William Hickling Prescott

By C. Harvey Gardiner | Go to book overview

XIII
The evening of life is coming over those of . . .

PRESCOTT QUICKLY CAME ABREAST of development on the home‐ front. Locally, at the end of August, the hanging of Professor Webster had closed the Parkman case; but nationally, President Taylor's death, in July, had plunged the nation into mourning. Millard Fillmore had thrown the weight of the presidency on the side of compromise, and by late September the national scene was less agitated than it had been for months, but not so Massachusetts. When Daniel Webster had left the Senate to become Fillmore's Secretary of State, the handsome Robert Winthrop eased into Daniel's seat. An autumn battle shaped up for the seat in the House vacated by Winthrop; and although victory belonged to the Whigs, defeated Free Soiler Charles Sumner was striding nearer to the Washington scene.

The historian's first days at home found the Prescotts in happy confusion. They emptied the trunks and portmanteaus of his European wardrobe and purchases and immediately packed them for Pepperell. Three weeks later than usual the Prescotts set out for The Highlands, accompanied by a party of young people who promised to heighten the enjoyment of the autumn days.

Aside from the confusion attending a houseful of guests, it was too

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