were alike charmed as soon as they crossed its threshold; and both bore cordial tribute to the hospitality, heartiness, and refinement which they found wherever they went.
The houses were rich in the appointments already noted.
Host and hostess presided with dignity and grace; and the young women, distinguished by intelligence, style, winsomeness, and often beauty, could play well their part in any society in the world.
Foremost among these last were the daughters of Mr. Appleton
, whose names have found a place in books of travel and fiction.
Foreigners felt the charm of this circle, which remained in the memory for half a century as fresh as yesterday's feast.1
Such a society was like that of ancient Athens
more than any other modern city can show,—intellectual, consolidated, despotic over individual thought, insisting on uniformity of belief in matters which were related to its interests, and frowning upon novelties which struck at its prestige.
It exists now only in tradition.
The changes wrought by the Civil War
and the great increase in numbers have made a new city, no longer provincial, less interesting than it was, but more tolerant, and with no one set to call itself ‘society.’
The families which once controlled city and State, which dictated opinion and put antislavery men in Coventry
, have vanished.
If they survive in a few names, they exercise no perceptible influence on the course of events.
It is difficult, with the transformation which has come from devastating fires, from new or widened streets, and the conversion, in whole districts, of dwellings into warehouses, to find old landmarks; but it is harder still to find traces of that society which had cast out Wendell Phillips
, well blooded as the best, and which now laid its heavy hand on Sumner
, and Dana
George Ticknor's house, at the corner of Park and Beacon streets, facing the English
elms on the Common, was the centre of the literary society of the time.2
He had retired from a professor's