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Chapter 23:

During the period of old age, upon which Mr. Ticknor had now entered, he led a tranquil, simple life, adapted to his condition, and filled with serene and appropriate enjoyments. He had always made friends among the young, and his house continued to be the resort of many persons of all ages, who contributed to his pleasure by their society. The last five summers of his life he passed in Brookline, one of the prettiest spots among the charming environs of Boston, where he took a pleasant cottage, so situated that he had long-tried friends close around him, and, through private garden-walks, could reach these and other younger neighbors, who welcomed him with warm and cheerful greetings. These summer days were truly days of ease, when books and correspondence, interchange of informal visits, and daily drives made up a goodly sum of rational satisfaction.

His letters grew fewer and shorter; but it will be seen in the remaining selection that he still wrote many, and often on topics both interesting and various. The first of these, by their dates, retrace a little the steps already trod; but a few pages will bring us again to the point we lately left.

To George T. Curtis, New York.

Boston, February 5, 1863.
my dear George,—I want to know how you are, and how you get on, one and all, great and small, for it is some time since I have heard. The Judge, I suppose, has been with you for a week, and we [458] hope to see him soon. No doubt he will tell us about you. But I should like to know what you have to say, for yourself and your home.

We are all well,—uncommonly so. I think—but am not sure —that all four of us, meaning my wife, Anna, and Lizzie, shall go to Everett's to-night, a thing the like of which all of us have not done together, I suppose, for some years. But it is in honor of McClellan, and so we all screw our courage to the sticking-place and go.

His visit here has gone off as well as could be. I have dined with him twice, lunched with him once, and met him less seriously three or four times besides. He has always borne himself becomingly. His cheerful equanimity is absolute and universal. I think if he were to-morrow to go back to his railroad in Illinois, or to the head of the armies, his manner would be just the same, and his spirits untouched by either emergency. He has not suffered himself to make a speech since he came here, and, strange to say, seems to have no itching to do it, and yet the people have run after him everywhere all the same. He told me that he had never been so received in any other city; and his principal aid, Colonel Wright, told me the same thing. Crowds run after his carriage, and stop and wait at the doors where he alights to visit, to catch a glimpse of him as he goes in and out; and as for the multitude that gathered at the Tremont House the day he professed ‘to receive,’ I am sure I saw nearer ten thousand than five waiting for a possible chance. The street was crowded from School Street to Bromfield Street. And all this not only without any incitement from the gentlemen who brought him here, but much of it accepted by them very anxiously. Indeed, no ten or twenty men could have got up such a movement. It has come right up from the people themselves, warm, hearty, spontaneous.

Do not, however, misunderstand me. I do not suppose that such a movement tends either to restore him to the head of the armies, or to make him President of the United States. It is simply a graceful tribute to his services, and it has been cordially paid,—not forgetting, at the same time, that it damages the men who have treated him so ill. He does not conceal that he is much gratified with it; his wife and his aids admit plenary astonishment, as well as pleasure. . . . .

Yours always,


To George T. Curtis.

Boston, March 30, 1863.
I send you by this mail a pamphlet which I want you to read, and tell me in a few general words what you think of it. Some very sensible people believe its fundamental idea important and practicable. . . . . Perhaps you know its author,—Fisher of Philadelphia, graduated at Cambridge in 1825,—a man of large fortune, conscientious, little accustomed to writing, as you will see by his style and modes of discussion, but determined to think for himself, and willing, I dare say, to make sacrifices to his convictions in action, if needful. He explained his plan, for representation by totalities, to me in Paris in 1857; but I thought nothing more about it until he was here a few weeks ago and told me he should soon print on the subject. His system, if carried into real, faithful effect, would, no doubt, break up the power of caucuses, and much impair the influence of demagogues; but the question is whether the people will not, after all, prefer the false gods they have so long worshipped. In other words, can they be got out of the old, deep ruts in which they have been so long misled. It seems to me as if, like Macbeth, we must wade over whatever may be the cost or the consequences.

And where are we going to, when we get to the other side without a Constitution?—says we are going to the D—l as fast as we can, and ought to be very grateful that we have got a D—l to go to. That is his fashion of expressing the state of things. How do you express it in New York? . . . . Many people are glad that the President is substantially made an irresponsible Dictator, though they have no confidence in him or his advisers; arguing that, if they are not sustained until victories enough are won to tide the present forms of our government over to another administration of its affairs, we shall go utterly to pieces now; chaos will come again now. But, suppose we fail of the victories, or, on the other hand, suppose we get them, and the dictatorship should be continued, in military forms, by the silent consent of a people too grateful for success and salvation, what then? Just now, men who hold the opinions referred to seem to have reached the point suggested by Macaulay, that there are times when liberty must be given up to save society. But are we called to this terribly stern sacrifice by the present state of things? . . . .


To Sir Charles Lyell.

Boston, March 31, 1863.
my dear Lyell,—I have not yet finished your book about the antiquity of all of us, but I cannot longer delay thanking you for it. I have enjoyed it so far very much, and shall, no doubt, to the end. True, my ignorance prevents my opinion from being worth a button; but then, even in this view of the matter, I represent a large fraction of your readers, and may therefore assume that the pleasure I have had has been shared by many. We may, at least, feel sure that in many most important points we know how far geology has got on.

The parts that have thus far most interested me relate to those lacustrine people, a feeble folk, I suppose, like the conies in Scripture, but nearer to us, by a good deal, than the people who made the arrowheads and hatchets in the valley of the Somme, so that I really am more curious about them. Next after your account of these lacustrines, I have been most interested about the history of the origin and development of Darwin's theory, concerning which I suppose more is to follow, which I have not yet reached. But then your style is so crystal clear and so befitting your subject, that I read all with interest. Only, from ignorance, I have to read slow.

The ‘Memoirs of Miles Byrne,’ which came, I suppose, from you or from Lady Lyell, at the same time, is as different from your book as one book can well be from another. Of this, too, I have read only the larger half, and am still going on with it. It seems to have, everywhere, the impress of truth upon it, and so it must be among the safe memoires pour servir. But then the infinite details, which contribute to give it this character, are very confusing. A man ought to know the topography of the parts of Ireland to which it refers, as he knows that of his own village, and have heard all about its people and their nicknames. To one conclusion, however, we fairly come, from the first volume of the brave old soldier, and that is the one he would be most anxious about; I mean, how cruelly and wickedly the Irish of that period were treated by the British government.

Much of what I have read comes to me with great force, now that we are in the midst of a civil war ourselves. How we get on you can judge as well as we, perhaps better. . . . . Keep your eyes on the Mississippi, and see if we soon clear out that great thoroughfare, and divide and break the resources of the Confederacy. This is the first and vital conflict, and I watch everything relating to it, daily, with intense anxiety. The Administration has received from Congress [461] everything that can be asked, men and money without stint, and a power to declare martial law all over the country. If we fail, therefore, it will not be from want of the spirit of the old Roman dictatorship. But I do not think we shall fail, though I think the President and his advisers are not equal to the emergency. The people, however, are. At least I trust so, and so believe.

We are all well. . . . .

Yours sincerely,

To George T. Curtis, Esq., New York.

Boston, May 8, 1863.
The outside world in one shape intrudes upon everybody, even the most secluded, in these days. Hooker's disasters will be gradually let in upon the country, but what will be the effect? Will people wake up to the position of affairs, or will they go on in the old ways of talking, and caucusing, and making proclamations? It seems to be settled in the minds of the community, that a civil war, of the gigantic proportions to which this one has attained, is to be carried on by the old machinery of party, that we are to have great popular meetings, with the galleries reserved for the ladies, and music to entertain them; loyal leagues of men and women; dinners and dinner speeches, and all the claptrap devices of the times of a great election. Why, you might as well set the men and women, and the newspapers, and the caucuses, and clubs, to put out a volcano, or stop an earthquake. If the President don't see this and make a clean sweep, he cannot, I think, get on much farther . . . . . For myself, I do not think my opinion is worth much until I get rid of the lumbago. When I do, perhaps I shall enlist,—perhaps not. . . . .

To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, May 12, 1863.
my dear Head,—You have met with a great loss, 1 and I cannot refuse myself the gratification of telling you that I sympathize with you very sincerely. I have just been reading the remarks in the House of Commons by Mr. Walpole and Mr. Disraeli, on the loss sustained by the nation; but I thought of you all the time, and of our last meeting at Kent House, and talking with Sir George Lewis till after midnight, the day but one before I left London. [462]

Of course I knew him but little, but there was one quality of his mind of vast consequence to him as a statesman, and to his country, which was very quickly apparent; I mean his instinctive fairness. He was singularly able and willing to change his opinion, when new facts came to unsettle his old one. He seemed to do it, too, without regret. This struck me the first time I saw him, which was at breakfast at Lord Stanhope's, in July, 1856, and it was still more strongly apparent the next morning at breakfast at his own house; the conversation on both occasions having been much on American affairs. . . . . And so it continued, I think, every time I saw him that summer, and the next, down to the last dinner at his house, when we were together. I remember that I used to think he had the greatest respect for facts of any man I ever saw, and an extraordinary power of determining, from internal evidence, what were such. I suppose this meant, that the love of truth was the uppermost visible quality in his character.2

How Lady Theresa will bear her loss, coming so close upon that of her daughter, I do not know. Her place in the world seems to be made vacant by it as much as that of Sir George; for she should always be associated with those who hold in their hands large power. At least, it has always so seemed to me, in the little I have known of her; so admirably did she appear to be fitted, both by her intellectual constitution and accomplishments, and by her gentle wisdom and graceful tact in society, for a place among those who manage the affairs of the world . . . . . She has, I apprehend, a very affectionate nature. At least, when I last knew her, the death of her mother—who had then been dead some years—still lay heavy on her heart. . . . .


To Robert H. Gardiner, Esq., Gardiner.

Newport, R. I., August 29, 1863.
When I first wrote to you that I did not like to venture a journey in very hot weather, I had a misgiving that I was standing on pretty slippery ground . . . . Since my last letter, however,—now ten days ago,—Mrs. Ticknor has been constantly in bed, Dr. Barker attending her generally twice a day, and I have been in bed part of the time in a contiguous room, and under his care the whole of it . . . .

Yesterday, while I was still confined to my bed, Sir Henry Holland, who visited you at Gardiner a few years ago, came in upon me straight from London. I had a long talk with him, from which I infer that the best chance our friends in England see for us is, that we should continue our victories, until we feel strong and magnanimous enough to proclaim an amnesty, and offer the South to settle everything — a new constitution and all-by a convention. So little do they know . . . .

Latrobe of Baltimore, who came in the evening, has a wholly different remedy . . . . . The plan does not seem to me to be wiser than Sir Henry's; but each is as good as any I have heard of. . . . .

To Robert H. Gardiner, Gardiner.

Boston, November 11, 1863.
my dear Mr. Gardiner,—I cannot tell you how much I was touched by your letter, which came yesterday afternoon. Two days earlier I had heard of your illness, indistinctly, indeed, as to the form and detail, but decisively as to its character; and the next day I talked the matter over with our old and faithful friend, Mr. Minot, and determined to write to-day to Frederic, as he had already done.3 But your letter leaves me no doubt; I am permitted by not only your Christian equanimity,—of which I never doubted,—but by your clear-sighted comprehension of your own case, to write to you without embarrassment. A position like yours, understood, and accepted as you accept it, is a teaching for all. I recognize it as such, and shall endeavor to profit by it. The time for me must be short, as it must be for everybody who is well past his threescore and ten.

I shall write to you from time to time, as I may have anything to [464] say that I think can interest you. I know that nothing can prevent you from being interested in the fate of a country that you have loved so long, and to which you intrust a posterity dearer to you than life. That we shall not be utterly ruined, I trust and believe. If we have offended against Heaven as a nation in many ways, I hope that we are not cast off altogether; and that your children and mine may continue to find a resting-place here, which—with trials, indeed, but not severer than they will profit by—may yet give them and theirs the resources needful for happiness and improvement. But it will not be the same country that you and I have lived in. As Dr. Bowditch said to me, above thirty years ago, in a manner so impressive that I remember the spot where we stood, and rarely pass it without recalling the circumstance, ‘We are living in the best days of the republic. That the worst will follow soon does not seem to me very likely. But nations advance, and thrive, and die, like men; and can no more have a second youth than their inhabitants can.’

Since I have been writing, Mr. Minot has been in to tell me that he has had a letter from you to-day, and answered it. He seems in good health, quite as good as he enjoyed when he was with you last summer. But his spirits are probably less bright. The cold weather is not a refreshment to him as it is to me; and he is saddened, I can see, by your illness. He feels as I did, when Dr. Hayward, my old playmate, was taken away, that my turn may come next. Proximus ardet Ucalegon. My neighbor's house is gone, and the conflagration must reach mine very soon. . . . .

I have still enough to do to keep me contented, and to encourage me to work on. I hope, as long as I have strength, that I shall never be in want of occupation for others. Old people, I think, take little pleasure in working for themselves. . . . .

Believe me always faithfully and affectionately yours,

To Robert H. Gardiner, Esq., Gardiner.

Boston, January 14, 1864.
my dear Mr. Gardiner,—We receive constantly the most gratifying accounts of your condition, in whatever, at this stage of your progress onwards, is important and consoling. But when I turn to tell you so, and put pen to paper, even in answer to your pleasant letter of last week, I stop and hesitate what I shall say. It seems as if the words that have to travel so far, along with the every-day business [465] of common life, must grow hollow and unmeaning before they reach you, while I would have them fresh and warm, as they would be if I were sitting by your side, and could adapt them to the varying condition of your mind, as your thoughts inevitably sway to and fro under the pressure of bodily infirmities. Still, I cannot help writing, if it be only to say that we are all of us more and more desirous to hear of you, and more and more interested, and gratified, with what comes to us. God, I feel very trustful, will be gentle in his dealings with you, as he has always been. The temperament it pleased him to give you originally has insured to you, through a long and happy life, a remarkable degree of composure and equanimity. And so, I fully believe, it will continue to the end. Certainly I pray that it may be so.

If I could know what would interest and occupy your thoughts at the moment when my letter will reach you, I might fill out a sheet or more, as usual. But, in fact, when I wrote to you last and now again, I do not feel as if I could write on common subjects, or think about common things. I see you too distinctly for this, on your sofa in the library, surrounded by those you most love on earth, and still giving and receiving pleasure. I do not, indeed, hear the words you utter, but I know their meaning, full of gentleness and love; and I know that those who do hear them will treasure them up, and that, hereafter, some of them will reach me. Meantime, we shall continue to think and speak of you daily, and cherish for you the affection which has so long been a part of our happiness, and which no change or separation can impair.

With tender regards from Mrs. Ticknor and myself to Mrs. Gardiner, and to all whom love and duty alike gather round you, believe me, my dear Mr. Gardiner, now and always

Your sincere friend,

To B. B. Wiffen.

Boston, U. S. A., March 25, 1864.
friend Benjamin B. Wiffen,—I received, three days ago, from Trubner & Co., a rich copy of the improved CX. Consideraziones de Juan de Valdes, together with your very kind and interesting letter of the 8th of last month. I thank you for both very cordially, and shall preserve them among the things that I hold to be precious.

Your notice of the death of a sister, who had been your companion from childhood, and whose empty seat by your hearth makes you [466] feel very desolate, touches me nearly. I am old,—almost seventythree,—and the few friends of my youth and riper years, that have remained to me until now, are constantly dropping away. One has fallen this week. Another will go soon. And the rest must follow before long, whether it pleases God that I should precede them or not.

In 1819 I spent two or three days with the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey.4 There was a brilliant party there, just at the end of the shooting-season,—the old Lord Spencer, Frere, the Jerseys, etc. One forenoon I remember that, with your brother, and a clergyman whose name I have forgotten, I walked a good deal about the grounds and park. Lord John was at home, and my recollections of him—with whom I have kept up some intercourse from time to time ever since—and of your brother are most agreeable, as they are, indeed, of the whole visit. From Lord John I had a letter yesterday, and am glad to find that, notwithstanding the contests of party and his elevation—if it be such—to the peerage, his literary tastes are still strong.

You ask me if there are, in the United States, any public libraries to which you may send the reprints of the ancient Spanish Reformers, and where they would be preserved, and would serve the purposes of literature? I answer, confidently, that there are many such. Harvard College, near Boston, and the Astor Library, New York, are among the more prominent of the number. But the one I will venture to commend to your favor is the Boston Public Library, of which I send you, by this mail, the last annual report, to show you, in part, what it is. The first portion of this report was drawn up by Mr. Everett, formerly our Minister in England, and our principal Secretary of State at home,—an accomplished scholar as well as a wise statesman. The second part was drawn up by myself, and the third by the very efficient Superintendent of the institution . . . . . I have given to it above three thousand volumes, many of them rare; and intend to give to it my Spanish and Portuguese collections, which will make as many more. If these facts, together with what you will find in the report I send, should induce you to favor us, I shall be grateful, and will insure the fulfilment of your designs and wishes, as far as it may be done anywhere. If, however, your kindness should take another direction, I shall not complain. . . . .

Yours very faithfully,


To Charles Frederic Bradford, Esq., Boston.

Park Street, April 1, 1864.
my dear Mr. Bradford,—I received this forenoon your Index to Clemencin's Notes on Don Quixote, a marvellous work, carefully prepared, beautifully written, tastefully bound. That you should have done this in any degree to please me, is a gratification such as a scholar seldom receives; that you should give me such a charming copy of it demands and receives my very cordial and sincere thanks. I have looked over several pages of it, and many separate heads, and find it accurate, as I expected it would be. Hereafter, I shall use it for the serious purposes of study, and do not doubt that I shall often be benefited by it.

When I see how much patient, faithful labor you have bestowed upon this Index, I am consoled by the thought that if it was kindly intended for me, it has, like other good works, not been without advantage to its author. You must have learnt a great deal about the history and criticism of Spanish literature, which you would be sorry to part with. Others, too, will use it and profit by it.5

Your graceful and modest account of the imperfect advantages you have enjoyed for literary culture surprised me very much, as compared with the results you have reached. I knew from yourself, and in other ways, that your early opportunities had been small, but I had no idea that they had been so very inconsiderable. It makes me ashamed to think that, with all the means vouchsafed to me, I have yet done no more. I assure you, I feel this painfully at the moment I write it.

Please to give my kind regards to Mrs. Bradford, and tell her that I congratulate her on your release from this hard, long work. I cannot doubt that she must, sometimes, have thought that you were giving to it time to which she had a better claim. But it is done, and again I thank you for it, adding, that if, as you kindly say, I have in any way helped you in your studies, I shall feel bound to do it still more hereafter, in order partly to balance my present obligation.

Yours very faithfully,


To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, April 20, 1864.
my dear Head,—. . . . As soon as I received Sir George's book6 about the Administrations, 1783-1830, I read the first article, which is largely about American affairs; and as I went on, I kept saying to myself, ‘He ought to have been a judge, he ought to have been Lord Chancellor.’ Nothing in the way of investigation seems ever to escape him, and when all his facts are brought together, then comes in his judicial fairness, and makes everything clear, as measured by some recognized principle. See what he says about Lord Shelburne's career, and especially what he says about Fox's mistake in joining Lord North. I do not know anything like it in political history. Romilly and Horner had a good deal of the same character; but, though they came to as fair and honest results as anybody, they were both practising lawyers, and preserved something of the air of advocates, in the form and turn of their discussions. Perhaps Lewis might have had the same air if he had been in the courts, and had had clients to conciliate as well as to serve. As it is, we get, I think, in him only a sort of clear, judicial statesmanship, of which—very likely because I know so little of political history—I can refer to no other example. How is it? . . . .

To Brigadier-General Sylvanus Thayer.

Boston, April 29, 1864.
my dear General,—I can't help it this once. Next time it shall be ‘My dear Thayer,’ as of old. But to-day you must consent to be ‘the General,’ and nothing else. At any rate, since last evening, when I saw the announcement in the paper, I have had you constantly before me with the two stars on your shoulder-strap; feeling all the time that a galaxy would not be an overstatement of your deserts, so far as the creation of West Point, and the education of the officers of our army, is concerned. But enough of this. I do not congratulate you. When only an act of decent justice is done, the person who does it is to be congratulated, if anybody is. I therefore congratulate a little—not much—the Secretary of War, and if anybody else has had a hand in it, I congratulate him, too; but I never saw the Secretary, and never expect to see him, so that my congratulations will be lost in thin air, like all those unavailing supplications in Homer. [469]

You have not answered my note about a visit. Do not let that— the visit, I mean—be lost in the same thin air. I want to have a long talk or two with you, and never shall do it unless you come here. . . . .

Yours always, General or no General, but old classmate,

When Mr. Ticknor made, on his seventy-sixth birthday, the list of his early friends,—from whom only death was to part him, 7—he had already endured the pain of separation from nearly all those who were not destined to survive him. The death of Mr. Everett in January, 1865, was a shock from its extreme suddenness, and it broke up an intercourse which, for the previous fourteen or fifteen years, had been extremely close and confidential. Their meetings, when both were in Boston, were almost daily, and the number of notes which passed between them was so great as to cause amused comments in the family, on this lady-like or lover-like frequency of billets-doux.8

On the day of Mr. Everett's death Mr. Ticknor wrote to Mr. G. T. Curtis:—

Boston, Sunday, January 15, 1865.
my dear George,—Everett died of apoplexy this morning at about half past 4 o'clock.

I went to see him yesterday, because he was unwell, although I was, myself, not quite right for going out in bad weather. He was suffering from a terrible cold, which he caught last Monday, when he made a legal argument before referees about the damage done to his estate in Medford by the Charlestown water-works; and afterwards, before dinner, made the speech you have seen about the Savannah case. The doctor—Hayward—had been anxious about him at first, but was soon relieved of any apprehension of immediate danger, though he treated him tenderly, and visited him twice daily, watching him with care, as he said, because he was above seventy. When I saw [470] him yesterday, he could not speak above a whisper, and was evidently quite ill, but he was in his library and moved about the room freely, giving directions and making arrangements for a person who was copying something for him. I came away without any special anxiety about the case.

This morning early I was sent for; but I stayed in bed late, not being well, and Michael, when he brought the shaving-water, was unwilling to tell me. As breakfast was ready your aunt thought it better to wait till I had had the needed refreshment. So I did not get there till after nine. William was alone, and had seen nobody but his uncle. . . . . I sent for Mr. Winthrop, who came at once, but we were able to settle nothing, and are to go again at half past 12. . . . .

I do not yet come to any living perception of what has happened; everything was so natural in that library, that when Winthrop came in my first impression was that Everett was entering the room. A minute afterwards I think I felt worse than I have at any time. It is a terrible shock.

9 . . . .

To General Thayer, Braintree.

Boston, April 25, 1865.
my dear Thayer,—Faithful Michael—my true follower of fourteen years standing—honestly owned to me, two days ago, that you called here some time since,--date uncertain,—and that he forgot to tell me of it. I forgave him, though I was tant soit peu chagrine.

As it is no fault of mine, I trust that you will make it up to me, as generous men are wont to do. Especially I beg you to remember your promise to come in, about these days, and spend a night or more with us. We are quite alone,—Anna in London, Lizzie in New York, both for their health; and even some of our most intimate friends away, some for one reason, some for another. So we are very solitary. And only think what has happened10 that we must talk about! I never dreamed, in my worst fears, of living through such a period of horrors. Indeed, I hardly comprehend now what has happened. . . . .


To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, September 20, 1865.
my dear Head,—. . . . Tell me what you think about Lord Derby's Iliad. Sometimes he is not up to the German critics, among whom, if I follow him at all, it is only by accident. But his Miltonic blank-verse, I think, shows that he has a true feeling about his work. It is a great while since I have seen old Potter's Aeschylus, but Lord Derby has sometimes reminded me of that fierce Greek dogmatist. I kept Pope, Chapman, and Cowper on the table, as well as the original; but the English triumvirate seemed to me as pale before Lord Derby, while I was reading him, as he did before the Greek.

On looking again at your Spanish proverb I am a little uncertain —notwithstanding your ever clear and fair chirography—whether you wrote mear el vado, or mear al vado. . . . . Mear el vado may signify, knocking away the very foundations on which you build. But quien sabe? The context, if there is one, might show.

Agassiz is having his own way in Brazil as much as he ever had here. The Emperor does everything for him that he wants, gives him a steamer to go up the Amazon free of every possible charge, puts two engineers aboard who have surveyed the river, etc.

I am sorry to see the death of Hamilton, the Irish mathematician. A great light is put out. I saw him knighted in 1835, and he gave Anna a few days afterwards a grand sonnet, which he wrote on the occasion, and which I now have . . . . It is certainly fine as few sonnets are.

11 [472]

To Professor Louis Agassiz.

Boston, U. S. A., January 14, 1866.
my dear Agassiz,—You have written me three interesting and important letters from Brazil, and I have answered neither of them, partly from good reasons, partly from poor; neither worth remembering now. But I think I have done exactly what you meant I should do; I have used them in every way I could for the benefit of the Museum, and of your present expedition. Out of them, mainly, I have made two reports, which I suppose will be published this winter, and which I hope you will find substantially right.

But this is all. We have all agreed that it was better not to go into the newspapers at present; but rather to leave the account of your doings and their results to come out from higher and more authentic sources, or what will ultimately be best, from yourself. . . . .

There is, however, one matter about which it seems especially important to write to you now. By your last letter to me, dated Manaos, 23d November, as well as from other letters I have seen, it is apparent that you would like to stay longer in Brazil; probably another season. It does not surprise me. You are, besides many other things higher and better, a collector. You are a passionate collector. I have seen and known many such, but I never saw one who was satisfied with what he had gathered. There is, however, somewhere, a natural and necessary limit to everything human, and it is clearly the part of wisdom to discover betimes where that limit is fixed, lest we should make serious mistakes in what is most important for the ordering of our lives; I mean, if it is in a matter which really concerns our well-being and success.

At the present moment, and in relation to your present plans, there seem to be two points of this sort, in which you and your friends are alike deeply interested. The first relates to the care and preservation of the specimens you may collect, and which must, most of them, perish or lose their value if not cared for in good season and efficiently. Before you went to South America there were twice as many specimens in your possession as could be properly arranged in the present building. You bade me say so in one of the Reports of the Committee on the Museum, and it was said accordingly, and remains now of record. Since you left us vast numbers of other specimens have been received, by way of exchange and donation, from Europe and all parts of the world; and there seems, from your letters, to be no end to those you are sending from Brazil. We do not believe that it will be possible [473] to erect all the buildings and provide all the scientific service, attendance, and materials necessary to protect and maintain in good condition such masses of specimens, and make them intelligible and useful. The mill will be stopped from the floods that will be poured upon the machinery through which alone it can be made to move. . . . .

On the other point I speak wholly from the authority of scientific experts in whom you have confidence. It relates to yourself only, and to your great and noble purposes and objects in life. I do not feel that anybody has a right to object to your devoting yourself exclusively to the highest investigations in natural science, postponing to them all labors relating to the mere collection and preservation of the materials for doing so. It is your clear right. You have done an immense deal of work of this humbler sort. The Museum exists by your generous sacrifices. You are emeritus, and it may be your duty, as well as your right, to change in this respect the present course of your life. But I do not suppose that such devotion to the very highest purposes of science would be any injury to the Museum, which, on the contrary, you would illustrate and render every year more important and useful by your labors.

But your collections, as I am assured, are already larger, much larger, than you can submit to such investigations as you intend to make, even if you should live as long as those most attached to you can hope or ask that you should. Indeed, those who best know assure me, that the time you are now giving to the accumulation of specimens—which may, after all, perish from want of the means needful to protect them—might, in their judgment, be better employed for your own fame, and for the advancement of such scientific investigations as you can make better than any man alive, and without which these same vast collections might as well remain in their blind kegs, in the dark cellar where they are now hidden away, and so your vast personal labors and disinterested sacrifices, in bringing them together, be mainly lost.

It is, I fear, not unlikely, that, surrounded and solicited as you are now by such extraordinary means of readily accumulating what you value more than all gold, and to collecting which you have devoted so much of your life and your great powers, you will feel that I am writing ungraciously. But I am sure that I ought to write to you thus freely and frankly, not only from our personal relations and from your most open and kind nature, but because I know that I only send you the earnest convictions of those who most value you, and whom you most value . . . . . [474]

All would ask you to come home as soon as you can make convenient and becoming arrangements to do so. And how you will be received! . . . .

To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, January 30, 1866.
my dear Head,—I should have written to you earlier, I suppose, but I have been ill. . . . . However, the doctors have patched me up, so that I am well enough for 74-5. At least, I am as well off as the eidolon of Branca d'oria, and, perhaps, as hollow. E mangia, e bee, e dorme, e veste panni. We shall see. Among other things that I missed while I was in this ‘interlunar cave,’ I failed to see your Icelandic translation, in Frazer, till yesterday. I sent for it three times; but, as so often happens, I did not get it till I went for it myself. But I have been paid for my trouble. I enjoyed it very much, and have become eager to see more, of which I find a notice in the ‘Times,’ that came to me a few days ago. Meanwhile, I want the title of Bechstein's ‘Deutsches Lesebuch,’ so that I can order it, and read ‘Es stehen die Sterne am Himmel.’ Burger was a miserable scamp; but still I should be sorry to have the credit of Lenore taken away from him. I have always understood that he got the hint for it from hearing a peasant-girl, as she was washing in a clear moonlight night, sing about
Die Todten reiten schnelle,
Feins Liebchen, grant dir nicht.
At least, this was the tradition at Gottingen,—not, perhaps, in the days of Matilda Pottingen, but just half a century ago, when I lived there; and I don't like to have it disturbed, except on very good grounds. . . . . We have just finished reading ‘Lecky’ loud,—by far the most interesting book I have read since poor Buckle's, and more satisfactory than his,—not presumptuous in its generalizations, and safer in its statements of fact. . . . .

Yours ever,

To Lady Cranworth.

Boston, U. S. A., December 24, 1866.
my dear Lady Cranworth, . . . . Please to tell Lord Cranworth, that, bearing his suggestion in mind, I read ‘Le Conscrit,’ as, in fact, I had run it over when it first came out. It is a very interesting, [475] life-like book. But I fear it will produce no permanent effect on the French national character, or on the military tastes that seem to have become a part of it. French men and women, in every village of their country, have seen similar cases of heart-rending misery, and heard tales of them repeated from the time they introduced the heathenish Roman conscription, above sixty years ago, and, what is worse, they have been proud of such cases, and taught the victims to be proud of them. Nothing, it seems to me, tends more to make war savage than this cruel, forced service, which the soldier who survives it yet claims at last as his great glory, because he cannot afford to suffer so much and get no honor for it. It is a splendid sort of barbarism that is thus promoted, but it is barbarism, after all; for it tends more and more to make the military character predominate over the civil.

1 By the death of Sir George Cornewall Lewis.

2 In his reply to this letter Sir Edmund says: ‘Your letter is very striking, and very true, with reference to poor Lewis's mind and character,—so much so that I shall venture to take a liberty, which I hope you will pardon. I shall cause an extract from it (of course without your name) to be used in an article which will appear in the next “Edinburgh review.” ’ In answer to this, again, Mr. Ticknor writes: ‘I have not seen the July number of the “Edinburgh, ” and, indeed, do not know whether it has come. Therefore I am still uncertain what you may have found in my letter that could be turned to account. What I thought, and still think, about Sir George Lewis, as one of the most remarkable men I have met, I know very well. What I said about him is quite another matter, for I remember nothing of it. But whatever it was, you are welcome to it. I only wish it may have been better than I can think it was. Please tell me, however, who wrote the article, for though I naturally suppose you did, I should like to know for certain.’ Sir Edmund admitted that he wrote it.

3 Mr. Gardiner had become aware that he had a fatal disease, and had written openly and tranquilly upon the subject to his friends.

4 See Vol. I. p. 268.

5 Mr. Bradford has since enlarged this Index, and has made, with his own hand, other exquisite copies of it, of which he has presented one to Harvard College, and one wholly in Spanish is now on its way to Spain for the Royal Academy, of which he has been made a member.

6 Sir G. C. Lewis.

7 See Vol. I. p. 316.

8 Mr. Everett was in the habit of preserving everything of this kind, and Mr. Ticknor received back more than five hundred notes and letters which he had written. Almost all were short; a large quantity he destroyed, and of the remainder only a few were of so general a character that they could be used in these volumes.

9 In a note to General Thayer he says: ‘We shall miss him [Everett] very much. I had known him almost as long as I have known you. Pray try to live a little longer; I can't spare you all.’

10 Assassination of President Lincoln.

11 Such a gift to a child was, of course, meant for her father. This allusion to the sonnet (already mentioned, Vol. I. p. 425, note) gives an opportunity to present the sonnet itself here which is quite irresistible:—

A Prayer.

O brooding Spirit of Wisdom and of Love,
     Whose mighty wings even now o'ershadow me,
Absorb me in thine own immensity,
     And raise me far my finite self above!
Purge vanity away, and the weak care
     That name or fame of me may widely spread:
And the deep wish leave burning in their stead,
     Thy blissful influence afar to bear,—
Or see it borne! Let no desire of ease,
     No lack of courage, faith, or love, delay
Mine own steps in that high thought-paven way
     In which my soul her clear commission sees:
Yet with an equal joy let me behold
     Thy chariot o'er that way by others roll'd I

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