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Henry James, Jr. by William Dean Howells
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by William Dean Howells

The events of Mr. James's life--as we agree to understand
events--may be told in a very few words. His race is Irish on
his father's side and Scotch on his mother's, to which mingled
strains the generalizer may attribute, if he likes, that union of
vivid expression and dispassionate analysis which has
characterized his work from the first. There are none of those
early struggles with poverty, which render the lives of so many
distinguished Americans monotonous reading, to record in his
case: the cabin hearth-fire did not light him to the youthful
pursuit of literature; he had from the start all those advantages
which, when they go too far, become limitations.

He was born in New York city in the year 1843, and his first
lessons in life and letters were the best which the
metropolis--so small in the perspective diminishing to that
date--could afford. In his twelfth year his family went abroad,
and after some stay in England made a long sojourn in France and
Switzerland. They returned to America in 1860, placing
themselves at Newport, and for a year or two Mr. James was at the
Harvard Law School, where, perhaps, he did not study a great deal
of law. His father removed from Newport to Cambridge in 1866,
and there Mr. James remained till he went abroad, three years
later, for the residence in England and Italy which, with
infrequent visits home, has continued ever since.
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