at as early a period as was desirable.
‘You would,’ he said, ‘then come to the sturdy science with nerves and muscles hardened for the combat, and with a mind better stored than that of any of your class.’
's apprehension of failure in life, his indecision, his chosen abstinence from society, which had brought on an unhealthy gloominess of mind, and his too absorbing contemplation of extraordinary characters in history, which are not, except in rare instances, attainable ideals.
‘That vague ambition which looks at ends and overlooks means is the cause of half your troubles, and is caused by your overmuch reading and ignorance of men. Your thoughts have conversed only with kings, generals
, and poets.
Come down to this tame world and this tame reality of things.’
thus closed this thoughtful letter, which must have affected Sumner
's immediate purpose, and probably his whole future: ‘Be assured of my high regard, of my high opinion of your talents; and if you do not make a strong man of yourself, on you rests the sin of throwing away talents and education which I might envy, and which might make your name familiar in men's mouths.
The following passage I transcribe from a letter of our Salem
friend [Browne]. You know he does not calculate highly on puny geniuses.
Speaking of your prize lately obtained, he writes: “ Charles looms in the world.
We glory in his present success.
May we not assuredly hope that it is but the beginning of the end?”
This I send because the circumstances are a warranty of his sincerity.
Had he said as much of me, I should have respected myself the more for it.’
Among other expressions of interest in his career which belong to this transition period of life are the following: Browne
wrote, July 26, ‘Do you go to Cambridge
You have put your hand to the plow, you have even broken ground, and now look back.
There is no going back, and you have duty and all hope to draw you forward.’
And, a few weeks later, he wrote: ‘Did you ever read Dean Swift
If you have not,—but you have: you have read every thing.
Have you brought your Law-School resolution to a focus, and made preparation for next year in any way?’
wrote, Aug. 3, ‘What are your plans for the coming year?
I hope you mean to grapple with the law. That is the profession you are made for, and the sooner you prepare for it the better.’
After a considerable period of perplexity and indecision, Sumner