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[329] for costly school buildings; whereas then a few men like Sumner, gifted with public spirit but not with fortune, could persuade the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was already in advance of sister States in her zeal for popular education, to grant for two institutions where her teachers were to be taught a sum which would now be deemed hardly sufficient for a country schoolhouse,—only upon condition that the memorialists should bring an equal amount to the treasury!

In 1845 he took an active interest in determining the plans for the Boston Athenaeum, which was about to be removed from Pearl Street to a new site,—that on Beacon Street being finally selected. At a meeting of the proprietors in May he moved a committee of ten, who were to select plans to be reported with estimates of expense to the proprietors; and he was appointed to serve on the committee. He was ‘anxious to secure a large, generous, hospitable vestibule, hall, and stairway;’ and wrote to his brother for the details of the best European libraries, and particularly for those of Bernini's stairs, leading to the Vatican on the right of St. Peter's. His brother replied, July 1, recommending the imitation of an Italian palace for the exterior,— the architecture of Vicenza,—and giving as the best models for the interior the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg and the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, and for the stairway a modification of Bernini's, covering less ground in proportion to the height.1

Prison discipline was then a subject which excited great interest, and there was a controversy, which took a personal direction, between the supporters of the Pennsylvania or separate system and those of the Auburn or congregate system. The annual meeting of the Boston Prison Discipline Society was held at Park-Street Church on the morning of May 27, with its President, Rev. Dr. Francis Wayland, in the chair. The society's annual report offered by the Secretary, Louis Dwight, in treating of the rival systems dealt unfairly with the Pennsylvania system, as its friends thought. Dr. Howe, who had taken for some time an earnest interest in penitentiary questions, held this view, and attacked the proposed report. Sumner joined also in the debate; and, without espousing either system, condemned, in a few unstudied remarks, the report as unfair to the supporters of the separate system. He then

1 The plan of Mr. E. C. Cabot, following the Italian Renaissance style, was finally adopted.

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