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Longfellow is not of the greatest poets. He lacks the fine frenzy; he is not dowered with strong hate and scorn; he never reaches the loftiest heights. But the grace and beauty of his poetry, its artistic skill and its warm human sympathy, have touched many a heart. Every sentence he has written is clear and pure. A soothing twilight calm pervades much of his work. Above all it is healthy and hopeful. The last lines he ever wrote would serve for an epitome of his poetical thought :

Out of the shadows of night
The earth rolls into light,

It is daylight everywhere.

Longfellow always preserved a certain aloofness from political matters, but Whittier and Lowell were hot-headed enthusiasts in all questions of national advancement. They have been "practical powers in moulding or hastening the movements of history." Both fought strongly on the side of freedom against every kind of oppression. JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER came of Quaker parentage and was himself an exponent of that belief. Yet many of his songs evince anything but a peaceful tone. In 1829, at the age of twenty-two, he began journalistic work in Boston, after a boyhood spent on the farm and graced by a rather slender education. Whatever lacks in culture this implied, it certainly fitted him to become a poet of the people. A cheap edition of Burns's work which fell into his boyish hands had a stimulating influence. As early as

1831 he began to write, in prose and verse, on behalf of the abolition of slavery. "Unconditional emancipation" was his motto, and under the strong guidance of William Lloyd Garrison, who did more than any single man for the great object, he pursued a rough path, a harsh and uncompromising principle; and this at a time "when to say aught against the national curse was to draw upon one's self the bitterest hatred, loathing and contempt of the great majority of men throughout the land." Two points will give us the approximation of Whittier as a poet. He fought against slavery from 1832 till 1865, and he read the very heart of New England life.

Nowadays we do not quite realize the tremendous heat and stress of those thirty years when the great question of abolition was stirring the Union. In this battle Whittier won his spurs; won, too, in the end, an enduring love from his people. By 1843 he had gained the critical recognition that never failed him thereafter. His poems on events of the time are always noteworthy and not seldom inspiring. Yet to a certain extent they pay the penalty of all polemic poetry and are losing some of their flavor. Better are the ballads and songs that tell of pastoral scenes and life on the rough New England coast. After the war was over and the slaves set free, Whittier turned to softer themes. Snowbound, an idyll which many deem his best work, appeared in 1865. It is a winter's tale, "the most faithful

picture of our northern winter that has yet been put into poetry," and records life in a farm-house blockaded by the storm. Ten other volumes of poetry were issued before this noble career ended. Whittier died in 1892. His defects are due to over-writing and disregard of some quite obvious rules of art; thus he is sometimes diffuse and prosaic and weak in rhyme. Deeming it his life's work to fight against the great wrong of slavery, he wrote hastily and continually on this behalf. He did not learn to repress, nor know quite when to stop. He had passion, however, and a good grip on the picturesque side of his own rough New Englanders. And probably he will always be dear to the hearts of the household. His slavery poems, such as The Hunters of Men, The Branded Hand, The Farewell, are grim and pathetic. In gentler vein are Maud Müller, a little masterpiece, Barbara Frietchie, Telling the Bees. Skipper Ireson's Ride stands by itself. Whittier's pervading religious feeling is well represented by the following stanzas, which have a universal appeal:

And so beside the silent sea

I wait the muffled oar;

No harm froin Him can come to me

On ocean or on shore.

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond His love and care.

O brother! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,

Pray for me that my feet may gain

The sure and safer way.

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL was a man of wider training than Whittier, but he was at one with the elder poet in sympathy and in his fine intolerance of oppression. To this end he wrote the famous Biglow Papers (two series: 1848 and 1867), which attacked slavery with the strongest satire. Lowell was born in 1819 at Cambridge and educated at Harvard. He essayed law, but soon found literature more attractive. In 1855 he succeeded Longfellow as professor of modern languages at Harvard, making the congenial and beneficial European trip prior thereto. Ten years afterwards he wrote the Commemoration Ode-in honor of the Harvard men who fell in the war-which has been generally considered his masterpiece. Another phase of Lowell's literary life was the editorship, at different periods, of The Atlantic Monthly and the North American Review. He received two diplomatic appointments: to Spain (1877-80), and to England (1880-5). He died in 1891, the most representative of American writers.

Lowell was a critic as well as a poet, and in this rôle had a singularly sagacious point of view. Two volumes of essays were collected from the press : Among my Books and My Study Windows; and in a long poem called A Fable for Critics (1848) he characterized, amusingly and cleverly, the prominent

contemporary authors. He shows more force and movement than either Longfellow or Whittier. The Biglow Papers constitute on the whole his best title to fame. They are a series of poems in Yankee dialect by "Hosea Biglow," edited with introductions and notes by "Homer Wilbur, A. M., Pastor of the First Church in Jaalam." The satire is keen, the wit unflagging, and the Papers "took" at once. They shadow forth the strong feelings of the time, and they were the first and the best poetical presentation of "Yankee character in its thought, dialect, manners, and singular mixture of coarseness and shrewdness with the fundamental sense of beauty and right." Lowell was at first disposed to regard the question of South versus North as remediable without war; but gradually he came round to see that war was the only cure. The Biglow Papers formed one cause, and no weak one, that tended to bring about the irrepressible conflict. The beauty which was at his command is seen in such stanzas as these:

Under the yaller pines I house

When sunshine makes 'em all sweet-scented,
An' hear among their furry boughs

The baskin' west-wind purr contented,
While 'way o'erhead, ez sweet an' low
Ez distant bells that ring for meetin',
The wedged wil' geese their bugles blow,
Further an' further south retreatin'.

Or up the slippery knob I strain

An' see a hundred hills like islan's

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