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[178]

To his brother George, Munich.

Washington's Headquarters, Cambridge, April 18, 1841.
dear George,—It is Sunday, and I am Longfellow's guest. One of my greatest pleasures is of a Saturday afternoon to escape from Boston and find shelter here. We dine late, say between five and six o'clock. Felton adds to the hilarity. We talk of what we have seen abroad, of cities visited, persons seen, and the trophies of art and old time, while all the poets and masters in all the languages are at hand in Longfellow's well-chosen library. I think you never knew my friend. When you return (if that event ever takes place) you will find great satisfaction and sympathy in his society. Hillard is full of genius, beautiful thought, and high morals, but miserable in health. Cleveland still pursues his studies for his extensive work on English literature. Since my return I have found great pleasure in the friendship of William H. Prescott, author of ‘Ferdinand and Isabella,’ and by this work placed at the head of American literature. He is forty-five, but with the freedom, warmth, and frolic of a boy. His family is delightful. There sits the father, venerable Nestor of the house; his wife, a most agreeable old lady, who refuses to yield to time; then William, my friend, his wife and two children,—three generations gathered under one roof, all happy in each other's love. I sup with them often on Sunday night, at about nine o'clock; and then we have also Franklin Dexter and wife, a daughter of Judge Prescott. William H. Prescott is now engaged on a history of the conquest of Mexico,—a subject of remarkable capacity. It has already occupied him two years and more. I have seen a programme or sketch of the proposed work, and have been astonished at its almost epic character. Of the Ticknors I see a great deal. I see much of Bancroft, and know him familiarly. His third volume of American history, recently published, is brilliant, vigorous, and striking. He is now engaged on the fourth volume, which commences with about 1747. This and another will complete the work, bringing it down to the adoption of the Federal Constitution. Sparks, you doubtless know, has been in London and Paris the last summer, collecting materials in the public offices for a history of the American Revolution. He will go over Bancroft's ground; but they will hardly interfere with each other. Sparks is the faithful annalist, perhaps you may say historiographer, correct in his facts, patient of labor, but utterly without imagination. His history will be built on a thorough examination of the original documents. Bancroft's will be a series of brilliant sketches, full of glow and life, and making the American reader love his country.

Bancroft has resigned his Collectorship, and Governor Lincoln is his successor. Haughton, editor of the ‘Atlas,’ died suddenly yesterday. Perhaps his death is not to be regretted. One fountain of political bitterness is closed, and in a happy hour, as the whole country seems prepared by the sudden death of President Harrison for peace and repose. You will read of the latter event in the newspapers.


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