The Vision of Sir Launfal eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 124 pages of information about The Vision of Sir Launfal.
in emergencies, his interest in and quick perception 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 underlie 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 discouragement 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 Bologna, gave 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, rearranged, 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 volumes.



Lowell was in his thirtieth year when he wrote and published The Vision of Sir Launfal.  It appeared when he had just dashed off his Fable for Critics, and when he was in the thick of the anti-slavery fight, writing poetry and prose for The Anti-Slavery Standard, and sending out his witty Biglow Papers.  He had married four years before, and was living in the homestead at Elmwood, walking in the country about, and full of eagerness at the prospect which lay before him.  In a letter to his friend Charles F. Briggs, written in December, 1848, he says:  “Last night ...  I walked to Watertown over the snow, with the new moon before me and a sky exactly like that in Page’s evening landscape.  Orion was rising behind me, and, as

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The Vision of Sir Launfal from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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