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JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL'S extensive critical works cover the period between Dante and the mid-Victorian era so much more systematically than those of any other nineteenth-century American critic, that the identification of twenty-eight additional critical notices in the North American Review would scarcely be worth publication were it not for a continuing and lively controversial interest in his critical accomplishment. Upon Lowell's death in 1891, Stedman, himself a very active critic, unhesitantly pronounced that Lowell was thus far the greatest of American critics. Doubters and detractors quickly appeared; but despite the attacks which have been made on Lowell's superficiality, he has continued to the present day to find notable defenders. The addition of a number of critical notices and reviews will therefore have some significance: it will increase our knowledge of his reading habits; and, as the bulk of his known criticism deals with major authors of the past, these new pieces will enlarge our knowledge of his opinions of current literature.

Horace E. Scudder's James Russell Lowell (1901) contained such a careful calendar of first publications—whether in newspapers, periodicals, or in separate volumes or pamphlets—that George Willis Cooke, when he prepared a book-length bibliography in 1906 managed to introduce more typographical errors than he did new items. Both Scudder and Cooke used, among other materials, the large mass of manuscripts and other literary remains which Lowell left with C. E. Norton. Why they did not use, or made such poor use of, the 1878 index to the North American Review remains unexplained, unless, depending on Lowell's papers, they merely overlooked it. The index was prepared by a Harvard librarian, William Cushing, and was published quite separately from the Review itself. Thus it may have escaped their notice just as it escaped the notice of a more recent distinguished scholar who was attempting a complete bibliography of his subject.

The North American had begun to emerge from anonymity in 1868, ten years before the index was prepared, but even after the index appeared, the current critical notices (as distinguished from the articles) remained unsigned. Cushing, then, had the dual task of making an analytical index and of determining the authorship of articles some of which had been published over sixty years before. In his Preface he said, "The fullest sources of information, in regard to past and present writers, have been opened to me by the past and present editors . . . except Dr. Palfrey, . . . who is too infirm to give me any information."[1] Since some of the past editors were


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already dead, the statement is ambiguous. Nevertheless, as Lowell's editorship was later than Palfrey's, Cushing obviously means that Lowell, among others, aided him in determining the authorship of anonymous articles and reviews.

No matter how accurate or inaccurate the information Cushing received concerning other contributors, Lowell's list of his own materials must have been fairly trustworthy. As he had contributed at least eighty-five items, he could not, five years after the close of his editorship, have relied on memory. It would seem that, barring clerical and typographical errors in indexing, the provenance of the twenty-nine additions to the canon (in the first list below) is fairly clear.

There can be only a slight doubt about the seventeen items which are listed without the comment, "In author index only." Each of them appears at least twice in the index, and is attributed to Lowell in each entry.

The authenticity of the remaining twelve, the notices which are indicated as appearing in the author index only, must be examined more closely. The index is divided into two sections, subject and author. The analytical subject index is much the longer, for some articles and notices are listed under several headings. However, the author index is more nearly complete, since Cushing has throughout the subject index omitted certain critical notices which appear in the author index. He ineffectually explains in his Preface that the listing of some of the notices could serve no purpose. His choices for omission are quite arbitrary, for he includes some trivial materials and omits what today at least would be considered far more important.

In the author index there appears under the name of each author a chronological list of his contributions, designated by short title and a numerical reference, except for the fact that in the case of Lowell and a few other frequent contributors, some, though not all, of the critical notices (never any of the "articles") are gathered at the end of the list where they appear under the heading "Critical Notices" and are designated only by issue number and notice number. Here an undetectable typographical error in one figure would result in the attribution to Lowell of a piece not his. However, a reindexing of the sixteen volumes edited by Lowell reveals in 1600 entries in Cushing's index four typographical errors in numerical reference, or only one to every 400 entries. The chance of a typographical error, then, in twelve items is very small. Even if an error occurred, it would have little chance of escaping detection. Any reference out of sequence would obviously be wrong; moreover, all but ten of 500 critical notices are indexed, and an incorrect attribution of a notice to Lowell would conflict with one or more entries elsewhere in the index. There are two errors in page composition affecting the 190 entries of Lowell's contributions, but they are immediately obvious, and do not concern the new items listed.


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Clerical errors are more numerous in the index. Among 1600 entries covering about 800 articles, reviews and notices published during Lowell's tenure, six critical notices are attributed to different authors in different parts of the index. Two of these affect the Lowell canon.[2] They appear in the "Doubtful Authorship" list below, where it is noted that one of them previously ascribed to Lowell is almost certainly the work of Norton, the very active associate editor.

A file of the North American Review built up at the time of publication by the Widener Library at Harvard contains penciled notations of authorship. The inscriptions covering Lowell's editorship are primarily in two hands, with one item marked by a third hand. It is apparently unknown who made these notations or to what extent Cushing relied on them. They confirm the additions to the Lowell canon listed below, with the exception of the review of Hale's If, Yes, and Perhaps, which is not marked.[3]

Yet another record—Norton's memorandum book, which is owned by the Houghton Library—mentions a few of the items. On a left-hand sheet in the notebook he recorded the plans for a future issue; later he recorded the actual contents on the opposite sheet, giving the authors and the amount they were paid. Norton, in this somewhat sketchy record, attributes a significant review of Howells' Venetian Life to Lowell, while Cushing in both sections of his index gives it to Norton himself. The contradictions concerning this short notice (the Widener copy gives it to Norton, Scudder does not include it in his list of Lowell's works, and Cooke gives it to Lowell) indicate that no published records of Lowell's unsigned and uncollected writings can be trusted absolutely.

Cooke, though he gathered much valuable bibliographical information in the field of New England letters, can never be trusted where he cannot be checked. Compared with Cushing's index of the Lowell material Cooke's bibliography is virtually corrupt. While there are only four typographical, clerical, and composition errors in Cushing's 190 entries for Lowell, Cooke, in fifty-eight entries from the North American, makes eleven errors, or proportionally nine times as many. The errors include wrong page, wrong volume, wrong year, wrong spelling of names, and the misspelling and alphabetization of Chaucer as Church, not to mention the listing in two different places of a review by Lowell as a review of one of Lowell's works. He omits without explanation five reviews (listed below) attributed to


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Lowell by both Cushing and Scudder. Judging by Cooke's other work, these omissions were oversights. Certainly the failure to include the review of Ward's life of Percival was careless, for Lowell had already collected it himself.

Internal-external evidence will support Cushing's attributions of several of the notices. This evidence cannot be analyzed here, but the student of Lowell will recognize references to previous criticisms definitely known to be by Lowell, and he will note numerous links such as that in the review of Froude's History of England in which Lowell repeats very closely the phraseology of his judgment of Froude's sympathetic handling of Henry VIII, which he had used two years before as an example in "The Rebellion: Its Causes and Consequences."[4]

    Critical Notices by Lowell Published in the North American Review but not heretofore Included in Bibliographies of his Works
    (Unless otherwise indicated, each item below is credited to Lowell at least twice in Cushing's index. The first two numbers are the references as given by Cushing to the issue and notice number respectively.)

  • 150 3 H[enry] W[ebster] Parker, Poems, LXXII (Jan., 1851), 254-257.
  • 205 15[5] Carlyle, The History of Frederick the Great, Vol. IV, XCIX (Oct. 1864), 628.
  • 205 16 George Bemis, Precedents of American Neutrality, XCIX (Oct., 1864), 629.
  • 206 4 Memoirs of Lieut.-General [Winfield] Scott, LL.D., Written by Himself, C (Jan., 1865), 242-244.
  • 206 20 George T. Rider, ed., Lyra Anglicana, C. (Jan., 1865), 303-304. [In author index only.]
  • 206 21 [John] Doran, "Their Majesties' Servants," C (Jan., 1865), 304. [In author index only.]
  • 206 22 M[ary] E[lizabeth Mapes] Dodge, The Irvington Stories, C (Jan., 1865), 304. [In author index only.]
  • 209 18 Richard Grant White, The Works of William Shakespeare, Vol. I, CI (Oct., 1865), 629-631. [In author index only.]
  • 211 18 E. Foxton [Sarah Hammond Palfrey], Herman, or Young Knighthood, CII (April, 1866), 632-634.
  • 211 19 Edmund Burke, Works, Vols. IV and V, CII (April, 1866), 634-637.
  • 211 24 R. H. Stoddard, ed., Melodies and Madrigals, CII (April, 1866), 644. [In author index only.]
  • 213 13 Froude, The History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth, Vols. I-VI, CIII (Oct., 1866), 606-607. [In author index only, but confirmed by Norton's memorandum.]
  • 214 13 Bayard Taylor, The Picture of St. John, CIV (Jan., 1867), 294-297.
  • 218 17 Octavius Pickering, The Life of Timothy Pickering, Vol. I, CVI (Jan., 1868), 346-347.
  • 218 18 Edmund Quincy, The Life of Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, CVI (Jan., 1868), 348.

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  • 218 19 T. W. Parsons, translator, The . . . Inferno . . . of Dante, CVI (Jan., 1868), 348-349. [In author index only.]
  • 221 8 Charles Nordhoff, Cape Cod and All Along Shore: Stories, CVII (Oct., 1868), 674. [In author index only.]
  • 221 9 [Charles Godfrey Leland,] Hans Breitmann's Party. And Other Ballads, CVII (Oct., 1868), 675. [In author index only.]
  • 221 10 E. E. Hale, If, Yes, and Perhaps. Four Possibilities and Six Exaggerations, with Some Bits of Fact, CVII (Oct., 1868), 675-676. [In author index only.]
  • 222 16 Passages from the American Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne, CVIII (Jan., 1869), 323-325. [In author index only.]
  • 222 17 Howells, No Love Lost, CVIII (Jan., 1869), 325-326. [In author index only.]
  • 222 18 [Henry Warren Torrey,] Lecture on the Uses of the Study of History, CVIII (Jan., 1869), 326-327. [In author index only.]
  • 222 19 Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight, CVIII (Jan., 1869), 327-328. [In author index only.]
  • 224 11 Dana, Two Years before the Mast, New Edition, CIX (July, 1869), 298-299.
  • 224 12 Goldwin Smith, The Relations between America and England, CIX (July, 1869), 299-301.
  • 224 13 E. C. Stedman, The Blameless Prince, and Other Poems, CIX (July, 1869), 301.
  • 230 3 Bret Harte, Poems, CXII (Jan., 1871), 234-235.
  • 230 5 Howells, Suburban Sketches, CXII (Jan., 1871), 236-237.

    Omissions by Cooke of Critical Notices Published by Lowell in the North American Review and Attributed to him by Cushing and Scudder

  • [Article VII] "New Translations of the Writings of Miss Bremer," LVIII (April, 1844), 480-508.
  • 203 16 Adam Gurowski, Diary, Vol. II, XCVIII (April, 1864), 618-619.
  • 203 21 Jean Ingelow, Poems, XCVIII (April, 1864), 628-629.
  • 203 22 William Barnes, Poems in the Dorset Dialect, XCVIII (April, 1864), 629.
  • 214 10 J. H. Ward, The Life and Letters of James Gates Percival, CIV (Jan., 1867), 278-297.

    Reviews of Doubtful Authorship

  • 205 11 H. T. Tuckerman, America and Her Commentators, XCIX (Oct., 1864), 624-626. [Attributed to Norton in Cushing's subject index, but to Lowell in the Critical Notices section of his author index; Norton in his memorandum book lists it as his; omitted by Scudder; attributed to Lowell by Cooke.]
  • 205 12 Tennyson, Enoch Arden, XCIX (Oct., 1864), 626. [Attributed to Lowell in Cushing's subject index and in the Critical Notices section of his author index; in the marked Widener copy; and by Cooke. However, Norton in the pay schedule of his memorandum book lists it by number alone as his. Listing by numbr makes an error possible, but his schedule is neat and systematic, and should be better authority than any of the others above.]
  • 205 17 Horace E. Scuder, Life and Letters of David Coit Scudder, XCIX (Oct., 1864), 629-630. [Attributed to Lowell in Cushing's subject index, but to Norton in the critical notices section of his author index; omitted by Scudder and Cooke.]
  • 213 14 [Richard Congreve and others.] International Policy, CIII (Oct., 1866), 608-609. [Attributed by Cushing to Norton. Norton's memorandum book gives it to Lowell. A comparison with 224 12 would seem to point to Lowell as author. Omitted by Scudder and Cooke.]

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  • 213 15 Charles Carleton Coffin, Four Years of Fighting, CIII (Oct., 1866), 609-610. [Attributed to Lowell in the Critical Notices section; and to Lowell in the marked Widener copy. Nevertheless, Norton, who in his pay schedule for this issue lists each item by the name of the author reviewed (thus reducing the possibility of error), lists this notice as his.]
  • 213 16 Howells, Venetian Life, CIII (Oct., 1866), 610-613. [Attributed to Norton in both of Cushing's indexes and in the marked Widener copy; omitted by Scudder; attributed to Lowell by Norton in his memorandum book; and listed by Cooke as Lowell's.][6]