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house in Brookline. When at the death of his father in 1852 he came into the possession of money, he bought about three acres of land on the shore of Jamaica Pond, near Boston. Here was the cottage in which he lived for the rest of his life.
In 1851 Parkman published Pontiac, and began the assembling of material for his series of works on American history, writing at the same time a few reviews of historical works for the Christian Examiner. But this activity was hindered and finally stopped, for inflammation in the joints of one of his knees, by depriving him of his usual exercise, greatly weakened his general health. Even horseback riding was not always possible. To physical suffering was added deep grief. His only son died in 1857, at the age of three years, and the next year his wife died. The education and care of his two daughters were assumed by his sister-in-law, Miss Bigelow, a fortunate arrangement, since the state of his brain made it imperative for him to work amid the utmost quietness.
Soon after the death of his wife, he went to Europe and passed the winter of 1858-59 in Paris. So critical was the condition of his brain at this time that the foremost specialists of Paris warned him against insanity and forbade all literary labor. He returned home without improvement in his condition.
That Parkman was now facing the worst epoch of his life there can be no doubt. It seemed as if he would be an invalid for life, and that his long-cherished dream of a series of works on American history would never be realized. But he bravely met “the enemy,” and won a remarkable victory in the shaping of his life. For several years—until returning health permitted him to resume his literary work—he devoted himself to gardening. In spite of such handicaps as sensitive eyes and inability to walk or to stand upright, he soon became so successful a grower of flowers that the Massachusetts Horticultural Society elected him a member for life. He was generous with his flowers, and glad to fill the hands of any passer-by who evinced an interest in them. It is said that
he had at one time a thousand different kinds of roses in his garden.
During the period from 1851 to 1866 he produced a few book reviews, the novel Vassal Morton (1856), and The Book of Roses (1866). In the latter year he journeyed to Canada, making an extended stay at Quebec to study in detail the scenes connected with Wolfe's attack. In 1867, desiring again to see the Indians in their native state, he made a trip to the West as far as Fort Snelling, meeting in St. Louis his old friend Henry Chatillon, so closely associated with him during the days of the Oregon Trail trip. The year 1868 saw a return of his old disorder, which made further literary work impossible; and as he preferred to spend the period of enforced idleness in Paris, he went abroad for the winter. In the spring of 1869 his health was sufficiently restored to permit his return to America and a renewal of his writing, with the result that in this year La Salle was published.
In 1872 he went again to Europe in pursuit of material for his historical series. In the following year, wishing to know the French Canadians through personal contact, he spent some weeks visiting several families who lived on their ancestral estates on the shores of the St. Lawrence near Quebec. In 1874 appeared The Old Régime, followed by Frontenac in 1877. The years between the publication of this latter work and the appearance of Montcalm and Wolfe in 1884 were spent in careful study of the battlefields along the route from Lake George to Quebec. In 1886 he camped for a month on he Batiscan River with Mr. Charles H. Farnham, who has since written an admirably appreciative biography of the historian. “A delightful companion he was," writes the biographer, “interested in all the labors and pleasures of camp life, cheerful and patient under all circumstances. He was a fair shot, even at that age and after so long disuse of firearms. The most interesting manifestation of his personality was his mute approaches to nature after so many years of separation. He would look up at a bold bluff that arose several hundred
feet above the river, as if fain to scale once more such lofty cliffs. Often he would get into the canoe and float down the river for a glimpse of our neighbors, a family of beaver.”
The culmination of Parkman's work as an historian was reached in 1892 when he published A Half Century of Conflict, a happy evidence of powers unimpaired and hopes realized. After this he wrote nothing more. Henceforth his life was a peaceful decline, with comparative surcease of pain. He had energetically striven to live until his work should be done. Now the freedom from anxiety as to the completion of his work brought both satisfaction and peace. On Sunday, the fifth of November, he had been rowing on Jamaica Pond. On coming into the house he felt ill; peritonitis set in, and he died peacefully about noon of Wednesday, November 8, 1893. He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery at Cambridge.
Parkman's contemporaries understood how great a light he had shed on his time. Three colleges—McGill, Williams, and Harvard-conferred on him the degree of LL.D. He was a member of at least thirty historical societies in the United States, Canada, and England, and was Professor of Horticulture at Harvard and an Overseer of the same university.
The personal description of Parkman by Charles H. Farnham is perhaps the best. “Parkman was a little above medium height,” he writes in his Life, "of an erect, well-built frame, with square shoulders and good muscular development, but spare and sinewy in habit. Only in his last year or two did he allow himself to grow stout, following his physician's recommendation in the hope of thus becoming less nervous and sleepless. On horseback, especially, he was a dashing and martial figure. He had dark hair, and a wholesome color quite foreign to the traditional pallor of the student. His head and features were somewhat angular, with a chin of most exceptional prominence and strength. His gray, pene trating eyes were, in youth, of good size, but in later years they seemed smaller because of chronic inflammation of the lids. . His face, always smooth-shaven, generally
wore a grave, thoughtful expression, but frank and friendly; strength and alertness combined with kindliness to give it distinction. His mouth, though expressive chiefly of inflexible firmness, was very mobile. His smile was often remarked for its expressiveness; it reminded me always of these traits of Morton: 'the heroic calm, the mind tranquil with consciousness of power.' Parkman's smile expressed a full cons ISness of his strength and victory in life; and it often had a very clear address to you by the penetrating look he sent for a moment into your eyes.”
“In looking back over his life one is struck with his prodigious strength of character. He was ready to face the universe if nature would play him fair. She had played him foul, yet she could not prevent his victory. In his patient fortitude under suffering, in his persistent industry despite the greatest obstacles, and in his fidelity to his ideals, Parkman was certainly one of the most heroic figures in the history of letters.”Farnham, Life of Francis Parkman.
“No one could know him in the intimacy of friendship without becoming conscious that Francis Parkman had by nature an intellect of the highest order, and that it had been held back from the conflict into which its possessor was as eager to enter as the tiger is to secure its prey. His mind was eager and restless by nature to the last degree. To will a thing with him was to accomplish it, but when he found that his life work depended upon his self-control, and that it was only through heroic self-restraint that he could do what he had planned, he had the power of will to yield and to conquer. His achievement was great, but it was produced under difficulties which showed the man to be greater than his work."--Julius H. Ward, The Forum, December, 1893.
“Thus great in his natural powers and great in the use he made of them, Parkman was no less great in his occasion and in his theme. Of all American historians he is the most
deeply and peculiarly American, yet he is at the same time the broadest and most cosmopolitan. The book which depicts at once the social life of the Stone Age and the victory of the English political ideal over the ideal which France inherited from imperial Rome is a book for all mankind and for all time. The more adequately men's historic perspective gets adjusted, the greater will it seem. Strong in its individuality and like nothing else beside, it clearly belongs, I think, among the world's few masterpieces of the highest rank along with the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Gibbon.”—John Fiske, The Atlantic Monthly, May, 1894.
THE OREGON COUNTRY
At the time Parkman took the notes that formed the basis of the work entitled The Oregon Trail, the name Oregon was applied to all the northwest coast of the United States, and until 1846 it had included all the Pacific coast of Canada. The name was adopted in the belief (no doubt, false) that such was the name given by the native Indians to the chief river of this region-a term which in their language signifies good or fine. From the east this region was shut off by the high range of the Rocky Mountains and on the west by the unexplored waters of the Pacific Ocean. To the south stretched arid plains; and to the north, fields of ice and snow. Within these boundaries lay “rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven”; and the "forest primeval” stretched in quiet solitude except where the rivers brawled in rapids or roared in foaming cataracts. Here dwelt the animals of the wilds, and deep in the bosoni of the hills lay“unsunned heaps” of gold.
The first white men to visit this Oregon Country were Spanish explorers, who came from Mexico in 1539. They carried back accounts of a country abounding in gold and precious stones and inhabited by a people more numerous and