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Chapter 15:

  • Boston Public Library.
  • -- its History and Mr. Ticknors connection with it. -- his great purpose to make it a free Library. -- his perseverance on this Point. -- his labors. -- popular division first provided. -- Mr. Ticknor's visit to Europe for the interests of the Library, -- subsequent attention and personal liberality to the higher departments of the collection.

For some time after the publication of his ‘History of Spanish Literature,’ Mr. Ticknor did not take up any new or absorbing occupation, but, at the end of a little more than two years, he was asked—unexpectedly to him—to take part in a work which connected itself with plans and desires that had long been among his favorite speculations, and he soon became profoundly interested, and zealously active in promoting the organization of the Boston Public Library.

In the early period of his life, when he returned from Europe in 1819, after enjoying great advantages from the public libraries of the large cities and universities which he visited, the idea of a grand, free library, to supply similar resources in this country, was talked of by him with a few of his friends, and was for a time uppermost in his thoughts. Some movement was made to increase the Library of Harvard College, and that of the Athenaeum, in which he co-operated; but the improvements then gained seemed to satisfy the immediate wants of the community, and the desire for anything larger and freer, though it still survived in the minds of a few, did not spread widely or fast. During Mr. Ticknor's second visit to Europe, in 1835-38, he felt more than ever the inestimable resources furnished by the great libraries to men of intellectual pursuits like himself, especially in Dresden, where he had often twenty or thirty volumes from the Royal Library at his hotel. He therefore watched with

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