REVIEW POTPOURRI – Poet: Grenville Mellen; Singer: Connie Francis

Connie Francis

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Grenville Mellen

Biddeford poet Grenville Mellen (June 19, 1799- September 5, 1841) was the son of Prentiss Mellen (1764-1840), Maine’s first Chief Justice of its Supreme Court from 1820 to 1834. The son was admitted to the bar after reading law with his father, got married and settled in North Yarmouth, setting up his practice there in 1825. Within three years, his wife and only child died and his own health and will to live deteriorated during the remaining 13 years of his life, but he did eke out an already beginning literary career with poems, sketches and essays on a mostly free lance basis.

Grenville Mellen

Finally, out of desperation, he traveled to Cuba for his last summer, hoping the change of scene would improve his health. The trip didn’t help and he returned to New York where he died that fall.

The poems contained in the 1854 anthology, Native Poets of Maine, are somewhat overblown but they do contain lines that resonate. I quote the last of four stanzas in his Mount Washington:

Mount of the clouds! When winter round thee throws
The hoary mantle of the dying year,
Sublime amid thy canopy of snows,
Thy towers in bright magnificence appear!
‘Tis then we view thee with a chilling fear,
Till summer robes thee in her tints of blue;
When, lo! In soften’d grandeur, far, yet clear,
Thy battlements stand clothed in harmonious hue,
To swell as Freedom’s home on man’s unclouded view.

Being over 6,000 feet in the air and with its wondrous vistas, ferocious winds and bestial wintry weather, Mount Washington remains “sublime amid thy canopy of snows” and, during warmer months,”clothed in harmonious hue.”

Connie Francis

Among My Souvenirs;
God Bless America
MGM, K 12481, seven-inch 45 record, 1959 hit.

Now 82, singer Connie Francis wrote her autobiography in 2017, titled Among My Souvenirs, a song originally written in 1927, and a number one hit then for Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra, for Connie in 1959 and the last one for Marty Robbins in 1976. At her peak from 1958 to the late ‘60s, Connie Francis sang with such unique heart and soul; I still remember watching her sing Who’s Sorry Now in 1958 on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and exuding charisma.

The flip side, God Bless America, was sung, for once, with beauty, nice sentiment and savvy intelligence in Ray Ellis’s very good arrangement (he worked a similar miracle for Johnny Mathis’s A Certain Smile the same 1959 year.). All in all, a very good 45 record.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Conductor: Felix Weingartner & Guido Cantelli

Guido Cantelli

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Felix Weingartner

Felix Weingartner

Felix Weingartner (1863-1942) was the first conductor to record all nine Beethoven Symphonies, and the four Brahms. He was friends with Liszt, Wagner and Brahms; was music director of the Vienna Philharmonic for over 20 years; composed large amounts of his own music; and taught and wrote about conducting and other musical and non-musical subjects, having a special interest in astrology, the occult and theater. He guest-conducted extensively to the U.S., Soviet Russia and Japan. Finally, he was married five times.

His most distinctive quality as a conductor was the naturalness of it; one felt as though he/she were hearing music as the composer wished it to be heard. I recently listened to a re-issued LP of his very good 1938 London Philharmonic performance of the Brahms 3rd Symphony, a piece that I recommend as the best one of the four for listeners experiencing Brahms for the first time. And this recording and sizable numbers of the others can be heard on YouTube.

Guido Cantelli

Guido Cantelli (1920-1956) was drafted into the Italian army, when it was forced to fight alongside the Germans against the allies during World War II. He refused to, out of a matter of conscience, and thrown into a labor camp; by pretending to be sick, he managed to escape and worked as a bank teller with forged papers until the war’s end.
Having already showing incredible promise before as a pianist – he was in a jazz combo for a while – and a conductor, he started again doing concerts and opera at various Italian venues, such as the La Scala Opera House in Milan, where Arturo Toscanini spotted the young man and was so impressed that he took him under his wing like a long-lost son and gave him concerts and recording dates in New York with the NBC Symphony.

As a conductor, he had a phenomenally high level of inspiration, passion, elegance and precision, much like Toscanini, Reiner and Szell and yet had his own individuality in terms of an ear for the most wondrous hidden sonorities in whatever piece he was interpreting. I am now listening to a superb 1954 recording of Debussy’s La Mer, a piece in three sections that evokes the movements of the sea. It can be accessed on YouTube by budget-minded music lovers who are not collectors, unlike me.

On November 24, 1956, just one week after he was appointed music director at La Scala, Guido Cantelli was killed in a plane crash just after taking off from Paris’s Orly Airport on his way to New York to conduct the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. He was only 36 and left behind a wife and baby son. The 89-year-old Toscanini was never told of his death and passed away of a stroke on January 16, 1957, less than two months later.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Soprano: Licia Albanese; Poet: Alice Christiana Meynell

Licia Albanese

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Soprano: Licia Albanese

Parnassus recordings, PAR 1001, lp reissue of 78s and live arias recorded from 1936-46.

Licia Albanese (1909-2014) had one of the most magnificently beautiful soprano voices ever to be heard on record and I say this as a big fan of Maria Callas, Angela Gheorghiu, Mirella Freni, Victoria de los Angeles yada yada. This LP gathered a number of 78s she recorded for the Italian label, La Voce Del Padrone, between 1936 and 1940, the latter year being when she made her debut at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera and became a regular for 26 years; the program of 13 selections also contained three live radio appearances during World War II and encompassed Neapolitan songs and operatic arias from Bizet’s Carmen, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. And every selection is a gem.

But instead of trying to use my own words in describing these gems, I will provide what the annotator for this album wrote:

“Magic is a mysterious thing, and there was no mystery about Licia Albanese’s greatness. She was perpetually engaged in a quest for beauty in opera, and she sang with beautiful tone and beautiful art. To Albanese, every movement and every sound was meant to express the character she was portraying-but never at the expense of beauty. She was a beautiful woman and opera at the Metropolitan during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s was more beautiful because of her.”

Her most famous role was Cio Cio San in Madame Butterfly, which she sang more than 300 times. A lot of her singing, along with interviews, can be accessed on YouTube.

Poet: Alice Christiana Meynell

Alice Christiana Meynell

Victorian poet Alice Christiana Meynell (1847-1922) was a devout Catholic and feminist and actively campaigned for women’s rights and against poverty and cruelty to animals. She is little read today, which is an unfortunate omission. I offer her very eloquent, powerful poem, The Lady Poverty, published in 1895:

The Lady Poverty was fair;
But she has lost her looks of late,
With change of times and change of air.
Ah, slattern! she neglects her hair,
Her gown, her shoes; she keeps no state
As once when her pure feet were bare.

Or — almost worse, if worse can be —
She scolds in parlors, dusts and trims,
Watches and counts. Oh, is this she
Whom Francis met, whose step was free,
Who with Obedience caroled hymns,
In Umbria walked with Chastity?

Where is her ladyhood? Not here,
Not among modern kinds of men;
But in the stony fields, where clear
Through the thin trees the skies appear,
In delicate spare soil and fen,
And slender landscape and austere.

What resonates so much is this poet’s sense of anger and heartbreak and how beauty, truth, honor and justice are so elusive in this world. Things do not seem to have changed much in the 125 years since this poem was published.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: American Country Classics & Henry Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

American Country Classics

A Columbia Musical Treasury
6P 7157, six LPs, released 1980.

Columbia Musical Treasury was an offshoot of the Columbia Record Club, later known as Columbia House, and it released numerous, moderately-priced record sets of best-selling artists, such as Percy Faith, Dionne Warwick, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or musical genres like classical, easy listening, gospel, big band and country and western, the last category fitting the above title in a truly authentic manner.

American Country Classics contains 60 selections that span from Roy Acuff’s 1936 hit, Wabash Cannonball to harmonica virtuoso Charlie McCoy’s 1972 Orange Blossom Special (McCoy is the only one of all the contributing artists still living, at 79.). It includes the Carter Family’s Wildwood Flower, Red Foley’s Old Shep, Hank Thompson’s Wild Side of Life, with Kitty Wells’s rebuttal, It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, Margaret Whiting’s and Jimmy Wakely’s Slipping Around, and Jean Shepherd’s A Satisfied Mind.

There are several gems that may have been hits in their day but I was hearing them for the first time. The lesser known covers of certain classic songs stick out: Bob Atcher’s I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, Jenny Lou Carson’s Jealous Heart, the Pinetoppers Mockin’ Bird Hill, and Slim Whitman’s Indian Love Call, which is light years different from Nelson Eddy and Jeannette Macdonald’s old Victor 78. And selected first timers such as the Flatt and Scruggs Cabin on the Hill, Merle Travis’s So Round So Firm So Fully Packed, and Carson J. Robison’s Life Just Gets Tee-Jus, Don’t It? worked their spell.

This collection and the Smithsonian one of Classic Country Recordings both filled huge gaps in documenting an important musical legacy of our nation’s history.

Country legend Hank Williams (1923-1953) made an astute comment about Roy Acuff (1903-1992), whom Williams and many others considered the father of country music, during a 1952 interview: “He’s the biggest singer this music ever knew. You booked him and you didn’t worry about crowds. For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God.”

* * * * * * * * ** *

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), of Walden fame, wrote the following passage about his hike through the Maine wilderness during the 1840s:

“Perhaps I most fully realized that this was primeval, untamed, and forever untamable ‘Nature’, or whatever else men called it, while coming down this part of the mountain. We were passing over ‘Burnt Lands,’ burnt by lightning, perchance, though they showed no recent marks of fire, hardly so much as a charred stump ……When I reflected what man, what brother or sister or kinsman of our race made it and claimed it, I expected the proprietor to rise up and dispute my passage. It is difficult to conceive of a region uninhabited by man. We habitually presume his presence and influence everywhere. And yet we have not seen pure Nature, unless we have seen her thus vast and drear and unhuman, though in the midst of cities. Nature was here something savage and awful, though beautiful. I looked with awe at the ground I trod on, to see what the Powers had made there…. This was that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night…..Man was not to be associated with it. It was Matter, vast, terrific- not this Mother Earth that we have heard of.”

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Beethoven’s Symphony #7

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Symphony # 7
Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra; Columbia, M-557, five 12- inch 78s, Recorded 1944.

Eugene Ormandy

Back during the 78 rpm days, lasting the first half of the 20th century, the record sides were three to five minutes in duration; when longer classical works were recorded, the scores were marked at certain notes to indicate when a red light in the studio would go off overhead, signalling everybody to stop. These limitations created a hectic rushed tension in trying to meet the deadline.

Thus, when the long playing records were released to the public in 1948 with 20 to 30 minutes of playing time, conductors and players could relax more. And performance practices were influenced by recording technology as much as musical considerations.

Eugene Ormandy commented on these pressures during an interview in the late ‘60s. He often felt inhibited by the limited time of conducting for the shorter 78 record sides and welcomed the LP days because he said he and the players could really let themselves go as musicians with longer takes.

Interestingly, after listening for decades to Ormandy’s recordings, I have found that a number of earlier 78 sets of certain works he re-recorded later had more of an uninhibited excitement than the later stereo ones. A case in point is the Beethoven Seventh Symphony from 1944 and his 1966 one from 18 years after the LP era began.

The Symphony itself is a masterpiece in its dance rhythms and wonderful beauty in each of the four movements. The opening movement has two distinct sections – the beginning Poco Sostenuto with its grand procession of leisurely pacing and the sprightly intense Vivace building to one of the greatest musical crescendos in all of Beethoven’s writing.

The second movement Allegretto is akin to a sweet embracing waltz of elegance in the writing for strings.

The third movement Presto has rambunctious, slam bang high spirits while the final fourth movement Allegro con brio is fast moving, headstrong jubilation at a genius level.

Ormandy gave a performance on these old 78s that might be seen as driven and hectic in places but he conveyed joy and conviction in every note and bar.

This performance can also be heard on YouTube and is an enriching listening experience, highly recommended.

Footnote: the individual who wrote program notes for this Symphony’s first performance in December 1813, commented that Beethoven was depicting a social revolution in the music itself and was verbally murdered by the composer for misreading its meaning.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Edwin Arlington Robinson

E. A. Robinson

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Towards the end of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s two years at Harvard (ones during which he took several literature courses, enjoyed them thoroughly and was happy to get Bs with no ambition for higher grades at all), the poet wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek June 21, 1893, letter to his friend, Harry Smith : “I suppose this is the last letter I shall ever write you from Harvard. The thought seems a little queer but it cannot be otherwise. I try to imagine the state my mind would be in had I never come here but I cannot. I feel that I have got comparatively little from my two years but still more than I could get in Gardiner if I lived a century.”

Robinson regarded his childhood in Gardiner, Maine, as, at best, hellish boredom and emotional deprivation but, because, his father had died the previous year, he felt it was no longer feasible to attend Harvard and instead returned to the family homestead, trying unsuccessfully to be a farmer, and working on his writing.

However, in 1896, he moved to New York City, lived as a gentleman pauper, developed his creativity further while cultivating literary and artistic friendships, and paid for the publication of his first book, which sold very few copies. After a few more years of struggle, he completed a second volume which was better received by the public and read by President Theodore Roosevelt who liked it, and gave Robinson a position in the New York State Customs Office, with a salary of $2,000 a year and minimal responsibility so he could concentrate on his writing .

Robinson slowly but surely achieved fame, won three Pulitzer Prizes for literature and was the consummate gentleman to women, who fell in love with him but were warmly rebuffed for their efforts. He remained a confirmed bachelor until his death, at 65, from cancer in 1935.

A much read favorite poem of mine is Mr. Flood’s Party, a heart-rending depiction of loneliness during which an old man is getting drunk, possibly on New Year’s Eve, at his farm a few miles from the village where he has lived all his life; all those dear to him have died and the current crop of citizens do not acknowledge his existence.

He is partying with himself for company:

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

‘Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird.’ He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: ‘Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will.’

Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland’s ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben’s eyes were dim.

The remaining four stanzas can be read here.

Another writer who lived in Gardiner, Laura E. Richards (1850-1943) was a very close friend of Robinson’s, as was the American artist, Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones (1885-1968), who may have been the poet’s closest woman friend during his last 15 years and did paintings commemorating his memory.

A Robinson quote: “Life is the game that must be played.”

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Sculptor: Camille Claudel

One of Camille Claudel sculptures.

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Camille Claudel (1864-1943)

Camille Claudel

Camille Claudel did a bust of her younger brother, the poet, essayist and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955), when he was only 16 in 1884. One is captivated by the exceptionally vivid expressive lines in her brother’s face, the emotional vulnerability she brought out in bronze and the labor of affection she poured from her heart and soul in her tribute to him, a love that was betrayed by his treacherous institutionalizing of her in a psychiatric hospital in France from 1913 to her death, at 79, in 1943, with the full support of their mother and younger sister.

Camille was drawn to the artistic possibilities of soil, rock and clay at an early age, while the often bleak landscape of the northern France region of Villeneuve-sur-Fere, where her family spent several summers, appealed to her aesthetic and emotional sensibility, one that bore fruit in her art as evidenced in the 90 sculptures, drawings and sketches of her legacy that can be seen in museums listed in her Wiki biography.

Camille Claudel bust of her brother, Paul.

She became a student of sculptor, Alfred Boucher (1850-1934), while living in Paris, and then Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) with whom she had a very passionate relationship of almost 20 years before he abruptly terminated it; some believe he resented her own work, feeling threatened by her rivalry.

Camille met English sculptor Jessie Lipscomb (1861-1952) and rented a workshop with her for several years and two other women sculptors, one of them having access to a foundry her family owned.

Although Camille did have an emotional breakdown during her 40s, the previously mentioned incarceration of her by her family was believed to have been based on their own selfishness in wanting the money her father left to her in his will after his death in 1913, and what they saw as immorality in her art. Within eight days, her brother signed her into the hospital against her will and only visited her seven times during the remaining 30 years of her life.

The 2013 film, Camille Claudel 1915, starring Juliette Binoche in the title role and which can be seen on YouTube, depicts Camille at the mental hospital after two years of living there. Binoche conveyed the writhing boredom, anger and emotional shutdown of the sculptor’s years there unerringly but the movie’s more than 90 minutes were agonizingly slow and the depicted scenes of institutional life frequently unpleasant.

Jean-Luc Vincent portrayed brother Paul as a monster of self-righteousness in his decision to leave her locked up for the rest of her life and was harrowingly convincing in his characterization; one wanted to break his neck.

One poignant scene occurs when the sculptor is walking on the grounds. She picks up some mud, starts shaping it with her hands, then angrily hurls it to the ground.

Unfortunately, there were no English subtitles on the YouTube. But, despite these quibbles, it is highly recommended!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Stanley and Macdonough

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Stanley and Macdonough

O Morning Land

recorded June 8, 1908; side 2, the Haydn Quartet – God Be With You Till We Meet Again, recorded June 12, 1905. Victor Record, 16399, ten-inch shellac, acoustically recorded 78.

Frank Stanley

Baritone Frank Stanley (1868-1910), who died of pleurisy at the age of 41, duetted with tenor Harry Macdonough (1871-1931) on the hymn, O Morning Land. Both men recorded a number of sides during the acoustic years, and they had magnificent voices, Macdon­ough’s tenor having astonishing high notes that would have given his younger, more well-known contemporaries, Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) and John McCormack (1884-1945), some competition.

Side 2’s Haydn Quartet consisted of four singers who founded the group in 1896. By 1905, one singer had been replaced and the line-up for the recording session consisted of tenors John H. Bieling (1869-1948) and Macdonough, baritone S.H. Dudley (1864-1947) and bass William F. Hooley (1861-1918). The well-known hymn, God Be With You, was given the kind of well-honed performance that has made records of the Quartet highly prized collector’s items to the present time.

Harry Macdonough

In researching old 78s, I have found out that the same catalog numbers on records were often used for different takes of the same selections, sometimes a different selection and different artists. The original wax or metal masters would get worn out from copying discs and new recordings would be necessary. For example, one collector of old John McCormack 78s told me that McCormack recorded the same title three different times over a ten-year period for the same Victor catalog number. The particular number of the take would have a tiny inscription inside the groove between the playing surface of the record and the pasted label. One of the takes was a priceless rarity while the other two were relatively easy to find.

The online 78 research database on Google mentions my record as having two different releases with inscription numbers to match. The one on my copy, 4366, was for the first takes, while a different quartet, the Orpheum, was utilized for the re-recordings.





Peter Catesby Peter Cates


EMI, CDC 7474772, cd, recorded 1985-86.

Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) was displaying perfect pitch before he was three years old and would be a child prodigy on the piano by age five; however, his mother sensibly decided he was too young for any exposure to the rigors of public acclaim through an official debut but the boy was allowed to perform for family, friends and other small groups occasionally.

Camille Saint-Saens

From 7 to 13 years of age, Saint-Saens studied with the gifted pedagogue, Camille-Marie Stamaty (1811-1870), who had certain unorthodox teaching tools; for example, he would set a bar in front of the keyboard, and insist that his students rest their elbows and forearms on it, relying only on their fingers and hands to play . The composer felt this was good training.

He gave his first public concert in Paris at 10 years old, performing Concertos by Mozart and Beethoven.

At age 13, he was admitted to the Paris Conservatory but, despite being an outstanding pianist, was strongly encouraged to study organ because of the prevailing view that employment opportunities for organists were far greater in France than for pianists, especially with the large number of churches. He switched his focus to that instrument, got a job as organist at 18 for one of the oldest Parisian churches, itself with 26,000 parishioners and made very good wages. Composer Franz Liszt declared Saint-Saens to be the greatest organist he ever heard.

One of Saint-Saens’s teachers introduced him to the music of Bach, which was one of his greatest loves.

While at the Conservatory, he was also an outstanding student in many other subjects, including French literature, Greek and Latin, philosophy, math, theology, astonomy etc., and would have a lifelong passion for learning.

He premiered the Organ Symphony in London in 1886 where it met with immediate success. Ironically, after 20 years of being a church organist, he cared little for the instrument yet wrote what I feel is his most moving work. It is scored for full orchestra, organ and two pianos and is given a very nice recording by organist Philippe Lefebvre, in a collaboration with the French National Radio Orchestra, under Seiji Ozawa, who was music director of the Boston Symphony from 1973 to 2002. Ozawa also included two very elegant tone poems based on Greek mythology, Phaeton and Omphale’s Spinning Wheel, on this mid-1980s CD.

As a young man, Saint-Saens championed the music of Schumann, Liszt and Wagner but grew quite reactionary with age. He was the teacher and lifelong friend of composer Gabriel Faure but considered Debussy and Stravinsky to be dangerous lunatics who deserved to be institutionalized, after hearing their music.

He gave his last recital in November 1921, at the age of 86, and was reported as being in vigorous health. A month later, he died suddenly of a heart attack while vacationing in Algiers.

Saint-Saens was so precociously talented from his earliest years that Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) commented that this young man lacked one important quality – inexperience!

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Writer: Nathaniel Parker Willis

Edgar Allan Poe

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Nathaniel Parker Willis

Nathaniel Parker Willis

Writer Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867) was born in Portland where his father had moved the family from Boston to take a job as editor of a Maine publication, The Eastern Argus, before returning to Boston when Nathaniel was ten. Willis became one of the most well-known and best paid free lance journalists of his lifetime; today, he’s barely remembered. He wrote in a very personalized style about his travels throughout the eastern and mid-west U.S., England, and Europe, the famous literary figures he knew (often criticized for his fascinating gossip about such individuals that should have remained private), the books he read and his domestic life with family and friends, in addition to a few plays, poems and one novel.

I hope to share more from the avalanche of writing by him and about him in future columns.

He was one of the first critics to recognize the originality and genius of Edgar Allan Poe, knew him personally and had an astute understanding of Poe’s very complicated personality. Willis’s eulogy on Poe, written in 1849 just after that poet’s early death at the age of 40, has a few insights on the creator of such masterworks as Annabel Lee and the Tell-Tale Heart:

“His conversation was at times almost supra-mortal in its eloquence. His voice was modulated with astonishing skill, and his large and variably expressive eyes looked repose or shot fiery tumult into theirs who listened, while his own face glowed, or was changeless in pallor, as his imagination quickened his blood or drew it back frozen to his heart. His imagery was from the worlds which no mortal can see but with the vision of genius…. He was at all times a dreamer – dwelling in ideal realms – in heaven or hell – peopled with creatures and the accidents of his brain.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Willis championed the writing of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and opened doors for that poet with other famous writers. In return, Longfellow seems to have felt ambivalent about Willis; even though Longfellow would become even more famous during their lifetimes, he was jealous of Willis’ ability to earn more money, he criticized Willis’ personality as “artificial” and he felt that Willis’ poetry “lacked sincerity.”

Nevertheless, four days after Willis died on his 61st birthday, January 20, 1867, Longfellow was one of the five honorary pallbearers at Willis’ funeral in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with poets James Russell Lowell and Oliver Wendell Holmes, abolitionist Samuel Gridley Howe (who was also one of the first directors of the Perkins Institute for the Blind; whose wife, Julia Ward Howe, wrote the lyrics for The Battle Hymn of the Republic; and whose daughter, Laura Richards, wrote several famous novels and children’s books and settled in Gardiner, Maine), and Boston editor and publisher, James T. Fields. The day of the funeral, all bookstores in Cambridge were closed out of respect.