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Stowe. Whittier's first published poem was in Garrison's Free Press. By Garrison's influence he was sent to school and later entered upon editorial work. He wrote many ringing anti-slavery poems. In 1866 his Snow-Bound touched the heart of the country. Many of his ballads are of rare excellence.
Mrs. Stowe founded Uncle Tom's Cabin upon the stories of escaped slaves. Its enormous sale was due to its humor, pathos, and earnestness, and to the time of its publication. Her best literary success was in her New England stories.
During this period New England was also rich in orators. Among them were Garrison, Everett, Phillips, Sumner, Choate, and Webster. Not all oratory is literature, but many of Webster's orations are also literature. He was equally eloquent in occasional addresses and in legal and political speeches.
THE NATIONAL PERIOD, 1815
I. EARLIER YEARS, 1815-1865
D. THE CAMBRIDGE POETS 31. The Cambridge Poets. To this period belongs the greater part of the work of the three New England poets, Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes. In the early lives of
these three there was a somewhat remarkable similarity. They were all descendants of New England families of culture and standing. They grew up in homes of plenty, but not of undignified display. They were surrounded by people of education and intellectual ability. They
came to feel, as Holmes puts it, as much at ease among books as a stable boy feels among horses. Each held a professorship at Harvard. Here the resemblance ends, for never were three poets more unlike in work and disposition than the three who are known as the Cambridge Poets.
32. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882. The birthplace of Longfellow was Portland, Maine, which he calls “the beautiful town that is seated by the sea.” He had all the advantages of books, college, and home culture ; and he made such good use of them that while he was journeying homeward from Bowdoin College with his diploma in his trunk, the trustees were meditating upon offering the young man of nineteen the professorship of modern languages in his Alma Mater. He accepted gladly, spent three years in Europe preparing for the position, and returned to Bowdoin, where he remained for six years.
Then came a call to become professor at Harvard ; and a welcome professor he was, for his fame had gone before him. The boys were proud to be in the classes of a teacher who, with the exception of George Ticknor, a much older man, was. the best American scholar of the languages and literature of modern Europe. He was a poet, too; his Summer Shower had been in their reading-books. Some of them had read his Outre Mer, a graceful and poetical mingling of bits of travel, stories, and translations. Moreover, he was a somewhat new kind of professor to the Harvard students of 1836, for he persisted in treating them as if they were gentlemen; and, whatever they might be with others, they always were gentlemen with him.
Up to 1839, the mass of Longfellow's work was in prose; but in that year he published first Hyperion and
his next volume came out, it contained, among The Skelo
then Voices of the Night. In the latter volume were translations from six or seven languages. There Hyperion, were also A Psalm of Life and The Reaper and Voces of
the Night, the Flowers. These have had nearly seventy 1839. years of hard wear; but read them as if no one had ever read them before, and think what courage and inspiration there is in
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Learn to labor and to wait. The lovers of poetry were watching the young professor at Harvard. What would be his next work? When
ton in Armor,
other poems, The Skeleton in Armor. Thus far, his writings had been thoughtful and beauti- 1840. ful, but in this there was something more; there was a stronger flight of the imagination, there was life, action, a story to tell, and generous promise for the future.
So Longfellow's work went on. He lived in the charming old Craigie House in Cambridge, where, as he wrote,
Once, ah, once, within these walls,
The Father of his Country, dwelt. His longest narrative poems are Evangeline, The Courtship of Miles Standish, and The Song of Hiawatha, which have been favorites from the first. He translated Dante's Divine Comedy and wrote several Transladramas. His translations are much more literal than those of most writers; but they are never bald and prosy, for he gives to every phrase the master touch that makes it glow with poetry. Few, if any, poems are more American and more patriotic than his Building of the Ship, with its impassioned apostrophe :
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State !
Sail on, O Union, strong and great ! Nevertheless, Longfellow loved the Old World and the literatures of many peoples. In his translations he brought to his own country the culture of the lands across the sea. In so doing he not only enabled others
to share in his enjoyment, but did much to prove to the youthful literature of the New World that there were still heights for it to ascend.
Longfellow knew how to beautify his verse with exLiterary quisite imagery, but this imagery was never style.
used merely for ornament; it invariably flashed a light upon the thought, as in
Feeling is deep and still ; and the word that floats on the surface Is as the tossing buoy, that betrays where the anchor is hidden.