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Chapter 20:

  • Habits.
  • -- house in Park Street. -- hospitality. -- Review of Webster's works. -- lecture on teaching the living languages. -- studies of Milton, Dante, and Shakespeare. -- public lectures on Shakespeare. -- death of an infant daughter and of an only son. -- resignation of Professorship. -- departure for Europe.

The next years formed a very happy period in Mr. Ticknor's happy life; for, though checkered like all human lives with some sorrows, even with some acute and lasting griefs, his was, in the main, a remarkably happy life. Many elements of character and fortune combined to give a serene, well-balanced tone of animated contentment to his whole existence from youth to age. He had a resolute nature and an efficient intellect; he had, also, a deep-seated principle of industry, with a sense of the worth of occupation as a source of pleasure.

In relation to his fixed habit of industry he used often to quote with delight what was once said to him by Judge Prescott, his friend, and the father of his friend. Soon after his return from Europe, in 1819, he was talking one evening with Judge Prescott, and said of his own prospects, that he had enough work mapped out to fill at least ten years. ‘Take care always to be able to say the same thing; always have ten years work laid out before you, if you wish to be happy,’ was the wise reply; and in repeating it Mr. Ticknor used to add, that he believed he had never failed in fulfilling the injunction.

Of his health, which was, inevitably, an important element in the estimate of his opportunities and enjoyments, it need only be said, that his life in Europe seemed to have entirely changed him from a delicate youth to a strong and uniformly healthy man. From that time until his death—in spite of his usually sedentary occupations—he was habitually well; and his eyesight, [384] a matter of vast consequence to one of his tastes, was marvellously strong to the last. The one severe illness of his manhood was the result of an over-exertion, in the winter of 1828-29. He describes this, himself, as ‘an illness which, though no great things in itself, was a serious matter to me, because it was the first time I was ever seriously unwell. I was confined strictly to my bed for a week, and to the house something less than a month.’ Making light, also, of the cause of it, he says, ‘My complaint was in my side: a swelling that came suddenly, in consequence of exposure at the Hospital, when it was on fire. The scene was very distressing, the sick people fearing they should be burned alive; and, as one of the Trustees, I went round among them, reassuring them as much as I could, and so got wet and caught a cold.’1 He actually did more than this, for he helped in moving the patients, and undoubtedly strained himself. One thing, however, always amused him in connection with this illness. The nature of it was peculiar enough, and obscure enough, to cause an account of it to be printed—without names—in a medical journal. Mr. Ticknor showed this one day to a distinguished medical man from another city, and when he had read it, asked him what he thought ailed the patient in that case. The answer was, ‘I don't know, and I don't believe the attending physicians knew either.’

From the time when he formed a home of his own, Mr. Ticknor studied to make it a centre of comfort and improvement to all its members; and the warm and faithful feelings which his friendships proved were shown in their greatest strength in his own family. During several years when his wife was in a sensitive and prostrated state of health, and during her severe illnesses, his devotion to her comfort, his ingenuity and patience in ministering to the needs of mind and body, showed that his tact and tenderness were not quenched by study; while his watchful and close personal attention to the education of his eldest daughter proved his ability to keep every added duty in its true proportion. [385]

Some idea has already been given of the variety of his occupations; his College duties, his zealous participation in the charitable and intellectual movements of a very active city, his social interests, making a numerous amount of recognized claims. To these must be added, to complete the picture of the next coming years, the remembrance of hours spent in reading aloud, by his wife's sofa, such selections of English literature as might enliven her and instruct the child; and of other hours given to direct instruction and to vigilant supervision of all the daughter's studies. Without eminently methodical and punctual habits, such multiplied objects could not have been pursued with success, nor even without confusion and weariness.2

In summer he always sought a change of scene and habits. He maintained that one permanent establishment was enough, and that for a part of every year it was best to be free to seek new regions, another climate and another mode of life; he therefore never owned a country-house. Before 1840 it was much less the habit of the wealthy citizens of Boston to leave home in the summer, than it has since become; indeed, it was common enough to stay the whole year in town. Mr. Ticknor, however, always made excursions and journeys with his family, or took lodgings for a few weeks in some pretty spot in the neighborhood of Boston,—in Watertown, Brookline, or Nahant. Often they went to Portland and Gardiner; to Pepperell, the rural home of the Prescotts; to Round Hill, near Northampton, where Mr. Cogswell and Mr. Bancroft had opened a school; or to Hanover, where for some years there were still accounts to settle about the family property, with the old Quaker agent, Friend Williams.3 [386]

In the summer of 1827 a journey to Niagara ended by visits on the Hudson, and is thus sketched in a letter to Mr. Daveis:—

Of these journeyings you are already partly misinformed, and, as Nic Bottom would say, I will finish that matter myself. We have—as you heard—been to the Westward, but eschewed the Springs,4 not desiring fashion, but health. We had several bright spots in our journey: first, West Point, where my old friend Thayer's gallantry gave the ladies a beautiful entertainment; then Trenton Falls, more beautiful than those of Tivoli and Terni; then Mr. Wadsworth's magnificent establishment, where we passed two days; then Niagara itself, where we spent four days in constantly increasing delight and astonishment; then, on our return, Kaatskill, where, as Natty Bumpo says, ‘you see all creation’; then Governor Lewis's, on the North River, where we spent four days with the Livingston family, and one with Mrs. Montgomery, the widow of him who fell before Quebec; and finally Northampton. This is the general plan of our journey, which occupied six full weeks very pleasantly, . . . . and, all things considered, I hardly know when I have passed the same length of time more to my mind.

In the following summer, that of 1828, Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor made a trip to Quebec. This was succeeded by an excursion to Sandwich, on Cape Cod, with Mr. Webster, who found much comfort in their society at this time, saddened as he was by the recent death of his wife, to whom Mrs. Ticknor had been much attached; while Mr. Ticknor's friendship for him was full of sympathy. During this visit the following hasty letter went to Mr. Prescott:—

my dear William,—Mr. Webster has been out shooting all day, and brought home a fine quantity of beetle-heads, curlews, and other things whose names I do not remember, but which I doubt not are very savory. He has placed a part of them at my disposal, and, as I do not know anybody to whose recollection I wish to be agreeably recalled more than to that of your household, I have made up a little box for you. It will come just in season for your Saturday's dinner, and I wish I were with you, though it is cool, quiet, and comfortable here. . . . .

A. Thorndike and his household came to-day. He brings two dogs, [387] and an apparatus for shooting, ample enough to lay waste the Cape from here to Race Point, let alone a quantity of rods, water-proof breeches, and trout-destroying hooks. I have been out myself several times, with that notorious personage John Trout,5 and, though I cannot make up my mind to wade the brooks and the marshes as deeply as he does, I have had some luck.6

But Mr. Webster is a true sportsman. He was out thirteen hours to-day, without any regular meal, and is now as busy as a locksmith, with his guns. He seems to feel as if it were the one thing needful to kill birds, and neither to tire nor grow hungry while one can be seen. It has already made him look bright and strong again, for he came from Nantucket in but a poor condition.

But my note is called for, to be packed with the birds. Good night. We shall come home with the first cool weather. Love to Susan.

Yours always,

G. T.

From his marriage until this time Mr. Ticknor had dwelt in hired houses. Now, however, in 1829, he found what he had so long been waiting to find, a house which he was satisfied to buy, and there he made his home for the remaining forty-one and a half years of his life. The situation, the proportions and taste, and the ample size of this residence, sufficed for all the needs of domestic and social hours; and here, in joy and in sorrow, from far-off lands and from the inner recesses of heart and mind, was gathered ‘treasure of things new and old.’

The homes of almost all his friends, and his own dwelling-places,—since his return from Europe,—looked on the little park of forty-five acres, which, in spite of the seeming modesty of its traditional name, the Common, has always been the pride and joy of the Boston heart. His new house stood at the most attractive point of the margin of the Common, at the top of the slope looking down the avenue of elms of the finest of its malls, and facing to the southwest, so as to catch the prevailing [388] summer wind, and rejoice in the glory of the winter sunsets. The central point of the house, henceforward, was the large, sunny room, with three long balconied windows, where, at once, and without hesitation, his valuable and increasing collection of books was established.

Trusting to simple lines, just proportions, and harmony of subdued colors in furnishing this library, Mr. Ticknor succeeded in producing the effect he sought, of a dignified, cheerful home for himself and his books. When his friend Allston, the artist, —a man of fastidious taste and an acute sense of harmony of color,—first entered the room, he expressed the most unlimited approval.

Ten years later, on receiving a description of this room,—for which she had asked,—Miss Edgeworth wrote in her animated and sympathetic manner:—

Who talks of Boston in a voice so sweet? Who wishes to see me there? to show me their home, their family, their country? I have been there, . . . . have sate in the library too, and thought, and thought it all charming! Looking into the country, as you know the windows all do, I saw down through the vista of trees to the quiet bay, and the beautiful hills beyond, and I watched the glories of the setting sun, lighting up country and town. . . . .

I met Sir Walter Scott in Mr. Ticknor's library, with all his benign, calm expression of countenance, his eye of genius, and his mouth of humor, such as he was before the life of life was gone, such as genius loved to see him, such as American genius has given him to American friendship, immortalized in person, as in mind. His very self I see, feeling, thinking, and about to speak, and to a friend to whom he loved to speak; and well placed, and to his liking, he seems in this congenial library, presiding and sympathizing.

But, my dear madam, ten thousand books, about ten thousand books, do you say this library contains? My dear Mrs. Ticknor Then I am afraid you must have double rows, and that is a plague. . . . . Your library is thirty-four by twenty-two, you say. But, to be sure, you have not given me the height, and that height may make out room enough. Pray have it measured for me, that I may drive this odious notion of double rows out of my head.

The portrait of Sir Walter Scott, to which Miss Edgeworth [389] refers,—the only painting in the room,—is an original, by Leslie, hanging over the fireplace. Mr. Ticknor wrote to Sir Walter in 1824, asking him to sit for his likeness, but leaving the choice of the artist to him. In reply to this request, Sir Walter, with a tact and amiability very characteristic of him, selected the young American painter, then making himself known in England, and invited him to Abbotsford. Mr. Leslie has recorded the experiences of his delightful visit to the Wizard of the North, in his ‘Autobiographical Recollections.’7 He says, ‘In the autumn of 1824 I visited Scotland for the purpose of painting a portrait of Sir Walter Scott, for Mr. Ticknor of Boston’; and,—quoting one of his own letters written at the time,—‘Imagine how delightful these sittings are to me.’ Again, ‘There was more benevolence expressed in Scott's face than is given in any portrait of him; and I am sure there was much in his heart.’ This benevolence Leslie has made very obvious in his painting, while the intellect and the humor belonging there are not lost from sight. Sir Walter wished him to introduce one of his dogs into the picture, but after one or two experiments Leslie wisely decided against it.8

Before leaving the subject of Mr. Ticknor's home we will give one more short description,—from the pen of Hawthorne,— which includes a sketch of Mr. Ticknor himself, as he appeared, at a later period, it is true, but before any marked change had come over his looks or bearing.9

Mr. Folsom accompanied me to call upon Mr. Ticknor, the historian of Spanish literature. He has a fine house at the corner of Park and Beacon Streets, perhaps the very best position in Boston. A marble hall, a wide and easy staircase, a respectable old manservant, evidently long at home in the mansion, to admit us.10 We [390] entered the library, Mr. Folsom considerably in advance, as being familiar with the house; and I heard Mr. Ticknor greet him in friendly tones, their scholarlike and bibliographical pursuits, I suppose, bringing them into frequent conjunction. Then I was introduced, and received with great distinction, but yet without any ostentatious flourish of courtesy. Mr. Ticknor has a great head, and his hair is gray or grayish. You recognize in him, at once, the man who knows the world, the scholar, too, which probably is his more distinctive character, though a little more under the surface. . . . His library is a stately and beautiful room, for a private dwelling, and itself looks large and rich. . . . . Mr. Ticknor was most kind in his alacrity to solve the point on which Mr. Folsom, in my behalf, had consulted him,—as to whether there had been any English translation of the Tales of Cervantes,--and most liberal in his offers of books from his library. Certainly he is a fine example of a generous principled scholar, anxious to assist the human intellect in its efforts and researches. . . . . He is, I apprehend, a man of great cultivation and refinement, and with quite substance enough to be polished and refined without being worn too thin in the process, a man of society.

Mr. Ticknor's hospitable tastes and social habits made his house the constant scene of a friendly and intellectual life. At this time—1826-35—a supper at nine o'clock in the evening naturally followed the early three-o'clock dinner then customary, and such suppers, served in his house with much simplicity, attracted the gentlemen of his intimate circle, who dropped in uninvited, especially on Sunday evenings; and conversation full of vivacity and variety drew out the best powers of each on these occasions. [391]

Mr. George T. Curtis says11 of the persons who gathered at these suppers:—

I recall the two Messrs. Prescott, father and son; Mr. Webster; the Rev. Dr. Channing; Dr. Bowditch, the eminent mathematician and translator of La Place; Dr. Walter Channing, a kind and genial family physician; Mr. John Pickering, a Greek scholar and a learned lawyer; his brother, Octavius Pickering, the Reporter of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts; Mr. Willard Phillips; and Mr. James Savage. There were also many younger men, habitues of the house, whom I cannot recall. The Rev. Dr. Channing came seldom, but it was there I first saw him, and there, also, I first saw Mr. Webster in private. Prescott, the historian, not yet an author, was at that time in the full flush of his early manhood, running over with animal spirits, which his studies and self-discipline could not quench; talking with a joyous abandon, laughing at his own inconsequences, recovering himself gayly, and going on again in a graver strain, which soon gave way to some new joke or brilliant sally. Wherever he came there was always a ‘fillip’ to the discourse, be it of books, or society, or reminiscences of foreign travel, or the news of the day . . . . . The talk flowed freely, and as it naturally would among cultivated persons who led busy lives. . . . .

Dinner-parties were given by Mr. Ticknor, for a period of about fifty years, very frequently, and oftener, perhaps, than by most gentlemen of his standing in Boston. As a host he was singularly graceful, and did the honors in a manner that showed what an accomplished man he was. Good entertaining, and good hosts and hostesses can be found in many houses, but there was an atmosphere about Mr. Ticknor that was peculiar. It was not merely that his house was a house of books and learning. The knowledge that abounded there connected itself by many threads, not only with the past but with the present. Whatever was happening at home or abroad, the information that is kept alive and kept full by a wide correspondence, the stores of anecdote that come from a varied intercourse with distinguished contemporaries, the experiences of travel, the interest that attaches to the welfare of kindred and friends and neighborhood and country, all these things were reflected in Mr. Ticknor's conversation quite as much as mere topics of literature. No stranger who could command an introduction to Mr. Ticknor's house visited Boston during half a century, who did not gladly [392] avail himself of its hospitalities; and no intelligent traveller could have seen what was most attractive and interesting in the society of the New England metropolis, who failed to enjoy Mr. Ticknor's conversation in his own library and at his own table.

While Mr. Ticknor's conversational powers were extraordinary, he conversed, and did not discourse. He made conversation a fair exchange, and if his guest had anything to say, he was sure to have an opportunity.

Miss Edgeworth wrote, in 1835,12 to a friend of Mr. Ticknor, thus:—

I have been acquainted, and I may say intimately, with some of the most distinguished literary persons in Great Britain, France, and Switzerland, and have seen and heard all those distinguished for conversational talents; Talleyrand, Dumont, Mackintosh, Romilly, Dugald Stewart, Erskine, Sir Walter Scott, Sydney Smith, and Mr. Sharpe, the fashionable dinner-lions of London. I have passed days in the country-houses and in the domestic intimacy of some of them, and after all, I can, with strict truth, assure you, that Mr. Ticknor's conversation appeared to me fully on an equality with the most admired, in happy, apposite readiness of recollection and application of knowledge, in stores of anecdote, and in ease in producing them, and in depth of reflection not inferior to those whom we have been accustomed to consider our deepest thinkers. But what interested and attached us, was the character of Mr. Ticknor, the moral worth and truth which we saw in him. We feel that we have made a friend of him.

In 1831 Mr. Ticknor wrote, for the ‘American Quarterly Review,’13 an article on Mr. Webster's works, of which a volume was then coming from the press; and when first the idea of doing so was proposed to him, he wrote to Judge Story on the subject as follows:—

On thinking over the matter to-day, some hints and rudiments have occurred to me, as well as some doubts and queries, all of which I wish to lay before you.

First, then, taking Mr. Webster from his earliest years, as one who has grown up from the condition in which society is, necessarily, on [393] our frontiers, he can be shown as one who, from the whole course of his life, is continually connected with the mass of the people, their character, their condition and hopes, and on whom they may safely rely. He is, in short, among them and of them; his whole life has thriven with their progress and success; his whole fortunes can be advanced only by the essential advancement and progress and reputation of the country.

Second, taking Mr. Webster's public life as a politician and his professional life as a lawyer, it can be shown that he belongs to no party; but that he has uniformly contended for the great and essential principles of our government on all occasions.

I do not propose to lay down these two propositions and prove them, but to keep them constantly in mind, and let them be the inevitable, but not the formal result of the article.

In the summer of 1832 he delivered a lecture, before the American Institute, on the best methods of teaching the living languages, in which he advocated, for children and young people, the methods which are now, forty years later, growing more and more into favor. In conclusion, he maintains that the direction to be given to all studies in a living language is towards speaking it, and if one answers, ‘We only wish to learn to read it, that we may have free access to its written treasures, and especially its classic authors,’ he argues ‘that such authors cannot be understood without some knowledge of the popular feeling and colloquial idiom with which their minds have been nourished, and of which their works are full’; adding illustrations, and concluding, ‘We know that we can none of us read the great masters in any foreign literature, or enjoy them like natives, because we cannot speak their language like natives; for the characteristic peculiarities and essential beauty and power of their gifted minds are concealed in those idiomatic phrases, those unobtrusive particles, those racy combinations, which, as they were first produced by the prompt eloquence and passions of immediate intercourse, can be comprehended and felt only by those who seek them in the sources from which they flow: so that, other things being equal, he will always be found best able to read and enjoy the great writers in a foreign language, who, in studying it,—whether his progress have been [394] little or much,—has never ceased to remember that it is a living and a spoken tongue.’14

He mentions to Mr. Daveis some other occupations of his summer's holidays, writing September 19, 1833:—

Among other things I have made a thorough study of the works of Milton and Shakespeare, as nearly three hundred pages of notes and memoranda will testify. It was delicious. Last summer I did the same for Dante, working on each, often twelve and fourteen hours a day, with uninterrupted and equable pleasure. If I am not a better man for it,—and a happier one too,—why, I shall have misused my opportunities scandalously, as many better men have done before me.

He had already been in the habit of expounding Dante to special classes at Cambridge, and mentions doing so, for a section of the Junior class, three times a week during the autumn of 1831. The studies of Shakespeare had one result, in a course of public lectures given in Boston in the winter of 1833-34.

As he never kept a diary of any kind when at home, it is necessary to gather from his letters such extracts as may indicate the variety and nature of his interests; but, at this time, even these are not very ample for the purpose.

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

August 3, 1831.
I do not know how it may be with you in partibus, but politics here are truly amusing. When I am King, I am afraid it will be impossible, even with you for my Primarius, to keep up half so much merriment as the present incumbent, his followers, and his opponents now produce, before the astonished eyes of their countrymen. However, I promise not to give you so much trouble as the High Contracting Party now in power gives his official keepers. . . . . I am sorry, too, that the secretaries thought it necessary to muzzle him, when he wanted so to roar about Berrien's manifesto; for I think it would have been great sport, through all Athens, to have seen him out in a regular enactment of the lion, and I have no doubt he would have been magnificently encored, and that they would all have shouted, ‘Let him roar again! Let him roar again!’


To Mrs. R. H Gardiner, Gardiner, Maine.

Boston, April 13, 1832.
I am sure, my dear Mrs. Gardiner, the kindly influences of this beautiful spring day must reach to the Kennebec. At any rate, it reminds us of your beautiful domains, at the same time it inspires that vernal delight which Milton seems to have placed above every other, when he says it is ‘able to drive all sadness but despair.’ . . . .

We have just been taking a two-hours' drive over the hills of Brookline and Dorchester, with the chaise-top down, and we have certainly felt nothing like it since the last autumn. . . . .

Your remarks upon the little manuscript somewhat surprised me. It was prepared sixteen or seventeen years ago at Gottingen, and was, of course, then somewhat less of a fragment than it is now, though even then, I think, it did not come within nearly twenty years of the ‘Spirit of the Times.’ However, like many other sketches, it tended to prepare me for understanding the world and the age in which I live; and having fulfilled this purpose, I have thought no more about it15. . . . .

Since I wrote the first part of this letter the Masons16 are come, and are established in their own house in Tremont Street. . . . . The whole establishment is such an one as suits Mr. Mason's age and consideration, and I think the prospect of a quiet and dignified and happy old age is much greater for him here than it would be at Portsmouth. It is another proof out of many that have preceded it, how completely Boston is the capital of a great part of New England; how much more, I mean, than New York is the capital even of its own State, or Philadelphia of Pennsylvania. This comes, no doubt, in part from the homogeneousness of our character; but more, perhaps, from the great similarity of our institutions, which again arise from it and make us more strictly one people, with one common centre and capital, than any other equal amount of the population of the United States. I always look on this circumstance with great satisfaction, because I think the connection is for the benefit of both [396] parties, and the improvement of the whole. To be sure, we take a great deal when we attract such men as Mr. Cabot, Judge Parsons, Mr. Webster, and Mr. Mason; but we are constantly sending out influences greater and more beneficial, I believe, than any other capital in the country; and influences, too, which we could never put forth, if we could not concentrate and combine such powers in the midst of us, and render them much more active and efficient than they could be scattered through the land in their native homes.

We are all well, though little Nannie shows some feebleness at the approach of spring, which I impute, in part, to the severe illness of the last summer. The little boy is excellently thriving. . . . .

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

Boston, January 26, 1834.
Mrs. T. has not been so well or so strong for six or eight years, perhaps never before; and, except colds, the children have been well; in consequence of which I suppose we have had, thus far, the merriest winter we have had since we were married. I have just finished a course of twelve lectures on Shakespeare, which have gone off well enough. Mrs. T. has set up an opposition line of soirees every Thursday, which quite distances my humble Sunday Evening concerns, without, however, putting them down; and next Thursday she has invited a moderate fraction of her dear five hundred friends to come and dance it out with her. This, I think, would seem enough to any reasonable person; but on the intervening evenings we have generally been to some sort of a party, from a seven-o'clock sociable to a ball which does not begin till ten; and the daytimes are spent in listening to Miss Walsh,17 who keeps us in an atmosphere of melody during most of the hours we are awake. The long and the short of the matter is, that if you were here you would not know us for the humdrum people that have heretofore lived in Park Street and Tremont Street, except that you would find us just as glad to see you as ever.

In the summer of 1825 a sorrow had come to him, of a kind he had not felt before, through the death of his second little daughter, only a few weeks old. He refers to it thus in a letter to his friend Daveis:— [397]

July 19, 1825.
Sorrow has come close upon gladness with us. God has taken away from our hopes the little daughter he had just given us . . . . It is a great disappointment; much greater than I had thought it could be. I did not think so many hopes could so soon have gathered and rested on one so young and frail. But the imagination is as busy as the memory; and though there may be fewer recollections treasured up for future regrets, there is enough of defeated hope to make much present sorrow. But God's will be done . . . .

Time softened this disappointment, and in 1829 his cup of joy seemed filled, by the birth of a son; while the arrival, four years later, of another daughter, made his home the scene of many deep and simple delights. Sickness came to one and another from time to time, there were periods of anxiety, but the seasons of content, thus far, outnumbered them.

The gay picture sketched in the letter to Mr. Daveis in the beginning of 1834 was, however, soon clouded and shut from sight by the shadow of a great calamity. In the following summer a fatal illness seized his little boy, his only son, then five years old, who had filled his home with such life and gladness, and was the bright centre of so many hopes.

The illness of the child lasted five weeks, and in the course of it we have the following note from Mr. Ticknor to his eldest daughter, then eleven years old, who had been left in the country, which contains a simple expression of his anxiety and trouble:—

my very dear daughter,—Geordie is a good deal more unwell, and so I shall not see you to-night. Perhaps, too, if he should not grow better, I may not go out to-morrow. But you must be a good girl, and keep yourself occupied about something pleasant and useful, until you have somebody to help you in your regular occupations.

Your mother is well, and sends you a great deal of her love; but she is somewhat worn by her want of rest, and will not, I fear, be able much longer to do as much as she has lately. Geordie is very good and gentle, but he suffers a great deal of pain, and is obliged to take many grievous remedies. He is a sweet little fellow, and I pray God to permit him to continue with us; but this morning I was very much afraid, and I am not now without anxiety. In a few years you will [398] be able to help us in such sicknesses, and that will be a great comfort to you.

Give my love to Anna Dwight, and tell her all at her home are well; kiss the baby for me, and write me a note by the morning stage, telling me all about yourself, and how the baby does.

Yr. affectionate father,

1 o'clock, Friday.
Geo. Ticknor.

The little boy died on the 4th of August. The blow fell heavily, crushing for a time the hearts of both parents. A few weeks after this bereavement Mr. Ticknor wrote to Mr. Daveis thus:—

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

Cambridge,18 August 20, 1834.
my dear Charles,—Your two letters, breathing the very spirit of affection and sympathy, have been welcome indeed to us. Such kindness is the earthly consolation appointed for sorrow; and I need not tell you, who have suffered, how much we prize and cherish it. I am, however, somewhat surprised at the feelings that fill my thoughts, they are so different from what I anticipated. While my little boy lived, I looked only to the future, and considered him only as a bright hope, that was growing brighter every day. But now that he is gone I look at the past and the present, and, yielding all the future, in a spirit of resignation, to God, I feel the immediate loss, the pressing want of something that was so dear to me, and that was associated, without my knowing it, to everything around and within me.

Thus I am sad, very sad; not because I am disappointed, not because I can no longer look to my child as the support and comfort of my declining years, but because I can no longer see his bright smile or hear his glad voice; because I turn my head suddenly, at some familiar sound, and he is not there; because I listen, and it is not his light step. Why it should be so I cannot tell. Perhaps this sense of present loss, overwhelming the feeling of hopes destroyed, is to continue only for a time; perhaps it is the first step towards that entire resignation and acquiescence which I strive to obtain, and which I know I am required to offer.

I forget what I wrote you in the letter immediately after my little boy's death, but I cannot have told you one thing which has consoled [399] us very much. It is, that his disease, though a very obscureone, was at no time mistaken19. . . . . His faculties and characteristic qualities remained perfectly clear and distinct, to the last moment, and his mother was able, with entire composure and a judgment undisturbed, to take the whole care of him, and to be with him almost constantly from the beginning to the end, five full weeks.

To C. S. Daveis, Portland.

Boston, October 25, 1834.
Sorrow still dwells among us, and must for a season. The melancholy which is impressed on the heart by severe suffering, as you well know from experience, seems to come up afresh long afterwards, from depths you knew not of at the time, just as the passing bell continues to give up its deep and heavy tones long after it has ceased to be struck. But this, too, will pass away, under the healing influence of time and those higher principles of our nature which, with the help of religion, are able to control all the rest.

In the weary months that followed, the struggle to put aside the heavy weight of grief, to return to the duties of the hour, proved too much for the physical endurance of the boy's mother. Both parents were resigned, they felt the Father's hand in their bereavement, they looked forward to a blessed meeting with their child hereafter; but the human frame cannot always be braced to bear what the will demands of it. Mr. Ticknor saw here a new duty; and while his thoughts were constantly at the other brink of that recent grave,—he said a few years afterwards to a friend, that the other world seemed to him separated from this by only a very thin veil,—yet he did not waver from the performance of his present work. He saw that change of scene might become necessary, and, probably in preparation for this, he brought to accomplishment that which had been already for some time among his purposes.

Boston, January 5, 1835.
my dear Charles,—Besides wishing you a happy New Year, I have a word to say about myself. I have substantially resigned my place at Cambridge, and Longfellow is substantially appointed to fill it. I say substantially, because he is to pass a year or more in Germany and the North of Europe, and I am to continue in the place [400] till he returns, which will be in a year from next Commencement or thereabouts. This is an arrangement I have had at heart a good while, but could not well accomplish earlier, partly because my department, being a new one, was not brought, until lately, into a good condition to leave, and partly because I was unwilling to seem to give up the College during the troubles of the late rebellion.

. . . . I have been an active professor these fifteen years, and for thirteen years of the time I have been contending, against a constant opposition, to procure certain changes which should make the large means of the College more effectual for the education of the community. In my own department I have succeeded entirely, but I can get these changes carried no further. As long as I hoped to advance them, I continued attached to the College; when I gave up all hope, I determined to resign . . . .

The fact that I am to be free in a year makes me so already in spirit; and I look back upon my past course at the College almost entirely as matter of history. There is a good deal in it that gratifies me. During the fifteen years of my connection with it as a teacher, more than half the instruction I have given has been voluntary, neither required nor contemplated by my statutes. When the finances of the College became embarrassed, seven years ago, I volunteered the resignation of $400 out of the stipulated salary of $1000, and have never received but $600 since. During the nine years a department of the modern languages has existed,20 with four foreigners for teachers, who are generally more likely to have difficulties with the students than natives, no case whatsoever has been carried before the Faculty, and during the whole fifteen years I have never myself been absent from an exercise, or tardy at one. Moreover, within the limits of the department I have entirely broken up the division of classes, established fully the principle and practice of progress according to proficiency, and introduced a system of voluntary study, which for several years has embraced from one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty students; so that we have relied hardly at all on College discipline, as it is called, but almost entirely on the good dispositions of the young men, and their desire to learn. If, therefore, the department of the modern languages is right, the rest of the College is wrong; and if the rest of the College is right, we ought to adopt its system, which I believe no person whatsoever has thought desirable, for the last three or four years. . . . . [401]

In my whole connection with it, I feel as if I had been as much actuated by a sense of duty to improve the institution, and serve the community, as men in public places commonly are. So, I doubt not, are those who have the management of the College, and pursue the opposite course. I do not know that it could be in the hands of abler men, or men more disinterested; certainly not of men for whom I have a greater regard or respect. We differ, however, very largely, both as to what the College can be, and what it ought to be. We therefore separate, as men who go different roads, though proposing the same end, each persuaded the one he prefers is the best, the pleasantest, and the shortest.

Ten weeks later he writes again to Mr. Daveis:—

Boston, March 19, 1835.
my dear Charles,—I write in haste, to give you notice of a plan which has been settled a couple of days, and by which I embark with all my household gods for Europe, early in June, to be absent three years, or perhaps four. The immediate cause is Anna's health. We had been talking for many months of the possibility of going two or three years hence; but, as Anna said yesterday, it always seemed so remote and uncertain, that she had never for a moment regarded it as a reality. But all winter she has failed. . . . . We were, therefore, arranging everything to go to the South, and the West, and anywhere for four or five months. . . . .

There was nothing against it [the European tour] but one or two unfulfilled plans of my own, and the wish to have the children a little older, that they might more profit by it. Such things yielded at once to the state of Anna's health, especially as it has failed considerably during the last three weeks. We go to live in different places in Europe, in the quietest and most domestic way,. . . . but to go through as vigorous a course of improvement as we can, by an industrious use of the advantages we may be able to enjoy.

1 The floor of the ward where he worked was covered by several inches of water.

2 Among his methodical habits was that of keeping copies, or rough drafts, of his business letters, and even of some of the more important ones on other subjects. In consequence of this practice, some interesting letters which had not been preserved, or had not been obtained from his correspondents, have been available for these volumes. His punctuality was, so to speak, invariable; and he was fond of repeating an axiom on the subject: ‘Punctuality is the only virtue for which its possessor is uniformly punished.’

3 One of the farms which he inherited in New Hampshire was sold in 1825, and the rest of the property at Hanover was finally disposed of in 1830.

4 Saratoga.

5 ‘That well-known angler, John Denison, usually called John Trout.’— Curtis's Life of Webster, Vol. I. p. 251.

6 Mr. Ticknor often expressed some regret that he had never found pleasure in fishing or shooting, nor in billiards, for he considered the variety of exercise thus gained to be very desirable for a student. He never liked riding, after his training for health at the riding-school in Gottingen—which, however, made him a good rider-and his long journeys in Spain.

7 ‘Autobiographical Recollections of C. R. Leslie.’ Edited by Tom Taylor, 1860.

8 This portrait is mentioned by Lockhart; and Mrs. Lockhart's opinion of it—given to Mr. Ticknor in 1835—will be found in its place.

9 ‘American Note-Books.’

10 John Lynch, having been honored by this notice, deserves a few more words. He had, indeed, been long in Mr. Ticknor's service before this visit in 1850. In June, 1829, Mr. Daveis's kind offices are asked for ‘my good servant, John Lynch,’ who was sent to Portland for a few days, for his health. His periods of actual service in Mr. Ticknor's family amounted to twenty years. While they were in Europe—1835-38–John fell into intemperate habits, and on their return could not, at first, be taken back; but one day he was summoned and asked by Mr. Ticknor if he would take the place again under the condition of a promise never to touch a drop of intoxicating liquor again. Though not quite sober at the moment, he assented; but the next words, ‘Then come this very day,’ sobered him instantly, and made him turn ashy pale with agitation. He kept his word faithfully, soon received the key of the wine-cellar, and never abused his trust. He continued in the family till his strength failed, and was taken care of till he died.

11 In his letter of reminiscences, addressed to Mr. Hillard, already quoted.

12 After a visit made by Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor at Edgeworthtown.

13 Published in Philadelphia, and edited by his friend Robert Walsh.

14 This lecture was published in Boston in 1833.

15 One of the many volumes of notes containing the results of his studies at Gottingen (see p. 86). This one consists of over one hundred pages of remarks on the condition of Christendom after the French Revolution, and the causes of the restlessness and desire for change which characterize the period.

16 The family of Mr. Jeremiah Mason, the eminent lawyer of Portsmouth. See ante, p. 123.

17 Miss Anna Walsh, second daughter of Mr. Robert Walsh, a charming singer, who passed the winter with Mrs. Ticknor.

18 Mr.Ticknor and Mrs. Ticknor were on a visit to Mrs. Norton.

19 Pericarditis.

20 The creation of departments had been one of the points of reform urged in 1825, but carried into effect only for the modern languages.

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