previous next

[243] gossip of Byron, saw D'Israeli in action, and met Rogers, Procter, Moore, and Bulwer, men of letters and men of the world. After such models Willis shaped his own career. He luxuriated in drawing-rooms and shone at dinners,

The topmost bright bubble on the wave of The Town.

With his rapid glances into the kaleidoscope of society he combined — for his readers-views of famous places, anecdotes of travel, reflections by the way, descriptions of scenery, and observations on customs and characters, in all a delightfully varied mixture and exactly suited to his tastes and abilities. In America he wrote with the same minuteness and freshness of his rural life and rural neighbours at Glenmary and Idlewild, painted vivid word-pictures of such beauty spots as Nahant or Trenton Falls, or sketched fashionable life at Ballston and Saratoga in the days when those watering places were in their first glory. There where woods and streams were enlivened by flowered waistcoats, pink champagne, and the tinkle of serenades, Willis found a setting for some of his most characteristic writing. Jaunty and impermanent as the society it portrayed, his pages yet contain the most valuable deposit left by what Professor Beers has happily called the “Albuminous age” of American literature.1

A more reserved, though hardly less voluminous writer than Willis, was the critic, biographer, and essayist, Henry Theodore Tuckerman, born in Boston in 1813 and from 1845 until his death in 1871 a resident of New York. As a young man he twice spent a year or two abroad, of which the fruits were an Italian sketch Book in 1835 and several other volumes of travel. Meanwhile he had been reading widely, studying art, and meeting authors and painters. These things combined with a native fineness of temperament to preserve him from falling into the verbal excesses of Willis. Whatever else Tuckerman lacked, he was not wanting in good taste.

As a critic Tuckerman earned the praise of Irving for his “liberal, generous, catholic spirit.” The solid merits of his Thoughts on the poets were admired in Germany, where the

1 Professor H. A. Beers has in every respect said the last word on Willis in his Life (American men of letters) and Introduction to Selected prose (1885).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Nathaniel Parker Willis (5)
Henry Theodore Tuckerman (3)
H. A. Beers (2)
Robert Rogers (1)
Procter (1)
Tom Moore (1)
Italian (1)
Washington Irving (1)
D'Israeli (1)
Byron (1)
Bulwer (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1885 AD (1)
1871 AD (1)
1845 AD (1)
1835 AD (1)
1813 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: