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THE COMPLETE WRITINGS OF
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
edition D



WITH PORTRAITS ILLUSTRATIONS
AND FACSIMILES

IN SIXTEEN VOLUMES
VOLUME XVI



LETTERS

OF

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

EDITED BY CHARLES ELIOT NORTON




IN THREE VOLUMES
VOLUME III



CAMBRIDGE

at tye Htorafoe

MCMIV



COPYRIGHT 1893 BY HARPER AND BROTHERS

COPYRIGHT 1904 BY CHARLES ELIOT NORTON

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



EDITION LIMITED TO ONE THOUSAND COPIES
THIS IS NUMBER ...



CONTENTS

VIII

1877-1880

VISIT TO BALTIMORE. APPOINTED MINISTER TO SPAIN.

LIFE IN MADRID. JOURNEY IN SOUTHERN

FRANCE. VISIT TO ATHENS AND CONSTANTI
NOPLE. ILLNESS OF MRS. LOWELL. TRANS
FERRED TO LONDON.

LETTERS TO MRS. S. B. HERRICK, J. B. THAYER, C. E.
NORTON, F. J. CHILD, MISS NORTON, MRS. EDWARD
BURNETT, MISS GRACE NORTON, THOMAS HUGHES,
H. W. LONGFELLOW, GEORGE PUTNAM, J. W. FIELD,
MRS. W. E. DARWIN, W. D. HOWELLS, LESLIE STE
PHEN, R. w. GILDER page 3

IX
1880-1885

IN LONDON. VACATION TOUR IN GERMANY AND

ITALY. DEATH OF MRS. LOWELL. DEPAR
TURE FROM ENGLAND.

LETTERS TO C. E. NORTON, H. W. LONGFELLOW, MRS.
W. E. DARWIN, R. W. GILDER, MRS. LOWELL, JOHN
W. FIELD, T. B. ALDRICH, W. D. HOWELLS, F. J.
CHILD, J. B. THAYER, GEORGE PUTNAM, MRS.
W. K. CLIFFORD, THOMAS HUGHES, O. W. HOLMES,
MISS GRACE NORTON 78

X

1885-1889

RETURN TO AMERICA. LIFE IN SOUTHBOROUGH AND

BOSTON. SUMMER VISITS TO ENGLAND.



vi CONTENTS

LETTERS TOW. D. HOWELLS, SYBELLA LADY LYTTELTON,
C. E. NORTON, R. W. GILDER, J. W. FIELD, R. S.
CHILTON, MISS GRACE NORTON, THE MISSES LAW
RENCE, MRS. LESLIE STEPHEN, MRS. EDWARD BUR
NETT, G. H. PALMER, T. B. ALDRICH, WALKER
FEARN, THOMAS HUGHES, MISS E. G. NORTON, LES
LIE STEPHEN, MISS SEDGWICK, F. H. UNDERWOOD,
MRS. J.T. FIELDS, DR. AND MRS. S. WEIR MITCHELL,
MRS. W. K. CLIFFORD, MRS. W. E. DARWIN . 133

XI

1889-1891

RETURN TO ELMWOOD. DECLINING HEALTH. VISIT

FROM LESLIE STEPHEN. THE END.

LETTERS TO LADY LYTTELTON, MRS. LESLIE STEPHEN,
R. W. GILDER, JOSIAH QUINCY, THE MISSES LAW
RENCE, W. D. HOWELLS, THOMAS HUGHES, S. WEIR
MITCHELL, MRS. W. K. CLIFFORD, LESLIE STEPHEN,
E. L. GODKIN, MISS KATE FIELD, C. E. NORTON, MISS
E. G. NORTON, W. W. STORY, EDWARD E. HALE,
MRS. R. W. GILDER, MRS. F. G. SHAW, A. K. MC-
ILHANEY, E. R. HOAR, MRS. BURNETT . . 256

APPENDIX : LETTER OF LESLIE STEPHEN . . . 323
INDEX 339



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL IN 1884 Frontispiece
From a photograph taken in Whitby, England

THE PALACE, MADRID . . . .52

From a drawing by Joseph Pennell

FRANCES DUNLAP LOWELL ... 94

From an original crayon at Elmwood, drawn by
S. W. Rowse

CHARLES ELIOT NORTON . . . .162
From a photograph

DEERFOOT FARM 202

From a photograph in 1888

WHITBY 240

From a photograph



LETTERS OF
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL



LETTERS OF
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

VIII

1877-1880

Visit to Baltimore. Appointed Minister to Spain.
Life in Madrid. Journey in Southern France.
Visit to Athens and Constantinople. Illness of Mrs.
Lowell. Transferred to London.

Letters to Mrs. S. B. Herrick, J. B. Thayer, C. E. Nor
ton, F. J. Child, Miss Norton, Mrs. E. Burnett, Miss
Grace Norton, Thomas Hughes, H. W. Longfellow,
George Putnam, J. W. Field, Mrs. W. E. Darwin,
W. D. Howells, Leslie Stephen, R. W. Gilder.

To Mrs. S. B. Herrick

ELMWOOD, January 14, 1877.

DEAR Mrs. Herrick, This morning
I poured some ink for the first time into
your pretty inkstand, and, as in duty
bound, hansel it by writing to you. It has been
standing on the shelf of my secretary, its mouth
wide open with astonishment at my ingrati
tude in not writing to thank you, ever since
it came. It need n t have been so jealous



4 LETTERS [1877

though, for I have written to nobody else mean
while, and it should remember that I can at any
moment shut it up tight, deny it ink, pen, and
paper, and thus cut it off from all its friends.
" Monster ! " I seem to hear it say, " you would
not surely deny me the sad consolation of send
ing my love to Mrs. Herrick and telling her
how homesick I am ? There are all kinds of
fine things in me, as good as were ever in any
inkstand that ever lived, if you had but the wit
to fish them out. If I had stayed with my dear
mistress I should ere this have found a vent for
my genius in a score of pleasant ways, but with
you I fear lest I go to my grave an encrier in-
compris ! " " Well, well, so long as you don t
make me uneasy with your reproaches, I shall
be sure to treat you kindly for the sake of your
old mistress, . . . who is always contriving plea
sant ways of making her friends grateful." . . .
I hope you maintain your tranquillity in this
ferment of politics. I do, for, as I made up my
mind deliberately, so I do not change it to please
the first man I meet. As I consider the question
of good government and prosperity in the South
ern States the most pressing one, I voted for Mr.
Hayes on the strength of his letter. I think it
would be better for North and South if he were
President. He would carry with him the better
elements of the Republican party, and whatever
its shortcomings (of which none is more bitterly



i8 7 7] TO MRS. S. B. HERRICK 5

conscious than I), the moral force of the North
and West is with them and not with the Demo
crats. Above all, if Mr. Hayes should show a
wise sympathy with the real wants and rights of
the Southern whites (as I believe he would), it
would be felt at the South to be a proof that the
whole country was inclined to do them justice.
From Mr. Tilden and the Democrats it would
be received as a matter of course. You see what
I mean? Of course I am not one of those who
would have Mr. Hayes " counted in."

I shall have the pleasure of seeing you now
in a few weeks. We have decided that, on the
whole, it is best that Mrs. Lowell should not
come with me. We both regret it, but it is
wise. Wisdom always has a savor of regret in
it ever since Eve s time. We have been having
a noble winter. The old fellow has been show
ing a little feebleness for a year or two, and we
thought he had abdicated. But now he has
grasped his icicle again and governs as well as
reigns. The world looks like a lamb in its white
fleece, but some of us know better.

Mrs. Lowell sends her love, and I wish you
and yours many happy returns of the New Year.
Unhappily it is generally the Old Year that
comes back again. However, we all play it is
the New, and that is something.

Good-by. Affectionately yours,

J. R. LOWELL.



6 LETTERS [1877

fo James B. Thayer

ELMWOOD, January 14, 1877.

Dear Sir, I am heartily thankful to you
for your very encouraging note. I write verses
now with as much inward delight as ever, but
print them with less confidence. For poetry
should be a continuous and controlling mood,
the mind should be steeped in poetical associa
tions, and the diction nourished on the purest
store of the Attic bee, and from all these my
necessary professional studies are alien. I think
the " Old Elm " the best of the three, 1 mainly
because it was composed after my college duties
were over, though even in that I was distracted by
the intervention of the Commencement dinner.

But what I wished to say a word to you
about (since you are so generous in your judg
ment) is the measures I have chosen in these
as well as the " Commemoration Ode." I am
induced to this by reading in an article on Cow-
ley copied into the "Living Age" from the
" Cornhill " (and a very good article too, in
the main) the following passage, "As lately as

1 Three Memorial Poems : << Ode read at the One Hun
dredth Anniversary of the Fight at Concord Bridge, April 1 9,
1775 ; " " Under the Old Elm," poem read at Cambridge
on the hundredth anniversary of Washington s taking com
mand of the American army, July 3, 1775 ; an " Ode for
the Fourth of July, 1876."



1 877] TO JAMES B. THAYER 7

our own day " (my ear would require " So lately
as," by the way) " Mr. Lowell s c Commemora
tion Ode is a specimen of the formless poem
of unequal lines and broken stanzas supposed
to be in the manner of Pindar, but truly the de
scendant of our royalist poet s c majestick num
bers. Now, whatever my other shortcomings
(and they are plenty, as none knows better than
I), want of reflection is not one of them. The
poems were all intended for public recitation.
That was the first thing to be considered. I
suppose my ear (from long and painful practice
on <. B. K. poems) has more technical experience
in this than almost any. The least tedious mea
sure is the rhymed heroic, but this, too, palls
unless relieved by passages of wit or even mere
fun. A long series of uniform stanzas (I am
always speaking of public recitation) with regu
larly recurring rhymes produces somnolence
among the men and a desperate resort to their
fans on the part of the women. No method
has yet been invented by which the train of
thought or feeling can be shunted off from the
epical to the lyrical track. My ears have been
jolted often enough over the sleepers on such
occasions to know that. I know something (of
course an American can t know much) about
Pindar. But his odes had the advantage of
being chanted. Now, my problem was to con
trive a measure which should not be tedious



8 LETTERS [1877

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 deliber
ately departed from that stricter form of the
Greek Chorus to which it was bound quite as
much (I suspect) by the law of its musical accom
paniment as by any sense of symmetry. I wrote
some stanzas of the " Commemoration Ode "
on this theory at first, leaving some verses with
out a rhyme to match. But my ear was better
pleased when 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 conso
nance. I think I have succeeded pretty well, and
if you try reading aloud I believe you would
agree with me. The sentiment of the " Con
cord Ode " demanded a larger proportion of
lyrical movements, of course, than the others.
Harmony, without sacrifice of melody, was what
I had mainly in view.

The "Cornhill" writer adds that "Keats,
Shelley, and Swinburne, on the other hand,
have restored to the ode its harmony and shape
liness." He and I have different notions of



1 877] TO JAMES B. THAYER 9

harmony. He evidently means uniformity of
recurrence. It is n t true of Shelley, some of
whose odes certainly were written on the Cow-
ley model. All of Wordsworth s are, except
the " Power of Sound " and the " Immortality,"
which is irregular, but whose cadences were
learned of Gray. (Our critic, by the way, calls
the latter, whose name he spells with an ?, a
" follower of Cowley." Gray s odes are regu
lar.) Coleridge s are also Cowleian in form, I
am pretty sure. But 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 regu
lar 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.
Pardon me all this. But I could not help
wishing to leave in friendly hands a protest
against being thought a lazy rhymer who wrote
in numeris that seem, but are not, lege solutis,
because it was easier. It is n t easier, if it be
done well, that is, if it attain to a real and
not a merely visual harmony of verse. The
mind should be rhymed to, as well as the ear
and eye. Mere uniformity gives the columns
and wings and things of Herbert and Quarles.
If I had had more time to mull over my staves
they would have been better.

Gratefully yours, J. R. LOWELL.



io LETTERS [1877

fo C. E. Norton

BALTIMORE, X February 18, 1877.

... It happened that Judge Brown spoke
of a letter he had received recommending some
body for the Professorship of Philosophy here.

This gave Child a chance to speak of

(Judge Brown is one of the trustees of the
Johns Hopkins), which he did as excellently
well as he lectures on Chaucer and reads him,
and that is saying a great deal. You lost, by
the way, a very great pleasure in not hearing
him read the Nonnes Prestes tale. I certainly
never heard anything better. He wound into
the meaning of it (as Dr. Johnson says of
Burke) like a serpent, or perhaps I should come
nearer to it if I said that he injected the veins
of the poem with his own sympathetic humor
till it seemed to live again. I could see his
hearers take the fun before it came, their faces
lighting with the reflection of his. I never saw
anything better done. I wish I could inspire
myself with his example, but I continue de
jected and lumpish. . . .

Child goes on winning all ears and hearts. 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. . . .

1 This visit to Baltimore was for the purpose of giving a
course of lectures on Poetry at Johns Hopkins University .



877] TO MISS NORTON u



To Miss Norton

" BAHLTIMER," February 22, 1877.
. . . We have just come back from celebrat
ing our Johns Hopkins Commemoration, and I
came home bringing my sheaf with me in the
shape of a lovely bouquet (I mean nosegay)
sent me by a dear old Quaker lady who remem
bered that it was my birthday. We had first
a very excellent address by our President Gil-
man, then one by Professor Gildersleeve on
Classical Studies, and by Professor Silvester on
the Study of Mathematics, both of them very
good and just enough spiced with the person
ality of the speaker to be taking. Then I, by
special request, read a part of my Cambridge
Elm poem, and actually drew tears from the
eyes of bitter secessionists comparable with
those iron ones that rattled down Pluto s cheek.
I did n t quite like to read the invocation to
Virginia here I was willing enough three or
four hundred miles north but I think it did
good. Teakle Wallace (Charles will tell you
who he is), a prisoner of Fort Warren, came up
to thank me with dry eyes (which he and others
assured me had been flooded), and Judge Brown
with the testifying drops still on his lids.

Silvester paid a charming compliment to
Child, and so did Gildersleeve. The former
said that he (C.) had invented a new pleasure
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY



12 LETTERS [1877

for them in his reading of Chaucer, and G., that
you almost saw the dimple of Chaucer s own
smile as his reading felt out the humor of the
verse. The house responded cordially. If I
had much vanity I should be awfully cross, but
I am happy to say that I have enjoyed dear
Child s four weeks triumph (of which he alone
is unconscious) to the last laurel-leaf. He is
such a delightful creature. I never saw so much
of him before, and should be glad I came here
if it were for [nothing but] my nearer know
ledge and enjoyment of him.

We are overwhelmed with kindness here. I
feel very much as an elderly oyster might who
was suddenly whisked away into a polka by an
electric eel. How I shall ever do for a consist
ent hermit again Heaven only knows. I eat
five meals a day, as on board a Cunarder on
the mid-ocean, and on the whole bear it pretty
well, especially now that there are only four lec
tures left. I shall see you, I hope, in a week
from to-morrow. Going away from home, I
find, does not tend to make us ##^rvalue those
we left behind. . . .

Your affectionate old friend,

J. R. L.



1 877] TO MRS. E. BURNETT 13

fo Mrs. E. Burnett

ELMWOOD, June 5, 1877.

... It must be kept close, but I have re
fused to go either to Vienna or Berlin. Indeed
I have no desire to go abroad at all. But I had
said that " I would have gone to Spain/ sup
posing that place to have been already filled.
But on Saturday I saw Mr. Evarts (by his re
quest) at the Revere House, who told me that
the President was much disappointed by my
refusal. He (Mr. Evarts) thought it possible
that an exchange might be made, in which case
I shall have to go. It will be of some use to me
in my studies, and I shall not stay very long
at any rate. But it is hard to leave Elmwood
while it is looking so lovely. The cankerworms
have burned up all my elms and apple trees, to
be sure, but everything else is as fresh as Eden.
I tried troughs and kerosene round the two elms
near the house, and they are not wholly con
sumed, but are bad enough. The crow black
birds, after prospecting two years, have settled
in the pines and make the view from the
veranda all the livelier. It is a very birdy year
for some reason or other. I can t explain it,
but there is a great difference in the volatility
(as Dr. Hosmer would have said) of the
seasons.



H LETTERS [1877

70 Miss Grace Norton

ELMWOOD, July I, 1877.

. . . We have been having a very busy week,
as you know. The President s visit was really
most successful, so far as the impression made
by him went. He seemed to me simple and
earnest, and I can t think that a man who has
had five horses killed under him will be turned
back by a little political discomfort. He has a
better head than the photographs give him, and
the expression of the eyes is more tender. I
was on my guard against the influence which
great opportunities almost always bring to bear
on us in making us insensibly transfer to the
man a part of the greatness that belongs to the
place. . . . Mrs. Hayes also pleased me very
much. She has really beautiful eyes, full of
feeling and intelligence, and bore herself with
a simple good-humor that was perfectly well-
bred. A very good American kind of princess,
I thought. Don t fancy I am taken off my feet
by the enthusiasm of contagion. You know I am
only too fastidious, and am too apt to be put at
a disadvantage by the impartiality of my eyes.
No, I am sure that both the President and his
wife have in them that excellent new thing we
call Americanism, which I suppose is that
" dignity of human nature " which the philoso
phers of the last century were always seeking



1 877] TO MISS GRACE NORTON 15

and never finding, and which, after all, consists,
perhaps, in not thinking yourself either better
or worse than your neighbors by reason of any
artificial distinction. As I sat behind them at
the concert the other night, I was profoundly
touched by the feeling of this kingship without
mantle and crown from the property-room of
the old world. Their dignity was in their very
neighborliness, instead of in their distance,
as in Europe. . . .

You must remember that I am " H. E." now
myself, and can show a letter with that super
scription. I have n t yet discovered in what my
particular kind of excellency consists, but when
I do I will let you know. It is rather amusing,
by the way, to see a certain added respect in the
demeanor of my fellow-townsmen towards me,
as if I had drawn a prize in the lottery and
was somebody at last. Indeed, I don t believe
I could persuade any except my old friends of
the reluctance with which I go. I dare say I
shall enjoy it after I get there, but at present it
is altogether a bore to be honorabled at every
turn. The world is a droll affair. And yet, be
tween ourselves, dear Grace, I should be pleased
if my father could see me in capitals on the
Triennial Catalogue. 1 You remember John-

1 The triennial (now quinquennial) catalogue of the gradu
ates of Harvard College ; now, since Harvard has grown to
a University, deprived alike of the dignity of its traditional



1 6 LETTERS [187?

son s pathetic letter to Chesterfield. How often
I think of it as I grow older ! . . .

^o Thomas Hughes

ELMWOOD, July 2, 1877.

... I should have written to you at once,
when I finally made up my mind to go to
Madrid, but that I heard of the death of Mrs.
Senior. Just after this I lost one of my oldest
and dearest friends in Jane Norton, and then
went Edmund Quincy, an intimate of more
than thirty years, at a moment s warning. I
had always reckoned on their both surviving
me (though Quincy was eleven years my elder),
for they both came of long-lived races. Of Mrs.
Senior I have a most delightful remembrance
when we rowed together on the Thames, and
she sang " Sally in our Alley " and " Wapping
Old Stairs " in a voice that gave more than
Italian sweetness to English words. I thought
that her sympathy with the poor, and her habit
of speaking with them, had helped to give this
sweetness to her voice. If heaven were a place
where it was all singing, as our Puritan forbears

Latin and of those capitals in which the sons of hers who had
attained to public official distinction such as that of Member
of Congress, or Governor of a State, or Judge of a U. S.
Court, were elevated above their fellow-students. To have
one s name in capitals in the catalogue was a reward worth
achieving.



i877] TO MISS GRACE NORTON 17

seem to have thought, the desire to hear that
voice again would make one more eager to get
there. I was in a very gloomy mood for a week
or two, and did n t like to write. There is no
consolation in such cases, for not only the heart
refuses to be comforted, but the eyes also have
a hunger which can never be stilled in this
world. . . .

To Miss Grace Norton

Grosvenor Hotel, Park Street,
LONDON, July 29, 1877.

... I have just come in from Hyde Park,
whither I go to smoke my cigar after break
fast. The day is as fine as they can make em in
London : the sun shines and the air is meadowy.
I sat and watched the sheep crawl through the
filmy distance, unreal as in a pastoral of the last
century, as if they might have walked out of
a London eclogue of Gay. Fancy saw them
watched by beribboned shepherdesses and
swains. Now and then a scarlet coat would
cross my eye like a stain of blood on the in
nocent green. The trees lifted their cumulous
outlines like clouds, and all around was the
ceaseless hum of wheels that never sleep. . . .
This scene in the Park is one of which I
never tire. I like it better than anything in
London. If I look westward I am in the coun
try. If I turn about, there is the never-ebbing
in .



1 8 LETTERS [1877

stream of coaches and walkers, the latter with
more violent contrasts of costume and condition
than are to be seen anywhere else, and with
oddities of face and figure that make Dickens
seem no caricaturist. The landscape has the
quiet far-offness of Chaucer. The town is still
the town of Johnson s London. . . .

To the Same

Hotel de Lorraine, 7 Rue de Beaune,
PARIS, August 8, 1877.

. . . Here we are in the same little hotel in
which you left us five years ago, and I never
walk out but I meet with scenes and objects
associated with you. It is the same Paris, and
more than ever strikes me as the handsomest
city in the world. I find nothing comparable to
the view up and down the river, or to the liveli
ness of its streets. At night the river with its
reflected lights, its tiny bateaux mouches with
their ferret eyes, creeping stealthily along as if in
search of prey, and the dimly outlined masses of
building that wall it in, gives me endless plea
sure. I am as fond as ever of the perpetual torch
light procession of the avenue of the Champs
Elysees in the evening, and the cafes chantants
are more like the Arabian Nights than ever. I
am pleased, too, as before with the amiable ways
and caressing tones of the French women
the little girl who waits on us at breakfast treats



1877] TO GEORGE PUTNAM 19

us exactly as if we were two babies of whom she
had the charge and with the universal courtesy
of the men. I am struck with the fondness of
the French for pets, and their kindness to them.
Some Frenchman (I forget who) has remarked
this, and contrasted it with their savage cruelty
towards their own race. I think, nevertheless,
that it indicates a real gentleness of disposition.
The little woman at the kiosque where I buy
my newspapers asked me at once (as does every
body else) after John Holmes. (She had a tame
sparrow he used to bring cake to.) " Ah ! " ex
claimed she, "quil etait bon ! Tout bon ! Ce
nest que les bons qui aiment les animaux! Et ce
monsieur , comme il les aimait ! ". . .

To George Putnam


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