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PARTON, JAMES, an American biographer, born at Canterbury, England, February 9, 1822 ; died at Newburyport, Mass., October 17, 1891. At the age of five he was brought to America; was educated at the public schools in and near New York; and after teaching for a while, he entered upon journalism. His first published book was the Life of Horace. Greeley. He subsequently devoted himself mainly to biographical works. Up to 1875 he resided at New York, and subsequently at Newburyport, Mass. His principal works are Life of Horace Greeley (1855); Life and Times of Aaron Burr (1857); Life of Andrew Jackson (1860); General Butler at New Orleans (1863); Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (1864); Famous Americans of Recent Times (1867); Life of Thomas Jefferson (1874); Caricature and Comic Art (1877); Life of Voltaire (1881); Captains of Industry (1884-91). He also wrote numerous brief biographical sketches, originally published in periodicals, and afterward in separate volumes.
“ He is a painstaking, honest, and courageous historian, ardent with patriotism, but unprejudiced,” says The London Athenæum. “ Much credit is due him for the completeness of his books, the industry with which he has gathered materials from sources both public and private, and the judicious use which he has made of stories, old and new.” “ His biographies,” says
Vol. XVIII.-16 (243)
Blackwood's Magazine, "do not transmute the faults, nor exaggerate inordinately the merits, of their heroes."
HENRY CLAY. It must be confessed that Henry Clay, who was for twenty-eight years a candidate for the Presidency, cultivated his popularity. Without ever being a hypocrite, he was habitually an actor ; but the part which he enacted was Henry Clay exaggerated. He was naturally a courteous man ; but the consciousness of his position made him more elaborately and universally courteous than any man ever was from mere good-nature.
There was a time when almost every visitor to the city of Washington desired above all things to be presented to three men there-Clay, Webster, and Calhoun -whom to have seen was a distinction. When the country member brought forward his agitated constituent on the floor of the Senate chamber, and introduced him, Daniel Webster, the Expounder, was likely enough to thrust a hand at him without so much as turning his head or discontinuing his occupation, and the stranger shrank away, painfully conscious of his insignificance. Calhoun, on the contrary, besides receiving him with civility, would converse with him, if opportunity favored, and treat him to a disquisition on the nature of government, and the “beauty" of nullification, striving to make a lasting impression on his intellect.
Clay would rise, extend his hand with that winning grace of his, and instantly captivate him by his all-conquering courtesy. He would call him by name, inquire respecting his health, the town whence he came, how long he had been in Washington, and send him away pleased with himself and enchanted with Henry Clay. And what was his delight to receive a few weeks after, in his distant village, a copy of the Kentuckian's last speech, bearing on its cover the frank of “H. Clay!' And, what was still more intoxicating, Mr. Clay—who had a surprising memory-would be likely on meeting this same individual two years after the introduction to address him by name.
There was a gamey flavor in those days about Southern men which was very pleasing to the people of the North. Reason teaches us that the barnyard fowl is a more meritorious bird than the gamecock; but the imagination does not assent to the proposition. Clay was at once gamecock and domestic fowl. There was a careless, graceful ease in his movements and attitudes like those of an Indian chief ; but he was an exact man of business, who docketed his letters, and who could send from Washington to Ashland for a document, telling in what pigeon-hole it could be found.
The idea of education is to tame men without lessening their vivacity ; to unite in them the freedom, the dignity, the prowess of a Tecumseh, with the serviceable qualities of the civilized man. This happy union is said to be sometimes produced in the pupils of the great public schools of England, who are savages on the play-ground and gentlemen in the school-room. In no man of our knowledge has there been combined so much of the best of the forest chief with so much of the good of the trained man of business as in Henry Clay. This was one secret of his power over classes so diverse as the hunters of Kentucky and the manufacturers of New England. - Famous Americans.
PRIVATIONS AND HEROISM.
When the Mayflower left for England, not one of these heroic men and women desired to leave the land of their adoption. They had now a government; they had a church covenant; they had a constitution under which their rights were secured, and each one, according to his individual merit, could be respected and honored. So dear to them were these privileges that all the privations they had suffered, the sickness and death which had been in their midst, the gloomy prospect before them, could not induce them to swerve from their determination to found a State where these blessings should be the birthright of their children.Concise History of the American People.
PARTON, SARA PAYSON
PAYSON (WILLIS), pseud., , Fanny Fern, an American essayist and story. writer, born at Portland, Me., July 9, 1811; died in Brooklyn, N. Y., October 10, 1872. In 1837 she married Mr. Charles Eldridge of Boston, who died in 1846, leaving her with two children, and in straitened circumstances. In 1851 she began to write for periodicals. Her sketches became popular, and in 1854 she contracted with the editor of the New York Ledger to furnish a paper every week, which she continued to do for fourteen years without a single intermission. In 1856 she married Mr. James Parton, then connected with the New York Home Journal, of which her brother, N. P. Willis, was editor. With the exception of two novels, Ruth Hall, partly based on incidents of her own life (1854), and Rose Clark (1857), her writings consist of essays and short tales which originally appeared in periodicals. Several volumes made up of these have been published, among which are Fern Leaves froin Fanny's Portfolio (1853); Fresh Leaves (1855); Folly as It Flies (1868); Ginger Snaps (1870); Caper Sauce (1872). Shortly after her death, her husband put forth Fanny Fern: a Memorial Volume, containing a Memoir and selections from her writings.
FATHERHOOD. To my eye, a man never looks so grand as when he bends his ear patiently and lovingly, to the lisping of a little child. I admire that man whom I see with a baby in his arms. I delight on Sunday, when the nurses are set free, to see the fathers leading out their little ones in their best attire, and setting them right end up about fifty times a minute. It is as good a means of grace as I am acquainted with. Now that a man should feel ashamed to be seen doing this, or think it necessary to apologize, even jocularly, when he meets a male friend, is to me one of the unaccountable things. It seems to me every way such a lovely, and good, and proper action in a father, that I can't help thinking that he who would feel otherwise is of so coarse and ignoble a nature as to be quite unworthy of respect. How many times have I turned to look at the clumsy smoothing of a child's dress, or settling of its hat, or bonnet, by the unpractised fingers of a proud father! And the clumsier he was about it the better I have loved him for the pains he took. It is very beautiful to me, this self-abnegation, which creeps so gradually over a young father. He is himself so unconscious that he, who had for many years thought first and only of his own selfish ease and wants, is forgetting himself entirely whenever that little creature with his eyes and its mother's lips, reaches out coaxing hands to go here or there, or to look at this or that pretty object. Ah, what but this heavenly love could bridge over the anxious days and nights of care and sickness, that these twain of one flesh are called to bear? My boy! My girl! There it is! Mine! Something to live for something to work for something to come home to; and that last is the summing up of the whole matter. “Now let us have a good love,” said a little three-year-older, as she clasped her chubby arms about her father's neck when he came in at night. “Now let us have a good love." Do you suppose that man walked with slow and laggard steps from his store toward that bright face that had been peeping for an hour from the nursery window to watch his coming ?