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"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
"The ill-timed truth we might have kept,
Who knows how grandly it had rung?
"Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
Be merciful to me, a fool!"
The room was hushed: in silence rose
There are many writers of verse who have added to the slow-growing "Treasury of Song" whose names must be omitted. Henry Timrod, Father Tabb, and ers of Verse. William Gilmore Simms of the South, have all made contributions which a very slight extension of our scheme would allow us to mention.
The volume of the work of Edward R. Sill is not large, but possesses some of the rare and delicate qualities of fine art. He was born at Windsor, Connecticut, Rowland Sill, and was graduated from Yale College in the class. 1841-1887. of 1861. He did some journalistic work in New York and taught, principally in California, where, from 1874 to 1882, he was professor of English Literature in
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the University of California at Berkeley. to the East, and died at Cleveland, Ohio, when but fortyfive years of age. Three small volumes contain his verse, which is marked by the spirituality and idealism of the true poet and comes direct from the heart. He was called away in the fullness of his powers and "left his tale half told."
Boker was a Philadelphian and was graduated from Princeton in 1842. Possessed of an ample fortune, he followed authorship and scholarship from choice George H. Boker, and not from necessity. He wrote a number 1823-1890. of romantic plays, which are more than closet dramas, and several of them, notably "Francesca da Rimini," have met with deserved success on the stage. His ballads and songs have considerable lyrical vigor. All of Mr. Boker's work is scholarly, finished, and literary. The "Black Regiment," "On Board the Cumberland," a "Ballad of Sir John Franklin," and the "Sword Bearer," among others, are strong, manly, patriotic verse. His sonnets are polished and, next to Mr. Longfellow's, were the best of their day, but his war-songs are his real title to remembrance. Mr. Boker was Minister to Turkey from 1871 to 1875, and Minister to Russia from 1875 to 1891, and represented our country very worthily. Indeed, the success of literary Americans as diplomatists has been very marked from Irving to Lowell. Among them, as will be remembered, are John Lothrop Motley, Bayard Taylor, and Andrew White.
As his name indicates, Lanier was of Huguenot descent, and it is worth noticing in how many instances a strain of the blood of the French Puritans has been accompanied with refined artistic sensibility. He was born in Macon,
Georgia, and educated at Oglethorpe College. Before he was of age he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army, and though not of firm physique he served four years. After several experimental occu1842-1881. pations he devoted himself to music and literature, earning his living at first by playing the flute in an orchestra in Baltimore. He published some verse, recognized as possessing rare qualities, and in 1873 he was appointed lecturer on English Literature in Johns Hopkins University. He published two prose volumes which show his originality and breadth of philosophical insight,— the 'Science of English Verse" and the "English Novel,” and a few poems. His death nullified the promise and pledge
of a true poetic soul.
Lanier's poems are characterized by a certain fullness of life, musical tone, energetic love for the beautiful, and warmth of feeling, which, whether or no the gift of the South to her favored sons, is wanting thus far in Northern singers of the United States. The "Crystal" is morality exalted beyond didacticism to the region where art and ethics meet; the "Hymns of the Marshes" are natureworship with a ritual more lofty and musical than that of Wordsworth, and the "Symphony" is a poem which no one can study without receiving spiritual uplift even if it is hard to understand the allegory. If we except Milton, of whose real musical powers we really know nothing, Lanier is the only poet who was in any deep sense a musician and a musical artist, as Rossetti is the only poet who was also a painter. When we remember what he accomplished in the fifteen years after the war in spite of poverty and ill health, we are impressed with the creative energy and vitality of the real artistic temperament, and although we never saw him, we feel a sense of personal loss.
William Curtis, 1824-1892.
George William Curtis was born in Providence, but his home from early boyhood was in New York, where his education was received principally from private tutors. When a lad of eighteen he spent a year as a pupil in the Brook Farm community, an experience which seemed to be in many cases equivalent to a literary apprenticeship. He passed four years in Europe, and at the age of twenty-seven took up the work of a writer. Two volumes of notes of travel, the "Nile Notes of a Howadji" and the "Howadji in Syria," were his first introduction to the public. The Potiphar Papers," a pungent social satire, and "Prue and I," a series of delightful, familiar essays, were contributed to the old Putnam's Magazine. He became the editor of Harper's Weekly and contributed the "Easy Chair" for many years to Harper's Magazine. His work in both cases was of a high order, witty, scholarly, genial, and urbane. For thirty odd years, his "Easy Chair" papers were continued and they constitute a remarkable body of literature. The subjects are the current topics of the time, political, social, and literary, all treated with a kindly humor at once incisive and elegant.
Curtis was also a lyceum lecturer, or peripatetic professor of literature and social philosophy, very acceptable to his audiences. His greatest service to his country was the lifelong fight he carried on against the destructive forces that continually attempt to betray the cause of civil liberty under the banner of party allegiance and the system of selling offices. He was a gallant soldier in the war of the people against the spoilsmen, and was honored with the hearty dislike of the political corruptionists, who possess a singular instinct in detecting their really dangerous enemies.
He carried the standard of American citi
zenship and defended it through years of unbought service. This, though not showy work, was of great value, and dignified scholarship by connecting it with the highest utilities, and in consequence his rank as a public man politician in the true sense is even higher than his rank in pure literature.
Theodore Winthrop was born in New Haven, and was graduated from Yale College in 1848. He traveled abroad,
Theodore Woolsey Winthrop,
and in the West at a time when California and Oregon were new. In 1855 he studied law and settled in New York, but devoted much time to literature. He had a great admiration for Mr. Ruskin, and his criticism on Church's "Heart of the Andes was very much in Ruskin's manner. When the Civil War broke out, Winthrop entered the ranks with great ardor. He went to Washington with the Seventh Regiment of New York, and contributed two very brilliant articles on his experience to the Atlantic Monthly. He was made military secretary to General Butler, with the rank of lieutenant, and was killed at the battle of Big Bethel on the 10th of June, 1861. All of his books were published after his death.
Although Winthrop is "an inheritor of unfulfilled renown," his books, "Cecil Dreeme," "John Brent," and "Edwin Brothertoft," prove that he had the makings of a novelist in him. His industry was very great, and had he lived, he would undoubtedly have given us a lifelike and able account of that part of the war he saw. He had just found his vocation when he died, and we have to chronicle a loss of possibilities rather than definite accomplishment.