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[77]

Sumner and the classmates with whom he had been intimate kept up their interest in each other. Gifts of books were interchanged. He gave a Byron to Browne, and a Milton to Hopkinson; and received from Browne Sterne's ‘Sentimental Journey,’ and from Hopkinson a polyglot Bible.1 Having access to bookstores and libraries, he was often the agent of his classmates in borrowing and purchasing books. He maintained a frequent correspondence with Browne, who was studying law with Rufus Choate at Salem; with Hopkinson, who was first a tutor at Cambridge and then a law-student at Groton; with Tower, who was teaching school at Waterville, N. Y., and afterwards studying law with Hermanus Bleecker, in Albany; and with Stearns and Frost,—who were teaching, the former at Northfield, and the latter at Framingham. The letters which they wrote to him are familiar and affectionate, usually addressing him by his Christian name, and most of them quite extended. Of these he kept during his life more than fifty, written from Sept., 1830, to Sept., 1831.

Once a week, or oftener, he sent long letters to Browne.2 Browne was fearless in his treatment of received opinions, but his radical notions were under the control of good sense. The two friends discussed political topics, like Masonry, and the public men of the day; literary themes, like the characters of Shakspeare, Milton's poetry, and Moore's ‘Biography of Byron;’ ‘Hallam's’ ‘History of the Middle Ages,’ and the historical characters of Francis I. and Charles V. They criticised for mutual improvement each other's style of writing so plainly and unreservedly, that only their assured confidence in each other's sincerity and friendliness prevented their keen words from leaving a sting behind. Sumner thought Browne's style ‘Byronic,’ and invited a criticism of his own. Browne, while appreciating Sumner's as one which ‘every man not a critic and many who are would be delighted with,’ and as ‘flowing smoothly, rapidly, clearly, and full of bright images,’ objected to it as ‘too ornate and embellished, too exuberant, and too full of figures and figurative language; and, while correct and not violating the proprieties of nature, as wanting generally in ’

1 Sumner gave his classmate Kerr, in their Senior year in college, the ‘Apothegms of Paulus Manutius,’ an edition printed in Venice in 1583.

2 Of the letters to Browne and Hopkinson, the two classmates to whom he wrote most confidentially, none exist; but the letters written to him at that period were carefully preserved by him.

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