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[228] Travel and residence abroad have had their best influence upon him. . . . Have you read Tocqueville's ‘Democracy in America’?

During his first two months in Paris, Sumner employed his time almost solely in acquiring the capacity to speak the French language. He had studied it in college, but could not use it in conversation. Repeatedly, in his journal and letters, he lamented this deficiency in his education. To Hillard he wrote, Jan. 6: ‘I shall renounce every thing until I learn to speak French. To that my first labors must be devoted. Think of me coming by childlike progression to the use of my tongue, hearing sounds which convey no idea, and thus, in a degree, debarred from the society and scenes of this great metropolis.’ Most of the time he took lessons of two teachers; he became a subscriber at Galignani's reading-room; frequented theatres, following the actors with the printed play before him; and attended lectures, not merely those which treated of his favorite studies, but those also which related to other departments, in order to become familiar with the sounds of the language. He postponed visits to places of interest, and abstained from society, until he had overcome the difficulty which he so much deplored. His perseverance met with a success which highly gratified him. When he arrived in Paris, he could understand hardly a sentence in French when spoken to him. In less than a month he could follow a lecturer; in six weeks participate in conversation; and at the end of three months he served as interpreter before a magistrate on the examination of a fellow-countryman.

Of the one hundred and fifty or more lectures which he attended, nearly all were given by professors eminent in their respective departments,—as Rossi, Ampere, Lenormant, Biot, Jouffroy, Dumas, and Saint-Marc Girardin. In the hospitals he saw Roux, Louis, Dubois, and Cloquet, attending to patients and followed by students. At the theatres and opera he saw and heard Mars, Georges, Dejazet, Rubini, Tamburini, Lablache, Persiani, and Grisi; in the church, Coquerel; and in the Chambers of Peers and Deputies, Dupin, Berryer, Guizot, Thiers, Odilon Barrot, Arago, and Lamartine.

During his sojourn in Paris, he wrote fully of his experiences to Judge Story, Hillard, Greenleaf, Longfellow, Felton, Cleveland, Charles S. Daveis, Dr. Lieber, and William W. Story. Most of these letters, as well as some to his family, are preserved,—from

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