Correspondence of George Bancroft and Jared Sparks, 1823-32

Correspondence of George Bancroft and Jared Sparks, 1823-32

Bancroft c. 1860
Jared Sparks, Thomas Sully, 1831

The following letters throw light upon the literary efforts of two prominent American historians of the past century. They also show what were some of the problems of an editor in the conduct of his journal. They may possibly serve the student who would understand the development of periodical literature or the history of the men who made history a prominent phase of literature less than a century ago. They are taken from two manuscript collections, too large to be published in their entirety, which are open to investigators. One, the Bancroft Manuscripts, is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the other, the Sparks Manuscripts, is preserved in the Library of Harvard University. The officers of each library have courteously given permission for their use in this connection. The letters directed to Bancroft are in the former collection and the letters directed to Sparks are in the latter.

Of the two men who wrote them George Bancroft perhaps achieved the greater literary eminence. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1800.  He was brilliant as a student and distinguished himself in Phillips Academy, at Exeter, New Hampshire, and in Harvard College, where he graduated when seventeen years old. He was so promising that funds were raised by President Kirkland to send him abroad for study.  In 1820 he took the doctor’s degree at Gottingen, then studied at Berlin, and after a year’s travel returned to Harvard, where he became tutor in Greek. Though an excellent scholar, he was eccentric and impractical. He tried in vain to reform the curriculum and took his failure so seriously that he retired from Cambridge after a year to become a partner with Joseph Green Cogswell in the Round Hill School, which the two men established in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1823. The institution was modeled after a famous Swiss school and had some of the characteristics of the German gymnasium.  Much attention was paid to the individual, and the boys were carried forward as rapidly as they severally were able to advance. The school attracted attention from Georgia to Maine and had a short period of prosperity. It finally failed because it was not adjusted to the educational system of the country and because it was not conducted in a practical manner.

Here Bancroft taught until 1831. He was not made for a pedagogue. Although he knew his subjects well and did not trifle with the opportunity before him, he had not the power of reiteration necessary to drive learning into the head of the average boy. His best students learned much: the others played with their master. Meanwhile, Bancroft drifted into literature. The quiet natural beauty of Northampton stimulated his taste in that direction.  He read widely and having literary initiative in no small degree, he turned naturally to the production of books. At last he threw aside the role of teacher and devoted himself to letters. In making the transition his connection with the North American Review [READ MORE ABOUT NAR]was a leading influence.  It served to train his power of literary expression, to develop his taste, and to stimulate his confidence in himself as a writer.

This periodical was established in Boston in 1815, chiefly through the efforts of William Tudor, a lawyer who had a true and persistent interest in history. It was at first owned and conducted by a small group of men, each of whom was sup­ posed to contribute articles. As often happens in such enterprises, two or three of the partners wrote most of the matter that was printed. The years brought progress, and it was soon evident that the active contributors were building up a piece of property in which the inactive partners would have equal benefit with their industrious colleagues. It was an impossible situation and could not last.

The man who brought it into sound and orderly condition was Jared Sparks.  Born in Willington, Connecticut, in 1789, he spent his early life in poverty.  His education was obtained in the village school, but he showed such great ability that when still a boy he was a schoolteacher at eight dollars a month, working as a carpenter when the school did not run.  He attracted the attention of the village minister, who undertook to teach him Latin. At the end of eight weeks the boy was reading Virgil at the rate of a hundred lines a day. Friends now were found and a fund was raised by which Sparks went to Phillips Academy, at Exeter, and later to Harvard, where he graduated in 1815. Although several years older than most of his class­ mates, he was popular with them, and through his long life in Boston he received great help and encouragement from some of them in that city. He also won the confidence of the faculty. President Kirkland used to say that Jared Sparks was “a man and a half.”

At that time the Unitarian movement was strong at Harvard and Sparks came under its influence. He decided to enter its ministry and was received as a most promising laborer in the cause. In 1819 he accepted a call to the newly established church in Baltimore. It was thought that he would carry the faith into the South, where the field was considered promising. The hope proved unfounded. Sparks preached acceptably to the church in Baltimore and he was popular in the city, but he did not extend the influence of Unitarianism in the surrounding country, and in 1823 he resigned the pastorate and retired from the ministry.

Returning to Boston he found that the partners would sell the North American Review.  He made the purchase, partly with borrowed money, and carried into the management of the enterprise so much business and editorial ability that the periodical gained subscribers and influence rapidly. It was evident that the United States at last had a review worthy of comparison with the leading reviews of Great Britain. When he retired from the editorship in 1830 Sparks received $9,100 more than he had given for the property. Considering the times it was a very satisfactory result of his venture.

It is likely that Bancroft and Sparks became acquainted at Harvard, since the first and second years of the one coincided with the third and fourth years of the other.  Bancroft was just settling in Northampton when the new editor of the Review took up his duties. A short time previously he had written an article for Edward Everett, then editor, on Schiller’s minor poems, and it was published in October, 1823. It was a sympa­ thetic essay, as was to be expected from a youth full of the German spirit. In it were Bancroft’s own translations of sev­ eral of Schiller’s short poems, slight things for which we can find but little admiration. At this period of his Ii fe Bancroft dabbled in poetry on his own account, and in the preceding year he had published a thin volume of verse.                                                              •

Shortly after the North American changed hands Bancroft offered to contribute other articles, and Sparks accepted the offer.  It is at this point that the letters begin which I am able to publish. They relate to a series of articles running through several years.* They are given without emendation, and with only those notes which seem necessary to make the sense clear. The attempt is made to reproduce the letters exactly, without improving the evident results of carelessness. It is worth some­ thing to see what the epistolary style of our grandfathers was really like. Bancroft’s handwriting is sometimes difficult.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

5 November, 1823, Northampton.

Dear Sir, Buttman’s Greek Grammar has been more than a year before the American public, and the American journals have not noticed it.  I have wished to write an article on the subject, but have been deterred because Mr. E. was the editor of the article. Now that he has added Mr. Jacob’s Greek reader I should like very much to say a few words in commendation of these excellent school-books, if a place in your journal can be spared for that purpose. If you think the matter worth notic­ ing, I wish you would let me hear from you, as to the time, when an article should be forwarded for insertion in the next number.

Footnotes and Citations: William Cushing in his “Index to the North American Review” gives the following list of articles contributed by Bancroft to that periodi­ cal while Sparks was editor: Butt man’s Greek Grammar, XVIII, 99; Jacobs’s Greek Reader, XVIII, 280; Somerville’s Letters on France, XIX, 50; Value of Classical Learning, XIX, 125; Life and Genius of Goethe, XIX, 203; Writings of Herder, XX, 138; Classical Learning, XXIII, 142; Greek Lexicography, XXIV, 142; Von Dohm’s Memoirs, XXVI, 285; Saxe-Weimar’s Travels in America, XXVIII, 226; and Joseph II of Austria, XXXI, 1. From evidence in the letters now published it is evident that Bancroft also wrote a notice of J. E. Worcester, Elements of Geography, 1824, and Sketches of the Earth and its Inhabitants, 2 vols., 1823, published in the Review, XIX, 258-July, 1824.

Permit me to commend myself to your kind remembrance. l hope, the distance of eighty or ninety miles only is not to deprive me altogether of the advantages, which this part of the country is to derive from your personal presence, and I should feel very happy, if I could in [any] way serve you or the good cause of letters.  With sincere respect and regard Yours, The American edition of Buttman was translated by Edward Everett.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Nov. 8, 1823.

My dear Sir, I have been about writing you for several days, and am glad now to have an opportunity of thanking you for your kind offer in regard to Buttman. The N. A. R. will be much indebted to you for such an article, and you may make it as learned as you please ; only let all your learning be in very fair manuscript.  I ought to have the article as soon as the 1st of December, and shall depend on it at farthest by the 5th, the sooner the better. Allow me to reciprocate your kind remem­ brances, and to express a confidence, that you will lend me from time to time such aids as may be compatible with your duties. I shall rely much on your good disposition to “serve the cause of letters”, and shall expect this, if no other motive, will induce you to favour the N. A. with an article as often as pos­ sible. I should like a long, a learned, wise, and practical article on your mode of education, or such improvements of the old plan, as the schools in Germany and your own reflections have suggested. With sincere esteem I am sir Your affectionate friend,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 12 Dec. 1823.

My dear Sir, My review and your last letter must have crossed each other. Having been engaged on a translation from the German, it was not possible for me to get upon writing it till December, and I believe it must have reached you by the fourth of the month, which was within the time you allowed me. I made it short, because I thought in your first number you would have little room to spare, & because most of your readers will think six or eight pages on Greek grammar quite enough.

I could easily write a plea for classical learning, and present the subject under what seems to me a new and just point of view. Next week on Saturday I shall be in Boston, and if you would leave a note at Mr. Searle’s in Fremont Court, where I can meet you for an hour on the next day morning or on Mon­ day I will explain to you my notions, and be happy to hear of your views and wishes, which if I can meet, I shall be happy Yours truly,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

26 January, Northampton.

My dear Sir, As a friend is going to Boston tomorrow I cannot but send you a few lines, which I wish you would answer after you shall have received an Article for the N. A. R. which I have nearly finished.  I shall be able to send it you on Sunday next: I mean, it will then be in Boston. It is on classic learning: I have endeavored to be clear and concise, and hope my notions will please you. So soon as you shall have decided, whether you print it next time or no, I wish you would inform me. I remember you used to own Klopstock’s Messiah. Do you own his odes also? Accept my best regards and best wishes. Yours sincerely,

[P. S.] I have a copy of Worcester’s Sketches. Shall I send two pages upon them? How much would it cost to print an edition of 800 copies of a work just like A. H. Everett on Population? I mean, printed just in that manner and of the same number of pages. Pray remember me to Mr. W. H. Eliot.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Feb. 1, 1824.

My dear sir, I am sorry it will not be in my power to put your article on classical studies in the present number.  The truth is, I have been obliged to write more myself than I intended, in order to keep our press in motion, as we had no other work, and I had engaged no articles till Feb. 1st. By a calculation which I have just now made since receiving your letter, I find that I have made an absolute engagement for more articles, than the number will hold, and must put over one of my own, which is nearly completed, till next time. I never anticipated such an evil, and have therefore been very free in soliciting, without looking to the end. The article on Jacobs, which you have sent, is so short, and at the same time so spirited, I should be glad to print it alone in the present number. Some of the old school here have expressed to me their apprehensions since your last article, that the North American is becoming too partial to the Germans, at the expense of our worthy brethren the English. One gentleman made bold to say to me, that the English had written as good Greek grammars as anybody, and that they ought at least to have a passing compliment. I told him I would give you the hint. With this view I return you the manuscript, hoping that if you can think of anything to say in praise of English Grecian elementary books, you will give them the passing need of a paragraph or two.  I should think it advisable also to print the note in the text. I sincerely hope you will approve this plan, and will permit this to be a separate article, and will send it by mail as soon as it is ready. I have calculated on a notice of Undine and shall be glad to have it soon, i. e., if you are sure the books will see the light before April.

Mr. Worcester is printing a stereotype edition of his Geography. When that appears, I shall depend on you, in compliance with your kind offer, to make a notice of this work and his Sketches combined. By the first of May, therefore, let me rely on having from you: 1. Review on Classical Studies, 2. Review of Worcester. Why can you not tack your first review to Pot­ ter’s Address?  I do not remember seeing this notice in the N. (?) If it has been, you can easily find some other book. Let me hear from you soon.

Very truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 9 Feb. 1824.

My dear sir, I send you the little notice of Undine. In a letter, which I sent you some time since, I asked how much it would cost to print a work exactly like Mr. A. H. Everett’s on population, making an edition of 600 copies. I wish to know not merely the expense of printing but of binding in boards also.

Mr. Cogswell and myself have finally made an arrangement, which will carry us to the banks of the North River. When we first undertook our business, we had several copies of the Prospectus stitched into the N. A. R. at the end. In case we think it best to announce publicly our place of abode, should you have any objection to appending our notice to the next number after the manner of the advertisements in the English Re­ views?

I wish you would return me the manuscript sent by Mr. Robbins, as you have no present use for it. I have been cheating myself of my cares by making little translations from Goethe. Perhaps I had better correct and improve the article on classic learning, or perhaps in lieu of it get something ready for the ladies. Then in May you could choose between an argument about Greek and a lighter article. If you know of any direct opportunity to send me the MS pray do so.  Otherwise, if you would leave it next week at C. Hilliard & Co. I will have it called for. Pray add to it the last No. of the N. A. R., for which I wish to become a subscriber; and which I wish always in future to have sent me by mail. Truly yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Feb. 14, 1824.

My dear sir, I have just recd. yours of the 9th inst. containing the first notice of Undine. The second notice, which you prefer, came two days ago. This shall be printed according to your re­ quest. I have sold all that I owned of Klopstock. By a calculation of the printers it will cost to print 750 copies exactly like the New Ideas, $169.39; and $15 for binding.

This includes all expenses.   In one letter you asked the amount for 800, and in the other for 600.  You know the cheapest estimate is al­ways made out by tokens, each token being 250 sheets. This is the way the printers work, and it will cost no more, except for the paper and binding, for 750 than for 600; and it will cost the same for 800 as for 1000. There will always be a saving, therefore, by measuring an edition by two hundred and fi £ties. We will stick in the notice you mention; at all events in such numbers as do not go by mail, and where the subscribers can have no cause of complaint by increase of postage. A parcel containing the MS. and a copy of the N. A. is left for you at is entered for Northampton. Give notice if you wish it changed. I am glad you go on with translations. Please always to number each page of MS. for printing. It will prevent mistake.

Yours truly,

Cumming, Hilliard & Co., Booksellers.

H. & Co.,1 as you direct. The N. A. subscription for you

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, March 25, 1824.

My dear Sir, Will you review Mr. Somerville’s book on France? It contains about 400 pages, and goes over so large a field that I think you can make a kind of analysis of it, and throw in such hints as occur to you, with out much labor. Besides, it may be that you have things in your mind about France, which you wish to unburden.  If so, this affords a good opportunity.  The work is not put together with much tact, but it contains a great deal of knowledge, and some good thoughts. I should be glad to have it dealt kindly with, as the author has literary merits.  He is a young man of fortune, who takes to books wholly for amusement; and moreover, an original work of 400 pages, published in Baltimore, if it has anything to commend it, ought to be favorably noticed. It is a rare thing for so big a book on general literary and historical topics to appear at the South. Please to write very shortly and let me know whether you will do it.  The article should be ready by May 1st.  Tell me how I shall send the volume to you. I expect from you the notice of Worcesters Sketches and Geography and hope to receive it by May 1st. Your article of Germany poetry, I shall depend on for the Oct. No. and wish it to be ready by the first of August. With sincere regards I am yours very truly,

  • S. Prof. Everett has written a review of Heeren, which is printed. You have doubtless heard of his grand project of an Annual Register. The prospectus will be at the end of the N.
  • R. for April.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 26 March, 1824.

My dear sir, I have yours of the 25th, and in reply have only to say, that I will make the article you speak of with pleasure and in the spirit of on. philanthropy. If the author tortures [ ?] to books for the love of them he has my heart.

I hold myself ready to review Worcester’s books, and de­ sire to do so. But I have not yet received his geography.  If it be out will you see that it is sent to me? Send m a line saying about how many pages you can allow me for the one and the other article.  In speaking of the geographical works I should say but a few words respecting the excellent character of the books, and then make some remarks; 1. on the manner of teaching geography, and next on the relation, in which such studies stand to those which require more active exertion of the mind on the part of the learner.

The article I sent you on classic literature needs curtailing, and a plainer style. I purpose to change it accordingly, and to make a little article of it for some No. On Goethe I am seriously employed, and hope to give some translations, which shall at least find their way into the albums £ the ladies. At the new political journal I am amazed.  I dreamed of no such thing. Yet it might have been expected.

If you get this in season to send Somerville by the next baggage wagon do so. Otherwise let it come by the Northampton stage on Wednesday.  The Stage leaves Boston on Wednesday at two o’clock in the morning. I am anxious to see the new number. Perhaps you can enclose it at the same time. If not I shall expect it by Friday’s mail.  I hope to see you in Boston in May.

Truly and with all respect and regard

Yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, March 31, 1824.

My dear Sir, According to your directions I have put the volume of Mr. Somerville’s into the Northampton stage this morning. I should suppose that from 10 to 15 pages would do, but you may write as much as you please. Make a few of the best extracts. You will find a very ambitious, and unformed style occasionally; and the general getting up of the book indicates an unpracticed hand; but there is much historical knowledge and some good thoughts, and I should like to have the author dealt gently with, although not extravagantly praised. I think you can let some parts of the book speak well for themselves; You can make a sort of analysis of things and throw in such reflections as occur. I will see that you have a copy of Worcester.  Your notions of the topic are good.  Please let me have both articles in the first week in May.  Go on with Goethe.  The

  • A. R. has been kept back by various accidents. It will ap­ pear on the 5th or 6th of April. I start for the South in a week to be absent a month. Very truly yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, April 3, 1824.

My dear sir, In my letter three or four days ago, I forgot to say, that I have a small book just published on which you can engraft your review concerning the study of the classics.  It is entitled a “Course of study preparatory to the Bar and the Senate.”  It is by Mr. Watterson, Librarian of Congress, and has some merit. It goes into the general subject of education, and will afford you an opportunity of extending your remarks on collateral subjects. I will send it to you in May.

Yours very truly,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

31 [sic] June, 1824, Northampton.

Dear Sir, At various times I have forwarded you the article on Worcester, and the residue of the article on Watterson. Pray remember my desire to have the sheets sent me before they appear. I repeat: reject that on Worcester if you will, & write yourself a short general one of praise without vituperation.  Or print what I have been compelled to say. You will see Mr. Greenwood. Speak of me as of one who has long cherished a regard for him, though he may have returned but little of it.  He has a sermon of mine on Poverty. It has a peculiar interest for me and prob­ ably for no one else. He has the only copy of it. Ask it of him, I pray you, and keep it for me.

What can you say of your Spanish teacher at Baltimore? Think you we could get him at Round Hill?  And for how much? And is he the man for us? These questions I wish you would answer at your early leisure, and say nothing about i,t to others. We have already a Castilian, who is to arrive this week, but we have no continuing arrangement with him. Goethe shall be done soon. I have the ideas all warm in my head but must let them ferment a little more, that I may write coolly and judiciously. Best regards to William and Margaret.2 I had a happy time under their roof. Remember me yourself with good will. You know what interests you will have an interest for me.

Truly yours,

  • Probably refers to George Watterston’s “Course of Study Preparatory to the Bar and Senate,” 1824.  The review was not published by Sparks.

 

  • William Eliot and his wife, of Beacon Street, Boston.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, June 21, 1824.

My dear sir,
The pieces on Watterson and Worcester came safe to hand. Worcester I have cut off a good deal, and made a short review for the miscellaneous head. I have added a word or two of praise, just to take off the edge of your sharp criticism, though I have altered your remarks on this point very little. In some respects the sketches certainly show a great deficiency of judgment. Go on with Goethe. Send it as soon as it is well matured and finished. If it comes in time it will be the first article in the number. I shall see Greenwood probably in three weeks, and will remember the sermon on poverty. By the way, what heart had you to write on so ungracious a subject? Two days ago Greenwood’s answer was received at the New South, in which he declined accepting the invitation.

Cubi, the Spanish teacher at Baltimore, is so much employed, that he will hardly be induced to come away. He resigned his professorship at St Mary’s College, which gave him $1000 a year, for the sake of giving himself to private pupils. I gave him $1 a lesson. He has a passion for writing Spanish Dictionaries, Grammars, and school books for the South American market. I do not think he succeeds remarkably well in his book making, but he is an excellent teacher, and his hands are completely full. There were three constitutional editors came to Baltimore from Spain last year, destitute, but whether they have fled I know not.

Yours very truly,

  • In Press by Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Greek Grammar of Philip Buttman abridged for the use of beginners. Pray insert the above in its place.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 10 July, 1824.

My dear sir,

I sent you an article on Goethe by my sister, who left me last Saturday. She will be in Boston this week, and if you will call at Mr. Gardner Chandler’s, head of the Mall, in Boyleston St. on Saturday of this week at 1, or at half past three o’clock you will receive it by demanding it. You will perceive on reading it, that it has cost me much time in the making. I wish to hear from you, before you print it, your candid opinion upon i-t. You must not make any alterations or omissions with­ out consulting me. I have only to repeat, I wish you to write me, so soon as you shall have read it, and before you print it. I have a request or two to make. Have you printed either of the articles I sent you? If so, I take it a little unkind of you, that you have paid no attention to my request to have a copy of the sheets sent me immediately after the printing. The request seemed to me a trifling one, and a very proper one also. Yours truly,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Monday, 12 July, 1824.

Dear sir,

I have sent you Goethe already. Call at Mr. Gardner Chandler’s in Boyleston St., head of the Mall, and demand it of my sister next Saturday at 1 o’clock, or at half past three. I wanted to hear your opinion of the article before printing. If you will go directly upon it, do so, but make no omissions, nor alterations, except grammar and good sense require it. I have written with great care, will be personally responsible for every word of the article, and also for the selections.  I wish you would have from 25 to fifty-say fifty-extra copies of the article struck of at my expense in a pamphlet form. I wish to send them to Germany. Let me have your opinion candidly, severely expressed, as soon as you shall have read it.

Yours in truth

  • Do not forget to send me by mail a copy of the article as soon as it shall be printed. This is in answer to yours by Wallenstein. My letter of yesterday you will not heed. Many thanks to you for the Review. In great haste Yours– Come up and make us a visit

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, July 20, 1824.

My dear Sir, I have read your article, and am much pleased with its general tone, criticisms, and execution. I see nothing that needs be omitted, or that wants altering, unless it be here and there a phrase.  The frequent recurrence of such words as “options, love, affection, sympathy, sensation, feeling” carried you· sometimes into more soft abstractions, than is fully consistent with the dignity of your subject. But this is not often. The translations are many of them beautiful, and will be read with great appreciation. For my own part I am particularly pleased with the “Count” and the “Fable.” In the address to the goddess there is a line which you must contrive to alter:

“He hath told them every one And he loves the simpleton.”

Simpleton is never used except in a silly or foolish sense, and such you do not intend it.  In the Angler also are two awkward words.

“And rustling from the opening flood An oozy maid up-sprung.”

Rustling will do, but it is not good; and an oozy maid presents an image not at all to my taste.  I see you have put in the Bay a deer, but this I believe we agreed would hardly answer for our state of society. I should say the same of the Dance of the Dead, though for a different reason. These two pieces I should think it best not to print. They have no doubt cost you much labor in translating, especially the first, which seems to me to be done with great skill and spirit; but in all such cases we must look to the effect and be guided by that. If you correct the above lines, I wish you would send them as soon as you can ; and also the title entire, both in German and English of Goethe’s works, place, date, no. of vols., &c, that we may begin the matter in proper form: I have desired Mr. Ticknor to read the article before it goes, that he may suggest to you whatever occurs to him.

You complain in your letter that I did not send you “immediately” copies of your pieces as soon as thrown from the press, and say that “the request seemed to you a trifling one, and a very proper one also.”  Now as to the request I allow that in itself it is sufficiently “trifling and proper,” but that it must on all occasions be complied with immediately I don’t think either one or the other. In the first place, it is not very “proper” to allow any part of the work to go from the office till the whole is published, and in the second place, if every writer were to make the same request, it would be no “trifling” thing for me to attend to this matter, and see that every proof was duly put into the mail. It will give me pleasure always to furnish you with a copy as you desire, but I cannot promise to keep it in perpetual recollection, nor even then to send it before the work is published. And per­ haps after all I may sometimes forget it, and then you will only have to send a line to the publisher telling him what signatures you want, and he will forward them immediately. I shall take care that SO copies of Goethe are printed separately as you desire, and put in as handsome a way as they can be done.  I have had a partial negotiation with Mr. and Mrs. Ticknor to visit Northampton while they are there; but on the whole I must deny myself that pleasure till some more favored opportunity. With much esteem, Your sincere friend,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 29 July, [1824].

Dear Sir,

Mr. Ticknor brings me yours of July 20. I am glad you like the Fable. Preach contentment to women and children. I like its moral. It is true philosophy. “Simpleton,” I cannot change this moment. Will do it in the postscript. “Rustling” is literal from the German-see Postscript. The Brigadier is the best piece of the whole, translated with most care and labor. I have read it to two ministers, and two men of feeling; and they liked it, one and all. It cost me a fortnight to fix the lines. I submit to your judgment. It is against my own. The ballad would be popular. But no matter. Cut it out. Cut it out by all means. It was the minister’s simplicity that prevented them from under­ standing it: no such thing. The sentence of death is pronounced on the dance of the dead. At least it is not to see the light in the I am not such a child, as to cry for not knowing my way. You need not send me the proofs at all. I could argue the point with you though, for at any rate, you have no security but in the honor of the writers, that they will not publish their articles be­ fore you. They have, or may have a written copy, and with that they can do any harm to be apprehended-

I could send you more titles, and an account of a controversy just waged in Germany about his character, or give you a separate article of four or five pages upon it.

Bright with the waters of the flood, A glittering maid up-sprung.

For to her and her alone all his secret whims are known And in all her faults despite

Is the maid her sire’s delight.

Ever yours in sincerity,

[P. S.]

Choose for yourself. I commend myself to your friendship, and hope to meet you in October. As you omit some pieces, save and return me the manuscript by your convenient opportunity.

  • A. R. Strike out, All that is sentimental. I rely much on your judgment to befriend me. A man, who writes poetry or about it may easily make himself ridiculous. In connecting the passages do not use the phrase we. My own personality glimmers through every page of the review, but nowhere have I said we. I am particular about this for divers reasons.
  • Goethe’s 20 Bande. Stuttgart and Tiibingen : In der J. G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1815-1819. Goethe’s Works. 20 vols. Stuttgart and Tiibingen. Published by J. G. Cotta, 1815-1819.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Sept. 6, 1824.

My dear G. B.

I have a book for you to review. It is a “Journal of a Tour in Italy, by an American”; 468 pages, and has been out 3 or 4 months. Perhaps you have seen it. At all events it tells of things with which you must be acquainted, and will give you an opportunity of saying what you please about Italy. I shall keep it till you come down in October. The review of Somerville was much liked, and I hope you will never enjoin on me another secret. Mr. Ticknor I am glad to say has propounded the matter openly, with your consent. Your Goethe Review will be printed in a separate pamphlet in as handsome a manner as we can do it at the N. A. R. press. The 50 copies will be ready for you when you arrive. I had the pleasure of being introduced to a lady from Northampton, a friend of yours, two or three evenings ago. Very truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 13 Sept. [1824].

My dear Sir:

I have nearly finished an article on Discipline, i. e., on the proper manner of managing boys. I have written plainly and practically, and confined myself strictly to my subject. If you should like it for the next N. A. R., it is at your service, and will interest whoever is interested in our institution.  It may be about 30 pages long. If you have room for it I will bring it you in October, and we can read and prepare it for the press at that time. It is very, very soberly written.

When it comes to discussing Italy, I find myself overwhelmed with passion for the subject. Discussing politics is out of the question because Italian politics are straightforward—an oppressive despotism burdens the nation. However, the arts, such as Raphael’s masterpieces, the rich history of the Middle Ages, and notable figures like Byron who stayed in Pisa, as well as the breathtaking Italian scenery, are topics truly worth contemplating.

If the book is available in boards, please send it to me by the next mail along with a letter letting me know if you would like to engage in some casual conversation and how much space you have available. In October, I will share my thoughts on it, whether I can write about it, and what I might say.

Am I a lady’s man? If my Goethe Review does not settle that point, I may as well go hang myself, or put on the weeds of a hermit. If you conclude to receive (always under the condition that on reading it you find it will suit your purpose) the Edu­cation Article, let me know it forthwith, and if [satisfactory] it can be printed in the first fortnight of October, while I am in Boston. In those few days I want to see a great deal of you, & talk with you much. You must let me know where you dine, and when you are going to walk, that I may see you much and not interrupt you.

Yours sincerely and with honesty,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Sept. 16, 1824.

Dear Sir, By the stage of this day I send you the book of travels as you desire. By the leaves not being cut, you will see that I have read very little in it. What I have read I have liked, though there is a marvelous dull kind of air about the book. I suspect the author meant no harm, and had written as well as he could; but I should be ashamed to be caught criticizing a book, which I have read so little. Take it in hand and do it justice; but do not get into any tantrums talking about Italian arts, scenery, and associations. Tell us of plain, entertaining, instruc­tive, and good things. As to your piece on managing boys, if you can enlighten the public on this subject, you can in no way be some a greater benefactor. Few know anything about the mat­ ter. I should be glad of the article for January.1

You have got some foolish notion in your head about “a lady’s man.” Keep it well in mind, that the true way to be a lady’s man, is to be a man’s man,-a man of firm, dignified, unwavering character, devoted to a noble, elevated purpose, and pursuin6 at all times a uniform, upright, determined, independent course, without yielding on the one hand too implicitly to the whims or opinions of others, and without disregarding on the other the counsel and good example of the wise and worthy. In other words, respect yourself, and deserve the respect of all others, and you will in the completest sense of the term be a lady’s man. In my mind, there is but one rule in the matter. The man, whom all the world respects for his virtues, his attainments, and his ele­vation of sentiment and character, is the man who of all others will acquire the greatest favor with the ladies, if by this criterion you mean to judge a lady’s man. To suppose otherwise would be to reflect on the discrimination and good sense of this fair half of our race. In short, the lady who is not more capti­vated with these traits in a man, than with the frippery of folly and ignorance, deserves not to be esteemed by any man, who is himself worthy of esteem. Let me beg of you, there­ fore, not to associate any longer the idea of a lady’s man with poetry, sentiment, soft and killing things, the tinsel of butter­ flies, the gossamer moonbeams, nor any such unsubstantial things. These are well in their places, but they have an amazingly small part in making up a true lady’s man.

Bring down your piece on education.  It is probable I shall want it for January, but this will in some degree depend on circumstances, as I must necessarily consider variety.  Ten or

  • It was not published in the North American twelve pages will be enough on the book of travels. Yours very truly,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Without Received Nov. 13, 1824.

My dear Friend,

I send you the article on Herder as you de­ sired. It cannot be far from the desired length. As I have written it purely at your request, take it and do with it as you will. It will please me best in the form, in which it pleases you best.

As to the book on Italy, I do not know how to say anything without saying a good deal, and you have no room, and I no leisure for that. A page or two might still be written: tho’ the notice of works, which do not interest me, is a hard task for me, and one I am opposed to from principle.

Some of the remarks which you made me gave me a good deal of pain. In writing for the N. A. R. I conceived myself in the pleasantest situation, laboring in a manner to oblige and serve a friend, quite as much as myself, and at the same time doing my little part towards disseminating a love of letters. To successful exertion of one’s mind a consciousness of independ­ ence is necessary. As a friend of yours, I might desire at all times to perform any literary labor, which my habits and pur­ suits might have fitted me for. Wherever I express my own feelings and the results of my own thoughts, there must be no mind at work but my own. When you told me, that you should return unread, articles sent to you to be inserted un­ changed, you did the same, as to tell me, according to my prin­ciples of action, not to send you any at all. I value the advice and the criticisms of friends, have been too often benefited by them to be ignorant of their worth. But to give up a production of my own to be accommodated to another’s views, to have another’s mind reign in it, is what I never can do. I value opinions, delicately formed, too much for that, and I value my­ self too much for it also.

If I mistake not the character of the American public, there is no need of keeping back any truth from it. The public is willing to be shocked. Ask yourself, if a thing appears good to your own mind; and doubt not, the objections which may arise from the fear that this or the other will be offended, will prove ground­ less ones.

I have sometimes thought of relinquishing the career of let­ ters.  I could be very happy and very useful, if I would do it. I mean relinquish toiling for others. The perception of excel­lence in others, the love of communing with high minds Provi­dence in its mercy has conceded me-a compensation for a thou­ sand woes, and my most valuable possession.

Let me hear what you expect me to do with reference to the book on Italy. If you have room, still might something be done. I wish to know, what you think of my piece on Herder. I had not the books I needed. I have not satisfied myself. If you think it would do me discredit, do not print it. You have full liberty to change, add, or omit. In good faith and with real affection Yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Nov. 13, 1824.

My dear Sir,

You are a man after my own heart, willing to promise, and prompt to execute. The piece on Herder I like much. It will be in press in two days. You may let the book on Italy go by. It needs not be noticed. I am sorry you were troubled at any remarks of mine. The truth is, I thought you dwelt with quite too much pertinacity on a very little matter. I have never written myself for the N. A. when it was in other hands than my own, that my pieces was not more altered than yours. I thanked the editor and forgot it. I have hardly print­ ed a piece since I had the book which has not been more altered than your Goethe article; and I have heard no complaint from any other individual. These things considered, I was doubtless too much excited with your talk to me and others.  It was really a very slight matter at most.  Three or 4 lines were omitted; not a word, or at least a sentiment added. Allow no good was done; what was the mighty harm? It was not a thing to worry about, and more especially after a thing was done, that could not be undone. I say again, all these things considered, I was more moved than was necessary. But why remember these things? Submerge them under the waters of Lethe, there let them rest.

I have another project1 for you, which is to make an article on “Physical Education.”  I send you two books, which you may review, and two MS. pamphlets of translation [illegible] by a person of this city, of all of which you can make such use as you please. I do not want speculations, so much as a brief and animated history of what has been done, and is now doing, with such philosophical reflections as may suggest themselves. These books I presume, ( with such German books as you may have) will afford you all the materials, and it will only be necessary that they should be brought together in a proper shape. Suppose you have a few preliminary remarks on the gymnastic education of the ancients; then a history of what has been done recently in Europe as detailed in these books; then the present practices as to this point in Germany and Switzerland; and lastly such reflections as occur in regard to introducing some similar system into this country.

As the body and mind are assimilated so strongly to each other, it seems certain that any course of education, which gives health and vigor to the former, must quicken and enlarge the powers of the latter. But this is a wide field; explore it as you like, only remember, that so little is known in this country about gymnastic education, that historical details will be particularly interesting to our readers. I send the books by the stage. Please let me know very shortly whether you will under­ take, to have the article done by Feb. 1-1 should suppose it ought to be brought into 25 pages: perhaps 30, if you find yourself pressed.

Very sincerely your friend,

  • This project also came to See below, p. 96.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

November 17, 1824, Northampton.

My dear Sir,

I have yours of Nov. 13. Also the books and MSS came safely to hand. I have as yet had no time to examine them. Physical Education is a subject, which I should not of myself be led to discuss. There are many others, to my mind more interesting and more familiar.  Nevertheless the subject is known to me from books and observation, and I am willing and disposed to send you an article on it at the time and of the extent, which you suggest.

The best is, to forget unpleasant things. Only it is also best for friends to understand each other. I know not how you can call the changes you made in the unfortunate article so trifling. For me they certainly were not trifling; for while I had been expecting to derive much pleasure from the appearance of it, I have felt only chagrin. And I cannot persuade myself, my disappointment is not well founded. Do you not know, you changed one assertion from a negative to a positive one, thereby saying something, which I do not believe, & which makes the words at least unmeaning?  And do you think, that when a man has written according to the strictest rules of rhetoric as far as he knows them, has consulted harmony and perspicuity in the structure and arrangement of his sentences, and has care­ fully and after frequent deliberation selected his words and phrases, that he likes to see them erased, or supplemented by words which do not express his ideas? You altered, what you would not have altered, had you understood, why and in what spirit it was written. And the change in two cases out of three, though few, materially affect both the meaning and the style of the most labored parts. I say labored parts, and I am free to add, labored with the most success, and the most truth and nature. The matter is of little moment, only in so far as the whole article is of little moment, and my desire to be esteemed as a writer a childish vanity.

I did not mean to have said so much.  I will add, the omissions you made in the article on classical learning were such, as to entitle you to my thanks for having made them. I am pleased to learn, the article on Herder is liked by you.

Of the MSS, I shall make no sort of use, unless you tell me their author’s name, and probably not then.  It is rather an evil to have such things, unless one knows exactly with what persons one is dealing. I subject my promise to send you an essay on Gymnastics to one condition. I may think it best to send it you through a physician, who if he finds my notions false, will prevent me from exposing myself.

In conclusion, you may feel sure of my never again troubling you or being troubled myself as has been. Whenever you may need, or desire my poor services, they will be given in a different manner, so that I shall not care, what alterations may be made. I shall write to please you, not to gratify myself. We will see, whether the I’ve of praise, or the influence of friendship can furnish the best inspiration. In sincerity as ever Yours,

BANCROFT ‘l’O SPARKS

[Northampton] December 24 Christmas Eve., 1824.

I lost no time after receiving yours of Nov. 13 in devoting my time and thoughts to the subject you proposed. I have turned over many books, and reflected much with myself. The connection between the body and the mind, and the consequent inference, that physical education derives its importance, not from its giving health to the body only, but from its direct cooperation with moral education-this I intended for my first topic

-I meant then to narrate the gymnastic exercises of the Greeks, and the plays of their school boys, and to pass from this to the history of modern gymnastics-The third topic should have been the practical application of these views to our country. I have collected all my materials for the first topic. Unluckily I do not own either Hippocrates or Galen, and know not whether Cabaniss1 has yet published his work sur le Perfectionnement du genre humain.  If he has I need his book.  His great work Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis, a French physician and philosopher.

Rapports du moral et du physique de l’homme I have. It is philosophical, and accurate. But to the point. When I con­ sider the mass of papers lying on my table, I believe the first topic alone will occupy some 20 to 26 pages. What shall be done? I have given an account of temperaments, from Cabaniss, Richerand, Lande,1 & some others. The subject is im­ portant, and if I can judge, not without interest.

It is for you to decide, whether:

  1. I shall finish this important topic, I speak of, as a review by itself of twenty or thirty pages, or
  2. go on, and add ten or fi £teen more of history, and so make a review of forty-five pages, or
  3. let my notions, reasonings, speculations, practical observations on the first topic be brought into the least possible compass, and the history then added concisely,-which third plan I do not much approve of-or
  4. Discard my work already done, and sticking to the facts, write a new review. Will you decide, and answer me by return mail?

It is Christmas Eve, and a glad occasion. The Roman is now passing from street to street, from illuminated church to church; the Basilica of Santa Maria is filled with music almost heavenly; the faithful are rejoicing.  I wish you all joy, suited to the occasion, & happiness always-

  • Anthelme Balthasar Richerand, 1779-1840, and Charles Londe, 1795- 1862, were French physicians who wrote about physical education. H. Clias, 1788-1854, a Swiss army officer, developed a noted system of phys­ ical exercises.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Dec. 27, 1824.

My dear Sir,

Your letter contains hard questions, which it is impossible for me to answer, with my profound ignorance of the subject. My opinion is, that the facts of the case will be most interesting; i. e., the history of gymnastics. Suppose you have two articles,-one on “Physical Education,” embracing your first topic,- the other on the “Gymnastics of the Ancients and Moderns,” embracing all your other topics. As to the length, I should think it a wise thing not to let either of them run over 20 pp. at most. Condensation is one of the highest merits of a good writer. Make it 40, and then reduce to 15 or 20. This as you like. How can anyone but a physician write on physical edu­ cation? Take care not to lay yourself open to ye Esculapian tribe. You need not suggest any connection between your ar­ticles; only put the most appropriate books at the head of each. Let one be ready for Apply other for July. 0. Everett has failed-I am now my own agent-and in the greatest confusion you can imagine. Very truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Jany. 8, 1825, Northampton.

Dear Friend,

I received yours late last night, send the books, all you wish noticed. Send them to be here Wednesday night, which you can do. You shall have the Article, as good as I can with fair industry and honest intention make, and if possible, 15 Feb. & certainly the 20th, health & life continuing.

Have you received what I wrote you upon temperaments? Do you like it? If you do, and have room, I wish it could come in this time. If not, it must wait. The book[s] of Londe & Clias shall come to you by Monday’s stage. So too the MSS. Send me the books again when you can; and tell the man to sell or give them to me. I wish to own them. The MSS he may keep.

Let me know forthwith in what tone you wish the article to be written; to scold_ & find fault & tell the truth of a dull book, or mildly, charitably, & in a forgiving temper. Must I say no word of Redwood? Yours, as ever,

  1. S. I am trying to get time to write on education for the press. Will you do me a favor? Richardson & Lord propose publishing for me Jacobs’s Latin Reader. Pray call at their book­ store, & learn of them, if they accept my proposition. I demand and expect 10 per cent on the retail price, payable at the time of publication.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Jan. 15, 1825.

My dear Sir,

I waited to receive the books, which you said would come in last Monday’s stage.  Nothing is heard from them. Will you send them immediately with a letter telling by what stage? With the general tone and bearing of your article on temperaments I am greatly pleased. I wish the physical de­ scriptions omitted, and some parts altered,-have marked it, & made it ready to send you, but do not know whether the conveyance by stage is safe. Let me know & oblige Yours &c–

BANCROFT To SPARKS

[Northampton], 17 Jan. 1825.

My dear Friend,

The parcel containing the MSS and the two books really went last week Monday morning (the 10th) & must have reached Boston on Monday evening. It went in the Amherst line, of which you can hear at Wilde & Hosmer’s, Elm Street, or at the Exchange Coffee House, or at Col. Wilde’s Eastern Stage House, or J. T. Hathaway. It was directed to Rev. J. S. to be left at C. & N’s bookstore.

I doubted whether it would reach you. You are not known to the stage drivers, and in Boston they do not have time to go about and deliver things. It is necessary to send to the stage office, when a thing is expected. That I can do at Northampton, & do always. Therefore whatever is left at Earl’s to be for­ warded reaches me safely. Direct merely to me at Round Hill, Northampton. Our boys have made us known on the road, and we are in the order of sanctity with all tavern keepers & stage proprietors from here to Boston. Let me have, what you in­ tend sending me on Friday evening. This letter will reach you Thursday morning.

You ask me to write an article 30 or SO pages long. I assent, and you neither send me the books, nor tell me if your desire has ceased.  Let me know; for I do not leave my time unappropriatetl.  I am glad you like the doctrine of temperaments. I have consulted the best authorities, and as to the physicians, I know of but one, who understands the subject; & that is

  1. Jackson. You once wrote me a long letter, and never but once. I live upon that; but wish you could sometimes add at least a syllable of Christian salutation, or friendly information. You are all to laconic. Ever,

To make the matter sure, I will write on the Way Bill of the same stage an account of this important parcel and request in my own name the stage proprietors to make search for and deliver it.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Jan. 20, 1825.

Dear B.

Who ever heard of the “Amherst line?” I sent every day to the Northampton stage. You must put a letter in the mail saying by what stage you send. I have marked in brackets such passages in the MS, as I wish to have omitted. One of your friends has read the piece, and agrees with me in thinking these parts had better be left out.  Please return it very shortly, as I want it now for the press. As to the Novels, it did not occur to me that I have a long Review of Redwood for this no., and one review of novels is enough for one No. I shall want the article on American novels for next no,1 I will send the books soon. I have no time to write long let,:ers. I have much, much to do ;-agent, editor, &c, &c. The college question is discussing today, Judge Story speaking, and I suppose Mr. John Lowell.  Nothing is likely to come of the matter, as I fear. The professors are to be heard in favor of their memorial next week, and it is supposed Everett will make a display.

Yours truly,

  • Another project that miscarried.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Feb. 17, 1825.

Dear B.

I return your article by Mrs. Lyman, who is kind enough to take charge of the parcel. As you do not agree to the omissions I suggested, I cannot of course publish it. You seem not to have very correct notions of  this matter of “judgment,” in regard to the N. A. Review. You say you “make it a rule to rely on your own judgment.” This is an excellent rule,-pre­cisely the rule which I adopt for myself, and which I must adhere to rigidly if I intend to have any comfort in my labors, or any consistency in my Review. Now this is not saying that my judgment is better than yours, or any other person’s; but whether good or bad I must decide by this at least. It is not the merits of a piece alone of which I judge, but its adaptableness to the N. A. Review, and when objections exist in my own mind, whether these are well or ill founded, you must perceive at once that I ought to be influenced by these objections, and decide accordingly.

In short, it is unnecessary to talk any more of this matter. I have made it a practice without a single exception to strike out of any article such parts, as I did not like; and I have hardly printed an article in which I did not omit something, nor do I remember writing an article for the N. A. R. while it was in other hands from which some parts were not struck out. I add nothing without the consent of the author, but I omit in all cases where I think it ought to be done. You are the only person who has complained. E. Everett has now an article just going to press in which I have cancelled three sheets. He thinks them good, of course, but he makes no objection to their being omitted. Quae cum ita sint, I beg whenever you send anything hereafter, that you will make up your mind to send it on the same terms that all the other writers do, and wish you to understand distinctly, that I shall always omit what I do not like, as being the invariable rule by which I am guided in all cases.

I have just received your very pleasant letter of the 13th instant, and am glad your time is so well filled up, because it is an evidence that you are both useful and happy.  You are making a great figure with your school, and the nation will be indebted to you for many years. I hear so much of the beauties of Northampton in the summer, and the agreeable society among its inhabitants, that I think I shall make you a visit next sum­ mer, and spend some days, if I can find good lodgings in your town. I will spend an hour with you in the interval of your labors, and at other times I will ramble about the country, go up the mountians, mineralize, botanize, and take romantic walks, and look at the blue sky, and white clouds, and green trees, and admire and enjoy the charms of nature. By that time the affairs of the N. A. will become so well organized that I can easily be absent for a few weeks, and I shall make a jaunt in some direction. I presume you will be with us in the spring vacation. The Ticknors came home yesterday after an absence of three months. You will have heard of the bustle we have had about college in the senate-Memorial, Story’s Report, &c.-Judge Jackson was chosen a member of the Corporation a week ago, and yesterday the board of overseers put a negative on the choice by 20 to 18!  What this portends I know not, but the like was never known before. My heart sickens at the very name of college. Everybody seems wearied to death with hear­ing it harped upon so long, and all apparently to no purpose. Dr. Jackson liked your article on Temperaments.

Very sin­ cerely your friend,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, March, 18, 1825.

Dear B.

The Latin Reader came duly to hand but too late to be noticed in the Apl. no.-Every form was printed before it arrived.1 If you will send abundance of facts about your school, Mr. Ticknor promises to review the Latin Reader, and devote several pages to the marvelous doings, and brilliant promise of Round Hill. You can set forth all your principles of teach­ing, the advantages of your mode, &c,-and whatever else may be thought important. The facts in the Literary Gazette I sup­ pose will do, so far as they go. Mr. Ticknor says he will make from 8 to 12 pages.  I wish you would forward the facts as soon as possible. Tell what you do, how you do it, and what you hope to effect. Shall the running title be “Classical School at Northampton,” or what? You print elegantly at Northampton. You must call it the “Round Hill Press.”

Very truly yours,

  • Bancroft’s translation of Frederick Jacobs’s “Latin Reader” was re­viewed in XXI, 246-248, July, 1825.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, March 23, 1825.

[ See H. B. Adams, “Life and Writings of Jared Sparks,” I, 338.]

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, August 27, 1825.

My dear Sir,

The last mail brought me yours of the 22, and I was glad to hear from you. You delivered the parcel of flowers promptly & well. I came very near receiving a reward, which to me would have been without price, though you pretend to scoff at the weaknesses of human nature & the gratification of them.  I never promised Dr. Popkin, I would send to the A. R. an article on his edition. I shall be very happy to do it, if such be your desire and if it should promote your ends. Let me know if you desire an article on this subject at my hands, and if you do the result will show how far I like to meet your wishes.

It is not well for us to receive boys of the age which you mention, unless they are remarkable for docility & love of learn­ ing.  Yet will you confirm to Mr. Appleton what I wrote him a few days since. He knows our condition and means of teach­ ing. If he thinks it best for his boys to come to us, we will make no objections.  We feel sensible of the regard he shows us, by being willing to entrust to us so important and responsible a charge.

You will be pleased to learn that our plans are all prospered, and we may now hope to establish a place of education to con­ tinue long after the earth shall rest on the ashes of the present generation. With best wishes for your happiness,

Yours sin­cerely,

  • An accidental lameness, occasion by a fall has made a miserable cripple of me for the last four weeks. The heavy hand of imprisonment and debility has been on me, but I am now able to move a little without crutches.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Aug. 29, 1825.

Dear G. B.

Your kind letter is before me.  The Doctor did not say outright that he expected an account of his labors; he only gave a broad hint; whereupon I took the hint, and thereupon I did write to thee.  I hope you will prepare such a matter as you think proper; either for a short review among the formid­ables, or a notice in what Mr. Carter, of the Gazette, calls our “Stern Chaser.” I should think a Grecian, like the Doctor, should come into the former, if you can find enough to say on the subject; as doubtless you can, for when “Greek meets Greek” there can be no want of ·matter for work enough.  I cannot get it into the October number, but should like to have it in the January number, and hope it will be ready in a month or two.

You give me pleasure in saying that I discharged your floral commission in a satisfactory manner. Well indeed, may I be proud of having had the honor of taking charge of a dried blue flower from the river of the mountains to the main. You are a happy man to have all the smiles of nature beaming upon you from hill and dale, the expanse of bright waters and the blue sky.  But how doubly happy to have the good fortune to pur­chase the radiance of “women’s smiles” with the stalk and petals of a withered plants? Ah, happy, happy man I Ascend the summit of Holyoke at earliest dawn and watch the first flower that unfolds its so£t treasures to the rising sun, pluck the simple thing, press it in a book, which breathes living poetry from its pages; then fold it in beautiful white paper, with an ode plaintive as the song of the nightingale, but sweet as the tones of fairies’ music; then send it to a fair lady, and be happy for a week. Where is the churl, that will be wretched, when happiness drops like dews of manna from the little flowers, and a purple hue can talk of sympathy, and revive associations, which linger in memory’s deep cells, and kindle up the fire of kindly feeling in every corner of the heart?  Don’t you think I could be a poet? Ah, a most grave and potent poet. I was much gratified with my visit to Northampton, and owe you many thanks for the kind attentions you showed me there. I have heard with regret of your gymnastic accident. Take care that your gymnastics do not turn out to be gymcracks. Breaking a limb, or turning the joint of an ankle, is neither of them among the polite accomplishments. They may be dispensed with as branches of education even at Round Hill. I presume you do not set up for teaching the art of neck breaking. A man is safer on the ground than on a gallows, and he had better walk the pavement, than climb a ladder.

Mr. Appleton has returned to Baltimore, and I wish you would write to him immediately that you will take his boys, and let him know how soon you will take them. The youngest is now in Boston. You will have no better boys. My rule is never to tum over a page in writing a letter. You see how egregiously I have violated my rule. Pardon this indiscretion, and believe me as ever

Your friend & obedient servant.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

28 Sept. 1825, Northampton.

My dear Sir,

I received last night the volume on Italy, & the very kind letter which accompanied it, & for which I sincerely thank you. The empire of imagination has not yet ceased in my mind, and it is good for me to be reminded of the nature of her government.  Feeling conscious of this tendency, I habitually am slow in forming a decision, and I believe you will find in what I have written no opinions which I need to retract, and very few extravagant expressions. For the rest there is nothing half so delightful to me in the moment of exertion, as the hope of thus being a useful citizen, of contributing in my humble sphere to disseminating the principles of justice, liberty, and learning. There is no man, who may not find a fit sphere for exertion, and if there are any, who can produce no result, it is because they err in judgment, or devote their powers to the wrong service. It is not necessary to have genius or vasterudi­tion, to be high-minded and honored.  Not every one can be blesed with superior powers, and he, who has not been invited to Nature’s richest banquet, may yet cherish and respect her gift. There is no faculty I would more desire to possess in an emi­nent degree than cool, practical judgment. It is the result of careful observation and extensive experience; but some men have it as if by instinct, and in doubtful cases are able to dis­cern what is just and prudent, and in new ones to foresee the probable results.

With respect to Italy the subject presented itself to me as one, on which I could write with feeling, and I may add with learning and with deliberation. I speak particularly with respect to the arts. When in Italy I was unwearied in my endeavors to become acquainted with the works of every eminent master, & in connection with this object I made very extensive studies in the lives and characters of the painters, and the best criticisms on their works, less in architecture, but in sculpture again I was very careful at least to learn enough to justify to my own mind decided opinions on the relative merits of each of the modern artists. When you suggested the subject it occurred to me, that a rapid outline of the physical characteristics of the country, in connection with their influence in dividing the nation into parts and deciding the character of each part, some few remarks on the great political changes of the last four centuries, a few facts illustrative of the present government, an account of the spirit of the Catholic religion in a charitable view, with a lively and, if possible, picturesque description of its influence on manners and religious sentiments and public display, a defense of the Italian character, an allusion to the men of letters at Milan, an account of the living artists in Florence and Rome, a comparison of Thorwaldsen and Canova and my reasons for preferring the Dane to the Italian, some account of their most remarkable works from their own points of view ( for these men, such was my fortune, have themselves taught me how to judge of their works). These are the topics on which I purposed to treat, and which I thought might be worked up into a sober, instructive, and yet interesting essay. My veneration for the genius of Raffaello would have led me to mention a few of his pictures, which are the least known.  As Byron was in Italy & I saw him there, & heard him converse of his own life & his own works, I proposed to give an account, at the close, of the influ­ence which Italy had had in forming the minds of so many, Addison, Gibbon, Winckelman, Mengs, Poussin, & others, & so to have touched on Byron’s 4th canto of Childe Harold, & Madame de Stael’s Corinna.  These are all matters on which I have observed, read, and reflected much; yet I doubted whether it wa best to write about them; now I am not in doubt; to pro­duce an effect let every man limit his efforts in proportion to his powers. Those who would be willing to read what I may write, desire to see me rather on some topic of education. If you like what is plain and practical, without tinsel, without any high polish of style, but plain reasoning for common parents, you will like what I have written on Discipline.  I shall bring it you. As to the book on Italy I will let you know the first half hour of my being with you whether I can review it at all. I somewhat doubt. I never will draw directly on my own feelings to write anything interesting for the public.

Do not think I have ever expected to gain anything that is desirable by any other means than by persevering industry in a good cause. I may waver in my views, how I may most effectu­ally accomplish, what I have received life for; but never in my admiration of virtue, my reverence for religion, my love of

liberty, my desire to promote the welfare and honor of my coun­try. It is little enough I can do at the best, & therefore requires so much the more thought how that little may be made most valuable.

Will you make my kindest regards to Mi-. [Green]wood,1 if he still remembers me. I cannot but promise myself pleasure in seeing him again, and so happy as I am glad to learn he is. Present me kindly at Mrs. Margaret Eliot’s/.1 I shall be at Mr. Ticknor’s table to dine the 1st of October-if it be possible. Yet the matter is somewhat doubtful. Ever in sincerity and affect­tionate regard,

Yours,

1 Rev. F. B. W. Greenwood, a man of much spirit.

  • Wife of H. Eliot.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 14 Nov. 1825.

I sat down this evening and got my books round me for quiet work, when a parcel was brought me containing so much that was pleasant, reviving so many old recollections, and making me compare with such painful interest the past and the present with future hopes, that I cannot find courage to go to dull labor now, and so as I have long wished to send you a word or two I will do it now that I have been reminded of other, far distant friends. The letter which you sent me not long before October remained unanswered, solely because I expected to see you so soon, and could speak with you as I hoped freely, in the spirit of affection, candor, and justice. I need not say to you, that any and all expressions of regard for me on your part are very grateful. It has become principle with me to court no man’s friendship, but I value the esteem and affection of the intelligent beyond anything, and as far as my narrow resources extend, am never tardy in acknowledging, valuing, and requiting them. During my stay in Boston I sought you daily though in vain, till you left the city.  As to the trifle of the Graec. Maj. I owe it to myself to say, that I wrote a notice for Carter at his request made to me nearly a year ago. The notice lay in Carter’s hands some weeks, months I believe, before he printed it. I will very cheerfully make a little notice for you of them if you wish; and if not as I have made one, you had better have one made, for Dr. (Popkin) deserves the honor. I do myself give little time except what my station demands to philological pursuits, my few moments, which I can win from anxiety and labor I give to the belleslettres, for which I thank God my fondness has not yet been destroyed amidst all the harassing cares of my situation and the din and clamor of the world around me.

I was once dining at the house of a gentleman of great wealth, who had assembled, (I had reason to think in part or particularly to show me a little attention) some of the pleasantest and most distinguished persons of the opulent families in Boston. Miss M. Lyman was there, to speak of the ladies, Miss Otis, now Mrs. Ritchie, and another. The conversation was various. It turned on the lives and fortune of men. I took little part in it: was cold and reserved. Presently some one observed of men of letters with something of a contemptuous sneer that they were always poor and lived in garrets. I might have replied trium­phantly, that in that they pronounced the severest judgment on rich men, which for the honor of human nature I trusted was not a just one. I preferred not to do so; I remained nearly silent, and least of all appeared to perceive any want of delicacy in those who.made the remark. All the persons present were my friends, one of them proved it by giving me his name for $2,000 at a time when my name in business was worth little and when his only security was in my character. But observe this: there is an es­sential difference between the friendship of men, who are nearly on the level in their external fortunes, & the relation which grows up between the wealthy and those who have no estates but their own time. Poor men, the sons of poor men, children of their own works, depending on their own resources, not for fame & influence only but for their bread and clothing know best how to appreciate the worth of naked humanity. I set a great and undue ( it may be) value on personal attachment.

Where this impulse prevails with me, it urges me to do all that I can to show my regard for another in word and deed; though as I grow older I learn to hesitate longer and more frequently than I used to do. Friendship like character to be of high value, must be perfect in all its parts; the past & the present must be the guarantees for the future; and that is the most sincere and most productive of happi­ness, where there is no collision, no jar, no division remembered or feared. I envy not Burke his fame half as much as that he had it in his power to say what he did of Lord Keppel after the death of that officer. I say no more now. The evening is wearing away, and these short hours of night are all I get for my book, and I have just received a present which merits attention as well as gratitude.

As you see Mr. Greenwood often, I wish you would thank him from me for the sermon he did me the kindness to send me. I would write to him to make my acknowledgements and claim a place in his memory but that I know he is too much occupied to receive and write letters, and I can trust you to speak kindly of me to him. With best wishes for your prosperity and happi­ness, Truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Feb. 3, 1826.

My dear Sir,

I should not think it well to defer noticing Pop­ kin in the N. A. R. any longer. You remember perhaps our conversation in October. I have sent to Germany for the books necessary to treat of the topic then suggested. But they will not come till May; they can be used for something else if it should (not] seem best to use them at all. Have you room for 8 or 10 pages for April? If so when must you have them? the further­ est day? I have been unwell a fortnight with too much work, and labour like a German still, being bound fast as Prometheus to the rocks of Caucasus. And am sincerely, Yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 8 Dec. 1825.

My dear Sir,

Give me leave to make you acquainted with my friend Dr. C. Follen, a gentleman from Switzerland, of high standing as a scholar and a civilian. The love of liberty led him to our country, and an appointment to a situation at Cambridge will establish him in your vicinity. Let me ask of you for my sake to show him that friendly regard, and favor him with that information, which you may think will be acceptable to him as to one yet new to our country. In the hope to hear of your wel­ fare & health directly from yourself

I am Yours truly,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Feb. 6, 1826.

My dear B.

Your short, but very kind favor of the 3d inst, came quickly to hand. I agree with you, that Dr. Popkin ought not to be put off any longer. But the Apl. number is already filled up, and is nearly half printed. To be out in season, I am obliged to be thus prompt in all initiatory matters. I have an article on hand already for July. I should think you had better make a separate affair of Dr. Popkin,1 in 8 or 10 pp., as you propose. Please let me know very shortly whether this is your determi­nation, and when I shall have it. Let it come as soon after Apl. 1st as possible, for we shall then begin to print the July number. When your books come from Germany you can take your own time for a great article. In the next no. is an able article (40 pp.) by Prof. Stuart, on the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch. You must not work yourself to death, nor be too greedy after the treasures of this world. But you are doing great things, and the fruit of your labors are to appear not in the present time only, but in the future ages.

Affectionately your friend,

  • The review has for title “Classical Learning,” XXIII, 142.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, March 10, 1826.

“Be not too greedy after the treasures of this world,” say you in yours of the 8th Feb. And after what else pray should a man be greedy? Truth is the object which we profess to seek and intelligence the power under whose banners we rally; but in a better world there will be no error to be overcome, no books to be read, no doubtful reasonings to follow, no reviews to be writ­ ten, no midnight lamp to be left burning, but truth will shine clearly in her own simple majesty, and there will be an end of all the apparatus of the inquirer. Not be greedy after the treas­ures of this world! I went to a friend’s wedding last week. I hope he is a happier man than he was. A good wife, with beauty enough to satisfy, warm affections enough to cheer, intelligence enough to please, cheerfulness enough to enliven the dark hours of this mortal state-that is not to be coveted, say you? Oh you are a saint, and heavenly minded; for in heaven there is no marry­ ing nor giving in marriage, but men are as the angels. Be not greedy for the things of this world.  Filthy lucre and the rest; be they abhorred and spurned : to be sure a man may be as it were the only son of aged parents, and they be poor; and he may have seen a race of elder brothers swept away from his si e by the irresistible hand of fearful destiny, and may have all the duties of son, brother and man pressing upon him: yet let him not think of this world but fold his hands in contemplative indolence, and watch the courses of the stars or the breaking of day, and muse with unseen spirits, never striving to have his name respectfully uttered, where things are doing, and satisfying all the ties of nature by a cold obedience and barren affection. Fie on your morality! The only way to show you are fit for a better world, is to show yourself not unfit for this. But peace of mind; aye, there it is; that is a good, a real good, beyond price, and not of this world. They say that in heaven all is pleasant and tran­ quil; that the spirit of love, emanating from Infinite Intelligence, pervades the clear space, diffusing liberty and joy; that there is no jarring of dissonant chords, no contention of mind with mind except in common efforts, no confusion of wills respect­ ively claiming the mastery; but that all are in harmony with one Supreme Viii, all gain entire independence by voluntary obedience, entire union by unity of service, entire mutual af­fection by common attachment to that which is great and holy and powerful throughout eternity. . . .

What miserable creatures we mortals are. The most glorious field for action is opening before us, and in our dissensions about the means we forfeit the end of exertion : the widest field is opening too, and we insist on running f[oul] of one another & rudely jostling one another as we pass. We must have our personal bickerings before the altars of Duty herself, and while we pretend to be engaged in the sacred service are in fact worshiping our own earthly passions.

Touching the review one shall be written and offered you, a short one for the time being. As to the rest, I have my head full of ideas. Some of which seem to me· to be clearly true, practical and important; I have many times had my pen in hand to write them out and send you; but I have feared lest my ideas might not be yours, (yet on the whole I am not afraid of that for I will print nothing but what is true and I can make appear so) or that perchance my manner might not suit you.  And that I cannot change. In my intercourse with men I acknowl­edge no standard but reason and justice, and by them I stand in good report and ill, in friendship and where friends become enemies. When I attempt to communicate the results of my own study or the fruits of my own observation, I should hold myself unworthy of addressing the public, if I held any other object in view than the public good, or submitted to any other tribunal than that most equitable of all, the judgment of the public. To that I hope one day to speak, and not ineffectually, unless the heavy burden of passing duties buries me under its weight.

Truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 16 March, 1826.

My dear Sir,

I yesterday received a very interesting letter from the sister of Mrs. Hemans.  It communicates with great delicacy some interesting particulars respecting her character and situation. I wish very much to make a notice of her works (Mrs. H’s), which are very popular in the country wherever known. If you can spare room, I wish you would let me know it; and the number, whether July or October, in which you would wish it to appear. _ Mrs. H’s. poetry is probably well known to you. If not I recommend to your eye her Siege of Valencia, which gives a very just idea of her moral worth and her literary merits.

I have some hopes of the pleasure of visiting you and other friends at Boston next month, but am not yet able to make any precise disposition of the short holidays. We are all well now.

Truly yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, March 19, 1826.

My dear B. Yours about Mrs. Hemans is in hand. I shall be very glad of the article. Mrs. Hemans corresponds with Mr. Norton, & has lately written him, I understand, that an edition of her works is to be published in New York. This prevented Mr. Norton’s project of publishing them under his own eye. You had better wait, probably, till the American edition comes out. When you write to New York, you can inquire how it is. The particulars I know not. I presume the work cannot be ex­ pected soon enough to prepare an article for the July number. I am to set out in three days for the Southern States. Please send your article on Dr. Popkin as soon as [possible] to Mr. Folsom, care of Frederick T. Gray, Office of the N. A. Review. I thank you for your letter of 10th instant containing many wise sayings, on which I have not now time to remark. Go on and prosper. Yours very truly,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, July 31, 1826.

Dear Bancroft,

By the stage tomorrow I shall send you Mrs. Barbauld’s works, and hope you will make a review to be ready by the 25th of August.1  I consider it one of the best subjects now before the public, opening a field for much writing, and fine thinking.  Mrs. Barbauld certainly stands very near the head of the very first rank of female writers, of any age or country, whether you regard her original genius, and vigor of mind, or her cultivation and the variety of her productions. The theme is a noble one, and I hope you will have leisure to do it justice. I like your last article much. The account of Wolf is drawn with much discrimination, and as a critical piece it pos­sesses strong interest. The remarks on classical learning are apropos. Dr. Popkins is puffed perhaps a little too roundly, but he is no doubt great in the “authors.”  Your oration I have read with great pleasure. Your thoughts are good and well ex­ pressed. I only wondered that you should forget South Am­erica in tracing the progress of freedom and its effects. This topic would have enlarged your field prodigiously. I have been to Georgia and other places. Please reply immediately, and send the books back if you are so cruel as to decline.

Yours truly,

1 Anna Laetitia Barbauld.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, August 2, 1826.

Dear Friend.

I received yours of July 31 in due season; but the books did arrive till last night.  If there did not exist a new claim on my leisure, I believe I should not have allowed you to expose in view a wish which I could gratify. I do not think Mrs. Barbauld possessed a genius of the most exalted kind: uncommon she certainly was, but except some of her fine hymns I do not find myself strongly moved by her works. I respect her industry and her virtues, but when I drink of the water of Helicon I know where they flow more plenteously.  Or, is she so interesting from having been sixty years on the stage? Yet she was in no elevated situation, the humble wife of a humble school master; and exercising no influence upon the great events of the day, and yet intimately connected -with them.  I like her character of Johnson, vol. 1, page 255, mightily. I appeal to you if the following (speaking of the future) is not almost bawdy.

To virgin’s languishing in love They speak the minute nigh; And warm consenting hearts they join, And paint the rapture nigh.

If the article on Wolf had any merit, it was from its truth. All that I said of Wolf was drawn from an intimate personal knowledge. But these things do not interest the world; I have not found a man who cared for it, though when I wrote it, I thought it might have interest from its minute and faithful ac­ count of a most astonishing man. And my oration? You have read it? And yet think I forgot the S. Americans.

Pray read page 9 and 10 again, and see if I have not spoken of them as a lover of liberty should. For ampli­fication I had no time. If you wish for a belle lettres article and are willing to trust to me for it, I will wait the four days beyond the 25th which must expire before I hear from you, and will let me have a letter Monday next. I will write you one on Mrs. Hemans, and put into it two pages of sober, discreet praise of Mrs. Barbauld.

The books I return, since I can get them in this town, if you wish me to do as proposed.  I think it is time, you said something of Mrs. H., and never a better moment than now.   The review would appear just about the time of Mr. Norton’s affair, and please him, the authoress, and myself, and take its chance of pleasing the public.

Truly yours,

[P.S.]

If you have Brougham on popular education, I wish you would lend it me.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Aug. 5, 1826

 

Sorry you decline the article on Mrs. Barbauld, and more sorry, that you should have such false notions of her genius and char­acter. Have you read her prose? I know of no female, who has written on kindred subjects with more vigor or taste. That she was the wife of “a humble school-master,” and was little in the great world is one of the wonderful things about her, con­sidering her success. Whatever influence she “exercised upon the great events of the day,” it is quite certain, that, if you take young and old, no female writer is now exercising so great in­fluence over the people of England as Mrs. Barbauld. In the great characteristics of mind, she is as much above Mrs. Hemans, as Mrs. Hemans is above Lydia Huntley, and this without any disparagement to either.

I forget what I wrote you about a review of Mrs. Hemans, but it seems to me inexpedient to meddle with it till the Ameri­ can edition comes out. After that time I should of course be very glad of an article from you on the subject; and yet after the pains which Mr. Norton has taken to bring her works before he American public, it would seem proper, that he should write the review if he wishes to do it. This I am sure you will think reasonable, and I speak thus frankly to you, that there may be no possible cause of misapprehension. I shall say the same to Mr. Norton.  The matter had better remain in statuesque till the book appears, or at least till it is in press. My copy of Brougham is lent, or rather lost. I tried to find another some time ago, but failed. Let me congratulate you most heartily on your future prospects.  You are right.  A man is not half a man till he is married.  May you live a thousand years. As ever yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Sunday Morning, October [24], 1826.

My dear Friend,

When a friend gives me an opportunity of saying yes, it is very unpleasant not to do so. You would not like my views about Judge Story’s address.  I do not think so highly of it, as many express themselves. The generous en­thusiasm for letters is honorable to him: but there is no point, no consistent and continuous train of thoughts.  Besides, just at this moment the whole care of organizing the school for the new session comes upon me, and I see no hope of a day’s leisure before thanksgiving. Ready to promise and faithful to per­ form: this was the character you gave me of old. You must not consider me as forfeiting it by my declining now. Do not you remember too how angry Somerville was with you and me? And do you know, that while you reproached me for praising Popkin so much, Popkin was vexed at being spoken of so little? In great haste,

Very truly yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Oct. 30th, 1826.

Dear B.

“Not a day’s leisure before Thanksgiving?” How is this possible? Every man has leisure, abundance of leisure, leisure moments, minutes, hours; and are not days made up of moments, minutes, hours? And are not reviews written in moments, minutes, hours? To be brief, I wilt not press you on the affair of the Phi Beta; but the new “Greek and English Lexicon” by Pickering at alios you must review. Say not, no. It will not be accepted. Talk not of being married, or of ”organizing the school”: it will all avail nothing. Write 6 pages on the Lexicon, if you have no more time; or as many pages as you like. It affords an excellent opportunity for discussing the question of the priority of Greek or Latin in studying the lan­guages. The fashion of beginning with Greek is coming much in vogue, and will increase as dictionaries in English and Greek multiply. It seems to me a good notion, but it is a topic to dis­ cuss in the present stage of things; as well as other things con­nected there with.

“Popkin was vexed at being spoken of so little.” Who cares? Did anybody ever write an article that pleased every­ body? Such an article would be too insipid for any respectable publication. Half the opinions of men are errors, and if you tell truth you must offend half mankind. Are we therefore to re­frain from telling truth? Ov 8o11:ai Go on, and review the Lexi­ con, as a scholar, and a man of independence; give all due praise and talk like a sensible man, and let those complain who will.1  I will give you till Nov. 25th. Longer I cannot, linger you want not. Please reply immediately and say “Yes,” and obliging

Your sincere friend,

  • Several persons had refused to review this book. Its author, John Pickering, was a son of Timothy Pickering, long at the centre of federal­ist political circles in New England. The son had his father’s papers, which Sparks wished to see.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Nov. 2, 1826.

And so I must put by the pleasant occupations, with which I intended to fill up my few moments of leisure, and defer those matters of private interest, which I have already deferred so long, well, be it so. The character of Pickering’s book, the mode of instructing in the ancient languages in reply to the Hamiltonian system, the priority of Greek studies, the present state of the question as to classic learning among us, and the proper topics, and in less than 15 or 20 pages cannot be dis­ cussed.  I will not say anything, as to my own feelings about this business.

Literature I love, and the truth I inquire after I fear not to tell ; but reviewing is a bad business. You see the very thought of it makes me sad and promising.  You shall have the article in due time, lively but just, containing no hasty state­ments, and no unmerited censure.

Very sincerely your friend,

  •  I need the last or the two last volumes of Schoel’s Hist. Lit. Grecque.1 You must borrow it for me. Hilliard, Gray & Co. have a copy. But I cannot afford to buy it.  Nor you. I can do without it sir, but not so well.  The other books I have.
  • Maximilien Samson Frederic Schoell, 1766-1833, a German historian and diplomatist.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Nov. 10, 1826, Thursday Eve.

Dear Friend

You need not send me Schoell. I have read him, and have got better books and newer.  I find myself possessed of all the documents necessary to write a thorough review of Mr. Pickering. I can send an elaborate arrd learned article, if you will. Only for that it must be- long.  What limits do you set me. I shall bestow the praise so justly due to Mr. Pickering, yet freely and calmly point out the many weak sides of his work. And may need forty pages, and perhaps from 15 to 35 will do.

Yours truly,

Answer to my limits by return mail. Schoel’s book is of little value.  Why have you taken no notice of the new edition of Buttman’s Greek Gram.?  It is worthy of a better fate than to be received silently. Thus was a great deal of industry bestowed before the short new preface was written. My in­tention is to write 6, 8, or 10 pages of a Greek and English lexi­con and to print it in one column, and in the adjacent to print Pickering’s.  Compare them who will and judge of Pickering’s in the fairest of all ways.  Tell [the] truth.  Will you publish it if I will tell it?  And print a sharp thing, if I can write one, and a justly merited one?

Answer me to that.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Nov. 10, 1826.

Had I received your favor a few moments sooner last even­ ing, you would not have heard from me last night.  I was afraid, you would put yourself to too much trouble to get Schoell, and, as I have since then obtained the original works which I needed, I could have done without it. I am sincerely ob­ liged to you for sending it ( it has not yet arrived, will come prob­ ably tonight), and it will be of much use, though the new books I have, would have enabled me to do without it.

And as to the matter itself, I mean to write an article, if possible, not unworthy the journal and the subject, and that shall be pleasant to you and me. Do not infer from my first letter, that I do not do this cheerfully; I do it for you with all my heart, and am now considerably interested in the subject. Yet not one word is yet written.  And as to the length of the article, I cannot do the subject justice in less than ten, and nobody will read more than eighteen or twenty pages. As to Mr. Pickering, all praise that is deserved must be allowed him. And I shall at the same time hold it a duty, to show, that all is not done because a little has been done well.

Mr. and Mrs. Hall are receiving little parties from their friends. We have Mr. and Mrs. Hodgkinson here also; but I have no time to visit them. How independent is a scholar’s life. His occupation, his excitement, his pleasures within his own control. If safe against anxiety for worldly support, his hours may be jocund and his thoughts all roses. This last is a quota­ tion. Quite sentimental for a reviewer of Lexicons.

Yours truly,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Nov. 10, 1826.

Dear B.

Your letter has come to day, but Schoell was packed off three days ago, and you have probably received it. As it is borrowed you must send it back soon, if you do not want it. As to limits, take what you like,-only be ready Nov. 25th, as agreed. Be learned, or popular, or both, as you please. Criti­cize justly, but with good temper, and with due respect for so high authority as Mr. Pickering. He has great merits for his literary ardor and acquisitions, in the midst of a laborious pro­fession, and it is not to be dealt lightly with, nor should his works be examined with the same acuteness, as one coming from a pro­fessor of the language. Besides, he makes no high pretensions, and in such case it will hardly be just to be very free with cen­sures. I imagine he has accomplished nearly all he attempted. Moreover, his coadjutors seem to have taken the greater share of the work.  And after all it professes to be only a translation of Schrevelius, and all great defects must be in the original author. Mr. Pickering may have committed a mistake in trans­lating such an author.  Of this you must judge. In short, treat the matter as your judgment dictates, only take care to discrim­inate in your praises and censures, both as to persons and things. I do not much like the notion of printing your sample of a Greek Lexicon.

If this is necessary, I hope you will content yourself with 3 or 4 pages.  The new edition of Buttmann I have never seen. You should have set somebody to notice it. That is the way to do things. I cannot keep the run of the whole tide of literature. I will look up a copy and have it noticed in the next number.

Meantime I am with sincere regard

Your friend,

  • Write all proper names and hard words exceedingly plain.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1826.

I have won a day.

The review, which I promised, shall be dispatched this night.  Of course you will have it the 24th. I claim for it the merit of being candidly and carefully written. As to the Greek quoted, and the names, they are written most exactly. Where I use the marks of quotation before a Greek word ” do not let them in printing be confounded with the aspirated.” You will probably think best to print it all in the same type. I should wish it so, if my wishes were to be of any avail. You may depend upon all facts being stated on sufficient authority. I have not committed either [myself] or you. Were you to examine me by the common books I should be found wrong, but those very books I am bound to condemn and have my more recent and more accurate authorities. All the new works were before me as I wrote, and the force of my expres­sions carefully weighed.  Pray acknowledge, the receipt of it, as soon as you have it and shall have read it.

It has occurred to me that an article on [the] Connecticut River would be a word in season.  To collect all statistical facts on the nature and extent of business done on its banks, the water power of itself and its tributary streams, the present con­ dition of the manufacturing interests, the feasibility, the ex­pense, and the manner of improving its navigation-these are some of the chief points I should treat. Perhaps a historical notice occasionally interspersed would enliven the whole–com­parisons between the present and the past; more like your article on Baltimore than anything I can think.1 I say not that I will write such an article, I ask if such an article would be acceptable to you, if executed well and with a thorough knowledge of the facts. If so, then I will ascertain if I can collect the necessary facts and you shall hear from me again in December. On this I wish an early answer. I send you the article on Gr. Lex. in the confidence that it is calculated to advance Greek learning among us. Pickering himself, if a man of moderation, must acknowledge its justice. Truly your friend,

(The postage will be heavy)  Send to Earl’s, and if not there-as  I shall certainly send the parcel and in the regular time-­ you must hunt it up. The parcel is directed Jared Sparks, Bos­ton, to be left at Earl’s.

  •  See North American Review, XX, 99, January, 1825.

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Dec. 1, 1826.

Dear B.

Your review is in press, but the first part a good deal altered. It was read to two of our best Greek scholars, one of whom did not know who the author was, and they both said most unequivocally, that they thought your criticisms too severe, and your general tone of remark not altogether suited to the dignity of the subject.  In these I agreed with them perfectly. By the mode of criticizing which you adopted, Stevens himself might not only be made very imperfect, but ridiculous. You may depend the article as you sent it would have given no pleas­ure to anybody, but offense to many.  It was important to retain the Scripture proper names, because one object of the Lexicon is to aid in reading the “O. & N. Testament,” and pupils must know how to decline these words before they can read. On the whole I thought best to omit your verbal criti­cisms, and I was obliged to throw in two or three short para­ graphs of my own to connect matters together. As the thing is of very little importance, I presume you will have no objection to what is done; and if you should I cannot help it, as there was no time to deliberate. Your observations on Greek Lexicons generally are so valuable that I could not part with them, and as things now stand the review of the said Lexicon is a second­ ary affair in the article. It is headed “Greek Lexicography.” Pickering’s enterprise was certainly a praiseworthy one, vast­ ly more laborious, than honorable, and the result of criticisms on it should not be a severe censure, but rather a commendation, whatever the minor faults may be. It is observable, that you do not point out any other single work which ought to have been taken in preference.

Your Connecticut river project is an excellent one, if you have the patience to collect all the materials. The article should be written with method, condensed, abounding in facts on every­ thing relating to the resources, commerce, navigation, canals, &c, &c, of the River; and all the manufactures on its tributary streams. Let me know shortly whether I may depend on the article Feby. 10.

My article on Baltimore was called very heavy, except by those, who were interested; but the making of it was a great labor. Mr. Norton tells me, that he has talked with you about Mrs. Hemans (Hemmans I understand is the pronunciation) and that you are to make a review for the N. A. Review. He has written for the Examiner: so between the two stools I am likely to come to the ground. I have beset Green­ wood, and hope to get an article out of him, but am doubtful. Truly yours,

  • I have got the French book, but should have been much better pleased if you had sent a notice.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Monday, Dec. S, 1826.

My dear S.

How far I may have any objections to the course you have taken with the review, which I reluctantly at first, and then, having overcome my reluctance, very cheerfully wrote for you, I cannot say, till I know more exactly what you have done. If you have gone so far, as essentially to change the char­ acter of the article, I owe it to myself to resist and refuse the changes. It become me most on this occasion to be silent; and next to silence, it become me most to speak the truth. The gen­eral tone of remark in the article is earnest and solemn, except where there was some folly to be reproved, or some sneer as in the last page to be replied to. The style is lively, but not im­pertinent.

I like it not that you call the review too severe without rea­ son. Point out one error in my remarks. Show me one single word of Pickering’s perverted, show me one single statement in which anything is exaggerated, tell me of one merit of his I have omitted to mention, one sentence I have written ascribing and magnifying errors, and I will own my criticism too severe. But if every word is true, and there is not the least pretense that truth is distorted or placed in a wrong light, then have I done well and justly what you asked me to do, and what I ought to have done.

But the severe mode of criticism would make Stevens ridicul­ous. You cannot be very familiar with Stephanus to say that. The mode of criticism is one which I learnt in the schools of the best masters and leads to the result the article states about Stevens. It is the only fair criticism, careful and minute: any other is superficial and deceptive. But the article would have given no pleasure to anybody. That is a mistake. The public is always with those that tell the truth. It would give offense to many. I knew it and told you so beforehand. You en­couraged me to write freely, and rightly said to my fears; Who cares?  “It was important, however, to retain the Scripture

Proper names.” Much you have examined the subject to say that.  Nobody of character has advocated that opinion for more than seventy years just [ ?] past. Valcknaer and Ruhnken; and Wythenbach, Schneider, Riemer, and Passow are the au­ thorities, whom I followed, and think they were right, though your two Boston advisers may remain of the old opinion.1

Why did you put me to the trouble of writing a careful article? Why did you not say at first, you wanted a milk and water thing, suited to the meridian of Salem and Boston? I look­ ed at the country and at the truth.  To have written what it now seems you wanted, three hours would have been sufficient. I have wasted my time: my good nature is made a fool of.  I, too, on first reading over my review deemed it sounded too severe.  I went through it with most scrupulous care to erase all that could be. A personal friend of Mr. Pickering came to me, and urged me to treat the book courteously. I read him my article slowly and carefully, and asked his judgment. He as­sured me I was on the right side in matter and manner. The man was my friend too, and likes to have the truth told.

As to the criticisms I read them all to Bode.2 He very de­liberately considered them. There is not the slightest error in them.  I say this, not on Bode’s authority; for every remark I made, I have two and commonly more authorities.  Further, I deserve all commendation for I spared Mr. Pickering and held up Schrevelius as his screen.

You have not treated me well in this affair. An editor of a review, if he is dealing with a man who deserves and claims re­ spect, may reject an article, if he will. He must judge what under all circumstances he ought to do. Ilut to change it with­ out the consent and without the knowledge of the writer, is not to be justified.  A hireling writer, or a novice will put up with it.  A man of honor and independence, one worthy of writing,

never will. I do not wish to make a difficulty. If your changes are not essential, that is, if it leaves the impression on the read­ er:s mind strongly and unequivocally that Pickering has not supplied the want of the public, but only done moderately well, while better things are needed, I will be quiet, and let the matter go.   If you have gone so far as to praise Schrevelius, I will have no lot nor part in it. Writing is action. I had as lief cheat a man of money as give him an opinion which I know to be false.

If the manuscript is not yet in press, the shortest way would be to return it with your remarks, or, if you prefer, to return it for good. I have no object to gain by its appearance.  I should say do about it as will please yourself best, always re­ specting my right to my own way of expressing my own thoughts. I have just read an anecdote to me entirely new. One of Fred­erick the Great’s ministers came to him with a long story against Homer and Virgil and Plato, and that sort of people, and pres­ ently began extolling the inventor of the herring-fishery to the skies; so said the king, you love to eat herrings, I suppose.­ Capital. A sharper thing is seldom uttered. And now, having done growling, and I hope quickened your conscience to take the lead in everything like improvement, I remain, though fond of my own way when I write, and not liking a censorship,

Your friend

If the article is already printed, I beg you to send me my manuscript, and a copy of the printed review.

  • Louis Gaspard Valchenaer, 1735-1785, and Daniel Wyttenbach, 1746- 1820, were Dutch philologists. David Ruhnken, 1723-1798, Jean George Schneider, 1750-1822, Franz Passow, 1786-1833, and Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer, 1774-1845, were German
  • George Henry

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Tuesday Eve, Dec. 6, 1826.

My dear friend,

Last night’s mail brought me a letter from Mr. Pickering in reply to one of mine, with which I had sent him a copy of Riemer’s Lexicon and in which I had explained to him my views. I deemed it right not to take him by surprise in the number for January, and also to bear myself whatever dislike my criticism might excite in that quarter. His letter is friendly, conceding most points; yet persisting in one or two errors; on which he needs further information. I will not believe you can have done with my article, what the broadest interpretation of your letter would lead me to suppose. A thousand things come on my mind, which I could say, why it ought not [to] be, and why you therefore have probably not done so; but I cannot argue on this point. My duty is a plain one. Essential altera­tions I will not permit. The tendency of the article must re­ main such as I wrote it. I have turned the matter over in my mind, and I owe it to myself to be decided. Nor deem this un­kind. Friendship may lead me to write for you promptly on such a subject as you propose, but it never can require me to make a compromise with truth.

I owe it to the cause of learning, if I speak at -all, to raise my voice, however weak, against the perpetuating old abuses, the continuance of what the improvements of man two hundred years should have thrown aside.  To Mr. Pickering personally I have no ill feeling to gratify; praise him personally if you will, but let the truth stand. Remember your own r view of Everett. Remember your own remarks (yours I suppose, ex­cellent, whoever made them) in last number of the N. A. R. on freedom of criticism, unimpeded by personal feeling; remem­ber your own letters to me. A day’s reflection has confirmed me in my views. I will not be found bolstering up ancient preju­dice, after having with almost unparalleled success contended against it till the victory is won, and only the laggards remain to be routed.

Pickering himself says to me, Do not think I differ from you in your opinions &c &c-but “the time has not come,” and then . praises the Germans, acknowledges their superiority but says we cannot screw our teachers up to the mark. As if men would value a good candle the less, for having had only a rush light, or from living on saw dust not know how to relish a plumb pudding. Fight the good fight of faith and you will find the strength of the country round you.

Otherwise,-but forgive me, I go beyond my privilege in speaking.

Yours sincerely-

  • B. I have written Greenwood, offering him Mrs. Heman’s letter to me, if he will but write a review.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 13 Dec. 1826.

My dear S.

I received night before last your favor of the 11th, and late last night the sheets of the review. Your omis­sions and additions do in my view essentially change the char­acter of my article.  The remarks which you have added, do not accord with what I have publicly and privately expressed; and on the whole the article as it now stands is calculated to convey an impression entirely different from what I designed. I cannot as a man of honor, take part in this or permit it, with­ out forfeiting my claim to self-respect.  In the cheerful sacri­fice of my personal tastes and comfort to gratify your request that I would write on this subject, a request expressed in a manner too earnest to make me willing to refuse, I could have foreseen no such result. I forgive you for what you have done; but I call on you to repair it in the best manner you can, now that it is not yet too late.  I protest against the publication of the article as it now stands; I absolutely refuse my consent to it; I go further: if I have any legal right to forbid it, I exercise that right. The delay in publishing the number and the loss you may sustain are small evils in my mind, compared with what I should otherwise be called upon to suffer. There is but one condition on which I am willing to recede from my demand to have the article cancelled. It is, that you will publish in an in­ tegral part of the number, in a place as conspicuous as that of the article, in the same type, a paragraph from me, disclaiming as far as I am concerned, the first part of the review, declaring that it gives no adequate, nor correct idea of my views, and that, having written an article at your urgent entreaty, this ar­ticle was essentially changed in its character, without my con­ sent or knowledge, and that the change, so soon as it became known to me, formed a subject of immediate and decided remon­strance to you on my part.

I told you writing reviews was a bad business. You see it has resulted in no good to me. I do not enter into a justifica­tion of my article; partly because it is quite enough to write one, and partly because you have not controverted a single point in it.  I did not write it in contempt of the opinion of others: I only made choice of the guides whom, from their knowledge of the subject, I hold it safest to follow. The manuscript you can have no further use for, and I have need of. I wish you would send it to me as early in the week as you conveniently can. I wish also to hear by the earliest mail, what is your final de­cision, that I may conduct myself accordingly.

It is very painful to me to be compelled to this course. I write to you without any excitement, in perfect good nature, and after consultation with several friends, who have given me but one opinion of my duty and yours. I mention this, that you may know it to be in accordance with, not in contempt of, the opinion of others, that I now act; though a man, when he is doing right, or maintaining truth, needs only the consolation of his own judgment and conscience.

With best wishes and sin­cerity, Yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Dec. 18, 1826.

My dear Sir,

As you take the matter so much to heart I am truly sorry, that the article was printed, but there is now no help for it. To cancel it would require another article of pre­ cisely the same length to be put in its place; but no such article is written, & not a moment of time remains for doing it. Your plan of printing an explanation, even if it were proper in itself, is now impossible, for the whole work, to the end of the last signature, was through the printer’s hands before your letter arrived. I shall give directions to have your manuscript sent immediately by stage as you request. I leave home tomorrow morning for the South, and any letter addressed to me under cover to Mr. Everett will reach me. Meantime, I wish you would inform Mr. Norton immediately as to your decision on the review of Mrs. Hemans, because if you decline some other person must be engaged.

I am Your friend and obedient servant,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Baltimore, Jany. 2d, 1827.

My dear Sir,

Your note of 27th ulto has just been received. I regret, as much as you can, that the article was printed, since you have such impressions of the business, though I have no sense of “worry” in the case, and can only wonder again at your strange notions of an editor’s task, and of these things in general.

I believe there is no mortal whose views on the subject in any respect resembles yours; and if all writers were thus minded, an editor’s condition would be very much like that of a toad under a harrow. No man, in fact, would stand to such a post long. But let this pass. I left the review of Mrs. H[emans] with Mr. Norton and Mr. Palfrey, and wish you would write to one of them as soon as possible your decision. Mr. Palfrey takes charge of the Review in my absence. You draw a sad picture of the effects of orthodoxy. Perseverance will lead to triumph. Go on. Live down opposition. Defy calumny, de­ fend right, enforce truth, and all good things will follow. Truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Jan. 18, 1827.

Dear S,

I suppose you know, that Chancellor Kent has pub­lished a great book, of which I will not give an account from hearsay, though I anticipate much pleasure from reading it. Judge Howe of this place is as you know a man in every re­spect of the highest worth and singular sagacity as a lawyer. He is an admirer of the virtues and worth of Chancellor Kent, and would probably explain the merits of his (the Chancellor’s) book better than anybody we know. I write to you now, to say, that I believe Mr. Howe would write a capital and excellent, and to all concerned very valuable article upon it, and one in every respect satisfactory to the friends of Chancellor Kent, and creditable to the N. A. Review, if you were to invite him to do so.  If you like this idea, and I do not see, why it should not be highly desirable to you, you can send me a letter to be shown Judge Howe, or what is better write to him yourself about it.

Do not wonder at me for liking gentlemanly intercourse on equal terms. I respect your independence as much but not more than my own. Be the past forgiven and forgotten, or if that phrase is wrong, at any rate forgotten. If it is folly to be anx­ ious for tomorrow, it is criminal and excessively foolish to worry about yesterday.  Matters being put on a right footing, it is enough.

In truth your friend,

BANCROFT TO SP ARKS

[n. d., postmark Northampton, Aug. 18, 1827]

My dear S,

I was glad last night to get some direct signs of life from you. I have heard and read much of your great doings at Mount Vernon, and rejoice to learn of your design of visit­ ing the old world, to get, if it be possible, the important docu­ments contained in the British Colonial files. I write this even­ ing that I may promptly acknowledge the pleasure I have in hearing from you. The two points, to which you call my at­tention require a little deliberation before a decisive answer. Early next week you shall have the best of my will on the one topic, and the best of my views and opinions on the other.

The Valley of the Connecticut is just rising in business, population, wealth, and science.  The character of the population is advancing.    I sincerely think it the fruit ( ?) of New Eng­ land, destined to rise most rapidly.  Do but think of Vermont, which is already so distinguished for the enterprise and shrewd­ness, and .moral honesty and as it were native philosophy of its people.

What is a state like Georgia in comparison with it? I suppose you are aware of the almost unexampled in­ crease of Springfield, and Northampton in the last four years, and the great prosperity of Hartford?  But I go further than I meant tonight. Early next week I will write you at large. To­ night I merely intended to own the receipt of your friendly letter. Meantime, no more “most obedient servant,” at the close

of an epistle. It sounds too much like a letter of formal busi­ness.  Wishing we could see you here, as we did not trespass on your courtesies at Mount Vernon,

I remain Very sincerely yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Aug. 25, 1827.

My dear friend,

My uncertainty in answering you on the sub­ ject of the River arose from my wishing to consult one or two gentlemen who are most acquainted with the details on the sub­ ject. I am now obliged to say, that nothing less than a personal tour from Enfield Falls to Barnet would enable me to gather the information, without which neither you, nor the public, nor I ought to be satisfied. Such a tour I contemplate and have still in prospect, if Heaven ever blesses me with fifteen days of leis­ ure.  I cannot but add that I think your article on Baltimore was judicious, well written, and of permanent interest, worth a dozen doses of sentimental criticism, and that similar articles on various sections of the country would be of great and general value.

The Valley of the Connecticut is but just coming to a con­sciousness of its resources.        Agriculture is fast improving, and the lands, hitherto desolate, our farmers are fast bringing under culture.   You know what vast expenditures, chiefly for the cotton business, have been made at Ware, Three Rivers, and Chickopee.  Besides this there are very large manufactures of paper, which are constantly increasing, and which already do a prodigious business. But I mistake if in a few years the woolen business does not flourish here in the greatest degree.

The country is, you know, suited to pasturing; and the hills and light soils do well with sheep. Thus we shall produce the raw material and manufacture it. I am possessed of some interest­ ing facts on this topic, but not extensive enough for our purpose. Meantime, our own village is almost the most thriving in the Commonwealth. I feel myself identified with it, and indeed it is not without a joy in creation and a sentiment of gratitude and pleasure, that from the balcony of my own house I am able to look out upon so busy and so prospering a country. My pros­pect extends through various openings in the hills to the Monad­ neck of N. H. on the north; on the south the view is bounded only by the mountains in Stafford Conn. and the intermediate distance crowded with objects of interest, lovely scenery, and numerous villages.

The Germans will need in their libraries your papers of Washington: but they will prefer your original edition. Two volumes might find a sale, if they were composed of letters, most illustrative of the character of the man. The limits to your profits would be $750 clear of expenses; but I think would not probably exceed $350. It would be a high price for a pub­lisher to pay $12 per 16 pages 8vo., and no Christian, even in Germany, can translate for less than $4 per 16 pages. I think you could get it well done for that, or for $6, decently for less. It would not do to have the two volumes exceed 1200 pages, and the demand for the book would be less than 1500 copies. So you can calculate the costs and profits yourself. I should say, that you or the American proprietor could hardly expect more than $500. But the South American Republics, Mexico and Guatemala I Your pets: there is the field for you.

You are a lucky fellow; selected by a favoring Providence, to conduct a good ship into the haven of immortality, and to have your own name recorded as the careful pilot. But I envy not Croesus his wealth nor you your glory.

With great regard yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Sept. 10th, 1827.

Dear Bancroft, At this moment I have only time to thank you for YFur two kind letters.  As to the Valley of the Connecticut, I must leave it with you.  I know something of the labor of preparing such an article, and would not insist on your doing it, tho’ I am sure it would be valuable, if patience and time would enable you to procure materials. But lay up the subject for the present in a pigeon hole of your pericardium, as a thing that may be. Your German talk is good. I have also held a palaver on the subject with the renowned doctors Follenius and Lieber­ius.1 The thing will very likely come to pass. But I can tell bet­ter after I visit Leipzig, which will be next summer; before which time I shall endite other matter to you.

Truly yours,

‘Professor Charles C. Follen, of Harvard, and Francis Lieber.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Nov. 11, 1827.

My dear S.

I enclose a letter for Lappenberg. He is a grand, good fellow, the best man for you at Hamburg by all odds, and quite a rummager of archives. He talks English fluently. Mrs. Hertz [ ?] is a blue stocking, talks English admirably well, German, Italian, French, or anything else. She can tell you all about Berlin. She is a widow and not of the nobility. The let­ ter for Countess America Bernstoft, I do not enclose in an en­ velope, but you must, before you give it, scaled with wax, and with proper flourishes. The Germans are great sticklers for titles. She talks English a little: the letter itself will show you, what chord I have touched to get an interest in her for you. In winter she is at Berlin. Get the book well bound. Shall you go to Leipzig? When do you sail? Shall you visit Gottingen? Do you wish for a letter to Heeren? ‘Where do you sail from? Tell me, if I can serve you in anything, and you need not doubt of my disposition to serve you.

Mr. Everett it seems is to conduct the N. A. R. in your ab­sence. It could not be in better hands. It is not improbable I may be a regular contributor to it in your absence. As I have to get my living by my wits, it is proper for me to state to you, if you are the person concerned, that the few pages I can find time to write and am willing should be printed have a value in money. The Editor of the Review is in this respect as any other publisher. I can readily receive two dollars a page for writing, and a great many civil words into the bargain.  For civil words I stipulated: for the rest, I say, I know no reason, why in justice, I should not, if paid at all, be paid what the labor, I will not say is worth, will bring. Your decision on this point will not affect my intention to write; since by so doing I shall co-operate with Mr. Everett.  It is a question of mere justice.  I am in haste, or I would write more about Germany.

Wishing you all prosperity I remain Yours ever,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, Dec. 7th, 1827.

My dear Sir,

I am greatly obliged by your kind letters to Ger­ many.  The book for the Countess America is elegantly bound. I fear I shall not reach Hamburgh. My route will be from Am­sterdam up the Rhine to Mentz, Frankfort, Hessel Cassel, Gottingen, Hanover, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Munich, Stutgard, Strasburg, Basil [sic], Switzerland. I am glad you intend writ­ing for Mr. Everett.  I wish, as heartily as you do, that the N.R. could afford to pay more; but it cannot. The average of my receipts as editor, since I have had the work, has been less than $1200 a year. All the rest of the profits [sic] has gone to the writers. If money is your main object in writing, I fear the A. R. will never hold out luring temptations. I do not think my services have been extravagantly paid, and I shall always be disposed to give the writers all the profits [sic] above what they shall themselves deem a reasonable pay for editing. I think you make a mistake in splitting yourself into parts. If you wish to build up a solid fame, choose your book, and stick to it. This is the case with all the great writers in the English Reviews. But judge them [?],-only keep the good of literature at heart. I leave home in five days for Washington. I shall sail in a month or two. A letter under cover to Mr. Ed. Everett will reach me.

Let me hear from you,

Very truly your friend,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Feb. 19, 1828, Northampton.

My dear sir,

The N. Y. American says you have sailed for Eu­ rope. Mrs. Dwight tells me you are still in Boston. I have been very much harrassed of late, and have had no time to write letters. This week I can command a few hours. Do you wish for a letter to Heeren and Blumenbach at Gottingen? B. speaks English very well. Since I wrote you last I have had a letter from W. Hum­boldt; and am at liberty to introduce you to him. Shall I write one for you? He is the best man for you to know. When shall you be in Gottingen and Berlin? I write interrogatively and short, for it may be, you are on the waves, and this letter will not reach you. I am on the very best terms with Heeren and Blumenbach’s family

Yours,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

London, March 10th, 1829,

Dear Bancroft,

I send you a volume containing an account of the London University. Several of the introductory lectures de­livered by different professors, and divers other matters on the same subject.  I wish to procure an excellent article for the N. Review on the London University, and I can think of no per­ son, who will do it so well as yourself, if you have leisure to undertake The volume, which I forward to you, contains a mass of facts from which you may easily draw up an article. The subject has moreover been discussed, as you are aware, in the Edinburgh Review, and New Monthly Magazine. In the last number of the Quarterly is an article touching this topic by Southey, but he and the Tory party are hostile to the ‘London University, and have set on foot a counter project, which they call King’s College. Very little has yet been done, however, but to talk about it, and the money part of the concern is understood to move heavily.

The London University has gone into operation during the last winter, and already contains more than 500 students. In the Edinburgh Review and New Monthly Magazine you will find a history of all the early proceedings, and in the volume I send is contained a full account of the present state and practical objects of the University. It is not probable the book will reach you so soon as this letter, but you will receive it in due time. I have met many of your friends in Europe, who have inquired after you with interest.  In Gottingen numerous questions were asked, which I answered according to the best ef my knowledge. Bluemen­ bach, Heeren, Saalfeld, Beneke, and others talked of you, and said they had much pleasure in recollecting your residence among them. I had the gratification to see Bluemenbach in his character of skulls, and to drink tea with the family. You would be too much flattered were I to tell you all that was said, and particM­ larly by Miss Blumenbach.  I dare say you have not forgotten the young lady.  With Heeren I got along rather clumsily as he talked no English, and a French little better than mine. From Gottingen I went to Leipsic by way of the Gleichen (is it not), Nordhausen, and Halle, leaving the Hartz on the left, and the Bracken hiding his majestic head in the clouds. I was so much straitened for time, that I could not go to the north as I had hoped, but was obliged to hasten back to Paris.

During the year that I have been in Europe, I have been most busily employed in historical researches with reference to the American Revolution, and have met with entire success. The public offices in Paris, in London, have been opened to me in a most liberal manner, and I have gathered from them a treas­ure of historical facts. As I have been obliged in all cases to get the consent of the ministers in whose departments the papers are contained, there have been some difficulties and embarrass­ ments in the forms, but I have everywhere found a readiness of disposition to render me every reasonable facility.

We are all up in arms here now about the Catholic Question. The nation is more excited about it, than was apprehended, but there is no doubt the ministry will carry it through by a large majority.  The orthodox dissenters are terribly opposed.  I heard the celebrated preacher, Irvine [sic], two days ago make a most denunciatory prayer against the idolatry of popery, and that the rulers might be so enlightened, as never to grant con­ cessions to such idolaters. I was not much surprised at this, after hearing a sermon which contained more nonsense than I had ever heard uttered from a pulpit.  His fame is at, the foot of the hill.

It is generally understood that Capt. Hal11 is preparing a hard book against us. Murray told me it would be a “black book,” and yet he offered him 2000 guineas for it. Murray reprobates all the anti-American articles in the Quarterly and says he was always hostile to them, but that Gifford was an impractical man. I hope Hall will come out better than is expected.  I expect to be in Boston by the middle of May, when I hope to find a letter from you, telling me you will write the Review.

Very truly yours,

  • Captain Basil Hall’s “Travels in North America” were published in 1829.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

June 4, 1829, Northampton.

My dear Friend,

Right welcome to America again.  Let me join my congratulations with those of your friends, who see you visibly, on the great success, which report attributes to your expedition. It falls to the lot of few men to identify them­ selves with a leading object of public curiosity and interest. I may say, apart from those feelings, which give me a personal interest in your success, I am sincerely rejoiced at your un­ wearied efforts, and the valuable and honorable results which have crowned them.  Your letter of a late date I was very glad to receive: it was to me an acceptable token of remembrance and regard. The books, to which you allude, have not come to hand, and I defer any more particular description of that matter, till they are in my hands.  But we have a thousand objects of living and burning interest about us to which we owe earnest attention. The topic of universities is one which I have long purposed discussing.

If I succeed in writing on it, I shall esteem it a high advantage, to have a cause and an opportunity for conferring with you on the soundness of my notions. That (again) they should agree with yours, it would be alike my advantage and my pleasure to make use of the N. A. R. for their publication. But universities is a tender topic: let us keep clear of them for a month or two.1 My wishes with regard to Harvard have not been realized; but meantime I have learnt a lesson in philosophy, and am for myself a more contented man, than if I were too strongly interested in the success of measures, which I doubt not the wisdom of Boston will engender and mature. I am a looker-on in our literary Venice. You will never catch me elec­tioneering again, still, perhaps, I may again think I can serve a friend.  But independence, that is the great point.  I thank God, that my neck is in no NOOSE, and that I have no reckoning but with my own mind and conscience.

And now let me wish you a vast deal of happiness.  Were I to give that wish a more definite shape, it would be, a good wife. You have seen the world: the habits of a man of letters render him a cosmopolitan if [he) has not emphatically a home. Will you come and see me this Summer? You shall be hospi­tably entertained, read and study, walk and ri’de, write or sleep. When Boston seems a little dull, come, and we will talk over Paris together.  By the way, I had almost forgot to say, that I have been getting materials together for an article on the Connecticut, more especially the memory of the illustrious men, whose names were associated with Northampton, Edwards, Brainard, Hawley, President Dwight, Strong, & Co. I enlisted Judge Parker to write ( under the correction of Lewis Strong) the account of the old Governor.  He has done it temperately.

The recent election of a Harvard president had aroused much discussion. Ticknor had been thrust aside, Quincy, a moderate man, had been elected, and the reformers were disappointed. and well. Shall I proceed in this matter with reference to you? Proceed in it I must in some shape. Again I say try a week in this valley by and bye. You will find here one, who, with per­manent esteem, desires ever to remain very truly 

Your friend,

SPARKS TO BANCROFT

Boston, June 10th, 1829.

Dear Bancroft,

I thank you sincerely for your kind welcome of me to America. I am glad to get home, though I have seen many things to admire and enjoy in the old world, and many things which I wish could be introduced into the new.  But we must wait patiently, and let time do its own work.

The book about the London University has not yet arrived. It is among other books, which I expect by the next packet from London.  You are doubtless right in thinking that the subject had better be deferred for the present.  Our college seems to be setting off from a new point, and perhaps it is well to let things remain at rest for the present. Beneficial changes are ex­pected, and I trust all reasonable anticipations will be realized. It is a great mistake, however, to call any of our institutions by the name of Universities.  They are neither such, nor ever can be, without a radical change. They are mere schools, and always must be schools, while the present system of mingling dogged recitations and lectures ( so called) in the same course of edu­ cation [continues]. I do not believe that a university can be grafted on any of our old colleges. Something must be done de 11ovo, before any success can be hoped. There are so many shackles on Harvard, growing out of old usages, grants of money for specific purposes, and a complicated machinery of government, that you and all the world must despair of building it up into a university. The lower, or school-part of this semi­ nary is an inherent ingredient and must from the necessity of the case keep down the upper, or university-part. Neither money, nor talents, nor both combined, can remedy this defect.  Now let us have a university without the school-part; let us have an establishment where we can teach young men something about the operations of their own mind, the doings of the world, and the business of life. Europe is full of such institutions; it is time for one at least in America.

I hope you will prosecute your researches about the “Con­necticut Valley.” I shall depend on you for such an article, unless you intend printing a book. In such case I must be con­ tented with a review of the book. If you can let me have the matter itself. I enclose a modern Greek ode, which I shall be much obliged if you will amuse yourself with translating into English verse. Please return the original, and send the transla­tion by mail. It is intended to come into an article on modern Greek literature. It will be a good exercise for you some morn­ing before breakfast. You are very kind to ask me to visit you. There are plenty of temptations, but my occupations are so pressing this summer, that I fear I shall not be able to leave home. After three years of rambling I have a great deal to do. Our friend Miss Blake, with whom I became first acquainted in Paris, obligingly offered to take charge of this letter. Very truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, June 29, 1829

My dear Friend, 

Would that you had asked of me anything but an impossibility. The pleasure of a letter from you would weigh with me greatly, but I have not written two lines of verse these three years, though I have courted and married during that period. I mean to put my Connecticut worthies in as good a light as possible; President Edwards, Brainard, President Dwight, Hawley, Pomeroy, Strong, and perhaps our lamented Howe and Mills.

I hear you are enamored of Europe, and am rejoiced to find your observations have led you to the same inferences about universities which I have been forced to adopt. We may do something by frequent reference to general principles, and by those statements, which, without jarring on present interstellar yet familiarize the minds of our many with the great things which are accomplished in Europe. I regret sincerely, we can­ not hope to see you here this summer. Sometimes when you are jaded with a reviewer’s vexations and the labors of historical research, jump into the stage and forget care among our moun­tains. I enclose a little paper, which our boys get up, and which is decently clever for young chaps. My best wishes are yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Sunday, Oct. 4, 1829

My dear Friend,

I got the 65th number of the N. A. R. last night. Your article on Hall is excellent, cool, friendly, and argumentative; but you have completely peppered him.  That on Holmes’ Annals was very much to my taste; and by the inti­ mate acquaintance with American History shows itself to be yours. By the way, I suppose you introduced the Calif Omar simply as a figure of speech. You know there is no historic foundation for his remark on his burning of the Alex. library. I attribute Irving’s Granada to Alex. Everett from intrinsic marks. It is excellently well done. Dwight’s Germany was re­ viewed, I think, from internal marks by Lieber.  I know not, nor can I guess, who wrote on Canova, or on Egypt, on Hosea, Junius, or Long. Our friend Eliot has done well to add literary emulation to the elegances of life, by which he is surrounded.

I will pursue the subject of Universities, and submit the MSS. to your consideration.  But the Sketches of Naval Life I have not read. It is no .object to me, to write a review as such. I should be grateful, could I obtain that personal leisure, which might enable me to enter the career of letters with some reason­ able expectation of doing myself justice. But at present I am doomed to bear with the petulance, restrain the frivolity, mend the tempers, and improve the minds of children. I should be reluctant to appear in the N. A. R. without more preparation, than I can command before the 10th of November. And be­ sides, I prefer the topic, Universities.

Do you know Mr. Gherardi? Probably you do a little. If not, Wm Prescott and Mr. Folsom both know him well.  I wish to se­ cure for him a kind reception at a college in Louisiana, at which he will be appointed an instructor in the modern languages and per­ haps in the Latin. He is a thorough scholar, and a well educated man. Can you in the shape of a letter to me, or still better, in a let­ ter to H. H. Gird [ ?] President of the College of Louisiana in Jackson County, East Feliciana, as at my. request, set forth what Prescott will assure you of, his high moral worth, and his unquestionable attainments and that he had once an offer of a place at Cambridge.  If you could, and would enclose the letter to me, care of the Carvills, N [ew] Y[ork], you will oblige m_e very much.  I shall be in N[ew] York from Friday till Sunday or Monday.  Truly yours,

  • Why have you paid your letter? You only give me the trouble of looking up a nine-pence to send to the Post Office with this.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

New York, 20th Oct., 1829

Dear Friend,

I have been on the wing, since I received your letter. I reached this place Monday night, and must make haste home today. My time is wholly engrossed till December. “The times are out of joint.” I cannot command my leisure for the January no. of the N. A. R. But before January I should hold communication with you on the subject of Universities. Your letter about Mr. Gherardi was eminently acceptable.  I hold it as a real kindness. Truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 30 Dec. 1829.

Dear Friend,

Yours of Dec. 26 was received yesterday. You may rely on an article on the fourteenth day of February.  It will not be on universities; I wish to live at peace with all men.

Truly your friend,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Jan. 7, 1830

Dear Friend, Joseph II of Austria is a good subject for an article and is out of the common line. I have Hormayr’s Aus­trian Plutarch, Dohm’s Denkwiirdigkeiten, Coxe’s House of Austria, and Joseph’s own familiar letters. Can you find any­ thing else, which would be of use? There is a French life of him I think by one Castera. Perhaps Vraxall’s memoirs have some­ thing.  Whatever you will send, I will conscientiously employ. If you get anything you can send by Cogswell. Think you Joseph was a fool or a philosopher? I am doubting whether to treat him sublimely or sneeringly.

Truly yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Feb. 10, 1830.

My dear Friend,

At the bar of Earle’s Coffee House you will find a dispatch for you.  If it is not to your mind, return it; my self love shall not be wounded. I did not think it necessary to wait for the little work on Joseph to which you referred; partly because I have reason to think, that it is not of original value, partly because I have much later works. The private letters of the emperor have been printed since the French pub­lication.

I think the article I have sent you, will show why Joseph has been blackened and as Mr. Adams would say burnished too; and that the truth lies as usual with neither excess. Of ma­ terials I have two separate lives of the emperor by Austrians. Then the Prussian views of him in Dohm’s masterly work; Joseph’s own letters; Coxe’s Austria (a heavy but valuable book by the way;) the lives of Kaunitz and of Laudon; the Dutch account of the Barrier contest; two protestant anonymous but learned essays on his reforms; a work in six volumes on his Turkish affairs with all the manifestos and public documents and treaties. Then too I have copious extracts from Caraccioli, and have found some good hints in the pious Schlosser’s History of the 18th century. I have said no ill of Joseph, which I do not find in his pannegyrists, and no good, which is not incon­ testible. The best account of Kaunitz, at least the most lively you will find toward the end of Rulhiere’s Poland. But the lively writer caricatures a little. Let me hear from you and believe me Ever yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Feb. 18, 1830.

My dear Sir,

Your recent favor has come to hand, tho’ several days later than its date implied. Most surely I see the pro­priety of the arrangement of the next number, explained by you. You could not doubt of my ready acquiescence. Mean­ time I had rather subject the article to a little more considera­tion.  Will you have the goodness to send it me by an early or a convenient opportunity. 

Very sincerely yours,

  • You will find one of our Senators, 0. Warner, at the Tremont house. I wish you all success in your negotiations as to the N: A. R. Above all I wish you the honor and the reward, rightly due you in American History. Your defense of Frank­ lin was excellent; to every unprejudiced mind highly satisfac­tory. I read it with delight.

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, 28th Sept. 1830.

Dear Friend, I perceive the usufruct of the work on Univer­sities was intended for me and not the fee simple. I was in error. The New York friends of a University were very anx­ious to see the volume. Mr. Wainwright borrowed it for a month and has kept for a year. I will demand it of him on an early occasion and forward it to you.  If you need the volume instantly, you must write to him; otherwise I shall see him next week. I regret my mistake. During the winter I mean to prepare an essay on the subject.  In the interval also I hope to see you.

Very truly your friend,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, Dec. 6, 1830.

Dear Friend,

An absence from home prevented my receiving yours of the 24th before last evening. The plan which Mr. Griffin proposes appears to me in reversal respects not unlikely to succeed. As each production, forming a portion of the series, would yet be published independently of the rest, it seems to me, that any writer however large his prospects, would find the proposed work a suitable method of coming before the public. My own views would be swayed in some measure by two con­siderations: the character and qualities of the gentlemen en­gaged in the plan: and the chance of securing the very best contributors to the work. Who is Mr. Griffin? A scholar or a bookseller?  Competent or incompetent? .Young or old? With or without capital? And again: do you think, that you yourself, our friends the Everetts and others would occasionally favor the public with a discussion, to be published in the series?

The work proposed should in my view serve as a means of diffusing sound ideas among the mass of the community. We have yet to reduce to practice the principles of our government: they have not as yet entirely pervaded society. But apart from discussion, pray do me the favor to write to me all you know about Griffin and his plan. I am rather disposed to engage in the proposed scheme, provided I can see my way clear to con­ ducting such a work with reputation. I could find the time and industry, that are required. 

Truly and affectionately yours,

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

Northampton, June 9, 1831.

Dear S. 

I have duly received your German’s productions. They are mainly designed to teach the Germans English, and not to teach the Yankees high Dutch. He is moreover a dirty fellow. He has crammed into his book all the vilest phrases, and most obscene words, ever uttered. Mais n’import. I£ you want it praised, I will find a side, that can be praised with truth.  It is an excellent dictionary, very complete.1 

Truly yours,

Cf. A. H. Everett to Sparks, June 11, 1831 :-“I am glad to learn that our friend of the Round Hilt school has undertaken the review of the Leipsic Lexicographer. He might have taken a more promising subject, but nihil quod tetigit no11 ornavit-he shall be welcome upon any.”

BANCROFT TO SPARKS

City of Washington, Jan. 5, 1832

My dear friend,

I have just received your favor of Nov. 25th and make haste to reply, that though I have almost vowed never again to commit the folly of writing a review, I will, so soon as I cease from my wanderings and get quietly established at home, I will write some notice of your books for the N. A. R. or the Q. R. The difficulty is double: Fliigel has inserted all the dirty words that were ever uttered and all the obscene phrases, and I like not his impudent nastiness, which is carried to the grossest and most offensive extent, and 2. Fliigel’s labors have been designed to help the Germans learn English; while in our country the counterpart alone is of common utility. How­ ever, I will get out of the scrape in some decent way, if pos­sible; and if he means to print the article in Leipsig, I shall put in a political diatribe, of a right revolutionary character. I shall take my revenge for this toil in the pleasure to be derived in reading Gov. Morris’ life. I hope you tell his motive in the choice of a wife, a philosophical indifference to his own peace, and a philanthropic regard for the good of posterity. 

With true regard-affectionately yours,

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