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In these satirical verses, Lowell uses a humorous and original New England dialect to express his opposition to the Mexican War as an attempt to extend the area of slavery.

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These books, together with the publication that year of the second series of his Poems, made Lowell the most popular new figure in American literature. Henceforth his literary production comprised mainly prose essays on topics of literature, history, and politics.

In his lectures on English poets before the Lowell Institute led to his appointment as Smith professor of modern languages at Harvard University , succeeding Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. After a yearlong visit to Italy and Germany in —56 to study, he held this professorship for the next 20 years. Lowell wrote a second series of Biglow Papers for the Atlantic Monthly that were devoted to Unionism and that were collected in book form in Disillusioned by the political corruption evident in President Ulysses S.

These and other critical essays were collected in the two series of Among My Books , His later poetry includes The Cathedral , a long and ambitious but only partly successful poem that deals with the conflicting claims of religion and modern science. President Rutherford B. After his second wife died in , Lowell retired from public life. Lowell was the archetypal New England man of letters, remarkable for his cultivation and charm, his deep learning, and his varied literary talents.

He wrote his finest works before he was 30 years old, however, and most of his subsequent writings lack vitality. He returned to the United States in the summer of and began his college duties. He stayed there, along with his daughter Mabel and her governess Frances Dunlap, until January Lowell had intended never to remarry after the death of his wife Maria White. However, in , surprising his friends, he became engaged to Frances Dunlap, who many described as simple and unattractive.

Category:Lowell, James Russell

Dunlap , [65] was a friend of Lowell's first wife and formerly wealthy, though she and her family had fallen into reduced circumstances. In the autumn of , The Atlantic Monthly was established, and Lowell was its first editor. With its first issue in November of that year, he at once gave the magazine the stamp of high literature and of bold speech on public affairs.

As he wrote to his friend Briggs, "I am back again to the place I love best. I am sitting in my old garret, at my old desk, smoking my old pipe I begin to feel more like my old self than I have these ten years. For the Review , he served as a coeditor along with Charles Eliot Norton.

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As early as , Lowell had predicted the debate over slavery would lead to war [72] and, as the Civil War broke out in the s, Lowell used his role at the Review to praise Abraham Lincoln and his attempts to maintain the Union. Lowell himself was generally a pacifist. Even so, he wrote, "If the destruction of slavery is to be a consequence of the war, shall we regret it? If it be needful to the successful prosecution of the war, shall anyone oppose it?

Shortly after Lincoln's assassination , Lowell was asked to present a poem at Harvard in memory of graduates killed in the war. His poem, "Commemoration Ode", cost him sleep and his appetite, but was delivered on July 21, , [75] after a hour writing binge. In the s, Lowell's friend Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri 's Divine Comedy and regularly invited others to help him on Wednesday evenings.

The book, dedicated to Norton, collected poems Lowell had written within the previous twenty years and was his first poetry collection since Lowell intended to take another trip to Europe. To finance it, he sold off more of Elmwood's acres and rented the house to Thomas Bailey Aldrich ; Lowell's daughter Mabel, by this time, had moved into a new home with her husband Edward Burnett , the son of a successful businessman-farmer from Southborough, Massachusetts. They visited England, Paris, Switzerland, and Italy. While overseas, he received an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Oxford and another from Cambridge University.

They returned to the United States in the summer of Lowell resigned from his Harvard professorship in , though he was persuaded to continue teaching through That year, he served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio , speaking on behalf of presidential candidate Rutherford B. He had trouble socializing while in Spain, however, and amused himself by sending humorous dispatches to his political bosses in the United States, many of which were later collected and published posthumously in as Impressions of Spain.

In January , Lowell was informed of his appointment as Minister to England , his nomination made without his knowledge as far back as June Arthur 's presidency in the spring of , despite his wife's failing health. Lowell was already well known in England for his writing and, during his time there, befriended fellow author Henry James , who referred to him as "conspicuously American". His second wife, Frances, died on February 19, , while still in England. He returned to the United States by June , living with his daughter and her husband in Southboro, Massachusetts. Also that year, the Boston Critic dedicated a special issue to Lowell on his seventieth birthday to recollections and reminiscences by his friends, including former presidents Hayes and Benjamin Harrison and British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone as well as Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Francis Parkman.

In the last few months of his life, Lowell struggled with gout , sciatica in his left leg, and chronic nausea; by the summer of , doctors believed that Lowell had cancer in his kidneys, liver, and lungs. His last few months, he was administered opium for the pain and was rarely fully conscious. Early in his career, James Russell Lowell's writing was influenced by Swedenborgianism , a Spiritualism -infused form of Christianity founded by Emanuel Swedenborg , causing Frances Longfellow wife of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to mention that "he has been long in the habit of seeing spirits".

Though not officially affiliated with them, he shared some of their ideals, including the belief that writers have an inherent insight into the moral nature of humanity and have an obligation for literary action along with their aesthetic function. Instead, he called for a natural literature, regardless of country, caste, or race, and warned against provincialism which might "put farther off the hope of one great brotherhood".

I believe that no poet in this age can write much that is good unless he gives himself up to [the radical] tendency The proof of poetry is, in my mind, that it reduces to the essence of a single line the vague philosophy which is floating in all men's minds, and so render it portable and useful, and ready to the hand At least, no poem ever makes me respect its author which does not in some way convey a truth of philosophy.

A scholar of linguistics , Lowell was one of the founders of the American Dialect Society. In using this vernacular, Lowell intended to get closer to the common man's experience and was rebelling against more formal and, as he thought, unnatural representations of Americans in literature.


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As he wrote in his introduction to The Biglow Papers , "few American writers or speakers wield their native language with the directness, precision, and force that are common as the day in the mother country". Ef you take a sword an' dror it, An go stick a feller thru, Guv'ment aint to answer to it, God'll send the bill to you. Lowell is considered one of the Fireside Poets , a group of writers from New England in the s who all had a substantial national following and whose work was often read aloud by the family fireplace.

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Lowell was an abolitionist, but his opinions wavered concerning African-Americans. He advocated suffrage for blacks , yet he noted that their ability to vote could be troublesome. Even so, he wrote, "We believe the white race, by their intellectual and traditional superiority, will retain sufficient ascendancy to prevent any serious mischief from the new order of things. The majority of these people, he said, "treat ideas as ignorant persons do cherries.

They think them unwholesome unless they are swallowed, stones and all. Abolitionist Samuel Joseph May accused him of trying to quit the movement because of his association with Harvard and the Boston Brahmin culture: "Having got into the smooth, dignified, self-complacent, and change-hating society of the college and its Boston circles, Lowell has gone over to the world, and to 'respectability'. Lowell was also involved in other reform movements.

He urged better conditions for factory workers, opposed capital punishment , and supported the temperance movement. His friend Longfellow was especially concerned about his fanaticism for temperance, worrying that Lowell would ask him to destroy his wine cellar. His friend Edward Everett Hale denied these allegations. Lowell considered joining the "Anti-Wine" club at Harvard, and he became a teetotaler during the early years of his first marriage. When he drank, he had wild mood swings, ranging from euphoria to frenzy.

In , Lowell said of himself, "I am the first poet who has endeavored to express the American Idea, and I shall be popular by and by. Retrieved October 10, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

James Russell Lowell , —91, American poet, critic, and editor, b.


  1. The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded;
  2. By This Poet.
  3. Related Commemorations?

Cambridge, Mass. He was influential in revitalizing the intellectual life of New England in the midth cent. Educated at Harvard B. In he started a literary magazine, the Pioneer, which failed after two issues. The next year Lowell married Maria White, an ardent abolitionist and liberal, who encouraged him in his work. The best remembered of these are The Bigelow Papers, political and social lampoons written in Yankee dialect, which established his reputation as a satirist and a wit.

The first of these two series of verses expressed opposition to the Mexican War , and the second supported the cause of the North in the Civil War. In , Lowell became professor of modern languages at Harvard, a position he held until In addition to teaching, he served as first editor —61 of the Atlantic Monthly and later —72 of the North American Review.

In his later writings he turned to scholarship and criticism. In he was appointed minister to London, where he remained until While abroad Lowell did much to increase the respect of foreigners for American letters and American institutions; his speeches in England, published as Democracy and Other Addresses , are among his best work.

Love by James Russell Lowell

Lowell's letters ed.