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Chapter 25:


On the 1st of August, 1870, Mr. Ticknor entered his eightieth year. He was feeble, but free from any distinct bodily ailment. The heats of summer reduced his strength, and later in the year he was confined to his bed for a few days by a passing indisposition; but, on the whole, he was well, though he had ceased to be active, to rise early, or to walk much. All the faculties of his mind were clear. Even his memory, which he himself thought impaired, seemed to others still extraordinary, and his senses were all well preserved, save for a slight deafness. His days were calm and cheerful; he was cordial in his greetings to his friends as ever, and sitting in his library, surrounded by the treasures he had so faithfully used, he thoroughly enjoyed the leisure which permitted him to choose from among them those best suited to the taste and humor of the moment.1

New Year's Day, 1871, fell on Sunday, but he had some visitors with whom he talked with his former animation. Mr. Jefferson Coolidge,—a member of the Friday Club, though much younger than most of its members,—who spoke of being in want of a subject for reading, asked him what book was interesting him, and, putting his hand on a volume of the ‘Life of Scott,’ Mr. Ticknor said he was reading that for the fourth time; and then went on to speak of the biographies which make our knowledge of the history of English literature, for the half-century or more that opened with Dr. Johnson, more complete than for any other period, possibly in any literature.

1 He caused the words ‘Libris semper amicis’ to be inscribed on the base of a little statuette of him, made by Martin Milmore as a compliment and expression of gratitude.

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