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who, years ago, were roused from inaction by themand to-day they are read by those who never read them before, and they will continue to bear fruit until the freed negro—his brethren likewise all free -shall weep tears of gratitude over his quiet New Hampshire grave.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
The poet Whittier was born in the year 1808, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His horne was upon the banks of the wild and beautiful Merrimack river. His ancestors for a number of generations had lived upon the same spot, and it is dear to him, not alone for its beauty of scenery, or from the fact that it was his birth-place, but because every nook and corner in it, or around it, is connected with him, through his ancestors. They were Quakers of the old George Fox stamp; men of iron endurance, christian integrity, and sublime simplicity, and consequently suffered severely at the hands of the Puritans. The father of the poet was a plain farmer, and Whittier either worked upon his father's farm, or attended a district school until he was eighteen years old. He then devoted a year to study in a Latin school, and this, we believe, comprises what is popularly called his education. He was a home-student, however, and probably at twenty possessed a better disciplined mind than one-half of the graduates of our colleges, and his store of valuable knowledge was by no means small.
In 1828 Mr. Whittier went to Boston to undertake the editorship of “The American Manufacturer," a journal principally devoted to the support of a protective tariff. At this time, and for some time after, he was an ardent admirer of Henry Clay and his poJitical views. Before assuming the editorship of the “Manufacturer," he had contributed articles to journals published near his early home, and had now a favorable reputation as a writer, of both prose and poetry, in that vicinity. He conducted the “Manufacturer” with remarkable ability for one so young and inexperienced, but he shortly gave it up. In 1830 he went to the city of Hartford to edit the “New England Weekly Review," where he remained for two years. He exhibited marked talents in his management of the Review. A portion of the time he was warmly engaged in politics, and a part was devoted to literature. About this time he published his “ Legends of New England," and wrote a memoir of his friend Brainard, the Connecticut poet. While he was connected with the Review, he contributed to it several poems of great beauty, which attracted attention throughout the country. In 1831 he left the Review. His nature was too gentle, too refined and sensitive for the heartless strife of journalism. He could not feel at ease tied to an editor's chair, compelled to write a great deal which was distasteful to him, and to read everything whether
good or bad, issuing from the whole press of the country. Besides, his true, poet's heart sighed for the still and beautiful country. And so he went back to the banks of the Merrimack, and rested beneath the same trees which spread over him their cool shade when he was a boy. For five or six years
he engaged in agricultural pursuits in Haverhill. In 1835, he was elected to the state legislature ; in 1836, ditto, and in 1837, he declined a reëlection.
At an early period Mr. Whittier consecrated himself to the cause of freedom, and through the dark years of the anti-slavery agitation, when mob-law was triumphant even in New England, he sustained the courage of the "despised few,” by his passionate songs of liberty. The fiery eloquence of his numbers roused their spirits to a degree of fearlessness which overlooked all personal dangers, transformed them into men willing, if it were necessary, to wear he crown of martyrdom. In 1836 he published his celebrated poem “Mogg Megone,” and the same year he was elected one of the secretaries of the American Anti-slavery Society. Still later he separated from the Garrison party, and became an active member of the political anti-slavery organization known as the Liberty party. He at present acts with the free democratic party. It is unnecessary for us to record his literary or political history for the last few years, for it is well known to all intelligent persons. As
corresponding editor of the National Era, he has written some of the best of his prose and poetic articles. He resides with his sister-a lady of uncommon talents—and mother in Amesbury, Massachusetts, upon a small farm, to which, we believe, he devotes a portion of his time, the rest being occupied with literary and plilanthropical pursuits. The personal appearance of Mr. Whittier is striking. He is tall and slender, with a classical head, delicate features, eyes of fiery black, and a quick, nervous man
A smile generally rests upon his countenance, though his nervous organization is so exquisitely sensitive that he is often startled from his equilibrium in his contact with the world. He is exceedingly bashful in general society, and is not fond of it, though he is ardently attached to the "select few," who form his favorite circle of friends.
In our opinion, Mr. Whittier is surpassed in poetical genius by no living American. It is almost impossible, however, to compare him with many of our poets. He occupies a distinct position as a poet. He is the poet of freedom, and as such will go down to future generations gloriously. The free American of the future can never forget the poet who consecrated his lyre to the panting, discouraged friends of human liberty, when their cause was at its lowest ebb.
In Whittier, it seems as if we revived the old race