of politicians; perhaps I may say the same of literary men. I have already written you some hasty lines on some of the wits I meet at clubs. There are others and worthier that I have met under other circumstances. There is Walter Savage Landor.1 I know you admire his genius. I first met him at Mr. Kenyon's;2 he was there at dinner with a considerable party. I could not dine there, as I was already engaged for the same evening with the Solicitor-General; but I was very kindly asked to stop there a little while till they went down to dinner. Landor was dressed in a heavy frock-coat of snuff color, trousers of the same color, and boots; indeed, he wore a morning dress, which one is more inclined to notice here than among us where the distinction between a morning and evening dress is less imperiously settled. He is about fifty-five, with an open countenance, firm and decided, and a head gray and inclining to baldness. We got into conversation; dinner was announced, and Landor and myself walked down stairs together. In the hall I bade him ‘good evening.’ ‘But where are you going?’ said he; ‘you dine with us, surely.’ I then explained to him the necessity I was under of dining elsewhere; when he asked where he should call upon me. I told him that I would rather, with his permission, have the honor of calling upon him (at Lady Blessington's). But our host at once arranged the difficulty by inviting us both to breakfast a few days ahead. At breakfast he was in the same dress as before. I was excessively stupid; for I had been up at Lord Fitzwilliam's ball till four o'clock, and the breakfast was very early. Landor's conversation was not varied, but it was animated and energetic in the extreme. We crossed each other several times: he called Napoleon the weakest, littlest man in history; whereas you know my opinion to the contrary. He considers Shakspeare and Washington the two greatest men that ever lived, and Cromwell one of the greatest sovereigns. Conversation turned upon Washington; and I was asked why he was still suffered to rest in the humble tomb of Mt. Vernon. I then mentioned the resolution of Congress to remove his body to the Capitol, and the refusal to allow it to be done on the part of his legal representatives. In making this statement, I spoke of the ‘ashes of Washington,’ saying ‘that his ashes still reposed at Mt. Vernon.’ Landor at once broke upon me, with something like fierceness: ‘Why will you, Mr. Sumner, who speak with such force and correctness, employ a word which, in the present connection, is not English? Washington's body was never burnt; there are no ashes,—say, rather, remains.’ I tell this story, compliment and all, just as it occurred, that you may better understand this eccentric man. I think we were all jaded and stupid, for the conversation rather
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 2 : Parentage and Family.—the father.
Chapter 3 : birth and early Education.— 1811 - 26 .
Chapter 4 : College Life.— September , 1826 , to September , 1830 .—age, 15 - 19 .
Chapter 5 : year after College.— September , 1830 , to September , 1831 .—Age, 19 - 20 .
Chapter 6 : Law School .— September , 1831 , to December , 1833 .—Age, 20 - 22 .
Chapter 7 : study in a law office .—Visit to Washington .— January , 1854 , to September , 1834 .—Age, 23 .
Chapter 8 : early professional life.— September , 1834 , to December , 1837 .—Age, 23 - 26 .
Chapter 9 : going to Europe .— December , 1837 .—Age, 26 .
Chapter 10 : the voyage and Arrival.— December , 1837 , to January , 1838 — age, 26 - 27 .
Chapter 11 : Paris .—its schools.— January and February , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 12 : Paris .—Society and the courts.— March to May , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 13 : England .— June , 1838 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 27 - 28 .
Chapter 14 : first weeks in London .— June and July , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 15 : the Circuits .—Visits in England and Scotland .— August to October , 1838 .—age, 27 .
2 John Kenyon, 1787-1856; the inheritor of a large fortune, and friend of many men of letters; the author of ‘A Day at Tivoli,’ and other poems. He distributed his fortune among eighty legatees, among whom were Elizabeth and Robert Browning and Barry Cornwall. Several notes from Kenyon to Sumner are preserved; one from 4 Harley Place, of June 15, 1838, saying: ‘You are hardly a stranger among us; you were hardly a stranger when you had been here only three days;’ another, inviting him to meet Southey; another inviting him to dine, Jan. 19, 1839; and another regretting a previous engagement of Sumner, and adding, ‘I give you ten days' notice, and cannot have you.’
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