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[266] for a few days, and I have just been talking with him about it.1 . . . .

Hoping that when your leisure permits we may hear from you again,

Very sincerely yours,

To Prince John, Duke of Saxony, Dresden.

Boston, July 22, 1850.
my dear Prince,—I have desired to write to you for some time, and acknowledge the receipt of a very interesting and instructive letter which you sent me in the spring, and a note of May 9, in which you speak with your accustomed kindness of my ‘History of Spanish Literature,’ of which I had early ventured to send you a copy. But the state of our public affairs, on which I wished to say something, seemed every week to be likely to take a decisive turn . . . . I have waited, however, in vain. The debates are still going on, the decision is still somewhat uncertain, and the disturbed and excited state of public opinion and feeling is still unappeased.

But in the midst of this angry discussion has come a melancholy event, of which you have already heard,—I mean the very sudden death of the President of the United States; an event which, perhaps, will not exercise a great influence on the course of public affairs, but is worth particular notice, from the circumstance that what has accompanied and followed it throws a strong light on the nature and operation of the free institutions of this country. . . . . . The shock was very great; and, in a despotism, the loss of the head of the government, under circumstances of such national embarrassment, would have undoubtedly, I think, brought on a period of confusion. But here, the course of things was not in the least shaken. The next day

1 During this visit in Boston Mr. Webster one day sent a note to Mr. Ticknor asking him to come to his hotel in the afternoon, and having detained him in conversation till a party of gentlemen had assembled who had united to give a semi-public dinner in his (Mr. Webster's) honor, Mr. Ticknor was induced to sit down with them. When the after-dinner speaking began, one of the guests suddenly called on Mr. Ticknor, whom, he said, in all his large experience of public dinners he had never before seen on such an occasion; and, without a moment's chance for preparation, Mr. Ticknor responded with what a person present asserts was one of the happiest and most effective little speeches he had ever heard. This was the only time Mr. Ticknor was ever entrapped into such a performance; a fact as significant of his tastes, as the testimony to his success is significant of his gifts.

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