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Sheriff Sumner was very formal in his manners and punctilious in etiquette, not only in public, but in his family. In salutations he was somewhat excessive, bowing low, touching his mouth with his hand, and waving it back to his side. He was reserved to a marked degree, and was rarely seen in public to smile, at least in his later years. He had during his life, but more towards its close, a grave and sombre tone of mind. His rigid and cheerless nature was not one which makes a happy home. He was loyal to ancient friends, and grateful to those who had in any way befriended him; but he did not mingle easily with men to whom he was not allied by any tie of kin or early association. From natural kindness, and not from a desire to win favor, he was accustomed, in letters and personal greetings, to say pleasant things, in the way of compliment, to those whom he respected. His conscientiousness,—his fixedness of purpose in doing his duty, as he understood it, no matter what others might say or think,—was the prominent trait of his character. With this was associated love of learning, of social order, and of good morals. If he was wanting in the lighter moods, he had the sterling qualities which children respect and imitate. If he was not himself great, he had in him elements of character which are essential to greatness.

In person he was of average height, five feet and eight or nine inches. He was slender in form, and not well favored in countenance. No portrait of him is preserved.1

The mother.

Mrs. Sumner was a woman of excellent sense, and of unusual skill in domestic economies. By her own toil, and the prudent management of the household, she succeeded, even before her husband became sheriff, in keeping the family expenses within his income. In the care of the estate and the nurture of the children, after his decease, she justified the confidence which his will placed in her. She was equable, even imperturbable, in her temperament. She survived her husband twenty-seven years, and all her children, save Charles and Julia. She was the constant nurse, night as well as day, of three daughters, during wasting

1 The papers left by Sheriff Sumner are the chief sources of this sketch. Information has been sought from those who knew him, and ‘The Hundred Boston Orators,’ by James S. Loring, has been consulted.

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Edwin V. Sumner (3)
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