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Full text of "The Atlantic monthly and its makers"

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The ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

AND ITS MAKKKS 






M. A. De WOLFE HOWE 






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CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 




Cornell University Library 
PN 4900.A8HS5 



Atlantic monthly and its makers 




3 1924 027 501 349 




The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924027501349 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 
AND ITS MAKERS 




JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 

First Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1857-1801 



THE 

ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

AND ITS MAKERS 



^ 
^ 



BY 
M. A. De WOLFE HOWE 




W 



^ BOSTON 

^ The ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, Inc. 

i,»J MDCCCCXIX 



Copyright 1919 
The Atlaotic Monthly Press, Inc. 



ACKNOWLEDGMENT 

MANY of the following pages are derived freely from existing records 
of the Atlantic Monthly and the men who have made it. The 
files of the magazine itself have yielded much. Books of biography 
and reminiscence have also been drawn upon. For permission to do so 
acknowledgment is made to Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Co., by whom 
the following volumes have been published or acquired after publication: 
Edward Everett Hale's "James Russell Lowell and His Friends," Bliss 
Perry's "Park Street Papers," Thomas Wentworth Higginson's "Cheer- 
ful Yesterdays," Francis H. Underwood's biographies of Longfellow, 
Whittier, and Lowell; Horace E. Scudder's "James Russell Lowell," 
James T. Field's "Yesterdays with Authors," Ferris Greenslet's "Life of 
Thomas Bailey Aldrich," and Merwin's "Life of Bret Harte,"; and to 
Messrs. Harper and Brothers, publishers of Charles Eliot Norton's 
"Letters of James Russell Lowell," and William Dean Howells's "Lit- 
erary Friends and Acquaintance" and "My Mark Twain." Messrs. 
Harper and Brothers have also kindly permitted the reproduction of 
contemporaneous wood cuts from Harpers' Magazine. 

Boston, Massachusetts 
November, Nineteen Eighteen 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



James RtrssELL Lowell ... 


. Frontispiece 


Ralph Waldo Emebson ... 


. . . 14 


Radical Club Meeting ... . . . 


. . . . 22 


Chables Elioi Norton .... . . 


. . . . 32 


James T. Fields 


. . . 38 


Old Corner Book Store . ... 


. . 40 


Edward Everett TTaTjE . . 


44 


Julia Ward Howe . ... 


. . . . 48 


Tremont Street Office . 


. . S3 


Library of James T. Fields 


. . 56 


Wn.LTAM Dean Howells . 


. . 60 


TicKNOR Mansion .... . . 


... 71 


Thomas Bajlet Aldbich 


78 


Stitdt op Thomas Bailet Aldbich at Ponkapog 


81 


Horace Elisha Scudder ... 


. . 90 


Walter Hines Page 


94 


Bliss Perry 


96 


41 Mt. Vernon Street 


102 



EDITORS AND PUBLISHERS 





Editors 


/ 


I 


James Russell Lowell 


. 1857-1861 


n 


James Thomas Fields 


1861-1871 


III 


WiLLLVM Dean Howells 


1871-1881 


IV 


Thomas Bailey Aldrich 


1881-1890 


V 


Horace Elisha Scttddeb 


. 1890-1898 


VI 


Walter Hines Page 


. 1898-1899 


VII 


Bliss Perry 


1899-1909 


VIII 


Elleby Sedgwick' 

Publishers 


1909- 


I 


Phillips, Sampson & Co. . 


. 1857-1859 


II 


TicKNOR & Fields 


1859-1867 


III 


Fields, Osgood & Co. . 


. 1868-1870 


IV 


James R. Osgood & Co. 


1871-1873 


V 


H. 0. Houghton & Co. 


. 1874-1877 


VI 


Houghton, Osgood & Co. . 


. 1878-1879 


VII 


Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 


1880-1908 


VIII 


Atlantic Monthly Co. 


. 1908- 



PREFATORY 

WHEN THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY reached 
its sixtieth birthday in its issue of November, 
1917, it was older by six years than the oldest 
man concerned with the production of its first issue in 
November, 1867. This was Ralph Waldo Emerson, then 
fifty-four years old. Of the other eminent founders who 
accepted the invitation of the first publisher, Moses Dresser 
Phillips of the Boston firm of Phillips, Sampson & Co., 
to a dinner at the Parker House on May 5, 1857, to con- 
sider the establishment of a new literary and political 
magazine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then fifty, stood 
next in point of age. Oliver Wendell Holmes was forty- 
eight; John Lothrop Motley, less identified with the mag- 
azine after its launching than any of the others, forty- 
three; Jamss Russell Lowell, the first editor, thirty-eight; 
James Elliot Cabot, many years afterward the biographer 
of Emerson, thirty-six; and Francis H. Underwood, the 
"literary man" of Phillips, Sampson & Co., and the 
prime mover in the whole undertaking, but thirty-two. 

The Atlantic has long been a venerable institution. 
The uyriters who gave it first its high position stand in the 
public mind as the "venerable men" of American letters. 
Their ages in 1857 betoken the interesting fact that the 
Atlantic was never entirely a youthful experiment: it 
was planned and placed firmly on its feet by a remarkable 
group of men in or near the very prime of their great 
powers. The purpose of the following pages is to bring 
together from a variety of sources the chief facts regarding 
its beginnings and its growth to what it has become, illus- 
trating these facts as freely as possible with passages of 
the personal record and remembrance which may impart to 
narrative something of the human quality which vitalizes the 
inner story of every institution. 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 
AND ITS MAKERS 



ON April 29, 1857, Longfellow wrote in his journal : 
"Lowell was here last evening to interest me in a 
new magazine, to be started in Boston by Phil- 
lips and Sampson. I told him I would write for it if I 
wrote for any magazine." A week later the journal con- 
tained this entry: "Dined in town at Parker's, with 
Emerson, Lowell, Motley, Holmes, Cabot, Underwood, 
and the publisher, Phillips, to talk about the new maga- 
zine the last wishes to establish. It will no doubt be 
done, though I am not so eager about it as the rest." 
A more detailed account of this dinner is found in a 
letter from Phillips himself, given in Edward Everett 
Hale's " James Russell Lowell and His Friends " : — 

I must tell you about a little dinner-party I gave about 
two weeks ago. It would be proper, perhaps, to state that 
the object, first, was to confer with my literary friends on 
a somewhat extensive literary project, the particulars of 
which I shall reserve till you come. But to the party : my 
invitations included only E. W. Emerson, H. W. Longfel- 
low, J. E. Lowell, Mr. Motley (the " Dutch Eepublic " man) , 
O. W. Holmes, Mr. Cabot, and Mr. Underwood, our literary 
man. Imagine your uncle at the head of such a table, with 
such guests. The above-named were the only ones invited, 
and they were all present. We sat down at three p.m., and 
arose at eight. The time occupied was longer by about 
four hours and thirty minutes than I am in the habit of 
consuming in that kind of occupation, but it was the rich- 
est time intellectually by all odds that I have ever had. 




RALPH WALDO EMERSON 

From a crayon by Rowse in 1857, the year 
of the founding. 



JAMES EUSSELL LOWELL 15 

Leaving myself and " literary man " out of the group, I 
think you will agree with me that it would be difficult to 
duplicate that number of such conceded scholarship in 
the whole country besides. Mr. Emerson took the first post 
of honor at my right, and Mr. Longfellow the second at my 
left. The exact arrangement of the table was as follows : — 

Mr. Underwood 

Cabot Lowell 

Motley Holmes 

Longfellow Emerson 

Phillips 

They seemed so well pleased that they adjourned, and in- 
vited me to meet them again to-morrow, when I shall again 
meet the same persons, with one other (Whipple, the es- 
sayist) added to that brilliant constellation of the philo- 
sophical, poetical, and historical talent. Each one is known 
alike on both sides of the Atlantic, and is read beyond the 
limits of the English language. Though all this is known 
to you, you will pardon me for intruding it upon you. But 
still I have the vanity to believe that you will think them 
the most natural thoughts in the world to me. Though I 
say it that should not, it was the proudest moment of my 
life. 

Dr. Hale added to this letter his own report of the 
words with which Phillips announced the plan of the 
magazine — a little speech which was apparently a mat- 
ter of common knowledge at the time : " Mr. Cabot is 
much wiser than I am. Dr. Holmes can write funnier 
verses than I can, Mr. Motley can write history better 
than I, Mr. Emerson is a philosopher and I am not, Mr. 
Lowell knows more of the old poets than I, but none of 
you knows the American people as well as I do." 

This may have been the truth. Whether it was or not, 
one cannot help wishing that in all the acknowledg- 
ments of superiority made by Phillips, either in his 



16 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

spoken words or in the letter so frankly revealing his 
satisfaction in the unwonted company in which he 
found himself, he had given Underwood credit for being 
something more than "our literary ma,n." Professor 
Bliss Perry, in an article in the Fiftieth Anniversary 
number of the AtlaMic, now included in his volume of 
"Park Street Papers," defined Underwood far more ac- 
curately as " The Editor who was never the Editor." 
He was indeed something more than that — he was the 
fons et origo of the entire enterprise. Of Massachusetts 
birth (in 1825), Underwood, after a period of study in 
Amherst College, had lived in Kentucky, where a native 
repugnance to slavery had become a militant antipathy 
to it. Returning to Massachusetts in 1850, he interested 
himself in the Free Soil movement, was appointed in 
1852 Clerk of the State Senate, and by 1853 had per- 
suaded the publishing firm of J. P. Jewett & Co. to stand 
behind him in the establishing of a new magazine. 

These publishers had issued "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 
which Phillips, Sampson & Co. had refused for fear of 
alienating their Southern customers; and it was only 
natural that J. P. Jewett, the head of the house, should 
see eye to eye with Underwood in his vision of a peri- 
odical which should unite the strongest forces of expres- 
sion in the joined cause of letters and reform. As early, 
therefore, as 1853 — four years before the first issue of 
the Atlantic — Underwood is found in active corres- 
pondence with the chief writers of the country, especially 
the outstanding New England group, in the interest of 
a magazine to make its initial appearance at the be- 
ginning of 1854. There was a cordial response, not only 
in promises but in manuscripts, and there was every 
expectation that the dream would become a reality, 
with Underwood at the helm of the new venture, when. 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 17 

near the end of 1853, the Jewett firm met with no less 
a misfortune than failure. 

It was a sad business for Underwood, to whom Lowell 
wrote, December 5, 1853 : " The explosion of one of these 
castles in Spain sometimes sprinkles dust on all the rest 
of our lives ; but I hope you are of better heart, and will 
rather look upon the affair as a burning of your ships 
which only makes victory the more imperative." So it 
seems indeed to have been with him. Prom his associa- 
tion with the Jewett project. Underwood passed to the 
publishing office of Phillips, Sampson & Co. It was, how- 
ever, not until 1857 that he could persuade the cautious 
Phillips to take up the project which Jewett had been 
obliged to drop. He might not have succeeded then, but 
that Mrs. Stowe, whose " Dred " Phillips had been bold 
enough to publish in 1856, added her persuasions to 
Underwood's. Her influence was potent. Its exercise was 
followed by the dinner already chronicled. Though 
Underwood, in his employer's eyes, cut but an obscure 
figure at it, the gathering would hardly have taken 
place but for his imagination and enthusiasm, to say 
nothing of his personal relations of friendship with 
Lowell and others hitherto outside the immediate circle 
of Phillips himself. "The Editor who was never the 
Editor " has received his full recognition only in later 
years. At the beginning he was content, after doing all 
the work preliminary to the establishment of the Atlan- 
tic, to nominate its first editor, and to serve as his office 
assistant. 

This editor was James Russell Lowell. His previous 
slight editorial experience, with the short-lived Pio- 
neer and the Anti-Slavery Standard, of which he had 
been a corresponding editor, was a smaller qualification 
for the post than his acknowledged position as poet. 



18 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

scholar, and man of letters. He never showed the in- 
stincts of a good editor more truly than by insisting 
as " a condition precedent " to accepting the editor- 
ship that Oliver Wendell Holmes should be engaged 
as the first contributor. Holmes at that time had 
written but little that gave definite promise of the 
place his "Autocrat " and the succeeding " Breakfast- 
Table " papers were to give him. Many years later he 
wrote : " I think therefore that the Atlantic came for 
my fruit just as it was ripe to gathering, but I never 
knew it was so until afterwards." Lowell appears to 
have known it in advance. 

Besides standing as the one indispensable contribu- 
tor. Dr. Holmes had the important function of naming 
the magazine. Many titles were in the air. J. T. Trow- 
bridge wrote to Underwood : "If the 'American Monthly' 
will not do, what do you say to the 'Anglo-American' ?" 
Emerson suggested "Town and Country," presumably 
in relation to a "Town and Country Club" to which he 
and many of his circle had belonged. 

Other titles [wrote Arthur Gilman in the Atlantic of 
November, 1907] had been suggested, but none proved at 
once satisfactory. Dr. Holmes told me that one day after 
he had retired to "his virtuous couch," he suddenly roused 
himself and exclaimed to his wife: " I have it! It shall 
be called The Atlantic Monthly Magazine! Soon you'll 
hear the boys crying through the streets, ' Here's your At- 
lantic, 'tlantic, 'tlantic, 'tlantic!' " Atlantic it became, but 
the publishers dropped the word "magazine," and were 
sufficiently upbraided by the word-mongers for their stu- 
pidity in making a noun of an adjective, although 
" Monthly " had been used in Eneland, perhaps for a hun- 
dred years, in the same way. 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 19 

It is a genial circumstance that most of the deci- 
sions regarding the early courses of the Atlantic were 
taken at dinner-tables. Longfellow's journal records a 
second dinner for the discussion of the magazine project 
before it was definitely adopted ; and in Pickard's "Life 
of Whittier" the following passage is found : — 

At a dinner given by Mr. Phillips, the publisher, in the 
summer of 1857, there were present Longfellow, Emerson, 
Whittier, Lowell, Holmes, Motley, Edmund Qulncy, and 
other critics of high reputation. The plans for the new 
magazine were discussed and arranged at this dinner. Mr. 
Underwood nominated Lowell as Editor-in-chief, and his 
name was received with enthusiasm. Holmes suggested 
the name The Atlantic Monthly. The success of the enter- 
prise was assured from the start, and a new era in Ameri- 
can literature was established. 

Many other dinners marked these early days — gen- 
erally at the Parker House, once at Fontarive's restau- 
rant in Winter Place, where the host, " a quaint and de- 
lightful artist in his way," according to Underwood, 
"produced a menu worthy of LucuUus." Still another 
dinner took place at the famous North Cambridge tav- 
ern kept by one Porter, whose name long survived in 
" Porter's Station," and is even associated in local ety- 
mology with the Porterhouse steak of national fame. 
On this occasion the host made the answer, embalmed 
in Dr. Holmes's verse, to the query what is left of a 
goose when the breast and legs are taken : — 



And Landlord Porter, with uplifted eyes, 
Smiles on the simple querist and replies, 
" When from a goose you've taken legs and breast. 
Wipe lips, thank God, and leave the poor the rest." 



20 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLT 

At Porter's the ancient secret of making flip survived, 
and there is an envious legend that the poets and sages 
who attended this dinner made zig-zag homeward tracks 
in the snow that had fallen while they sat at the board. 
This legend is refuted, but not the other that, as they 
walked to Cambridge, the younger members of the party 
chanted the East Indian ballad : — 

" This is a Rajali ! 

Putterum ! " 

And there is no occasion to challenge Underwood's ex- 
cellent bit of reminiscence : "Every one was in supreme 
good humor. The Medical Professor shone with an 
easy superiority, and tossed about his compliments like 
juggler's balls. Being particularly gracious towards 
Longfellow, and having just written that authors were 
like cats, sure to purr when stroked the right way of 
the fur, Longfellow, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, 
interrupted him with ' I purr, I purr ! ' " 

There were so many other meetings of the publishers, 
editors, and contributors, in celebration of the monthly 
appearance of the magazine, that a loosely organized 
" Atlantic Club " came into a brief being. This has been 
confused with the vigorously surviving Saturday Club, 
which had its origin at about the same time and con- 
tained many of the same members; but they were in 
reality distinct. In T. W. Higginson's " Cheerful Yes- 
terdays " there is a description of one of the most mem- 
orable meetings of the Atlantic Club, so pleasantly 
charged with the spirit of the time that it must be 
quoted entire : — 

During the first year of the magazine under PhiUips & 
Bampson's management, these were monthly dinners, in 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 21 

or near Boston, under the generalship of Francis H. 
Underwood, the office editor, and John 0. Wyman, then 
his assistant. The most notable of these gatherings was 
undoubtedly that held at the Kevere House, on the occasion 
of Mrs. Stowe's projected departure for Europe. It was 
the only one to which ladies were invited, and the invita- 
tion was accepted with a good deal of hesitation by Mrs. 
Stowe, and with a distinct guarantee that no wine should 
be furnished for the guests. Other feminine contributors 
were invited, but for various reasons no ladies appeared 
except Mrs. Stowe and Miss Harriet Prescott (now Mrs. 
Spofford), who had already won fame by a story called 
" In a Cellar," the scene of which was laid in Paris, and 
which was so thoroughly French in all its appointments 
that it was suspected of being a translation from that 
language, although much inquiry failed to reveal the sup- 
posed original. It may be well to add that the honest 
young author had so little appreciation of the high com- 
pliment thus paid her that she indignantly proposed to 
withdraw her manuscript in consequence. These two 
ladies arrived promptly, and the gentlemen were kept 
waiting, not greatly to their minds, in the hope that other 
fair contributors would appear. When at last it was de- 
cided to proceed without further delay. Dr. Holmes and 
I were detailed to escort the ladies to the dining-room: 
he as head of the party, and I as the only one that knew 
the younger lady. As we went upstairs the vivacious Auto- 
crat said to me, " Can I venture it? Do you suppose that 
Mrs. Stowe disapproves of me very much? " he being then 
subject to severe criticism from the more conservative 
theologians. The lady was gracious, however, and seemed 
glad to be rescued at last from her wearisome waiting. 
She came downstairs wearing a green vn-eath, of which 
Longfellow says in his diary (July 9, 1859) that he 
" thought it very becoming." 

We seated ourselves at table, Mrs. Stowe at Lowell's 
right, and Miss Prescott at Holmes's, I next to her, Ed- 




W. PHILLIPS SARGENT BARTOL 



WHISS H.JAMES, SR. 

CRANCH HOLMES WHITTIF.R 



T. W. HIGGINSON 

A Radical Club meeting at the house o£ the Rev. John T. Sargent, 
13 Chestnut Street, attended by Atlantic contributors. 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 23 

mimd Quincy next to me. Dr. Stowe was at Holmes's left, 
WMttier at Ms; and Longfellow, Underwood, John Wy- 
man, and others were present. I said at once to Miss Pres- 
cott, "TMs is a new edition of "Evelina, or a Young Lady's 
Entrance into the World.' Begin at the beginning: what 
did you and Mrs. Stowe talk about for three quarters of 
an hour? " She answered demurely, " Nothing, except that 
she once asked me what o'clock it was, and I told her I 
didn't know." There could hardly be a better illustration 
of the curious mixture of mauvaise honte and indifference 
which often marred the outward manners of this remark- 
able woman. It is very likely that she had not been intro- 
duced to her companion, and perhaps had never heard her 
name; but imagine any kindly or gracious person of mid- 
dle age making no effort to relieve the shyness of a young 
girl stranded with herself during three quarters of an 
hour of enforced seclusion! 

The modest entertainment proceeded; conversation set 
in, but there was a visible awkwardness, partly from the 
presence of two ladies, one of whom was rather silent by 
reason of youth, and the other by temperament ; and more- 
over, the thawing influence of wine was wanting. There 
were probably no men of the party, except Whittier and 
myself, who did not habitually drink it, and various little 
jokes began to circle sotto voce at the table; a suggestion 
for instance, from Longfellow, that Miss Prescott might 
be asked to send down into her Cellar for the wine she had 
described so well, since Mrs. Stowe would allow none 
above stairs. Soon, however, a change came over the as- 
pect of affairs. My neighbor on the right, Edmund Quincy, 
called a waiter mysteriously, and giving Mm his glass of 
water remained tranquilly wMle it was being replenished. 
It came back suffused Avith a rosy hue. Some one else fol- 
lowed Ms example, and presently the "conscious water" 
was blusMng at various points around the board, although 
I doubt whether Holmes, with water-drinkers two deep 
on each side of Mm, got half Ms share of the coveted bev- 



24 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

erage. If he had, it miglit have modified the course of his 
talk, for I remember that he devoted himself largely to 
demonstrating to Dr. Stowe that all swearing doubtless 
originated in the free use made by the pulpit of sacred 
words and phrases ; while Lowell, at the other end of the 
table, was maintaining for Mrs. Stowe's benefit that "Tom 
Jones" was the best novel ever written. This line of dis- 
cussion may have been lively, but was not marked by emi- 
nent tact; and Whittier, indeed, told me afterwards that 
Dr. and Mrs. Stowe agreed in saying to him that, while 
the company at the club was no doubt distinguished, the 
conversation was not quite what they had been led to 
expect. Yet Dr. Stowe was of a kindly nature and perhaps 
was not seriously disturbed even when Holmes assured 
him that there were in Boston whole families not per- 
ceptibly affected by Adam's fall; as, for instance, the 
family of Ware. 

From this long and slightly premature digression it 
is time to turn back and look with some care at the first 
issue of the magazine, dated November, 1857, and ap- 
pearing late in October. Ten of the fourteen authors 
who made the principal contributions to it were Motley, 
Longfellow, Emerson, Charles Eliot Norton, Holmes, 
Whittier, Mrs. Stowe, J. T. Trowbridge, Lowell, and 
Parke Godwin. Whittier's contribution was his poem, 
" Tritemius," Longfellow's his " Santa FUomena," in 
praise of Florence Nightingale, who had recently shown 
in the Crimea, for the first time, what nursing might 
contribute to war. Lowell contributed his sonnet, " The 
Maple," his characteristic rhymes on "The Origin 
of Didactic Poetry," and, in an editorial " Round 
Table," the graceful prose setting for some verses of 
Holmes to Motley on his departure for Europe. Emer- 
son gave, besides the essay " Illusions," four poems, 
"The Rommany Girl," "The Chartist's Complaint," 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 25 

"Days," and "Brahma." The supremely felicitous 
word " hyprocritic," in the first line of " Days," — the 
little poem which alone would have secured a perma- 
nent place for Emerson in American literature, — re- 
sulted from a suggestion of Lowell's that the poet's 
original word " hypercritical " did not say precisely 
what he meant. (It should be said in passing that, 
in the second issue, Whittier's " Skipper Ireson's Ride " 
owed the Marblehead flavor of its 

"Here's Find Oirson, fur his horrd liorrt, 
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt," 

to Lowell's keen ear for New England dialect and a cor- 
responding suggestion accepted by Whittier.) Mrs. 
Stowe and Trowbridge were represented in the first issue 
by short stories ; and there was the first installment of 
" The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table." All the articles 
were unsigned, and it is no wonder that every one asked 
himself and his neighbor who this Autocrat might be 
with his oflfhand introduction, " I was just going to say 
when I was interrupted " ; for there could not have been 
one reader in a thousand who recalled that in the old 
New England Magazine for 1831 and 1832 there were 
two papers of an " Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table " by 
a young" student of medicine ; and the whimsicality 
of going on after an interruption of twenty-five years 
would have puzzled even the knowing ones of a genera- 
tion that had not yet learned the Breakfast-Table habit 
of thought. 

Emerson's characteristic justification of the practice 
of anonymity was that " the names of contributors wUl 
be given out when the names are worth more than the 
articles." Motley wrote to Holmes, apropos of the con- 
tributors to an early issue : " Doubtless I shall know 



26 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

them all by the ' twinkling of their eyes.' " Indeed, the 
authorship was evidently an open secret in many quar- 
ters. Norton made no scruple of telling Clough in a 
letter of 25 October, 1857, who were the chief contrib- 
utors to the first number. Even the Boston correspond- 
ent of the Springfield Republican was able to send 
his paper immediately an ascription of all the articles 
in this issue to their several writers. Through the first 
eight volumes — four years — the authors' names were 
not printed, even in the semi-annual index. The prac- 
tice of printing them there began in the ninth volume ; 
not until the twenty-sixth (1870) was the present usage 
of attaching the authors' names to all but editorial con- 
tributions begun. 

The magazine inevitably scored an immediate success. 
There were of course other periodicals at the time, in 
New York and Philadelphia, but no one of them, either 
in personnel of contributors, amounting virtually to a 
" staff," or in controlling purposes, could engage in a 
serious rivalry with the Atlantic. The Knickerhocker, 
Putnam's, and the Philadelphia magazines of the period 
are now long vanished. Writing retrospectively in 
1882, Underwood said: — 

Of the purely literary magazines still existing, we can 
remember only Harper's that was successful then. But 
in 1857, and before that time, Harper's was largely filled 
with copied articles, and neither that nor any other liter- 
ary periodical was an outspoken organ of opinion. It was 
then supposed necessary to avoid controverted topics, and 
epicene literature was mostly in vogue. Writers and 
thinkers might deplore this, but publishers were timid, 
and kept a weather eye open to watch the vanes of public 
opinion. The Atlantic Monthly was started with the defi- 
nite purpose of concentrating the efforts of the best 



JAMES UtrSSELTi T.0WEL1, 27 

writers upon literature and politics, under tie light of the 
highest morals. 

Two years later Underwood wrote in his biography 
of Whittier : " The Atlantic was intended, first of all, 
to be entertaining; but every number contained a po- 
litical article by Parke Godwin or by Lowell, and the 
public understood and felt that this was the point of 
the ploughshare that was to break up the old fields." 
The magazine's own definition of its political aim, on 
the back cover of its first issue, read as follows : — 

In politics, the Atlantic will be the organ of no party 
or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent 
of what its conductors believe to be the American idea. It 
will deal frankly with persons and with parties, endeavor- 
ing always to keep in view that moral element which 
transcends all persons and parties, and which alone makes 
the basis of a true and lasting national prosperity. It will 
not rank itself with any sect of anties : but with that body 
of men which is in favor of Freedom, National Progress, 
and Honor, whether public or private. 

In the same pronouncement of aims the publishers 
declared, with special reference to Literature, that 
"while native writers will receive the most solid en- 
couragement, and will be mainly relied upon to fill the 
pages of the Atlantic, they will not hesitate to draw 
from the foreign forces at their command, as occasion 
may require, relying rather on the competency of an 
author to treat a particular subject, than on any other 
claim whatever." The " native writers " were at first 
chiefly natives of New England ; and, though not to be 
ranked " with any sect of anties," were of that body of 
men whose belief in freedom implied a strong corre- 
sponding disbelief in slavery. " This group of writers," 



28 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

wrote T. W. Higginson in his " Cheerful Yesterdays," 
" was doubtless a local product ; but so is every new va- 
riety of plum or pear which the gardener finds in his 
garden. He does not quarrel with it for having made 
its appearance in some inconvenient corner instead of 
in the centre, nor does he think it unpardonable that 
it did not show itself everywhere at once ; the thing of 
importance is that it has arrived." 

The Atlantic had no greater good fortune in its be- 
ginnings than that Lowell was its editorial chief gar- 
dener. The public knew him for what verUy he was — so 
true and spirited a patriot that no fear of consequences 
withheld him from open identification with the hetero- 
dox cause of anti-slavery; so genuine a poet, so pene- 
trating a critic, so sound a scholar, that in all the por- 
tions of his editorial field his word was the word of 
authority. One likes perhaps best of all the fun he 
found in his labors, at least until they became too oner- 
ous for him. His pet name " Maga " for the magazine 
implied in itself even a sort of tolerance for the " pen- 
and-inkubus " which an irksome contributor might be- 
come, or for the critic to whom he felt "inclined to 
apply the quadrisyllable name of the brother of Agis, 
King of Sparta " — a Grecian character whom Pelton 
was learned enough to identify as Eudamidas. It is 
pleasant to find him writing, in the earliest days of 
his editorship, about the compensations of the mag- 
azine : — 

First, it has almost got me out of debt, and next, it com- 
pels me into morning walks to the printing office. There 
is a little foot-path wMch leads along the river bank, and 
it is lovely; whether in clear, cold mornings, when the 
fine filaments of the bare trees on the horizon seem float- 
ing up like sea-masses in the ether sea, or when (as yes- 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 29 

terday) a gray mist fills our Cambridge cup and gives a 
doubtful loom to its snowy brim of hills, wbile tlie silent 
gulls wteel over tlie rustling cakes of ice whicli the 
Charles is vrhirling seaward. 

Of one of his morning walks to his editorial work 
Trowbridge has told the following story, bearing upon 
Lowell's dealings with rejected manuscripts : — 

He was walking one windy morning over Cambridge 
bridge, when his hat blew off, and fell into the Charles, 
with half a dozen or more manuscripts with which it was 
freighted, and which he was returning to the Boston office. 
A boatman recovered the hat, but the scattered manu- 
scripts perished in those waves of oblivion. "If they had 
been accepted articles," Lowell remarked, "it wouldn't 
have been quite so bad; for we might with some grace ask 
the writers for fresh copies. But how can you tell a self- 
respecting contributor that his manuscript has been not 
only rejected, but sent to a watery grave!" 

There are many evidences, besides such words as 
these and the fortunate editing of Emerson's and Whit- 
tier's lines to which allusion has already been made, 
that Lowell dealt helpfuUy with his contributors. That 
he also dealt loyally with them appears in his backing 
up of Dr. Holmes under the attacks of the evangelical 
press. The " Autocrat " papers had rendered him clearly 
suspect on questions of orthodoxy in religion. The 
"Professor" called forth violent condemnation. "If 
you could believe many of the newspapers," wrote Hor- 
ace E. Scudder in his biography of Lowell, " Dr. Holmes 
was a sort of reincarnation of "Voltaire, who stood for 
the most audacious enemy of Christianity in modern 
times." It was thus that Lowell wrote to him on the 



50 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

appearance of the first installment of "The Profes- 
sor " : " The religious press (a true sour-cider press 
with belly-ache privileges attached) wUl be at you, but 
after smashing one of them you will be able to furnish 
yourself with a Sampson's weapon for the rest of the 
Philisterei." 

Many such weapons would have been needed to safe- 
guard the Atlantic as a whole at this time. Of the very 
first number one of the sectarian papers, published in 
Boston, said, " We shall observe the progress of the 
work not without solicitude." Their watchfulness was 
soon rewarded in a measure, for of the third number 
they declared, " The only objectionable article is one 
by Emerson on ' Books,' in which the sage of Concord 
shows his customary disregard of the religious opinions 
of others and of the fundamental laws of social moral- 
ity." The next month it was a little better : " With the 
exception of a slur at the doctrine of eternal retribu- 
tion, in the Literary Notices, we do not recall anything 
really exceptionable in its pages." The curious reader 
may find the slur in a single sentence of Dr. Holmes's 
review of Mrs. Lee's " Parthenia " — a sentence which, 
aside from its great length, has nothing astonishing 
about it except the fact that sixty years ago its senti- 
ments could not pass unchallenged. 

But of course it was the writings of Dr. Holmes 
which gave the vigilant defenders of orthodoxy the 
greatest concern. In a letter written to Motley in 1861 
Holmes exclaimed: "But oh! such a belaboring as I 
have had from the so-called ' Evangelical ' press for the 
last two or three years, almost without intermission! 
There must be a great deal of weakness and rottenness 
when such extreme bitterness is called out by such a 
good-natured person as I can claim to be in print." 



JAMBS EUSSELL LOWELL 31 

Even the New York Independent, which was printing 
every week the sermons of Henry Ward Beecher, said 
of " The Professor at the Breakfast-Table " when it ap- 
peared as a book : — 

We presume that we do but speak the general convic- 
tion, as it certainly is our own, when we say that that 
which was to ha^e been apprehended has not been avoided 
by the "Professor," but has been painfully realized in his 
new series of utterances. He has dashed at many things 
which he does not understand, has succeeded in irritating 
and repelling from the magazine many who had formerly 
read it with pleasure, and has neither equaled the spirit 
and vigorous vivacity, nor maintained the reputation, 
shown and acqxdred by the preceding papers. It would 
have been better for aU concerned if the pen of the "Auto- 
crat" had never been resumed by a hand wearied with its 
previous work, and a mind made almost comically self- 
sufficient and dogmatical by an unexpected measure of 
literary success. 

Writing of these papers nearly twenty-five years after 
their first publication. Dr. Holmes himself said : " It 
amuses me to look back on some of the attacks they 
called forth. Opinions which do not excite the faintest 
show of temper in this time from those who do not ac- 
cept them were treated as if they were the utterances of 
a Nihilist incendiary. It required the exercise of some 
forbearance not to recriminate." 

Lowell's editorship of the Atlantic was next to the 
shortest of all the eight which have spanned its history 
of more than sixty years. It lasted but four years, end- 
ing in 1861. By that time he had become somewhat 
weary of its necessarily exacting routine, but he had 
laid the enduring foundations which owed much of their 




CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 

Contributor to the first issue of the Atlantic and 

to its Fiftieth Anniversary Number. 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 33 

permanence to the spirit behind his words : " A part of 
the magazine as long as I have anything to do with it, 
shall be expressly not for the mob (of well-dressed gen- 
tlemen who read with ease)." How permanent the 
structure was to be, he could not have imagined, any 
more than his friend Norton, writing from Paris on 
June 8, 1857, when he first heard of the plans for the 
new periodical, and characteristically went to work at 
once to help the editor, as he did with great success, in 
securing valuable contributions from English writers. 

Of course [said Norton] it will succeed with you as its 
Editor, and with such liberal arrangements for its begin- 
ning. But such things are never permanent in our coun- 
try. They burn brightly for a little while, and then burn 
out, — and some other light takes their place. It would be 
a great thing for us if any undertaking of this kind could 
live long enough to get affections and associations con- 
nected with it, whose steady glow should take the place of, 
and more than supply, the shine of novelty, and the dazzle 
of a first go-off. I wish we had a Sylvanus Urban a hun- 
dred and fifty years old. I wish, indeed, we had anything 
so old in America; I would give a thousand of our new 
lamps for the one old, battered, but true magical light. 

Both Lowell and Norton lived to see a long step in the 
direction of this faithful friend's desire. 

How many years Lowell might have retained the 
editorship of the magazine if its publication had not 
changed hands, it is impossible to say. But in 1859 
both Phillips and Sampson died, and their firm was 
dissolved. The Atlantic was then purchased by the 
firm of Ticknor & Fields, and Underwood's editorial 
connection with it ceased. Lowell held his post for two 
years longer under the new employers, when considera- 



34 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

tions of office economy played their part in the transfer 
of the editorship to the well-qualified hands of James 
T. Fields, the " literary " member of the firm. When 
these publishers acquired the magazine, Fields himself 
was in Europe, and the circumstances of the purchase, 
related in a " Contributors' Club " paper in the Atlan- 
tic of November, 1907, were curiously haphazard in 
character. This is the story there given : — 

You remember that in its extreme youth the magazine 
was transferred from the publishing house of Phillips and 
Sampson, to whose enterprise it owed its existence, to that 
of Ticknor and Fields, then occupying the " Old Corner 
Bookstore," on School Street, just a little farther down 
than the Old South Church. The late Governor Alexander 
H. Eice told me on that November evening [of a meeting 
described by the writer] how the transfer was made. The 
original publishers had failed, and Mr. Eice was their as- 
signee, upon whom rested the responsibility of settling the 
business. The Atlantic was a valuable part of the assets, 
of course, and Mr. Eice said that he sent letters to a dozen 
different publishers telling them that he would sell it to 
the highest bidder whose offer should be received by noon 
on a certain day. The day arrived, and not one bid had 
come. Mr. Eice walked out to the ofBlce of Ticknor and 
Fields, and said to Mr. Ticknor, " I have not yet received 
your bid for the Atlantic." " No," replied the publishers, 
" and you will not, for we don't care to undertake the re- 
sponsibility of the venture." In point of fact, Mr. Eice 
told me, the risk was not great, for the circulation at the 
time stood at thirty thousand copies. 

Mr. Eice was not to be put off in this cavalier fashion. 
He pointed to the clock on the Old South, and it was after 
half-past eleven. " I am about to go to my ofl&ce to open 
the bids," said he, " and I am sure that Ticknor and Fields 
will be sorry if I find none there from them." Mr. Ticknor 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 35 

was apparently immovable. Mr. Fields was in Europe. 
Mr. Eiee continued Ms appeals. The hands of the old 
clock kept on their way, and soon they indicated five min- 
utes of twelve. Then Mr. Eice made his last effort, and 
Mr. Ticknor turned to his desk and wrote a line on a piece 
of paper, handing it to the governor, sealed. Mr. Eice 
carried it to his office, and solemnly proceeded to open it. 
It was the only bid, and the sum mentioned was ten thou- 
sand dollars. Mr. Eice went at once to Mr. Ticknor again, 
and said, "The Atlantic is yours!" Mr. Ticknor was 
startled, and replied, " Pray let no one know what I bid, 
for all my friends would think me crazy ! " The brilliant 
history of the magazine, during this period of the ovsmer- 
ship by the honored house of Ticknor and Fields shows at 
once how little publishers are able to forecast the future 
and how difficult it is to estimate the value of literary 
assets. Doubtless Mr. Ticknor thought, when he handed 
his little slip of paper to Governor Eice, that he had made 
a bid so modest that he was in no danger of having it ac- 
cepted; and it seems equally sure that, when he found no 
other publisher had bid so high as he, he was alarmed 
lest he had made a deplorable exhibition of a lack of 
business acumen. 

Another rendering of the transfer of the magazine 
appears in Scudder's biography of Lowell. " There was 
a lively competition," he says, " among publishers to 
secure the magazine. The Harpers purposed to buy it, 
to suppress their rival, it was said; there were offers 
from Philadelphia, and some of the younger men con- 
nected with the firm of Phillips and Sampson made an 
effort to establish a new firm which should buy the 
whole business of Phillips and Sampson, including the 
magazine." 

In any event Lowell's editorship would have come 
to an end about when it did. His cheerful acceptance 




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xg^ — -^ -s 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 37 

of the situation was made clear in a letter of May 23, 
1861, to his successor in the editorial chair: — 

Mt dear Fields, — I "wish you all joy of your work. You 
■will find it no bad apprenticeship or prelude for that 
warmer and more congenial world to which all successful 
booksellers are believed by devout authors to go. I was 
going to say I was glad to be rid of my old man of the sea. 
But I don't believe I am. I doubt if we see the finger of 
Providence so readily in the stoppage of a salary as in its 
beginning or increment. A bore, moreover, that is period- 
ical gets a friendly face at last and we miss it on the 
whole. Even the gout men don't like to have stop too 
suddenly, lest it may have struck to the stomach. 

Well, good-by, delusive royalty! I abdicate with what 
grace I may. I lay aside my paper crown and feather 
sceptre. I have been at least no Bourbon — if I have not 
learned much, I have forgotten a great deal. . . . 

You will be surprised before long to find how easily you 
get on without me, and wonder that you ever thought me 
a necessity. It is amazing how quickly the waters close 
over one. He carries down with him the memory of Ms 
splash and struggle, and fancies it is still going on when 
the last bubble even has burst long ago. Good-by. Nature 
is equable. I have lost the Atlantic, but my cow has 
calved as if nothing had happened. 




JAMES T. FIELDS 

Second Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 
1861-1871 



II. 



The second editor of the Atlantic, James Thomas 
Fields, held in the world of letters no such command- 
ing place as Lowell's. Yet he held a distinctive and 
important place, and contributed through the ten years 
of his editorship — 1861 to 1871 — the special element 
of variety and strength which a publisher of the widest 
possible acquaintance and sympathies could bring to 
the pages of his periodical ; for it should be said that, 
excepting the present editor, Fields has been the only 
one who was also a publisher of the magazine, and thus 
responsible for both its literary and its business success. 

Among publishers Fields stood quite alone. In all 
the annals of American commerce in books there is no 
other such instance of a man who combined in his own 
person the oflBces of friendship and of business. His warm 
personal friends, who valued him equally for what he was 
and for what he did in their interest, were the remarkable 
company of writers in England as in America, who gave 
especially to the third quarter of the nineteenth cen- 
tury its "Augustan " quality in letters. Born in Ports- 
mouth, New Hampshire, Fields came to Boston in 1831, 
as a fourteen-year-old boy-of-all-work in a bookstore. 
He seized every opportunity of improving his mind, and 
even by the time he was twenty-one received recognition 
as a local poet. As a bookseller, John Fiske related of 
him that "in his youth he used to surprise his fellow 
clerks by divining beforehand what kind of a book was 
likely to be wanted by any chance customer that entered 
the store." As time went on, the Old Corner Bookstore, 
with which he was identified, became a notable Boston 



40 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

institution. The place and the man who made it what 
it was were thus described by George William Curtis, 
in Harper's Monthly, soon after Fields's death in 1881 : 




?TV|5lM^'fil 




THE OLD CORNER BOOKSTORE 
Corner of Washington and School Streets, 1880. 



The annals of publishing and the traditions of publish- 
ers in this country -s\'ill always meution the little Corner 
Book-Store in Boston as you turn out of Washington 
Street into School Street, and those who recall it in other 
days mil always remember the curtained desk at which 
poet and philosopher and historian and di\'ine, and the 
doubting, timid, young author, were sure to see the bright 
face and to hear the hearty welcome of James T. Fields. 
What a crowded, busy shop it was, with the shelves full of 
books, and piles of books upon the counters and tables, 
and loiterers tasting them mth their eyes, and turning 
the glossy new pages — loiterers at whom you looked curi- 
ously, suspecting them to be makers of books as well as 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 41 

readers. You knew that you miglit be seeing there in the 
flesh and in common clothes the famous men and women 
whose genius and skill made the old world a new world 
for every one upon whom their spell lay. Suddenly, from 
behind the green curtain, came a ripple of laughter, then 
a burst, a chorus ; gay voices of two or three or more, but 
always of one — the one who sat at the desk and whose 
place was behind the curtain, the literary partner of the 
house, the friend of the celebrated circle which has made 
the Boston of the middle of this century as justly re- 
noTSTied as the Edinburgh of the close of the last century, 
the Edinburgh that saw Burns, but did not know Mm. 
That curtained corner in the Corner Book-Store is re- 
membered by those who knew it in its great days, as Beau- 
mont recalled the revels at the immortal tavern : — 

What things have we seen 
Done at the Mermaid ! heard words that have been 
So nimble and so full of subtle flame, 
As if that every one from whence they came 
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest ! 

What merry peals! What fun and chaff and story! Not 
only the poet brought his poem there still glowing from 
Ms heart, but the lecturer came from the train with Ms 
freshest touches of local humor. It was the exchange of 
wit, the Kialto of current good tMngs, the hub of the hub. 
And it was the work of one man. Fields was the genius 
loci. Fields, with Ms gentle spirit, Ms generous and ready 
sympathy, Ms love of letters and of literary men, Ms fine 
taste, Ms delightful humor, Ms business tact and skill, 
drew, as a magnet draws its own, every Mnd of man, the 
shy and the elusive as well as the gay men of the world 
and the self-possessed favorites of the people. It was Ms 
pride to have so many of the American worthies upon Ms 
list of authors, to place there if he could the English poets 
and "belles-lettres" writers, and then to call them all per- 
sonal friends. 



42 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

This passage from the sensitive pen of Curtis has more 
to do with Fields as a publisher of books, and as the 
human being he was in all his relations, than as editor 
of the Atlantic. It can fortunately be supplemented by 
some paragraphs from T. W. Higginson's "Cheerful 
Yesterdays," specifically dealing with Fields in his edi- 
torial capacity : — 

In 1859 the Atlantic Monthly passed into the hands of 
Ticknor & Fields, the junior partner becoming finally its 
editor. It was a change of much importance to all its con- 
tributors, and greatly affected my own literary life. 
Lowell had been, of course, an appreciative and a sympa- 
thetic editor, yet sometimes dilatory and exasperating. 
Thus, a paper of mine on Theodore Parker, which should 
have appeared directly after the death of its subject, was de- 
layed for five months by being accidentally put under a pile 
of unexamined manuscripts. Lowell had, moreover, some 
conservative reactions, and my essay " Ought Women to 
Learn the Alphabet? " which would now seem very innocent 
and probably had a wider circulation than any other mag- 
azine article I ever wrote, was not accepted without some 
shaking of the head, though it was finally given the place 
of honor in the number. Fields had the advantage over 
Lowell of being both editor and publisher, so that he had 
a free hand as to paying for articles. The prices then paid 
were lower than now, but were raised steadily; and he 
first introduced the practice of paying for each manu- 
script on acceptance, though he always lamented that this 
failed of its end so far as he was individually concerned. 
His object was to quiet the impatience of those whose con- 
tributions were delayed; but he declared that such per- 
sons complained more than ever, saying, " Since you valued 
my contribution so highly as to pay for it, you surely 
should print it at once." He had a virtue which I have 
never known in any other editor or publisher — that of 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 43 

volunteering to advance money on prospective articles, yet 
to be written; and lie did tMs more than once to me. I 
have also known him to increase the amount paid, on find- 
ing that an author particularly needed the money, espe- 
cially if this were the case of a woman. His sympathy with 
struggling women was always very great; and I think he 
was the only one in the early Atlantic circle, except Whit- 
tier and myself, — with Emerson also, latterly, — who 
favored woman suffrage. This financial kindliness was a 
part of his general theory of establishing a staff, in which 
effort he really succeeded, most of his contributors then 
writing only for him — an aim which his successors aban- 
doned, as doubtless became inevitable in view of the rapid 
multiplication of magazines. Certainly there was some- 
thing very pleasant about Fields's policy on this point; 
and perhaps he jjetted us all rather too much. He had 
some of the defects of his qualities — could not help being 
a little of a fiatterer, and sometimes, though not always, 
evading the telling of wholesome truths. 

I happened to be one of his favorites; he even wished 
me, at one time, to undertake the whole critical depart- 
ment, which I lucidly declined, although it appears by 
the index that I wrote more largely for the first twenty 
volumes of the magazine than any other contributor ex- 
cept Lowell and Holmes. Fields was constantly urging 
me to attempt fiction, and when I somewhat reluctantly 
followed his advice, he thought better of the result, I be- 
lieve, than any one else did; for my story of "Malbone, " 
especially, he prophesied a fame which the public has not 
confirmed. Yet he was not indiscriminate in his praise, 
and suggested some amendments which improved the tale 
very much. He was capable also of being influenced by 
argument, and was really the only editor I have ever en- 
countered whose judgment I could move for an instant by 
any cajoling; editors being, as a rule, a race of adamant, 
as they should be. On the other hand, he advised strongly 
against my writing the "Young Folks' History of the 




EDWARD EVERETT HALE 

whose " Man Without a Country " first appeared in the 
Atlantic Monthly for December, 1863. 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 45 

"United States," wMcli nevertheless turned out incompa- 
rably the most successful venture I ever made, having sold 
to the extent of two hundred thousand copies, and still 
selling well after twenty years. His practical judgment 
was thus not infallible, but it came nearer to it than that 
of any other literary man I have ever known. With all 
his desire to create a staff, Fields was always eagerly 
looking out for new talent, and was ever prompt to coun- 
sel and encourage. 

Fields was the editor of the Atlantic throughout the 
Civil War ; and it is interesting to note the part played 
by the magazine, under him, in the enlightenment and 
guidance of the public mind through that national 
crisis. From its very beginning, when Edmund Quincy 
contributed to the second issue his denunciation of 
slavery in an article, "Where Will It End?" so vehe- 
ment in its tone that Norton wrote to Clough, " It is a 
new thing to see a magazine in this country take such 
ground " — even thus, before the war-cloud broke, there 
could have been no doubt where the Atlantic would 
stand upon the issues of the conflict. But as one turns 
over the pages of the volumes from 1861 to 1865, one is 
struck with the fact that, although the war is con- 
stantly reflected in them, this reflection does not usually 
appear in more than one or two items in the monthly 
programme. By far the greater portion of each issue 
was devoted to the fiction, the essays, the poetry, the 
criticism that would have appeared in any period of 
peace. A department in which the magazine most 
clearly sought to influence opinion was that of the po- 
litical article, editorial in its character, for which 
Lowell and Parke Godwin had established so definite 
a precedent. Then there were the special papers, like 
Emerson's on "The President's Proclamation " (Novem- 



46 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

ber, 1862), Holmes's "My Hunt for the Captain" (De- 
cember, 1862), Hawthorne's "Chiefly about War Mat- 
ters" (July, 1862), and Dr. Hale's national classic, the 
story of "The Man without a Country" (December, 
1863), 

Of Hawthorne's article just mentioned, it should be 
said in passing that the manner of its presentation 
speaks volumes for the strength of the friendship be- 
tween Hawthorne and Fields: it was so underscored 
with foot-notes of editorial dissent, — together with 
statements that peculiarly objectionable passages had 
been omitted, — that a reader at the time might readily 
have imagined the breaking-ofE of all personal relations 
between author and editor. Donald G. Mitchell, indeed, 
wrote to Hawthorne when the article was printed : " I 
am glad to see your work in the Atlantic, but should 
be ready to swear at the marginal impertinences. Pray, 
is Governor Andrew editor? A man's opinions can 
take no catholic or philosophic range nowadays, but 
they call out some shrewish accusation of disloyalty." 
As a matter of fact. Fields and Hawthorne remained 
the closest of friends until Hawthorne's death, after 
which Fields, in his " Yesterdays with Authors," related 
the fact, not only that the changes, including the omis- 
sions of an unrestrained description of President Lin- 
coln's personal appearance, were made with the au- 
thor's good-natured consent, but that Hawthorne him- 
self wrote all the foot-notes! The knowledge of this 
circumstance gives a special pungency of satisfaction 
to the note under the passage in which Hawthorne re- 
joiced at the hanging of John Brown: "Can it be a 
son of old Massachusetts who utters this abominable 
sentiment? For shame!" 

To return to the other expressions of the spirit of 



JAMBS THOMAS FIELDS 47 

the time in the magazine, it was nowhere more dis- 
cernible than in the poetry. Lowell's " Washers of the 
Shroud," one of the most memorable of his poems on 
national topics, appeared in the Atlantic of November, 

1861. At the instance of Fields, he began, in January, 

1862, his second series of " Biglow Papers," which con- 
tinued intermittently untU May, 1866. In September, 

1865, his "Commemoration Ode" was printed in the 
Atlantic. Whittier was represented during the four 
dark years by many war-poems, including "Barbara 
Frietchie." Longfellow's "Cumberland" appeared in 
December, 1862; his "Killed at the Ford," in April, 

1866. On the first page of the issue of February, 1862, 
Mrs. Howe's " Battle Hymn of the Republic " first saw 
the light. In October, 1863, came Emerson's "Volun- 
taries," — with its immediately and eternally provoca- 
tive lines : — 

When Duty whispers low, Thou must, 
The youth replies, / can. 

Such instances as these — and they might be greatly 
multiplied — illustrate the fact that the pages of the 
Atlantic were in large measure merely the medium for 
the expression of what was uppermost in the minds of 
its contributors. The appearance of the contributions 
which have just been named was no more characteristic 
of the magazine at the time than the fact that in the 
Atlantic of June, 1864, Eobert Browning gave the 
world, in his "Prospice," one of his lyrics which the 
world has most cherished. It may fairly be said that 
the war, as a definite topic, did not receive the special 
emphasis for which the periodical of a later day would 
surely have made the passing events of such a crisis the 
occasion. The clear inference is that the editors of 




JTJLIA WARD HOWE 

whose " Battle Hymn of the Republic " first appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly for February, 1862. 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 49 

fifty years ago were far more likely than their succes- 
sors of our own time to take what came to them, and 
be thankful, — as well they might, — than to seek dili- 
gently for contributions of a special nature. A reader 
of the present-day Atlantic has called attention to the 
fact that recently, wishing to inform himself about the 
issues of the Franco-Prussian War, he sought for 
some light upon the subject in the Atlantics of 1870 and 
thereabouts — and sought in vain. In view of the brev- 
ity and concentration of that conflict, this is hardly 
surprising. Yet this reader might have found in the 
Atlantic of April, 1871, an article, by J. K. Hosmer, 
on "The Giant in the Spiked Helmet," which is not 
without its bearing even upon present circumstances. 
Our own Spanish War, though not a world-shaking 
circumstance, left a much clearer trace, in editorial 
and special articles, in the Atlantic of 1898. But in 
leaving the war of 1861-65 to take care, in considerable 
measure, of itself, so to speak, Fields cannot be called 
other than editor of his own time. 

There was one episode of the period of his editorship 
— though it happened to fall while he himself was in 
Europe — which throws a significant light upon the 
ways of the reading public in the sixties. This was the 
publication, in the issue of September, 1869, of Mrs. 
Stowe's article, " The True Story of Lady Byron's Life," 
an exceedingly outspoken "revelation" of Lord Byron's 
personal character. It would be apart from the pres- 
ent purpose to recite the circumstances of its publica- 
tion or the hideous charges it contained. What is note- 
worthy, with special reference to the history of the 
Atlantic, is that the article so outraged a large num- 
ber of its readers that the circulation of the magazine 
suffered a grievous reduction — indeed, so serious a blow 



50 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

that the recovery from it was not accomplished for 
many years. Now that it has become ancient history, 
it may be calmly regarded as a conspicuous instance of 
the " Stop-the-Tribune " habit, through which the read- 
ers of an older generation tellingly registered their dis- 
approval even of a favorite periodical. An editor of 
our own time might be wary of putting his clientele 
to so stringent a test of adherence as this occasion pro- 
vided; yet it may fairly be questioned whether even 
such an action as the Atlantic's in printing the Lady 
ByrOn article, backed as it was by the powerful prestige 
of Mrs. Stowe's signature, would now be visited so dis- 
astrously upon the offending magazine. This is really 
a large social question, involving the whole temper of 
the reading public and its past and present capacity for 
expressing its own moral indignation. If the edge 
of the older capacity is dulled, who shall say that we 
are better ofE? 

As the editorship of Fields bore so close a relation 
to the Atlanti&s change of ownership, there will per- 
haps be no more fitting occasion than at this point to 
record the succession of publishing firms which' have 
been responsible for the magazine. Only three volumes, 
beginning November, 1857, and ending June, 1859, were 
published by Phillips, Sampson & Co., at 13 Winter 
Street, Boston. Volumes IV to XXI, inclusive (July, 
1859, to June, 1868), bore the imprint of Ticknor & 
Fields, whose office, through Volume XV (ending June, 
1865) , was at 135 Washington Street, — the Old Corner 
Bookstore, — and thereafter at 124 Tremont Street, op- 
posite the Park Street Church. Volumes XXII to 
XXVT (July, 1868, to December, 1870), inclusive, were 
issued by Fields, Osgood & Co., who defined themselves 
as "Successors to Ticknor & Fields." From volume 



JAMBS THOMAS FIELDS 51 

XXVII to XXXII (January, 1871, to December, 1873), 
the imprint was that of James R. Osgood & Co., " Late 
Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood & Co." Then, 
from January, 1874, to December, 1877 (volumes 
XXXIII to XL), came the double imprint of " Boston: 
H. O. Houghton & Co., New York : Hurd & Houghton." 
The four following volumes, XLI-XLIV (January, 
1878, to December, 1879), were published by Houghton, 
Osgood & Co. In January, 1880 (volume XLV), began 
the long ownership of Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 
which continued through the first number of volume 
CII (July, 1908). Since then the magazine has been 
published by the Atlantic Monthly Company. 

Through all these changes, which have come nat- 
urally and without distressing transitions, the home of 
the Atlantic has almost invariably been an agreeable 
place; even if it were possible to visualize it under 
every editor and publisher, space for such a process 
would here be inadequate. Fortunately, however, this 
can be done for the period of Fields's control, through 
reproducing most of a paper, " The Atlanti^s Pleasant 
Days in Tremont Street," which appeared unsigned 
in the Atlantic of November, 1907, and was written 
by Miss Susan M. Francis, an editorial assistant of 
every Atlantic editor except only the first and the 
eighth. Her picture of Fields himself supplements ex- 
cellently what has already been related of him. 

My first knowledge of the making of the Atlantic was 
in the last years of Mr. Fields's editorship and of his con- 
nection with the house of Ticknor and Fields, or, as it 
was at his retirement, Fields, Osgood and Co. The office 
was his private room at 124 Tremont Street, one of the 
spacious dwelling-houses, of an earlier generation, in that 
street, which business had of a sudden absorbed and in 



52 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

some sort reconstructed. His was the smaller front room 
on the second floor, — the larger, in which Mr. Aldrich, as 
editor of " Every Saturday, " had his desk, was a general 
reception-room, — with one window looking upon Tremont 
Street, and another upon Hamilton Place. It was a cheer- 
ful little room, with open fire, opposite to which was a 
sofa for ^asitors, with prints, mostly portraits, upon the 
walls, and Mr. Pields's standing desk in one comer, on 
which lay an ahvays open book in which from time to 
time he noted appointments of all sorts, and every other 
thing, no matter how trifling, that he wished to remember, 
the recent pages being always carefully examined more 
than once a day. This habit, among others, made him one 
of the most dependable persons I have ever known. He 
never forgot an engagement of any kind or the slightest 
promise and he was punctuality itself. . . . The broad 
window seats were covered with MSS., while on the floor 
were piled books sent to the magazine. Mr. Howells, the 
assistant editor, did his work, the greater part of the 
actual editorial labor, at his home in Cambridge or at 
the University Tress. Mr. Fields was at that time unable 
to use his hand in writing, and dictated his letters, beside 
requiring other assistance. Between whiles, I was set to 
weed out the MSS., so that the hopeless need not be sent 
to Cambridge. Typewriters had not come, to save editorial 
eyes, and, to my inexperience, a large part of the effusions 
were at first more or less illegible, while the number 
written with pale ink on thin paper and rolled seemed 
painfully large. "When I kept an exact account in later 
times, the number of MSS. received from year to year 
hardly varied, and I should judge that it was much the 
same in those days, for if there were fewer writers, there 
were fewer magazines. The volume of stories was large, 
but the " dialect story," so-called, was then inconspicuous, 
and chiefly represented by New England rural tales and 
flshing- village sketches. The wild west was hardly in evi- 
dence, and there were not many war stories. It was too 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 



53 



near to write easily of — what there were usually came 
from Northern pens. There were certainly as many verses 
as to-day, with the same tendency toward a widespread 
outburst of rhyme on any sensation of the hour. 




THE SCENE OF THE "ATLANTIC'S PLEASANT 
DAYS IN TEEMONT STKEET" 



But it is impossible to say much about that room with- 
out speaking particularly of Mr. Fields, the gracious host 
of more distinguished visitors than any other Atlantic 
office can have known. Like all men who have risen to 
an emaable position without extraneous aid of any sort, 
Mr. Fields had detractors and unfriends who were willing 
to magnify any little foible or affectation; but I, — and I 



54 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

only speak of myself by way of illustration, — coming to 
him very young and self-distrustful, suddenly faced •with, 
the problem of earning a living, and fully conscious of no 
training for that end, shall be thankful and grateful to 
the last day of my life, that at the outset I fell into such 
kind, considerate hands. I knew that I often did badly, I 
know it better now; but there was never a word of blame 
or even a look of annoyance, while for anything that could 
by any possibility be commended, praise was never lack- 
ing. Always there was thoughtful courtesy and a pleasant 
humor, making dull tasks easy. No one could have been 
gentler or more sympathetic to the procession of literary 
aspirants who found their way to him, though he firmly 
refused to be bored beyond reasonable limits, and seemed 
to have discovered the secret of the inclined plane for lin- 
gering visitors which Dr. Holmes longed for, the inclina- 
tion as imperceptible to most as it was efQcacious. Love 
of literature was as genuine and heart-felt a feeling in him 
as in any one I have ever known. Not a writer, — in any 
literary sense, — he had an unbounded and generous appre- 
ciation of the literary gifts of others, and was even will- 
ing, not once or twice, to publish to his own loss that 
which he felt was good. And it should be said that his 
judgment as to the commercial success of any venture was 
usually excellent, so far as one can judge in such matters, 
and that he was a very shrewd and competent man of 
business, one not in the least likely to be imposed upon 
or self-deceived in a question of affairs. I remember his 
speaking to me in those days and later of the deteriora- 
tion in the taste of American readers which he believed 
had set in after the war. Before, he declared, any good 
edition of a good book was almost sure of at least a fair 
sale — a surety which seemed to have quite passed away. 
There were many more readers, but the best books were 
less read. 

As I look back on those few years, nothing impresses 
me so much as the good spirits, even the gayety, that per- 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 55 

vaded the establishment. I think it was a very prosperous 
time for the Atlantic, loyally supported as it was by the 
best writers in the country, and with practically hardly a 
rival in its own kind; while business flourished amain. 
. . . The members of the house, Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Anthony 
(the art manager), Mr. Howells, when in town, and fre- 
quent guests, used to have luncheon every day (brought 
in from the Parker House, I think) in an upstairs room. 
This must have been a particularly cheerful board — 
certainly those who sat round it could make it so. As for 
the visitors in Mr. Tields's little room, I remember one 
day when Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, and 
Whittier were all crowded together there, when the portly 
figure of Mr. Bayard Taylor blocked the doorway, and it 
was decided to seek seats and space in a larger room. 
Visitors such as these need not be described — that has 
been done so oTten and sometimes so well, that I could 
scarcely presume to give my superficial and superfluous 
impressions, though I can say that for brilliant, sugges- 
tive, entertaining, pungent, and humorous talk, no one 
of them, not even Dr. Holmes, nor any other man of letters 
whom I have met, could be compared to Lowell. . . . 

As I recall those pleasant rooms in Tremont Street, it 
seems as though they were always full of sunshine (they 
really had a northern exposure), as if the cheerfulness 
that pervaded them had left a visible brightness in the 
memory. There could not be grayness or dullness with 
Mr. Fields, Mr. Aldrich, and Mr. Osgood in possession, 
and the constant visitor, who, the chances were, would be 
wise, or witty, or both. Literary bores and cranks of 
course found their way there in considerable numbers, 
but they only appeared to give the needed relief. And 
much work was done, but nimbleness of spirit seemed to 
give quickness and deftness to head and hand. I think 
clouds and rain began to come when Mr. Fields retired. 
Perhaps he took from the house, besides more material 
things, a desirable element of conservatism and wise cau- 




A corner in the library of James T.Fields in his Charles Street house, 

for many years the centre of hospitality to the Atlantic circle ; 

here also Dickens, Thackeray, and other English 

visitors were familiar guests. 



JAMEg THOMAS FIELDS 57 

tion. For six months thereafter he retained the headship 
of the magazine, when Mr. Howells became sole editor, 
and there was no longer a Boston office. Mr. Fields still 
retained his room, though he was in it less, and it was 
still a resort for friends old and new. But there was a 
change in the atmosphere of the establishment — new en- 
terprises proved costly, and necessarily, at their outset, 
unremunerative, and possibly times were changing every- 
where. Then came the calamity of the Great Fire. The 
Atlantic Monthly was sold to Messrs. Hurd and Houghton, 
and, until that house united with that of J. R. Osgood 
and Co., I knew nothing save by hearsay of the making of 
the magazine. . . . 

From the pleasant quarters in Tremont Street the house 
moved to Winthrop Square, and never again till it reached 
Park Street did it know the comforts of home, so to speak 
— it had only business offices. The whole quarter of the 
city where the new building stood was in a chaotic state — 
rising from its ashes would, I suppose, be the proper ex- 
pression. At that time came the consolidation of J. E. 
Osgood and Co. with Hurd and Houghton, of course bring- 
ing back the Atlantic and some of my old work therein. 
But there was no real Atlantic office in that building, 
which one winter night was burned to the ground. Many 
Atlantic MSS. were burned with it — how many I never 
exactly knew, for the book where they were recorded went 
too. So far as I could recollect them, I wrote to the pos- 
sible contributors of their loss; and as I remember, with 
very few exceptions, they behaved exceedingly well, though 
very few of them seemed to have kept copies, even of poems. 

It was with a new name, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., that 
the house came to Park Street. Here Mr. Howells on his 
weekly visits had the use of a small, dark room, which 
was certainly never considered an Atlantic office. That 
came with Mr. Aldrich's assumption of the editorship, the 
first office of the magazine in Boston since the Tremont 
Street days. 



58 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

In one of the foregoing paragraphs allusion has been 
made to the "detractors and unfriends who were willing 
to magnify any little foible or affectation" in Fields. Be- 
sides these, there was one contributor, Gail Hamilton, 
who so completely "fell out" with him in matters of 
business dealing — royalties, percentages, etc. — as to 
make the publisher-editor of the Atlantic the chief sub- 
ject of her satiric volume, "A Battle of the Books." 
Prom its pages it is worth whUe to transcribe a pas- 
sage reflecting a feeling which may not have been con- 
fined to a single recalcitrant. Its reading to-day may 
possess some of the interest of the " Game of Authors." 

There are never wanting persons who, not content with 
writing history as it is, are always conjuring up what 
would have been if things had happened differently. If 
Charles I. had not lost his head, if Napoleon had beaten 
at Waterloo, if Booth's pistol had missed fire, events 
would have gone thus and thus. A fruitful field opens be- 
fore such speculators in the history of our country's liter- 
ature. Had Messrs. Brummell and Hunt gone into the 
grocery business, for instance, Homer would have been 
cobbling shoes at Haverhill, or at most, chronicling small 
beer in a country newspaper. Dante would have been a 
lawyer in chambers, drawing up vsdlls and plodding 
through deeds, but leaving no foot-prints on the sands of 
time. Boccaccio would have been milking cows at Brook 
Farm, or growing round-shouldered over Ms desk in the 
Jerusalem Court House. Miriam would have been writing 
stories for the "Little Cormorant," at fifty cents a column, 
and as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" would never have been buHt, 
the South would never have been provoked into rebellion; 
we should have had no war and no greenbacks, prices 
would never have risen, ten per cent, and fifteen cents 
would have been the same, and we should all have died 
comfortably in our beds. 



JAMES THOMAS FIELDS 59 

There was a kindred note of complaint against the 
Atlantic circle of the day in an article, " Old Connecti- 
cut vs. the Atlantic Monthly" published in the April, 
1865, issue of the New Haven quarterly. The New 
Englander. The author of this article, the Reverend 
Increase N. Tarbox, welcomed a flavor of " fresh talent 
from the outside world " in Donald G. Mitchell's story, 
"Dr. Johns," which began with 1865, and, on reading 
with joy an article in the Atlantic of February, 1865, 
on "The Pleiades of Connecticut," exclaimed: "We 
have often wished that a little of that conceit which 
centres about the city of Boston might be abated. 
Proud as she may well be of her position, we think 
she would stand in a more grand and noble attitude, 
if she had a juster conception of what has been and 
is going on elsewhere, and from what sources she her- 
self derives no small share of her strength." 

Whatever justice may have lain at the root of this 
feeling, it is a significant fact that in 1866, only one 
year later, a young Ohioan, WUliam Dean Howells, re- 
cently returned from his consulship in Venice, became 
assistant editor of the Atlantic, and in 1871, on the re- 
tirement of Fields from the editorship, succeeded to his 
post. 




WILLIAM DEAN HOWELL S 

Third Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1871-1881 



Ill 



It is a piece of complete good fortune that Mr. 
Howells himself, in his delightful volume, "Literary 
Friends and Acquaintance," in his " EecoUections of 
an Atlantic Editorship," in the November, 1907, At- 
lantic, and elsewhere ("There are now so many other 
places!" he himself exclaimed in the Atlantic article), 
has made his association with the magazine a matter 
of such illuminating record. Even so early as in the 
editorship of Lowell, his first connection with the 
Atlantic was established through the acceptance and 
publication of several poems. This fact emboldened 
the youthful poet and journalist, on his first pilgrim- 
age from Columbus to New England, in the summer of 
1860, to present himself, timorously enough, to Lowell 
in Cambridge. The older man received him with the 
greatest friendliness and asked him to dine at the 
Parker House in Boston a few days later. Of the meet- 
ing there, a few of Mr. Howells's own paragraphs about 
it will give the best report. 

As it fell out, I lived without further difSculty to the 
day and hour of the dinner Lowell made for me; and I 
really think, looking at myself impersonally, and remem- 
bering the sort of young fellow I was, that it would have 
been a great pity if I had not. The dinner was at the old- 
fashioned Boston hour of two, and the table was laid for 
four people in some little upper room at Parker's, which 
I was never afterwards able to make sure of. Lowell was 
already there when I came, and he presented me, to my 
inexpressible delight and surprise, to Dr. Holmes, who 
was there with Mm. . . . 



62 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

A little wMle after, Fields came in, and then our num- 
ber and my pleasure were complete. 

Nothing else so richly satisfactory, indeed, as the whole 
affair could have happened to a like youth at such a point 
in his career; and when I sat down, with Doctor Holmes 
and Mr. Fields, on Lowell's right, I felt through and 
through the dramatic perfection of the event. The kindly 
Autocrat recognized some such quality of it in terms 
which were not the less precious and gracious for their 
humorous excess. -I have no reason to think that he had 
yet read any of my poor verses, or had me otherwise than 
wholly on trust from Lowell ; but he leaned over towards 
his host, and said, with a laughing look at me, "Well, 
James, this is something like the apostolic succession; 
this is the laying on of hands." I took his sweet and caress- 
ing irony as he meant it ; but the charm of it went to my 
head long before any drop of wine, together with the 
charm of hearing him and Lowell calling each other James 
and Wendell, and of finding them still cordially boys 
together. 

It was, indeed, far more than Holmes could possibly 
have foreseen, a laying on of hands, for two of Lowell's 
three guests were to follow him in the bishopric of the 
magazine, of which the third was to remain its coad- 
jutor for life. The talk that made that dinner-table so 
memorable to Mr. Howells is devoutly recorded in Ms 
pages — also Lowell's promise of a letter of introduction 
to Hawthorne. The note that accompanied it is given 
in Lowell's "Letters," and bears its own testimony to 
the first editor's faith in his young contributor : — 

Cambkidge, Monday, August, 1860. 
My dear young Fueend, — Here is a note to Mr. Haw- 
thorne, which you can use if you have occasion. 
Don't print too much and too soon; don't get married 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 63 

in a hurry; read, what will make you think, not dream; 
hold yourself dear, and more power to your elbow! God 
bless you! 

Cordially yours, 

J. K. Lowell. 

There was a reaffirmation of Lowell's confidence in 
his younger successor, when he wrote to Fields about 
an article by Mr. Howells in the January, 1869, At- 
lantic: " That boy will know how to write if he goes on, 
and then we old fellows will have to look about us." 

Fields must have shared Lowell's immediate belief in 
Mr. Howells, for besides asking him to his own hospitable 
breakfast-table on the morning after the dinner at the 
Parker House, he imparted to the young man such a 
sense of friendliness that Mr. Howells went direct to 
him after his day in Concord and confided the discom- 
fiture he had experienced in a visit to Emerson. Some- 
how he had felt himself sadly to blame for making so 
scant a success of his call upon Emerson, of which he 
wrote : — 

By this time I could see It In a humorous light, and I 
did not much mind his lying back In his chair and laugh- 
ing and laughing, till I thought he would roll out of it. 
He perfectly conceived the situation, and got an amuse- 
ment from it that I could get only through sympathy with 
him. But I thought it a favorable moment to propose my- 
self as the assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly 
[Fields was then its publisher, not yet its editor], which 
I had the belief I could very well become, with advantage 
to myself, if not to the magazine. He seemed to think so 
too; he said that if the place had not just been filled, I 
should certainly have had it ; and it was to his recollection 
of this prompt ambition of mine that I suppose I may 
have owed my succession to a like vacancy some four years 
later. 



64 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

During this intervening period Mr. Howells had 
served his consulship in Venice, — from which resulted 
his early book "Venetian Days," — had returned to 
America, and settled in New York as a writer for the 
Nation. One evening in the winter of 1866 he met 
Mr. and Mrs. Fields at the house of Bayard Taylor. 
"Don't despise Boston!" Fields said to him; and he 
replied, "Few are worthy to live in Boston." Three 
days later he received a letter from Fields asking him 
to become assistant editor of the Atlantic. After some 
consideration of the offer, says Mr. Howells, — 

I went to Boston to see Mr. Fields concerning details. I 
was to sift all the manuscripts and correspond with con- 
tributors; I was to do the literary proof-reading of the 
magazine; and T was to write the four or five pages of 
book-notices, which were then printed at the end of the 
periodical in finer type; and I was to have forty dollars 
a week. I said that I was getting that already for less 
work, and then Mr. Fields offered me ten dollars more. 
Upon these terms we closed, and on the 1st of March, 
which was my twenty-ninth birthday, I went to Boston 
and began my work. I had not decided to accept the 
place without advising with Lowell; he counselled the 
step, and gave me some shrewd and useftd suggestions. 
The whole affair was conducted by Fields with his un- 
failing tact and kindness, but it could not be kept from 
me that the qualification I had as a practical printer 
for the work was most valued, and that as proof-reader 
I was expected to make it avail on the side of economy. 
Somewhere in life's feast the course of humble-pie must 
always come in; and if I did not wholly relish this bit 
of it, I dare say it was good for me, and I digested it 
perfectly. 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 65 

The extent and value of Mr. Howells's work for the 
Atlantic for fifteen years, first as assistant editor, then 
for about ten years as editor, can hardly be estimated. 
His own modest and charming story of it all is to be 
found in the book and magazine article already men- 
tioned. To illustrate the more technical side of his 
labors, a paragraph may be taken from his " Recollec- 
tions of an Atlantic Editorship":— 

Except for the brief period of a year or eighteen months, 
I had no assistance during my editorship. During the 
greater part of the time I had clerkly help, most eflacient, 
most intelligent; but I read all the manuscripts which 
claimed critical attention; I wrote to contributors who 
merited more than a printed circular; I revised all the 
proofs, verifying every quotation and foreign word, and 
correcting slovenly style and syntax, and then I revised 
the author's and my own corrections. Meanwhile I was 
writing, not only criticisms, but sketches, stories, and 
poems for the body of the magazine; and in the course 
of time, a novel each year. It seems like rather full work, 
but I had always leisure, and I made a long summer away 
from Cambridge in the country. The secret, if there was 
any secret, lay iu ray doing every day two or three hours' 
work, and letting no day pass idly. The work of reading 
manuscripts and writing letters could be pushed into a 
comer, and taken out for some interval of larger leisure; 
and this happened often er and oftener as I grew more 
and more a novelist, and needed every morning for fiction. 
The proof-reading, which was seldom other than a pleas- 
ure, with the tasks of revision and research, I kept for 
the later afternoons and evenings; though sometimes it 
took well-nigh the character of original work, in that 
liberal Atlantic tradition of bettering the authors by edi- 
torial transposition and paraphrase, either in the form 
of suggestion or of absolute correction. This proof-read- 



66 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

ing was a school of verbal exactness and rhetorical sim- 
plicity and clearness, and in it I had succeeded others, 
my superiors, who were without their equals. It is stUl 
my belief that the best proof-reading in the world is done 
in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it is probably none 
the worse for my having a part in it no longer. 

As I have intimated, I found it by no means drudgery; 
though as for drudgery, I think that this is for the most 
part in the doer of it, and it always is a very wholesome 
thing, even when it is real, objective drudgery. It would 
be a much deceuter, honester, and juster world if we each 
took his share in it, and I base my best hopes of the future 
in some such eventuality. Not only the proofs were a 
pleasant and profitable drudgery, but the poor manu- 
scripts, except in the most forbidding and hopdess in- 
stances, yielded their little crumbs of comfort; they sup- 
ported while they fatigued. 



Such were the details of Mr. Howells's laborious 
days. The spirit in which all his work was done — the 
essential kindliness of all its human relationships, the 
constant hospitality to new ideas and new writers, 
everything that an eager mind and a generous person- 
ality could contribute to the functions of an editor — 
shines through the record of his Atlantic years. To 
his special credit must be counted the lengthening of 
its tent-ropes. " The fact is," he says, " we were grow- 
ing, whether we liked it or not, more and more Ameri- 
can. Without ceasing to be New England, without ceas- 
ing to be Bostonian at heart, we had become southern, 
mid-western, and far-western in our sympathies. It 
seemed to me that the new good things were coming 
from those regions rather than from our own coasts and 
hills, but it may have been that the things were newer 
oftener than better." Thus it was characteristic of 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 67 

him to have suggested to Mark Twain his writing for 
the Atlantic his "Old Times on the Mississippi" — or 
perhaps rather to have recorded the circumstance by 
saying, " I hope I am not too fondly mistaken in think- 
ing I suggested his writing [it] for the magazine." Of 
Mark Twain's very first contribution to the Atlantic, 
he says: "'A True Story' was but three pages long, 
and I remember the anxiety with which the business 
side of the magazine tried to compute its pecuniary 
value. It was finally decided to give the author twenty 
dollars a page, a rate unexampled in our modest his- 
tory. I believe Mr. Clemens has since been offered a 
thousand dollars a thousand words, but I have never 
regretted that we paid him so handsomely for his first 
contribution." 

At the invitation of Fields, prompted by Miss Fran- 
cis, Bret Harte had first written for the Atlantic. It 
was with Howells, in Cambridge, that he made his stay 
when, several years later, in 1871, he made his tri- 
umphal progress to the East. Then it was, according 
to Mr. Henry C. Merwin's "Life of Bret Harte," that 
the New York publishers made him inadequate offers 
for his writings, " and a few days later Bret Harte ac- 
cepted the offer of James R, Osgood and Company, then 
publishers of the Atlantic, to pay him ten thousand 
dollars during the ensuing year for whatever he might 
write in the twelve months, be it much or little. This 
offer, a magnificent one for the time, was made despite 
the astonishing fact that of the first volume of Bret 
Harte's stories, issued by the same publishers six 
months before, only thirty-five hundred copies had then 
been sold," Harte redeemed the arrangement by con- 
tributing to the Atlantic four stories, one of which 
was "How Santa Clans Came to Simpson's Bar," and 



68 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

Ave poems. It is easy to detect the hand of Mr. Howells 

in the whole transaction. 

The older writers of the New England group re- 
mained faithful to the Atlantic — even Whittier, after 
Mr. Howells, in what he afterwards felt to be a mis- 
taken exercise of his editorial authority, had declined 
one of his poems. To the promising members of the 
younger group Mr. Howells's welcome was unfailingly 
cordial — to none more so than to the fellow novelist and 
contemporary, Henry James, with whose work his own 
was so often compared and contrasted. " My desert in 
valuing him," says Mr. Howells, " is so great that I can 
confess the fact that two of his stories and one of his 
criticisms appeared in the magazine some years before 
my time, though perhaps not with the band of music 
with which I welcomed every one afterwards." Giving 
full credit also to his predecessor for the recognition 
of the quality in the stories of Miss Sarah Orne Jewett, 
he adds : " It is the foible of editors, if it is not 
rather their forte, to flatter themselves that, though 
they may not have invented their contributions, they 
have at least invented their contributors; and if any 
long-memoried reader chooses to hail me as an inspired 
genius because of my instant and constant appreciation 
of Miss Jewett's writing, I shall be the last to snub 
him down." 

Another of the feminine contributors to the Atlantic, 
though not immediately accredited to this company, 
received prompt recognition from Mr. Howells, who 
shall tell the story himself : — 

I do not remember any man who feigned himself a 
woman, but now and then a woman liked to masquerade 
as a man, though the disguise never deceived the editor. 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 69 

even when it deceived the reader, except in the very signal 
and very noted instance of Miss Mary N. Murfree, whom, 
till I met her face to face, I never suspected for any but 
Charles Egbert Craddock. The severely simple, the ro- 
bust, the athletic hand which she wrote would have suf- 
ficed to carry conviction of her manhood against any 
doubts. I believe I took the first story she sent, and for 
three or four years I addressed my letters of acceptance, 
or criticism, to Charles Egbert Craddock, Murfreesboro, 
Tennessee, without the slightest misgiving. Then she came 
to Boston, and Aldrich, who had succeeded me, and who 
had already suffered the disillusion awaiting me, asked 
me to meet Craddock at dinner. He had asked Dr. Holmes 
and Lawrence Barrett, too; and I should not attempt to 
say whose astonishment he enjoyed most. But I wish I 
could recall word for word the exqtiisite terms in which 
Dr. Holmes turned his discomfiture into triumph, in that 
most delicately feminine presence. 

Still another Boston editor of the same period — it 
may be said without digressing too widely — fell into 
still more serious trouble through the Southern practice 
of not restricting masculine names to men. This irre- 
proachable bachelor had long been in correspondence 
with another Tennessee writer whom he had assumed 
to be of his own sex, and hearing that " he " was coming 
to Boston at a certain time wrote a cordial letter in- 
viting " him " to share his room in the boarding-house 
of his long inhabitance. To his utter discomfiture a 
Southern lady announced herself one day in his office 
as the recipient of his invitation. It is not reported 
that any Dr. Holmes was at hand to save the situation 
with his verbal agility. 

If the experience of Mr. Howells with Miss Murfree 
was unique in Atlantic annals, it was not the only 



70 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

novelty connected with his editorship. One innovation 
of his own he described in writing. "For a while, I 
think for a year, I indulged the fancy of printing each 
month a piece of original music, with original songs; 
but though both the music and the songs were good, 
or at least from our best younger composers and poets, 
the feature did not please — I do not know why — and 
it was presently omitted." 

In the unadorned pages of the Atlantic these songs to- 
day present a somewhat strange appearance ; but there 
they are — Whittier's "Hymn written for the Opening 
of the International Exhibition, Philadelphia, May 10, 
1876," with its music by John K. Paine, filling together 
two pages in June, 1876 ; and later, the " Sunset Song " 
of Celia Thaxter and Julius Eichberg, the "Creole 
Lover's Song" of Edmund C. Stedman and Dudley 
Buck, " A Dream " by W. W. Story and F. Boott, a 
" Song " by George Parsons Lathrop and George L. Os- 
good. There were also many bits of mtisical score in 
the papers of musical criticism which William F. Ap- 
thorp long contributed to the magazine. Excellent 
line drawings, moreover, accompanied the series of 
articles on " Crude and Curious Inventions at the Cen- 
tennial Exhibition," by Edward H. Knight. In the 
previous decades of the sixties many simple sketches 
had illustrated Agassiz's articles on various processes 
of nature. A paper on " The New Gymnastics " by Dr. 
Dio Lewis, in the issue of August, 1862, — a physical- 
culture article which would now be thought more ap- 
propriate to a Sunday newspaper, — carried with it 
forty-three remarkably inartistic drawings of men and 
women exercising with dumb-bells, rings, wands, and 
bean-bags. Thus the Atlantic, which, in spite of its 
occasional necessary maps, diagrams, and the like, has 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWBLLS 71 

never been one of the illustrated periodicals, has had its 
moments of pictorial adornment — and Mr. Howells's 
introduction of pages not wholly given to reading-mat- 
ter was not, after all, a complete innovation. 




THE TICKNOB MANSION 
at the head of Park Street. 

One portion of the magazine — a department now 
sufficiently venerable — owed its origin entirely to him. 
This is the "Contributors' Club," of which he has 
written : — 

In the course of time, but a very long time, the magazine 
felt the need of a more informal expression than it found 
in the stated articles, and the Contributors' Club took 
the place of all the different departments, those of politics, 
music, and art having been dropped before that of litera- 
ture. The new idea was talked over with the late George 



72 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

Parsons Lathrop, who had become my assistant, and we 
found no way to realize it but by writing the first para- 
graphs ourselves, and so tempting others to write for 
the Club. In the course of a very few months we had more 
than help enough, and could easily drop out of the co- 
operation. 

During the period of Mr. Howells's editorship one 
practice of an earlier day was revived — that of the 
meeting together of editors, publishers, and contribu- 
tors at the dinner-table. Several occasions of this na- 
ture are described in Arthur Gilman's article, "Atlan- 
tic Dinners and Diners," in the Fiftieth Anniversary 
number of the magazine. The first of these revivals of 
a past custom took place at the Parker House, Decem- 
ber 15, 1874, and marked the acquisition of the maga- 
zine by the firm of H. O. Houghton & Co. On Whit- 
tier's seventieth birthday, December 17, 1877, another 
notable assembling of the masculine pillars of the 
Atlantic, as guests of its publishers, occurred at the 
Brunswick Hotel in Boston ; still another, at the same 
place, on December 3, 1879, in celebration of Dr. 
Holmes's seventieth birthday, which had fallen incon- 
veniently on the 29th of the previous August. " When 
the day arrived," wrote Mr. GUman, "more than one 
hundred sat together around six large tables. A re- 
markable change is found in the fact that more than 
one-third of the company were ladies ! " The next, and 
last, festivity of the kind was itself in honor of a lady, 
Harriet Beecher Stowe, and marked her seventy-first 
birthday, June 14, 1882, by which time Aldrich had 
succeeded Mr. Howells in the editorship of the maga- 
zine. It took the form of an out-door luncheon on the 
grounds of Governor Claflin at Newtonville. 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWBLLS 73 

At each of these feasts the towering figures of New 
England letters — it is superfluous to catalogue them — 
were present, and speeches and verses of all possible 
fitness, grace, and feeling were uttered. When the un- 
expected happens, it is often more illuminating than 
the expected. Let us therefore pass over all the felici- 
tous expressions at the gatherings of what so nearly 
resembled a clan, and draw perhaps a truer impression 
of the general scene from Mr. Howells's own account, 
in his " My Mark Twain," of the havoc wrought by the 
great humorist on the occasion of the dinner in honor of 
Whittier. 



The passing years have left me in the dark as to the 
pretext of that supper at which Clemens made his awful 
speech, and came so near being the death of us all. At the 
breakfasts and luncheons we had the pleasure of our lady 
contributors' company, but that night there were only 
men, and because of our great strength we survived. 

I suppose the year was about 1879, but here the almanac 
is unimportant, and I can only say that it was after 
Clemens had become a very valued contributor of the 
magazine, where he found himself to his own great explicit 
satisfaction. He had jubilantly accepted our invitation, 
and had promised a speech, which it appeared afterwards 
he had prepared with unusiial care and confidence. He 
believed he had been particularly fortunate in his notion 
for the speech of that evening, and he had worked it out 
in joyous self-reliance. It was the notion of three tramps, 
three dead-beats, visiting a California mining-camp, and 
imposing themselves upon the innocent miners as respec- 
tively Ealph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Long- 
fellow, and Oliver WendeU Holmes. The humor of the 
conception must prosper or fail according to the mood of 
the hearer, but Clemens felt sure of compelling this to 



74 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

sympathy, and he looked forward to an unparalleled 
triumpli. 

But there were two things that he had not taien into 
account. One was the species of religious veneration in 
which these men were held by those nearest them, a thing 
that I should not be able to realize to people remote from 
them in time and place. They were men of extraordinary 
dignity, of the thing called presence, for want of some 
clearer word, so that no one could well approach them 
in a light or trifling spirit. I do not suppose that anybody 
more truly valued them or more piously loved them than 
Clemens himself, but the intoxication of his fancy carried 
them beyond the bounds of that regard, and emboldened 
him to the other thing which he had not taken into account 
— namely, the immense hazard of working his fancy out 
before their faces, and expecting them to enter into the 
delight of it. If neither Emerson, nor Longfellow, nor 
Holmes had been there, the scheme might possibly have 
carried; but even this is doubtful, for those who so de- 
voutly honored them would have overcome their horror 
with difficulty, and perhaps would not have overcome it 
at all. 

The publisher, with a modesty very ungrateful to me, 
had abdicated his office of host, and I was the hapless 
president, fulfilling the abhorred function of calling peo- 
ple to their feet and making them speak. When I came to 
Clemens, I introduced him with the cordial admiring I 
had for him as one of my greatest contributors and dear- 
est friends. Here, I said, in sum, was a hiimorist who 
never left you hanging your head for having enjoyed his 
joke; and then the amazing mistake, the bewildering 
blunder, the cruel catastrophe was upon us. I believe that, 
after the scope of the burlesque made itself clear, there 
was no one there, including the burlesquer himself, who 
was not smitten with a desolating dismay. There fell a 
silence, weighing many tons to the square inch, which 
deepened from moment to moment, and was broken only 



WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 75 

by tte hysterical and blood-curdling laughter of a single 
guest, whose name shall not be handed down to infamy. 
Nobody knew whether to look at the speaker or down at 
his plate. I chose my plate as the least affliction, and so 
I do not know how Clemens looked, except when I stole 
a glance at him, and saw him standing solitary among 
his appalled and appalling listeners, with his joke dead 
on his hands. From a first glance at the great three whom 
his jest had made its theme, I was aware of Longfellow 
sitting upright, and regarding the humorist with an air 
of pensive puzzle, of Holmes busily writing on his menu, 
with a well-feigned effect of preoccupation, and of Emer- 
son holding his elbows, and listening with a sort of 
Jovian oblivion of this nether world in that lapse of mem- 
ory which saved Hm in those later years from so much 
bother. Clemens must have dragged his joke to the climax 
and left it there, but I cannot say this from any sense 
of the fact. Of what happened afterward at the table 
where the immense, the wholly innocent, the truly unim- 
agined affront was offered, I have no longer the least 
remembrance. I next reniember being in a room of the 
hotel, where Clemens was not to sleep, but to toss in 
despair, and Charles Dudley Warner's saying, in the 
gloom, "Well, Mark you're a funny fellow." It was as 
well as anything else he could have said, but Clemens 
seemed unable to accept the tribute. 

So wretched, indeed, was Mark Twain over the whole 
performance that on his return to Hartford, he wrote 
to Mr. Howells : " It wUl hurt the Atlantic for me to 
appear in its pages now"; and begged his friend to 
return the proofs of a story then awaiting publication. 

A humor so genuine as that which Mr. Howells re- 
veals in his account of " the cruel catastrophe " is needed 
to cope, not only with a humorist, but with the daUy 
transactions of life. His whole mental and spiritual 



76 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

attitude, as it appears in his own retrospect of his 
editorship of the Atlantic, constituted an ideal element 
of qualification for his task. No other editor, assistant 
and chief, has been associated with the magazine for 
so many years as the fifteen which Mr. Howells gave to 
this work. It could not have been otherwise than that 
his labors should have continued long to yield their 
fruits. " The magazine," he has himself written, " was 
already established in its traditions when I came to it, 
and when 1 left it fifteen years later, it seemed to me 
that if I had done any good, it was little more than 
to fix it more firmly in them." " Little more " are the 
words in this sentence which another hand would 
especially revise. 



IV 



The ensuing seventeen years, 1881-1898, were divided 
in the Atlantic editorship, between two men, Thomas 
Bailey Aldrich and Horace Elisha Scudder, of whom 
Aldrich held the post for nine, Scudder for eight years. 
These were the two editors of a later day who have 
been first to follow Lowell and Fields beyond the sight 
of the present generation. Each stepped naturally into 
the editorial office, and each brought with him and gave 
to the magazine something distinctive and valuable. 

There are two incidents linking Aldrich character- 
istically with the first two editors of the Atlantic 
wholly in their editorial capacity. In Mr. Ferris 
Greenslet's " Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich " it is re- 
lated that for the first three years of the Atlantic's ex- 
istence, he had offered poetical contributions, without 
success. (Elsewhere it appears that in the pride of 
his youth, he had lost one opportunity to appear in the 
Atlantic through not changing a faulty rhyme in one 
of his poems, which he subsequently mended.) At 
length, in April of 1860, he received the following note 
from Lowell : — 

Mt dear Sir, — 

I welcome you heartily to the Atlantic. When I receive 
so fine a poem as "Pythagoras," I don't think the check of 
Messrs. Ticknor & Fields pays for it. I must add some 
thanks and appreciation. I have put it down for June. 

Very truly yours, 

J. E. Lowell. 




THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH 

Fourth Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1881-1890 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH 79 

The true flavor of Aldrich was imparted to the inci- 
dent long afterwards. " Twenty-five years later," says 
Mr. Greenslet, "when Aldrich in his turn had become 
editor of the Atlantic, he accepted a poem that Lowell 
sent him, with a copy of this note. Lowell promptly 
called at the ofiBce to say that he was so enheartened by 
its recognition that he had about made up his mind to 
follow literature as a profession." 

His early contact with Fields as editor was even 
more characteristic. The story goes that, bearing a 
poem of his own one day to Fields's offlce in the Old 
Corner Bookstore, he found the editor out, but noticed 
on his desk a memorandum of things to be done at once. 

" Don't forget to maU E his contract," he read ; and 

"Don't forget H ^'s proof." With a delicious im- 
pudence the young poet wrote beneath these reminders 
of obligations to Emerson and Holmes, "Don't forget 
to accept A 's poem," left the manuscript, and de- 
parted. " The poem " — as Professor Bliss Perry repeats 
the anecdote in his " Park Street Papers " — " was ac- 
cepted, paid for, and, truest kindness of all, — as Mr. 
Aldrich asserted, — was never printed. But the re- 
sourceful youth never lost his deferential attitude to- 
ward the bearers of those famous initialed names that 
had once preceded his own." 

It has been said that Aldrich stepped naturally into 
the Atlantic editorship. When Howells came from 
New York to Boston, in 1868, as assistant editor of the 
magazine, he found Aldrich installed, but a few months 
earlier, in the office of the same publishing house, as 
editor of its weekly journal, Every Saturday. Aldrich 
had already gained a considerable editorial experience 
in New York, in connection with several periodicals, 
the suspension of one of which, the Saturday Press, 



80 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

he had announced in terms bearing his distinctive 
touch : " This paper is discontinued for lack of funds, 
which is, by a coincidence, precisely the reason for 
which it was started." Of the Aldrich that Mr. How- 
ells found in Boston he has written: "We were of 
nearly the same age, but he had a distinct and dis- 
tinguished priority of reputation, in so much that in 
my Western remoteness I had always ranged him with 
such elders and betters of mine as Holmes and Lowell, 
and never imagined him the blonde, slight youth I 
found him, with every imaginable charm of contem- 
poraneity." 

The two young men became the best of friends, and 
in their other friendships none should more surely be 
counted than those they formed with their employers. 
Fields, and his younger partner, James R. Osgood. On 
the retirement of Fields from the firm, Osgood, whose 
" reach," as Mr. Greenslet has well put it, " rather ex- 
ceeded his grasp," undertook expansion which led to 
business disaster. When the Atlantic was sold to H. O. 
Houghton & Co., Every Saturday, also disposed of, 
was suppressed. Mr. Howells records some sort of 
funereal rite in which he and Aldrich joined with Os- 
good, on the day after the sale, and the spirit in which 
the three men had worked together reveals itself clearly 
in his words about Osgood: — 

We all knew that it was his necessity that had caused 
him to part with the periodicals; but he professed that 
it was Ms pleasure, and he said, He had not felt so light- 
hearted since he was a boy. We asked him. How could 
he feel gay when he was no longer paying us our salaries, 
and how could he justify it to his conscience? He liked 
our mocking, and limped away from us with a rheumatic 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH 



81 



easing of Ms weight from one foot to another: a figure 
pathetic now that it has gone the way to dusty death, and 
dear to memory through benefactions unalloyed by one 
unkindness. 




STUDY OF THOMAS BAILEY ALDBICH 
AT PONKAPOG 

Released from editorial duties, Aldrich remained in 
Boston and its neighborhood, — not "genuine Boston" 
himself, as Mr. Greenslet tells us he liked to say, " but 
Boston plated," — and wrought faithfully at his work 
as a writer. From 1874 to 1881 he continued, as he had 
begun, to be a prolific contributor of poems, short 
stories, and novels to the Atlantic. When he succeeded 
Mr. Howells in the later of these two years, it was 
as if in prophetic verification of the words in Profes- 
sor Perry's " Park Street Papers " which carry one both 
back of Aldrich's time and beyond it : — 



The editors of the Atlantic have always been drafted 
from the ranks of its contributors; mere contributors, who 



82 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

once enclosed stamps for the return of manuscript and 
waited and wondered if it would prove " magazinable." 
How can such a one, drawn in a moment, like Browning's 
conscript, 

From the safe glad rear to the dreadful van, 

pretend that he has been invested with infallibility? "I 
am fain to think it vivacious," wrote Lowell of a certain 
Contributors' Club which he was submitting to the editor 
in 1890, nearly thirty years after his own editorship 
closed, "but if your judgment verify my fears, don't 
scruple to return it. I can easily make other disposition of 
it, or at worst there is always the waste-basket." His Club 
was accepted, in spite of Lowell's fears — and, as it hap- 
pened, it was hisi last contribution to the magazine. 

Once, when Lowell was in Europe, Aldrich, for two 
years, had occupied his Elmwood house in Cambridge. 
His surroundings were always invested with charm. 
When he came to the Atlantic, says Mr. Greenslet in his 
biography, "even in his editorial office Aldrich con- 
trived to surround himself with the homelike comfort to 
which he was accustomed"; and the biographer goes 
on: — 



He chose for his purpose a, little back room at No. 
i Park Street, reached by a spiral stairway much 
resembling the pictures of Dante's Purgatorio with the 
terrestrial Paradise at its summit. Its windows over- 
looked that haunt of ancient peace, the Old Granary 
Burying-Groxmd, where, as he liked to say, lay those who 
would never submit any more manuscript. But any melan- 
choly that might have arisen from the scenery was miti- 
gated by an open fire of cannel coal, by a pipe, — an engine 
which had not hitherto been in favor in that oflce, but 
which was expressly nominated in the bond between the 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDEICH 83 

editor and his publisher, — and by the constant attendance 
of Ms setter " Trip." Once when Trip ate a sonnet, Aldrich 
asked, "How did he know it was doggerel? " 

For the manner in which his daUy work was done 
Mr. Greenslet evoked the memories of Miss Francis, 
whose recollections of the Atlantic office under Fields 
have already been cited; and one cannot do better in 
this place than to copy again some records of this edi- 
torial assistant, who worked with Aldrich through all 
the nine years of his incumbency. 

The routine of the office was simple enough. The prose 
manuscripts were read, sifted, commented on, and all with 
the smallest degree of merit placed in a drawer which 
quickly became over-full, waiting for the editor's exami- 
nation on a clearing-up day, of uncertain date, when he 
energetically went through the mass, and laid aside a few 
for further consideration. These did not usually wait long, 
for as an editor Mr. Aldrich lived from hand to mouth; 
the box, in which accepted manuscripts were kept was 
never very full, was often half empty. He had an unwill- 
ingness to accumulate copy — for which much might be 
said — as well as a fastidious taste, and was not infre- 
quently a solicitor for articles. Sometimes destitution 
seemed to stare Mm in the face, but with Ms usual good 
fortune tMngs altogether desirable arrived at the last 
moment, and the supply never failed. The poetry I never 
read, as he wished to see all that came, and Ms reading 
was certainly qiute sufficient. His judgment in the case 
of verse was very quick and sure, even the single felicity 
of phrase or graceful thought in a poor poem never 
escaped Ms notice. His standard of what Atlantic verse 
should be was Mgh and not often to be attained to, but he 
came as near to it as circumstances allowed and never 
accepted poems lightly or unadvisedly. In the matter of 



84 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

short stories lie was nearly as critical, while a slovenly 
or careless style in any sort of article would almost ob- 
scure whatever other merit the paper might possess. He 
was, however, very fair-minded towards articles treating 
of subjects which did not appeal to his personal tastes, 
if the writers thereof were clear-headed and had a reason- 
able amount of literary skill. . . . 

To work with him was usually a most agreeable ex- 
perience, but, as to accomplishment, it had its disad- 
vantages. It was likely to remind him of something much 
more interestiag. Some bit of autobiography, oftenest an 
anecdote of his early life, which led to another and yet 
another. Ah, if it could be possible to put that desultory 
talk, vivid narration, scintillating humor, into cold type, 
it would leave any tale he ever told with pen and ink 
far behind! 

Another detail of his ways as an editor appears in 
Mr. Howells's " KecoUections of an Atlantic Editor- 
ship." After describing his own struggles with the 
bushel of accepted manuscript inherited from his two 
predecessors, a load which he gradually lightened by 
counting each manuscript dead when its author died, 
and he could lay "his unpublished manuscript like a 
laurel crown upon his tomb," he proceeds: "When 
Aldrich came to my relief, I placed a pathetic remnant 
of the bushel, say a half -peck, in his hands, and it was 
with a shock that I learned later of his acting upon a 
wholly different conception of his duty to these heir- 
looms; he sent them all back, dead or alive, and so 
made an end of an intolerable burden." 

In the following terms Mr. Greenslet has summarized 
the results of Aldrich's work as an Atlantic editor : — 

Whatever were his alternations of mood and easy-going 
methods, Aldrich made an excellent magazine for the 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH 85 

lettered reader. Under Ms conduct the Atlantic attained 
a notable unity of tone and distinction of style. A little 
less accessible to new and unknown talent than Mr. Howells 
had been, he was yet quick to perceive the note of distinc- 
tion, and few of his swans turned out geese. He was not 
a militant editor, and was not greatly concerned about 
politics and affairs. His interest was first and always 
literature, and perhaps no editor of the Atlantic printed 
more of it. During Ms tenure of of&ce the afterglow of 
the great day of New England literature was fading, but 
fading slowly. He coxdd count on occasional poems from 
Longfellow, Holmes, WMttier, and Lowell, to say notMng 
of the younger group headed by Sill. He had Parkman 
and Fiske for Mstorical papers ; James, Helen Hunt Jack- 
son, Miss Murfree, Mrs. Oliphant, Marion Crawford, Miss 
Jewett, and the two Hardys, American and English, for 
fiction. He developed the critical department of the maga- 
zine to a Mgh degree of competence by marshaling what 
has seldom been seen in tMs country, a thorougMy com- 
pact and capable coterie of critical reviewers. TMs group, 
wMch was composed of Kichard Grant WMte, G. E. Wood- 
berry, George Parsons Lothrop, Horace Scudder, and Miss 
Harriet Waters Preston, contributed a surprisingly large 
proportion of the material that is embodied in the score of 
volujnes of Ms editing. Eead to-day, after the lapse of 
twenty years, it is still remarkable for penetration of in- 
sight and felicity of expression. It was under Aldrich, too, 
that the Atlantic won its international reputation as 
being, in the phrase of an English review, " the best edited 
magazine in the English language." To his fastidious 
sense of phrase and syntax, reading proof was a sacra- 
ment. If he habitually delegated the celebration of it to 
Ms assistant, Ms interest in the result was none the less 
keen, and it fared ill with any split infinitive or suspended 
nominative — even with such seemingly innocent locutions 
as "several people" — that fell under his searching eye. 
The editorial letters that Aldrich wrote out in Ms beau- 



86 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLT 

tiful round Iiaiid are models of terse and luminous expres- 
sion, and many of Ms younger writers remember their 
helpfulness with sincere gratitude. With all his contrib- 
utors, both known and unknown, he was something of a 
martinet, particularly in the matter of the pruning away of 
longueurs; but both classes soon came to trust his editorial 
acumen and literary craftsmanship. The books in which 
his correspondence was copied are fruitful reading for the 
magazine writer, professional or amateur. 

His own view of one important service of the Atlantic 
was expressed in a private letter, not hitherto quoted 
in print, to the writer of an historical sketch of the 
magazine, published in the Fortieth Anniversary num- 
ber, in 1897. " I am sorry that the Atlantic/' he wrote, 
" did not put in its claim to being the father of the short 
story. Of course there were excellent short stories be- 
fore the Atlantic was born — Poe's and Hawthorne's 
— but the magazine gave the short story a place which 
it had never before reached. It began with ' The Dia- 
mond Lens ' of Fitz- James O'Brien, and ended with — 
well, it has not ended yet." 

As a revisitant of his editorial haunts, Aldrich 
makes the following apparition in Professor Perry's 
"Park Street Papers": — 

For many years he had been wont to visit more or less 
regularly the editorial room which still claimed his name 
and fame as one of its treasured possessions. Perched 
upon the edge of a chair as if about to take flight, he would 
often linger by the hour, to the delight of his listeners. 
His caustic art played around every topic of conversation. 
He did not disdain the veriest " shop talk " concerning 
printers' errors and the literary fashions of the hour. 
" Look at those boys! " he exclaimed once, as he picked up 



THOMAS BAILEY ALDRIOH 87 

an illustrated periodical containing the portraits of a 
couple of tliat month's beardless novelists. " When I began 
to vrrite, we waited twenty years before we had our por- 
traits printed, but nowadays these young fellows have 
themselves photographed before they even sit down to 
write their book." Himself a fastidious composer and re- 
viser, Mr. Aldrich was severely critical of current maga- 
zine literature. " That was a well- written essay," he once 
said of an Atlantic contribution which he liked, " but you 
will find that he used a superfluous ' of ' upon the second 
page." ... More than once I have heard him declare that 
he would have rejected Mr. Kipling's " Recessional " if it 
had been offered to the Atlantic — so extreme was his dis- 
like for one or two harsh lines in that justly celebrated 
poem. The one American poem which he would have most 
liked to write, was, he said, Emerson's "Bacchus" — 
where, amid inimitable felicities, there are surely harsh 
lines enough. 

It was indeed, in the maintenance and reinforcement 
of the strictest literary traditions of the Atlantic — 
traditions both of workmanship and of spirit — that 
Aldrich rendered his peculiar service to the magazine. 
Not of the "reformer type" himself, like Lowell, "he 
cared no more," in the words of Professor Perry, " for 
the practical later phases of transcendentalism than 
for the earlier speculative ones " ; and he never lost " his 
engaging air of detachment from New England's cher- 
ished enterprises." Yet on occasion there could appear 
in his personal dealings a vigor quite foreign to the 
dilettante: witness, for example, the instance of the 
ill-regulated contributor who on receipt of a "declina- 
tion with thanks," retorted : " My robust nature abhors 
your disgusting duplicity. You are a vulgar unblush- 
ing Eascal and an impudent audacious Liar. . . . You 
ought to be publicly horsewhipped. Nothing would 



88 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

gratify me more than to give you a sounder thrashing 
than you have yet received." Aldrich preserved the 
letter, with a neatly penciled note thereon : " The gen- 
tleman with the 'robust nature' was politely invited 
to call at No. 4 Park Street on any day that week be- 
tween 9 A.M. and 3 p.m., but the 'robust nature' failed 
to materialize." If the meeting had taken place, Aldrich 
would certainly not have impaired the broad applicabil- 
ity of the lines which Dr. Henry Van Dyke addressed 
to him on his seventieth birthday : — 

You've done your work with careful, loving touch, — 

An artist to the very core of you, — 
You've learned the magic spell of " not too much " ; 

We read, — and wish that there was more of you. 

Aldrich was not an autobiographical person, nor was 
Scudder, who succeeded him in 1890 and held the editor- 
ship of the magazine — actively, until 1896, when Mr. 
Walter H. Page became associated with its conduct and 
assumed many of its labors ; nominally until 1898, when 
Mr. Page succeeded to the post both in fact and in name. 
For the present purpose it is unfortunate, moreover, 
that the fifth editor of the Atlantic has not been the 
theme, like all his predecessors, of biography and remi- 
niscence. There is no fund of written record concern- 
ing him or by him upon which to draw. This may be 
ascribed to the fact that he was primarily an editor — 
not primarily a poet, novelist, public figure, though, 
even as they who came before him, essentially a man of 
letters. He was, besides, an editor whose work, with 
an extraordinary unity of faithfulness, was done for a 
single publishing house, or, more strictly, for that suc- 
cession of firms from which in 1880 emerged the firm of 
Houghton, Mifflin & Company. 



HORACE ELISHA SCUDDER 89 

In the issuance of periodicals Scudder had served 
an early apprenticeship as editor of the Riverside 
Magazine for Young People, published by H. O. Hough- 
ton & Co. Well within the first decade of the Atlantic 
he appeared among its contributors both of verse and 
of fiction, each of a delicate quality presaging a keen 
perception of the dulce in writing, even after his pro- 
duction of the utile had come to engage all his own 
efforts. In later life he wrote to his friend, Henry M. 
Alden, of Harpers' Magazine, of a "former state of 
existence when we were poets " ; and said of the change 
that came to him : " I woke to find myself at the desk 
of a literary workman." From 1872 he made a three- 
years' experiment of membership in the Houghton firm, 
but dropped with relief the more commercial interests 
of publishing. The manufacture and sale of books con- 
cerned him less than the earlier processes of their 
making. 

One of his valuable labors in these younger days 
was to prepare, in 1876, the first comprehensive index 
of the Atlantic, covering its first twenty years. Oppo- 
site his own name, twenty-eight contributions are en- 
tered, chiefly reviews. The later indexes show this 
number vastly increased. His unacknowledged work 
for what he delighted to call " the house " was legion — 
voluminous and sympathetic long-hand correspondence 
with authors; deft and enlightening introductions to 
single volumes ; series of books planned and editorially 
executed, most notably, perhaps, that " Riverside Liter- 
ature Series" which embodied so effectively his cher- 
ished belief that the very best of reading was none too 
good for those whose taste was still in process of forma- 
tion. In this field of education he was indeed among 
the pioneers, A trustee of Williams College, of which 




HORACE ELISHA SCUDDER 

Fifth Eflitor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1890-1898 



HORACE ElilSHA SCUDDBR 91 

he was a graduate, he held the cause of education 
among his strongest personal interests, and seized 
every opportunity to forward it through all the means 
afforded by his connection with an influential publish- 
ing house and with the Atlantic. 

No less naturally, then, than Aldrich, did Scudder 
step into the editorship of the Atlantic. It was the 
best editorial position in the gift of his "house," and 
when it fell vacant, to whom but to Scudder, the most 
faithful and practised of editors, should it be offered? 

If the eight years of his editorship may be said to 
mark the climax of the magazine's identification with 
the firm which published it, this was more intrinsic than 
apparent in the pages of the Atlantic. They reflected, 
probably more than ever before, an editor's personal 
interest in education. Otherwise the magazine was 
much as it had been; for what Professor Perry has 
said of Aldrich's time was only a little less true of 
Scudder's ; " It was before the day of wild west feats 
of editorial chase, capture, and exhibition " ; and Scud- 
der, content, as some of his predecessors had been, to 
take chiefly, and gratefully, what came to him, left to 
his successors the full development of editorial initi- 
ative through invitation. 

The years of his editorship were none the less years of 
extraordinary industry. When he took charge of the At- 
lantic he did not drop his work as literary director of 
the firm's book-publishing enterprises, but only added 
the new to the old labors. An assistant recalls Scudder's 
coming to his desk on one of this "new hand's" first 
days in the editorial ofSce, and depositing thereon some 
ten or eleven volumes of a new edition of Thoreau, in 
page proofs, with a request for an index of the entire set. 
" I always like to keep some knitting-work of that kind 



92 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

on hand myself," said the indefatigable chief, as if in 
token of the standard of industry to which the members 
of his office family were expected to attain. What he 
looked for in others he demanded inexorably of himself. 
It was he, rather than any one of his editorial helpers, 
who sped out of the offlce late in the afternoon bearing a 
huge green-baize bag stuflfed with books and manuscripts, 
bespeaking more than knitting-work in the evening, and 
sped back with it at an early morning hour, ready for a 
long and cheerful day of work. Into its busy hours 
he could crowd the writing, the highly skillful and 
competent writing, of many of the " Comments on New 
Books " to which the later pages of the Atlantic were 
then devoted. There was always time for friendly con- 
sultations with contributors, for encouragement to 
promising beginners, for suggesting directions to be 
followed by more practised hands. In that variable 
fraction of an editor's work which consists of giving 
freely. of his time and thought to the writers who most 
need such help, Scudder was indeed a liberal giver. 
The essential goodness of the man, the true kindness 
of his heart, made him a friend dearly prized and re- 
membered by many. The Atlantic, from which he re- 
tired, a man of sixty years, in 1898, had given expres- 
sion, not only to the devoted nature of its editor, but 
also to the most distinctive inheritances of its two-score 
years. 



Scudder was the last of the Atlantic editors who be- 
longed, even as a younger contemporary, to the group 
of writers which dominated the magazine through its 
earlier years. With him an era in the history of the 
magazine may be said to hare come to an end. The 
full score of years since his retirement belongs essen- 
tially to our own day. As this is not the place for a 
contemporaneous history of the magazine, or for weigh- 
ing the work of men whose activities are, happily, stUl 
unfinished, it will sufQce in a few remaining pages to 
make a hasty survey of the personal forces which have 
directed the course of the magazine since 1896. 

In that year Mr. Walter Hines Page, whose services 
as United States Ambassador to Great Britain from 
1913 to 1918 have recently brought him to an honored 
central place on the stage of the world, began his asso- 
ciation with the Atlantic. A native of North Carolina, 
educated in the South, he represented even more than 
Mr. Howells, with his Ohio background, and Aldrich, on 
whom the influences of New Orleans and New York had 
made his New England birth seem almost an accident, 
the identification of the Atlantic with America rather 
than with any section of it. For five years before be- 
coming, in 1895, a literary adviser to the firm of Hough- 
ton, Mifflin & Co., he had been editor of the Forum in 
New York. A deep interest in national afifairs, finding 
its outlet both in this magazine and, from 1900 to 1913, 
in his editorship of the World's Work, gave a stronger 
color to the political aspect of the Atlantic than any 
previous editor had imparted to it. His term of service, 




From a paintlDg by Lazlo, by courtesy of Tlu ff^'orld's ff^ork 



WALTER HINES PAGE 

Sixth Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1898-1899 



BLISS PERRY 95 

the three years from 1896 to 1899, through two of which 
the titular editorship remaiued with Scudder, though 
absent for many months in Europe, was the shortest of 
all the editorships of the magazine — Lowell, with his 
four years, standing next in order of brevity. But, like 
all the editors who had preceded him, he left his clear 
individual imprint on its pages, the definite work of a 
powerful personality which had for its chief concern 
the problems of our national life. 

To him succeeded, in 1899, Professor Bliss Perry, a 
native of Western Massachusetts, educated at Williams 
College and German universities, a professor of Eng- 
lish at Princeton at the time his editorship began, the 
holder of a similar chair at Harvard before it ended. 
In him also was embodied a larger American interest 
than that which derives its special suffusion of tint 
from the dome of the State House in Boston. During 
the ten years of his editorship, the interest of letters 
received the emphasis which might have been expected ; 
but it seems more than fortuitous that the first honor- 
ary doctorate conferred upon him was that of L.H.D., 
for the "more humane letters" were surely his chief 
concern as editor. 

A later historian of the Atlantic will be sure to draw 
freely upon the volume of "Park Street Papers," in 
which Professor Perry has brought together the "Pro- 
logues" with which he made it his custom, as "toast- 
master" at the Atlantic's board, to open, in January 
numbers of the magazine, the annual feast for which 
he was responsible. Here a single fragment wUl serve 
the twofold purpose of illustrating Professor Perry's 
conception of his task and of the place for such a peri- 
odical as the Atlantic in American life : — 




BLISS PERRY 

Seventh Editor of the Atlantic Monthly 

1899-1909 



THE LAST TEN TEARS 97 

If the Atlantic Monthly were a repository; if it confined 
itself to tte discussion of Eoman antiquities, or the son- 
nets of Wordsworth, or the planting of the colony of Mas- 
sachusetts Bay, no one but the specialists would concern 
themselves with the opinions expressed in its pages. But 
it happens to be particularly interested in this present 
world; curious about the actual conditions of politics and 
society, of science and commerce, of art and literature. 
Above all, it is engrossed with the lives of the men and 
women who are maMng America what it is and is to be. 

With notable success Professor Perry gave ten years 
to the realization of this humanistic ideal. If it has 
seemed unsuitable to deal in detail with the achieve- 
ments of recent editors, it would be even less possible 
in these pages to recount and appraise the work of the 
present management of the magazine, A few facts, 
however, should be given. 

In the summer of 1908, when Professor Perry was 
planning to free himself from editorial responsibilities, 
it happened that the publishers of the magazine were 
facing the problems of a general rearrangement of 
their business organization. At that moment an oppor- 
tunity to part with the Atlantic on terms assuring the 
continuance of its historic place in American life pre- 
sented itself. Mr. EUery Sedgwick, then of New York, 
where he had given himself a rigorous training in the 
editing and publishing of periodicals, proposed to estab- 
lish the Atlantic Monthly Company, under his presi- 
dency, and to acquire the magazine, to be conducted 
under his editorship, with Mr. MacGregor Jenkins, long 
associated with the magazine in the office of Houghton, 
Mifflin & Company, as publisher. This offer was ac- 
cepted, and in August, 1908, the Atlantic began to ap- 
pear under the new auspices. For the first time since 



98 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

the days of James T. Fields the editor was directly con- 
cerned with the publishing success of the magazine. As 
it found favor with a larger and larger public, the 
business of the company responsible for it expanded, 
by the acquisition of two other periodicals, — first the 
House Beautiful, then the Living Age, established by 
E. Littell in 1844, — and also through the publication 
of books bearing the imprint of the Atlantic Monthly 
Press. Thus the magazine has come to stand at the 
centre instead of the circumference of the circle of 
interests with which it is associated. 

In the summer of 1918, the new company celebrated 
its tenth anniversary with a dinner, which differed from 
the old Atlantic feasts chiefly through the absence of 
all contributors and the presence of all the men and 
women, employers and employed, more than fifty in 
number, who are actively engaged in the daily work of 
the corporation. Certain things may be said under 
cover of rhyme which are inappropriate to matter-of- 
fact prose. It may, therefore, be permitted to print the 
following verses which were read on that occasion : — 



AN ATLANTIC PORT 

No harborside of mystery, where silent troops set sail, 

No secret haven for the saved along the TJ-boat's trail — 

A happier roadstead this, wherein are sunk all doubts and fears, 

The safe Atlantic anchorage — the Port of Ten New Years ! 

The good ship bears an ocean's name — the ocean on whose breast 
Our fathers, brave adventurers all, fared forth into the west — 
Across whose leagues our flower of gallant youth now eastward 

fare. 
Beneath the flag of human-kind a comrade's part to bear. 



THE LAST TEN YEARS 99 

Like to the sea itself the ship, with healing on its wings, 
Fresh spirit to the wearied, fresh hope and courage, brings ; 
Tet bounded by no shore it sails — o'er city, hill and plain. 
Borne on an ever-rising tide — a new Atlantic main ! 

FuU fifty years its argosies sailed monthly forth in pride — 
The spoils of all our Samarcands bulging the vessel's side; 
Tet sails were growing obsolete, far lands lay unexplored, 
Fresh voyages beckoned when a new young captain stepped on 
board. 

The rivets all he tightened, to sail-power added steam. 
Installed new turbine engines, extended length and beam. 
Signed year by year a growing crew — mates, seamen, yeomen, 

brave — 
Teowomen, too ! — and sailed, yeo-ho ! out on the rolling wave ! 

Letters of marque the ship bore none ; yet prizes struck their 



Calling, " We'd sail with you before our banners are in rags !" — 
Strange caravels, and quaintly named, as from some mythic 

age— 
The "Houseboat Beautiful" came first, and then the "Living 

Wage ! " 

So grows the squadron, one by one, with small boats, shaped 

like books. 
Swarming about, with lines austere, or gallant, or de luxe! 
So may it great and greater grow, while landsmen swell their 

cheers 
For captain, mates, and crew, moored now in the Port of Ten 

New Years I 

A final word must be said to link together the At- 
lantic of the present and of the past. The magazine 
defined itself at the very beginning as "Devoted to 
Literature, Art and Polities." That devotion, embrac- 
ing the " Science " which for some time was interpolated 
between "Literature" and "Art," has remained una- 



100 THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 

bated through all the changes and chances of more than 
sixty years. The magazine has never called itself a 
mirror, but that is what it has always been, or tried to 
be — a mirror reflecting whatever has most vitally con- 
cerned the life of the nation and its thinking citizens 
through six eventful decades. In the first of these a 
great war cast its shadow across the face of America. 
The shadow, and many glorious lights which it caused 
to stand out but the more clearly, were reflected in the 
Atlantic's mirror. In the sixth decade another and a 
vastly fiercer war has darkened the face of all the 
world. The reflection of it in a great variety of its 
infinitely complex phases has been precisely as char- 
acteristic of the Atlantic to-day as the poems and war 
papers of the sixties were characteristic of the maga- 
zine in that period. It is an utterly different world in 
which we have come to live, and the paths of many 
of its quests lead into new and different fields ; but the 
men and women who inhabit it have much in common 
with the essential nature of their grandfathers and 
grandmothers. Clothes and houses, means of communi- 
cation and transportation, external trappings of every 
kind, have changed in a thousand ways. The physical 
form and spiritual content of the Atlantic have been 
modified rather than altered to meet the demands of a 
new day. Like the hearts and minds which are the best 
possession of our country, the magazine has truly rep- 
resented one of the constant elements in the life of the 
nation. 

An incident of the past summer is significant. A 
friend of the Atlantic was traveling from Chicago to 
New York on the Twentieth Century Limited. The 
smoking-car in which he sat contained perhaps a dozen 
men reading magazines. The most distinguished of them 



THE LAST TEN YEARS 101 

in outward appearance — perhaps the president of a 
hank, thought the observer, if not of a university — ^was 
deep in the perusal of Snappy Stories. Another man, 
of rat-like mien, buried himself in the Wall Street 
Journal. All the other ten were reading the Atlantic. 
One of them interrupted himself from time to time by 
drawing pencil lines around certain passages. The 
Atlantic's friend had the curiosity to stroll down the 
aisle, and let his eye fall upon one of the marked pages. 
The title above it was "Religion in War-Time." 

It has never been other than a pitiable mistake to 
believe that the best of Americans are indifferent to 
the issues of life and death. They do not ask, or wish, 
constantly to be confronted with them, stark and soli- 
tary ; there is ample room in their scheme of things for 
the humors and graces of living. But one likes to think 
of the reader of " Religion in War-Time" — also of the 
other nine. These wayfaring Americans, typical of 
many thousands of their countrymen, now stand on the 
threshold of a new era. Peace succeeds to war, the 
processes of reconstruction must follow those of disrup- 
tion. Men and women of open mind and heart, ready 
for every effort to seize upon what is best in the fateful 
future, face it with a confidence in which the Atlantic 
shares. 




Entrance to present office! 
41 Mt. Vernon Street 



THE TWENTY-ONE TITLES INCLUDED IN THIS LIST SEEM 
ASSURED, BY UNIVEBSAL CONSENT, OF A PERMA- 
NENT PLACE IN LITERATURE. 

Aldrich — Marjorie Daw {January, 1873). 
Browning — Prospice {May, 1864). 
Clemens ^Old Times on the Mississippi {January- 
June, August, 1875). 
Emerson — Days {November, 1857). 
Hale — The Man without a Country {November, 1863). 
Harte — How Santa Claus came to Simpson's Bar 

{March 1872). 
Holmes — The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (in- 
cluding "The Chambered Nautilus" and 
"The Wonderful One Hoss Shay.") {No- 
vember, 1857- October, 1858). 
Mrs. Howe — The Battle Hymn of the Republic {Feb- 
ruary, 1862) 
HowELLS — The Lady of the Aroostook {November, 

1878- March, 1879). 
H. James, Jr. — Daisy Miller {April-June, 1883). 
W. James — Talks to Teachers on Psychology {Febru- 
ary-May, 1899). 
Miss Jewett — The Country of the Pointed Firs {Jan- 
uary, March, July, September, 1896). 
Kipling —The Disturber of Traffic {September, 1891). 
Longfellow —The Children's Hour {September, 1860). 

Paul Revere's Ride {January, 1861). 
Lowell — Commemoration Ode {September, 1865). 

Biglow Papers {January- June, 1862; Feb- 
ruary, 1863; April, 1865; May, 1866). 
Moody — Ode in Time of Hesitation {April, 1900). 
Parkman — Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham {Septem- 
ber, 1884). 
Sill —A Fool's Prayer {April, 1879). 
'Whittier —Barbara Frietchie {October, 1863). 



INDEX 



AujEN, Henry M., 89. 

AiDRicH, Thomas Bailet, fourth 
editor, editor of Every Saturday, 
62, 79; relations with Lowell and 
Fields as editors 77, 78; succeeds 
Howells, 81; as editor, Miss 
Francis, Howells, and Greenslet 
quoted concerning, 83, 84; as a 
revisitant of the etUtorial haimts 
86; 55, 69, 72, 93. 

Anthony, Mr. 55. 

Apthorp, W. P., 70. 

Atlantic Club, memorable meet- 
ing of, described by T. W. Hig- 
ginson, iOff. 

Atlantic Monthly, foundation of 
13 Jf.; named by Holmes, 18, 19; 
contributors to fiist number, 24, 
85, 26; anonymity of authors in, 
25, 26, abandoned, 26; a success 
from the start, 26; its aims and 
policy, 26-28; sold to Ticknor & 
Fields, 33-35; in the Civil War, 
46jf . ; in the Franco-Prussian and 
Spanish wars, 49; the "True 
Story of Lady Byron's Life," and 
its effect, 49-51 ; successive own- 
ers of, 51, 52; its home on Tre- 
mont St., 52 Jf.; original music 
printed in, 70; origin of the "Con- 
tributors' Club," 71; "the best 
edited magazine in the English 
language, 85; and the short 
story, 86; the present and the 
past, 99-101. 

Atlantic Monthly Company, 51, 
97. 

Atlantic Monthly Press, 98. 

"Atlantic Port, An," 98. 

Barrett, Lawrence, 69. 
Beecher, Henry Ward, 31. 
Boston Fire, 57. 
Boott, Francis, 70. 
Brown, John, 46. 

Browning, Robert, his "Prospice," 
47. 



Buck, Dudley, 70. 
Byron, George Gordon, Lord, 49. 
Byron, Lady, the "True Story" of 
her life, 49-51. 

Cabot, James Elliot, 13, 15. 

Civil War, the, and the Atlantic, 
45 #. 

Clafliu, William, 72. 

Clemens, Samuel L., his first con- 
tribution to the Atlantic, 67; his 
famous speech at the Whittier 
dinner, 73-75. 

Clough, Arthur Hugh, 26, 45. 
Contributors' Club, founded by 

Howells, 71. 
Craddock, Charles Egbert. See 

Murfree, Mary N. 
Crawford, F. Marion, 85. 
Curtis, George William, quoted, 

40. 

Dinner-parties, and the early his- 
tory of the Atlantic, 19 Jf.; re- 
viewed in later years, 72. 

Dodge, Mary A., A Battle of the 
Books, quoted, 58. 

Eichberg, Julius, 70. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, contrib- 
utes to first number, 24 ; his poem, 
"Days," 25; quoted, on the prac- 
tice of anonymity, 25; his article, 
"Books," criticized, 30; his "The 
President's Proclamation," 45, 
and "Voluntaries," 47; his Bac- 
chus," 87; 13, 15, 55, 63, 73, 74. 

Every Saturday, 52, 79, 80. 

Felton, Cornelius C, 28. 

Fielding, Henry, his Tom Jones, 24. 

Fields, Jajmes T., second editor, 
succeeds Lowell, 34, 37; as a 
publisher, 39, 40, 41; as editor, 
T. W. Higginson quoted, con- 
cerning, 42-45; his Yesterdays 



104 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 



ivith Authors, quoted, 46; Miss 
Francis, quoted, concerning, 52 
#.; retires, 59; 62, 63, 64, 67, 77, 
79, 80, 98. 

Fields, Osgood & Co., 60, 51. 

Fiske, John, 39, 85. 

Fontarive's restaurant, 19. 

Francis, Susan M., "The Atlantic's 
Pleasant Days in Tremont 
Street," quoted, 51-67; quoted, 
on Aldrich as editor, 83; 67. 

Gilman, Arthur, "Atlantic Dinners 
and Diners," quoted, 18, 72. 

Godwin, Parke,contributes to first 
number, 24; 27, 45. 

Greenslet, Ferris, his Thomas Bai- 
ley Aldrich, quoted, 77, 80,81, 
82, 83. 

Hale, Edward Everett, his James 
Russell Lowell and his Friends, 
quoted, 13; "The Man without 
a Country," 46. 

Haniilton,Gail. See Dodge, Mary 
A. 

Hardy, Arthur S., 85. 

Hardy, Thomas, 85. 

Harper & Brother, 35. 

Harpers' Monthly, 26. 40. 

Harte, Bret, and the Atlantic, 67. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, "Chiefly 
about War Matters," 46; 62, 86. 

Higginson, T. W., his Cheerful Yes- 
terdays, quoted, 20 jf. 27, 42. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, engaged 
as "first contributor," 18; names 
the magazine, 18, 19; at the 
Atlantic Club dinner, 20^.; his 
"Autocrat" in the first number, 
24,25; the "Autocrat" and "Pro- 
fessor" and the religious press, 
29-31; "My Hunt tor the Cap- 
tain," 46; dinner in honor of his 
70th birthday, 72; 13, 15, 80, 
54, 65, 61, 62, 69, 73, 74, 86. 



Hosmer, James K., "The Giant in 
the Spiked Helmet," 49. 

Houghton, H. O., & Co., 51, 72. 

Houghton, MiflBin & Co., 51, 57, 
88, 93, 97. 

Houghton, Osgood & Co., 51. 

House Beautiful, The, 98. 

Howe, Julia Ward, "The Battle- 
Hymn of the Republic," 47. 

HowELiiS, WiLUAM Dean, third 
editor, assistant editor, 52, 65, 
64; succeeds Fields, 59; his lAt- 
erary Friends and Acquaintance, 
quoted, 61, 63, 64; "Recollec- 
tions of an Atlantic Editorship," 
quoted, 65, 66, 84; quoted, on 
Henry James and Miss Jewett, 
68; prints original music in the 
Allantic,10,1\ ; starts the"Club," 
71; his My Mark Twain, quoted, 
73 75; quoted, on Aldrich, 80, 
and Osgood, 80; 93. 

Hurd & Houghton, 61, 57. 

Independent, The, quoted, on 
Holmes, 31. 

Jackson, Helen Hunt, 85. 
James, Henry, 68, 86. 
Jenkins, MacGregor, 97. 
Jewett, J. P. & Co., Underwood's 

negotiations with, 16; failure of, 

17. 
Jewett, Sarah Orne, 68, 85. 

Kipling, Rudyard, 87. 
Knickerbocker, The, 26. 
Knight, Edward H., 70. 

Lathrop, George P., 70, 83. 
Lewis, Dio, 70. 

Living Age, The, 98. 

Longfellow, Henry W., his Journal, 
quoted, 13, 19; contributes to 
first number, 24; "Cumberland" 
and "Killed at the Ford," 47; 15, 
20, 55, 73, 74, 85. 



INDEX 



105 



Lowell, James Russell, jffrri edi- Paine JoIm£. 70. 
tor, his selection due to Under- u i 'csi x -Jr' i a^i i- a: 
wood, 17; his qualifications, 17, ^^""K^*"!?' ^°- *' ^^'^''^''^ "^"^ 
18; contributes to first number, * > • 
24, 26; his painstaking criticism, Parkman, Francis, 86. 
25; as editor, 28 Jf.; his helpful Pbrht, Bliss, seventh editor, his 
dealings with contributors, 29, "Park Street Papers," quoted, 
30; resigns, 33, 34, 36, 37; "Wash- 
ers of the Shroud," 47; "Biglow 
Papers, Second Series," 47; 
Commemoration Ode," 47; and 
Howells, 61, 62, 63, 64; his last 
contribution, 82; 13, 16, 46, 65, 
77, 79, 86. 

Merwin, Henry C, his Life of Bret 

Harte, quoted, 67. 
Mitchell, Donald G., quoted, 46; 

59. 

Motley, John Lothrop, contri- 
butes to first number, 24; 13, 16, 
19, 25, 30. 

Murfree, Mary N., anecdote of, 
69; 86. 

Music, original, printed in Atlantic, 
70, 71. 



16, 79, 81, 86, 87, 91, 97; as 
editor, 95, 97. 

Phillips, Moses D., describes the 
dinner party at which the At- 
lantic was founded, 13, 15; his 
death, 33. 

Phillips, Sampson & Co., first pub- 
lishers of the Atlantic, 16, 17, 33, 
60. 

Pickard, Samuel T., his Life of 
Whittier, quoted, 19. 

Poe, Edgar A., 86. 

Porter's Tavern, 19, 20. 

Prescott, Harriet (Mrs. Spofford), 
at the Atlantic Club Dinner, 21 
#■ 

Preston, Harriet Waters, 86. 

Putnam's Magazine, 26. 



Quincy, Edmund, "Where will it 
End?" 45; 19, 23. 

Beligious Press, The, and Dr. 

Holmes, 30, 31. 
Rice, Alexander H., 34, 36. 



"Native Writers," and the early 
Atlantics, 27, 28. 

New England group, The, 16, 27, 

28, 68. 
New England Magazine, The, iS. 
New Englander, The, 69. 
Nightingale, Florence, 24. 
Norton, Charles Eliot, contrib- ^(aurday Press, The,J9. 

utes to first number, 24; quoted, ~ " — • 

33, 45; 26. 
O'Brien, Fitz-James, 86. 
Old Comer Bookstore, 39-41. 
Oliphant, M. O. W., 85. 
Osgood, George L., 70. 
Osgood, James R., Howells on, 80; 

55. 
Osgood, James R. & Co., 51, 57, 67. 



Page, Walter H., sixth editor, 93, 
96. 



ScuDDEK, Horace E., fifth editor, 
his James Russell Lowell, quoted, 
29, 36; as editor, 88-92; 85, 96. 

Sedqwick, Ellert, eighth editor, 
97. 

Sill, Edmund R., 86. 

Spofford, Harriet Prescott. See 
Prescott, Harriet. 

Springfield Republican, The, 26. 

Stedman, Edmund C, 70. 

Story, William W., 70. 

Stowe, Calvin L., 23, 24. 



106 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY 



Stowe, Harriet Beecher, her rela- 
tions with the firms of Jewett 
and Phillips, Sampson & Co.; 
16, 17; influences Phillips in 
favor of the new enterprise; 17; 
at the Atlantic Club dinner, 21- 
24; contributes to first number, 
24, 25; "The True Story of Lady 
Byron's Lite,"49-51; dinner in 
honor of her 71st birthday, 72. 

Tarbox, Increase N., "Old Connec- 
ticut vs. the Atlantic Mcmihly," 
quoted, 59. 

Taylor, Bayard, 56, 64. 

Thaxter, Celia, 70. 

Ticknor, William D., 34, 35. 

Ticknor & Fields, purchase of the 
Atlantic by, 33-35; 60, 61. 

Trowbridge, John T., quoted, 18, 
29; contributes to first number, 
2425; 

Twain, Mark. See Clemens, Sam- 
uel L. 



Underwood, Frances H., ("The 
Editor who was never the Edi- 
tor"), the fans et origo of the 
foundation of the Atlantic, 16, 
17; responsible for selection of 
Lowell as editor, 17; becomes as- 
sistant editor, 17; quoted, on the 
aims of the magazine, 26, 27; 20, 
21, 33. 

Van Dyke, Henry, verses of, 88. 

Warner, Charles Dudley, 75. 

Whipple, Edwin Percy; 15. 

White, Richard Grant, 85. 

Whittier, John G., contributes to 
first number, 24, 25; "Barbara 
Frietchie," 47; dinner in honor 
of his 70th bui,hday, 72, 73#.; 
23, 66, 68, 70, 86. 

Winthrop Square, 57. 

Woodberry, George E., 85. 

Wyman, John C, 21, 23. 



McGrath-Sherrill Prets, Boston