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Those speculative heights that lure

125 The unpractised foot, impatient of a guide, Tow'rds ether too attenuately pure

For sweet unconscious breath, though dear to pride,

But better loved the foothold sure

Of paths that wind by old abodes of men

130 Who hope at last the churchyard's peace secure,
And follow time-worn rules, that them suffice,
Learned from their sires, traditionally wise,
Careful of honest custom's how and when;
His mind, too brave to look on Truth askance,
135 No more those habitudes of faith could share,
But, tinged with sweetness of the old Swiss manse
Lingered around them still and fain would spare.
Patient to spy a sullen egg for weeks,
The enigma of creation to surprise,
140 His truer instinct sought the life that speaks
Without a mystery from kindly eyes;

In no self-woven silk of prudence wound,
He by the touch of men was best inspired,
And caught his native greatness at rebound
145 From generosities itself had fired;


Then how the heat through every fibre ran,
Felt in the gathering presence of the man,
While the apt word and gesture came unbid!
Virtues and faults it to one metal wrought,
Fined all his blood to thought,

And ran the molten man in all he said or did.
All Tully's rules and all Quintilian's too
He by the light of listening faces knew,

152. Tully is the now somewhat old-fashioned English way of referring to Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose book De Oratore and Quintilian's Institutiones Oratoria were the most celebrated ancient works on rhetoric.

And his rapt audience all unconscious lent
155 Their own roused force to make him eloquent;
Persuasion fondled in his look and tone;

Our speech (with strangers prudish) he could bring
To find new charms in accents not her own;
Her coy constraints and icy hindrances

60 Melted upon his lips to natural ease,

As a brook's fetters swell the dance of spring.
Nor yet all sweetness: not in vain he wore,
Nor in the sheath of ceremony, controlled
By velvet courtesy or caution cold,
165 That sword of honest anger prized of old,
But, with two-handed wrath,

If baseness or pretension crossed his path,
Struck once nor needed to strike more.


His magic was not far to seek,

170 He was so human! whether strong or weak,
Far from his kind he neither sank nor soared,
But sate an equal guest at every board:
No beggar ever felt him condescend,
No prince presume; for still himself he bare
175 At manhood's simple level, and where'er
He met a stranger, there he left a friend.
How large an aspect! nobly unsevere,
With freshness round him of Olympian cheer,
Like visits of those earthly gods he came;

180 His look, wherever its good-fortune fell,
Doubled the feast without a miracle,

And on the hearthstone danced a happier flame;
Philemon's crabbed vintage grew benign;
Amphitryon's gold-juice humanized to wine.

183. For the stories of Philemon and Amphitryon, see Ovid's Metamorphoses, viii. 631, and vi. 112.




The garrulous memories

Gather again from all their far-flown nooks,
Singly at first, and then by twos and threes,
Then in a throng innumerable, as the rooks
Thicken their twilight files

190 Tow'rds Tintern's gray repose of roofless aisles:
Once more I see him at the table's head
When Saturday her monthly banquet spread
To scholars, poets, wits,

All choice, some famous, loving things, not names,
195 And so without a twinge at others' fames,
Such company as wisest moods befits,
Yet with no pedant blindness to the worth
Of undeliberate mirth,

Natures benignly mixed of air and earth, 200 Now with the stars and row with equal zest Tracing the eccentric orbit of a jest.


I see in vision the warm-lighted hall,
The living and the dead I see again,
And but one chair is empty of them all;
205 'T is I that seem the dead: they all remain

Immortal, changeless creatures of the brain:
Well-nigh I doubt which world is real most,

190. Tintern Abbey on the river Wye is one of the most famous ruins in England. About this as other ruins and shaded buildings the rooks make their home.

192. A club known as the Saturday Club has for many years met in Boston, and some of the prominent members are intimated in the following lines.

Of sense or spirit, to the truly sane;

In this abstraction it were light to deem 210 Myself the figment of some stronger dream; They are the real things, and I the ghost

That glide unhindered through the solid door, Vainly for recognition seek from chair to chair, And strive to speak and am but futile air, 215 As truly most of us are little more.


Him most I see whom we most dearly miss,
The latest parted thence,

His features poised in genial armistice
And armed neutrality of self-defence

220 Beneath the forehead's walled preeminence,
While Tyro, plucking facts with careless reach,
Settles off-hand our human how and whence;
The long-trained veteran scarcely wincing hears
The infallible strategy of volunteers

225 Making through Nature's walls its easy breach, And seems to learn where he alone could teach. Ample and ruddy, the room's end he fills

As he our fireside were, our light and heat,

Centre where minds diverse and various skills

230 Find their warm nook and stretch unhampered feet;

I see the firm benignity of face,

Wide-smiling champaign without tameness sweet,
The mass Teutonic toned to Gallic grace,

The eyes whose sunshine runs before the lips

235 While Holmes's rockets curve their long ellipse, And burst in seeds of fire that burst again To drop in scintillating rain.

216. Agassiz himself.


There too the face half-rustic, half-divine,

Self-poised, sagacious, freaked with humor fine, 240 Of him who taught us not to mow and mope About our fancied selves, but seek our scope In Nature's world and Man's, nor fade to hollow trope; Listening with eyes averse I see him sit Pricked with the cider of the judge's wit 245 (Ripe-hearted homebrew, fresh and fresh again), While the wise nose's firm-built aquiline


Curves sharper to restrain

The merriment whose most unruly moods
Pass not the dumb laugh learned in listening woods
Of silence-shedding pine:

Hard by is he whose art's consoling spell
Has given both worlds a whiff of asphodel,
His look still vernal 'mid the wintry ring
Of petals that remember, not foretell,
255 The paler primrose of a second spring.


And more there are but other forms arise
And seen as clear, albeit with dimmer eyes:
First he from sympathy still held apart

238. Ralph Waldo Emerson. The words half-rustic, halfdivine, recall Lowell's earlier characterization in his Fable for Critics:

"A Greek head on right Yankee shoulders, whose range
Has Olympus for one pole, for t' other the Exchange;
He seems, to my thinking (although I am afraid
The comparison, must, long ere this, have been made),
A Plotinus Montaigne, where the Egyptian's gold mist
And the Gascon's shrewd wit caeek by jowl co-exist."

244. Judge E. R. Hoar.

251. Longfellow.

258. Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was buried in Concord, Ma 24, 1864.

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