Reminiscences of Bayard Taylor

I MET Bayard Taylor first in 1848. We were both young men, for we were born in the same year, 1825, he in January and I in July, and we both had one thing in common, — a love of poetry and a belief that we were poets. We may have doubted some things, but that supreme thing we did not and would not doubt. It was a consolation to me, and a glory to him. I was familiar with his writings before he could have been with mine, and, knowing something of his history from the newspapers, I was prepared to like him, if we should ever meet. He had been to Europe, and had published his Views Afoot, which had made his name widely known, while I had merely printed a few verses in the magazines. The Union Magazine, which had been started in New York a year before, was the immediate cause of our acquaintance. It was edited by Mrs. Caroline M. Kirkland, an estimable woman and a charming writer, who had read a little manuscript volume of verse which I had inflicted upon her good nature, who had kindly loaned me books from her library, and who had accepted some of my verses for her periodical. She was the most judicious friend whom I had yet made, and she was also a friend of Bayard Taylor, who was one of her most valued contributors. She talked with me about him, and just before she went to Europe, leaving him to fill her editorial chair, she advised me to call upon him during her absence.

I have tasked my memory to recover the reason of my first calling upon Bayard Taylor, and I believe I may say that it was to learn the fate of a manuscript which he had received either from Mrs. Kirkland or from myself. I found him in the editorial room of the Tribune, which, I think, was on the same floor as the composing-room. It was certainly on an upper floor of the Tribune building, if not the uppermost floor of all. Compositors were at work close by the desk at which he was seated, which was lumbered with books and newspapers, not forgetting the necessary editorial shears. It was one of two desks which were placed back to back, for the accommodation of himself and a fellow-editor, who was charged with the shipping news of the paper. “ Is Mr. Bayard Taylor here?” I asked, in a general way, of the two persons who were occupying these desks. The one who was nearest me looked up from his work, and replied, “ I am he.” “ My name is Stoddard,” I said, “ and I have come to see whether you can us e—.” Here I named an early production of mine, which, I believe, was addressed to Oblivion (if so, it has reached its destination), and he assured me that he not only could use it, but that it would appear in a certain number of the Union Magazine, which he specified, and which I was glad to learn was not a remote one. He must have risen during his conversation, for I saw that he was taller than myself. I have before me now a vision of him in his young manhood, — tall, erect, activelooking, and manly, with an aquiline nose, bright, loving eyes, and the dark, ringleted hair with which we endow, in ideal, the heads of poets. There was a kindness and a courtesy in his greeting which went straight to my heart, and assured me that I had found a friend. What conversation other than that I have indicated passed between us I have forgotten, though I know that he must have asked me to come and see him, both in the editorial room and at his own room, for I visited him at both places soon afterward.

Bayard Taylor and I met at night generally, for neither could call the day his own; he had his work to do on the Tribune, and I had mine to do in a foundry. Apart from politics, his was the cleaner of the two, but not the least laborious, I am sure. He wrote fifteen hours a day, he told me, scribbling book notices, leaders, foreign news, reports, — turning his hand and pen to everything that went to the making of a newspaper thirty years ago. There was but one night in the week when he could do what he pleased, and that was Saturday night, which we always spent together when he was in town. I looked forward to it as a school-boy looks forward to a holiday, and was happy when it came. I have forgotten where his rooms were, but as near as I can recollect they were in a boarding-house on Murray Street, not far from Broadway. They were sky parlors, as the saying is, for he liked a good outlook; and besides, they suited his purse, which was not plethoric with shekels. In the first of these rooms, which was set apart for his books, there was a little table, at which he wrote late into the night, resting his soul with poetry after the prosaic labors of the day. It was poetry which had made us friends, and we never spent a night together without talking about it, and without reading the poems we had written since our last meeting. If the Muses had favored me, I brought their favors with me, and mouthed them out in innocent audacity. I thought well of my attempts, no doubt, but never in my wildest moments did I dream of comparing myself with him. He had an imagination which surpassed mine, a command of the fervors and splendors of language, and an intuitive knowledge of rhetoric and of sonorous harmonies of rhythm. I have been looking over his poetical works, and I find that there are but few of his early poems which I did not read, or which he did not read to me, in manuscript. His mind was so fertile and his execution so rapid that he generally had one or more new poems to show me when we met. I sit with him now in thought, and hear him read the Metempsychosis of the Pine, Hylas, Kubleh, and Ariel in the Cloven Pine. The last impressed me so deeply that I wrote a companion piece, in which I tried to embody the personality of Caliban.

Ihe conversation and the poetic practice of Bayard Taylor were the only intellectual stimulant I had, and if I wrote better than I had done previous to making his acquaintance I felt that it was largely due to him. There was an enthusiasm about him which was contagious. We were a help to each other, and we were a hindrance, also, I can see now, for we admired too indiscriminatively, and criticised too tenderly. My favorite poet was Keats, and his was Shelley, and we pretended to believe that the souls of these poets had returned to earth in our bodies. My worship of my master was restricted to a silent imitation of his diction; my comrade’s worship of his master took the form of an Ode to Shelley, which I thought, and still think, the noblest poem that his immortal genius has inspired. It is followed in the volume before me (Poems of Home and Travel, 1855) by an airy lyric on Sicilian Wine, which was written out of his head, as the children say, for he had no Sicilian wine, nor, indeed, wine of any other vintage. He had cigars, however, and he tempted me into the use of the Indian weed. He tempted me, also, into the eating of oysters before we parted for the night, and it was our custom to repair to a restaurant near by, and to supply ourselves with that succulent brain food. These Saturday nights of ours were more to me, I think, than they could possibly have been to Bayard Taylor; for if his days were passed in mental drudgery, they were passed in the society of gentlemen, while mine were passed in hard, physical labor amongst common workmen and apprentices. I had no friend except himself, and no companionship but that of books and my own thoughts. If I had not enjoyed myself at those seasons, I must have been more or less than human. As Cowley said of Hervey:—

“ To him my Muse made haste with ov'ry Strain,
Whilst it was New, and Warm yet from the Brain.
He loved my worthless Rhymes, and like a Friend
Would find out something to Commend.
Hence now, my Muse, thou canst not me delight;
Be this my latest Verse
With which I now Adorn his Herse,
And this my Grief without thy Help shall write.’’

If Bayard Taylor had been in easy circumstances in 1849, I hardly think he would have gone to California as the correspondent of the Tribune. But his circumstances were not easy, so he went manfully, and wrote a capital book about his experiences in the new Eldorado, and, better still, a number of California ballads, of which any poet might have been proud. They were so popular, I remember, that one of the best of them, Manuela, provoked an amusing parody from Phœbe Cary, which delighted the parodied poet, who was good-natured enough to take as well as to give.

The American Parnassus was a Bedlam in the autumn of 1850, and Bayard Taylor was the innocent cause of its madness. The Prince of Showmen had imported Jenny Lind to sing before his admiring countrymen, and, to flatter their national vanity, he offered a prize of two hundred dollars for an original song for her. All the versifiers in the land set at once to work to immortalize themselves and to better their fortunes, and as many as six hundred confidently expected to do so. Bayard Taylor came one afternoon early in September, and confided to me the fact that he was to be declared the winner of this perilous honor, and that he foresaw a row. “ They will say it was given to me because Putnam, who is my publisher, is one of the committee, and because Ripley, who is my associate on the Tribune, is another.” “If You think so,” I answered, “ withdraw your name, and put my name in place of it. You shall have the money, and I will bear the abuse.” He laughed, and left me, as I thought, to do what I had suggested; but he concluded to acknowledge the authorship himself, and stand the consequences. The decision of the committee was published next day, and the indignation of the disappointed competitors was unbounded. They rushed to all the editors whom they knew, or could reach, and these sharp-witted gentlemen, having an eye for mischief as well as fun, published their prose and their verse, which ranged from an epigram up to an epic. The choice of the committee had fallen upon only two out of the whole number of manuscripts which had been sent to them, and being in some doubt as to which of the two was the most suitable for the occasion, they showed both to Jenny Lind, who chose the shortest one, as containing the feeling she wished to express in her greeting to America. It happened to be the one that Bayard Taylor had written, and it was accordingly set to music by Jules Benedict, and sung by her at her first concert in Castle Garden. I have recovered this unfortunate lyric, but I shall not quote it here, for Bayard Taylor desired to have it forgotten. “ Did you see the Brooklyn announcement of my lecture? ” he wrote to me in November. “ (‘ Bayard Taylor, the successful competitor of the Jenny Lind prize.’) Is that song to be the only thing which will save my name from oblivion? ”

I have been reading over the letters that Bayard Taylor wrote me at this time, and have been pained almost as deeply as when I first read them. They are darkened by the sickness and death of the woman he loved. Her health began to decline after his return from California. She was so ill in June that her physician had no hope, but in August she was able to make a summer trip with her parents. “Mary seems much improved by the mountain air,” he wrote from New York, “ and has herself strong hopes of her recovery. I dare not see anything but darkness yet,—I will not hope against hope and be deceived at last. We went to West Point, which was distractingly noisy and unpleasant; but, by a special godsend, Willis touched there accidentally the same day, and took us to a farm -house back of the Highlands, where his family was staying, — a beautiful, quiet spot. I stayed two days, and then came here. I was up again yesterday, and will go again on Tuesday, when they think of leaving. Mary has agreed with me that it is best for us to be married at once, so that she can be with me here. The winter will not he so hard in the city as in the country, and then if she is to be taken from me we will at least have a few days together. It will be a sad bridal, I fear.”

He mentioned one of her relatives who was opposed to their marriage, and added, “ But were we to die for it we could not do otherwise.” He wrote me again in October from Kennett Square. There was no hope; the worst was certain. She might linger, but death was the end.

“ What agony we have endured in talking all this over I can never tell, but we now look to the cud with calmness, if not with resignation.” He visited her again in November. She was very weak when he reached home, and had been growing weaker ever since. " I found it a hard trial to see her going from me with so slow and certain a decay. My own health is already shattered, and if this were to last much longer it would kill me outright.” As the end drew near, he strove to console himself by looking forward to what we might accomplish in the future. “ We must both cling the closer to that worship which is the consecration of our lives, — the unselfish homage of that spirit of art and beauty which men call Poetry. Without that, I should be nothing in my present desolation. Let us work our way, whatever the toil and sorrow, from vestibule to chancel, from chancel to shrine, from the lowest footstool of the temple to the high priest’s place beside the altar. The same incense that reaches us will sanctify and embalm our griefs: they will share in our canonization.” Twelve days later (December 27, 1850) she passed through the valley of the shadow of death. " It is over. Perhaps you may already know it, but I wish to tell you so before we meet. She died on Saturday last, and was buried in the midst of that cruel storm on Monday. She is now a saint in heaven. She had no foes to pardon, and no sins to be forgiven.”

Such was the close of this brief episode in the early love-life of Bayard Taylor. How deeply he was moved by it the readers of his poetry know, for in spite of his profound reticence it would force itself into his remembrance. It found a voice in that saddest of all dirges, the unnamed lyric, beginning, " Moan, ye wild winds, around the pane,” in his Autumnal Vespers; and in The Phantom, where he describes himself sitting in the old homestead, where shadow and sunshine are chasing each other over the carpet at his feet. The arms of the sweet-brier have wrestled upward in the summers that have gone, and the willow trails its branches lower than when he saw them last. They strive to shut the sunshine out of the haunted room, and to fill the house with gloom and silence. Remembered faces come within the door-way, and he hears voices that remind him of a voice that is dumb.

“ They sing, in songs as glad as ever,
The songs she loved to hear ;
They braid the rose in summer garlands,
Whose flowers to her were dear.
“ And still, her footsteps in the passage,
Her blushes at the door,
Her timid words of maiden welcome,
Come back to me once more.
“ And, all forgetful of my sorrow,
Unmindful of my pain,
I think she has but newly left me.
And soon will come again.
“ She stays without, perchance, a moment,
To dress her dark-brown hair :
I hear the rustle of her garments, —
Her light step on the stair!
“ O fluttering heart! control thy tumult,
Lest eyes profane should see
My checks betray the rush of rapture
Her coming brings to me !
“ She tarries long ; but lo ! a whisper
Beyond the open door,
And, gliding through the quiet sunshine,
A shadow on the floor !
“ Ah I 't is the whispering pine that calls me,
The vine, whose shadow strays ;
And my patient heart must still await her,
Nor chide her long delays.
“ But my heart grows sick with weary waiting
As many a time before ;
Her foot is ever at the threshold,
Yet never passes o'er.”

Bayard Taylor sailed for Europe in the summer of 1851, and we corresponded until his return, towards the close of 1853. He wrote me from Constantinople on July 21, 1852, and wished that I might enjoy with him the superb view of two continents and their proudest city, which he saw whenever he lifted his head, and that he might relieve his heart by letting loose it fountain of talk which had been sealed up for months. He had met with no one to whom he could speak of poetry and be understood, and was like a lover who had no confidant. “ God be with us all, and speed the time when I may see you, and we may gossip away the midnights in my lofty attic. Fields promises to have copies of both our books waiting for me in London, so that I shall see something of you before I reach home.”

I must have been the most negligent of letter-writers, for I see that Bayard Taylor wrote me nearly a year later, from China (August 13, 1853), and declared that he almost vowed never to write me again. “ What a long, long time has passed since you last sat till the small hours in my attic! Was it in this life, or a former one, that I knew you? I shall be ready to greet you as a ghost, when I get home again, for you oblige me to think of you as I knew you in the past.” He was curious (though he need not have been) to see what I had written during his absence, and whether I had not taken a different direction from what he had anticipated. As for himself, he feared he should return to me the same mere lyrist as of old, with a few orientalisms in his imagery, an additional glow and color, perhaps, in his cup of wine, but nothing else. “ I have relapsed into a traveler and adventurer; seeking the heroic in actual life, yet without attaining it; satisfied with the sensation of animal existence; and more admiring and more thinking of the lusty joys of living and breathing among my fellow-men than of the glorious art to which I once devoted myself. It has repaid me, however, by inspiring me with a warm sympathy with all kinds and classes of men, and I shall have, for some years to come, friends in the deserts of Nubia, the mountains of Spain, and among the hardy seamen of our navy, who, I am sure, will remember me with kindly feeling. The experience of the last two years has been most valuable to me, in every respect. It has vastly increased my sum of mere knowledge, and most of all my knowledge of human nature. I have a rich store of material to work up in after-life, if I live, and my art does not forsake me.”

During his absence abroad I gave a hostage to fortune in the person of a wife, and on his return to America he found two friends where he had left but one. We no longer met at night in his lofty attic in Murray Street (if it was Murray Street), but in my cosy rooms in Third Street, where we had oysters when we wanted them, besides whatever beverage was in the house. He came to us one night in high glee, with a flask of wine which he had obtained on board of a Greek vessel. He said that Homer had drank of it, and when it was opened, and we had tasted it, I wondered at the taste, not to say the courage, of Homer, for “ the Homeric beverage,” as he named it, was execrable. He stood up for it as long as he could, and tried to persuade himself that he liked it, but we laughed him out of his supposed liking, and made him confess that it was horrid stuff. He had his little enthusiasms, which he insisted on my sharing with him, though I fought against them strenuously. I tried once to smoke a nargileh in his room, but I could not do it; neither could he, when he set about it seriously, so I had the laugh against him. He brought me all the poems that he had written while abroad, and I was delighted at their excellence. If I had not been aware of the ease with which he wrote, I should have been surprised at the rapidity with which these poems succeeded each other.

He had copied them out, in the order in which they were composed, in a blank book, which he presented to me after they were fairly written out for the press, — ‘‘ to keep when he was dead.” (“Ah, woful when!”) They are before me now, in his perfect manuscript, and as I turn the leaves slowly, the winter nights in which I first read them return, and the quarter of a century which has intervened rolls lightly away.

The first of these Poems of the Orient, the sonnet entitled Smyrna, is dated October, 1851; the last, Jerusalem, December, 1853. The Nilotic Drinking-Song was written on the Nile, Ethiopia, and Kilimandjaro on the White Nile, Central Africa, both in January, 1852. Arab Prayer, Requiem in the South, Nubia, The Birth of the Horse, and Charmian were written in September; and the Ode to Indolence, A Lament, The Angel of Patience, Desert Hymn to the Sun, Hymn to Air, Gulistan, Saturday Night at Sea, Voyage of a Dream, The Sheik, The Mid-Watch, and the glorious Bedouin Song, in October, 1853. I doubt whether the genius of Byron ever produced more and better poetry than that of Bayard Taylor within the space of a single month. The manuscript readings of these poems, and others which I might name, differ but little from the printed versions of to-day. A few lines have been omitted here and there, and one stanza (the third, as it was originally written) has been dropped from the Ode to Indolence.

“ Where thou dost sit the shadow of Despair
Fell never ; Hate and Envy thence depart.
Turn from thy gate the baffled hounds of Care,
And the great strength of slumber fills the
Even Love himself, far-exiled, in thy bower,
From the bright paths of rapture which he trod,
Folds up his wing ; in Indian Song, the god
Was born beneath the sleepy lotus-flower.
The only fugitive escaped the riot,
His presence glorifies thy deep Elysian quiet.”

I have found a Persian Serenade, which is not included in the poems of Bayard Taylor (1865), and which I copy from hxs manuscript. Whether it lias been printed before, I have forgotten. It was written at Granada, Spain, in November, 1852.


HARK, as the twilight pale
Tenderly glows, —
Hark, how the nightingale
Wakes from repose!
Only when, sparkling high,
Stars fill the darkling sky,
Unto the nightingale
Listens the rose.
Here, where the fountain-tide
Murm'ringly flows,
Airs from the mountain-side
Fan thy repose ;
Eyes of thine, glistening,
Look on me, listening :
I am thy nightingale,
Thou art my rose.
Sweeter the strain he weaves,
Fainter it flows
Now, as her balmy leaves
Blushingly close.
Better than minstrelsy,
Lips that blush kissingly;
Silence thy nightingale—
Kiss me, my rose !

I thought, and I think so still, when I read these spirited and picturesque poems that Bayard Taylor had captured the poetic secret of the East as no English-writing poet but Byron had; and I rejoiced heartily that they would add fresh laurels to his wreath. He knew the East as no one can possibly know it from books, or Moore would have reflected it with greater fidelity in Lalla Rookh. “ I am quite Turkified in my habits,” Bayard Taylor wrote me from Constantinople (July 21, 1852), “ sitting cross-legged, smoking pipes, swearing by Allah, and wearing a big white turban. In Asia Minor I frequently went into mosques, and was looked upon as a good Mohammedan.’’ That he was not so Turkified as he would have had me suppose was evident to me while I read the Winter Solstice, the Requiem in the South, and The Mystery, three touching and beautiful poems, which no Eastern poet could have imagined, much less written, and no Western poet, unless his soul had been touched to fine tones by a great loss and a mournful remembrance.

I recall many nights which Bayard Taylor passed in our rooms, and especially one when he made me proud and happy by reading me a poem about our poetic friendship, written in Greece, and inspired, I assured him, by a warmer and richer draught than the Homeric beverage! Great was our merriment; for if we did not always sink the shop, we kept it for our own amusement solely. Fitz James O’Brien was a frequent guest, and an eager partaker of our merriment, which somehow resolved itself into the writing of burlesque poems. We sat around a table, and whenever the whim seized us, which was often enough, we each wrote down themes on little pieces of paper, and putting them into a hat or a box we drew out one at random, and then scribbled away for dear life. We put no restriction upon ourselves: we could be grave, or gay, or idiotic even ; but we must be rapid, for half the fun was in noting who first sang out, “ Finished! ” It was a neckand-neck race between Bayard Taylor and Fitz James O’Brien, who divided the honors pretty equally, and whose verses, I am compelled to admit, were generally better than my own. Bayard Taylor was very dexterous in seizing the salient points of the poets we girded at, and was as happy as a child when his burlesques were successful. He reminded me, I told him Once, of Hatterfelts,

“ with his hair on end
At his own wonders.”

He blushed, laughed, and admitted that his cleverness pleased him, and he was glad that it pleased us, also. “It is good sport,” he remarked; “ but poetry, — that is a very different and very serious matter.” I mention these trifling intellectual duels, because they were afterwards a continual source of amusement among our common friends, and because the practice which he thus acquired stood Bayard Taylor in good stead when he was preparing The Echo Club, which grew out of these early wit combats of ours.

When Bayard Taylor returned from abroad he found a great many invitations to lecture awaiting his arrival, and he concluded to gratify those who wished to hear and see him, for seeing had much to do with lecturing twenty-four years ago. Bating the inconvenience and occasional hardship of winter travel, it was an easy way of earning money, but it was not a way that he liked: he was naturally averse to crowds and strange faces, and eager for leisure in which to write poetry, which literally haunted him like a passion. We tracked him through his letters, which were very amusing. He was at Buffalo on the 5th of March, 1854. “I hare lectured nine times since I saw you,”he wrote, “and have had great success everywhere: crammed houses; women carried out fainting; young ladies stretching their necks on all sides, and crying, in breathless whispers, ‘There he is! That’s him!’ etc. Believe me, Stoddard, it is a miserable business, this lecturing. There is some satisfaction in finding so many persons that have known you, and read what you have written, and feel a sincere interest in you, and are kind and hospitable towards you ; but oh, the vanity and vexation of hearing the same remarks twenty times a day, and being obliged to answer questions that, have become hideous by endless repetition ! I wonder how I retain my patience under it all. Sometimes I snap them rather short off, but they think it is my way of talking, and are not offended. I find that this business of traveling has entirely swamped and overwhelmed my poetical reputation, except with a few sensible people here and there. People can’t see that if I had not been a poet, I should never have had such success as a traveler. Then to hear remarks made about me and my lectures, in the cars and hotels, by people who don’t know me personally; it’s amusing, yet humiliating, for I am not flattered by the value they put upon me. There is not the least fragment of discrimination in it. Most of them admire me hugely for having gotten over so much ground, and some are inclined to envy because the others admire. Altogether the experience is interesting and useful, but I foresee that I shall soon get enough of it.” He sent me a song which he had written that morning, — an attempt at expressing a very vague and unsubstantial melody which had been dodging about his brain for some days. It will be found in the collected edition of his Poetical Works (“ Now the days are brief and drear”), but shortened by the following stanza, winch was inserted between the first and second stanzas as in the printed copy: —

“ Balm and brightness, bloom and glee,
Filled the land from sea to sea ;
But the heavens grew dim with rains,
Sunshine left the autumn plains,
And the night sank down with snow,
For the summers come and go.”

Bayard Taylor departed for Europe the second time in the summer of 1856, accompanied by his sisters, to whom he played tlie cicerone. “ I never saw England so beautiful,” he wrote to us from Paris. “ The weather was clear and warm, and the country greener (if possible) than the fields of Kennett. I saw the loveliest ivy-grown cottages (Anne Hathaway’s among the rest), the fairest meadows, the most dazzling poppyfields, the picturesquest elms and oaks, but no trees, I swear (not even the venerable oaks of Carlicote, where Shakespeare poached), equal to my own. Kennett went with us through Warwickshire, a journey of four days; it was ’eavenly. ” He had made the acquaintance of Thackeray during the previous year, while he was delivering those famous lectures which we all remember so well, and had given him a breakfast at Delmonico’s, where I had my first and last sight of that great writer. They became friends and bosom cronies, as the old rooms of the Century could testify, if walls had tongues; it was natural, therefore, that they should soon meet again. “ Thackeray was in London,” he went on to say, in the letter from which I am quoting, “ and I found him as jovial and tender-hearted as ever. His daughters came to sec the girls, took them out driving a whole afternoon, and we all dined together in the evening. The T.’s are good girls, charmingly honest, naive, and original. The dinner came off on the 1st according to promise: present, Thackeray, Mark Lemon, Tom Taylor, Shirley Brooks, Horace Mayhew, Leach, Bradbury and Evans, Hurlbert, Story, Olmstead, and myself.

“ I breakfasted with Barry Cornwall and Browning. Dear old Barry! I loved him from the first minute. He is reputed silent, but he opened his heart to me, like an uncle. He showed me all his manuscripts, — lots of unpublished poems, etc., — and talked out of the abundance of his golden nature. Browning was most cordial.”

Bayard Taylor spent the winter of 1856-57 in Norway, Sweden, and Lapland, from which Countries I presume he wrote me, though I do not find his letters. In the autumn of the latter year, we learned (not directly, I think) that Benedict was about to become a married man, and the date of his marriage having been made known to his friends, we celebrated it, and drank his health over three thousand miles of sea. He was married at Gotha, Germany, in October, 1857, to Marie Hansen, daughter of Geheim-Regierungsrath P. A. Hansen, the distinguished astronomer. The Taylors proceeded to Athens, where they remained until May, 1858.

Bayard Taylor returned to America in the autumn of 1858, and after a short visit to his beloved Kennett concluded to reside in the same house with me and mine in Brooklyn, and we spent our first Christmas under the same roof. Twenty years have passed since then, and we have never failed to celebrate the day together, when he was in town, either at his house or mine, — never till the Christmas which has just gone, the last sad Christmas since his taking off. If he had been a delightful companion as a bachelor, he was no less so as a married man : his love of poetry was as ardent as ever, his heart as warm and tender, and he was as ready to sit up and talk and smoke into the small hours of the morning. He brought from the Old World the receipt of a wonderful punch, which was concocted of champagne and claret, pounded ice and oranges or pineapples, and which was christened cardinal punch. The bowl of it which graced our table that first Christmas Eve quickened the memory of the happy poet, who referred to a lyric of Kenyon’s on Champagne Rose, which he admired greatly, and could repeat by heart. “ Lily on legend roses floating,” he began, and went through the poem without missing a word of it. We argued that the third stanza was the best, though we disclaimed the imputation in the first two lines: —

“ And true it is they cross in pain
Who sober cross the Stygian ferry ;
But only make our Styx champagne,
And we shall cross right merry,
Floating away on wine ! ”

I told him I thought I could beat that, and I read him a song in praise of claret, written over two hundred years before, by Alexander Brome, the lawyer poet. The closing lines, I remarked, were prophetic of what was before us: —

“ Since we 're to pass through this Red Sea.
Our noses shall our pilots be,
And every soul a swimmer.”

“ Crown the bowl with flowers of soul,” quoted the merry bard, as he handed me a goblet of punch.

We saw less of Bayard Taylor than we had hoped during the winter, for he was away from home most of the time lecturing. When spring came he determined to remove to New York. We must live together, he said; as he was more prosperous than I he would pay the rent of the house. It would be so jolly to have a library in which we could write. And how we would write! They would soon cease to call us “younger poets,” and we should take our proper places among the Old Masters. Young, quotha? Why, we were thirty-four! It was impossible to resist his enthusiasm, or to refuse his generosity. I could do neither, so we set up our two households in one house in Thirteenth Street. It was a risky thing to do, perhaps, for the best of friends can see too much of each other; but we managed to do it, nevertheless, and without adding a fresh chapter to the Quarrels of Authors.

We were scarcely settled in our new quarters before the Taylors were in Kennett again, directing the building of a country-seat. Bayard Taylor was his own architect, and apparently his own superintendent, overlooking brick-makers, stone-cutters, haulers, et id omne genus diabolorum. It was a Napoleonic business for a poet. “ To-day we placed the great corner-stone of the tower, with all due ceremony,” he wrote on June 7th. “ Under it is a box of zinc, containing a copy of Views Afoot; an original poem by me, to be read five hundred years hence by somebody who never heard of me; some coins; a poem by R. H. S. in his own MS.; and various small things. All of us—even Lily — contributed a trowelful of mortar. I broke the neck of a bottle on the stone, and poured oblation to all good Lares and Penates, and then gave the workmen cakes and ale.”

If we had not lived so happily together, in town and country, during the next two years, I should doubtless remember the little events of our common life more clearly than I do. We were all young enough to be merry, and we passed our leisure as Cowper and Thurlow passed theirs when studying law, — in giggling and making giggle. We made the most of what we possessed, and were never so happy as when we had our friends about us. Our home was frequented by artists, by men of letters, and by poets. We were a nest of singing birds, as Dr. Johnson told Mistress Hannah More, when he showed her his old rooms in Pembroke College. We made much of Christmas, which we kept as the poet’s wife had been accustomed to see it kept in her German fatherland. We had a Christmas tree, which was installed in state in the back parlor the day before Christmas, and was decorated with little glass globes, tiny candles, flags, ribbons, and what not, as full as It could hold. The ladies of the household wore the only ones who had access to it, and they arranged our Christmas presents on its branches, and on tables and stands around it. The folding doors were closed, and we were not permitted to enter the room until the candles were lighted, and they were ready for us. We were as eager as children in the interim, laughing in our sleeves at the gifts we were to make, and puzzling our heads over the gifts we were to receive. We rode each other’s hobbies, exhausting our ingenuity in selecting oddities to provoke laughter and promote good fellowship. We invited a young poet to spend a Christmas Eve with us, and showered upon him all sorts of musical instruments: drums, trumpets, fiddles, fifes, penny whistles, jew’s-harps, — everything, in short, that would indicate his devotion to the Muse We made more of our Christmas Eves than of all other nights in the year. And we shall never spend them together again, — never!

“ No motion has he now, no force ;
He neither hears nor sees ;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course
With rocks, and stones, and trees.”

Bayard Taylor finished his country house, “ Cedarcroft,” in the summer of 1860, and gave his friends and neighbors a house-warming such as was never before known in Pennsylvania. Our families were together, as in New York, and we, their lords and masters, resolved to surprise them, and ourselves, by writing a play. We went into a quiet room, and sketched out a trifle with which we hoped to amuse the expected visitors. There was but one room in which it could be acted, and as scenery was not practicable we managed to have the action take place in the parlor of a hotel which we named the “ Effervescing House,” and located at Saratoga. We studied our company, and settled upon the number we thought we could depend upon, and upon the parts which would be likely to suffer least at their hands; then we set to work, and wrote as rapidly as our pens would travel over the paper, and when our company was letter perfect in the text, and in their stage directions, we went to an old disused printing-office in Kennett, and set up the bill of the performance, with flaming head-lines:—



Saturday, August 18, 1860,

Will be presented for the first time a


In one act, entitled,


By the world-renowned dramatic authors, Mr. B.

T. Cedarcroft and Mr. R. H. S. Customhouse.

This was followed by the dramatis personœ: Mr. Charles Augustus Montmorency, a fast young gentleman, without any visible means of support; Captain Morton Price, U. S. A.; Mr. A. Binks, proprietor of the “ Effervescing House; ” Barney O’Brien, porter; Miss Araminta Delaporte, a sentimental old maid of French descent, with a nervous dread of boys, mice, etc.; Miss Julia Grindle, her niece; and Mehitable Jones, of Squam Neck, chambermaid. The " comedy ” was a great success, and deserved to be (before a country audience), for there was not an original scene, situation, thought, or word in it. It had been played so many times before, in one form or another, that it could not well have failed now; and it did not fail. We amused our audience in the acting, as we had amused ourselves in the writing, and we parted, on the best of terms.

If I were called upon to single out of my thirty years’ reminiscences of Bayard Taylor the one above all others by which I should prefer to remember him, it would be the night on which we celebrated his fortieth birthday (January 11, 1865). His friends prepared for it beforehand, each thinking what would be most absurdly appropriate (or inappropriate) to present him, and all keeping their own counsel, ransacking invention for preposterous mementoes. It fell to my lot to act as the scribe, and as The Century had lately printed a voluminous account of its celebration of the seventieth birthday of Mr. Bryant, I resolved to burlesque that account. I imagined the decoration of Bayard Taylor’s chambers, the gathering of his friends, and wrote letters of regret from those who could not be present, but who somehow happened to be present in spite of their letters. The reading of these missives and sundry copies of verse, and the bestowal of our mementoes, provoked more fun than had ever before, or has ever since, distinguished our Taylor nights. It was not so much that they were comical in themselves (though they were) as that we were willing to fool and be fooled to the top of our bent. The table was on a roar till long after midnight.

We had a meeting in Bryant’s commemoration at the Century in November of the past year, a few nights after what would have been — if he had lived — his eighty-fourth birthday. Mr. John Bigelow, who had known him long, delivered an address, and three Century poets were present, one only in the spirit. Bayard Taylor was represented by an ' Epicedium,’ which was read for him, and Mr. Stedman read a noble poem, which the readers of The Atlantic will remember.

Before two months were passed Bayard Taylor had joined the dead master! He is gone; and when I think that I shall never see his face nor take his hand again, I am feelingly reminded of what we are. “ There’s nothing serious in mortality.”

As I have mentioned Bayard Taylor’s friend Thackeray, let me close my imperfect tribute to his memory by reading a little sermon by that great lay preacher, which was a favorite with us, and which has now a melancholy interest for me. " I mind me,” he says, in the person of his alter ego, Mr. Brown, “ I mind me of many a good fellow who has laughed and talked here, and whose pipe is put out forever. Men I remember as dashing youngsters the other day have passed into the stage of old fogies; they have sons, sir, of almost our age, since first we joined the ' Polyanthus.’ Grass grows over others in all parts of the world. Where is poor Ned? where is poor Fred? Dead rhymes with Ned and Fred too. Their place knows them not; their names one year appeared at the end of the Club list under the dismal category of ' Members Deceased,’ in which you and I shall rank one day. Do you keep that subject steadily in your mind? I do not see why we should not meditate upon Death in Pall Mall as well as in a howling wilderness. There is enough to remind one of it at every corner. There is a strange face looking out of Jack’s old lodgings in Jermyn Street; somebody else has got the Club chair which Tom used to occupy. He has been sent for, and has not come back again. One day Fate will send for us, and we shall not return; then people will come to the Club as usual, saying, ‘ Well, and so poor old Brown is gone.’ ”

R. H. Stoddard.