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tary having been implicated in transactions which were nothing less than robbery of the revenue. Men so well known as William Cullen Bryant, Theodore D. Woolsey, Carl Schurz, afterwards a member of President Hayes's Cabinet, and others, had issued a circular to convene a conference to protest against the widespread corruption.' Lowell, taking a true view of the situation, joined in the fray, and was not afraid to act. Protests and action such as his, though for the time they may seem to effect little, have a permanent influence, and we cannot doubt that both his words and example at this crisis have had lasting results. Political machinery may still seem somewhat too much in evidence, but we feel no doubt that public opinion is generally stronger and public life purer than when Lowell threw himself into active political conflicts.
Lowell defined his position in an interesting letter to Mr. Benton, who had written in his defence in a periodical :
'I had just come home from a two years' stay in Europe, so it was discovered that I had been corrupted by association with foreign aristocracies ! I need not say to you that the society I frequented in Europe was what it is at home—that of my wife, my studies, and the best Nature and Art within my reach. But I confess that I was embittered by my experience. Wherever I went I was put on the defensive. Whatever extracts I saw from American papers told of some new fraud
defalcation, public or private. It was sixteen years since my last visit abroad, and I found a very striking change in the feeling towards America and Americans. An Englishman was everywhere treated with a certain deference. Americans were at best tolerated. The example of America was everywhere urged in France as an argument against Republican forms of government. It was fruitless to say that the people were still sound when the Body Politic which draws its life from them showed such blotches and sores. I came home, and, instead of wrath at such abominations, I found banter. I was profoundly shocked, for I had received my earliest impressions in a community the most virtuous, I believe, that ever existed. On my return I found that community struggling half hopelessly to prevent General Butler from being put in its highest office against the will of all its best citizens. I found Routwell, one of its senators, a chief obstacle to Civil Service reform (our main hope). . . . I saw Banks returned by a larger majority than any other member of the Lower House. . . . In the Commonwealth that built the first free school and the first college I heard culture openly derided. I suppose I like to be liked as well as other men. Certainly, I would rather be left to my studies than meddle with politics. But I had attained to some consideration, and my duty was plain. I wrote what I did in the plainest way, that he who can might read, and that I hit the mark I aimed at is proved by the attacks against which you so generously defend me. These fellows have no notion what love of country means. It is in my very blood and bones. If I am not an American, who ever was?' ... -Letters,' vol. ii. p. 177.
Lowell never stood still; his mind was always on the move. Even in this political activity he is, as he was so constantly, a type. He represents the dissatisfaction with those lower and less reputable forms of political life which thoughtful Americans condemn as strongly as any foreign critics. Perhaps he was a little before his time, and he was, perhaps, too, somewhat unduly severe on political machinery. He scarcely recognised the fact that the professional politician was a necessity in a community in the stage of national growth which the United States had reached about the middle of the nineteenth century. But undoubtedly he touched a weakness among public men in America of the present day. In his address on ‘The Independent in Politics,' delivered in New York in 1888, he says:
While we were yet in the gristle we produced statesmen, not indeed endowed with Burke's genius, though fairly comparable with him in breadth of view, and sometimes his superior in practical sagacity. But I think there is a growing doubt whether we are not ceasing to produce them, whether we are not losing the power to produce them. The tricks of management are more and more superseding the science of government.'
Lowell in this last sentence, in a memorable phrase, states succinctly the dangers, and, we may add, to some extent also, a characteristic not only of American but of English public life. A capable election manager is not necessarily a successful statesman. He is apt to think more of the effect of a policy on the constituencies than of the results of it from a national point of view. Fortunately, as Lowell has himself pointed out in his great address on Democracy, the good sense of the people is always to be relied on in the last resort. Of one thing at least we may be certain, that under
whatever method of helping things to wrong man's wit can • contrive, those who have the divine right to govern will
be found to govern in the end. . . . An appeal to the 6
reason of the people has never been known to fail in the • long run. It is not so much the people who go wrong as those who should lead and guide them.
Not satisfied with mere expression of opinion, Lowell braced himself to practical effort, setting an example of personal endeavour which has not yet been sufficiently followed. He became a delegate, first to the State and then to the National Convention at Cincinnati in 1876, when Hayes was selected as the Republican candidate for President. "He was '—writing to the late Thomas Hughes'neither unknown nor even unexpected as a probable
nominee. He was not adopted as a compromise in any 'true sense of the word, but as an unimpeachably honest man, and the only one on whom we could unite to defeat Blaine, who had all the party machinery at his disposal. The nomination of the latter would have been a national
calamity. Lowell's main object in entering public life was to make it more honest, less full of political machinery
a task which he soon recognised must necessarily be slow and difficult. Attempts were made to get him to stand as Republican candidate for Congress, but he declined.
With the memorable election of President Hayes we come to a new and crowning period in Lowell's remarkable lise. It was impossible that the activity in political affairs of a person so universally known throughout America as a man of letters could fail to attract marked attention. It resulted in the offer to him of the Embassy at Vienna or Berlin-he declined each. But he had said something of a willingness to have gone as Minister to Spain, and soon an arrangement was come to by which this post was offered to him. He left America for Madrid in July 1877. He went to Spain mindful of its splendid past to find it politically and economically lifeless. In a pretty little volume which has recently been published there may be read some of the impressions which he formed, and which are preserved in various official despatches at Washington. They are clear and friendly sketches of some political conditions of modern Spain, now chiefly interesting, however, as indicative of Lowell's remarkable versatility; they appear the work of a trained and temperate political observer, and would have done credit to a lifelong training in the diplomatic service. In Spain Lowell was popular; but in January 1880 he was transferred to London.
It was far more than a diplomatic appointment, for Lowell was now in a sense a uniter of two nations. He had many friends in England; he understood and valued the people. The literature of England was his own; his resentment and grief at the opinion of this country at the time of the Civil War arose to a great degree, as we have seen, because he said that English and Americans were sprung from a common stock—he expected a common feeling. Thus, when Lowell arrived in London, there was before him a mission of peace, the opportunity for work lasting and important, and during the five years that he was Minister to England his presence was of the utmost value. It was his intercourse
among various classes, and his great social charm, which generated much friendly feeling for America and her people.
In his English stay he made several public speeches which did more good than any State paper, so called, could have . done.' Sometimes he had a difficult task in his more official work, as in regard to the Fenians; these duties he performed with tact and firmness. But it is as what Dr. Hale has not inaptly termed “a messenger to the people' that Lowell's great services lay. He had such intuitive tact that he could speak in public as the friend of both Englishspeaking races without hurting the susceptibilities of either. Some of his successors, with the best intentions, have not been so successful.
• He was always glad to meet the people and the men of the people, and he then knew what America really is. It is not the America ot' interviewers, of excursionists, of nouveaux riches millionaires, or of namby-pamby philanthropists attendant on international conventions. These are the individuals whom the people of England are apt most to see. But the people of America at home have wider interests than theirs, and affairs more important than they have. Lowell felt this in every fibre of his life, and if the Working Men's College in London, or some public meeting at Birmingham, or a Coleridge monument, gave him a chance to give the people of England his notion of what the people of America are and have in hand, why he was most glad to do so.' We should have hesitated to write as Dr. Hale does of many very worthy Americans. But speaking with less exaggeration he was right, for the service which Lowell did was to make better known the two peoples to each other. The requisite for a permanent peace between England and America is a knowledge of each country by the masses of the other. Knowledge is the root of friendship, and nations which know and understand each other are more likely to show forbearance in differences. In private life sensible men do not go to law with their friends.
To return, however, to Lowell's work. It is unnecessary to catalogue the speeches to which Dr. Hale refers, but the dignified and pregnant address on Democracy, full of practical wisdom and matured statesmanship, is an admirable statement of the strength and the hopefulness of political society whether in America or in England.
Changes of American Presidents cause changes in diplomatic as in other posts, and thus when President Cleveland came into office in 1885 Lowell was recalled. But a summer did not pass without a return to England, and it was not
until 1890 came round that he was debarred from his annual visit. It was in the following year that he died at his old home at Elmwood.
The mere following out of Lowell's career makes it possible while so doing, to some extent, to estimate his place among his contemporaries. His public addresses form a part of his public life, and the happy blending of wisdom, experience, and bright flashes of insight, render them of permanent value. Both, however, as a poet and a critic, his work must be considered apart, as far as possible, from the man, though the man cannot be observed apart from his work.
Lowell would have been the last to wish to be judged by a provincial standard : he would have preferred that his work should be tested by the classics of that language which is common to the whole English-speaking world. And if we judge hiin by this standard, charming writer though he is, the verdict of posterity will be that he does not live among the great poets of the nineteenth century. Nowhere do we find the gemlike art, the perfect form, of Tennyson's lyrics, nowhere the classical feeling of Arnold, the wisdom of Browning. Very early in his career Lowell once wrote: I write with far more ease in verse than
may (I don't mean by that I think I am), but I am a good versifier. Emerson, when he was asked to review the poem entitled “The Cathedral,' refused to do so: 'I like
Lowell,' he said ; 'I like it' (the poem), “but I think he had to pump.' In this he was unjust in a critical sense-Lowell never had, to use Emerson's phrase, to 'pump.' Much that he wrote was thin, because he was, as he himself said, ' a good versifier. He had the poetic faculty—a charming fancy, there are lines which live, sometimes as from an inspiration; no line has ever hit more suggestively the whole feeling of the great seas than that in which he addresses the
Ocean men's path and their divider too.' But in truth Lowell had almost a fatal facility of verse; he could turn every subject, grave or gay, every emotion, every glint of humour into rhyme, and, as he said of Wordsworth, i he wrote too much to write always well. Such a faculty, unusual and deliglitful, needed to be carefully watehed; the. course of Lowell's life, so far from confining it, gave it play, and prevented that perfect form, that strength of mental supply, without which poetry is not, and a man becomes chiefly a versifier. All that is good enough for to-day and for