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With loving breath of all the winds, his name

Is blown about the world; but to his friends

A sweeter secret hides behind his fame,

And love steals shyly through the loud acclaim

To murmur a God bless you! and there ends.

When Longfellow had reached his sixtieth year, James Russell Lowell, then in his splendid prime, sent him those lines as a birthday greeting. Lowell, since then, received in his turn many similar tributes of affection, but none that seemed to speak so promptly from the heart as those touching words of love to an old friend. To himself they might well have been applied in all truthfulness and sincerity. Of the famous group of New England singers, that gave strength and reality to American letters, but three names survived until the other day, when, perhaps the greatest of them all passed away. Whittier and Holmes remain, but Lowell, the younger of the three, and from whom so much was still expected, is no more to gladden, to delight, to enrich, and to instruct the age in which he occupied so eminent a place. Bryant was the first to go, and then Longfellow was called. Emerson followed soon after, and now it is Lowell’s hand which has dropped forever the pen. At first his illness did not cause much uneasiness, but those near him soon began to observe indications of the great change that was going on. At the last, dissolution was not slow in coming, and death relieved the patient of his sufferings in the early hours of Wednesday, August 12th. Practically, however, it was conceded that his life-work had been completed a few months ago, when his publishers presented the reading world with his writings in ten sumptuous volumes, six containing the prose works, and the other four the poems and satires. He was, with the single exception of Matthew Arnold, the foremost critic of his time. Everything he said was well said. The jewels abounded on all sides. His adroitness, his fancy, his insight, his perfect good-humor, and his rare scholarship and delicate art, emphasize themselves on every page of his books. His political and literary addresses were models of what those things should be. They were often graceful and epigrammatic, but always sterling in their value and full of thought. Long ago he established his claim to the title of poet, and as the years went by, his muse grew stronger, richer, fresher, and more original. As an English critic, writing pleasantly of him and his work, in the London Spectator said lately: “His books are delightful reading, with no monotony except a monotony of brilliance which an occasional lapse into dulness would almost diversify.”

James Russell Lowell was descended from a notable ancestry. His father was a clergyman, the pastor of the West Church in Boston. His mother was a woman of fine mind, a great lover of poetry, and mistress of several languages. From her, undoubtedly, the gifted son inherited his taste for belles-lettres and foreign tongues. He was born at Cambridge, Mass., on the 22d of February, 1819, and named after his father’s maternal grandfather, Judge James Russell. After spending a few years at the town school, under Mr. William Wells, a famous teacher in his day, he entered Harvard University, and in 1838 was graduated. He wrote the class poem of the year, and took up the study of law. But the latter he soon relinquished for letters. His first book was a small collection of verse entitled “A Year’s Life.” It gave indication of what followed. There were traces of real poetry in the volume, and none who read it doubted the poet’s future success in his courtship of the muse. In 1843 he tried magazine publishing, his partner in the venture being Robert Carter. Three numbers only of The Pioneer, a Literary and Critical Magazine, were published, and though it contained contributions by Hawthorne, Lowell, Poe, Dwight, Neal, Mrs. Browning, and Parsons, it failed to make its way, and the young editor prudently withdrew it. In the next year he published the “Legend of Brittany, Miscellaneous Poems and Sonnets.” A marked advance in his art was immediately noticed. His lyrical strength, his passion, his terse vocabulary, his exquisite fancy and tenderness illumed every page, giving it dignity and color. The legend reminded the reader of an Old World poem, and “Prometheus” too, might have been written abroad. “Rhœcus” was cast in the Greek mold, and told the story, very beautifully and very artistically, of the wood-nymph and the bee. But there were other poems in the collection, such as “To Perdita Singing,” “The Heritage,” and “The Forlorn,” which at once caught the ear of lovers of true melody. A volume of prose essays succeeded this book. It was entitled “Conversations on some of the Old Poets,” and when Mr. Lowell became Mr. Longfellow’s successor in the chair of modern languages and belles-lettres at Harvard, much of this material was used in his lectures to the students. But later on, we will concern ourselves more directly with the author’s prose.

In December, 1844, Mr. Lowell espoused Miss Maria White, of Watertown. She was a lady of gentle character, and a poet of singular grace. The marriage was a most happy one, and it was to her that many of the love poems of Lowell were inscribed. Once he wrote:—

“A lily thou wast when I saw thee first,

A lily-bud not opened quite,

That hourly grew more pure and white,

By morning, and noon-tide, and evening nursed:

In all of Nature thou had’st thy share;

Thou wast waited on

By the wind and sun;

The rain and the dew for thee took care;

It seemed thou never could’st be more fair.”

She died on the 27th of October, 1853, the day that a child was born to Mr. Longfellow. The latter’s touching and perfect poem, “The Two Angels,” refers to this death and birth:—

“‘T was at thy door, O friend! and not at mine,

The angel with the amaranthine wreath,

Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like death.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin;

And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.

All is of God! If He but wave His hand,

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud,

Till with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! He looks back from the departing cloud.”

A privately printed volume of Mrs. Lowell’s poems appeared a year or two after her death. Mr. Lowell’s second wife was Miss Frances Dunlap, of Portland, Maine, whom he married in September, 1857. She died in February, 1885.

Mr. Lowell was ever pronounced in his hatred of wrong, and naturally enough he was found on the side of Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Whittier, in their great battle against that huge blot on civilization, slavery in America. He spoke and wrote in behalf of the abolitionists at a time when the anti-slavery men were openly despised as heartily in the North as they were feared and detested in the South. He wrote with a pen which never faltered, and satire, irony, and fierce invective accomplished their work with a will, and moved many a heart, almost despairing, to renewed energy.

“The Vision of Sir Launfal” was published in 1848, and it will be read as long as men and women admire tales of chivalry and the stirring stories of King Arthur’s court. Tennyson’s “Idyls” will keep his fame alive, and Lowell’s Sir Launfal, which tells of the search for the Holy Grail, the cup from which Christ drank when he partook of the last supper with his disciples, will also have a place among the best of the Arthurian legends. It is said that Mr. Lowell wrote this strong poem in forty-eight hours, during which he hardly slept or ate. Stedman calls it “a landscape poem,” a term amply justified. It contains many quotable extracts, such as, “And what is so rare as a day in June,” “Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak, from the snow five thousand summers old,” and “Earth gets its price for what earth gives us.” We are constantly meeting these in the magazines and in the newspapers. The vision did much to bring about a larger recognition of the author’s powers as a poet of the first order. He had to wait some time to gain this, and in that respect he resembled Robert Browning, at first so obscure, at last compelling approval from all.

The field of American literature, as it existed in 1848, was surveyed by Lowell in his happiest manner, as a satirist, in that clever production, by a wonderful Quiz, A Fable for Critics, “Set forth in October, the 31st day, in the year ‘48, G. P. Putnam, Broadway.” For some time the authorship remained a secret, though there were many shrewd guesses as to the paternity of the biting shafts of wit and delicately baited hooks. It was written mainly for the author’s own amusement, and with no thought of publication. Daily instalments of the poem were sent off, as soon as written, to a friend of the poet, Mr. Charles F. Briggs, of New York, who found the lines so irresistibly good, that he begged permission to hand them over to Putnam’s for publication. This, however, Mr. Lowell declined to do, until he found that the repeated urging of his friend would not be stayed. Then he consented to anonymous publication. The secret was kept, until, as the author himself tells us, “several persons laid claim to its authorship.” No poem has been oftener quoted than the fable. It is full of audacious things. The authors of the day, and their peculiar characteristics (Lowell himself not being spared in the least), are held up to admiring audiences with all their sins and foibles exposed to the public gaze. It was intended to have “a sting in his tale,” this “frail, slender thing, rhymey-winged,” and it had it decidedly. Some of the authors lampooned took the matter up, in downright sober earnest, and objected to the seat in the pillory which they were forced to occupy unwillingly. But they forgave the satirist, as the days went by, and they realized that, after all, the fun was harmless, nobody was hurt actually, and all were treated alike by the ready knife of the fabler. But what could they say to a man who thus wrote of himself?—

“There is Lowell, who’s striving Parnassus to climb

With a whole bale of isms tied together with rhyme,

He might get on alone, spite of brambles and boulders,

But he can’t with that bundle he has on his shoulders.

The top of the hill he will ne’er come nigh reaching

Till he learns the distinction ‘twixt singing and preaching;

His lyre has some chords that would ring pretty well,

But he’d rather by half make a drum of the shell,

And rattle away till he’s old as Methusalem,

At the head of a march to the last new Jerusalem.”

Apart from the humorous aspect of the fable, there is, certainly, a good deal of sound criticism in the piece. It may be brief, it may be inadequate, it may be blunt, but for all that it is truthful, and decidedly just, as far as it goes. Bryant, who was called cold, took umbrage at the portrait drawn of him. But his verse has all the cold glitter of the Greek bards, despite the fact that he is America’s greatest poet of nature, and some of his songs are both sympathetic and sweet, such as the “Lines to a Water-fowl,” “The Flood of Years,” “The Little People of the Snow,” and “Thanatopsis.”

But now we come to the book which gave Mr. Lowell his strongest place in American letters, and revealed his remarkable powers as a humorist, satirist, and thinker. We have him in this work, at his very best. The vein had never been thoroughly worked before. The Yankee of Haliburton appeared ten years earlier than the creations of Lowell. But Sam Slick was a totally different person from Hosea Biglow and Birdofredum Sawin. Slick was a very interesting man, and he has his place in fiction. His sayings and doings are still read, and his wise saws continue to be pondered over. But the Biglow type seems to our mind, more complete, more rounded, more perfect, more true, indeed, to nature. The art is well proportioned all through, and the author justifies Bungay’s assumption, that he had attained the rank of Butler, whose satire heads the list of all such productions. Butler, however, Lowell really surpassed. The movement is swift, and there is an individuality about the whole performance, which stamps it undeniably as a masterpiece. The down-east dialect is managed with consummate skill, the character-drawing is superlatively fine, and the sentiments uttered, ringing like a bell, carry conviction. The invasion of Mexico was a distasteful thing to many people because it was felt that that war was dishonorable, and undertaken solely for the benefit of the slaveholder, who was looking out for new premises, where he might ply his calling, and continue the awful trade of bondage, and his dealings in flesh and blood. Mr. Lowell’s heart was steeled against that expedition, and the first series of his Biglow papers, introduced to the world by the Reverend Homer Wilbur, showed how deeply earnest he was, and how terribly rigorous he could be, when the scalpel had to be used. The first knowledge that the reading world had of the curious, ingenuous, and quaint Hosea, was the communication which his father, Ezekiel Biglow, sent to the Boston Courier, covering a poem in the Yankee dialect, by the hand of the young down-easter. It at once commanded notice. The idea was so new, the homely truths were so well put, the language in print was so unusual, and the “hits” were so well aimed, that the critics were baffled. The public took hold immediately, and it soon spread that a strong and bold pen was helping the reformers in their unpopular struggle. The blows were struck relentlessly, but men and women laughed through their indignation. There were some who rebelled at the coarseness of the satire, but all recognized that the author, whoever he might be, was a scholar, a man of thought, and a genuine philanthropist, who could not be put down. Volunteers were wanted, and Boston was asked to raise her quota. But Hosea Biglow, in his charmingly scornful way said:—

“Thrash away, you’ll hev to rattle

On them kittle-drums o’ yourn,—

‘Taint a knowin’ kind o’ cattle

Thet is ketched with mouldy corn.

Put in stiff, you fifer feller,

Let folks see how spry you be,—

Guess you’ll toot till you are yaller

‘Fore you git ahold o’ me!”

The parson adds a note, sprinkled with Latin and Greek sentences, as is his wont. The letters from the first page to the last, in the collected papers, are amazingly clever. The reverend gentleman who edits the series is a type himself, full of pedantic and pedagogic learning, anxious always to show off his knowledge of the classics, and solemn and serious ever as a veritable owl. His notes and introductions, and scrappy Latin and Greek, are among the most admirable things in the book. Their humor is delicious, and the mock criticisms and opinions of the press, offered by Wilbur on the work of his young friend, and his magnificent seriousness, which constantly shows itself, give a zest to the performance, which lingers long on the mind. The third letter contains the often-quoted poem, “What Mr. Robinson Thinks.”

“Gineral C. is a dreffle smart man:

He’s ben on all sides that give place or pelf;

But consistency still wuz a part of his plan,—

He’s ben true to one party,—an’ thet is himself:—

So John P.

Robinson, he

Sez he shall vote for Gineral C.

 . . . . . . . . .

Parson Wilbur sez he never heerd in his life

That th’ Apostles rigged out in their swaller tail coats,

An’ marched round in front of a drum an’ a fife,

To get some on ‘em office, an’ some on ‘em votes;

But John P.

Robinson, he

Says they didn’t know everything down in Judee.”

Despite the sometimes harsh criticism which the Biglow papers evoked, Mr. Lowell kept on sending them out at regular intervals, knowing that every blow struck was a blow in the cause of right, and every attack was an attack on the meannesses of the time. The flexible dialect seemed to add honesty to the poet’s invective. The satire was oftentimes savage enough, but the vehicle by which it was conveyed, carried it off. There was danger that Lowell might exceed his limit, but the excess so nearly reached, never came. The papers aroused the whole country, said Whittier, and did as much to free the slave, almost, as Grant’s guns. In one of the numbers, Mr. Lowell produced, quite by accident, as it were, his celebrated poem of “The Courtin’.” This was in the second series, begun in the Atlantic Monthly, of which he was, in 1857, one of the founders, and editor. This series was written during the time of the American Civil War, and the object was to ridicule the revolt of the Southern States, and show up the demon of secession in its true colors. Birdofredum Sawin, now a secessionist, writes to Hosea Biglow, and the poem is, of course, introduced as usual, by the parson. The humor is more grim and sardonic, for the war was a stern reality, and Mr. Lowell felt the need of making his work tell with all the force that he could put into it. In response to a request for enough “copy” to fill out a certain editorial page, Lowell wrote rapidly down the verses which became, at a bound, so popular. He added, from time to time, other lines. This is the story of the Yankee courtship of Zekle and Huldy:—

“The very room, coz she was in,

Seemed warm f’om floor to ceilin’,

An’ she looked full ez rosy agin

Ez the apples she was peelin’.

 . . . . . .    

He kin’ o’ l’itered on the mat,

Some doubtfle o’ the sekle,

His heart kep’ goin’ pity-pat,

But hern went pity Zekle.

An’ yit she gin her chair a jerk

As though she wished him furder,

An’ on her apples kep’ to work,

Parin’ away like murder.

‘You want to see my pa, I s’pose?’

‘Wall,—no—I come dasignin’—’

‘To see my ma? She’s sprinklin’ clo’s

Agin to-morrer’s i’nin.’

To say why gals acts so or so,

Or don’t ‘ould be prosumin’,

Mebby to mean yes an’ say no

Comes natural to women.

He stood a spell on one foot fust,

Then stood a spell on t’other,

An’ on which one he felt the wust

He couldn’t ha’ told ye nuther.

Says he, ‘I’d better call agin;’

Says she, ‘Think likely, mister;’

Thet last word pricked him like a pin,

An’—wall, he up an’ kist her.

When ma bimeby upon ‘em slips,

Huldy sot pale ez ashes,

All kin’ o’ smily roun’ the lips

An’ teary roun’ the lashes.

For she was jes’ the quiet kind

Whose natures never vary,

Like streams that keep a summer wind

Snow-hid in Janooary.

The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued

Too tight for all expressin’,

Till mother see how matters stood,

An’ gin ‘em both her blessin’.

Then her red come back like the tide

Down to the Bay o’ Fundy,

An’ all I know is they war cried

In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.”

During the war, Great Britain sided principally with the South. This the North resented, and the Trent affair only added fuel to the flame. It was in one of the Biglow papers that Mr. Lowell spoke to England, voicing the sentiments and feelings of the Northern people. That poem was called “Jonathan to John,” and it made a great impression on two continents. It was full of the keenest irony, and though bitter, there was enough common sense in it, to make men read it, and think. It closes thus patriotically:—

“Shall it be love, or hate, John?

It’s you thet’s to decide;

Ain’t your bonds held by Fate, John,

Like all the world’s beside?’

Ole Uncle S. sez he, ‘I guess

Wise men forgive,’ sez he,

‘But not forgit; an’ some time yit

Thet truth may strike J. B.,

Ez wal ez you an’ me!’

‘God means to make this land, John,

Clear, then, from sea to sea.

Believe an’ understand, John,

The wuth o’ bein’ free.’

Ole Uncle S. sez he, ‘I guess,

God’s price is high,’ sez he;

‘But nothin’ else than wut He sells

Wears long, an’ thet J. B.

May larn, like you an’ me!’”

The work concludes with notes, a glossary of Yankee terms, and a copious index. The chapter which tells of the death of Parson Wilbur is one of the most exquisite things that Lowell has done in prose. The reader who has followed the fortunes of the Reverend Homer, is profoundly touched by the reflection that he will see him no more. He had grown to be a real personage, and long association with him had made him a friend. On this point, Mr. Underwood relates an incident, which is worth quoting here:—

“The thought of grief for the death of an imaginary person is not quite so absurd as it might appear. One day, while the great novel of ‘The Newcomes’ was in course of publication, Lowell, who was then in London, met Thackeray on the street. The novelist was serious in manner, and his looks and voice told of weariness and affliction. He saw the kindly inquiry in the poet’s eyes, and said, ‘Come into Evan’s and I’ll tell you all about it. I have killed the Colonel.’”

So they walked in and took a table in a remote corner, and then Thackeray, drawing the fresh sheets of manuscript from his breast pocket, read through that exquisitely touching chapter which records the death of Colonel Newcome. When he came to the final Adsum, the tears which had been swelling his lids for some time trickled down upon his face, and the last word was almost an inarticulate sob.

The volume “Under the Willows,” which contains the poems written at intervals during ten or a dozen years, includes such well-remembered favorites as “The First Snowfall,” for an autograph “A Winter Evening Hymn to My Fire,” “The Dead House” (wonderfully beautiful it is), “The Darkened Mind,” “In the Twilight,” and the vigorous “Villa Franca” so full of moral strength. It appeared in 1869. Mr. Lowell’s pen was always busy about this time and earlier. He was a regular contributor to the Atlantic in prose and verse. He was lecturing to his students and helping Longfellow with his matchless translation of Dante, besides having other irons in the fire.

It is admitted that the greatest poem of the Civil War was, by all odds, Mr. Lowell’s noble commemoration ode. In that blood-red struggle several of his kinsmen were slain, among them Gen. C. R. Lowell, Lieut. I. I. Lowell, and Lieutenant Putnam, all nephews. His ode which was written in 1865, and recited July 21, at the Harvard commemoration services, is dedicated “To the ever sweet and shining memory of the ninety-three sons of Harvard College, who have died for their country in the war of nationality.” It is, in every way, a great effort, and the historic occasion which called it forth will not be forgotten. The audience assembled to listen to it was very large. No hall could hold the company, and so the ringing words were spoken in the open air. Meade, the hero of Gettysburg, stood at one side, and near him were Story, poet and sculptor, fresh from Rome, and General Devens, afterwards judge, and fellows of Lowell’s own class at college. The most distinguished people of the Commonwealth lent their presence to the scene. There was a hushed silence while Lowell spoke, and when he uttered the last grand words of his ode, every heart was full, and the old wounds bled afresh, for hardly one of that vast throng had escaped the badge of mourning, for a son, or brother, or father, lost in that war.

“Bow down, dear land, for thou hast found release!

Thy God, in these distempered days,

Hath taught thee the sure wisdom of His ways,

And through thine enemies hath wrought thy peace!

Bow down in prayer and praise!

No poorest in thy borders but may now

Lift to the juster skies a man’s enfranchised brow.

O Beautiful! My Country! ours once more!

Smoothing thy gold of war-disheveled hair

O’er such sweet brows as never other wore,

And letting thy set lips,

Freed from wrath’s pale eclipse,

The rosy edges of their smile lay bare.

What words divine of lover or of poet

Could tell our love and make thee know it,

Among the nations bright beyond compare?

What were our lives without thee?

What all our lives to save thee?

We reck not what we gave thee;

We will not dare to doubt thee,

But ask whatever else, and we will dare.

“The Cathedral,” dedicated most felicitously to the late James T. Fields, the author publisher, written in 1869, was published early in the following year in the Atlantic Monthly, and immediately won the applause of the more thoughtful reader. It is a poem of great grandeur, suggestive in the highest degree and rich in description and literary finish. Three memorial odes, one read at the one hundredth anniversary of the fight at Concord Bridge, one under the old elm, and one for the Fourth of July, 1876, followed. The Concord ode appears to be the more striking and brilliant of the three, but all are satisfactory specimens, measured by the standard which governs the lyric.

“Heartsease and Rue,” is the graceful title of Mr. Lowell’s last volume of verse. A good many of his personal poems are included in the collection, such as his charming epistle to George William Curtis, the elegant author of “Prue and I,” one of the sweetest books ever written, inscribed to Mrs. Henry W. Longfellow, in memory of the happy hours at our castles in Spain; the magnificent apostrophe to Agassiz; the birthday offering to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes; the lines to Whittier on his seventy-fifth birthday; the verses on receiving a copy of Mr. Austin Dobson’s “Old World Idyls,” and Fitz Adam’s story, playful, humorous, and idyllic.

In his young days, Mr. Lowell wrote much for the newspapers and serials. To the Dial, the organ of the transcendentalists, he contributed frequently, and his poems and prose will be found scattered through the pages of The Democratic Review, The North American Review, of which he ultimately became editor, The Massachusetts Quarterly Review, and the Boston Courier. His prose was well received by scholars. It is terse and strong, and whatever position history may assign to him as a poet there can never be any question about his place among the ablest essayists of his century. “Fireside Travels,” the first of the brilliant series of prose works that we have, attract by their singular grace and graciousness. The picture of Cambridge thirty years ago, is full of charming reminiscences that must be very dear to Cambridge men and women. “The Moosehead Journal,” and “Leaves from the Journal in Italy, Happily Turned,” are rich in local color. “Among My Books,” and “My Study Windows,” the addresses on literary and political topics, and the really able paper on Democracy, which proved a formidable answer to his critics, fill out the list of Mr. Lowell’s prose contributions. The literary essays are especially well done. Keats tinged his poetry when he was quite a young man. He never lost taste of Endymion or the Grecian urn, and his estimate of the poet, whose “name was writ in water,” is in excellent form and full of sympathy. Wordsworth, too, he read and re-read with fresh delight, and it is interesting to compare his views of the lake poet with those of Matthew Arnold. The older poets, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Dryden, and Pope in English, and Dante in Italian, find in Mr. Lowell a penetrating and helpful critic. His analyses are made with rare skill and nice discrimination. He is never hasty in giving expression to his opinion, and every view that he gives utterance to, exhibits the process by which it reached its development. The thought grows under his hand, apparently. The paper on Pope, with whose writings he was familiar at an early age, is a most valuable one, being especially rich in allusion and in quality. He finds something new to say about the bard of Avon, and says it in a way which emphasizes its originality. Indeed, every essay is a strong presentation of what Lowell had in his mind at the time. He is not content to confine his observation to the name before him. He enlarges always the scope of his paper, and runs afield, picking up here and there citations, and illustrating his points, by copious drafts on literature, history, scenery, and episode. He was well equipped for his task, and his wealth of knowledge, his fine scholarly taste, his remarkable grasp of everything that he undertook, his extensive reading, all within call, added to a captivating style, imparted to his writings the tone which no other essayist contemporary with him, save Matthew Arnold, was able to achieve. Thoreau and Emerson are adequately treated, and the library of old authors is a capital digest, which all may read with profit. The paper on Carlyle, which is more than a mere review of the old historian’s “Frederick the Great,” is a noble bit of writing, sympathetic in touch, and striking as a portrait. It was written in 1866. And then there are papers in the volumes on Lessing, Swinburne’s Tragedies, Rousseau, and the Sentimentalists, and Josiah Quincy, which bring out Mr. Lowell’s critical acumen even stronger. Every one who has read anything during the last fifteen years or so, must remember that bright Atlantic essay on “A Certain Condescension in Foreigners.” It is Mr. Lowell’s serenest vein, hitting right and left skilful blows, and asserting constantly his lofty Americanism. The essay was needed. A lesson had to be given, and no better hands could have imparted it. Mr. Lowell was a master of form in literary composition,—that is in his prose, for he has been caught napping, occasionally, in his poetry,—and his difficulty was slight in choosing his words.

As a speaker he was successful. His addresses before noted gatherings in Britain and elsewhere are highly artistic. In Westminster Abbey he pronounced two, one on Dean Stanley, and the other on Coleridge, which, though brief, could scarcely be excelled, so perfect, so admirable, so dignified are they. The same may be said of the addresses on General Garfield, Fielding, Wordsworth, and Don Quixote. Mr. Lowell on such occasions always acquitted himself gracefully. He had few gestures, his voice was sweet, and the beauty of his language, his geniality, and courteous manner drew every one towards him. He was a great student, and preacher, and teacher of reform. He was in favor of the copyright law, and did his utmost to bring it about. He worked hard to secure tariff reform, and a pet idea of his was the reformation of the American civil service system. On all these subjects he spoke and wrote to the people with sincerity and earnestness. When aroused he could be eloquent, and even in later life, sometimes, some of the fire of the early days when he fought the slaveholders and the oppressors, would burst out with its old time energy. He was ever outspoken and fearless, regardless, apparently, of consequences, so long as his cause was just.

As professor of belles-lettres at Harvard University, he had ample opportunity for cultivating his literary studies, and though he continued to take a lively interest always in the political changes and upheavals constantly going on about him, he never applied for office. In politics he was a Republican. His party offered him the mission to Russia, but he declined the honor. During the Hayes administration, however, when his old classmate, General Devens, had a seat in the Cabinet, the government was more successful with him. He was tendered the post of Minister to Spain. This was in 1877, and he accepted it, somewhat half-heartedly, to be sure, for he had misgivings about leaving his lovely home at Elmwood, the house he was born in, the pride and glory of his life, the locale of many of his poems, the historic relic of royalist days. And then again, he did not care to leave the then unbroken circle of friends, for Dr. Holmes, John Holmes, Agassiz, Longfellow, Norton, Fields, John Bartlett, Whipple, Hale, James Freeman Clarke, and others of the famous Saturday club, he saw almost every day. And then, yet again, there was the whist club, how could he leave that? But he was overcome, and he went to Spain, and began, among the grandees and dons, his diplomatic career. His fame had preceded him, and he knew the language and literature of Cervantes well. It was not long before he became the friend of all with whom he came into contact. But no great diplomatic work engaged his attention, for there was none to do. The Queen Mercedes died, during his term, much beloved, and Mr. Lowell wrote in her memory one of his most chaste and beautiful sonnets:—

“Hers all that earth could promise or bestow,—

Youth, Beauty, Love, a crown, the beckoning years,

Lids never wet, unless with joyous tears,

A life remote from every sordid woe,

And by a nation’s swelled to lordlier flow.

What lurking-place, thought we, for doubts or fears,

When, the day’s swan, she swam along the cheers

Of the Acalá, five happy months ago?

The guns were shouting Io Hymen then

That, on her birthday, now denounce her doom;

The same white steeds that tossed their scorn of men

To-day as proudly drag her to the tomb.

Grim jest of fate! yet who dare call it blind,

Knowing what life is, what our humankind?”

In 1880, he was transferred to London, as “his excellency, the ambassador of American literature to the court of Shakespeare,” as a writer in the Spectator deliciously put it. He had a good field to work in, but, as the duties were light, he had ample time on his hands. He went about everywhere, the idol of all, the most engaging of men. Naturally, his tastes led him among scholars who in their turn made much of him. He was asked frequently to speak or deliver addresses and he always responded with tact. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge conferred on him their highest honors and the ancient Scottish University of Saint Andrew elected him rector,—a rare compliment, Emerson only being the other citizen of the United States so marked out for academic distinction. Some of his compatriots hinted that his English life was making him un-American. Others more openly asserted that the United States minister was fast losing the republic feelings which he took from America, and was becoming a British Conservative. The reply to those innuendoes and charges will be found in his spirited address on Democracy, which proves undeniably his sturdy faith in American institutions, American principles, and American manhood. Mr. Lowell maintained to the letter the political and national views which had long guided his career. His admirable temper and agreeable manner won the hearts of the people, but no effort was made to win him away from his allegiance, nor would he have permitted it had it been tried. In addition to being a great man and a well-informed statesman, he was a gentleman of culture and refinement. His gentleness and amiability may have been misconstrued by some, but be that as it may, the fact remains, he never showed weakness in the discharge of his diplomatic duties. He represented the United States in the fullest sense of the term. In 1885, he returned to America, Mr. E. J. Phelps taking his place, under President Cleveland. Though a Republican, Mr. Lowell differed from his party on the presidential candidate question. He favored the election of the Democrat nominee. Had he been in America during the campaign, he would have been found with Mr. George William Curtis, and his friends, opposing the return of Mr. Blaine. From 1885 to the date of his death, he added little to the volume of his literary work. He spent part of his time in England, and part in the United States. A poem, a brief paper, or an address or two, came from his pen, at irregular intervals. He edited a complete edition of his writings in ten volumes, and left behind him an unfinished biography of Hawthorne, which he was preparing for the American Men of Letters Series.