Cambridge Neighbors (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 37 pages of information about Cambridge Neighbors (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance).

New York is a mart and not a capital, in literature as well as in other things, and doubtless he increasingly felt this.  I know that there came a time when he no longer thought the West must be exile for a literary man; and his latest visits to its summer schools as a lecturer impressed him with the genuineness of the interest felt there in culture of all kinds.  He spoke of this, with a due sense of what was pathetic as well as what was grotesque in some of its manifestations; and I think that in reconciling himself to our popular crudeness for the sake of our popular earnestness, he completed his naturalization, in the only sense in which our citizenship is worth having.

I do not wish to imply that he forgot his native land, or ceased to love it proudly and tenderly.  He kept for Norway the fondness which the man sitting at his own hearth feels for the home of his boyhood.  He was of good family; his people were people of substance and condition, and he could have had an easier life there than here.  He could have won even wider fame, and doubtless if he had remained in Norway, he would have been one of that group of great Norwegians who have given their little land renown surpassed by that of no other in the modern republic of letters.  The name of Boyesen would have been set with the names of Bjornson, of Ibsen, of Kielland, and of Lie.  But when once he had seen America (at the wish of his father, who had visited the United States before him), he thought only of becoming an American.  When I first knew him he was full of the poetry of his mother-land; his talk was of fjords and glaciers, of firs and birches, of hulders and nixies, of housemen and gaardsmen; but he was glad to be here, and I think he never regretted that he had cast his lot with us.  Always, of course, he had the deepest interest in his country and countrymen.  He stood the friend of every Norwegian who came to him in want or trouble, and they, came to him freely and frequently.  He sympathized strongly with Norway in her quarrel with Sweden, and her wish for equality as well as autonomy; and though he did not go all lengths with the national party, he was decided in his feeling that Sweden was unjust to her sister kingdom, and strenuous for the principles of the Norwegian leaders.

But, as I have said, poetry, was what his ardent spirit mainly meditated in that hour when I first knew him in Cambridge, before we had either of us grown old and sad, if not wise.  He overflowed with it, and he talked as little as he dreamed of anything else in the vast half-summer we spent together.  He was constantly at my house, where in an absence of my family I was living bachelor, and where we sat indoors and talked, or sauntered outdoors and talked, with our heads in a cloud of fancies, not unmixed with the mosquitoes of Cambridge:  if I could have back the fancies, I would be willing to have the mosquitoes with them.  He looked the poetry he lived:  his eyes were the blue of sunlit fjords; his brown silken hair was thick on the crown which it later abandoned to a scholarly baldness; his soft, red lips half hid a boyish pout in the youthful beard and mustache.  He was short of stature, but of a stalwart breadth of frame, and his voice was of a peculiar and endearing quality, indescribably mellow and tender when he read his verse.

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Cambridge Neighbors (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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