- Habits. -- house in Park Street. -- hospitality. -- Review of Webster's works. -- lecture on teaching the living languages. -- studies of Milton, Dante, and Shakespeare. -- public lectures on Shakespeare. -- death of an infant daughter and of an only son. -- resignation of Professorship. -- departure for Europe.
The next years formed a very happy period in Mr. Ticknor's happy life; for, though checkered like all human lives with some sorrows, even with some acute and lasting griefs, his was, in the main, a remarkably happy life. Many elements of character and fortune combined to give a serene, well-balanced tone of animated contentment to his whole existence from youth to age. He had a resolute nature and an efficient intellect; he had, also, a deep-seated principle of industry, with a sense of the worth of occupation as a source of pleasure. In relation to his fixed habit of industry he used often to quote with delight what was once said to him by Judge Prescott, his friend, and the father of his friend. Soon after his return from Europe, in 1819, he was talking one evening with Judge Prescott, and said of his own prospects, that he had enough work mapped out to fill at least ten years. ‘Take care always to be able to say the same thing; always have ten years work laid out before you, if you wish to be happy,’ was the wise reply; and in repeating it Mr. Ticknor used to add, that he believed he had never failed in fulfilling the injunction. Of his health, which was, inevitably, an important element in the estimate of his opportunities and enjoyments, it need only be said, that his life in Europe seemed to have entirely changed him from a delicate youth to a strong and uniformly healthy man. From that time until his death—in spite of his usually sedentary occupations—he was habitually well; and his eyesight,  a matter of vast consequence to one of his tastes, was marvellously strong to the last. The one severe illness of his manhood was the result of an over-exertion, in the winter of 1828-29. He describes this, himself, as ‘an illness which, though no great things in itself, was a serious matter to me, because it was the first time I was ever seriously unwell. I was confined strictly to my bed for a week, and to the house something less than a month.’ Making light, also, of the cause of it, he says, ‘My complaint was in my side: a swelling that came suddenly, in consequence of exposure at the Hospital, when it was on fire. The scene was very distressing, the sick people fearing they should be burned alive; and, as one of the Trustees, I went round among them, reassuring them as much as I could, and so got wet and caught a cold.’1 He actually did more than this, for he helped in moving the patients, and undoubtedly strained himself. One thing, however, always amused him in connection with this illness. The nature of it was peculiar enough, and obscure enough, to cause an account of it to be printed—without names—in a medical journal. Mr. Ticknor showed this one day to a distinguished medical man from another city, and when he had read it, asked him what he thought ailed the patient in that case. The answer was, ‘I don't know, and I don't believe the attending physicians knew either.’ From the time when he formed a home of his own, Mr. Ticknor studied to make it a centre of comfort and improvement to all its members; and the warm and faithful feelings which his friendships proved were shown in their greatest strength in his own family. During several years when his wife was in a sensitive and prostrated state of health, and during her severe illnesses, his devotion to her comfort, his ingenuity and patience in ministering to the needs of mind and body, showed that his tact and tenderness were not quenched by study; while his watchful and close personal attention to the education of his eldest daughter proved his ability to keep every added duty in its true proportion.  Some idea has already been given of the variety of his occupations; his College duties, his zealous participation in the charitable and intellectual movements of a very active city, his social interests, making a numerous amount of recognized claims. To these must be added, to complete the picture of the next coming years, the remembrance of hours spent in reading aloud, by his wife's sofa, such selections of English literature as might enliven her and instruct the child; and of other hours given to direct instruction and to vigilant supervision of all the daughter's studies. Without eminently methodical and punctual habits, such multiplied objects could not have been pursued with success, nor even without confusion and weariness.2 In summer he always sought a change of scene and habits. He maintained that one permanent establishment was enough, and that for a part of every year it was best to be free to seek new regions, another climate and another mode of life; he therefore never owned a country-house. Before 1840 it was much less the habit of the wealthy citizens of Boston to leave home in the summer, than it has since become; indeed, it was common enough to stay the whole year in town. Mr. Ticknor, however, always made excursions and journeys with his family, or took lodgings for a few weeks in some pretty spot in the neighborhood of Boston,—in Watertown, Brookline, or Nahant. Often they went to Portland and Gardiner; to Pepperell, the rural home of the Prescotts; to Round Hill, near Northampton, where Mr. Cogswell and Mr. Bancroft had opened a school; or to Hanover, where for some years there were still accounts to settle about the family property, with the old Quaker agent, Friend Williams.3  In the summer of 1827 a journey to Niagara ended by visits on the Hudson, and is thus sketched in a letter to Mr. Daveis:—
Of these journeyings you are already partly misinformed, and, as Nic Bottom would say, I will finish that matter myself. We have—as you heard—been to the Westward, but eschewed the Springs,4 not desiring fashion, but health. We had several bright spots in our journey: first, West Point, where my old friend Thayer's gallantry gave the ladies a beautiful entertainment; then Trenton Falls, more beautiful than those of Tivoli and Terni; then Mr. Wadsworth's magnificent establishment, where we passed two days; then Niagara itself, where we spent four days in constantly increasing delight and astonishment; then, on our return, Kaatskill, where, as Natty Bumpo says, ‘you see all creation’; then Governor Lewis's, on the North River, where we spent four days with the Livingston family, and one with Mrs. Montgomery, the widow of him who fell before Quebec; and finally Northampton. This is the general plan of our journey, which occupied six full weeks very pleasantly, . . . . and, all things considered, I hardly know when I have passed the same length of time more to my mind.In the following summer, that of 1828, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor made a trip to Quebec. This was succeeded by an excursion to Sandwich, on Cape Cod, with Mr. Webster, who found much comfort in their society at this time, saddened as he was by the recent death of his wife, to whom Mrs. Ticknor had been much attached; while Mr. Ticknor's friendship for him was full of sympathy. During this visit the following hasty letter went to Mr. Prescott:—
From his marriage until this time Mr. Ticknor had dwelt in hired houses. Now, however, in 1829, he found what he had so long been waiting to find, a house which he was satisfied to buy, and there he made his home for the remaining forty-one and a half years of his life. The situation, the proportions and taste, and the ample size of this residence, sufficed for all the needs of domestic and social hours; and here, in joy and in sorrow, from far-off lands and from the inner recesses of heart and mind, was gathered ‘treasure of things new and old.’ The homes of almost all his friends, and his own dwelling-places,—since his return from Europe,—looked on the little park of forty-five acres, which, in spite of the seeming modesty of its traditional name, the Common, has always been the pride and joy of the Boston heart. His new house stood at the most attractive point of the margin of the Common, at the top of the slope looking down the avenue of elms of the finest of its malls, and facing to the southwest, so as to catch the prevailing  summer wind, and rejoice in the glory of the winter sunsets. The central point of the house, henceforward, was the large, sunny room, with three long balconied windows, where, at once, and without hesitation, his valuable and increasing collection of books was established. Trusting to simple lines, just proportions, and harmony of subdued colors in furnishing this library, Mr. Ticknor succeeded in producing the effect he sought, of a dignified, cheerful home for himself and his books. When his friend Allston, the artist, —a man of fastidious taste and an acute sense of harmony of color,—first entered the room, he expressed the most unlimited approval. Ten years later, on receiving a description of this room,—for which she had asked,—Miss Edgeworth wrote in her animated and sympathetic manner:—
Who talks of Boston in a voice so sweet? Who wishes to see me there? to show me their home, their family, their country? I have been there, . . . . have sate in the library too, and thought, and thought it all charming! Looking into the country, as you know the windows all do, I saw down through the vista of trees to the quiet bay, and the beautiful hills beyond, and I watched the glories of the setting sun, lighting up country and town. . . . . I met Sir Walter Scott in Mr. Ticknor's library, with all his benign, calm expression of countenance, his eye of genius, and his mouth of humor, such as he was before the life of life was gone, such as genius loved to see him, such as American genius has given him to American friendship, immortalized in person, as in mind. His very self I see, feeling, thinking, and about to speak, and to a friend to whom he loved to speak; and well placed, and to his liking, he seems in this congenial library, presiding and sympathizing. But, my dear madam, ten thousand books, about ten thousand books, do you say this library contains? My dear Mrs. Ticknor Then I am afraid you must have double rows, and that is a plague. . . . . Your library is thirty-four by twenty-two, you say. But, to be sure, you have not given me the height, and that height may make out room enough. Pray have it measured for me, that I may drive this odious notion of double rows out of my head.The portrait of Sir Walter Scott, to which Miss Edgeworth  refers,—the only painting in the room,—is an original, by Leslie, hanging over the fireplace. Mr. Ticknor wrote to Sir Walter in 1824, asking him to sit for his likeness, but leaving the choice of the artist to him. In reply to this request, Sir Walter, with a tact and amiability very characteristic of him, selected the young American painter, then making himself known in England, and invited him to Abbotsford. Mr. Leslie has recorded the experiences of his delightful visit to the Wizard of the North, in his ‘Autobiographical Recollections.’7 He says, ‘In the autumn of 1824 I visited Scotland for the purpose of painting a portrait of Sir Walter Scott, for Mr. Ticknor of Boston’; and,—quoting one of his own letters written at the time,—‘Imagine how delightful these sittings are to me.’ Again, ‘There was more benevolence expressed in Scott's face than is given in any portrait of him; and I am sure there was much in his heart.’ This benevolence Leslie has made very obvious in his painting, while the intellect and the humor belonging there are not lost from sight. Sir Walter wished him to introduce one of his dogs into the picture, but after one or two experiments Leslie wisely decided against it.8 Before leaving the subject of Mr. Ticknor's home we will give one more short description,—from the pen of Hawthorne,— which includes a sketch of Mr. Ticknor himself, as he appeared, at a later period, it is true, but before any marked change had come over his looks or bearing.9
Mr. Folsom accompanied me to call upon Mr. Ticknor, the historian of Spanish literature. He has a fine house at the corner of Park and Beacon Streets, perhaps the very best position in Boston. A marble hall, a wide and easy staircase, a respectable old manservant, evidently long at home in the mansion, to admit us.10 We  entered the library, Mr. Folsom considerably in advance, as being familiar with the house; and I heard Mr. Ticknor greet him in friendly tones, their scholarlike and bibliographical pursuits, I suppose, bringing them into frequent conjunction. Then I was introduced, and received with great distinction, but yet without any ostentatious flourish of courtesy. Mr. Ticknor has a great head, and his hair is gray or grayish. You recognize in him, at once, the man who knows the world, the scholar, too, which probably is his more distinctive character, though a little more under the surface. . . . His library is a stately and beautiful room, for a private dwelling, and itself looks large and rich. . . . . Mr. Ticknor was most kind in his alacrity to solve the point on which Mr. Folsom, in my behalf, had consulted him,—as to whether there had been any English translation of the Tales of Cervantes,--and most liberal in his offers of books from his library. Certainly he is a fine example of a generous principled scholar, anxious to assist the human intellect in its efforts and researches. . . . . He is, I apprehend, a man of great cultivation and refinement, and with quite substance enough to be polished and refined without being worn too thin in the process, a man of society.Mr. Ticknor's hospitable tastes and social habits made his house the constant scene of a friendly and intellectual life. At this time—1826-35—a supper at nine o'clock in the evening naturally followed the early three-o'clock dinner then customary, and such suppers, served in his house with much simplicity, attracted the gentlemen of his intimate circle, who dropped in uninvited, especially on Sunday evenings; and conversation full of vivacity and variety drew out the best powers of each on these occasions.  Mr. George T. Curtis says11 of the persons who gathered at these suppers:—
I recall the two Messrs. Prescott, father and son; Mr. Webster; the Rev. Dr. Channing; Dr. Bowditch, the eminent mathematician and translator of La Place; Dr. Walter Channing, a kind and genial family physician; Mr. John Pickering, a Greek scholar and a learned lawyer; his brother, Octavius Pickering, the Reporter of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts; Mr. Willard Phillips; and Mr. James Savage. There were also many younger men, habitues of the house, whom I cannot recall. The Rev. Dr. Channing came seldom, but it was there I first saw him, and there, also, I first saw Mr. Webster in private. Prescott, the historian, not yet an author, was at that time in the full flush of his early manhood, running over with animal spirits, which his studies and self-discipline could not quench; talking with a joyous abandon, laughing at his own inconsequences, recovering himself gayly, and going on again in a graver strain, which soon gave way to some new joke or brilliant sally. Wherever he came there was always a ‘fillip’ to the discourse, be it of books, or society, or reminiscences of foreign travel, or the news of the day . . . . . The talk flowed freely, and as it naturally would among cultivated persons who led busy lives. . . . . Dinner-parties were given by Mr. Ticknor, for a period of about fifty years, very frequently, and oftener, perhaps, than by most gentlemen of his standing in Boston. As a host he was singularly graceful, and did the honors in a manner that showed what an accomplished man he was. Good entertaining, and good hosts and hostesses can be found in many houses, but there was an atmosphere about Mr. Ticknor that was peculiar. It was not merely that his house was a house of books and learning. The knowledge that abounded there connected itself by many threads, not only with the past but with the present. Whatever was happening at home or abroad, the information that is kept alive and kept full by a wide correspondence, the stores of anecdote that come from a varied intercourse with distinguished contemporaries, the experiences of travel, the interest that attaches to the welfare of kindred and friends and neighborhood and country, all these things were reflected in Mr. Ticknor's conversation quite as much as mere topics of literature. No stranger who could command an introduction to Mr. Ticknor's house visited Boston during half a century, who did not gladly  avail himself of its hospitalities; and no intelligent traveller could have seen what was most attractive and interesting in the society of the New England metropolis, who failed to enjoy Mr. Ticknor's conversation in his own library and at his own table. While Mr. Ticknor's conversational powers were extraordinary, he conversed, and did not discourse. He made conversation a fair exchange, and if his guest had anything to say, he was sure to have an opportunity.Miss Edgeworth wrote, in 1835,12 to a friend of Mr. Ticknor, thus:—
I have been acquainted, and I may say intimately, with some of the most distinguished literary persons in Great Britain, France, and Switzerland, and have seen and heard all those distinguished for conversational talents; Talleyrand, Dumont, Mackintosh, Romilly, Dugald Stewart, Erskine, Sir Walter Scott, Sydney Smith, and Mr. Sharpe, the fashionable dinner-lions of London. I have passed days in the country-houses and in the domestic intimacy of some of them, and after all, I can, with strict truth, assure you, that Mr. Ticknor's conversation appeared to me fully on an equality with the most admired, in happy, apposite readiness of recollection and application of knowledge, in stores of anecdote, and in ease in producing them, and in depth of reflection not inferior to those whom we have been accustomed to consider our deepest thinkers. But what interested and attached us, was the character of Mr. Ticknor, the moral worth and truth which we saw in him. We feel that we have made a friend of him.In 1831 Mr. Ticknor wrote, for the ‘American Quarterly Review,’13 an article on Mr. Webster's works, of which a volume was then coming from the press; and when first the idea of doing so was proposed to him, he wrote to Judge Story on the subject as follows:—
On thinking over the matter to-day, some hints and rudiments have occurred to me, as well as some doubts and queries, all of which I wish to lay before you. First, then, taking Mr. Webster from his earliest years, as one who has grown up from the condition in which society is, necessarily, on  our frontiers, he can be shown as one who, from the whole course of his life, is continually connected with the mass of the people, their character, their condition and hopes, and on whom they may safely rely. He is, in short, among them and of them; his whole life has thriven with their progress and success; his whole fortunes can be advanced only by the essential advancement and progress and reputation of the country. Second, taking Mr. Webster's public life as a politician and his professional life as a lawyer, it can be shown that he belongs to no party; but that he has uniformly contended for the great and essential principles of our government on all occasions. I do not propose to lay down these two propositions and prove them, but to keep them constantly in mind, and let them be the inevitable, but not the formal result of the article.In the summer of 1832 he delivered a lecture, before the American Institute, on the best methods of teaching the living languages, in which he advocated, for children and young people, the methods which are now, forty years later, growing more and more into favor. In conclusion, he maintains that the direction to be given to all studies in a living language is towards speaking it, and if one answers, ‘We only wish to learn to read it, that we may have free access to its written treasures, and especially its classic authors,’ he argues ‘that such authors cannot be understood without some knowledge of the popular feeling and colloquial idiom with which their minds have been nourished, and of which their works are full’; adding illustrations, and concluding, ‘We know that we can none of us read the great masters in any foreign literature, or enjoy them like natives, because we cannot speak their language like natives; for the characteristic peculiarities and essential beauty and power of their gifted minds are concealed in those idiomatic phrases, those unobtrusive particles, those racy combinations, which, as they were first produced by the prompt eloquence and passions of immediate intercourse, can be comprehended and felt only by those who seek them in the sources from which they flow: so that, other things being equal, he will always be found best able to read and enjoy the great writers in a foreign language, who, in studying it,—whether his progress have been  little or much,—has never ceased to remember that it is a living and a spoken tongue.’14 He mentions to Mr. Daveis some other occupations of his summer's holidays, writing September 19, 1833:—
Among other things I have made a thorough study of the works of Milton and Shakespeare, as nearly three hundred pages of notes and memoranda will testify. It was delicious. Last summer I did the same for Dante, working on each, often twelve and fourteen hours a day, with uninterrupted and equable pleasure. If I am not a better man for it,—and a happier one too,—why, I shall have misused my opportunities scandalously, as many better men have done before me.He had already been in the habit of expounding Dante to special classes at Cambridge, and mentions doing so, for a section of the Junior class, three times a week during the autumn of 1831. The studies of Shakespeare had one result, in a course of public lectures given in Boston in the winter of 1833-34. As he never kept a diary of any kind when at home, it is necessary to gather from his letters such extracts as may indicate the variety and nature of his interests; but, at this time, even these are not very ample for the purpose.
In the summer of 1825 a sorrow had come to him, of a kind he had not felt before, through the death of his second little daughter, only a few weeks old. He refers to it thus in a letter to his friend Daveis:— 
Time softened this disappointment, and in 1829 his cup of joy seemed filled, by the birth of a son; while the arrival, four years later, of another daughter, made his home the scene of many deep and simple delights. Sickness came to one and another from time to time, there were periods of anxiety, but the seasons of content, thus far, outnumbered them. The gay picture sketched in the letter to Mr. Daveis in the beginning of 1834 was, however, soon clouded and shut from sight by the shadow of a great calamity. In the following summer a fatal illness seized his little boy, his only son, then five years old, who had filled his home with such life and gladness, and was the bright centre of so many hopes. The illness of the child lasted five weeks, and in the course of it we have the following note from Mr. Ticknor to his eldest daughter, then eleven years old, who had been left in the country, which contains a simple expression of his anxiety and trouble:—
The little boy died on the 4th of August. The blow fell heavily, crushing for a time the hearts of both parents. A few weeks after this bereavement Mr. Ticknor wrote to Mr. Daveis thus:—
In the weary months that followed, the struggle to put aside the heavy weight of grief, to return to the duties of the hour, proved too much for the physical endurance of the boy's mother. Both parents were resigned, they felt the Father's hand in their bereavement, they looked forward to a blessed meeting with their child hereafter; but the human frame cannot always be braced to bear what the will demands of it. Mr. Ticknor saw here a new duty; and while his thoughts were constantly at the other brink of that recent grave,—he said a few years afterwards to a friend, that the other world seemed to him separated from this by only a very thin veil,—yet he did not waver from the performance of his present work. He saw that change of scene might become necessary, and, probably in preparation for this, he brought to accomplishment that which had been already for some time among his purposes.
Ten weeks later he writes again to Mr. Daveis:—