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.
wrote, in 1835,1
to a friend of Mr. Ticknor
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,’2
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