White Mr. Longfellow, the (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 39 pages of information about White Mr. Longfellow, the (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance).
his effect was of an entire democracy.  He was always the most unassuming person in any company, and at some large public dinners where I saw him I found him patient of the greater attention that more public men paid themselves and one another.  He was not a speaker, and I never saw him on his feet at dinner, except once, when he read a poem for Whittier, who was absent.  He disliked after-dinner speaking, and made conditions for his own exemption from it.


Once your friend, Longfellow was always your friend; he would not think evil of you, and if he knew evil of you, he would be the last of all that knew it to judge you for it.  This may have been from the impersonal habit of his mind, but I believe it was also the effect of principle, for he would do what he could to arrest the delivery of judgment from others, and would soften the sentences passed in his presence.  Naturally this brought him under some condemnation with those of a severer cast; and I have heard him criticised for his benevolence towards all, and his constancy to some who were not quite so true to themselves, perhaps.  But this leniency of Longfellow’s was what constituted him great as well as good, for it is not our wisdom that censures others.  As for his goodness, I never saw a fault in him.  I do not mean to say that he had no faults, or that there were no better men, but only to give the witness of my knowledge concerning him.  I claim in no wise to have been his intimate; such a thing was not possible in my case for quite apparent reasons; and I doubt if Longfellow was capable of intimacy in the sense we mostly attach to the word.  Something more of egotism than I ever found in him must go to the making of any intimacy which did not come from the tenderest affections of his heart.  But as a man shows himself to those often with him, and in his noted relations with other men, he showed himself without blame.  All men that I have known, besides, have had some foible (it often endeared them the more), or some meanness, or pettiness, or bitterness; but Longfellow had none, nor the suggestion of any.  No breath of evil ever touched his name; he went in and out among his fellow-men without the reproach that follows wrong; the worst thing I ever heard said of him was that he had ‘gene’, and this was said by one of those difficult Cambridge men who would have found ‘gene’ in a celestial angel.  Something that Bjornstjerne Bjornson wrote to me when he was leaving America after a winter in Cambridge, comes nearer suggesting Longfellow than all my talk.  The Norsemen, in the days of their stormy and reluctant conversion, used always to speak of Christ as the White Christ, and Bjornson said in his letter, “Give my love to the White Mr. Longfellow.”

Project Gutenberg
White Mr. Longfellow, the (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook