changed the character of the country in several important respects.
His intercourse in Europe
with men distinguished both as leading statesmen and as political thinkers; his pursuit, even at Gottingen
, of studies calculated to make him a competent observer of the public life, the statesmen, and the governments of different lands,—all trained his judgment and quickened his insight into similar subjects at home.
In consequence of this, he took, for more than fifty years, as keen an interest in all the active political thought of his time, as if he himself had been concerned in its creation or its control His ability and his sagacity will be differently estimated by different readers; but his interest, and the breadth, wisdom, and elevation of his desires for his country, will be apparent to all. He loved his native land, and always fulfilled the duties imposed on private citizens with the privileges of a free government.
That he was thought sometimes desponding about the success of our institutions grew, probably, out of the eagerness and emphasis which he, often put into the expression of that consciousness of our dangers, from which no man, with his antecedents and his point of view, could escape; but which to younger men, of a generation marked by a spirit of laissez-faire
and sanguine confidence, seemed exaggerated and depressing.
His conversation showed his sense of the responsibility which rests on every man of thought and integrity to transmit to others the great truths and traditions he has received as an inheritance from those before him; to discountenance opinions which he is satisfied are dangerous to civilization and to healthy progress (a duty, as he once wrote, especially important where the government rests on public opinion); and to promote, so far as in him lies, the sovereignty of law and justice.
When a young law student, 1813-15, Mr. Ticknor
belonged to the Federalist party, and he always adhered to its creed, calling himself, in his latest years, an ‘old Federalist.’
In those early days he wrote political articles for the newspapers, and was somewhat a partisan; but after his first return from Europe
he did not renew either this spirit or that habit.