[WASHINGTON, George]. SPARKS, Jared (1789-1866). Autograph letter signed ("Jared Sparks"), to Dr. Gilman, Cambridge, 2 July 1856. 4 pages, 8vo, blue lined paper, crease tears.
SPARKS CASTS A CRITICAL EYE OVER WASHINGTON'S BIOGRAPHERS. Jared Sparks dismisses Washington Irving's biography of the first President as merely a collection of "curious anecdotes" presented in an "entertaining as well as instructive" manner. While Irving "has the genius & facility to throw a charm over whatsoever comes from his pen," his book "should not be passed off as a Life of Washington; indeed it can scarcely be called history" since it contained no new facts about Washington's life. "The labor of research," Sparks sniffs, "is not suited to Mr. Irving's patience or taste." What were the best biographies of Washington? Sparks knows "of none but that of [John] Marshall & my own..." Those works relied on primary sources, but Sparks even finds fault with Marshall: the jurist's work was "essentially a historical life," while Sparks "confine[d] myself strictly to incidents relating to the character & acts of Washington." He does think, however, that Guizot's introductory essay to the French edition of the Works of Washington was first rate.
HENDERSON, Archibald. Washington's Southern Tour 1791. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1923.
4o. EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with 75 portraits and views and 8 autograph letters and documents: Nathan Hale (not the Nathan Hale executed as a spy), ADS, 1775; John Stark, ADS, n.d.; Archibald Henderson, ALS, n.d.; Jared Sparks (see above); G. Headley, ALS, n.d.; Marquis de Lafayette, ALS, n.d.; Tyrone Power, ALS, 1837; John Trumbull, ALS 1828. Modern blue crushed levant morocco gilt, top edge gilt, by the Scroll Club.