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ONALD GRANT MITCHELL, who won literary
reputation under the name of 'Ik Mar'vel,' was born at Norwich, Connecticut, on April 12, 1822. He is a son of the Reverend Alfred Mitchell, formerly pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Norwich, and a grandson of Stephen Mix Mitchell, an eminent jurist and member of the Continental Congress. He prepared for college at John Hall's school at Ellington, and was graduated at Yale in 1841. Three years of life on a farm for his health gave
a him a bent towards rural pleasures and occupations. In 1844, still in pursuit of health, he visited England, the Isle of Jersey, France, and Holland. His first book, Fresh Gleanings, or a New Sheaf from the Old Fields of Continental Europe (1847), was the literary fruit of this journey.
Mitchell took up the study of law in New York, but found himself physically unequal to a
[H. A. Beers): Donald G. Mitchell' in the Cyclopædia of American Biography.
sedentary life. Moreover, France was on the eve of revolution. The young law student thought it no time to dawdle over Puffendorf, Grotius, and 'the amiable, aristocratic Blackstone, when there was a chance to see history made. He 'threw *Puffendorf, big as he was, into the corner,' and started for Paris, spent eight months there, saw what he went to see, and described it in his second book, Battle Summer (1850).'
His third literary venture was a periodical essay, The Lorgnette, or Studies of the Town, by an OperaGoer. It was published weekly for six months, and sold by Henry Kernot, a small bookseller 'up Broadway, at the centre of what was then the fashionable shopping region.' For a time the secret of the authorship was well kept, Kernot being as much in the dark as the public. To divert suspicion from himself, Mitchell thought to bring out in a distant city, and under his own name, something of an entirely different quality and tone' from The Lorgnette. He failed in getting a Boston publisher, and Reveries of a Bachelor, the book in question, was published by Baker and Scribner in New York (1850). Its success led to the making of another series of reveries.' This was Dream Life, written in six weeks of the summer and published in the fall of 1851. On these two books ‘Ik Marvel's' reputation with the general reading public still rests.
1 There were to have been two volumes of Battle Summer, called respectively the · Reign of the Blouse' and the • Reign of the Bourgeoisie.' Only the first was published.
In May, 1853, Mitchell was appointed United States consul at Venice. On the thirty-first of the same month he married Miss Mary F. Pringle, of Charleston, South Carolina, and in June sailed for Italy. The account of his induction into the consular office will be found in Seven Stories. A lively and good-humored narrative, it is not to be read without great amusement, together with a feeling of contempt for the shabby way in which our glorious (and sometimes parsimonious) republic used to treat its humbler officials. During the two years of his consulship Mitchell collected materials for a history of the Venetian Republic. The book is still unpublished, and presumably has been long since abandoned.
The days of his public service being at an end, Mitchell returned to America and settled on an estate near New Haven (Edgewood”), where since 1855 he has led the life of a man of letters and gentleman farmer. In addition to the books already named, he has published: Fudge Doings, 1855; My Farm of Edgewood, 1863; Seven Stories, 1864; Wet Days at Edgewood, 1865; Doctor Johns, 1866; Rural Studies, 1867;' About Old Story Tellers, 1877; The Woodbridge Record, 1883; Bound Together, 1884; English Lands, Letters, and Kings, 1889–90; American Lands and Letters, 1897. i Reprinted under the title Out-of-Town Places, 1884.
For a time Mitchell was editor of the Atlantic * Almanac' (1868–69), and for one year (1869) editor of Hearth and Home.' He served as one of the judges of industrial art at the Centennial Exhibition (1876), and was a United States commissioner at the Paris Exposition of 1878. He has lectured much on literature and art. Yale recognized his achievements in letters by conferring on him, in 1878, the degree of LL. D.
He is one of the most attractive figures of our time, not alone because of his unaffected goodness, his charm of manner, his literary reputation, but because he is the last survivor of a group of writers who in the Fifties made New York famous, and about whose association there still clings a very attractive atmosphere of romance.
THE AUTHOR AND THE MAN
A CRITIC who was given a copy of Dream Life and asked to draw the character of the author therefrom, might possibly come to conclusions like these. “Ik Marvel,' he would say, must be very generous, sympathetic with respect to the lesser weaknesses of human nature, and charitable towards the greater, or else this book is a falsehood from beginning to end. He must be very manly, for