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mind, and the letters which fill two de- needs amuse himself with the drama of lightful volumes are expansions of the life, his birds or the mice in the waintheme. There is scarcely a trace of any scot provided him with dramatis perdramatic narrative, or characterization of persons other than by a witty phrase On the other hand, if there was an now and then, and little to indicate that absence of dramatic faculty, a failure to he had any constructive power ; but he assume the personality of other men, so was a student of his own personality, a that he had no inclination to write novgenerous lover of his friends, a whole- els, and a simple amazement at the power some recipient of the best the world of others to write them ; no interest, apcould give ; and when it came to expres- parently, in historic narrative, so that sion, so free and spontaneous that it al- among his ventures none seemed to take most seems as if it made little matter to the direction of historic composition, whom he was writing, he needed only there was in Lowell a deep and firm an occasion, an invitation.
sense of his own nature, and through its the critic cannot know what omissions remarkable sympathy a faculty, intuitive the discreet editor may have made, alınost in action, of criticism, of penetrabut since he has been willing to print tion, of broad sagacity in judging movemany agreeable words which Lowell ments among men. Neither dramatist, used toward his correspondents concern- novelist, nor historian, he was, instead, ing their work and his affection for poet, seer, prophet. them, it is not easy to account for the It is interesting to observe this selfalmost entire absence of comment by centred nature in its early struggle after Lowell on his contemporaries, except on equipoise. So far as any revelation of the ground that he was not given to the man is concerned, no letters in these such comment. You will divine," he two volumes surpass in value those consays in one of his latest letters, “by tained in the first chapter. His vacillawhat I say about gossip, that I am grow- tion of mind regarding his vocation, his ing old. I used to be as stern about it apparent fickleness of purpose, the conas Wordsworth. You remember his •I flict going on between his nature craving am not one,' etc. ? 'T is senescence or expression and the world with its impeLondon, I know not which ; perhaps a rious demands, the stirring within hin mixture of both.” Thus, though Lowell, of large designs, and the happy contentboth in his Cambridge home and in his ment in the pleasures of the day, all seek contact with the world of Madrid or outlet in his natural yet uneasy letters. London, knew many famous men and He was finding himself in these early women, was indeed eagerly sought as a days, as many another young man, and companion, the reader of these volumes
there are glimpses all through Lowell's is rarely reminded of the fact; and letters of this restlessness, this subtle though Lowell, in his friendliness, him- sense of one's self which in weaker na. self sought and invited companionship, tures hardens into self - consciousness. these frank, affectionate letters disclose Now and then he turns upon himself in the delightful fact that he had more than a sort of mingled pride and shame, as most men of genius a sense of the sanc- if at once aware of his power and antity of friendship, and that the men and gry that he has it not wholly at his beck. women about him were not subjects for But for the most part one is aware of a his speculation. Rather, if he must nature singularly at one with life, and
1 Letters of James Russell Lowell. Edited finding its greatest satisfaction in getting by CHARLES Elior Norton. In two volumes.
at the world through the reflection of New York: Harper & Brothers.
the world in literature. No one would
deny that Lowell was eminently a man
the instinct which waits on opportunity. of books, but it would be a wholly inad- His faculty of absorption was very strong, equate phrase which described him as a but it was no stronger than his power of bookish man.
That he was at home in assimilation ; and thus it was that when his library these letters frequently show, opportunity came he had not hurriedly but they show also how, even in his to adjust himself to the situation. What early years, he read through his books specific preparation had this poet and into life, and interpreted history and lit- professor for the work which he was erature by means of an innate spiritual called on to do at Madrid and London ? faculty which was independent of intel- He passed an examination for the bar lectual authority. How significant it is to in his youth, and then fell to writing find him, in his twenty-first year, before verses; he edited a literary magazine Carlyle or Kingsley had given the word, for four years, – there was no special writing to his friend Loring: “Those preparation for a publicist in that; he old Roundheads have never had justice read Old French, and taught the Ro done them. They have only been held mance languages, and lectured on Dante, up as canting, psalm-singing, hypocriti- on Chaucer, on Dryden; he published cal rascals ; as a sort of foil for the literary criticism, and wrote some keen open-hearted Cavalier. But it were a political satires and acute judgments on strange thing indeed if there were not domestic politics ; his sole participation somewhat in such men as Milton, Sid- in practical politics, as the term is, was ney, Hampden, Selden, and Pym. It to attend a national convention once as always struck me that there was more delegate, and to have his name used as a true poetry in those old fiery-eyed, buff- presidential elector. He had no special belted warriors, with their deep, holy preparation, but he had what was more enthusiasm for liberty and democracy, fundamental, a large nature enriched by political and religious, with their glori- a familiar intercourse with great minds, ous trust in the arm of the Lord in battle, and so sane, so sound in its judgment, than in the dashing, ranting Cavaliers, that whether he was engaged in deterwho wished to restore their king that mining a reading in an Elizabethan drathey might give vent to their passions, matist or in deciding to which country and go to sleep again in the laps of their an Irish colossus belonged, he was bringmistresses, deaf to the cries of the poor ing his whole nature to the bench. No and the oppressed."
one can read Lowell's dispatches from It is this criticism at first hand, this Madrid and London, which we hope swift, direct penetration of the reality, may some day be published, without bewhich marks emphatically what we have ing struck with his sagacity, his readicharacterized as Lowell's self-centred ness in emergencies, his interest in and nature. He tells us that his brain re- quick perception of the political situaquires a long brooding time ere it can tion in the country where he was resihatch anything He is speaking, of dent, and his unerring knowledge as a course, of the matter of expression ; but man of the world. the phrase is a fit one for his habitual The Letters bring out this ease of temper. The superficial charge of in- greatness, and add thus to the knowdolence could apply only to his apparent ledge of the man in his relation to other disregard of bustling activity. His na- men. But they intimate even more; for ture was of the sort that knows the these qualities of mind which suppose power of stillness, and though he up- a generous intellectual appointment, braids himself in his letters for his un- though they seem almost to require that productiveness at times, he had plainly sense of humor which was the governor
in Lowell's mental engine, do not neces- saved for the Life, and then used jusarily include the unselfish spirit, the diciously to illustrate and give symmefine conscience, the moral sensitiveness, try to the figure, they would have had and the hearty affection which abound greater value than when presented, as in expression in these Letters. Goethe, here, in a volume by themselves. It is for example, had somewhat the same true, Phillips Brooks was so conspicuous sort of intellectual equipment as Lowell, a man, and held so large a place as a but was terribly deficient on this side. public character, that the reader who From the first page to the last of these approaches this book may be said altwo volumes the reader will find a spon- ready to have known that which the taneity which forbids any notion that Life will tell, and needs such a disclosure when Lowell wrote a letter he thought as these family letters make to correct a posterity was looking over his shoulder; too partial view. But when one considand as he gives himself up to the en- ers that Brooks had large reserves, and joyment of a friendship with a book, especially was sensitive in all matters of such as is rarely to be had, he will find, personality, as one can see by his exas he closes it, that he has come into treme reluctance to having his portrait close contact with a nature as lovable as published, one is disposed on his account it was quick with intellectual power. to be hypercritical even over such a pub
The title of the volume of Bishop lication as this. Brooks's letters intimates the limitation For what, after all, does the book reof the selection. The authoritative Life veal of the man himself ? As we open to be published will doubtless take ac- it with avidity, and read page after page, count of the several transoceanic jour- we begin to ask, What does it even reveal neys as a characteristic part of the of the man's doings? Here are travels preacher's career, and will, let us hope, in England, Ireland, France, Germany,
, contain letters written from Philadel- Italy, Spain, and beyond, Egypt, Pales
, , phia and Boston as well; in this volume tine, India, and Japan, and yet not until we have to content ourselves with such the reader reaches the Holy Land does glimpses of the man as we can get when he find much more than a rapid itinerary he was on his vacation. Indeed, it is a with the hurried mention of
and little unfortunate, in one aspect, that the places. There is more detail in the acfirst interior view which the public is count of his life in Syria and India, but permitted is so exclusively private and for the most part one gets little more familiar. These letters, with but two than free, animated narrative of travel, exceptions, are addressed to the imme- such as a facile writer would send home diate family circle, and a number of to his friends. This is not to say that them are written to the children of the the narrative is indifferent. Its freedom, household. There can be no question its good humor, its very carelessness that the book is thus singularly em- of detail, give it a charm, and somephatic in outlining the domestic nature thing of the largeness of the man comes of the man; but to turn so strong a cal- out in the rapid strokes. But seldom cium light upon the most familiar and does he linger over a scene or spend informal relations of his life is to throw much thought in characterizing men. that particular aspect of the person into In one instance he appears to bethink exaggerated prominence. One cannot himself, and for the pleasure of his corhelp feeling that if these letters had been respondent takes some pains with a por1 Letters of Travel. By PHILLIPS BROOKS,
trait of Tennyson ; but as he passes from late Bishop of Massachusetts. New York : one renowned person to another in a reE. P. Dutton & Co. 1893.
cital of his social pleasures, he scarcely
stops to give an inkling of his impres- activity which he must have, but an acsions.
tivity unincumbered by immediate reIn a negative way all this is interest- sponsibility ; and once away from the ing We come to think of him, not as hurly-burly of his crowded days, his afblind, but as living so heartily, so nat- fectionate nature flew back to those he urally, in the present that he contents held dear; he lavished on them liis tenhimself with the lightest possible record. derness, and in the remoteness from Moreover, we catch a notion of what is home began to dream again of a world behind the written record when we come where he should be simply his humble frequently upon the plırase "Some day self. Perhaps because of all this reveI will tell you all about it.” He had an lation of a fine nature we may look more enormous faculty for absorbing every- leniently upon the editor of this genuine thing that came in his way, not for im- book. mediate expression, but for future use, If the letters of Bishop Brooks show when, in the leisure of talk or the excite- him during vacation, those of Dr. Asa ment of speech, the window of meinory Gray - show him chiefly during his workwould fly open, and out would come ing hours; for although the correspontroops of figures.
dence covers a period which included But with the fluent narrative of sights seven journeys to Europe and more than and events there are mingled strains one extensive trip in his own country, it which positively reveal the nature of the is for very few pages at a time that Dr. writer. It would seem that no sooner Gray gets away from the intimation of had he cut loose from home than he was hard work at his calling. It is not often eager to be back again. There that the activity of a scientific scholar morbid homesickness about the letters, is set forth so fully in his letters, or that but there is a healthy, ardent attachment one receives so distinct an impression of to home and the home circle which ap- intellectual rush and unceasing industry. pears almost to be the upperinost feeling In an appendix to this work there is a parof the man. It breaks out in the most tial list of his writings distributed among unexpected fashion ; it lays hold of textbooks and independent volumes, conplaces, it hungers for response. Wherever tributions to publications of societies, pahe
goes, the image of the fireside, of the pers in reports of United States surveys, North Andover home, is forever rising and articles in periodicals. Many of to view. A niece is ill in one of his ab- these separate writings are brief, to be sences ; he is ready to break off all his sure; but when, after citing the titles of plans and come home to her, if it can forty articles contributed to Silliman's help. There is an impetuous rush of Journal, the editor adds that besides these this feeling at times which makes one Dr. Gray "printed in its pages 380 comalmost hold his breath ; and again there munications, devoted chiefly to critical is almost a cry for rest, for green fields reviews of works on botany and kindred and freedom from care, which betrays subjects and to biographical sketches of the repressed nature of the man. These botanists,” and mentions the full bibliopassages largely account for the very graphy of Dr. Gray's writings covering fact of the journeying. Reading them, forty-two pages octavo, the reader who one can understand better the need which has already finished reading a mere sehe had to escape, not from himself, but lection from the great mass of Dr. Gray's from that projection of himself into the letters and journals lays down the two life of the community which became at
1 Letters of Asa Gray. Edited by JANE times like a huge shadow cast on the LORING GRAY. In two volumes. Boston and world. Out of it all he rushed into the New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1893.
volumes with a faint notion of the ex- volumes, the first of the Botanic Garden traordinary labors of this man of sci- House in 1852, the second of the preence.
sent range of buildings in the Botanic Yet no numerical computation of Dr. Garden. When one considers the liGray's letters and writings can convey brary and collections housed here, and such an impression of his eager ear- follows the correspondence of Dr. Gray, nestness as results from a familiarity he can form some little notion of the with the letters themselves. An autobio- man who stood at his post for forty-five graphic fragment, copiously and effec- years, and with no great fund at his tively annotated, covers the early years, command, by personal solicitation, by and leaves Dr. Gray started on his ca- keeping close connection with collectors reer as a botanical student. This frag- and correspondents, by giving as well as ment hints at the impetuosity of the taking, by unwearying attention to miman when, in his twenty-eighth year, he nutest details, gradually built up this made his first journey in Europe, and laid splendid memorial. His single-hearted
. the foundation of his acquaintance with devotion to his work and his cheerful many men of science. In five pages he neglect of personal ends are conspicuous summarizes his excursions and investi- in all this correspondence. There were gations; in two hundred pages, nearly, times when his labors weighed so heavily the same experience is narrated in his that he must needs run away to Europe, detailed journal and letters ; and both only to plunge into fresh labors at Kew in the condensed statement and in the or the Jardin des Plantes. “I am half full record there is an almost headlong dead with drudgery, — half of it, at least, pace which is exhilarating to the reader, for other people,” he writes to Darwin ; and expressive of the exuberance of Dr. see no relief but to break up, and run Gray's spirits.
over with wife, who needs a change, to The conditions of botanical science in your side of the water for a good long America, largely modified as they were while." by Dr. Gray's untiring zeal, determined It would be a mistake to suppose that much of his correspondence. Through Dr. Gray's letters to his scientific assohis influence and that of a few others ciates were crowded with technical dein sympathy with him, collectors ac- tails. No doubt the marks of omission companied government expeditions, or indicate judicious suppression of such led solitary lives on the frontier and in details ; but inasmuch as Dr. Gray was the Spanish-American states. To them in science a student of life, and not of Dr. Gray wrote, sending encouragement mechanism, he wrote of what concerned and giving direction to their labor. But him most deeply, and his letters to Darhis chief scientific correspondence was win especially are quick with interest in with Torrey, the Hookers, father and the great questions which underlay the son, Bentham, De Candolle, Engelmann, disclosures which Darwin's own invesand Charles Darwin. His journeys to tigations made. The alacrity with which Europe gave him personal acquaintance he pounced on significant facts, the vividwith men of science there, and his com- ness with which he saw the relations of parative isolation in Cambridge led him the new discoveries to fundamental law, into the constant association by letter the openness of mind and the steady judgwith those whose pursuits were akin to
ment which made him so ready a symhis own. The result of his industry and pathizer and so independent a critic, are
. the contribution under which he laid delightfully illustrated in his letters. his contemporaries finds a graphic wit- It would be an interesting parallel ness in the two views given in the two which could be drawn between Gray, VOL. LXX