his poem in “The Round Table,” 431;
  on the Saturday Club, 447;
  tells stories at dinner, 448;
  takes a photograph of J. R. L., ii. 72;
  has a colloquy with Anthony Trollope, 83;
  J. R. L. takes his place with an ode, 189;
  J. R. L. to, on Irish troubles, 292;
  his one imperishable poem, 365.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr., wounded, ii. 31.

_Home, The_, i. 435.

Home rule, as a cure for Irish ills, ii. 284.

Houghton, Henry Oscar, first printer of the _Atlantic_, i. 421.

Howe, Estes, marries M. W. L.’s sister, i. 267;
  member, with J. R. L., of whist club, 271;
  letter to, from J. R. L. of approach to African coast, 313;
  writes to J. R. L. of his father’s illness, 317;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on travel, 329;
  J. R. L. makes his home with, 384;
  member of the Adirondack Club, 405.

Howells, William Dean, characterizes Mrs. Frances Dunlap Lowell, i. 403;
  reviews Longfellow’s Dante, ii. 113;
  J. R. L. to him on his writing, and on contributions to the _Atlantic_, 127;
  and on _The Cathedral_, 130;
  his account of the offer of a foreign mission to J. R. L., 217;
  secures a poem from J. R. L. for _Harper’s Monthly_, 394.

_How I consulted the Oracle of the Goldfishes_, ii. 368, 369.

Hubbard, Gardiner Greene, on copyright, ii. 327.

Hughes, Thomas, introduces the _Biglow Papers_ in England, i. 266;
  J. R. L’s letter to, on the book, 257, 262;
  his familiarity with the book, 264;
  J. R. L. writes to, on the demand for more _Biglow_, ii. 32;
  J. R. L. makes personal acquaintance of, 146;
  letters of J. R. L. to, on third journey in
      Europe, 151, 152, 164, 170, 172, 182, 183;
  J. R. L. to, on the political situation, 204;
  J. R. L. advises him of his appointment to Spain, 219.

Hungarian question, the, discussed by Mrs. Putnam and J. R. L., i. 303, 304.

Hunt, Leigh, his “Feast of the Poets,” possibly
      suggestive of _A Fable for Critics_, i. 250;
  his poem compared with that, 251;
  J. R. L. meets, 381.

“Hyperion,” i. 347.

_Ianthe_, a poetic image of M. W., i. 83.

“Ichabod,” by Whittier, i. 201.

“Illusions,” by Emerson, J. R. L. on, 414, 415.

_Imaginary Conversation, An_, i. 215.

Impeachment, J. R. L. on, ii. 109, note.

_Impressions of Spain_, referred to, and quoted from, ii. 230, 242, 244.

“In a Cellar,” by H. E. Prescott, i. 449.

_In an Album_, ii. 205.

_Incident in a Railroad Car, An_, i. 146.

_Independent in Politics, The Place of the_, quoted, i. 214, ii. 313, 314;
  delivered in New York, 374.

_Indian Summer Reverie, An_, i. 278.

_Infant Prodigy, The_, ii. 397.

International Copyright, J. R. L. on, in speech at Washington, ii. 326-332;
  in an epigram, 333;
  Authors’ Reading for benefit of, 361.

Interview, a disagreeable, ii. 337.

_In the Half-way House_, ii. 45.

_In the Twilight_, i. 406.

_Invita Minerva_, i. 378.

_Irene_, expressive of M. W., i. 85, 86.

Irish, character of, J. R. L. on, ii. 274;
  relations of, with England compared with Scottish, 276;
  contention with England, 278;
  imperfect sympathy of, with England, 280;
  under guise of American citizens, 282.

Irish-American cases, ii. 284, seq.

Irving, Washington, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 248;
  his writings revived by Putnam, 349;
  his relations to magazines, 420;
  characterized, ii. 363.

_Italy, 1859_, i. 434.

James, Henry, on J. R. L.’s patriotism, ii. 80.

James, William, letters to, on coincidence in
      _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 67, note.

Jefferson, Thomas, characterized by J. R. L., i. 218.

Jewell, Harvey, i. 450.

Jewett, John P., publisher of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” i. 354, 409.

Jewish race, J. R. L.’s interest in, ii. 301-305.

Johns Hopkins University, J. R. L. lectures before, ii. 213.

Johnson, Andrew, J. R. L. on, ii. 93.

Johnson, Reverdy, J. R. L. to, on the Spanish mission, ii. 220;
  and on the work at Athens, 326.

Jones, William Alfred, i. 156.

Judd, Sylvester, in _A Fable for Critics_, i. 248.

June, J. R. L. the poet of, i. 268, 269.

_June Idyll, A_, i. 302;
  J. R. L.’s humorous verses on, ii. 116.

Kansas-Nebraska, ii. 3, 6. 14.

Kant, Immanuel, suggests subject of _Class Poem_ to J. R. L., i. 56.

“Kavanagh,” reviewed by J. R. L., i. 291.

Keats, John, J. R. L. becomes acquainted with the poems of, i. 32;
  his influence on J. R. L., 94;
  a life of, contemplated by J. R. L., 95;
  sonnet to, by J. R. L., 95, 96;
  his “Isabella” compared with _A Legend of Brittany_, 118;
  Fanny Brawne and, 121;
  biographical sketch of, by J. R. L., 365;
  influences J. R. L., ii. 88.

Keswick, ii. 156.

Killarney, J. R. L. visits, ii. 152.

King, Rufus, i. 45, 46.

Kingsley, Charles, shows J. R. L. Chester Cathedral, ii. 153.

“Kobboltozo,” by C. P. Cranch, ii. 96, note.

Lake Country, J. R. L. visits, ii. 154, 156.

Lamartine, characterized by J. R. L., i. 206.

_Lamartine, To_, i. 206.

Lamb, Charles, letter of, to Manning, i. 438;
  J. R. L. compares himself to, in his fondness for London, ii. 335.

Landor, Walter Savage, J. R. L. becomes acquainted
      with the writings of, i. 31;
  his “Imaginary Conversation” contrasted with
     J. R. L.’s _Conversations_, 135;
  reviewed by J. R. L. in _Massachusetts Quarterly_, 293-295;
  J. R. L. visits, 345;
  his antiques, ii. 93;
  his letters edited by J. R. L., 342.

_Last Poems_, ii. 368.

Lawrence, the Misses, J. R. L. to, on Wildbad, ii. 384.

_Leaves from my Journal_, referred to, i. 310, 314.

Lechmere house in Cambridge, i. 3.

Lee, Billy, his idea of a competence, i. 267.

Lee, Judge Joseph, house of, in Cambridge, i. 3.

Lee, William, a partner in Phillips & Sampson, i. 409;
  takes a part in the establishment of the _Atlantic_, 409, 410;
  absent in Europe at sale of the magazine, 450.

_Legend of Brittany, A_, contrasted with Keats’s “Isabella,” i. 118;
  J. R. L.’s enjoyment of, 119;
  Briggs’s comments on, 120.

Lessing, J. R. L. on the genius of, i. 138;
  temperament of, like J. R. L.’s, ii. 110.

Letter-writing, conditions of, i. 445; ii. 75.

Lever, Charles, J. R. L. reads the novels of, i. 380.

_Liberator, The_, i. 186;
  mouthpiece of W. L. Garrison, 192;
  H. G. Otis enquires into, 258.

_Liberty Bell, The_, J. R. L. and M. W. L. contribute to, i. 180;
  its sound haunts J. R. L., 295.

“Library of Old Authors,” ii. 77.

Lichfield, ii. 156.

Lincoln, Abraham, J. R. L. prefers Seward to, ii. 18;
  characterized at the outset by J. R. L., 19;
  election of, does not change the arguments of Republican party, 23;
  J. R. L. disappointed in his public utterances, 25;
  caution of, 27;
  J. R. L.’s impatience at, 29;
  poetized as the ideal captain, 43;
  estimate of, by J. R. L., 50;
  contrasted with McClellan, 55;
  reëlection of, 57;
  death of, noted by J. R. L., 62;
  characterized in _Commemoration Ode_, 70-73.

Lincoln, England, ii. 156.

Lippitt, George Warren, i. 45.

Literature, J. R. L.’s introduction to, i. 31;
  his beginnings in production of, 91;
  his views on nationality in, as expressed in the _Pioneer_, 103;
  and in the _North American_, 291;
  J. R. L. on, as a subject for teaching, 388;
  the basis of J. R. L.’s critical work, ii. 87;
  J. R. L. on honesty in, 131;
  honored by representatives at foreign courts, 260.
  _See_ American Literature.

Little, Brown, & Co., publishers of the _British Poets_, i. 364;
  as publishers for Emerson, 452;
  undertake an edition of Old Dramatists, under
      editorship of J. R. L., ii. 78, note.

Littré, Maximilian Paul Émile, C. E. Norton
      gives J. R. L. a letter to, ii. 159.

Locke, John, studied by J. R. L. during his suspension from college, i. 47-49.

Longfellow, Mrs. Frances Appleton, her early encouragement of J. R. L., i. 97.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, home of, in Cambridge, i. 3;
  his “Psalm of Life,” 74;
  one of the editors of an annual, 93;
  his “Poems on Slavery” noticed in the _Pioneer_, 105;
  attacked by Poe, 164;
  J. R. L. to, on Christ and Christianity, 169;
  notes in his diary J. R. L.’s enthusiasm, 177;
  his relation to anti-slavery commented on by J. R. L., 183, 197;
  in _A Fable for Critics_, 243, 245;
  hears part of the book read, 251;
  characterised in it, 254;
  sees the Lowells in Lenox, 273;
  his “Kavanagh,” reviewed by J. R. L., 291;
  his “Tales of a Wayside Inn,” 301;
  entertains J. R. L., Clough, and others, 346;
  notes J. R. L.’s novel, 348;
  contributes to _Putnam’s Monthly_, 350;
  comments on M. W. L., 356;
  writes “The Two Angels,” 362;
  hears Lowell lecture, 373;
  gives up the Smith professorship, 375;
  has J. R. L. for successor, 376;
  bids him good-by on his leave for Europe, 378;
  sees him off, 379;
  sees him on his return at Nahant, 385;
  dines with Mr. Phillips, 411;
  interested in the _Atlantic_, 413;
  has no desire to start a magazine, 419;
  his importance to the _Atlantic_, 420;
  dines with the Atlantic Club, 447.

  His “Miles Standish” commented on by J. R. L., ii. 75;
  Dante Club formed by him, 84;
  his translation reviewed by J. R. L. and C. E. Norton, 113;
  characterized by J. R. L., 114;
  his scholarship, 115;
  his Introduction to “Tales of a Wayside Inn,” 175;
  offered the mission to England, 203;
  talks of J. R. L. in the same position, 216;
  bust of, unveiled in Westminster Abbey, 305;
  characterised, 365.

_Look Before and After, A_, ii. 122.

Loring, Charles Greely, J. R. L. enters the office of, i. 70.

Loring, George Bailey, an early companion of J. R. L., i. 38;
  his career, 39;
  J. R. L.’s letters to, in college days, 39-42, 51-56;
  takes up study of medicine, 66;
  letters of J. R. L. to, on choice of a profession, 66, 68-70;
  J. R. L. sends autobiographic verses to, 73-75;
  J. R. L. to, on _Prometheus_, 119.

“Lost Occasion, The,” by Whittier, i. 120.

Louis Philippe, portrayed by J. R. L., i. 204, 205.

Louvain, ii. 170.

Lowell, Anna Cabot, wife of Charles Lowell, characterized, i. 42;
  letter of, to J. R. L., 52, note;
  attracts J. R. L. to the Beverly shore, 365.

Lowell, Blanche, first child of J. R. L. and M. W. L., born, i. 178;
  J. R. L. on training of, 179;
  her infancy described by J. R. L., 181;
  her interruption of her father, 194;
  is taken to Stockbridge for her health, 272;
  dies, 273.

Lowell, Rev. Charles, buys Elmwood, i. 6;
  his descent, 6;
  his education and travels, 7;
  his pastorate of West Church, 7-9;
  characteristics, 7, 8;
  his life at Elmwood, 8, 9;
  his interview with Mrs. Dall, 10;
  visits the Orkneys, 11;
  becomes acquainted with Harriet Brackett Spence, 12;
  his creed, 12;
  takes J. R. L. with him on his parochial journeys, 20;
  writes a letter of advice to J. R. L. about his college course, 43;
  makes a journey abroad, 44;
  writes to J. R. L. about _Harvardiana_, 44;
  returns from Europe, 91;
  his action in resigning his salary, 234, note;
  retires from active charge of his parish, 270;
  his grief over Blanche’s death, 273;
  described by Miss Bremer, 298;
  at the burial of Rose, 304;
  is stricken with paralysis, 316;
  letter to, of concern from J. R. L., 316;
  letter to, from J. R. L. about Roman sights, 321;
  about private theatricals, 331;
  about his grandchildren, 334;
  about Ely, 343;
  is described by Clough, 347;
  deaf and excitable, 361;
  death of, 454, note.

Lowell, Charles Russell, oldest brother of J. R. L., i. 13;
  his advisers, 42.

Lowell, Charles Russell, Jr., goes to the Adirondacks with J. R. L., i. 405.

Lowell, Frances Dunlap. _See_ Dunlap, Frances;
  characterized by J. R. L., i. 404;
  by W. J. Stillman, 402, 406;
  by W. D. Howells, 403;
  by Mrs. S. B. Herrick, 404;
  on composition of _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 66, note;
  goes with J. R. L. to Europe, 150;
  stays in Paris when he goes to London, 168;
  studies Italian with J. R. L., 171;
  returns with J. R. L. to America, 182;
  how she received the proposal of a foreign mission, 218;
  sails with J. R. L. for Liverpool, 220;
  reaches Madrid, 227;
  goes with J. R. L. to Greece, 237;
  returns with him to Madrid, 238;
  proposes to stay at Tours while J. R. L. goes home, 249;
  is taken ill, 250;
  begins slowly to recover, 251;
  is pleased with J. R. L.’s transfer to England, 256;
  has a relapse, 257;
  is removed to England, 258;
  her invalidism affects J. R. L.’s hospitality, 266;
  her thanksgiving dinner, 267;
  remains at home while J. R. L. visits the continent, 270;
  death of, 319.

Lowell, Francis Cabot, founder of Lowell, Massachusetts, i. 6.

Lowell, Mrs. Harriet Brackett Spence, of Orkney descent, i. 11;
  her northern temperament, 12;
  her first acquaintance with her husband, 13;
  her children, 13, 14;
  her disorder, 91;
  her death, 305.

Lowell, James Jackson, goes to the Adirondacks with J. R. L., i. 405;
  wounded, ii. 30;
  his gallant action, 31.

Lowell, James Russell, birth and death of, i. 1;
  his appreciation of his birthplace, 1;
  his ancestry, 6;
  his father, 6-10;
  his mother, 11, 12;
  his brothers and sisters, 13-15;
  his recollections of childhood, 15-18;
  hears of John Adams’s death, 19;
  visits Portsmouth and Washington, 19;
  drives with his father on his parochial journeys, 20;
  so gets acquainted with pristine New England, 20;
  his first schooling, 21;
  his companions, 21, 22;
  attends William Wells’s school, 22-24;
  tells stories and reads Scott, 24;
  enters Harvard, 26;
  his immaturity in college, 30;
  his browsings among books, 30-33;
  his intimacy with W. H. Shackford, 33;
  his letters to Shackford, 34-38;
  change in handwriting, 37;
  his friendship with G. B. Loring, 38, 39;
  letters to Loring, 39-42;
  becomes editor of _Harvardiana_, 44;
  is suspended from college, 47;
  goes to Concord in consequence, 48;
  meets Emerson there, 49;
  makes a friend in E. R. Hoar, 50;
  letters to Loring, 51-56;
  defends himself against the charge of indolence, 52;
  works at _Class Poem_, 51, 53, 54, 56;
  writes an exculpatory letter to Emerson, 58;
  wishes to go abroad, 62;
  weighs the professions of ministry and law, 62;
  his attitude toward the ministry, 63;
  his need of a livelihood, 65;
  takes up and abandons law, 65;
  thinks of going into a store, 66;
  takes his brother Robert’s place, 67;
  studies the art of poetry, 67;
  delivers a lecture, 67;
  is in miserable dubiety, 68;
  resumes the study of law, 69;
  enters Mr. Loring’s office, 70;
  his disappointment in love an explanation of his vacillation, 71;
  finds expression in verse, 73-75;
  meets Maria White, 76;
  translation of experience in verse, 82-85;
  is introduced by her to the Band, 89;
  takes up writing as a means of support, 91;
  writes for _Southern Literary Messenger_, 92;
  publishes _A Year’s Life_, 93;
  proposes a life of Keats, 95;
  writes to Duyckinck, 95;
  contributes to the _Boston Miscellany_, 98;
  reckons his resources, 99;
  projects the _Pioneer_, 99;
  associates himself with R. Carter in the issue of the magazine, 100;
  the spirit that prompted him, 102;
  his principles as displayed in the Introduction to the _Pioneer_, 103-105;
  whom he drew to his side, 105;
  his attitude toward Anti-slavery, 105;
  goes to New York for his eyes, 107;
  his course of life there, 109;
  meets N. P. Willis, 111;
  undergoing operations, 113;
  forms a friendship with C. F. Briggs, 114;
  returns to Cambridge, 114;
  after failure of the _Pioneer_, returns to poetry, 114;
  painted by Page, 115;
  his relations to Page and Briggs, 116, 117;
  publishes a volume of _Poems_, 118;
  puts his radicalism into poetry, 121;
  is autobiographic also, 125;
  introduces wit and humor, 128;
  works over some old material and new into
      _Conversations on Some of the Old Poets_, 132;
  his reference in it to contemporaries, 135;
  his enquiry in it into the nature of poetry, 137;
  his attitude in it toward formal religion, 140;
  his vision of the inner verity of religion, 145;
  his poetic disclosure of faith, 146;
  his conception of the function of the poet, 149;
  publication of _Conversations_, 150;
  marriage to Maria White, 150;
  goes to Philadelphia, 152;
  undertakes work on the _Pennsylvania Freeman_, 152;
  writes of his daily life to Carter, 152-155;
  proposes to contribute to the _Broadway Journal_, 157;
  sends a “letter to Matthew Trueman,” 158;
  which is declined, 159;
  sends poems and criticisms, 160;
  writes for _Graham’s Magazine_, 161;
  writes a sketch of Poe, 162;
  comments on Poe, 163-167;
  breathes the air of anti-slavery, 168;
  sends stanzas to _Boston Courier_, 168;
  his articles in _Pennsylvania Freeman_, 169, 173;
  visits the Davis family, 173;
  returns to Cambridge, 173;
  writes his verses _On the Capture of Fugitive Slaves near Washington_, 174;
  his attitude toward disunion, 175;
  becomes distinctly a man of letters, 176;
  he and Mrs. Lowell fall heirs to property, 177;
  his indifference to wealth, 177 and note;
  proposes a sojourn abroad, 178;
  birth of his first born, 178;
  his reflections before her birth, 179;
  contributions to _Liberty Bell_, 180;
  writes to Briggs about Blanche, 181;
  studies French, 182;
  discusses the suppression of Longfellow’s “Poems on Slavery,” 183, 184;
  his views on the education of Blanche, 185;
  contributes to the _London Daily News_, 186;
  his judgment of Garrison, 187-190;
  writes _Lines on the Death of Charles Turner Torrey_, 191;
  becomes a contributor to the _National Anti-Slavery Standard_, 193;
  writes to S. H. Gay on his proposed close
      connection with that journal, 194-200;
  writes his first _Biglow Paper_, 201;
  contributes a paper to _Standard_ on Daniel Webster, 201;
  becomes “corresponding
editor” of the _Standard_, 202;
  his salary for this, 202;
  his _Ode to France_ his first regular contribution, 204;
  his article on _The French Revolution of 1848_, 204;
  continues the discussion, 205;
  his verses _To Lamartine_, 206;
  writes an article _Shall we ever be Republicans_, 207;
  his conceit of _The Sacred Parasol_, 209;
  the reënforcement he brought to the Anti-slavery camp, 211;
  is doubtful about his service, 212;
  writes on _The Nominations for the Presidency_, 213;
  writes _An Imaginary Conversation_, 215;
  his comment on Jefferson, 218, note;
  his interest in public men, 219;
  especially in Webster, 220;
  his articles on this statesman, 220-227;
  the poems he contributed to the _Standard_, 227, 228;
  his relations to the anti-slavery leaders, 228-232;
  accepts a modification of his connection with the _Standard_, 233;
  close of his engagement, 234;
  the part he had played, 235, 236;
  the worth his connection had been to him, 236;
  his charity toward friends and opponents, 237;
  begins on _A Fable for Critics_, 238;
  sends specimens to Briggs, 239;
  promises the book as a New Year’s gift, 240;
  advises as to publication, 241;
  is amused over Briggs’s disposition of anticipated profits, 243;
  insists upon the freedom of the gift, 244;
  reports progress, 245;
  explains origin of passage on bores, 246;
  finishes the book, 247;
  gives direction about title-page, 249:
  his after judgment of the poem, 252;
  shows his independence in it, 254;
  and his nature generally, 255;
  his _Biglow Papers_, 255;
  wishes he had used a _nom de plume_, 256;
  gives his views on the political condition which gave rise to the book, 257;
  his two poems suggested by Garrison and the _Liberator_, 258-260;
  questions the bad spelling of Hosea, 261;
  collects the papers into a volume, 262;
  proposes an external fitness, 263;
  writes of the success of the book, 264;
  discloses his personality in it, 265;
  writes _The Vision of Sir Launfal_, 266;
  his conception of his poetry, 267;
  is the poet of June, 269;
  his whist club, 271;
  goes to Stockbridge, 272;
  loses his child Blanche, 273;
  attempts tragedy, 274;
  writes to Carter at Pepperell, 274;
  writes to Briggs of the preparation of a volume of poems, 276;
  his seclusion, 280;
  confesses impecuniosity, 281;
  his effort to help Hawthorne, 283;
  meditates a magazine, 287;
  writes to Theodore Parker on contributions to
      the _Massachusetts Quarterly_, 288;
  contributes papers to the _North American_, 290;
  writes to Briggs respecting American society, 296;
  on current English writers, 297;
  is described in his home by Miss Bremer, 298;
  issues his _Poems_ in two volumes, 299;
  proposes _The Nooning_, 300;
  his views on his poetic vocation, 302;
  defends his sister on the Hungarian question, 304;
  loses his child Rose, 304;
  and his mother, 305;
  birth of his child Walter, 305;
  jests on the boy’s birthday, 306;
  plans for a year in Europe, 307;
  sails with his family, 309;
  describes voyage, 309;
  halts at Malta, 314;
  describes his life at Florence, 315;
  hears of his father’s illness, 316;
  leaves for Rome, 317;
  describes arrival in Rome, 318;
  joins English and American friends, 320;
  compares Roman with Lombard churches, 321;
  visits the Campagna, 322;
  describes his Christmas in Rome, 323;
  criticises Roman architecture, 327;
  comments on the people he sees, 328;
  describes his habit of studying pictures, 330;
  takes part in private theatricals, 331;
  writes their grandfather of his children, 334;
  loses his only son, 338;
  describes Easter Sunday, 339;
  his final impressions of Rome, 342;
  makes an excursion to Subiaco, 343;
  travels to Naples, 343;
  is in England, 345;
  takes passage for America, 345;
  makes the acquaintance on shipboard of Thackeray and Clough, 346;
  his opinion of Clough’s “Bothie,” 347;
  projects a novel, 347;
  abandons the attempt, 348;
  begins _Our Own_ for _Putnam’s Monthly_, 351;
  contributes _A Moosehead Journal_, 353;
  and _Cambridge Thirty Years Ago_, 354;
  interests himself in Underwood’s magazine, 355;
  loses his wife, 357;
  has dreams of her and Walter, 358;
  prints her poems, 359; his solitude, 361;
  takes comfort in his daughter, 363;
  engages in literary jobs, 364;
  spends a summer in Beverly, 365;
  makes the acquaintance of Stillman, 367;
  writes _Ode to Happiness_, 368;
  lectures on poetry before the Lowell Institute, 370;
  is appointed successor to Longfellow in the
      Smith professorship at Harvard, 376;
  goes West on a lecturing tour, 378;
  has a farewell dinner given him, 378;
  sails for Havre, 380;
  goes to Paris and Chartres, 380;
  to London, 381;
  settles in Dresden for autumn and winter, 381;
  takes lessons in German and Spanish, 382;
  goes to Italy in the spring, 383;
  returns to Dresden and to America, 381;
  establishes himself at Dr. Howe’s, 384;
  takes up his college work, 385;
  discourses on philology and æsthetics, 386;
  on the modern languages compared with the
      ancient as disciplinary studies, 387;
  the character of his teaching, 388;
  his interest in literature as compelling force, 389;
  his indebtedness to Dante, 390;
  his relation to students, 391;
  his use of object-aids, 392;
  his manner in teaching, 393;
  his indifference to academic routine, 395;
  the generosity of his teaching-gifts, 396;
  his hospitality to his students, 398;
  what he got from his teaching, 399;
  effect of academic life on productiveness, 400;
  second marriage, 401;
  comments on his wife and her family, 401, 402;
  goes to the Adirondacks, 404;
  his appreciation of wild life, 405;
  his attitude toward poetry, 406;
  asked to edit a magazine, 408;
  goes to dine with M. D. Phillips, 411;
  becomes editor of the _Atlantic_, 412;
  makes it a condition that Dr. Holmes shall contribute, 413;
  writes to Emerson on his contributions, 414;
  and to Whittier, 417;
  writes regarding terms of payment, 421;
  to R. G. White on anonymity, 422;
  compares the situation with that of a later date, 423;
  upon the independence of the magazine, 424;
  his qualifications for his post, 425;
  his editorial function compared with that of his successors, 427;
  his attitude toward contributors, 428;
  his weariness of his routine, 429;
  his regard for criticism, 430;
  his own work as reviewer, 432;
  his thoroughness, 433;
  his injection of fun, 434;
  his proposal to dictate five love-stories at once, 437;
  writes a Lambish letter to Captain Parker, 438;
  his impatience over details, 441;
  his respect for proof-reading, 444;
  his loss of spontaneity, 445;
  his diversion, 446;
  goes to club dinners, 447;
  his critical faculty, 449;
  concerned over the transfer of the _Atlantic_, 450;
  gives his judgment of Ticknor & Fields, 451;
  yields editorship of _Atlantic_ to Mr. Fields, 453;
  returns to Elmwood to live, 453;
  views on his own poetry, 454.

  Writes a political paper for the _Atlantic_ jointly with Mr. Godwin, ii. 4;
  does not reprint it, 5;
  the qualities of the paper, 13;
  writes a paper on _American Tract Society_, 13;
  and two on Choate and Cushing, 14;
  his main contention in these papers, 16;
  identifies himself with Republican party, 17;
  prefers Seward to Lincoln, 18;
  his first characterization of Lincoln, 19;
  his uncertainty as to results, 20;
  writes on _The Question of the Hour_, 20;
  and on secession, 23;
  disappointed in Lincoln’s public utterances, 25;
  writes on the English attitude, 27;
  his private views on Lincoln, 29;
  is anxious for his nephews, 30;
  cannot write _Biglows_, 32;
  writes _The Washers of the Shroud_, 33;
  his refreshment in nature, 34;
  writes the first of the second series of _Biglow Papers_, 34;
  the ease with which he assumes the Yankee dialect, 35;
  his greater firmness in his second series, 36;
  the earnestness of his tone, 37;
  his playing at old age, 38;
  writes _Mason and Slidell_, 40;
  and _Sunthin’ in the Pastoral Line_, 41;
  writes his ode to the memory of Shaw, 42;
passion for freedom, 41;
  undertakes with Mr. Norton the editorship of
      the _North American Review_, 45;
  is whimsically indignant over the announcement, 47;
  writes to Mr. Motley for an article, 48;
  stirred to action by Mr. Norton, 49;
  writes on _The President’s Policy_, 50;
  confesses his earlier doubt about Lincoln, 50;
  his greater confidence in him, 51;
  criticises McClellan, 52;
  reexamines the causes of the war, 53;
  compares the candidates for the presidency, 55;
  exults in the promise of success, 57;
  finds expression in verso and prose, 58;
  forecasts reconstruction, 59;
  rejoices over the end of the war, 60;
  attacks the problem of reconstruction, 61;
  writes of Lincoln’s death, 62;
  called on to write his _Commemoration Ode_, 63;
  is wasted by the work, 64;
  comments on the structure of the ode, 66;
  delivers it, 69;
  his conception in it of Lincoln, 71;
  his recognition finally of Lincoln’s greatness, 72;
  finds in him the new American, 73;
  his familiar letters, 74;
  comments on “Miles Standish,” 75;
  studies Spanish, 76;
  makes his editing and teaching help each other, 77;
  edits a volume of Old Dramatists, 78, note;
  his loyalty to New England and America, 79;
  his characterization of his ancestors, 81;
  dines with Trollope, 82;
  meets with the Dante Club, 84;
  his relations to the whole field of intellectual life, 85;
  his discourses on literature, 87;
  his originality, 88;
  his personality in criticism, 89;
  reflex judgment on Carlyle, 89;
  criticises poetry in Swinburne, 92;
  his treatment of President Johnson, 93;
  his poetry carries farther than his prose, 94;
  entertains Cranch, 95;
  writes on the weather, 96;
  reflects on his personality, 99;
  makes new arrangements with the college, 100;
  edits Dryden, 101;
  considers a biography of Hawthorne, 102;
  writes to a friend on some points of speech, 103;
  writes _Fitz Adam’s Story_, 104;
  sends a fairy tale and poem to _Our Young Folks_, 105;
  writes _The Seward-Johnson Reaction_, 107;
  writes on Percival, 109;
  his views on impeachment, 109, note;
  finds a likeness to his own experience in Lessing, 110;
  his use of lecturers in his essay-work, 111;
  his personality in his writing, 112;
  reviews Longfellow’s translation of Dante, 113;
  his views on translations, 114;
  his appearance at Elmwood, 115;
  writes _A June Idyll_, 116;
  collects a volume of his poetry, 118;
  struggles over its title, 119;
  gives expression to himself in two essays, 121;
  is burdened with the _North American_, 122;
  receives congratulations on _Under the Willows_, 125;
  is interested in young writers, 127;
  writes a letter of encouragement, 129;
  writes on literary honesty, 131;
  interests himself in the letters and journals of a Virginian, 135;
  his sympathy with Southerners, 136;
  sends his daughter abroad with Mr. and Mrs. Fields, 137;
  is near being sent as minister to Spain, 138;
  writes _The Cathedral_, 139;
  defends his use of a word, 140;
  his happiness in writing his poem, 142;
  his hatred of debt, 143;
  refuses to do hack work, 144;
  lectures at Cornell, 145;
  makes the acquaintance of T. Hughes, 145;
  thanks R. G. White for a dedication, 146;
  sells part of his estate, 147;
  finds relief in this, 148;
  thanks Mr. Fields for “Yesterdays with Authors,” 149;
  sails for Europe with Mrs. Lowell, 150;
  lands in Queenstown, 151;
  visits Killarney, 152;
  and Chester, 153;
  is in lodgings in London, 154;
  makes a tour in the north, 156;
  and in the west, 157;
  joins the Nortons in Paris, 158;
  picks up books, 160;
  works at Old French, 162:
  has John Holmes for a companion, 163;
  proposes to visit London to bid the Nortons good-by, 165;
  is decorated with D. C. L. at Oxford, 169;
  _en route_ to Italy, 170;
  is charmed with Venice, 171;
  considers a return to his professorship, 172;
  writes _Agassiz_, 174;
  defends his poem, 176;
  goes to Rome where he is with Story, 179;
  at Naples, 180;
  returns to Paris, 181;
  and to London, 183;
  is decorated at Cambridge, 184;
  returns to America, 184;
  spends the summer at home, 186;
  works at Old French, 187;
  writes an article on Spencer, 188;
  writes Concord and Old Elm odes, 189;
  shows his patriotism in Fourth of July ode, 190;
  writes bitter verses for the _Nation_, 191;
  calls out thereby cheap wrath, 192;
  defends himself in a letter to Joel Benton, 193;
  publishes second series of _Among my Books_, 196;
  refers to Mr. Wilkinson’s criticism, 197;
  writes on Swift, 198;
  his interest in national politics, 200;
  presides at a political meeting, 201;
  is a delegate to Republican convention, 202;
  is talked of for a foreign mission, 203;
  gives expression to his political views, 204;
  is asked to run for Congress, and put on the
  Republican ticket as elector, 205;
  makes a speech at a caucus, 206;
  gives vent to his faith and doubts in Fourth of July ode, 212;
  publishes _Three Memorial Poems_, 213;
  goes to Baltimore with F. J. Child to lecture at the Johns Hopkins, 213;
  is entertained, 214;
  writes a sonnet to Miss Alice Gilman, 215;
  is urged as elector to vote for Tilden, 216;
  is asked to accept the mission to Austria, 217;
  declines and is given that to Spain, 218;
  meets Mr. Hayes, 219;
  sails with Mrs. Lowell for Liverpool, 220;
  his real preparation for his office, 221;
  his official consciousness, 223;
  his dislike of business, 226;
  arrives with Mrs. Lowell at Madrid, 227;
  is presented at Court, 227;
  finds pleasant quarters, 228;
  his early diplomatic duties, 229;
  writes of the marriage of the king, 230;
  witnesses a bull-fight, 234;
  buys books, 236;
  takes a two months’ leave of absence, 237;
  visits Constantinople, 238;
  writes of the Queen’s illness and death, 239;
  devotes himself to the study of Spanish, 241;
  writes of Internal affairs, 242;
  his opinion as to the future of Spain, 245;
  receives General Grant, 247;
  a judgement on the Spanish, 248;
  proposes a flying visit to America, 249;
  is stayed by his wife’s illness, 250;
  which proves nearly fatal, 251;
  sends a despatch on the change on ministry, 253;
  writes on the Cuban situation, 254;
  is offered the English mission, 255;
  is disturbed over his wife’s condition, 256;
  goes to London, returns to Madrid and removes his wife to England, 258;
  his training for the English mission, 259;
  a representative of American men of letters, 260;
  his friendly reception, 261;
  his championship of America, 262;
  in demand as an after-dinner speaker, 264;
  his embarrassment from his narrow means, 265;
  his social relations, 266;
  plays Romeo, 267;
  his official duties in connection
  with the assassination of President Garfield, 268;
  makes a brief trip after the death of the President, 270;
  visits Weimar, 271;
  joins the Fields at Venice, 272;
  makes a brief stay at Paris, 273;
  his judgment on Irish affairs, 274;
  describes the situation to Mr. Evarts, 277;
  writes on the coercion bill, 280;
  criticises the bill, 281;
  his attitude toward Irish-Americans, 282;
  lays down course of action, 284;
  corresponds with Mr. Blaine on the measures to be taken, 285;
  is called upon for the facts, 288;
  is denounced and defended at home, 289;
  his action recognized at home and abroad, 290;
  compared with Lord Granville, 291;
  writes to friends of his difficulties with the Irish, 292;
  characterized by Mr. Watts-Dunton, 293;
  reverts to poetry, 294;
  sends poems to _The Century_, 295;
  regrets the death of R. H. Dana, 296;
  has his portrait painted, 297;
  his perplexities in presenting his country women at court, 298;
  makes a speech on the unveiling of bust of Fielding, 298;
  is candidate for rectorship of St. Andrews, 299;
  withdraws his name, 300;
  addresses the students at St. Andrews, 301;
  his monomania on Jews 302;
  unveils bust of Longfellow, 305;
  receives degree at Edinburgh, 306;
  speaks on the newspaper, 307;
  analyses Wordsworth’s power, 309;
  his attitude toward the church, 311;
  his address on Democracy, 313;
  tenure of his diplomatic position, 316;
  his hesitation about leaving England, 317;
  is sounded about accepting a professorship at Oxford, 318;
  death of his wife, 319;
  his words respecting her, 319, 320;
  speaks on Coleridge, 321;
  returns to America, 321;
  makes his home for the time being at Deerfoot Farm, 322;
  takes up letter-writing as an occupation, 323;
  his dependence on women, 324;
  goes to Washington, 324;
  begins to feel his age, 325;
  gives an address at Chelsea, 326;
  is president of American Archæological Institute, 326;
  attends a hearing on international copyright, 326;
  addresses the committee, 327-332;
  writes an epigram on the subject, 333;
  makes an epigram on Gladstone, 334;
  his life in London, 335;
  is harassed by his approaching Harvard address, 337;
  annoyed by an interview, 337;
  delivers his oration at Harvard, 338;
  edits letters of Landor, 342;
  makes rhymes for Mrs. Gilder, 343, note;
  writes an introduction to “The World’s Progress,” 344;
  his need of economy, 349;
  his reputation, capital, 350;
  goes to Chicago to give an address on Washington’s Birthday, 351;
  gives six lectures on the Old Dramatists before the Lowell Institute, 352;
  sails for England in spring of 1888, 355;
  his life at Whitby, 356;
  is at work on his new volume of poems, 357;
  doubts about his work, 358;
  writes to Mrs. Bell about Feltham, 359;
  presides at an Authors’ Reading and discourses on American literature, 361;
  writes poems which reflect his deeper nature, 368;
  makes a slight beginning on his _Hawthorne_, 372;
  issues his _Political Essays_, 372;
  utters valedictories, 373;
  gives his address on _The Independent in Politics_, 374;
  his faith in his early ideals, 376;
  makes a speech before the Civil Service Reform Association, 377;
  goes to England in the spring of 1888, 379;
  attends commemoration at Bologna and receives a degree, 379;
  is again at Whitby, 380;
  his antidote to sleeplessness, 383;
  visits St. Ives and returns to London, 384;
  writes to Misses Lawrence, 384;
  returns to America and spends the winter in Boston, 386;
  visits Washington, 387;
  celebrates his seventieth birthday, 387;
  gives up writing a paper on John Bright, 388;
  writes on Walton, 389;
  makes an after-dinner speech on “Our Literature,” 390;
  makes a final visit to England, 391;
  writes _The Brook_, 393;
  returns to Elmwood, 393;
  works at a uniform edition of his writings, 394;
  his judgment on his early poems, 395;
  suffers the first severe illness of his life, 396;
  writes _The Infant Prodigy_, 397;
  receives a visit from Mr. Stephen, 398;
  writes of Milton, 398;
  and of Parkman, 399;
  his _Thou Spell, avaunt!_, 399;
  writes a birthday letter to Whittier, 400;
  has books dedicated to him, 401;
  writes of his condition to Misses Lawrence, 402;
  his occupation in his last days, 406;
  death of, 408.

Lowell, James Russell, portraits of, by Page, i. 115;
  the same, engraved by Hall, 354;
  by Sandys and Mrs. Merritt, ii. 297.

Lowell, John, founder of Lowell Institute, i. 6.

Lowell, Hon. John, grandfather of J. R. L., i. 6.

Lowell, Mabel, referred to as “Mab,” i. 234, 242;
  born, 274;
  compared with Blanche, 276;
  her experience on shipboard, 311;
  her friskiness in Rome, 328;
  her theological views, 334;
  her proficiency in Italian, 335;
  the consolation she gave her father after her mother’s death, 368;
  under charge of Miss Dunlap, 401;
  goes to Europe with Mr. and Mrs. Fields, ii. 137;
  her remark on her father, 138, note;
  marries Edward Burnett, 150.
  _See_ Burnett, Mabel Lowell.

Lowell, Maria White, _see_ White, Maria;
  goes with J. R. L. to Philadelphia, i. 151;
  improves in health, 154;
  writes to Mrs. Hawthorne, 155;
  translates from the German, 156;
  tells fairy tales and sings ballads, 175;
  comes into a share of her father’s estate, 177;
  gives birth to her first child, 178;
  contributes to _Liberty Bell_, 180;
  the color of her eyes, 185;
  advises introducing Margaret Fuller into _A Fable for Critics_, 245;
  thinks highly of _Sir Launfal_, 266;
  her frail appearance, 273;
  gives birth to her second child, 274;
  described by Miss Bremer, 298;
  loses her third child, 304;
  gives birth to her fourth, 305;
  goes to Europe with J. R. L., 309;
  describes their life in Rome, 320;
  loses her only son, 338;
  returns with J. R. L. to America, 345;
  her failing health, 356;
  her death, 357;
  her poetical work, 358;
  poems of, printed by J. R. L., 359;
  her likeness, 361;
  her influence on J. R. L., 369.

Lowell, Mary Traill Spence, afterward Mrs.
      S. R. Putnam, sister of J. R. L., i. 13;
  her intellectual force, 14;
  her anxiety over the _Pioneer_, 106;
  writes on the Hungarian question, 304;
  is in Dresden with J. R. L., 381;
  J. R. L. at the home of, ii. 322, 386.

Lowell, Percival, first of the Lowell family in America, i. 6.

Lowell, Rebecca, sister of J. R. L., i. 13;
  has charge of the household, 270;
  eccentricity of, 361;
  death of, ii. 150.

Lowell, Robert Trail Spence, brother of J. R. L., i. 12;
  his career and productions, 13, 14, note;
  goes boating with J. R. L., 40.

Lowell, Rose, birth and death of, i. 304.

Lowell, Walter, birth of, i. 305;
  his birthday commented on, 306;
  described, 337;
  death of, 338.

Lowell, William, i. 13.

Lowell Institute, origin of, i. 6;
  J. R. L.’s lectures before, in 1887, 133;
  in 1855, 370;
  methods of, 372, note;
  public censorship of, 425;
  J. R. L. lectures before, on Old Dramatists, ii. 332.

Lundy, Benjamin, i. 152.

Lyons, Lord, J. R. L. to, on suzerainty, ii. 294.

Lyttelton, Lady, J. R. L. to, on Irish affairs, ii. 293;
  a friend in time of need, 320.

McCarthy, Justin, on Irish characteristics, ii. 292.

McClellan, George Brinton, Report of, reviewed by J. R. L., ii. 51;
  character of, analyzed by J. R. L., 52;
  contrasted with Lincoln, 55.

_McClellan or Lincoln_, ii. 55.

“McFingal,” ii. 362.

McKim, James Miller, editor of _Pennsylvania Freeman_, i. 152;
  _Letter to_, quoted, 231;
  the letter a forerunner of _A Fable for Critics_, 250.

Mallock, William Hurrell, ii. 299.

Manifest Destiny, ii. 15.

Manning, Lamb’s letter to, i. 438.

“Mark Twain,” ii. 367.

Marlowe, Christopher, ii. 354.

Marvell, Andrew, J. R. L. edits the poems of, i. 364.

_Mason and Slidell_, ii. 40.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Charles Lowell secretary of, i. 9;
  J. R. L. a member of, 446, note;
  its collections the basis of an article by J. R. L., ii. 79.

_Massachusetts Quarterly Review, The_, i. 287, 288.

Mathew, Father, a great benefactor of Ireland, ii. 275.

Matthews, Cornelius, “the centurion,” i. 242.

May, Samuel, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193.

_Memoriæ Positum R. G. Shaw_, ii. 42.

Mercedes, Queen, marriage of, ii. 230;
  illness of, and death, 239;
  J. R. L. writes a sonnet to, 240.

Merelo, Manuel, ii. 246.

Merritt, Mrs. Anna Lea, paints J. R. L.’s portrait, ii. 297.

Mexico, J. R. L. on the war with, i. 257;
  conquest of, J. R. L. proposes a tragedy on, 274;
  General Grant’s visit to, ii. 255.

Michelangelo and Petrarch compared, ii. 111.

_Middleton, Thomas, The Plays of_, i. 148.

“Midsummer Night’s Dream,” J. R. L. plays parts in, i. 331.

Mifflin, Thomas, quartermaster-general, i. 2.

“Miles Standish,” J. R. L. on, ii. 75.

_Mill, The_, i. 228, 232.

Milnes, Richard Monckton, Mrs. Procter comes to the rescue of, ii. 335.

Milton, John, his “Lycidas,” ii. 175;
  his “Areopagitica” introduced by J. R. L., 398.

“Minister’s Wooing,” by Mrs. Stowe, i. 412;
  letter about, by J. R. L., 430;
  reviewed by J. R. L., 449.

Minor, John Botts, journal of, ii. 135.

_Mirror, The_, i. 163.

_Misconception, A_, ii. 205.

_Mr. Hosea Biglow’s Speech in March Meeting_, ii. 94.

Mitchell, Dr. S. Weir, reports J. R. L.’s visions, i. 15;
  takes care of J. R. L. at Bologna, ii. 379;
  releases him from an engagement, 386;
  dedicates a volume to J. R. L., 401.

Modern Language Association, J. R. L. before, i. 386.

_Moosehead Journal, A_, i. 353.

“Morning Glory, The,” i. 359.

“Mortal Antipathy, The,” i. 413, note.

Motley, John Lathrop, dines with Mr. Phillips, i. 411;
  his importance to the _Atlantic_, 420;
  J. R. L. asks him to write for the _North American_, ii. 48;
  representative of American men of letters at Court of St. James, 260.

Müller, Max, his “Auld Lang Syne” quoted, ii. 263.

_My Garden Acquaintance_, ii. 112;
  an expression of J. R. L.’s nature, 121.

_My Study Windows_, published, ii. 145.

Naples, J. R. L.’s delight in Museum at, ii. 180.

_National Anti-Slavery, Standard, The_,
      official paper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, i. 192;
  its several editors, 192;
  its list of contributors, 193;
  J. R. L.’s early relations to, 196-200;
  a close connection begun with it by J. R. L., 202;
  contributions to it by J. R. L., 203-234;
  its value to J. R. L., 235;
  compared with the _Atlantic_, ii. 3.

National literature; _see_ Literature.

Neal, John, contributor to the _Pioneer_, i. 105;
  his advice to, J. R. L., 108.

_Nest, The_, sent by. J. R. L. to Underwood for his magazine, i. 355;
  its significance, 357.

New England, J. R. L.’s early familiarity with, i. 20;
  its early seclusion, 88;
  more than a geographical division, ii. 80;
  what it stood for with J. R. L., 80;
  Puritanism in, 82.

_New England Two Centuries Ago_, referred to, i. 71;
  contributed to _North American_, 79;
  quoted, 81.

“New Portfolio, The,” i. 413 and note.

Newspapers, J. R. L. on, ii. 307.

“New Timon, The,” reviewed by J. R. L., i. 290.

Nichols, George, living in Judge Lee’s house, i. 3;
  his work on the _Atlantic_, 444;
  referred to by J. R. L. in an article, ii. 400.

_Nightingale in the Study, The_, i. 269; ii. 115.

_Nightwatches_, ii. 324.

_Nominations for the Presidency, The_, i. 213.

_Nooning, The_, proposed by J. R. L., i. 300;
  its contents, 301;
  described further, 302;
  wanted for a serial, 351;
  resumed, ii. 104.

Nordhoff, Charles, J. R. L. writes to, on the political situation, ii. 19.

Norris, W. E., a novelist liked by J. R. L., ii. 407.

_North American Review_, J. R. L.’s contributions
      to, in his earlier period, i. 290-293;
  discusses the Hungarian question, 303;
  J. R. L. takes the editorship of, ii. 45;
  its change of character, 46;
  J. R. L. characterizes it under the old _régime_, 48;
  J. R. L.’s political papers in, 49;
  letter to publishers of, by Lincoln, 51, note.

Northampton, a limit of Dr. Lowell’s chaise tours, i. 20.

Norton, Charles Eliot, his _Letters of James Russell Lowell_ referred to,
      i. 39, 60, 88, 200, 233, 237, 242, 296, 427, 435, 443, 444,
      453; ii. 19, 33, 40, 44, 48, 65,
      67, 116, 139, 140, 176, 193, 202, 204, 218, 219, 227, 262, 356.
  Letter to, from J. R. L. on village music, i. 25;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on Jefferson, 218, note;
  on change in title-page of _A Fable for Critics_, 249, note;
  entertains Clough and others, 346;
  edits Donne’s poems, 365;
  letter of J. R. L. to, on his life on the North Shore, 366;
  letter of J. R. L. to, inviting him to hear him lecture, 370;
  on Chartres, 380;
  on his life in Dresden, 382;
  meets J. R. L. at Orvieto, 384;
  J. R. L. to, on his love of the country, 385;
  his “New Life” of Dante, given by J. R. L. to his class, 393;
  letters to, from J. R. L. concerning Miss Dunlap, 401, 402;
  on editorial worries, 429;
  on his desire for relief, 443, 444;
  on the sale of the _Atlantic_, 451.

  Associated with J. R. L. in editorship of the _North American_, ii. 45;
  J. R. L. writes a rhymed letter to, on the announcement, 47;
  and of his own delinquency, 49;
  and in doubt of Lincoln, 55;
  and in exultation, 60;
  J. R. L. writes to, on college work, 76;
  gives an account of the Dante Club meetings, 84;
  J. R. L. writes to, of Cranch and the weather and his own personality, 95;
  edits Donne with Mrs. Burnett, 102, note;
  J. R. L. writes to, of his own likeness to Lessing, 110;
  writes, with J. R. L., a review of Longfellow’s “Dante,” 113;
  J. R. L. to, on _Voyage to Vinland_, 120;
  letters to, from J. R. L. during third journey
      in Europe, 154-164, 168, 170, 173-180;
  in Paris, where J. R. L. joins him, 158;
  leaves for London, 159;
  sends the Emersons to J. R. L., 161;
  returns to America, 168;
  criticizes _Agassiz_, 177;
  J. R. L. to, on leaving America for Spain, 220;
  presides at dinner of tavern Club, 387.

Norton, Miss Grace, J. R. L. to, on Chester, ii. 153;
  on Hayes, 219.

Norton, Miss Jane, letter of J. R. L. to, on Beverly woods, i. 365;
  on lecturing in the West, 378;
  on letter-writing, 445;
  J. R. L. writes a palsied-hand letter to, ii. 38;
  J. R. L. writes to, on _Commemoration Ode_, 63;
  also on “Miles Standish,” 75;
  and on his collegiate work, 76;
  and on the museum at Naples, 180.

Nürnberg, ii. 170.

_Ode for the Fourth of July, 1876, An_, ii. 190.

_Ode read at Cambridge on the Hundredth
      Anniversary of Washington’s Taking Command
      of the American Army_, ii. 189.

_Ode read at the One Hundredth Anniversary of
      the Fight at Concord Bridge_, ii. 189.

_Ode to France_, i. 204.

_Ode to Happiness_, i. 368, 434.

“Old Cambridge,” by T. W. Higginson, referred
      to on J. R. L.’s suspension, i. 47;
  on Underwood’s magazine, 354, note.

Old Dramatists, J. R. L.’s first studies in the, i. 98;
  subject of, treated in lectures in 1887, 133;
  treated of in _Conversations_, 134;
  and in articles in _Atlantic_ and _North American_, ii. 77;
  a volume of, edited by J. R. L., 78, note;
  lectures on, by J. R. L. in 1887, 352.

Old Road in Cambridge, i. 2.

Oliver, Thomas, lieutenant-governor of the
      Province, builds the Elmwood house, i. 4;
  hastily leaves it, 5.

_On my twenty-fourth birthday_, i. 125.

_On the Capture of Fugitive Slaves near Washington_, i. 174; ii. 137, note.

_Origin of Didactic Poetry, The_, i. 418.

_Oriole’s Nest, The_; see _Nest, The_.

Orkney Islands, ancestral home of J. R. L.’s mother, i. 11.

O’Sullivan, John, editor of _Democratic Review_, i. 111;
  J. R. L. writes to, about Hawthorne, 283.

Otis, Harrison Gray, action of, gives rise to
      two of J. R. L.’s poems, i. 258-260.

_Our Literature_, J. R. L. on, ii. 390.

_Our Own_, published in _Putnam’s Monthly_, i. 351;
  its failure, 352;
  parts of, saved, 353.

“Our Whispering Gallery,” ii. 149.

_Our Young Folks_, J. R. L. writes for, ii. 105.

Owens, John, publishes _Conversations_, i. 132;
  reports success of the book, 158;
  wishes to suppress one of J. R. L.’s anti-slavery poems, 134.

Oxford, J. R. L. goes to, for his degree, ii. 169, 170;
  professorship at, proposed for J. R. L., 318.

Page, William, J. R. L. meets, i. 78;
  paints M. W.’s portrait, 79;
  J. R. L.’s affection for, 116;
  likened to Haydon, 117;
  paints J. R. L.’s portrait, 117;
  is shown a bit of _A Fable for Critics_, 240;
  proposed as a beneficiary of the book, 241;
  has faith in the book, 242;
  paints Bryant’s portrait, 246, note;
  with Briggs and Willis discusses J. R. L. and Poe, 282;
  meets J. R. L. in Florence, 314;
  dines with him there, 315;
  meets him at Orvieto, 384.

Palfrey, John Gorham, his “History of New England”
      reviewed by J. R. L., ii. 79.

Palmer, George Herbert, ii. 340.

_Parable, A_, i. 228.

Parker, Captain Montgomery, letter to, in China from J. R. L., i. 438.

Parker, Friend, with whom the Whites and Lowells
      stayed in Philadelphia, i. 151, 152.

Parker, Theodore, editor of _Massachusetts Quarterly_, i. 287;
  letter of J. R. L. to, 288;
  characterized by J. R. L., 290, note.

Parkman, Francis, J. R. L. writes on, ii. 398.

Parnell, Charles Stewart, prosecution of, ii. 278;
  his extraordinary characterization of Irish-Americans, 281.

Parsons, Thomas William, contributor to the _Pioneer_, i. 105;
  J. R. L. to, on _A June Idyll_, ii. 117.

Peabody, Andrew Preston, editor of the _North American_, ii. 45.

Peirce, Benjamin, professor of mathematics at
      Harvard in J. R. L.’s youth, i. 27.

Pellico, Silvio, i. 341.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, exhibition of,
      noticed by J. R. L., i. 160, 161.

_Pennsylvania Freeman_, J. R. L. engaged to write for, i. 152, 154;
  his contributions to the paper, 169-173;
  _Letter from Boston_ sent to, 181.

Pepperell, Massachusetts, i. 274.

Perceval, Hugh, a nom de plume of J. R. L., i. 92, 161.

Percival, James Gates, J. R. L. on, ii. 109.

Perry, Mrs. Lilla Cabot, J. R. L. to, on Spenser, ii. 188.

Peterboro, ii. 156.

Petrarch and Michelangelo compared, ii. 111.

Phillips, Moses Dresser, i. 409;
  won over to the scheme of a magazine, 410;
  gives a little dinner, 410;
  interests Mrs. Stowe, 412;
  dies, 449.

Phillips, Wendell, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193;
  his eloquence contrasted with that of the Charleston batteries, ii. 26.

Phillips & Sampson undertake the _Atlantic Monthly_, i. 408;
  character of the house, 420;
  J. R. L.’s duty toward, 426;
  failure of, 450.

_Phœbe_, ii. 295.

_Pickens-and-Stealins’ Rebellion, The_, ii. 25.

_Pictures from Appledore_, ii. 302, 367.

_Pioneer, The_, projected by J. R. L. and R. Carter, i. 99;
  prospectus of, 99, 100;
  its purpose, 101;
  introduction to, 103-105;
  its contributors, 105;
  its contents, 105;
  carried on in absence of J. R. L., 106;
  suspended, 107;
  how it looked in New York, 109;
  J. R. L.’s concern for, 110-113;
  J. R. L.’s formal bow in, ii. 390.

Pipe, the, as a weather-sign, ii. 358.

“Pirate, The,” i. 11.

_Place of the Independent in Politics, The_; see _Independent in Politics_.

_Plays of Thomas Middleton, The_, extract from, on poets, i. 149.

_Pocket Celebration of the Fourth, The_, ii. 14, note.

Poe, Edgar Allan, contributor to _The Pioneer_, i. 105;
  rate of payment to, by _Broadway Journal_, 158;
  sketched by J. R. L. in _Graham’s Magazine_, 162;
  his criticism of J. R. L., 163;
  his allusions to Longfellow’s family, 164;
  J. R. L.’s judgment of, 165-167;
  the correspondence with J. R. L., 165, note;
  his relation with J. R. L. discussed by Briggs, Willis, and Page, 382.

_Poems_, J. R. L. preparing the volume of, i. 239.

_Poems_, second series by J. R. L. issued, i. 277;
  analyzed, 277-280.

Poetry, J. R. L.’s enquiry into, in _Conversations_, i. 137;
  his lectures on, at Lowell Institute, 373-375.

“Poet’s Yorkshire Haunts, A,” quoted, ii. 356.

_Political Essays_, articles not included by J. R. L. in his, ii. 5;
 published, 372.

Pontine marshes, the, i. 344.

Pope, the, J. R. L. sees, i. 324;
  hears him celebrate mass, 325;
  likens him to an American statesman, 326.

Pope, Alexander, criticised by J. R. L., i. 290;
  treated at length in lectures on poetry, 374.

Portsmouth, early visited by J. R. L., i. 19, 20.

Postmaster at Stockbridge, account of, by J. R. L., i. 272.

_Power of Sound, The_, quoted, i. 20.

Prescott, Harriet Elizabeth, J. R. L. meets at dinner, i. 449.

Prescott, William Hickling, his “Conquest of Mexico,” i. 274;
  importance of, to the _Atlantic_, 420.

Presepio on Christmas eve in Rome, i. 324, 325.

_President on the Stump, The_, ii. 93.

“President’s Message, The,” by Parke Godwin, ii. 3.

Proctor, Mrs. Bryan Waller, ii. 335.

Professorship at Oxford proposed for J. R. L., ii. 318.

_Prometheus_, i. 115;
  at work on, 119;
  its character, 121;
  compared with Keats’s “Hyperion,” 122;
  Briggs and J. R. L. on, 123.

Proof-reading, J. R. L. on, i. 444.

Provincial Newspaper Society, J. R. L. before, ii. 306.

_Punch_ on J. R. L. as an alien, ii. 300.

Puritanism in New England, ii. 82.

Putnam, George, J. R. L. to, ii. 182, 296.

Putnam, George Palmer, to publish _A Fable for Critics_, i. 242;
  does not notice the rhymed title-page, 249, note;
  his character as a publisher, 349.

Putnam, Mrs. S. R., _see_ Lowell, Mary Traill Spence.

Putnam, William Lowell, killed at Ball’s Bluff, ii. 30.

_Putnam’s Monthly_, established, i. 348;
  prospectus of, 349;
  its decline, 350.

Puttenham’s “Art of English Poesie,” i. 67.

_Question of the Hour, The_, ii. 20.

Quincy, Edmund, writes the life of his father, Josiah Quincy, i. 27;
  one of the editors of the _Standard_, 192;
  a contributor to the same, 193;
  corresponding editor of, 202;
  the quality of his work, 211;
  valued by J. R. L., 230, 231;
  “correspondence” with J. R. L., 235;
  writes for _Atlantic_, ii. 2.

Quincy, Josiah, president of Harvard, i. 27;
  portrayed by J. R. L., 27, 28.

_Rebellion, The; its Causes and Consequences_, ii. 53.

_Rebellion Record, The_, reviewed by J. R. L., ii. 61.

_Reconstruction_, ii. 57.

Reed, Dwight, secretary of J. R. L. at Madrid, ii. 251;
  his constant service, 252.

Religion, J. R. L. on, ii. 310.

Reviewing, evolution of, i. 430;
  disliked by J. R. L., 433.

Rheims, ii. 170.

Rhett, Robert, ii. 24.

_Rhæcus_, i. 120.

Riaño, Don Juan and Doña Emilia de, faithful friends
      of Mrs. Lowell in her sickness, ii. 252.

Riedesel, Baroness, a resident of Cambridge, quoted on Tory Row, i. 3.

“Rimini and other Poems, by Leigh Hunt,” i. 250.

Ripon, ii. 154, 156.

Riverside Press, The, i. 421;
  J. R. L.’s walk to, 444.

Rogers, Samuel, J. R. L. indebted to, ii. 177.

Rölker, Bernard, sings a song, i. 379.

Rome, J. R. L.’s entrance into, i. 318;
  life at, 320;
  early impressions of, 321;
  Christmas at, 323;
  art in, 327;
  people in, 328;
  revision of judgment concerning, 330;
  social life in, 331;
  illumination of St. Peter’s at, 339;
  final impressions of, 342.

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, i. 375.

“Round Table, The,” i. 431.

Rousseau, article on, compared with lecture on, ii. 111;
  suggests the subject of the Jews to J. R. L., 301.

Rowfant Club, the, prints J. R. L.’s lectures on poetry, i. 373.

Rowse, Samuel W., hears _Commemoration Ode_, ii. 64;
  a guest of J. R. L., 82;
  missed by J. R. L., 157, 161.

Royce, Josiah, ii. 67, note.

Ruskin, John, J. R. L. advises workingmen to read his books, ii. 86;
  praises _The Cathedral_, 140;
  on Turner’s “Old Téméraire,” 369.

_Sacred Parasol, The_, i. 209.

St. Andrews, J. R. L. proposed for the rectorship of, ii. 299;
  students of, addressed by J. R. L., 301.

St. Angelo, bridge of, i. 319;
  J. R. L. sees illumination from, 340.

Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin, sends the
      _Atlantic_ a paper on Béranger, ii. 77.

St. Ives, a resort for J. R. L., ii. 356.

St. Peter’s in Rome, J. R. L. comments on size of, i. 321;
  the Pope celebrates mass at, 325;
  illumination of, 339.

Sales, Francis, instructor in French and
      Spanish at Harvard in J. R. L.’s youth, i. 27.

_Sample of Consistency, A_, ii. 14, note.

Sampson, Charles, i. 409.

San Luigi dei Francesi, midnight mass at the church of, i. 323, 325.

Santa Maria Maggiore, illumination at church of, i. 323, 324.

Saturday Club, The, i. 447.

Sawin, Birdofredom, character of, i. 265.

Scates, Charles Woodman, i. 45, 53.

Schooling, J. R. L.’s early, i. 21.

_Scotch the Snake, or kill it?_, ii. 61.

Scotland, relations of, with England, ii. 276.

Scott, Sir Walter, early read by J. R. L., i. 24;
  Lockhart’s Life of, read by J. R. L., 46;
  his diary read by J. R. L. in the last days, ii. 407.

Sedgwick, Catherine, the tales of, i. 88.

_Self-possession vs. Prepossession_, ii. 27.

Seminoles, J. R. L.’s early interest in, i. 37.

Service for the Dead, J. R. L. repeats the, i. 362.

Sewall, Jonathan, i. 3.

Seward, William Henry, preferred by J. R. L. for the presidency, ii. 18.

_Seward-Johnson Reaction, The_, ii. 107.

Shackford, William Henry, a college friend of J. R. L., i. 33;
  goes to teach at Phillips Exeter Academy, 33;
  his relation to J. R. L., 34;
  letters of J. R. L. to, 34-38.

Shady Hill, home of the Norton family, i. 446.

Shakespeare, an early acquaintance of J. R. L., i. 15;
  read by him in college, 37;
  White’s edition of, reviewed by J. R. L., 432, 433;
  lectured on and written about by J. R. L., ii. 77.

_Shakespeare Once More_, quoted, i. 388; ii. 87.

_Shakespeare’s Richard III._, ii. 351.

Shaw, Frank, i. 314.

Shaw, Robert Gould, J. R. L. commemorates in a poem, ii. 42;
  honors in a letter to his mother, 43.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, J. R. L. introduced to the writings of, i. 32;
  his genius likened to St. Elmo’s fire, 138;
  the shell of, 375.

_Shepherd of King Admetus, The_, i. 147.

Sicily, J. R. L. visits and characterizes, i. 384.

Sidney’s “Defense of Poesie,” i. 67.

“Simple Cobbler of Agawam,” ii. 367.

_Sirens, The_, i. 85.

“Sir Galahad” suggests _Sir Launfal_, i. 268.

“Skipper Ireson’s Ride,” by Whittier, J. R. L. on, i. 417, 418.

“Slave Mother, The,” verses by M. W. L., i. 180.

Sleeplessness, J. R. L.’s cure for, ii. 383.

Slick, Sam, i. 261.

Smalley, George W., on J. R. L.’s Americanism, ii. 262.

Smith Professorship, Longfellow resigns, i. 375;
  and it is given to J. R. L., 376;
  afterwards emeritus, ii. 322.

Smith, Sydney, on Daniel Webster, i. 221;
  his scornful question, ii. 363.

Socialism, ii. 315, 349.

“Solitude and Society” by Emerson, J. R. L. on, i. 416.

_Song sung at an Anti-Slavery Picnic_, J. Owen wishes to suppress, i. 184.

Sonnet, J. R. L. on the, as seen in Longfellow’s writing, ii. 306.

Sophocles, the Philoctetes of, ii. 404.

Southborough, ii. 322.

“Southern History of the War” reviewed by J. R. L., ii. 53.

_Southern Literary Messenger_, a vehicle for J. R. L.’s work, i. 92.

_Sower, The_, i. 228.

Spanish, J. R. L. studies, ii. 76;
  a familiar tongue to him when he went to Madrid, 221;
  how J. R. L. worked at it, 241, 242.

_Spectator_, London, on J. R. L. and Lord Granville, ii. 291.

Spence, Keith, maternal grandfather of J. R. L., i. 11.

Spence, Mary Traill, J. R. L.’s loyalist grandmother, i. 11, note.

Spens, Sir Patrick, a poetic forbear of J. R. L., i. 11.

Spenser, Edmund, earliest of J. R. L.’s poets, i. 14, and note;
  imitated by J. R. L., 351;
  essay on, by J. R. L., ii. 188.

Squirrels, J. R. L.’s care for, ii. 407.

Stanley, Henry Morton, ii. 296.

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, J. R. L. to, on modern antiques, ii. 93.

Stephen, Leslie, J. R. L. to, on Carlyle, ii. 89;
  his description of J. R. L. quoted, 115;
  J. R. L. comments on his “Are we Christians?” 165;
  and his “Essays on Free Thinking and Plain Speaking,” 175, 176;
  J. R. L. to, on politics, 202;
  resorts to St. Ives, 356;
  visits Elmwood, 398.

Stewart, Dugald, a teacher of Charles Lowell, i. 7.

Stillman, William James, starts _The Crayon_, i. 367;
  inspirits J. R. L., 367;
  J. R. L. sends a poem to his paper, 378;
  J. R. L. to, on the drying up of the poetic fount, 400;
  his estimate of Miss Dunlap, 402;
  forms the Adirondack Club, 404;
  characterizes J. R. L. in the woods, 405;
  and in his married life, 406;
  dinner given to, 448;
  on J. R. L.’s care of his squirrels, ii. 407.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts, visited by J. R. L. and family, i. 272.

Stone, Thomas Treadwell, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193.

Story, William Wetmore, an early friend and playmate of J. R. L., i. 22;
  contributor to the _Pioneer_, 105;
  J. R. L. meets him in Rome, 320;
  hunts for a lion’s skin, 333;
  goes with J. R. L to Subiaco, 343;
  hears _Commemoration Ode_ read, ii. 64;
  J. R. L. on his works, 86;
  at Crosby Lodge on Eden, 154;
  visited by J. R. L., 156;
  entertains J. R. L. in Rome, 179;
  J. R. L. on his statues, 179;
  J. R. L. to, on Mrs. Lowell’s death, 320.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, relied on to float a magazine, i. 354;
  her books published by Phillips & Sampson, 409;
  interested in the _Atlantic_ by Mr. Phillips, 412;
  her importance, 420;
  her “Minister’s Wooing” criticised by J. R. L., 430;
  and reviewed by him, 449.

Stubbs, Charles William, Canon, later Dean,
      on J. R. L.’s cure for sleeplessness, ii. 382.

Sumner, Charles, characterises J. R. L.’s lecture on Milton, i. 373.

_Sunthin’ in the Pastoral Line_, i. 269; ii. 41.

Swift, Jonathan, J. R. L. writes on, ii. 198.

Swinburne’s Tragedies, reviewed by J. R. L., i. 374; ii. 92.

“Tales of a Grandfather,” one of J. R. L.’s first books, i. 25.

“Tancred” reviewed by J. R. L., i. 290.

Tarifa, Spanish town of, i. 313.

Tavern Club gives J. R. L. a dinner on his seventieth birthday, ii. 387.

Taylor, Jeremy, on the Countess of Carbery, i. 361.

Taylor, Zachary, nominated for the presidency, i. 220.

_Tempora Mutantur_, ii. 191.

Tennant, Miss Dorothy, ii. 296.

Tennyson, Alfred, J. R. L.’s early interest in the poems of, i. 94, 96;
  Arthurian legends of, compared with _Sir Launfal_, 268;
  influence of, on J. R. L., ii. 88;
  J. R. L. lunches with, 261.

Terracina, J. R. L. at, i. 343.

Texas, debate on, i. 167;
  verses on, by J. R. L., 168.

Thackeray, William Makepeace, J. R. L. comments on, i. 297;
  J. R. L. makes the acquaintance of, 346.

Thaxter, Levi Lincoln, on J. R. L.’s letter to M. W., i. 89, note.

Thayer, James Bradley, J. R. L. to, on _The Nooning_, i. 302;
  J. R. L. to, on the measure of his odes, ii. 44, note;
  and on the _Commemoration Ode_, 65, 67.

Theatricals, private, in Rome, J. R. L. takes part in, i. 331;
  writes prologues for, 332-334.

Thoreau, Henry David, reviewed by J. R. L. in
      _Massachusetts Quarterly_, i. 292;
  wanted by J. R. L. as contributor to the _Atlantic_, 415, 417.

Ticknor, William, D., character of, as publisher, i. 451.

Ticknor & Fields buy the _Atlantic_, i. 451.

Tilden, Samuel Jones, J. R. L. urged to vote for, ii. 216.

_Times, London_, quoted, ii. 318.

Titian, the “Sacred and Profane Love” of, i. 327, 328, note;
  poem suggested by, ii. 371.

_Token, The_, i. 146.

Toombs, Robert, ii. 24.

Tory Row, Cambridge, i. 2;
  the houses on it, 2-4.

_To the Muse_, i. 406.

Tours, Mrs. Lowell plans to stay at, ii. 249.

Traill, Robert, great-grandfather of J. R. L., i. 11.

Trattoria, a, in Florence, i. 315.

_Tribune, The New York_, on J. R. L. in 1843, i. 117;
  in 1882, ii. 289.

“Tritemius,” by Whittier, J. R. L. on, i. 418.

Troil, Minna, of “The Pirate,” literary forbear of J. R. L., i. 11.

Trollope, Anthony, J. R. L. dines with, ii. 82.

Trowbridge, John Townsend, on Emerson’s “Brahma,” i. 415.

“Trueman, Matthew, Letter to,” i. 158, 159.

“Two Angels, The,” Longfellow’s poem, i. 362.

_Turner’s Old Téméraire_, ii. 368, 369.

_Two Scenes from the Life of Blondel_, ii. 43.

_Uncle Cobus’s Story_, ii. 106.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” published by J. P. Jewett,
      success of, suggests a magazine, i. 354;
  declined by Phillips & Sampson when offered to them, 409.

_Under the Old Elm_, ii. 189.

_Under the Willows_, i. 268;
  title chosen for volume, ii. 119;
  brings congratulatory letters, 125.

Underwood, Francis Henry, projects a magazine, i. 354;
  receives for it a poem from J. R. L., 354;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on failure of magazine, 355;
  proposes the _Atlantic_ 408;
  secures the aid of J. R. L. and others, 409;
  wins over Phillips & Sampson, 410;
  dines with publisher, editor and chief contributors, 411;
  goes to England for the magazine, 412;
  is J. R. L.’s right-hand man, 414;
  attends to correspondence, 428.

Union League Club in Chicago, ii. 352.

Valedictories, J. R. L.’s, ii. 373.

Van Buren, Martin, nominated for the presidency, i. 224.

“Vanity Fair,” J. R. L. on, i. 297.

Vassall, Henry, i. 2.

Vassall, Colonel John, his house in Cambridge
      the headquarters of Washington and home of Longfellow, i. 3.

Vaughan, Henry, quoted, ii. 99.

Venice, J. R. L.’s delight in, ii. 171;
  his return thither, 272.

Very, Jones, contributor to the _Pioneer_, i. 105.

“Virginian in New England, Thirty-five Years ago, A,” ii. 136.

_Vision of Sir Launfal, The_, i. 266;
  the brook in, 267;
  compared with Tennyson’s romances, 268;
  June in, 268.

_Voyage to Vinland_, called also _Leif’s Voyage_, i. 301;
  J. R. L. on, ii. 120.

Wales, Henry Ware, J. R. L.’s tribute to, ii. 403-406.

Walker, James, president of Harvard College, i. 376;
  urges J. R. L. to attend Faculty meetings, 395.

Walton, Isaak, J. R. L. on, ii. 389.

“Wanderer,” yacht, i. 440.

Ward, Nathaniel, ii. 367.

_Washers of the Shroud, The_, ii. 33.

Washington, early visit of J. R. L. to, i. 19.

Washington, George, takes command of American army, i. 2;
  his headquarters, 3.

Watertown, Massachusetts, the home of the Whites, i. 76;
  temperance celebration at, 88.

Watts-Dunton, Theodore, on J. R. L.’s characteristics, ii. 293.

Waverley Oaks, J. R. L.’s early rambles to, i. 19.

Webster, Daniel, J. R. L. hears him plead, i. 67;
  attitude toward, on part of anti-slavery men, 201;
  article on, by J. R. L., and poem on, by Whittier, 201;
  J. R. L. treats elaborately, 220-227;
  characterized by Sydney Smith, 221;
  as a writer, ii. 365.

Webster, John, J. R. L. on, ii. 354.

“Wedgwood’s Dictionary” reviewed by J. R. L., i. 433.

“Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, A,” reviewed by J. R. L., i. 292.

Weimar, J. R. L. visits, ii. 271.

Weiss, John, contributor to the _Standard_, i. 193.

Wells, William, J. R. L.’s schoolmaster living in Fayerweather house, i. 3;
  carries forward the traditions of English scholarship, 22, 23.

Wells, Mrs. William, J. R. L. recalls the kindness of, i. 23.

Welsh, James, ii. 332, note.

Wendell, Barrett, on Lowell as a teacher, i. 392, 394, 395.

_What will Mr. Webster do?_, i. 220.

“Where will it End?” by Edmund Quincy, ii. 2.

Whipple, Edwin Percy, i. 411.

Whist Club, i. 271;
  holds its last meeting, ii. 407.

Whitby, J. R. L.’s fondness for, ii. 356.

White, Abijah, father of M. W., i. 76;
  characterized by J. R. L., 76;
  death of, 177;
  his estate, 177;
  which proves less than expected, 182.

White, Maria, J. R. L. makes the acquaintance of, i. 76;
  his first impressions of her, 77;
  her portrait by Page, 79;
  appears in a vision to J. R. L., 80;
  and at commencement, 80;
  her confession of love, 82;
  embodied in _A Year’s Life_, 82-86;
  the type to which she belonged, 87;
  “Queen of the May” at a temperance festival, 88;
  a member of the Band, 89;
  a poet, 90;
  encourages J. R. L. to print, 93;
  her attitude towards the _Pioneer_, 108;
  characterized by C. F. Briggs, 120;
  her influence over J. R. L., 121;
  veiled under poetic names in poems, 126;
  her transcendentalism, 129;
  letter of, to C. F. Briggs, 129-132;
  criticises title of Briggs’s journal, 130;
  her views on the marriage rite, 131, 132;
  makes a cover design for _Conversations_, 132;
  is married to J. R. L., 150.
  _See_ Lowell, Maria White.

White, Richard Grant, goes to hear J. R. L. lecture, i. 373;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on policy of the _Atlantic_, 423;
  from same on American literary criticism, 431;
  his Shakespeare reviewed by J. R. L., 432;
  letter to, from J. R. L. on the worries of editing, 442;
  on the delights of Elmwood, 453;
  asks for another _Biglow_, ii. 32;
  J. R. L. writes to, about his own work on Shakespeare, 77;
  dedicates a book to J. R. L., 146.

White, Thomas W., editor of _Southern Literary Messenger_, i. 92.

White, William Abijah, brother of M. W., i. 76;
  an active reformer, 87;
  prompts Rölker, 379.

Whitman, Walt, his poem “My Captain,” ii. 70.

Whittier, John Greenleaf, characterized by J. R. L. in the _Pioneer_, i. 105;
  compared with J. R. L., 139;
  editor of _Pennsylvania Freeman_, 152;
  his “Ichabod” and “The Lost Occasion,” 201;
  his poetry reviewed by J. R. L., 229;
  censured by Gay, 229;
  in _A Fable for Critics_, 254;
  his indebtedness to the _Atlantic_, 417;
  J. R. L. to him on “Skipper Ireson’s Ride,” 417, 418;
  his rhymes criticized by J. R. L., ii. 103;
  his title conflicts with one by J. R. L., 118;
  J. R. L. writes a sonnet on his birthday, 296;
  his “Captain’s Well,” 400.

_Widow’s Mite, The_, ii. 206.

Wilbur, Parson, proposes to educate Hosea Biglow, i. 268;
  another Jedediah Cleishbotham, 262;
  faintly hints at J. R. L.’s father, 263;
  in the flesh, 263, note;
  as seen in second series, ii. 36;
  his voice and J. R. L.’s, 37;
  his death and table-talk, 38;
  his views on the war, 39.

Wild, Hamilton, ii. 181.

Wilkinson, William Cleaver, criticism of, on J. R. L., ii. 197 and note.

Williams, Frank Beverly, prepares notes to the _Biglow Papers_, i. 256.

Willis, Nathaniel Parker, J. R. L. makes the acquaintance of, i. 111;
  his kindness to J. R. L., 112;
  in _A Fable for Critics_, 243, 245;
  comments on J. R. L.’s kindness to Mrs. Clemm, 282.

_Windharp, The_, i. 368.

Women, J. R. L.’s dependence on, ii. 324.

Wood, Shakespeare, i. 332.

Woodberry, George Edward, his “Edgar Allen Poe” referred to, i. 160;
  edits J. R. L.’s letters to Poe, 165, note.

Woodman, Horatio, i. 405.

“Words and their Uses,” by R. G. White, ii. 146.

Wordsworth, William, politics and poetry of, i. 236;
  address on, by J. R. L., ii. 308.

_World’s Fair, The_, 191;
  copied, 192
  J. R. L.’s comments on, 193.

“World’s Progress, The,” J. R. L. writes an introduction to, ii. 344.

“Wuthering Heights” commented on by J. R. L., i. 297.

Wyman, Jeffries, i. 405.

Wyman, Dr. Morrill, ii. 402.

_Year’s Life, A_, a poetic record of J. R. L.’s experience, i. 82.

“Yesterdays with Authors,” ii. 149, note.

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[1] “Take up arms against a sea of troubles.”

[2] “The Pocket Celebration of the Fourth,” in the _Atlantic_ for
August, 1858, and “A Sample of Consistency,” in the same for November,

[3] _Letters_, i. 307-309.

[4] James Jackson Lowell.

[5] William Lowell Putnam.

[6] It was very likely after reading this poem that Emerson wrote in
his diary, 17 January, 1862: “We will not again disparage America
now that we have seen what men it will bear. What a certificate of
good elements in the soil, climate, and institutions is Lowell, whose
admirable verses I have just read! Such a creature more accredits the
land than all the fops of Carolina discredit it.”

[7] See _Letters_, i. 318.

[8] Eight years later, when writing in his happiest mood the paper “A
Good Word for Winter,” the memory of these boys came back with the
suggestion of snow-forts, and tears trembled in the passage which
slipped from his pen.

[9] _Letters_, i. 343.

[10] In an interesting letter to J. B. Thayer (_Letters_, ii. 191),
Lowell says, comparing his odes with those of Gray and Coleridge: “All
these were written for the closet--and mine for recitation. I chose my
measures with my ears open. So I did in writing the poem on Rob Shaw.
That _is_ regular because meant only to be read, and because also I
thought it should have in the form of its stanza something of the
formality of an epitaph.”

[11] “In the Half-way House.”

[12] See _Correspondence of J. L. Motley_, ii. 167. Copied in
_Letters_, i. 334.

[13] In a letter written to Mr. R. W. Gilder, 7 February, 1887, Lowell
says: “I spent the night with my friend Norton last Wednesday. There I
found a pile of the N. A. R.... By the way the January, ’64, number was
‘second edition.’ I fancy the old lady making her best curtsey at being
thus called out before the footlights. The article was reprinted as a
political tract and largely circulated. Lincoln wrote a letter to the
publishers which I forgot to look for.”

[14] The fairy story was “Gold-Egg: a Dream Fantasy,” which appeared in
the _Atlantic_ for May, 1865.

[15] _Letters of James Russell Lowell_, i. 345, 346. Copyrighted 1893,
by Harper & Brothers. Mrs. S. B. Herrick, whose friendship with Lowell
will be referred to later, writes: “I was speaking to Mrs. Lowell of
my strong admiration for its fire and eloquence, and she told me that
after Mr. Lowell had agreed to deliver the poem on that occasion, he
had tried in vain to write it. The last evening before the date fixed,
he said to her: ‘I must write this poem to-night. Go to bed and do not
let me feel that I am keeping you up, and I shall be more at ease.’ He
began it at ten o’clock. At four in the morning he came to her door and
said: ‘It is done and I am going to sleep now.’ She opened her eyes to
see him standing haggard, actually wasted by the stress of labor and
the excitement which had carried him through a poem full of passion and
fire, of 523 lines in the space of six hours.”

[16] Lowell writes again of this and makes proposed changes and
additions in a letter to Col. T. W. Higginson, 28 March, 1867. See
_Letters_, i. 379.

[17] There was a curious psychical incident connected with the delivery
of the Ode which came to light afterward but apparently was not
recorded till several years later. The incident is fully set forth
in two letters to Dr. William James, which were published in the
_Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research_, March,
1889, where Dr. Royce printed a “Report of the Committee on Phantasms
and Presentiments.” The first letter is from the gentleman in whose
experience the incident occurred:--

    MY DEAR MR. JAMES,--I passed the night before commemoration day on
    a lounge in Hollis 21, the room of my college chum H., who had been
    tutor since our graduation, three years before. I woke (somewhat
    early, I should say) saying to myself these words: “And what they
    dare to dream of dare to die for.” I was enough awake to notice
    the appropriateness of the words to the occasion, but was sleepy
    enough to wonder whether they really expressed a lofty thought, or
    were lofty only in sound. Before I had made up my mind I dropped to
    sleep again.

    In the afternoon I was in about the middle of the tent. Mr.
    Lowell stood under Hollis at nearly the same table. I heard very
    distinctly as he read “Those love her best.” I felt that something
    was coming which was familiar, and as he ended the line I felt
    that I could repeat the next one, and I did so, ahead of him. But
    as we proceeded I was confounded with the fact that apparently my
    line would not rhyme with his. As I said “die for,” he said “do.”
    I spent some minutes in trying to determine whether I liked his
    sentiment or mine the most.

    That is all. After twenty-one years, details are dim. Some years
    ago, just before Mr. Lowell sailed for England, I sent him a
    statement, more detailed probably than this; but no doubt it became
    carbonic acid and water before he left the house.

The second letter is from Lowell, to whom Mr. W.’s letter had been sent
by Dr. James:--

                 17th Feb., 1888.

    DEAR DR. JAMES,--My Commemoration Ode was very rapidly written, and
    came to me unexpectedly, for I had told Child, who was one of the
    committee (I suppose), that he must look for nothing from me. I sat
    up all the night before the ceremony, writing and copying out what
    I had written during the day. I think most of it was composed on
    that last day. I have no doubt the verse quoted by Mr. W. came to
    me in a flash, but whether during that last night or not I cannot
    say. Perhaps my MS. would show, if I had kept it, or if anybody
    else has. Child will remember my taking him apart under an elm,
    between Massachusetts and the Law School, that morning, that I
    might read him a part of the Ode, to see if it would do, for ’twas
    so fresh that I knew not, having probably not even had time to read
    it over. It was such a new thing in more senses than one.

    I recollect Mr. W.’s letter, and think it was substantially like
    that to you. I did not burn it, I am sure, and ’twill, no doubt,
    turn up somewhere in my hay-stack of letters when I am “up back of
    the meetin’-house,” as Yankees used to say while there were any
    Yankees left....

    There is one painful suggestion in the fact of Mr. W.’s
    anticipation, which I hardly venture to speak of. Was the verse
    already _do_? Did I steal it? Not to my knowledge; but perhaps it
    might be well to set a literary detective on my trail.

                 I return the letter.
Faithfully yours,

[18] Quoted by A. V. G. Allen in his _Life and Letters of Phillips
Brooks_, i. 552.

[19] An interesting venture was made by Little, Brown & Co. in the
summer of 1864, which unfortunately proved too uncertain to be carried
through. Lowell was to have edited a series of volumes illustrative
of the Old Dramatists, from Marlowe down. He prepared one volume,
which was put into type but never published. A set of proofs is in the
library of Harvard University.

[20] “James Russell Lowell,” in the _Atlantic Monthly_, January, 1892.

[21] “Shakespeare Once More,” iii. 33.

[22] “Chaucer,” iii. 292.

[23] “Thoreau,” i. 361.

[24] This was no doubt Cranch’s _Kobboltozo_.

[25] “To J. B. on sending me a seven-pound trout,” _Atlantic Monthly_,
July, 1866.

[26] The lost copy of Donne turned up, and after Lowell’s death his
daughter and Mr. Norton used it for the production of a special edition
by the Grolier Club in 1895.

[27] See _supra_, i. 300-302.

[28] What Lowell thought of the impeachment business may be inferred
from a passage in a letter written to Mr. Godkin, 20 December, 1867:
“I was sorry to see you [in the _Nation_] relaxing a little about
impeachment. For myself, I have seen no sufficient reason to change
my old opinion of its folly. They remind me of the boy’s playing at
hanging, who finds he has done it all right,--only forgotten to cut
himself down. We _might_ be able to stand it, we are a wonderful
people, of course, but the other lesson of standing A. J. to the end
of his tether is worth ten of this. The South is as mad now as it ever
will be.”

[29] With a single exception, for which see _infra_, p. 122.

[30] _Letters_, i. 349.

[31] “Rousseau,” in _Literary Essays_, ii. 256.

[32] _Letters_, i. 408.

[33] After all Whittier changed his mind and gave his book the title
“Among the Hills.”

[34] The bookbinder who wanted the lettering for the volume.

[35] Originally designed to make part of _The Nooning_.

[36] George Eliot’s _The Spanish Gipsy_.

[37] It was Gobright’s _Recollections_.

[38] Lowell amplified this thought in his paper on Chaucer, _Literary
Essays_, iii. 299, 300.

[39] _Letters_, ii. 5. There was a reciprocity of feeling, if we may
judge from the striking fact that on the right, within the gate which
leads to the impressive common tomb of the Army of Tennessee, in New
Orleans, is an inscription taken from Lowell’s poem, “On the Capture of
Fugitive Slaves near Washington.”

    “Before Man made us citizens, great Nature made us men.”

[40] Perhaps it was on this journey that she told Mrs. Fields she never
thought of her father as a poet, but just her father.

[41] _Letters_, ii. 52.

[42] _Letters_, ii. 35.

[43] _Letters_, ii. 38.

[44] See _Letters_, ii. 64-67. Also the Cambridge edition of Lowell’s
poems, p. 479.

[45] On Goodwin’s _Plutarch’s Morals_.

[46] _Yesterdays with Authors_, published first in the _Atlantic_,
where Lowell also read it, as “Our Whispering Gallery.”

[47] The first volume of Forster’s _Dickens_ was published in advance
of the others.

[48] _Letters_, ii. pp. 81-128.

[49] Mr. Norton with his family was at St. Germain, near Paris.

[50] The difficulty has since been obviated by the system of sabbatical
years at Harvard, with half salary.

[51] After three weeks spent with Mr. Norton and his family at their
hotel in Paris, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell moved across the river, upon the
departure of their friends to London. As will be seen later, this
little hotel became their familiar home whenever they were in Paris.
They endeared themselves to their host and hostess, and long after
there hung, perhaps still hangs, in the office, a large photograph of

[52] A well known second-hand bookseller in Boston.

[53] Mrs. Burnett’s first child had lately been born.

[54] _Letters_, ii. 125.

[55] See _Letters_, ii. 115.

[56] “While the wise nose’s firm-built aquiline.”

[57] One clause of his will reads: “I give to the corporation of
Harvard College, the Library thereof, my copy of Webster on Witchcraft,
formerly belonging to Increase Mather, President of the College; and
also any books from my library of which the College Library does not
already possess copies, or of which the copies or editions in my
library are for any reason whatever preferable to those possessed by
the College Library.” He had at the time of his death about seven
thousand books in his library.

[58] He was wont to assemble on the fly-leaf of a volume notable words
that had struck him when reading the text, and it is worth noting
that the careful index to the Riverside edition of Lowell’s writings
contains under the heading “Words and Phrases” some seven score

[59] The verse in “Agassiz” which cut deepest was that containing the

        “And all the unwholesomeness
    The Land of Broken Promise serves of late
    To teach the Old World how to wait.”

When he reprinted in the poem in _Heartsease and Rue_, Lowell made some
verbal changes, and in this passage substituted “the Land of Honest
Abraham” for the “Land of Broken Promise.” One may ponder over the
change and settle it with himself which stings more, irony or sarcasm.

[60] The letter was also printed by Mr. Norton in _Letters_, with a few
of the omitted passages filled in.

[61] The reference is to a volume by Mr. William Cleaver Wilkinson,
entitled _A Free Lance in the Field of Life and Letters_, published
in 1874, which contained three papers on “Mr. Lowell’s Poetry,” “Mr.
Lowell’s ‘Cathedral,’” and “Mr. Lowell’s Prose.” In a letter to Mrs.
Clifford (_Letters_, ii. 290) Lowell refers to this book apparently
when he says: “You will be glad to hear that a man once devoted an
entire volume to the exposure of my _solecisms_, or whatever he chose
to call them. I never read it--lest it should spoil my style by making
it conscious.” The papers on Lowell constitute, however, less than a
third of Mr. Wilkinson’s book.

[62] See, for further detail, Mr. E. P. Bliss’s statement in _Letters_,
ii. 160, 161, footnote.

[63] Mr. Blaine.

[64] _Letters_, ii. 171.

[65] _Letters_, ii. 173-178.

[66] _Literary Friends and Acquaintances_, pp. 237, 238.

[67] Elmwood, 5 June, 1877. _Letters_, ii. 104.

[68] To Miss Grace Norton. _Letters_, ii. 195, 196.

[69] _Letters_, ii. 200-202.

[70] Copied in _Impressions of Spain_, pp. 53-72.

[71] Señor Cánovas del Castillo.

[72] See, for the larger part, _Impressions of Spain_, pp. 23-42.

[73] “Bare is back without a brother behind it.”

                 _Norse Proverb._

[74] _Letters_, i 343.

[75] _New York Tribune_, 16 August, 1891.

[76] _Auld Lang Syne_, p. 179.

[77] The succession of Mr. Arthur to the presidency naturally set
flying all sorts of rumors about a fresh deal in high offices.

[78] The old inn at which he and the Fields had formerly stayed.

[79] “E Pluribus Unum,” _Political Essays_, pp. 67, 68. Printed first
in the _Atlantic Monthly_, February, 1861.

[80] Despatch No. 132, dated 26 February, 1881.

[81] _Foreign Relations_, 1881, p. 543.

[82] The title of the act, called sometimes the “coercion” sometimes
the “protection” act, was “An act for the better protection of person
and property in Ireland.”

[83] Mr. Frelinghuysen had succeeded Mr. Blaine as Secretary of State.

[84] _The New York Tribune_, 5, 6 April, 1882.

[85] _The Spectator_, 1 August, 1891.

[86] _Letters_, ii. 293, 294.

[87] _The Athenæum_, 22 August, 1891.

[88] January, 1897. “Conversations with Mr. Lowell.”

[89] _Literary Essays_, iv.

[90] “The Place of the Independent in Politics,” in _Literary and
Political Addresses_.

[91] 13 August, 1891.

[92] Report No. 1188, 49th Congress, 1st session, p. 28.

[93] All these remarks were stenographically reported and subjected
probably to little revision, certainly to none by the speaker.

[94] Mr. James Welsh, representing the Typographical Union.

[95] See _supra_, vol. i. p. 293.

[96] “I went also,” he says, after hunting up the magazine in the
Athenæum, “to see Whittier, who was in town. He was very cordial. There
is a wrinkled freshness about him as of a russet apple in April, but I
fear we shan’t have him much longer.”

[97] A month before Mr. Gilder had asked for a poem, and Lowell had put
him off thus: “Rhymes for Gilder indeed! He doesn’t need ’em for he can
make ’em. But I have a pocketful. I give you one at a time:--

    “Love to Mrs. Gilder
    _And_ to all the childer.”

After that, in a series of brief notes called out by the Landor
article, there was a peppering of these lines, each note ending in a
couplet, as--

    “Give my love to Mrs. Gilder,
    Hope this weather hasn’t chill’d her.”

    “Love to Mrs. Gilder,
    Glad that it thrilled her.”

    “Love to Mrs. Gilder:
    At her birth kind fairies filled her
    (to be continued in my next).”


    Cup with all sweet gifts and trilled her
            (to be continued)”

but in his next he is obliged to write: “I have lost my cue in the epic
poem to Mrs. Gilder’s address. I thought I could carry it in my memory,
but find that her pocket has holes in it.”

[98] That is, by parting with more of his land in Cambridge.

[99] _Letters_, ii. 337.

[100] See “A Poet’s Yorkshire Haunts,” in the _Atlantic Monthly_,
August, 1895.

[101] Chickering Hall, New York, 28 November, 1887.

[102] In one of the verses of this poem Lowell had used the picturesque

    “Let the bull-fronted surges glide
    Caressingly along thy side,
    Like glad hounds leaping by the huntsman’s knees.”

In answer to a criticism from a friend, he wrote: “There is no mixed
metaphor. I don’t compare the waves to bulls, but merely say they are
bull-fronted,--and so they are, with the foam curling over between
their horns as in the bulls which I have often interviewed in the
pastures here--with a stout stone wall between us _viersteht sich_.
That I afterward say they leap like hounds implies no confusion of
images. My dog Vixen has a bull-front, if ever there was one, and is
always leaping about my knees, as my trousers can testify.---- saw the
waves and heard ’em butt against the prow. Ask her. I always see what I
describe while I am thinking of it. I see the waves now, as if I were
in mid ocean on board the good barque Sultana in ’51.” To the same
friend he wrote a month later: “I am glad you found something in the
Téméraire for all that,--or try to be glad. But when I saw it in print,
it saddened me.”

[103] Dr. Mitchell likewise received an honorary degree in medicine
from the University of Bologna on this occasion.

[104] In a note to me at the same time he wrote: “I begin to examine my
cards curiously, expecting to find that of Old Age overlooked in some

[105] _The Westminster Gazette_, 21 August, 1893.

[106] The poem was by Mr. Bliss Carman.

[107] “Small-Beer Chronicle,” in _Roundabout Papers_.

[108] An examination made after Lowell’s death showed that the bleeding
with which the sickness began eighteen months or more previously was
the first step in the course of the growth of a cancer of the kidney.
The disease had extended to the liver, and at the last to the lungs.

[109] See an interesting note by W. J. Stillman in the _Spectator_, 1
July, 1899.

[110] For these details I am indebted to statements made by Mrs. Mary
Lowell Putnam and to _The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells of America
from 1639 to 1899_. Compiled and edited by Delmar R. Lowell.

[111] As Mrs. Lowell’s paternal ancestry went back but two generations
on this side of the Atlantic, it has been thought well to trace her
grandmother’s descent from Robert Cutt [the name later becoming Cutts],
who was in the same generation with John Lowell, the son of the first
Perceval Lowell. I am indebted for most of this material to _Genealogy
of the Cutts family in America_, compiled by Cecil Hampden Cutts
Howard. Albany: Joel Munsell’s Sons. 1892.

[112] Abbreviated afterward in this record as “Standard.”

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