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Chapter 24:

To Sir Edmund Head, London.

Boston, February 21, 1867.
my dear Head,—I am surprised to find that I sent you no answer about the meaning of El moron in the ballad of ‘Blanca sois, Señora Mia.’ To be sure, I had no doubt but that it meant the horse, as soon as you gave me the suggestion of Mrs. Marshall, and I rather think that we ought both of us to feel a little mortified that we needed the lady's hint. And, to be sure, further I can say in reply to your question, that I do not remember any other case in which the name of the color is put for the horse, although I will bet a penny I ought to recollect cases in which pardo, bayo, etc., are so used. But is not Sancho's ass just as good as any horse in the world, and just as classical, and is he not called el rucio fifty times in ‘Don Quixote’?

And now I am in the way of confessing, I will acknowledge that I do not remember telling you how much I delight in the ‘Death of old King Gorm.’ See how old and forgetful I grow! So I have just read it over again, and have enjoyed it as much as I did when it first came out. Not so the translation from Theocritus, which I have seen lately. It is fine, but I do not like it so much. I wonder whether I take less than I used to, to the classical fashions. On the whole, I think not, though I sometimes suspect it; I should be sorry, in my old age, to become disloyal, and don't mean to.

I looked, an hour or two ago, into Boswell's Johnson, and bethought me that you are the Secretary of Johnson's old club. Pray tell me what sort of records have been kept of its meetings, and what sort you keep? Has anything more satisfactory been published about it than is to be found in Vol. I. of ‘Croker’? How many of you are there now? How often do you meet? How many, on an average, come together, and what sort of times do you have?

I have looked over Wornum's ‘Life of Holbein,’ as you counselled. [477] But I find it very hard reading, so ill is it written. Still, it contains a great many new facts, and much careful investigation. I hope he will not make out a case against the Dresden Madonna, for it is surely a magnificent picture, and should not be slightly dispossessed of its prescriptive rights. Probably I am prejudiced about it; but, if I am, I can't help it, and am not ashamed of it. . . . . Kindest and most faithful regards to Lady Head and yourself, and love to the children from all of us. Tell me about them.

Yours ever,

Thinking over the matter of the moreno, and your question whether I knew any other case in which the color of the horse is put, in Spanish, for the horse himself, I turned to a poor ballad by Jacinto Polo de Medina, in the beginning of his third Academia. It is on the old subject of a game of cañas, and is (of course almost) intended as a compliment to the different persons who figure in it. The first who comes in is Don Jorge Bernal,—

En un bayo, cabos negros,
Que en una andaluza yegua
Engendro el viento ec./quote>

Another is Don Francisco de Berastegui, who

Al viento un rucio,
and later,—
Ocupo Don Salvador
Carillo (gloria suprema)
Un alacvan que à los vientos
A saber correr ensefia.

Indeed, I have little doubt that the mere word for color was used in Spanish to indicate the horse, as often as we use sorrel, etc.; and I shall never forget how full half a century ago, in the Reit-bahn at Gottingen, I used to be delighted when the Stall-meister called out, ‘Der Schimmel fur den Herrn Ticknor,’ because a gray horse was the best in the large establishment. In short, must it not be the same in all languages? . . . .

To Sir Edmund Head, London.

Brookline, August 2, 1867.
my dear Head,—You are a day in advance of me, but no more; for I laid out your last letter yesterday to answer it, and in the evening [478] came yours of July 18,—very agreeable and instructive, like all its predecessors, but not satisfactory so far as Lady Head is concerned. By this time, however, I trust she is getting draughts of health at Aix-la-Chapelle, Aachen, Aquisgran, or whatever else they choose to make out of the Roman aquae. I have been there twice, and thought the place detestable both times; winter and summer alike . . . .

Thank you for your notices of ‘the Club,’ and for the little printed sheet, which I suppose was intended for official convenience. What you told me about a similar document, prepared earlier by Dean Milman, made me send to him for it, and not long since I received from his kindness a copy of it, with his Mss. additions down to Dr. Wm. Smith, 1867. I keep all these as very curious matters. On running over the list, I was surprised to find that I had known so many of the members, and on examining it, in consequence, with more care, I find that I have had more or less correspondence with twenty-nine out of the one hundred and fifty-seven members, beginning with Sir Joseph Banks, who runs back to 1778; besides which I have met in society and talked with at least twenty-seven more; so that I have really known fifty-six of the old Johnson Club, all since 1815! The reason is that I am such an old fellow; I was seventy-six yesterday . . . .

We are all well and prosperous. I am better than I have been for two years, and take great comfort in the tolerated laziness of old age. The Dexters are just gone to the sea-coast for five or six weeks seabathing; but I am safe in adding their kind regards to ours, for all of you.

Yours faithfully,

Tell me about Sir Francis Doyle, and the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford. I have known his family and himself many years, and he sent me lately the volume of Poems by which he claimed, and apparently won, the place. Is he obliged to reside?

To his Majesty John, King of Saxony.

Boston, U. S. A., September 6, 1867.
Sire,—The political condition of the world, on both sides of the Atlantic, does not seem to have become more tranquil or hopeful since I received your Majesty's last kind and interesting letter, in which you spoke of it so justly. We all look, in this country, with [479] great anxiety on the state of affairs in Europe. We do not see how a war is to be avoided next summer, and hardly comprehend by what statesmanship it has already been postponed so long. The ill-will of nations has no other effective mode of expressing itself, and is sure enough to reach this one at last. How strong the ill — will has become between France and Prussia, since the battle of Sadowa, we cannot measure as you can. But it is an old grudge, which has been festering in the hearts of Prussians and Frenchmen ever since the time of Napoleon the First. I witnessed it in both countries, when I was in Europe above fifty years ago, and it has never subsided since.

In my country it is much the same. We are suffering from causes which go far back in our history, and which have been very active and formidable since the question of slavery began to be angrily discussed on political grounds, almost forty years ago. . . .

But, notwithstanding our own troubles, the minds of men, all through the country, have been much shaken by the cruel and shameful death of Maximilian, in Mexico,—a prince so cultivated, so high-minded, so noble in his whole nature, that his murder seems to bring a disgrace on the age in which we live. I see that his works are about to be published, and I shall be anxious to read them, that I may better understand his history and character. . . . .

When I look at this unsettled and uncertain condition of things everywhere, I sometimes think we live in a decaying civilization. It seems to me, in such dark moments, as if we are all gradually ruining, as, I suppose, all the known civilizations of the world— from the Assyrian down—have been ruined, by the concentration of immense masses of people in the unwholesome moral atmosphere of great cities; and by the unending increase of their armies, and the enormous preponderance of a military spirit, both of which separate men from the beneficent influences of the soil they were sent into the world to cultivate, and lead directly to those violent revolutions which destroy all sense of law and duty, and at last overturn society itself. My consolation, when these dark prospects rise before me, is that such changes demand all but geological periods.

But my real refuge is among my books. Amidst these I always find peace. One work, which, of late, has much interested me, I took the liberty of sending, a few days ago, to your Majesty, as something you may not be sorry to see. It is the translation of the ‘Divina Commedia,’ recently published here by our well-known poet, Longfellow. He has been many years employed on it,—above fiveand-twenty within my own knowledge,—imposing upon himself, all the [480] time, such rigorous conditions that I wonder he has been able to do it at all. For he has rendered the whole poem absolutely line for line, making each line express exactly what belongs to the corresponding line in the original;—not a particle more, not a particle less. In this he has been more severe with himself than any translator of Dante known to me,—more, even, than your Majesty has been. . . . .

Among my pleasures in reading your Majesty's translation of the ‘Divina Commedia,’ in the beautiful copy of the new edition you sent me last winter, and now again in reading a copy which Longfellow has sent me of his English version, is a revival of the recollection of those charming evenings in your palace, above thirty years ago, when, with Carus and Forster, I listened to Tieck as he read, at each session, a canto of the Commedia, just as it had come fresh and warm from your hand, while we each of us sat with the original Italian, and suggested any alterations that might occur to either of us. I shall never forget the conscientious kindness with which you listened to the little we could say, what careful discussions followed every doubt, how admirably Tieck read, and how delightful and instructive the whole was. A full generation of men—as generations have been reckoned from Homer's time down—has since passed away, and with it Tieck and Forster,—a fact not so remarkable, certainly, as that the three others still survive. But Carus must be very old. Does he still preserve the faculties which so long distinguished him? Is he well?1

Among the changes of life, be assured that Mrs. Ticknor and myself do not fail to hear with grieved sympathy of the heavy sorrows [481] that befall your Majesty's house and home. So happy a group of fine children as we first knew gathered around you, and afterwards a family circle grown up into beauty and strength. And now only three left! . . . .

Pray express to the Queen our sincere sympathy. We should be ungrateful indeed if we did not feel it, after all the kindness we received in Dresden from your whole family. Remember us, too, to the Princess Amelia, who was so considerate to us, not only at home, but when we met her afterwards in Florence, and whose works are kept among our pleasant reading and that of our friends.

Preserve us, I pray you, in your kind recollections, and believe me to be always, very faithfully and affectionately,

Your Majesty's friend and servant,

To Sir Edmund Head, London.

Boston, January 8, 1868.
my dear Head,—The new year must not get on any farther without my recognizing that I owe you a good deal of happiness, and wishing you a great deal more. I think I wrote to you last, just after we came to town in the late autumn; but whether I did or not, I want to hear from you again. If we had not, in the mean time, heard of Lady Head's recovery, I should have claimed a letter sooner. But we want to hear about all of you,—not forgetting yourself.

We want to hear, too, about what you are doing in Parliament, and in politics. I do not half like the position of your affairs, and still less their promise. Your Sheffield troubles with their branches, and your Fenians everywhere look dark. The two movements come from different motives, and tend in different directions, but there is a common ground of radicalism and disorder, on which they can too easily coalesce. If you ever do have an upturning of society from its foundations in England, I have always believed that your revolution will be bloodier than the French. Your upper classes have a great deal more principle, character, and courage; and your lower classes are much less easy to satisfy, and have more definite political notions,— more training for a revolution,—and less religion. Tell me that I am mistaken. I want to be.

I need not tell you how we get on here; for you know, without my help, what we have done and what we are doing; and nobody can predict what we shall do. . . . . [482]

We have had some of your young countrymen here lately, who seem to look upon us as a political mine, that is to be wrought for the benefit of the rest of the world: Mr. Strutt,—son of Lord Rayleigh, —Lord Morley, Lord Amberley with his free-spoken wife, Lord Camperdown, Mr. Cowper, Mr. Hollond, and some others, with Miss Sulivan,—a niece of Lord Palmerston, an uncommonly lady-like, cultivated woman. They were all in my library one night together, and I have not seen so intellectual a set of young Englishmen in the United States since Lord Stanley, Denison, Labouchere, and Wharncliffe were here, five-and-twenty years ago. Strutt was senior wrangler at Cambridge a few years since; Morley was about as high at Oxford; and Cowper, Hollond, and Camperdown were evidently men who stood, or meant to stand, on the intellectual qualities . . . .

Agassiz and his wife are just about to publish a book—only one volume—on Brazil. You must read it, for it is full of matter, very pleasantly presented. We have just finished it, in what they call an ‘advance copy,’ and the two Annas have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Lady Head, I am sure, will like it. But you know how fond we are of Agassiz, and perhaps we like the book overmuch, especially as we have been reading it in an ‘advance copy,’ as such things are called, and so have had nobody to moderate our opinion.

We are all well, grandchildren and all; and all who have ever seen you and yours send you affectionate regards.

Ever yours,

To Hon. Edward Twisleton.

Boston, March 22, 1868.
my dear Twisleton,—Your sad letter2 came at the proper time, and I have desired ever since to answer it, but I have felt that I could not do it without a considerable effort, and so I have kept postponing it under the vain hope that time would make it easier. It does not; such things are not easy at 76-7. I was really attached to Sir Edmund Head; and as the attachment came late in life, and was formed after our tastes and opinions were matured, the idea of its [483] termination never seemed to be one of its elements. Certainly, I think, it never occurred to me that I should survive him, though, perhaps, I had sometimes worse fears than that.

What you tell me of his own anticipations, founded on the verses of Bland, which he so long recollected, falls in with my own impressions, and with what he intimated to me more than once in two visits of some length which we made to him in Canada. I think he feared a slow decay of his faculties, with, perhaps, a long life. Yet he was so full of physical strength, which he delighted to enjoy in the most vigorous bodily exercises, and he took such pleasure in the resources of his marvellous memory, as well as in a sort of general intellectual activity, which he spread over so many subjects of elegant culture, as well as of judicial and administrative policy, that I never much shared his own apprehensions or those of his friends.

To Hon. Edward Twisleton.

Boston, April 29, 1869.
my dear Twisleton,—Don't give me up because I have grown old. At 77-8 a man does, not what he most likes to do, but what he is able to do; and I am not able to do the half of what I could in a day only a few years ago, nor half as well as then. A long time before I came to this conclusion good old Dr. Jackson, whom you must remember, told me, in one of the last visits he ever made me, that he was reduced to one third. It seemed to me very strange, but I now find that my time is come, and coming. I feel constantly a great weariness, and avoid all the work I can, except reading, of which I have not yet begun to tire. I hope it will last me out, especially my love of old books; but I do not know. I care little about new ones.

During the year past you have been very good to me, and I take much pleasure in acknowledging it. [484]

Your letter about Mr. Herman Merivale came before he did, which I think is always an agreeable circumstance in letters of introduction. I was very glad to see him again, and liked him better the more I knew of him. He was a good deal with us, and I did for him gladly what I could during the few days he stayed here. When you see him, pray give him our kind regards, and ask him to come again.

I thank you, too, for a copy of the thirteenth report of the Civil Service Commissioners. It is very interesting and curious. But I did something better with it than look it carefully over, and learn what I could from it. I put it into the hands of an old friend of mine, General Thayer, who made West Point all that it is, and who, though above eighty-four years old, and therefore no longer able to make anything else, is doing what he can to have a similar system of examination for office introduced here. . . . . . But though we need this system more than any other country, it will be difficult to establish it among us. Those who have the power are naturally unwilling to give it up, and will make a good fight to keep it. Still, there are so many more that want to have men both of ability and of honesty to do their work for them in public affairs, that I do not despair The copy you sent me of your report on the subject—going far back, as it does, and giving results—has done good service.

No doubt, like any other system, it has its weak side, when it is brought to the test of a wide experience. The higher offices, I suppose, cannot be reached by it, and for those of less consequence the qualities you can ascertain, by any prearranged system of inquiries, will somewhat restrict the range of your subsequent choice for office, and, therefore, sometimes prevent you from taking the person best fitted for the office you want to fill . . . . . I am told, too, that some persons refuse to submit to examinations for places in India and elsewhere, who have yet good qualifications for them, and would seek them under other circumstances, or might be sought for them. Yet I cannot but think you get a safer class of men, on the whole, even in the Foreign Office, where I suppose your attaches may claim a regular advancement, which may sometimes lead to awkward results. At least, I feel sure that we should in this country do better. . . . .

I hope you will write to me again before long; and that when you do you will tell me about Lady Head and her daughters. Meantime, if you see them, pray give them our affectionate regards. We think of them and speak of them often. Only yesterday I read over Sir Edmund's beautiful verses on a Pan-Athenaic vase.

Yours sincerely,

[485] In 1869 Mr. George Ticknor Curtis had in press his ‘Life of Webster,’ and Mr. Ticknor gave careful perusal to both manuscript and proof-sheets of this work, in which he took a deep interest. A great number of short letters and many pages of memoranda, in his handwriting, testify to the fidelity and industry with which he performed this labor of love. The following will serve as a specimen of his tone.

To George T. Curtis, Esq.

Brookline, July 30, 1869.
my dear George,—Your letter of the 26th came yesterday, and the proof I enclose came late this forenoon . . . .

On reading the proofs I am more and more struck with the fact, that the events you relate, most of which have happened in my time, seem to me to have occurred much longer ago than they really did. The civil war of ‘61 has made a great gulf between what happened before it in our century and what has happened since, or what is likely to happen hereafter. It does not seem to me as if I were living in the country in which I was born, or in which I received whatever I ever got of political education or principles. Webster seems to have been the last of the Romans; and yet he, too, made mistakes. But I hope you will give a good prominence to his solemn protest in the Senate against the annexation of Texas. It is one of the grandest things he ever did. . . . .

But I am interrupted. William Gardiner, Mrs. Cabot, etc., and dinner immediately; in short, nothing before the post, but,

Ever yours, and all well,

Geo. T.

To Sir Walter C. Trevelyan, Bart.

Boston, U. S. A., August 31, 1869.
my dear Trevelyan,—My silence is not forgetfulness, neither is it ingratitude; it is simply old age. I am past seventy-eight, and, like nearly everybody of that age, I do, not what I like best to do, but what I can. I cannot walk much, and I forget a great deal, and I write as little as I can. Reading is my great resource, and I have lately been much amused with Crabbe Robinson, who is a model for old men, as far as their strength holds out. But your letter to me, [486] written above a year ago, full of kindness and interesting facts, was as welcome to me as ever, and so was the remarkable ‘Canterbury Report,’ with its marvellously condensed appendix, which came a few days ago. On both I must say a word, for I think, even from your letter, that you like to hear talk on the suppression of intemperance better than on almost anything else. Indeed, it has long been a main object with you in life,—certainly a most worthy one.

And, first, you seem in Great Britain to have got hold of a better and more effective mode of contending against this monstrous evil than we have in Massachusetts and Maine; for you come, as nearly as you can, to the voluntary principle, which seems needful in all virtue, and, perhaps, in all real and satisfactory reform in manners and morals. But when union of efforts is necessary, as it is in this case, the smaller each union is, in moderate numbers,—if the aggregate of all the unions is numerous enough,—the more likely is the main general purpose to be carried. The most formidable political combination of our times was, I suppose, the ‘Tugend-Bund’ of 1808, etc., because it consisted of an immense number of small societies, scattered all over Germany, but little connected with each other except by their one great object, and really knowing little about each other's operations and mode of proceeding.

Now, if I understand the matter, you have in the Province of Canterbury,—embracing, to be sure, a large part of England,—above a thousand parishes, hamlets, etc., where money will not buy the means of intoxication. It is a great thing, and it has been brought about without legislation.

On the other hand, we are attempting to compel the whole million and more of our people in Massachusetts, by the most stringent legislation, to do the same thing,—i. e. to stop the sale of all intoxicating liquors. But no people, and especially no people living under such free institutions as ours, can thus be driven. It is a moderate statement to say, that in Massachusetts the ‘Liquor Law,’ as it is called, is broken a hundred thousand times a day. In Boston, I think any man can get what he wants, from a pipe of wine to a glass of beer, whenever he likes, and as often as he likes. Now this is a bad thing for the law, the courts, and the police generally; and it is the worse because a sort of moral foundation is claimed for disregarding such a law,—I mean, because it is claimed that it makes only one party an offender, when both parties are; since, if I buy a bottle of wine, I tempt the seller to do wrong for gain, and so become a party to the offence. [487]

But I will not carry any more coal to Newcastle. You know, from your very able periodicals and discussions on the subject, what we are doing in Massachusetts as well as we do ourselves. What you have sent me from time to time proves it. I only wish you would tell me what you think of our modus operandi, as compared with yours. If anything is published here that I think you will like to see, and are not likely to get as soon as you will care to have it, I will send it to you at once. This is very possible, nowadays, for the liquor question is getting mixed up with our general politics, which it never ought to be, any more than a question in religion. But such things can rarely be avoided in so free institutions as ours,--perhaps not in yours . . . .

What you tell me of Thiebaut de Champagne is very curious, and much of it new. He was always one of my favorites, from 1817, when I studied the earliest French literature in Paris, under the advice of Roquefort and Raynouard, and made such collections of books as they told me to make. But I never heard before the tradition that he brought home with him from Palestine the ‘Provence Rose,’ which we cultivate here in a country Thiebaut never dreamt of; nor did I ever suppose that there were such remains of the ancient splendor of Provence as you describe. Please to tell me, therefore, when you write,—and I hope that, remembering my age, you will write before long,—please to give me the titles of anything published within the last twenty years about the old Chansonnier, if it will give you no trouble to do it. You see I remember your old tricks in Italy, collecting all sorts of books of local history in out-of-the-way places.

I do not know Mr. Bright of Waltham, to whom you refer; but I know his book about his English—not his American—ancestors, and looked in it directly for the engraving of the house where you were married. It is very curious, as are many books of our genealogies, tracing the connection between our two countries. I only wish there were more proofs of such connection down to our own times, and that they were heartier. . . .

But I think I have written as much as my strength will fairly enable me to write at one time. I will not, therefore, go on even to say a word, as I meant to, about the Oxford and Harvard Race, except to add, that we are surprised at the immense interest it excited; and that we can hardly hope, if your young men come here next year, as I hope they will, that we can receive them with equal fervor. But as for manly kindness and honor, I think we can promise all that anybody will desire.

Yours faithfully,


To J. G. Cogswell, Esq.

Brookline, September 7, 1869.
my dear Cogswell,—. . . . We had a most agreeable visit from Mrs. Barton3 and you, and would gladly have had more of it. Indeed, we had more from her, for she came again yesterday, and spent an hour or two more talking about ‘the books.’ She is a charming woman, as she always was, and does not look nearly so old as I am obliged to remember that she must be.

She read me a paper which she had, I think, shown you, drawn up as skilfully as her father would have done it, and told me that you were to have, for a fortnight, the two catalogues she brought here when she came with you on Saturday. I wish the books in both were well settled on the shelves of the Boston Library.4 But I had no opinions to give her different from those I gave her when you were present, to wit, that she should make up her opinion from the best information she can get. . . . .

As property the collection is, no doubt, valuable, and she does not purpose to part with it without a proper compensation. But she can easily find out its value. You are to help her, and I am very glad of it, for I cannot . . . .

The principal matter, of course, is the Shakespeare collection. She says that Rodd told her husband fifteen years ago that it was the fifth most important Shakespeare Library in the world. It must, I suppose, be higher on the list now. At any rate, there will be nothing like it in this country for many a year, if there ever is; and whoever on this side of the Atlantic wants to write carefully and well about Shakespeare or the old English drama, must sit down by the Barton books and study his subject there, or else go to England.

But I think Mrs. Barton is not only a very winning and attractive person, but that she has in her character a great deal of her mother, who was one of the most intelligent and acute women I ever knew, and of her father, who made the Code for Louisiana, and who, as General Jackson's Secretary of State, wrote the famous proclamation. I think, therefore, that she needs little help in such a matter as that of [489] the books, which she knew all about in her husband's lifetime, and all whose opinions about them are familiar to her. She will not make mistakes, nor do I mean to make that of thinking that I know more than she and you do.

Yours ever,

To General S. Thayer

Boston, January 26, 1870.
my very dear old friend,—Thank you for your inquiry; to which I can only reply, that the New Year begins as well as the Old Year leaves off, except that it makes me no younger, but adds to my days, which get to be rather burthensome. However, that is no matter; I eat well, drink well, and sleep well; I can read all the time, and do it; but as to walking, it is nearly among the lost arts. But you must come and see.

I hear of you in town now and then, and hope for you constantly. Mr. Minot, who is older than you are, gets up the hill every now and then; and the other day absolutely met here Judge Phillips, from Cambridge, who is quite as old as he is. So I do not despair. Practically, you are younger than I am. So is Cogswell; but he moves as little, almost, as I do.

We all, from my wife down, send our love to you, and want to see you. We shall not any of us have such another winter to move about in,—hardly many days like to-day. Look out, therefore, for tomorrow.

Yours from 1804-5,

To the King of Saxony.

Boston, U. S. A., September 29, 1870.
Sire,—Your Majesty is called to great private suffering, as well as to great public anxieties. We have just received a notice of the death of your excellent sister, the Princess Amelia, and we well know what sorrow this brings upon you and your house. She was so good, so intellectual, so agreeable. Be assured that we sympathize, in my home, with this your great affliction. We can never forget the constant kindness of the Princess to us when we lived in Dresden, and when we met her in Florence. All of my family who recollect her, as well as younger members who never had the happiness to see her, and very [490] many persons in my country, are familiar with her charming dramas, and estimate, as they should, the bright light that has been extinguished. We have indeed known little of the Princess Amelia's life for the last two or three years, but none the less do we know how her loss will be felt by those who were constantly near her, and shared her daily kindness and thoughtful love. For such a loss there is no sufficient preparation. It may have been long anticipated, but it comes as a shock at last. We can only submit, and be grateful for the life that preceded it.

Most heartily, too, do we sympathize with your Majesty and your people in the great and terrible changes now going on in Europe. . . . . We can all, now, cordially congratulate your Majesty on the great recent successes of your country in the war which has been so unjustifiably brought upon you, and can trust confidingly in their continuance. In my house we watch daily for the accounts of what is done by the Saxon troops, and rejoice cordially as we see how your sons and your subjects have distinguished themselves, their King, and their country.

Our last accounts, on which we can rely, are of the surrender of Strasburg. But we receive daily, by the Cable, stories of what was done twenty-four and thirty-six hours earlier, in this terrible war; some true, more, probably, false. Still, whatever we hear, be assured that we are interested for Saxony, that we always desire your welfare, your success, your honor, and that we can never cease to sympathize deeply in whatever may befall you, or to pray God for your protection and happiness. . . . .

Be assured that I remain, faithfully and affectionately,

Your friend and servant,

From his Majesty, the King of Saxony.

Wesenstein, the 17 October, 1870.
dear Sir,—I have received, some days ago, your letter of the 29th of September, and was astonished to see that you were already acquainted with the death of my poor sister. My answer to your last letter seemed not yet to have reached you, and I am uncertain if it was written before or after this lamentable event. I thank you heartily for the part you take in my sorrow, and for all you say on account of the dear departed. It was for me, and for us all, a great loss; for me particularly, as she was the last of my brothers and sisters. [491] She has left, in the whole country, a very good memory. Her last years were very retired. In the year 1855 she had submitted to an operation for cataract, which relieved her at least of the almost complete blindness which was her fate. She could again write and read, but at a certain distance her eye—the one was entirely lost— was very feeble. Since this time she had abandoned her authorship. The political situation of the last period, since 1866, preoccupied her much, and I believe that the war of this summer has much contributed to abridge her life. Yet her death was a very gentle one. She died in the moment when the priest was on the point of reaching her the sacrament, almost without a single-pang. To her last hour she continued a true friend to her family, and a sincere and pious Christian.

I wrote you already, in my last letter, of the successes of our arms and the honorable part which my troops and my sons have taken in it. Now they are before Paris, and form a part of the blockade of this immense city. May God give us soon an honorable peace, and put an end to the bloodshed, and all other calamities of war. The internal confusion in France is a difficulty for the success of negotiations.

Adieu, dear friend. I am, with the sincerest sentiments,

Your affectionate



1 This seems an appropriate place to introduce a memorandum made about this period by Mr. Ticknor, recalling one of the pleasures of his middle life.

‘The little meetings at Prince John's were, I believe, sometimes called the “Academia Dantesca, ” and extended through the years when the Prince was making his translation. I went to only two or three of them, in the winter of 1835-36, and never met anybody at them, except Tieck, Dr. Carus, and Karl Forster, though I believe other persons were occasionally there, especially the Mit-Regent, afterwards King Frederic. I think there are notices of them in the Life of Forster, 1846, where I am kindly remembered as meeting him at the Prince's, which I never did except on these occasions. Forster was an excellent Italian scholar, and translated, as early as 1807, from Dante. So was Carus, who made a plan of the “ Divina Commedia, ” of which he gave me a copy still to be found in my large paper Landino. Tieck was not so exact in his Italian as they were, but was more genial and agreeable.’ Forster says of Mr. Ticknor, ‘I see him often, and grow ever fonder of him,’ and admires the direct simplicity and ‘honest handshake’ of his greeting to the Prince as ‘a good contrast to our forms.’

2 Sir Edmund Head died very suddenly, of disease of the heart, on the 28th of January, and Mr. Ticknor felt the loss of his friendship deeply. The verses mentioned by Mr. Twisleton, are, he says, ‘by Bland, of the Greek Anthology, which, among others, Bland wrote in reference to himself, under the impression that he should not live long.’ Sir Edmund repeated them, nearly word for word, after an interval of twenty-five years, having only heard them recited once. They are as follows:—

While others set, thy sun shall fall;
     Night without eve shall close on thee:
And he who made, with sudden call
     Shall bid, and thou shalt cease to be.

So whispers Nature, whispers Sorrow:
     And I would greet the things they say,
But for the thought of those whose morrow
     Hangs trembling on my little day.

3 Formerly Miss Cora Livingston, daughter of Mrs. Edward Livingston. See Vol. I. pp. 350, 351.

4 The ‘Barton Library,’ containing both the Shakespeare collection and the miscellaneous library here mentioned, is now among the treasures of the Boston Public Library. It was purchased from Mrs. Barton shortly before her death, in 1873.

5 These letters closed this correspondence, and Mr. Ticknor's is the last, from his hand, that has come into the possession of his family. After Mr. Ticknor's death, King John wrote a letter of condolence, as warm, as simple, and sincere as any received at that time, and he afterwards went over the whole correspondence with great care, both his own and Mr. Ticknor's letters, with reference to the present memoir,—specified which of his own letters must be excluded from publication, and gave other directions which have been duly observed. A year after Mr. Ticknor's death, Mr. Charles Eliot Norton was received in a private audience by the King, in his cabinet, and before closing the interview his Majesty took him into a more private room,—where all the objects gave token of its being the scene of his secluded labors and retirement,—in order to show him an engraving of Mr. Ticknor hung there, desiring him to tell Mrs. Ticknor where he had placed it.

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