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Chapter 17:

The two years succeeding Mr. Ticknor's return from Europe —thus sped quietly and happily by; but in June, 1821, a great sorrow came close on a great joy, his father's unexpected death taking place between his own engagement and marriage. Something of what he then underwent is described in the following passage from a letter to Mr. Charles Daveis, written August 4, 1821:—
You know our journey taken on Mr. Norton's marriage.1 There was never anything more delightful. We went first to New York, . . . . then up the North River, and to the beautiful Lake George, and Lake Champlain. . . . . . But the whole party was disposed, from the first, to give me the pleasure of seeing my father at Hanover, where he went early in May, some weeks before we left Boston; and we therefore crossed the Green Mountains, and came down by the exquisite banks of the White River, to its confluence with the Connecticut. The two last days of this ride were, certainly, the most gay and delightful of the gayest and most delightful journey I ever took in my life.

On the afternoon of Saturday, the 16th of June, I rode on in the chaise with Anna, leaving the coach behind, and arrived at Hanover quite early, to see my father the sooner. The first news I heard, in reply to the first question I asked at the inn, was, that he had had an access of paralysis the afternoon previous. I hastened to him instantly, and did not leave him, except a moment at a time, until his death the following Friday morning. It was, as you may well [335] imagine, a stunning blow to fall on me at such a moment. . . . . I am not superstitious, but I shall never believe there was nothing providential in the arrangement, which, contrary to our purposes, brought us to Hanover just at the moment I was wanted,—if we had been permitted to fulfil our purposes, we should have passed Hanover, and yet not have arrived at home, so that there would have been no hope of getting me there even for the closing scene,2—and gave me there the support of so many dear friends, and especially the dearest, which I could otherwise not have asked. Then, too, my father's faculties were all preserved clear to him, . . . . and what was more than all, and above all, he was ready to go, and those who were with him saw proofs not to be mistaken, that when he came to his deathbed, he found he had placed his hopes safely, and that he had nothing to do but to die. . . . . His death was to him like any important occurrence of his life, only much more solemn; and he spoke of it, and marked its approach—until within a few hours of his last moment—with a tranquillity whose foundation could never have been laid in this world. . . . .

On the 18th of September Mr. Ticknor was married to Miss Anna Eliot, youngest daughter of Mr. Samuel Eliot, a successful merchant, and a man of strong character and cultivated mind, who will be remembered as the founder of the Professorship of Greek Literature at Harvard College.3 This marriage brought with it new and happy influences, but it made no marked change in the habits of his life as a scholar and teacher. His disposition and tastes found their full exercise and expression in his home, and that home was thenceforth, for many years, a brilliant and genial centre of the most cultivated society of Boston. The fortune he inherited from his father—together with that of his wife—enabled him to live at ease, with unpretending elegance. In nothing was he extravagant or luxurious, while his personal habits were marked by great moderation and simplicity. His means were ample, not only for the maintenance of a liberal and tasteful establishment, but for the increase [336] of his library, and for the multiplied demands of private charity, and of benevolent institutions, to which he gave both money and much personal service.

As soon as he had a house of his own, he enjoyed the ability it gave him to welcome his friends from distant places, and during the winter of 1821-22, Daveis, Haven, and Cogswell were at different times his guests. These visits did not, however, disturb the steady course of his industrious life, and he writes in February: ‘I have been very quietly at home all winter; no visiting abroad, much writing of lectures, much studying of Italian between Anna and my nieces, and once a week Artiguenave—who is a first-rate French reader — has read us a French play.’ In April he says to Mr. Daveis, ‘My lectures have given me a good deal of occupation,—three delivered, and one written, every week,—and besides all this, as it is found I am willing to work, work enough is put upon my shoulders, so that, after all, I am abroad much more than I like to be, though almost never for my amusement.’

One of the matters to which he thus referred is the subject of the following paragraph, from another letter to Mr. Daveis:—

I want to say a word or two to you and Mr. Nichols, about the interests of a society which I have considerably on my heart and conscience. It is the one called the ‘Publishing Fund,’ whose object is to furnish wholesome religious, moral, and improving reading of all kinds to the poor, cheaper than they now get fanatical or depraving reading. For this purpose a fund has been raised, . . . . on which we mean regularly to trade at a very small profit, getting our printing done as cheaply as possible, and making everybody else work almost for charity's sake . . . . Think of this good work, then, and come over into Macedonia and help us.

Upon his father's death he was chosen to succeed him in the Primary School Board, and continued a member of it for three years, giving much time and thought to its duties, moved as well by his own strong interest in the subject of education, as by respect to his father's memory.

From this animated, but regular and quiet winter life, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor turned, as the summer came, to the pleasant [337] variety of visits to their friends. They passed some weeks at the delightful summer home of Judge Prescott at Pepperell, which has now become a point of interest in the literary history of the country, from its association with the studies of his distinguished son. They were the guests of Mr. Haven at Portsmouth, and of Mr. Daveis at Portland, both of whom, surrounded by young families, were diligently engaged in the practice of the law; but both retained that love of literature which had been so strong a bond of sympathy between the friends in their early days. From Portland they went farther east to the country-place of Mr. Robert H. Gardiner, on the Kennebec, long the seat of an extended and elegant hospitality, like that which forms so graceful a feature in the country life of England. It is thus described by Mr. Ticknor, in a letter to Mrs. Eliot:—

We finished our delightful visit on the Kennebec, dear mother, last Wednesday morning, and came away with great regret. Mr. Gardiner's house is certainly the pleasantest country establishment in New England. The local situation is so beautiful; the grounds are so happily diversified, and cultivated with such taste; the house is of such fine architecture without, and so convenient within; and the family is so well ordered, the tone of its intercourse so gentle, simple, and refined, that, besides being happy in the enjoyment everything about him affords, a visitor can hardly help being made better. . . . . Everybody, from a sort of unseen genius of place, feels at once all wants anticipated, and yet a perfect freedom. . . . .

After their return he writes thus to Mr. Daveis:—

Boston, September 4, 1822.
my dear Charles,—We made a very pleasant journey homeward, not, indeed, without some feelings of regret that we were obliged to make it so soon, and arrived here just at the time we proposed. The next afternoon my faithful agent from New Hampshire made his punctual appearance, and I had two days of good work to go through4. . . . .

We had a very pleasant visit indeed with you in Portland, and in truth the whole of our Eastern excursion will be long remembered [338] among the bright spots in our recollections. For, after all, it is not to be denied that—even in partibusa certain sort of happiness is pretty equally distributed, and that, in the wide extent of your wildernesses, wild-flowers may be found—after long and uncertain intervals—of no common beauty and fragrance . . . . We were, nonsense apart, very much struck with your happiness in each other, and the many pleasures you have in common; because you are so few, that your intimacy is perfect; and it is a pleasure we shall not easily forget, that we were permitted to mingle in it, as if we had been one of you, and share a sort of domestic life which can exist neither in a large city nor in the country; and which is, perhaps, on many of the best accounts, better than either. . . .

The following extract shows his immediate appreciation of one of the early products of American literature:—

To N. A. Haven, Portsmouth.

February, 1823.
. . . . I hope you will have seen Tudor's book5 before you get this. Certainly you will like it when you do see it, for it really gives the best representation possible, and, indeed, what may be called a kind of dramatic exhibition, of the state of feeling in New England out of which the Revolution was produced. There is nothing like it in print,—that I have ever seen,—among our materials for future history, nor could such a book be made twenty years hence, for then all the traditions will have perished with the old men from whose graves he has just rescued them. It takes prodigiously here, and will, I think, do much good by promoting an inquiry into the most interesting and important part of our history.

In the autumn of 1823 Chancellor Kent—who had been compelled, by an unwise provision in the Constitution of the State of New York, to leave the bench, though still in all the fulness of his great judicial powers—paid a visit to Boston, and was received, alike by lawyers and laymen, with a warmth of welcome due to his talents, learning, and worth. Mr. Ticknor saw him often, and thus writes of him to his friend Mr. Daveis, and to his brother-in-law Mr. Eliot:— [339]

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

Boston, September 19, 1823.
my dear Charles,—. . . . Your very gay and happy letter of the 23d of August came in one morning just as the Chancellor was with me, and we were setting off for Nahant. I had the pleasure, too, that day of taking him to Salem, to Judge Story, and making them acquainted; after which we all came to the new hotel,6 and with Mr. Otis7 had a very merry time indeed.

He is, in his conversation, extremely active, simple, entertaining, and I know not when we have had among us a man so much to my mind in all things. I dined with him five or six times, and he dined with us the last day, and a rare display of fine talk we had at table, between him, Mr. Prescott, Mr. Lowell, and Mr. Webster. . . . Everybody was delighted with him. His whole visit among us was an unbroken triumph, which he enjoyed with the greatest openness. .

I carried him to Quincy to see President Adams and Mr. J. Q. Adams, . . . . and we met them afterwards at table at Mr. Quincy's. Mr. J. Q. Adams made a most extraordinary attack on the character of Chancellor Bacon, saying that his Essays give proof of a greater corruption of heart, of a more total wickedness, than any book he ever saw. Our New York Chancellor expressed the most simple and natural astonishment at this, and we got over the matter the next day, at dinner, by drinking to ‘the Memory of Chancellor Bacon, with all his faults,’ a toast which Mr. Prescott evidently gave with the greatest satisfaction. Mr. Quincy gave a beautiful toast at his own table, which I suspect was not the least pleasant to the Chancellor, among all the delicate and indirect compliments that were offered to him among us, and which was very appropriate at a table where were Mr. J. Q. Adams, Mr. Prescott, etc. It was, ‘Nature, who repeals all political Constitutions by the great Constitution of mind.’ And Webster, on the same occasion, made a pleasant repartee in compliment to Mr. Quincy. Mr. Adams, being called on for a toast, said to Mr. Quincy, ‘I will give you, Sir, the good City of Boston.’ ‘That,’ said Mr. Webster, ‘we gave Mr. Quincy long ago, ourselves, with the greatest pleasure.’8 [340]

Indeed, the Chancellor seemed to give an uncommon stir and brightness to men's faculties, while he was with us, . . . . there seemed to be a happy and healthy excitement of the intellectual powers and social feelings of all with whom he came in contact, that was the evident result of his rich talents and transparent simplicity of character, and which I have never known to be produced among us in the same degree by any other individual.

To S. A. Eliot, London.

Boston, September 13, 1823.
. . . . Among the strangers who have been here this season, by far the most considerable is Chancellor Kent, now superannuated by the Constitution of the State of New York, because he is above sixty years old, and yet, de facto, in the very flush arid vigor of his extraordinary faculties. He was received with a more cordial and flattering attention than I ever knew a stranger to be in Boston, and had not a moment of his time left unoccupied. He enjoyed it all extremely, and is of such transparent simplicity of character that he did not at all conceal the pleasure he received from the respect paid him during the ten days he was with us. What pleased him most, I suspect, was the Phi Beta9 dinner. All the old members attended it on his account, so that nearly a hundred sat down to table, among whom were Chief Justice Parker, Judge Davis, Judge Story, Mr. Prescott, Sen., Mr. Webster, etc. The whole was carried through, with extemporaneous spirit, in the finest style, and nothing faltered, up to the last moment.

The best toasts we ever had in this part of the country were given, on requisition from the chair, at an instant's warning, and the succession was uninterrupted. Judge Parker gave, ‘The happy climate of New York, where the moral sensibilities and intellectual energies are preserved long after constitutional decay has taken place’; and Judge Story gave, ‘The State of New York, where the law of the land has been so ably administered that it has become the land of the law’; to which the Chancellor instantly replied, ‘The State of Massachusetts, the land of Story as well as of Song’; and so it was kept up for three or four hours, not a soul leaving the table. At last the Chancellor rose, and the whole company rose with him, and clapped him as far as he could hear it, and then all quietly separated. It was the [341] finest literary festival I ever witnessed, and I never saw anybody who I thought would enjoy it more than the Chancellor did.

I was with him a great deal while he was in Boston; he dined with us the day before he left; and I really think he is not only one of the most powerful, but one of the most interesting men I ever saw.

Mr. William H. Prescott, who was at this time interested in the study of Italian literature, addressed to Mr. Ticknor, on a stormy day in December, a letter, inspired by his reading of Petrarch, in which, among other things, he earnestly maintained the real existence of Laura. Mr. Ticknor, kept at home, like his friend, by the weather, replied at once with equal interest in the subject, but in a more sceptical tone, both as to Laura's existence and as to the relations between her and the poet who has immortalized her name.

Mr. Prescott's letter is given in the Life of him by his friend, as well as the answer he made to the following:—

To Wm. H. Prescott, Boston.

17 December, 1823. Wednesday Afternoon.
Your three close-written pages about Petrarch, my dear William, have stirred me about him more than I have been before these six years. And having nothing to do, I passed the whole morning in the way you had set me out. I began with whatever I had marked in his Rime, and then having some mind to a greater acquaintance with himself, I read the greater part of his Treatises De Remediis utriusque Fortunoe, and De Vita Solitaria; and ended with as many of his Letters as brought me to dinner-time. The whole affair has given me great pleasure. It has, I think, once more put me in possession of the character and feelings of Petrarch, in the only way in which it is possible to understand them; and, for aught I know, I have brought myself back—thanks to your very pleasant discussion —much to the same state in which I was when, on a beautiful spring day in Provence, I read the ‘chiare, dolci e fresche acque’ for the last time—till this morning—by the Fountain of Vaucluse.

The first question in my thoughts there, and the only one I thought of as I stood the next day in the garden of the Sceurs de la Charite, at Avignon, is precisely the one you have moved in your letter. Was Laura a real existence, or, rather, was she really a person with whom [342] Petrarch was so long and so sincerely in love as his works would imply, and who filled as large a space in his heart as she does in his Sonnets.

There is very little, I believe, said on this point, in early times, any more than on the Fiammetta of Boccaccio, and the Beatrice of Dante. I found, however, this morning, a reference in Tiraboschi to one of Petrarch's own letters to a member of the Colonna family; and, looking it up, was surprised to see that this intimate friend of Petrarch treated Laura entirely as an imaginary existence, and that the poet rather evaded the question than contradicted what his friend had said. ‘Believe me,’ says he, ‘no one can dissemble long, but with great effort. But to labor gratuitously, in order to seem mad, were the height of insanity.’ This almost admits what Colonna had said, that his Laura was Lauream poeticam merely; or, at any rate, it is a mere evasion. With this interpretation, however, the world was satisfied until the sixteenth century, that is, for two hundred years, when Vellutello—one of Petrarch's commentators —went to Avignon on purpose to discover something about a substantial Laura, and of course succeeded, built up a romantic system to suit the poet's circumstances, on a single baptismal entry, and again satisfied the world for another century.

At last the Abbe de Sade came, and published three enormous folios about his own city, his own church, and his own family, proving very satisfactorily that a certain Laura de Sade was living between 1308 and 1348, and that he was descended from one of her eleven children, inferring, very ingeniously, that she was the Laura of the Sonnets. But in 1812 a little book was published in Edinburgh, showing that all this superstructure of well-compacted inferences lacked a sufficient foundation, because the initials found in the tomb at Avignon, on which it was all built, referred to somebody else. There, if I understand the matter, the discussion still rests, so far as the external evidence is concerned.

As to the internal evidence, there is necessarily much more room for a free use of weapons, and, of course, the contest has ranged much more widely. A thousand passages have been cited, full of the sincerest and most natural passion, to prove that nothing but a genuine attachment could have given birth to the whole series of poems; and these have been answered by a thousand others, composed of mere puns and conceits, which are as remote from nature as possible. The one you cite, of his strong impression that Laura will retain in heaven the features he loved on earth, and that he shall see and love them again, is no doubt eminently natural; but it is applied, [343] in Southey's ‘Curse of Kehama,’ by one imaginary being to another, and therefore might have been well applied by a real poet to a fancied mistress. I remember, too, to have seen, somewhere, great trust put upon the exquisite phrase, ‘lasciando tenebroso, onde si move,’ as too fresh from the heart of a lover to be considered mere poetry; and yet Milton has made Adam say of Eve, ‘She disappeared, and left me dark,’ and Spenser, reversing the medal, says, yet more beautifully, of Una, that

her angel's face
Could make a sunshine in the shady place.

In short, this argument of internal evidence seems to me to be very little applicable to poetry like that in question; because, in truth, as the Clown says in ‘As You Like It,’ ‘what is most feigning is most poetical,’ and because the Platonizing period, in which Petrarch lived, filled the world with imaginations not less extravagant than Laura; and many of them of the same kind, which have hardly yet ceased to be worshipped as realities. I am not, however, willing to say that Petrarch found nothing in nature to give him the intimation of the being he has idealized and called Laura; nor am I willing to abandon those dates which he has given with so much exactness in his Sonnets, and which I remember, also, to have seen in his own exquisite Gothic hand, in his copy of Virgil, recording the time when he first saw her, and the time of her death. It seems to me it cannot all have been a mere fiction; and yet I think that the fat, happy, patriotic citizen and poet, who travelled all over Europe, and who studied more books than any mian of his time, and who lived so much in the houses and confidence of Princes and Cardinals, is little likely to have been the pining, suffering lover he so exquisitely represents. That he was in love, I do not doubt. That he chose a lady of his heart, that he saw her first at church, in April, 1327, and that she died in 1348,—as he has so exactly marked it in his Sonnets,—seems all very reasonable. But it remains to be proved from his works, or in any other way, that he was among her acquaintance or friends, or that he ever spoke to her. Not one line intimates that she ever vouchsafed him a word of kindness or favor. He was satisfied, I apprehend, to consider her a bright and beautiful vision; ‘to behold though but her utmost skirts of glory, and far off her steps adore.’ He formed a circle of dreams and wishes for his heart, and she was the centre of them, but that was all. She, perhaps, knew nothing of his passion, and, at any rate, lived on in undisturbed happiness [344] with her husband, and became the mother of eleven children. In her death—if Laura de Sade were indeed the object of his poetry— he lost nothing. The thought of her in another and better world rather gave his fancy a new means and freer excitement; and as he had already, during twenty years, employed his imagination in decorating her with unearthly charms, so now he continued yet ten years longer, with rather increased enthusiasm, until the flame, which had been nourished almost entirely by his fancy, was at last extinguished of itself.

In August, 1824, General Lafayette returned, after an interval of thirty-eight years, to revisit the United States, upon the invitation of the President, and was received everywhere, as the ‘Guest of the Nation,’ with such hearty demonstrations of gratitude and reverence as proved the depth of the feeling from which they sprung, and which still remains without a parallel. In the forty-sixth number of the ‘North American Review,’ published in 1824, there appeared from Mr. Ticknor's pen a sketch of the life and character of this illustrious man, which, with a few alterations and additions, was subsequently published in pamphlet form. Timely in its appearance, and presenting, in appropriate and feeling language, the course of a life of heroic fidelity to duty, it was received with great favor, widely circulated, and afterwards translated into French.10

It was a great enjoyment to Mr. Ticknor to renew in Boston his personal intercourse with the distinguished man whom he had learned to love and venerate in his home at La Grange. He had the pleasure of receiving General Lafayette, more than once, as his guest, and after one of these occasions he writes thus to his friend Daveis:—

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

Boston, September 28, 1824.
I wish with all my heart, my dear Charles, that you had come up to see us when the old General was here; and if I had at all anticipated [345] what kind and degree of excitement his visit would produce, we should have sent some special summons to fetch you. But the whole affair was unexpected. I mean the popular enthusiasm, which made everything go so warmly and heartily, and gave the whole tour for ten days the appearance of one continued and beautiful festival, which every heart shared and increased.

I saw him constantly, because, on the score of mere acquaintance, nobody among us knew half so much of him as I did, having passed some time at La Grange; and it was delightful in all cases — as of course it was peculiarly gratifying in my own — to observe that he uniformly stopped, in the midst of all the show and bustle that constantly pressed him, to recognize those who had none but the common claims of private regard on his notice.

On Sunday evening he supped with us, by his own suggestion and invitation. As it was Sunday, we did not wish or choose to invite company. We had, therefore, only Mr.Quincy and Mrs. Quincy, Mr.Prescott and Mrs. Prescott, and Mr. and Mrs. Webster. It was then I wanted you, for it was the only occasion in New England on which he has had a quiet opportunity to converse; and he talked most interestingly for two hours on the French Revolution, Bonaparte, and the Hundred Days, of all which—or, at any rate, of the first and last—nobody alive knows as much as he does.

His whole visit here was very fortunate. Everything went on without effort, because the universal enthusiasm gave the irresistible impulse that carried everything forward; while on his part he showed great skill and tact, always saying the right thing at the right time, and in the right place. I did not think, before he was tried, that he could have done so much and so well.

We have passed the summer . . . . almost entirely in Boston. About the first of August we went to Round Hill and Hanover, but that is all. What the winter will bring forth, we cannot yet begin to foresee. I shall lecture till late in the autumn. Then, if I can persuade A., we shall go South, as far as Charleston . . . . But she gives me little encouragement that she will do it, and yet seems willing to go to Washington, Richmond, and Monticello, where Mr. Jefferson has again and again written to invite us to make a visit. You may therefore hear of us from the midst of the University of Virginia, or from the bustle of the Presidential election, or we may keep our own fireside in quiet and peace. . . . .

Alexander Everett and his wife are here, and we see them quite often, and find them very pleasant. They supped here two evenings [346] ago, with Gener, who was President of the Cortes when the King was deposed, and tells many curious stories of those troubled times.

Our friend Wallenstein left us last week, after a visit of above two months. He is a very uncommon man, of remarkable acquirements.

. . . . I believe he carried off the respect and personal regard of every distinguished man in this quarter of the country. . . . .11

In November, 1824, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor went to Washington, and afterwards, accompanied by Mr. Webster, visited Mr. Madison at Montpellier, and Mr. Jefferson at Monticello. Upon their return they passed some weeks in Washington, mingling in its general society, and seeing, in an easy and familiar way, many of the distinguished men assembled there. In two letters to Mr. Prescott, Mr. Ticknor describes some of the scenes and incidents of this journey.12

To Wm. H. Prescott.

Monticello, December 16, 1824.
Your letter, my dear William, followed us from Washington, and was waiting here day before yesterday, when we arrived. We thank you for it very much, and for all the agreeable intelligence and pleasant talk it contained . . . . We have had an extremely pleasant visit in Virginia thus far, and have been much less annoyed by bad roads and bad inns than we supposed we should be, though both are certainly vile enough. We left Washington just a week ago, and came seventy miles in a steamboat, to Potomac Creek, and afterwards nine miles by land, to Fredericksburg. . . . .

On Saturday morning we reached Mr. Madison's, at Montpellier, on the west side of what is called the Southwest Mountain; a very fine, commanding situation, with the magnificent range of the Blue Ridge stretching along the whole horizon in front, at the distance of from twenty to thirty miles. . . . .

We were received with a good deal of dignity and much cordiality, by Mr.Madison and Mrs. Madison, in the portico, and immediately placed at [347] ease; for they were apprised of our coming an hour or two before we arrived, and were therefore all in order, to show a little of that ceremony in which Mrs. Madison still delights.

Mr. Madison is a younger-looking man—he is now seventy-four— than he was when I saw him ten years ago, with an unsuccessful war grinding him to the earth; and he is one of the most pleasant men I have met, both from the variety and vivacity of his conversation. He lives, apparently, with great regularity. We breakfasted at nine, dined about four, drank tea at seven, and went to bed at ten; that is, we went to our rooms, where we were furnished with everything we wanted, and where Mrs. Madison sent us a nice supper every night and a nice luncheon every forenoon. From ten o'clock in the morning till three we rode, walked, or remained in our rooms, Mr.Madison and Mrs. Madison being then occupied. The table is very ample and elegant, and somewhat luxurious; it is evidently a serious item in the account of Mr. M.'s happiness, and it seems to be his habit to pass about an hour, after the cloth is removed, with a variety of wines of no mean quality.

On politics he is a little reserved, as he seems determined not to be again involved in them; but about everything else he talked with great freedom, and told an interminable series of capital stories, most of which have some historical value. His language, though not very rich or picturesque, was chosen with much skill, and combined into very elegant and finished sentences; and both Mr. Webster and myself were struck with a degree of good-sense in his conversation which we had not anticipated from his school of politics and course of life. We passed our time, therefore, very pleasantly, and feel indebted to him for a hospitality which becomes one who has been at the head of the nation.

On Sunday forenoon we took a ride of a dozen miles across different plantations, to see the country and the people. Mr. Madison's farm—as he calls it—consists of about three thousand acres, with an hundred and eighty slaves, and is among the best managed in Virginia. We saw also one or two others that looked very well, but in general things had a very squalid appearance. We stopped at the house of Mr. Philip Barbour, one of the most active lawyers in the Commonwealth, lately Speaker of the House of Representatives, and still one of its prominent members. The house is of brick, and new, large enough, and not inconvenient. Probably he lives with a sort of luxury which is chiefly the result of abundance, and is not very refined; but certainly there is little comfort in his establishment, and [348] a good, honest New-Englander, with a thousand dollars a year, would have more enjoyment of life than Mr. Barbour has with six or seven. . . . .

Early on Tuesday we arrived at Monticello. Everything here is on a larger scale than at Montpellier; the house, the grounds, and the arrangements. There is, too, nothing that marks the residence of an Ex-King. The family consists of Mr. Jefferson; Mrs. Randolph, his daughter, about fifty-two years old; Mr. Trist, a young Louisianian, who has married her fourth daughter; Miss Ellen; two other daughters, of eighteen and twenty; Mrs. Trist; four sons under sixteen; Mr. Harrison, a young lawyer of Harrisburg, who lately studied at Cambridge; Mr. Long,13 just from Cambridge, England, apparently an excellent scholar, and now a professor in the University at Charlottesville; Mr. Webster; and ourselves. . . .

Yesterday we formed a party, and, with Mr. Jefferson at our head, went to the University.14 It is a very fine establishment, consisting of ten houses for professors, four eating-houses, a rotunda on the model of the Parthenon, with a magnificent room for a library, and four fine lecture-rooms, with one hundred and eight apartments for students; the whole situated in the midst of two hundred and fifty acres of land, high, healthy, and with noble prospects all around it. It has cost two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and the thorough finish of every part of it, and the beautiful architecture of the whole, show, I think, that it has not cost too much. Each professor receives his house, which in Charlottesville — the neighboring village—would rent for $600, a salary of $1,500, and a fee of $20 from every student who attends his instructions, which are to be lectures, three times a week. Of the details of the system I shall discourse much when I see you. It is more practical than I feared, but not so practical that I feel satisfied of its success. It is, however, an experiment worth trying, to which I earnestly desire the happiest results; and they have, to begin it, a mass of buildings more beautiful than anything architectural in New England, and more appropriate to an university than can be found, perhaps, in the world.

Mr. Jefferson is entirely absorbed in it, and its success would make a beau finale indeed to his life. He is now eighty-two years old, very little altered from what he was ten years ago, very active, lively, and happy, riding from ten to fifteen miles every day, and talking [349] without the least restraint, very pleasantly, upon all subjects. In politics, his interest seems nearly gone. He takes no newspaper but the Richmond Enquirer, and reads that reluctantly; but on all matters of literature, philosophy, and general interest, he is prompt and even eager. He reads much Greek and Saxon. I saw his Greek Lexicon, printed in 1817; it was much worn with use, and contained many curious notes. . . . .

Mr. Jefferson seems to enjoy life highly, and very rationally; but he said well of himself the other evening, ‘When I can neither read nor ride, I shall desire very much to make my bow.’ I think he bids fair to enjoy both, yet nine or ten years . . . . Write to us, my dear William, as soon as you can, and very often, and we will do all we can to send you speedy and pleasant answers.

Yours always,

To Wm. H. Prescott.

Baltimore, January 16, 1825.
We received your long and very entertaining letter, my dear William, above a week ago, at Washington . . . . . I should have answered it at once, but we were then too busy to do what we would, and I was obliged to postpone writing. We arrived here last night.

The first time we were in Washington we passed a little less than a fortnight; the last time, between three and four weeks. It is altogether a very curious residence; very different from anything I have seen in any part of the world. The regular inhabitants of the city, from the President downwards, lead a hard and troublesome life. It is their business to entertain strangers, and they do it, each one according to his means, but all in a very laborious way. . . . .

The President gives a dinner, once a week, to thirty or forty people—no ladies present—in a vast, cold hall. He invited me to one, but I did not go. I was, however, at a very pleasant dinner of only a dozen, that he gave to Lafayette, when the old gentleman made himself very agreeable; but this was quite out of the common course. . . . . . Mr. Adams15 gives a great dinner once a week, and Mrs. Adams a great ball once a fortnight; it keeps her ill half the time, but she is a woman of great spirit, and carries it through with a high hand. . . . . Calhoun's, however, was the pleasantest of the ministerial dinners, because he invited ladies, and is the most agreeable person in conversation at Washington,—I mean of the Cabinet,—and Mrs. [350] Calhoun is a very good little woman, who sometimes gives a pleasant ball. . . . . The Russian Minister is a strange, retired fanatic, in feeble health, who gives splendid dinners once a week. Addington, the British Charge, is a very acute, pleasant, well-informed man of letters, who gives very agreeable little dinners en garcon, twice a week, The Baron de Mareuil16 is a truly elegant gentleman, in the largest sense of the term, and his wife is a very sweet and beautiful woman, with winning manners. They are now in severe mourning for the king, and see no company; but we went there sometimes, and dined with them once enfamille, most pleasantly. These are the chief of the permanent resources of Washington, for society and agreeable intercourse. .

The truth is, that at Washington society is the business of life. . . . . People have nothing but one another to amuse themselves with; and as it is thus obviously for every man's interest to be agreeable, you may be sure very few fail. For myself, I can truly say I have seldom been more amused, interested, and excited during my life, than in the last three or four weeks. I found out how things were going, the first time we were there, and I was determined to make my arrangements so as to enjoy them myself, and especially to give A. a chance to see the great men of the time, and enjoy their conversation. Every morning we went to return visits; . . . . then to the House or Senate, if there were any debate. At four o'clock, Mr. Webster and Wallenstein came to dinner,—if we dined at home, —so that we were sure of delightful society. To these, I often added one or two others, and thus had at different times, entirely without ceremony, Mr. Poinsett,17 Mr. Clay, Mr. Tazewell,18 Mr. Cheves,19 Mr. King, General Bernard, the Edward Livingstons, General Lafayette, etc. These dinners were as pleasant as anything of the sort could well be, for Mr. Webster was generally very animated, and there was no want of excitement among the rest of them.

We often went to a party in the evening, which was almost uniformly a dance, and after that was over came home to a little supper, or went to one elsewhere, so that, from twelve at noon till midnight, we were constantly in society as agreeable and exciting as [351] any in the country. Our next neighbors were the Edward Livingstons, between whose parlor and ours we soon removed all obstructions; and under the same roof, Colonel Hayne20 and his wife, Mr. Cheves, Mr. Archer, Colonel Hamilton, General Mercer, Mr. King,21 and so on. Two or three times a week, therefore, we could make an agreeable supper-party without going out of the house. . . . . The only objection to society at Washington is, that there is too much of it.

Here, however, things are entirely different. It is, at this moment, a city of mourning. . . . . The first moment after our arrival we heard of General Harper's death, and the tokens of it have been before our eyes ever since. I saw him several times last November, and spent an evening at his house. He was then in remarkable health, not full and plethoric, as he used to be ten years ago, but with a very decided appearance of clear and settled health. His conversation was uncommonly rich and powerful; not very animated, but very frank, and occasionally with great choice and happiness of expression and illustration. The disease of which he died, an ossification of the great vessels of the heart, is one of those deep and obscure complaints for which the art of man has found no remedy . . . . . On Thursday he argued a very important cause, which has been in the courts these seventeen years, and Mr. Wirt says it was one of the ablest arguments he ever heard. . . . .

This morning he was buried, as Major-General of the Maryland militia . . . . I have seen a marshal of France, and a prince of the Roman Empire, buried with less dignity and grandeur, and with a much less moving and solemn effect. . . . .

When we shall be at home, I do not pretend very distinctly to foresee, but before long . . . . Addio, caro.

In the course of this visit in Washington, Mr. Ticknor was asked by General Lafayette to interest himself in discovering and assisting two German refugees, scholarly men, who had fled, for political reasons, first to Switzerland, and thence to the United States, and who had written to him asking aid in finding employment. Their names were Beck and Follen, and it [352] was supposed they might be found or heard of in Philadelphia. On his way home, therefore, Mr. Ticknor took great pains to gain some knowledge of them in Philadelphia, but failed up to the last day of his stay there. On that day, Mr. John Vaughan22 dined with him at the hotel, and, being interested in the search, suggested, as a last resource, that a Swiss shopkeeper in the neighborhood might possibly furnish some information. This chance was tried successfully. Two modest young men were found, just preparing, in despair of better things, to go as tillers of the soil into the interior of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ticknor said to them, ‘You must furnish me with a written statement of your history and acquirements.’ This they were quite willing to do, but confessed their inability to write either in English or in French with sufficient ease and accuracy. A proposal that they should use Latin made their faces brighten, and the next day the two documents were brought to Mr. Ticknor, written in correct and fluent Latin. Dr. Beck was soon—through Mr. Ticknor's means—established at Mr. Cogswell's school in Northampton, and afterwards became Professor of Latin at Harvard College, where he passed the rest of his life.

Dr. Follen was made teacher of German in Mr. Ticknor's department, at the same College, in 1825, and in 1830 was made Professor of German Language and Literature, which he held for five years. In 1826 Mr. Ticknor writes to Mr. Daveis, ‘Our German teacher, Dr. Follen, was formerly Professor of Civil Law at Basel, a young man who left his country from political troubles. He is a fine fellow, an excellent scholar, and teaches German admirably. He will lecture on the Civil Law, in Boston, in a few weeks . . . . He is a modest, thorough, faithful German scholar, who will do good among us, and be worth your knowing.’ The career of these two men was such as to make Mr. Ticknor look back with pleasure to the efforts he made in their behalf.

1 Prof. Andrews Norton (mentioned ante, p. 319) had recently married Miss Catherine Eliot, sister of Miss Anna Eliot, to whom Mr. Ticknor was engaged.

2 Some delays had occurred in the early part of the journey, and he here means that, but for these, their visit in Hanover would have occurred some days earlier.

3 Mr. Eliot had died the previous year.

4 This agent was an old Quaker, called Friend Williams.

5 The ‘Life of James Otis,’ by William Tudor. Boston, 1823.

6 At Nahant.

7 Hon. Harrison Gray Otis.

8 Hon. Josiah Quincy being at this time mayor of the newly made city of Boston.

9 Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College.

10 In a letter to Mr. Ticknor dated Paris, March, 1826, General Lafayette says: ‘A publication that has a claim to my deep and affectionate gratitude has been well translated in French, and three editions carried away in a few months. They are preparing, I am told, a fourth edition.’

11 In a letter of June 11, 1824, Mr. Ticknor speaks of ‘the Baron de Wallenstein, now belonging to the Russian Legation at Washington, a young German of great knowledge.’ The acquaintance had begun in Madrid.

12 An account of this visit to Mr. Jefferson is already well known to those who are familiar with Mr. Webster's Life by Curtis, and his papers published by his son. Some details and repetitions are therefore omitted here.

13 Mr. George Long, since well known by his various contributions to classical scholarship.

14 See ante, p. 303.

15 Then Secretary of State.

16 French Minister.

17 Joel R. Poinsett of South Carolina, our Minister to Mexico in 1825, and Secretary of War under President Van Buren.

18 Littleton Waller Tazewell, a distinguished lawyer of Virginia, and member of the United States Senate.

19 Langdon Cheves of South Carolina had been Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1815.

20 Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina, born 1791; best known for his debate with Mr. Webster in the United States Senate, in 1830.

21 Rufus King, our Minister to Great Britain in 1796; died in 1827 at the age of seventy-two.

22 Brother of Mr. Benjamin and Mr. William Vaughan; see ante, p. 55.

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