chair at Harvard
, had ample leisure at command, had collected a superb library, and he and his family spoke French and German as easily as English
He had, as his journals show, studied in the best of foreign schools, and had seen the best of foreign life.
Both before and after he took his house on Park Street, his home was for more than a generation the resort of all that was most distinguished in the culture of the period; and he was assisted in this refined hospitality by one who was his peer in accomplishments, and who graced the society of Boston
from youth to age. There came foreigners of high rank or repute, who from time to time visited the city,— among them, in 1824, Lafayette
, and four young Englishmen, Wortley
, and Denison
; and later, Tocqueville
, Morpeth, Dickens
, and Thackeray
There as a daily visitor was Hillard
, almost the peer of the brilliant conversers of Holland and Lansdowne houses in their palmiest days, or of those who gathered round Samuel Rogers
in St. James's Place. But with all this, and not overlooking his review of Spanish literature, it is doing no injustice to Ticknor
's rank in letters to say, that, unlike his contemporaries in Boston
, and Holmes
,—he has as an author left nothing of permanent interest to mankind.
His social success abroad has been noted as a mystery, and referred, not to wit or warmth of heart.
but rather to his acquaintance with good form, and a certain skill as raconteur
. he was cold by nature, unsympathetic with the masses, and without faith in the future of the republican system.
He was no exception, however, in a class always distinguished for public spirit; and he deserves honorable mention as a benefactor, by gifts and personal service, of the Public Library
To be admitted to such a house as Mr. Ticknor
's was a test of culture and good breeding; to be shut out from it was an exclusion from what was most coveted in a social way by scholars and gentlemen who combined the fruits of study and travel.
The features of Boston
life which have been here indicated show something of the environment of a young man of Sumner
's position and tastes when he took his place among reformers.
Further proof and illustrations of what that life was will be given in the course of this narrative.