through his brilliant experience in European
society, and his untiring use of that and of all his other opportunities.
It is quite certain, however, that his attractive qualities, with his sincere desire to be useful to the community, saved him from this peril.
He had earnestness and zeal, entire purity, consciousness of high intentions, and a resolute will.
His love of truth and right being so often shocked, his hatred of baseness or corruption, and distrust of fanatics and demagogues, so often roused,—these very virtues sometimes gave him an appearance of intolerance and loftiness; but the impression passed away, if the person receiving it had any further opportunity of testing Mr. Ticknor
's character and bearing.
His special mental gifts, a quick apprehension and a retentive memory, were both remarkable.
These were, as they generally are, accompanied by a thirst for acquisition, which his parents had naturally developed in the direction of literary culture, since they possessed it in some measure themselves, and were accustomed to stimulate it in others.
We can see, too, indirectly, in his early letter, describing Lord Jeffrey's visit to Boston
, what was the tone of conversation and manners—somewhat measured and formal, but full of thought and real courtesy—that prevailed in the then small town where he was born, and that tended to develop the qualities and resources most prized in his own early home.
But his later development was greatly due to moral qualities acting on and directing his intellect; for in him a healthy and manly nature was trained, even in the atmosphere of an indulgent home, to self-control, industry, and the highest respect for truth in every form.
These three elements, joined to his two special mental gifts, made him a scholar, earnest, exact, disinterested, and faithful; and a gentleman whose good-breeding and most winning manners caused him, from the early period of his youth when he first passed the borders of his native New England
, to be welcomed in refined society everywhere.
To his moral qualities it was due that he continued always in an attitude of inquiry, always craving more, and more exact knowledge, and that he held himself, until he was twenty-eight