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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Seventy-fifth birthday. Proceedings of the Maine historical society, February 27, 1882 online

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GIFT OF
Robert Warren Jones




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HENRY WADSWORTH
LONGFELLOW.



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIETHDAY.



PROCEEDINGS



OP THE



jHaine

FEBRUAKY 27, 1882.



PORTLAND:
HOYT, FOGG AND DONHAM,

193 MIDDLE STREET.



Copyright, 1882,
Br MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

All rights reserved.



Gin



RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE :

ELECTRO-TYPED AND PRINTED BY
H. 0. IIOUGHTON AND COMPANY



b



1807 1882.



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
V MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.



M769928



Often I think of the beautiful town

That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,

And my youth comes back to me.

My Lost Youth.

But the poet s memory here

Of the landscape makes a part.

Oliver Basselin.



PREFACE.



THE poems, papers, and letters included in this
volume were published in the " Portland Daily
Advertiser/ on the day following the meeting at
which they were read; but the edition was at
once exhausted. Since Mr. Longfellow s death
their republication has been frequently requested.
Worthy tributes have been paid to the poet s
memory. It is a pleasing thought to the members
of the Maine Historical Society that the proceed
ings of this meeting on Mr. Longfellow s last
birthday, in the city in which he was born, came
under his own eye, and reawakened thoughts of
his " Lost Youth."

H. S. B.

PORTLAND, May 18, 1882.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.



RECORD OF MEETING 9

OPENING ADDRESS. HON. W. G. BARROWS, Brunswick 15
LAUS LAUREATI. JAMES PHINNEY BAXTER, ESQ., Port
land 22

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, AND HIS PATERNAL

ANCESTRY. REV. HENRY S. BURRAGE, Portland . 29
GENERAL PELEG WADSWORTH, AND THE MATERNAL AN
CESTRY OF HENRY W. LONGFELLOW. HON. WILL
IAM GOOLD, Windbam 52

THE PORTLAND OF LONGFELLOW S YOUTH. EDWARD H.

ELWELL, ESQ., Portland 81

LONGFELLOW AS A STUDENT AND PROFESSOR AT BOWDOIN

COLLEGE. A. S. PACKARD, D. D., Brunswick . . 99
THE GENIUS OF LONGFELLOW. HON. GEORGE F. TALBOT,

Portland 107

LETTER FROM HON. JAMES W. BRADBURY . . .126
LETTER AND POEM FROM HON. ISRAEL WASHBURN, JR. . 130
TRIBUTE FROM HON. JOSEPH WILLIAMSON . . . .133

IN MEMORIAM.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY AT ITS SPRING MEETING,

MAY 25, 1882 137

ADDRESS BY REV. THOMAS HILL, D. D 157

ADDRESS BY HON. JOSEPH W. SYMONDS .... 160
ADDRESS BY REV. ASA DALTON 165



EECOED OF MEETING.



AT a meeting held in Portland on Monday
evening, February 27, 1882, the Maine Historical
Society celebrated the seventy-fifth birthday of
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was the desire
of the members that Mr. Longfellow himself might
honor the Society by his presence on that occasion,
and the President, Hon. J. W. Bradbury, extended
to him an earnest invitation, to which Mr. Long
fellow sent the following reply :

CAMBRIDGE, February 12, 1882.

DEAB- MR. BRADBURY, I am extremely obliged to
you for your cordial invitation to attend the meeting of
the Maine Historical Society, on the 27th of this month,
and greatly regret that I am prevented by illness from
accepting it. Rest assured that I highly appreciate the
honor the Society has done me in calling this meeting on
the anniversary of my birthday, and that I shall always
hold it in grateful remembrance. Reciprocating your
good wishes, I am Yours faithfully,

HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.



10 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

It was intended that the meeting should be held
in the rooms of the Society, in City Building, and
the walls had been adorned with portraits of dis
tinguished members of the Longfellow and Wads-
worth families, while in a case had been arranged
the following articles :

Letter of Stephen Longfellow, of Newbury, born 1685,
the blacksmith and ensign.

Letter of Stephen 2d, the school-master, son of the
above.

Letter of Stephen 3d, the judge, son of the above.

Letter of Stephen 4th, the statesman, son of the above
and father of Henry, the poet.

The original letter of Parson Thomas Smith, inviting
Stephen, the school-master, to visit Portland.

Silver tankard and silver porringer, marked " S. L. Ex
Dona Patris" made in 1770.

Autograph letter of General Peleg Wadsworth.

Stereoscopic views of the house built by General Peleg
Wadsworth in the town of Hiram, Maine, in 1800.

Silhouette portrait of General Peleg Wadsworth in
1784.

Portrait of Stephen Longfellow, the statesman, painted
by King, in Washington, about the year 1826.

The 4th of July, 1804, oration, delivered by Long
fellow, father of the poet, MS. and print.

A drawing of the Wads worth-Longfellow House on
Congress Street, as it stood when completed in 1785,
then only two stories.

An autograph poem, entitled " Venice, an Italian



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 11

Song," one stanza, dated Portland Academy, March 17,
1820, and signed Henry W. Longfellow, written at the
age of thirteen years.

Early printed books by Longfellow: "Manuel de
Proverbes Dramatiques," 1832; " Coplas de Don Jorge
Manrique," 1833 ; Outre-Mer," 1833.

The poetical works of Longfellow, two volumes quarto,
splendidly illustrated and bound, loaned by the publish
ers, Messrs. Houghton, MifHin & Co., Boston.

Sundry autograph poems of Longfellow.

Portrait of Henry W. Longfellow, painted by Badger,
in Brunswick, Me., about the year 1830.

Sketch of the village smithy at Cambridge, 1840, with
the chestnut-tree.

Photograph of the chair presented to the poet by the
children of Cambridge in 1879, made from the wood of
the chestnut-tree near the village smithy.

But at an early hour the Library was crowded,
and it was found necessary to adjourn to Reception
Hall, which was at once filled, while many who
sought admission were turned away. Among those
present were the poet s brother, Alexander Long
fellow, and family, of Portland ; his two sisters,
Mrs. Annie L. Pierce, of Portland, and Mrs. Mary
L. Greenleaf, of Cambridge, Mass.; and his nephew,
Mr. William P. P. Longfellow, of Boston.

In the absence of the President of the Society,
Hon. J. W. Bradbury, of Augusta, the Vice-Presi-
dent, Hon. W. G. Barrows, of Brunswick, presided.



12 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

On a table before him was a bust of Longfellow,
by Paul Akers ; at his right was a large and beau
tiful bouquet, the gift of Mrs. John B. Brown ; on
the wall in the rear of the Vice-President was sus
pended the sword presented to Commodore Alex
ander Samuel Wadsworth by the citizens of Port
land ; on a frame at the left were drawings of the
old Longfellow and Wadsworth houses.

Judge Barrows delivered the opening address.
At the close of the address, on motion of E. H. El-
well, Esq., of Portland, the following telegram was
sent to Mr. Longfellow :

PORTLAND, February 27, 1882.

To H. W. LONGFELLOW, Cambridge, Mass. :

The members of the Maine Historical Society, assem
bled with friends, in honor of your seventy-fifth birthday,
send greetings and congratulations.

H. W. BRYANT, Recording Secretary.

James P. Baxter, Esq., of Portland, then read
a poem, " Laus Laureati," and near the close, at
the words,

" And now, I may

This wreath from Deering s woods, O Master, lay
Upon thy brow,"

he placed a chaplet of oak leaves upon the bust of
the poet, amid long-continued applause.

Kev. Henry S. Burrage, of Portland, followed
with a paper on " Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
and his Paternal Ancestry."



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 13

Hon. William Goold, of Windham, read a paper
on " Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, the Maternal Grand
father of Henry W. Longfellow."

Edward H. Elwell, Esq., of Portland, read a
paper on " The Portland of Longfellow s Youth."

Prof. A. S. Packard, D.D., of Bowdoin College,
read a paper on " Longfellow as a Student and
Professor at Bowdoin College."

Hon. George F. Talbot, of Portland, read a paper
on "The Genius of Longfellow."

At the close of the reading of these papers,
the following telegram from Mr. Longfellow was
read :

CAMBRIDGE, February 27, 1882.

To H. W. BRYANT, Recording Secretary of Maine His
torical Society, Portland, Me. :

Your telegram received. I return cordial thanks to
the members of the Society, and am grateful for this
signal mark of their remembrance and regard.

HENKY W. LONGFELLOW.

The Secretary announced letters from Hon. J.
W. Bradbury and Hon. Israel Washburn, Jr., but
their reading was omitted on account of the late
ness of the hour. They will be found at the close
of the papers : also a tribute to Mr. Longfellow,
by Hon. Joseph Williamson, of Belfast, which was
received too late for the meeting.

It is proper to add in this connection that in



14 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

the city, during the day, flags and other decora
tions were displayed on the public buildings ; on
the house at the corner of Fore and Hancock
streets in which Mr. Longfellow was born; and
on many private residences ; while the English
steamers in port, in their holiday dress, bore beau
tiful testimony to the fact that in England as well
as in America the poems of Longfellow have en
deared him to the hearts of the people.



OPENING ADDRESS.

BY HON. W. G. BARROWS, BRUNSWICK.

BRETHREN OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN :

I bespeak your kind indulgence for my inex
perience, and your prompt and zealous coopera
tion, in undertaking the performance of my duties
on this occasion. To the members of the Society
it is well known that the punctual attendance of
our President has made the Vice-Presidency prac
tically a sinecure, and this, with my own enforced
absence at most of the extraordinary meetings of
the society, must be my apology for my deficien
cies now, which I look to your kindness to supply.

I feel that it would not be quite proper for me
to direct the crier to proclaim that all who have
anything to do here to-night may draw near and
give their attendance, and they shall be heard, and
then quietly await the result : but I have an im
pression that, in presiding at such a gathering,
the best form is the nearest possible approach to
a want of form, or at least of formality, and I have
no fear that in this assembly the divine law of



16 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

order would be greatly infringed even if the chair
were altogether vacant.

But I believe it to be a part of my pleasant
duty to state the object of our meeting.

The first notice of it which I saw in the news
papers spoke of it, if I remember rightly, as a
meeting to do honor to the poet Longfellow on the
occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday. Perhaps it
would be more accurate to say that it is a meet
ing to testify our sense of the honor he has done
to this, his birthplace. It is very little we can do
to honor him whose own works have long ago
crowned him a king in the hearts of men, to bear
sway wherever and so long as the English lan
guage is spoken or understood.

We meet to claim for this good city the honor
which from time immemorial has always been con
ceded to the birthplaces of poets and seers, to
do our part to link the name of " the dear old
town" with his, as he has linked it in the loving
description which he has given in the idyl of
"My Lost Youth."

For a more potent reason than the chiseled in
scription on the ancient mill which links the name
of Oliver Basselin with the Valley of the Vire, in
all coming time, " shall the poet s memory here
of the landscape make a part," because we know
that the lyrics of our poet are indeed



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 17

" Songs of that high art
Which, as winds do in the pine,
Find an answer in each heart,"

and we meet to bear witness to this.

More than this, we meet to testify our sense of
personal obligation to him, not merely for the ex
quisite pleasure afforded by the wonderful melody
of his verse, but for the didactic force that has im
pressed it on us that

" All common things, each day s events,

That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,

Are rounds by which we may ascend."

It is no mere gospel of idle contentment with
pleasant trifles that he has preached to us. Even
the dullest of us could not read him without being
moved at least to strive to place ourselves on a
higher plane, Excelsior. In ancient days poet
and seer were convertible terms, and the best of
our modern poets are prophets also.

What insight was it which made him, in Jan
uary, 1861, rouse us with

" Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,"

when all unconsciously we stood so near another
and bloodier Lexington ?

Philanthropy of the purest, patriotism of the
most exalted kind, have by turns inspired him ;



18 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

and whether he sang of the " Slave s Dream/ or
the " Warning " drawn from the

" Poor, blind Samson in this land,
Shorn of his strength, and bound in bonds of steel,"

or of the Cumberland, sunk in Hampton Roads,
or of the beautiful youth slain at the ford, the
lesson was timely, and it told the story well of
the heroism and endurance which carried this
nation through its last great struggle triumphant.
We meet to pass an hour in expressing our ad
miration for the bard, the scholar, and the patriot,
whose every utterance from his youth up has
been pure and noble, and has tended to raise this
nation in the scale of humanity. I am proud to
say that when he lived with us he was an active
member of this Society, and the ripe and golden
fruits of his historical studies we have in the story
of Priscilla, the Puritan Maiden ; in the pen
sive loveliness of "Evangeline," that tale of the
" strength, submission, and patience " of the Aca
dian refugees ; in the musical song of " Hiawa
tha ; " and in many another gem evoked from the
Chronicles of the Past and set in tuneful verse.
But, after all, it seems to me that that which
brings him nearer to our hearts, and has more to
do with bringing us together here to-night, than
his wide-spread renown, or the fame that attaches
to his more stately and elaborate poems, is the



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 19

light which he has thrown around home and
hearth and heart in some of those lighter but un-
equaled lyrics, which from time to time have
"gone through us with a thrill/ which are
haunting our memories still, and which are and
will always be dear to us because dear to those
whom we love. Who of us can think of home,
now, and all that we hold dear in it, without some
how associating with it and them reminiscences of
" The Footsteps of Angels," " The Golden Mile-
Stone," " The Old Clock on the Stairs," " The
Children s Hour," "The Fire of Drift-Wood,"
" The Wind over the Chimney," and " Daybreak,"
and "Twilight," and " Curfew," and the "Psalm,"
and the " Goblet of Life," and " The Keaper and
the Flowers"? And where can I stop, having
begun to enumerate ?

For nearly thirty years I have occupied the
house he lived in when in Brunswick, an old
house whose first proprietors have long since
passed away ; and I sometimes wonder whether it
is, in his thought, one of the " Haunted Houses,"
through whose

" Open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors."

Since the wonderful legend of " Sandalphon "
first made a lodgment in my memory, more than



20 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

a score of years ago, I cannot number the times I
have been called upon to repeat it in the stillness
of the evening hour and in the weary night
watches, because its melodious numbers had in
them a spell "to quiet the fever and pain " of one
who has now for years breathed the fragrance that
is " wafted through the streets of the city immor
tal." And hence it is that " the legend I feel is
a part of the hunger and thirst of the heart," and
my warmest gratitude goes forth to him who min
istered comfort to the invalid in the sweet strains
that breathe unwavering faith and trust in the
good All-Father. Hence I say that we meet here
to express not simply our admiration of the poet,
our sense of obligation to the teacher, the patriot,
and the philanthropist, but also our reverent affec
tion for the man who has done so much to brighten
and cheer not only our own lives, but the lives of
those we love, in sickness and in health.

Not he the poet of despair, or morbid melan
choly, or depressing doubt, misbegotten by the
wild self-conceit which assumes that the finite
human intellect is capable of penetrating all mys
teries because it has mastered some, and madly
argues that it is a proof of superior wisdom to re
ject everything it cannot understand. Not so he,
but the poet of a broad Christian faith and an
unfading hope that " what we know not now we



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 21

shall know hereafter/ if we strive in earnest to
rise above " that which is of the earth earthy."

I think his motto in all his productions must
have been, " Nee satis est pulchra esse poemata
dulcia sunto."

" T is not enough a poem s finely writ ;
It must affect and captivate the soul."

If success can be predicated of any mortal life,
surely his has been a success.

Ilacriv yap cv^>povo\i(JL crv^tx^ta^et rv^rj.

The Maine Historical Society and their guests,
assembled at his birthplace to celebrate the birth
day of their former member, the renowned poet
Longfellow, send him their fervent and united
wishes for his health and happiness.



LA.US IAUREATI.

BY JAMES PHINNEY BAXTER, PORTLAND.

I SING no common theme, but of a man,
One who, full-voiced, the highway of the King
Gladdens with song ; inspiring lives which span
A fruitless field where little joy may spring,
And which, from birth, may win no better thing
Than paltry bread, and shelter from the blast,
Till unto death s low house they come at last.

It needs more fluent tongue than mine to sing

In fitting measure of a poet born,

Greater than crosiered priest or sceptred king,

Since such are made, and may by chance be shorn

Of all their glory by to-morrow morn ;

But born a poet, he shall surely be

Ever a poet to eternity.

Of such I strive to sing : one who shall live

In Fame s high house while stars make glad the sky,

That happy house which many hapless give

Life s choicest pearls to gain, since none may die

Who come within its halls so fair and high.

Would I might win it, with no thought but this,

That I might others bring soul-health and bliss.



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 23

But, Master, one who is about to die

Brings thee a crown, which, though not one of bay,

May haply mind thee of some things gone by

Pleasant to think of matters put away

In rooms forgot, where truant memories play

At hide and seek ; for beareth it, forsooth,

Savor of things well loved by thee in youth.

Of Deering s Woods, which whisper softly still,

A boy s will is the wind s will, as of yore

They lisped to thee, where sweet-voiced birds would trill,

In haunts wherein thou soughtest tuneful lore ;

Of bluff and beach along our rugged shore

Girting the bay, whose isles enchanted drew

Thy venturous thoughts to havens ever new.

Dear Master, let me take thy hand a space
And lead thee gently wheresoe er I may ;
With the salt sea s cool breath upon thy face,
And in thine ears the music of the spray,
Which rapt in days agone thy soul away,
Where hung full low the golden fruit of truth,
Within the reach of thy aspiring youth.

Thou knowest well the place : here built George Cleeves
Almost two centuries before thy birth ;
Here was his corn-field ; here his lowly eaves
Sheltered the swallows, and around his hearth
The red-men crouched poor souls of little worth :
Thou with clear vision seest them, I know,
As they were in the flesh long years ago.



24 HENRY WADS WORTH LONGFELLOW.

Surely the shrewd, persistent pioneer

Built better than he knew : he thought to build

A shelter for himself, his kith and gear ;

But felled the trees, and grubbed and plowed and tilled,

That in the course of time might be fulfilled

A wondrous purpose, being no less than this,

That here a poet might be born to bliss.

Ah I could he but have tracked adown the dim,
Long, weary path of years, and stood to-day
With thee and me, how would the eyes of him
Have flashed with pride and joy to hear men say,
Here Cleeves built the first house in Casco Bay !
Here, too, was our loved laureate s place of birth,
And sooth, God sent his singers upon earth.

Thou canst not find Clay Cove ? T was here, wilt say,

When thou didst listen to the runnet s song,

Leaping to meet the full lips of the bay.

Well, let us climb Munjoy; lo ! good and strong,

In the same coat of red it hath so long

Disported bravely, spite of flood and flame,

The old Observatory, still the same.

And there the forts, and farther seaward yet,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day,
The light-house standeth still, as firmly set
Upon its flinty throne amidst the spray
As erst when thou didst dream thy soul away
To the hoarse Hebrides, or bright Azore,
Or flashing surges of San Salvador.



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 25

And, ere we leave, look where still sleep the two
Brave captains, who in bloody shrouds were brought
From the great sea-fight, whilst the bugles blew,
And drums rolled, and gaunt cannon terror wrought
In childish hearts ; the place thou oft has sought
To dream the fight o er, while the busy hum
Of toil from wharf and street would strangely come.

But now along the teeming thoroughfare
Thread we our way. Strange faces, sayest thou ?
Yet names well known to thee some haply bear,
And shouldst thou scan more closely face and brow,
Old looks would come well known to thee enow,
Which shone on faces of the girls and boys
Who shared with thee the sweets of youthful joys.

And now we come where, rough with rent and scar,
The ancient rope- walk stood, low roofed and gray,
Embalmed with scent of oakum, flax, and tar,
Cob webbed and dim, and crammed with strange array
Of things which lure the thoughts of youth away
To wondrous climes, where never ship hath been,
Nor foot hath .trod, nor curious eye hath seen.

Gone? Why, I dreamt ! A moment since twas there,
Or seemed to be. Their lives frail thread, t is true,
The spinners long since spun ; the maidens fair,
Swinging and laughing as their shadows flew
Along the grass, have swung from earthly view,
And the gay mountebanks have vaulted quite
Into oblivion s eternal night.



26 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

And they are gone : the woman at the well ;
The old man ringing in the noontide heat ;
The shameless convicts with their faces fell ;
The boy and kite, and steeds with flying feet,
And sportsmen ambushed midst of leafage sweet;
Aye, and the ships rejoicing in the breeze
Are rotting on the shores of unknown seas.

But, Master, let us fare to old Bramhall,

Up Free and Main streets this is State ; full well

The house where Mellen lived thou must recall,

Seeing a poet once therein might dwell;

Though short of Fame s fair house he hapless fell,

Tracing his name half listless, in the reach

Of every tide which sweeps Time s treacherous beach.

And here is cool Bramhall, and there still stands
The Deering house, as thou hast known it long ;
Where Bracket s house stood, ere with murderous hands
The Indians thronged around it witched of wrong
One August day, with torch and savage song,
And swept it from the earth. Ah ! little hope
Beamed then within poor Falmouth s horoscope.

But time hath made all right now. See, where rest
The eternal hills, which once, with fervid eyes,
The Indian saw within the havening west,
And called the crystal mountains, poetwise,
Dreaming that thitherward lay Paradise ;
Whither each evening went the chief of day,
Bedecked with painted robes and feathers gay.



SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY. 27

T was not so far amiss, for type more grand.

Of the celestial hills no eye hath seen :

Towering in splendid majesty they stand,

Like portals heaven s immortal courts to screen,

Curtained with buoyant clouds of purest sheen,

Which rise and fall, yet ever seem to hold

A mystery bosomed in each shadowy fold.

Pile upon pile they rise and meet the sky,

Blue, over-arching, like a mighty dome.

Even such a temple doth my spirit s eye

Limn for those souls who through achievement come

To well- won fame. Lo ! in this glorious home

I see them sit august, and, crowned with bays,

Across the silent centuries calmly gaze.

Homer unkempt, with close, sagacious look ;
Plato, in whose calm face pale mysteries bide ;
Virgil, smooth-cheeked with oaten pipe and crook;
Grave Sophocles, with eyes unsatisfied,
Where riddles all unread in ambush hide ;
Keen-eyed Euripides, whose books were men,
And jovial Horace with satiric pen.

And dear old Chaucer, loved of gods and men,


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