- Death of his father. -- marriage. -- domestic life. -- visits. -- Chancellor Kent. -- General Lafayette. -- winter in Washington and Virginia.
The two years succeeding Mr. Ticknor's return from Europe —thus sped quietly and happily by; but in June, 1821, a great sorrow came close on a great joy, his father's unexpected death taking place between his own engagement and marriage. Something of what he then underwent is described in the following passage from a letter to Mr. Charles Daveis, written August 4, 1821:—
You know our journey taken on Mr. Norton's marriage.1 There was never anything more delightful. We went first to New York, . . . . then up the North River, and to the beautiful Lake George, and Lake Champlain. . . . . . But the whole party was disposed, from the first, to give me the pleasure of seeing my father at Hanover, where he went early in May, some weeks before we left Boston; and we therefore crossed the Green Mountains, and came down by the exquisite banks of the White River, to its confluence with the Connecticut. The two last days of this ride were, certainly, the most gay and delightful of the gayest and most delightful journey I ever took in my life. On the afternoon of Saturday, the 16th of June, I rode on in the chaise with Anna, leaving the coach behind, and arrived at Hanover quite early, to see my father the sooner. The first news I heard, in reply to the first question I asked at the inn, was, that he had had an access of paralysis the afternoon previous. I hastened to him instantly, and did not leave him, except a moment at a time, until his death the following Friday morning. It was, as you may well  imagine, a stunning blow to fall on me at such a moment. . . . . I am not superstitious, but I shall never believe there was nothing providential in the arrangement, which, contrary to our purposes, brought us to Hanover just at the moment I was wanted,—if we had been permitted to fulfil our purposes, we should have passed Hanover, and yet not have arrived at home, so that there would have been no hope of getting me there even for the closing scene,2—and gave me there the support of so many dear friends, and especially the dearest, which I could otherwise not have asked. Then, too, my father's faculties were all preserved clear to him, . . . . and what was more than all, and above all, he was ready to go, and those who were with him saw proofs not to be mistaken, that when he came to his deathbed, he found he had placed his hopes safely, and that he had nothing to do but to die. . . . . His death was to him like any important occurrence of his life, only much more solemn; and he spoke of it, and marked its approach—until within a few hours of his last moment—with a tranquillity whose foundation could never have been laid in this world. . . . .On the 18th of September Mr. Ticknor was married to Miss Anna Eliot, youngest daughter of Mr. Samuel Eliot, a successful merchant, and a man of strong character and cultivated mind, who will be remembered as the founder of the Professorship of Greek Literature at Harvard College.3 This marriage brought with it new and happy influences, but it made no marked change in the habits of his life as a scholar and teacher. His disposition and tastes found their full exercise and expression in his home, and that home was thenceforth, for many years, a brilliant and genial centre of the most cultivated society of Boston. The fortune he inherited from his father—together with that of his wife—enabled him to live at ease, with unpretending elegance. In nothing was he extravagant or luxurious, while his personal habits were marked by great moderation and simplicity. His means were ample, not only for the maintenance of a liberal and tasteful establishment, but for the increase  of his library, and for the multiplied demands of private charity, and of benevolent institutions, to which he gave both money and much personal service. As soon as he had a house of his own, he enjoyed the ability it gave him to welcome his friends from distant places, and during the winter of 1821-22, Daveis, Haven, and Cogswell were at different times his guests. These visits did not, however, disturb the steady course of his industrious life, and he writes in February: ‘I have been very quietly at home all winter; no visiting abroad, much writing of lectures, much studying of Italian between Anna and my nieces, and once a week Artiguenave—who is a first-rate French reader — has read us a French play.’ In April he says to Mr. Daveis, ‘My lectures have given me a good deal of occupation,—three delivered, and one written, every week,—and besides all this, as it is found I am willing to work, work enough is put upon my shoulders, so that, after all, I am abroad much more than I like to be, though almost never for my amusement.’ One of the matters to which he thus referred is the subject of the following paragraph, from another letter to Mr. Daveis:—
I want to say a word or two to you and Mr. Nichols, about the interests of a society which I have considerably on my heart and conscience. It is the one called the ‘Publishing Fund,’ whose object is to furnish wholesome religious, moral, and improving reading of all kinds to the poor, cheaper than they now get fanatical or depraving reading. For this purpose a fund has been raised, . . . . on which we mean regularly to trade at a very small profit, getting our printing done as cheaply as possible, and making everybody else work almost for charity's sake . . . . Think of this good work, then, and come over into Macedonia and help us.Upon his father's death he was chosen to succeed him in the Primary School Board, and continued a member of it for three years, giving much time and thought to its duties, moved as well by his own strong interest in the subject of education, as by respect to his father's memory. From this animated, but regular and quiet winter life, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor turned, as the summer came, to the pleasant  variety of visits to their friends. They passed some weeks at the delightful summer home of Judge Prescott at Pepperell, which has now become a point of interest in the literary history of the country, from its association with the studies of his distinguished son. They were the guests of Mr. Haven at Portsmouth, and of Mr. Daveis at Portland, both of whom, surrounded by young families, were diligently engaged in the practice of the law; but both retained that love of literature which had been so strong a bond of sympathy between the friends in their early days. From Portland they went farther east to the country-place of Mr. Robert H. Gardiner, on the Kennebec, long the seat of an extended and elegant hospitality, like that which forms so graceful a feature in the country life of England. It is thus described by Mr. Ticknor, in a letter to Mrs. Eliot:—
We finished our delightful visit on the Kennebec, dear mother, last Wednesday morning, and came away with great regret. Mr. Gardiner's house is certainly the pleasantest country establishment in New England. The local situation is so beautiful; the grounds are so happily diversified, and cultivated with such taste; the house is of such fine architecture without, and so convenient within; and the family is so well ordered, the tone of its intercourse so gentle, simple, and refined, that, besides being happy in the enjoyment everything about him affords, a visitor can hardly help being made better. . . . . Everybody, from a sort of unseen genius of place, feels at once all wants anticipated, and yet a perfect freedom. . . . .After their return he writes thus to Mr. Daveis:—
The following extract shows his immediate appreciation of one of the early products of American literature:—
In the autumn of 1823 Chancellor Kent—who had been compelled, by an unwise provision in the Constitution of the State of New York, to leave the bench, though still in all the fulness of his great judicial powers—paid a visit to Boston, and was received, alike by lawyers and laymen, with a warmth of welcome due to his talents, learning, and worth. Mr. Ticknor saw him often, and thus writes of him to his friend Mr. Daveis, and to his brother-in-law Mr. Eliot:— 
Mr. William H. Prescott, who was at this time interested in the study of Italian literature, addressed to Mr. Ticknor, on a stormy day in December, a letter, inspired by his reading of Petrarch, in which, among other things, he earnestly maintained the real existence of Laura. Mr. Ticknor, kept at home, like his friend, by the weather, replied at once with equal interest in the subject, but in a more sceptical tone, both as to Laura's existence and as to the relations between her and the poet who has immortalized her name. Mr. Prescott's letter is given in the Life of him by his friend, as well as the answer he made to the following:—
In August, 1824, General Lafayette returned, after an interval of thirty-eight years, to revisit the United States, upon the invitation of the President, and was received everywhere, as the ‘Guest of the Nation,’ with such hearty demonstrations of gratitude and reverence as proved the depth of the feeling from which they sprung, and which still remains without a parallel. In the forty-sixth number of the ‘North American Review,’ published in 1824, there appeared from Mr. Ticknor's pen a sketch of the life and character of this illustrious man, which, with a few alterations and additions, was subsequently published in pamphlet form. Timely in its appearance, and presenting, in appropriate and feeling language, the course of a life of heroic fidelity to duty, it was received with great favor, widely circulated, and afterwards translated into French.10 It was a great enjoyment to Mr. Ticknor to renew in Boston his personal intercourse with the distinguished man whom he had learned to love and venerate in his home at La Grange. He had the pleasure of receiving General Lafayette, more than once, as his guest, and after one of these occasions he writes thus to his friend Daveis:—
In November, 1824, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor went to Washington, and afterwards, accompanied by Mr. Webster, visited Mr. Madison at Montpellier, and Mr. Jefferson at Monticello. Upon their return they passed some weeks in Washington, mingling in its general society, and seeing, in an easy and familiar way, many of the distinguished men assembled there. In two letters to Mr. Prescott, Mr. Ticknor describes some of the scenes and incidents of this journey.12
In the course of this visit in Washington, Mr. Ticknor was asked by General Lafayette to interest himself in discovering and assisting two German refugees, scholarly men, who had fled, for political reasons, first to Switzerland, and thence to the United States, and who had written to him asking aid in finding employment. Their names were Beck and Follen, and it  was supposed they might be found or heard of in Philadelphia. On his way home, therefore, Mr. Ticknor took great pains to gain some knowledge of them in Philadelphia, but failed up to the last day of his stay there. On that day, Mr. John Vaughan22 dined with him at the hotel, and, being interested in the search, suggested, as a last resource, that a Swiss shopkeeper in the neighborhood might possibly furnish some information. This chance was tried successfully. Two modest young men were found, just preparing, in despair of better things, to go as tillers of the soil into the interior of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ticknor said to them, ‘You must furnish me with a written statement of your history and acquirements.’ This they were quite willing to do, but confessed their inability to write either in English or in French with sufficient ease and accuracy. A proposal that they should use Latin made their faces brighten, and the next day the two documents were brought to Mr. Ticknor, written in correct and fluent Latin. Dr. Beck was soon—through Mr. Ticknor's means—established at Mr. Cogswell's school in Northampton, and afterwards became Professor of Latin at Harvard College, where he passed the rest of his life. Dr. Follen was made teacher of German in Mr. Ticknor's department, at the same College, in 1825, and in 1830 was made Professor of German Language and Literature, which he held for five years. In 1826 Mr. Ticknor writes to Mr. Daveis, ‘Our German teacher, Dr. Follen, was formerly Professor of Civil Law at Basel, a young man who left his country from political troubles. He is a fine fellow, an excellent scholar, and teaches German admirably. He will lecture on the Civil Law, in Boston, in a few weeks . . . . He is a modest, thorough, faithful German scholar, who will do good among us, and be worth your knowing.’ The career of these two men was such as to make Mr. Ticknor look back with pleasure to the efforts he made in their behalf.