James Russell Lowell
1819 – 1891
Who was James Russell Lowell?
James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets. These poets usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.
Lowell graduated from Harvard College in 1838, despite his reputation as a troublemaker, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School. He published his first collection of poetry in 1841 and married Maria White in 1844. He and his wife had several children, though only one survived past childhood. The couple soon became involved in the movement to abolish slavery, with Lowell using poetry to express his anti-slavery views and taking a job in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the editor of an abolitionist newspaper. After moving back to Cambridge, Lowell was one of the founders of a journal called The Pioneer, which lasted only three issues. He gained notoriety in 1848 with the publication of A Fable for Critics, a book-length poem satirizing contemporary critics and poets.
- Sentiment is intellectualized emotion; emotion precipitated, as it were, in pretty crystals by the fancy.
- Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.
- This imputation of inconsistency is one to which every sound politician and every honest thinker must sooner or later subject himself. The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.
- I have always been of the mind that in a democracy manners are the only effective weapons against the bowie-knife.
- The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.
- Where one person shapes their life by precept and example, there are a thousand who have shaped it by impulse and circumstances.
- In the ocean of baseness, the deeper we get, the easier the sinking.
- There are two kinds of weakness, that which breaks and that which bends.
- Solitude is as needed to the imagination as society is wholesome to the character.
- Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day, which must be done, whether you like it or not.
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