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Chapter 20:

The following letter-which, being chiefly concerned with our national affairs, belongs rather in the present chapter than where its date would have placed it–is addressed to a person whose slight connection with this book is no indication of his position in Mr. Ticknor's esteem. Judge Curtis was regarded by his uncle with an affectionate and faithful interest from his boyhood, and in his maturer years he became the object of a respect, and admiration, which seemed to neutralize the natural effect of their relative ages. The appointment of Mr. Curtis to a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, in 1851, gratified Mr. Ticknor in an extreme degree, while he felt that it was the place for which his nephew was by all the qualities of his mind and character expressly fitted; and his high judicial reputation, and the estimation in which he came to be held throughout the country, seemed to confirm, by general testimony, the justice of Mr. Ticknor's privately cherished opinion. Judge Curtis, however, was never a diligent correspondent, and when the constant intercourse between him and his uncle, in Boston, was interrupted by the absence of either, the absorbing nature of his professional engagements interfered very seriously with any attempt at epistolary communication. Their mutual confidence was too faithful to suffer by such temporary silence.

This letter is characteristic of both men, inasmuch as their conversation was always on matters of grave and weighty import.

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