James Russell Lowell.

The poetical works of Joames Russell Lowell. Household ed. online

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Kuscrll Lotnrll-

Edition, n vols. crown 8vo, gilt top, each, $ 1.50; the set,

1-4. Literary Essays (including My Study Windows, Among
My Books, Fireside Travels) ; 5 Political Essays; 6. Literary
and Political Addresses ; 7. Latest Literary Essays and Ad
dresses, The Old English Dramatists; 8-n. Poems.

PROSE WORKS. Riverside Edition. With Portraits. 7 vols.
crown 8vo, gilt top, $ 10.50.

POEMS. Riverside Edition. With Portraits. 4 vols. crown
8vo, gilt top, $6.00.

J. R. LOWELL. A Biography, by H. E. Scudder. Riverside
Edition. 2 vols. crown 8vo, gilt top, $3.50, net.

Printed from clear type on opaque paper, and attractively
bound. With a Portrait and engraved Title-page, and a
Vignette of Lowell s Home, Elmwood. Large crown 8vo,

Household Edition. With Portrait and Illustrations. Crown
8vo, $1.50.

Cabinet Edition. i8mo, $1.00.
For the numerous single volumes by Mr. Lowell, see Catalogue.









COPYRIGHT, 1848, 1857, 1866, 1868, 1869, 1876, 1885, 1888, and 1890

Copyright, 1894, 18%, and 1897,

Copyright, 1895

All rights reserved.

tte Riverside Presx, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.
Klectrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Company.

College i




SFfjt* JFtrst (Complete fEittion of tng




JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL was born at Elmwood, Cambridge, Mas
sachusetts, February 22, 1819. On his father s side he came from a
succession of New England men who for the previous three generations
had been in professional life. The Lowells traced their descent from
Percival Lowell, a name which survives in the family, of Bristol,
England, who settled in Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1639. Of the
Rev. Charles Lowell, his son said, in a letter written in 1844, " He is
Doctor Primrose in the comparative degree, the very simplest and
charmingest of sexagenarians, and not without a great deal of the
truest magnanimity." It was characteristic of Lowell thus to go to
The Vicar of Wakefield for a portrait of his father. Dr. Lowell
lived till 1861, when his son was forty-two.

Mrs. Harriet Spence Lowell, the poet s mother, was of Scotch origin,
a native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is described as having
" a great memory, an extraordinary aptitude for language, and a pas
sionate fondness for ancient songs and ballads." It pleased her to
fancy herself descended from the hero of one of the most famous bal
lads, Sir Patrick Spens, and at any rate she made a genuine link in the
Poetic Succession. In a letter to his mother, written in 1837, Lowell
says : " lam engaged in several poetical effusions, one of which I have
dedicated to you, who have always been the patron and encourager of
my youthful muse." The Russell in his name seems to intimate a strain
of Jewish ancestry ; at any rate Lowell took pride in the name on this
account, for he was not slow to recognize the intellectual power of the
Hebrew race. He was the youngest of a family of five, two daughters
and three sons.

His acquaintance with books and his schooling began early. He
learned his letters at a dame school. Mr. William Wells, an English
man, opened a classical school in one of the spacious Tory Row houses


near Elmwood, and, bringing with him English public school thorough
ness and severity, gave the boy a drilling in Latin, which he must have
made almost a native speech to judge by the ease with which he han
dled it afterward in mock heroics. Of course he went to Harvard Col
lege. He lived at his father s house, more than a mile away from the
college yard ; but this could have been no great privation to him, for
he had the freedom of his friends rooms, and he loved the open air.
He was but fifteen years old when he entered college in the class which
graduated in 1838. He was a reader, as so many of his fellows were,
and the letters which he wrote shortly after leaving college show how
intent he had been on making acquaintance with the best things in
literature. He began also to scribble verse, and he wrote both poems
and essays for college magazines. His class chose him their poet for
Class Day, and he wrote his poem ; but he was careless about conform
ing to college regulations respecting attendance at morning prayers,
and for this was suspended from college the last term of his last year,
and not allowed to come back to read his poem.

After his graduation he set about the study of law, and for a short
time even was a clerk in a counting-room ; but his bent was strongly
toward literature. There was at that time no magazine of command
ing importance in America, and young men were given to starting mag
azines with enthusiasm and very little other capital. Such a one was
the Boston Miscellany, launched by Nathan Hale, Lowell s college
friend, and for this Lowell wrote gayly. It lived a year, and shortly
after, in 1843, Lowell himself, with Robert Carter, essayed The Pio
neer. It lived just three months ; but in that time printed contribu
tions by Lowell, Hawthorne, Whittier, Story, Poe, and Dr. Parsons,
a group which it would be hard to match in any of the little magazines
that hop across the world s path to-day. Lowell had already collected,
in 1841, the poems which he had written and sometimes contributed
to periodicals into a volume entitled A Year s Life ; but he retained
very little of the contents in later editions of his poems. The book
has a special interest, however, from its dedication in veiled phrase to
Maria White. He became engaged to this lady in the fall of 1840,
and the next twelve years of his life were profoundly affected by her
influence. Herself a poet of delicate power, she brought into his life
an intelligent sympathy with his work ; it was, however, her strong
moral enthusiasm, her lofty conception of purity and justice, which


kindled his spirit and gave force and direction to a character which was
ready to respond, and yet might otherwise have delayed active expres
sion. They were not married until 1844 ; but they were not far apart
in their homes, and during these years Lowell was making those early
ventures in literature, and first raids upon political and moral evil,
which foretold the direction of his later work, and gave some hint of
its abundance.

About the time of his marriage, he published two books which, by
their character, show pretty well the divided interest of his life. His
bent from the beginning was more decidedly literary than that of any
contemporary American poet. That is to say, the history and art of
literature divided his interest with the production of literature, and he
carried the unusual gift of a rare critical power, joined to hearty
spontaneous creation. It may indeed be guessed that the keenness of
judgment and incisiveness of wit which characterize his examination
of literature sometimes interfered with his poetic power, and made
him liable to question his art when he would rather have expressed it
unchecked. One of the two books was a volume of poems ; the other
was a prose work, Conversations on Some of the Old Poets. He did
not keep this book alive ; but it is interesting as marking the enthusi
asm of a young scholar treading a way then almost wholly neglected in
America, and intimating a line of thought and study in which he after
ward made most noteworthy venture. Another series of poems fol
lowed in 1848, and in the same year The Vision of Sir Launfal.
Perhaps it was in reaction from the marked sentiment of his poetry
that he issued now a jeu d esprit, A Fable for Critics, in which he
hit off, with a rough and ready wit, the characteristics of the writers
of the day, not forgetting himself.

The portrait of himself, thus drawn, is but half serious, and it touches
but a single feature ; others can say better that Lpwell s ardent nature
showed itself in the series of satirical poems which made him famous,
The Biglow Papers, written in a spirit of indignation and fine scorn,
when the Mexican War was causing many Americans to blush with
shame at the use of the country by a class for its own ignoble ends.
Lowell and his wife, who brought a fervid anti-slavery temper as part
of her marriage portion, were both contributors to the Liberty Bell ;
and Lowell was a frequent contributor to the Anti-Slavery Standard,
and was, indeed, for a while a corresponding editor. In June, 1846,


there appeared one day in the Boston Courier a letter from Mr.
Ezekiel Biglow of Jaalam to the editor, Hon. Joseph T. Buckingham,
inclosing a poem of his son, Mr. Hosea Biglow. It was no new thing
to seek to arrest the public attention with the vernacular applied to
public affairs. Major Jack Downing and Sam Slick had been notable
examples, and they had many imitators ; but the reader who laughed
over the racy narrative of the unlettered Ezekiel, and then took up
Hosea s poem and caught the gust of Yankee wrath and humor blown
fresh in his face, knew that he was in at the appearance of something
new in American literature. The force which Lowell displayed in
these satires made his book at once a powerful ally of an anti-slavery
sentiment, which heretofore had been ridiculed.

A year in Europe, 1851-52, with his wife, whose health was then
precarious, stimulated his scholarly interests, and gave substance to
his study of Dante and Italian literature. In October, 1853, his wife
died ; she had borne him three children : the first-born, Blanche, died
in infancy ; the second, Walter, also died young ; the third, a daughter,
Mrs. Burnett, survived her parents. In 1855 he was chosen successor
to Longfellow as Smith Professor of the French and Spanish Lan
guages and Literature and Professor of Belles Lettres in Harvard
College. He spent two years in Europe in further preparation for the
duties of his office, and in 1857 was again established in Cambridge
and installed in his academic chair. He married, also, at this time
Miss Frances Dunlap, of Portland, Maine.

Lowell was now in his thirty-ninth year. As a scholar, in his pro
fessional work, he had acquired a versatile knowledge of the Romance
languages, and was an adept in old French and Provengal poetry ; he
had given a course of twelve lectures on English poetry before the
Lowell Institute in Boston, which had made a strong impression on the
community, and his work on the series of British Poets in connection
with Professor Child, especially his biographical sketcli of Keats, had
been recognized as of a high order. In poetry he had published the vol
umes already mentioned. In general literature he had printed in mag
azines the papers which he afterward collected into his volume, Fire
side Travels. Not long after he entered on his college duties, The
Atlantic Monthly was started, and the editorship given to him. He
held the office for a year or two only ; but he continued to write for
the magazine, and in 1862 he was associated with Mr. Charles Eliot


Norton in the conduct of The North American Review, and continued
in this charge for ten years. Much of his prose was contributed
to this periodical. Any one reading the titles of the papers which
comprise the volumes of his prose writings will readily see how much
literature, and especially poetic literature, occupied his attention.
Shakespeare, Dryden, Lessing, Rousseau, Dante, Spenser, Words
worth, Milton, Keats, Carlyle, Percival, Thoreau, Swinburne, Chau
cer, Emerson, Pope, Gray, these are the principal subjects of his
prose, and the range of topics indicates the catholicity of his taste.

In these papers, when studying poetry, he was very alive to the per
sonality of the poets, and it was the strong interest in humanity
which led Lowell, when he was most diligent in the pursuit of liter
ature, to apply himself also to history and politics. Several of his
essays bear witness to this, such as Witchcraft, New England Two
Centuries Ago, A Great Public Character (Josiah Quincy), Abraham
Lincoln, and his great Political Essays. But the most remarkable
of his writings of this order was the second series of The Biglow
Papers, published during the war for the Union. In these, with the
wit and fun of the earlier series, there was mingled a deeper strain
of feeling and a larger tone of patriotism. The limitations of his style
in these satires forbade the fullest expression of his thought and emo
tion ; but afterward in a succession of poems, occasioned by the honors
paid to student soldiers in Cambridge, the death of Agassiz, and the
celebration of national anniversaries during the years 1875 and 1876,
he sang in loftier, more ardent strains. The most famous of these
poems was his noble Commemoration Ode.

It was at the close of this period, when he had done incalculable ser
vice to the republic, that Lowell was called on to represent the coun
try, first in Madrid, where he was sent in 1877, and then in London,
to which he was transferred in 1880. Eight years were thus spent
by him in the foreign service of the country. He had a good know
ledge of the Spanish language and literature when he went to Spain ;
but he at once took pains to make his knowledge fuller and his accent
more perfect, so that he could have intimate relations with the best
Spanish men of the time. In England he was at once a most welcome
guest, and was in great demand as a public speaker. No one can read
his dispatches from Madrid and London without being struck by his
sagacity, hig readiness in emergencies, his interest in and quick percep-


tion of the political situation in the country where he was resident, and
his unerring knowledge as a man of the world. Above all, he was
through and through an American, true to the principles which un
derlie American institutions. His address on Democracy, which he
delivered in England, is one of the great statements of human liberty.
A few years later, after his return to America, he gave another address
to his own countrymen on The Place of the Independent in Politics.
It was a noble defense of his own position, not without a trace of dis
couragement at the apparently sluggish movement in American self-
government of recent years, but with that faith in the substance of his
countrymen which gave him the right to use words of honest warning.
The public life of Mr. Lowell made him more of a figure before the
world. He received honors from societies and universities ; he was
decorated by the highest honors which Harvard could pay officially ;
and Oxford and Cambridge, St. Andrews and Edinburgh and Bo
logna, gave him gowns. He established warm personal relations with
Englishmen, and, after his release from public office, he made several
visits to England. There, too, was buried his wife, who died in 1885.
The closing years of his life in his own country, though touched with
domestic loneliness and diminished by growing physical infirmities that
predicted his death, were rich also with the continued expression of his
large personality. He delivered the public address in commemoration
of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Harvard University ; he
gave a course of lectures on the Old English Dramatists before the
Lowell Institute ; he collected a volume of his poems ; he wrote and
spoke on public affairs ; and, the year before his death, revised, re
arranged, and carefully edited a definitive series of his writings in ten
volumes. He died at Elmwood, August 12, 1891. Since his death
three small volumes have been added to his collected writings, and
Mr. Norton has published Letters of James Russell Lowell, in two



Threnodia 1

The Sirens 2

Irene .....3

Serenade 4

With a Pressed Flower . . 5

The Beggar 5

My Love 5

Summer Storm 6

Love 7

To Perdita, Singing ." . 8

The Moon 9

Remembered Music 9

Song . . ........ ....... .9

Allegra 10

The Fountain . . . ... . . . . . . . . .10

Ode 11

The Fatherland . ... 13

The Forlorn 14

Midnight ........ 15

A Prayer 15

The Heritage 15

The Rose : A Ballad . . . . 16

Song 17

Rosaline 17

A Requiem . : ... . . ..... .... 18

A Parable 18

Song . . . .19


I. To A. C. L. . . . . ... . . . . . . .19

ii. "What were I, Love" 19

in. " I would not have this perfect love " , . . .20

iv. " For this true nobleness " . . 20

v. To the Spirit of Keats . . . . . . ....... . .20

vi. "Great Truths are portions of the soul" ........ 20

vn. " I ask not for those thoughts " . . . ...... .20

vin. To M. W., on her birthday , 21

ix. " My Love, I have no fear " SI

x. " I cannot think that thou " . 21


xi. " There never yet was flower " 21

xn. Sub Pondere Crescit 22

xni. " Beloved, in the noisy city here " 22

xiv. On reading Wordsworth s Sonnets in Defence of Capital Punishment . . 22

xv. The same continued - 22

xvi. The same continued 22

xvn. The same continued 23

xvin. The same continued S3

xix. The same continued 23

xx. To M. O. S 23

xxi. "Our love is not a fading, earthly flower" 24

xxii. In Absence . 24

xxin. Wendell Phillips M

xxiv. The Street 24

xxv. " I grieve not that ripe Knowledge " -.-... . .25

xxvi. To J. R. Giddings if

xxvii. " I thought our love at full " . . 25

L Envoi 25


A Legend of Brittany ...-.. 27

Prometheus ....>. 38

The Shepherd of King Admetus ..-... 44

The Token . . 44

An Incident in a Railroad Car 44

Rhcecus . 46

The Falcon 48

Trial . . 48

A Glance behind the Curtain . 49

A Chippewa Legend 54

Stanzas on Freedom . 66

Columbus - 56

An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg .......... 60

The Sower 61

Hunger and Cold .-,..- 61

The Landlord 62

To a Pine-Tree . . . . . -63

Si Descendero in Infernum, Ades .. 63

To the Past 64

To the Future C5

Hebe 66

The Search ......, .. 66

The Present Crisis 67

An Indian-Summer Reverie ....69

The Growth of the Legend 74

A Contrast 76

Extreme Unction 76

The Oak 77

Ambrose 78

Above and Below 79

The Captive 79

The Birch-Tree 80

An Interview with Miles Standish 81

On the Capture of Fugitive Slaves near Washington 82


Te the Dandelion t .83

The Ghost-Seer 84

Studies for two Heads ..<>.. .86

On a Portrait of Dante by Giotto . 87

On the Death of a Friend s Child 87

Eurydice 8&

She Came and Went 90

The Changeling 90

The Pioneer 91

Longing ....92

Ode to France 92

Anti-Apis 94

A Parable .. . , 96

Ode written for the Celebration of the Introduction of the Cochituate Water into the

City of Boston 96

Lines suggested by the Graves of two English Soldiers on Concord Battle-Ground . 97

To 98

Freedom 98

Bibliolatres 99

Beaver Brook 100


Kossuth 101

To Lamartine .. 101

To John G. Palfrey . 102

To W. L. Garrison 103

On the Death of C. T. Torrey .... 104

Elegy on the Death of Dr. Claiming ., 104

To the Memory of Hood 106





Notices of an Independent Press 157

Note to Title-Paga 164

Introduction 166

I. A Letter from Mr. Ezekiel Biglow of Jaalam to the Hon. Joseph T. Buckingham 173

n. A Letter from Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Hon. J. T. Buckingham .... 175

m. What Mr. Robinson thinks 179

IV. Remarks of Increase D. O Phace, Esq 183

v. The Debate in the Sennit 189

VI. The Pious Editor s Creed . 191

vn. A Letter from a Candidate for the Presidency in Answer to suttin Questions

proposed by Mr. Hosea Biglow 194

Tin. A second Letter from B. Sawin, Esq 197

t DC. A third Letter from B. Sawin, Esq. , 20<


Introduction 21 J

i. Birdofredum Sawin, Esq., to Mr. Hosea Biglow ....... 238

n. Mason and Slidell : A Yankee Idyll 242

m. Birdofredum Sawin, Esq., to Mr. Hosea Biglow ...*... 254

IV. A Message of Jeff Davis in Secret Session < . . . . , 261

T. Soeech of Honourable Preserved Doe in Secret Caucus 26T


vi. Sunthin in the Pastoral Line < 273

VII. Latest Views of Mr. Biglow . . . 27 ( J

Viii. Kettelopotomachia 283

IX Some Me morials of Uie late Reverend H. Wilbur . . . . . 286

x. Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly ..... 289

xi. Mr. Hosea Biglow s Speech in March Meeting 291

Noras 300


INDEX . . ( .....>. 310





To Charles Eliot Norton ...,. 343

Under the Willows 343

Dara .... ...t>49

The First Snow-f <-ll 350

The Singing Leaves ......351

Sea-Weed 352

The Finding of the Lyre . 352

New- Year s Eve. 1850 ...... 353

For an Autograph 353

Al Fresco 353

Masaccio ......... 354

Without and within .. .......... 355

Godmiuster Chimes . 355

The Parting of the Ways 356

Aladdin ........ 358

An Invitation ..*... 358

The Nomades . 359

Self-Study . . SCO

Pictures from Appledore ............. 361

The Wind-Harp 3C5

Auf Wiedersehen 366

Palinode . ........ 366

After the Burial . . 367

The Dead House .......367

A Mood 3G8

The Voyage to Vinland 308

. Hahmood the Image-Breaker . . . . .... . . 372

In vita Minerva 373

The Fountain of Youth ............. 373

Yussouf 376

The Darkened Mind 376

What Rabbi Jehosha said 377

All-Saints 377

A Winter-Evening Hymn to iny Fire 377

Fancy s Casuistry .............. 379

To Mr. John Bartlett 380

Ode to Happiness .............. 381

Villa Franca 382

The Miner ... .... .383


Gold Egg : A Dream-Fantasy .. = . 383

A Familiar Epistle to a Friend .. 385

An Ember Picture 387

To H. W. L. . . . . 388

The Nightingale in the Study .... 389

In the Twilight 389

TheFoot-Path . . 39C


The Washers of the Shroud .,..392

Two Scenes from the Life of Blondel . 394

Memorise positum .............. 395

On Board the 76 397

Ode recited at the Harvard Commemoration ....... . 398

L Envoi : To the Muse 404



Ode on the Hundredth Anniversary of the Fight at Concord Bridge . . 421

Under the Old Elm at Cambridge 424

An Ode for the Fourth of July . 430


Agassiz ......... > 437

To Holmes on his Seventy- Fifth Birthday 445

In a Copy of Omar Khayyam 446

On receiving a Copy of Mr. Austin Dobson s " Old World Idylls " . . . 446

To C. F. Bradford on the Gift of a Meerschaum Pipe 446

Bankside 447

Joseph Wiclock ._ 448

Sonnet. To Fanny Alexander .. 448

Jeffries Wyman .. ........... 448

To a Friend . 449

With an Armchair 449

E. G. de R. 449

Bon Voyage ! 450

To Whittier on his Seventy-Fifth Birthday 450

On an Autumn Sketch of H. G. Wild 450

To Miss D. T 450

With a Copy of Aucassin and Nicolete .... ...... 451

On planting a Tree at Inveraray 451

An Epistle to George William Curtis 451


Endymion ............... 456

The Black Preacher 459

Arcadia rediviva 461

The Nest 462

A Youthful Experiment in English Hexameters 462

Birthday Verses 463

Estrangement 463

Phoabe 463

Das Ewig-Weibliche 464

The Recall 464

Absence ................ 464


Monnn Lisa ............... 465

The Optimist 405

On burning some Old Letters 405

The Protest .... - 400

The Petition .....406

Fact or Fancy ? 4GG

Agro-Dolce 407

The Broken Tryst . 407

Casa sin Alma . 4(57

A Christmas Carol . .... 407

My Portrait Gallery .... .408

Paolo to Francesca 468

Sonnet. Scottish Border , 408

Sonnet. On being asked for an Autograph in Venice 408

The Dancing Bear 409

The Maple 409

Nightwatches 409

Death of Queen Mercedes ... 409

Prison of Cervantes 470

To a Lady playing on the Cithern ........... 470

The Eye s Treasury 470

Pessimoptimism 470

The Brakes .471

A Foreboding ....... .. ... 471

ra. FANCY.

Under the October Maples 472

Love s Clock 472

Eleanor makes Macaroons ............. 472

Telepathy 473

Scherzo 473

" Franciscus de Verulamio sic cogitavit " 473

Online LibraryJames Russell LowellThe poetical works of Joames Russell Lowell. Household ed. → online text (page 1 of 70)