Conversations on Some of the Old Poets]
“Hail, bards of mightier grasp! on you I chiefly call, the chosen few, Who cast not off the acknowledged guide, Who faltered not, nor turned aside; Whose lofty genius could survive Privation, under sorrow thrive.”1
By prefixing to his work these lines from Wordsworth, Mr. Lowell indicates his standard as to the hopes and destiny of the Poet. It is a high one; and in its application, he shows great justness of feeling, delicacy of perception, comprehensive views; and, for this country, an unusual refinement and extent of culture.
We have been accustomed to hear Mr. Lowell so extravagantly lauded by the circle of his friends, that we should be hopeless of escaping the wrath of his admirers, for any terms in which our expressions of sympathy could be couched, but for the more modest and dignified tone of his own preface, which presents ground on which the world, at large, can meet him. With his admirers, we have often been reminded of a fervent Italian who raved at one of our young country-women as “a heartless girl,” because she would not go to walk with him alone at midnight. But Mr. Lowell, himself, speaks of his work as becomes one conversant with those of great and accomplished minds.
“I am not bold enough to esteem these essays of any great price. Standing as yet only in the outer porch of life, I cannot be expected to report those higher mysteries which lie in the body unrevealed in the body of the temple. Yet, as a child, when he has found but a mean pebble, which differs from ordinary only so much as by a stripe of quartz or a stain of iron, calls his companions to behold his treasure, which then also affords matter of delight and wonder; I