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[117] received in their society. I sit oftentimes, after having read one of your letters, filled with that mingled melancholy and joy which comes over one when thinking of the enjoyments of the past, and of the too palpable certainty that those enjoyments will never again be met except by Memory in her pleasant wanderings. But stop!—

We truly are in a sad state. Civil war, in a portentous cloud, hangs over us. South Carolina, though the sorest part of our system, is not the only part that is galled. Georgia cannot, Virginia cannot, stomach the high Federal doctrines which the President has set forth in his proclamation,1 and upon which the stability of the country rests. That is a glorious document, worthy of any President. Our part of the country rejoices in it as a true exposition of the Constitution, and a fervid address to those wayward men who are now plunging us into disgrace abroad and misery at home. Judge Story speaks much of its value; and so striking did its argument appear to him, that he has introduced it into a note to his work on the Constitution, in three volumes; which will be published by the middle of January.2

To change the tone, I hope you have not given up the idea of studying law. I believe that you will be happier in that profession than in any other. By it you will be enabled to gratify that laudable and honest ambition which you possess. You will be interested and fully employed by its study. If one does not wish to follow the profession, I need not tell you that he will still find the law a most profitable study, disciplining the mind and storing it with those everlasting principles which are at the bottom of all society and order. For myself, I become more wedded to the law, as a profession, every day that I study it. Politics I begin to loathe; they are of a day, but the law is of all time. Pray excuse my sermonizing....

From your true friend,

C. S.

to Jonathan F. Stearns, Andover, Mass.3

Cambridge, Jan. 12, 1833.
my dear friend,—I have received and am grateful for your letter. The interest you manifest in my welfare calls for my warmest acknowledgments. I do not know how I can better show myself worthy of your kindness than with all frankness and plainness to expose to you, in a few words, the state of my mind on the important subject upon which you addressed me.


1 Andrew Jackson's Proclamation of Dec., 1832, upon the occasion of the nullifying ordinance of South Carolina.

2 Story on the Constitution, Vol. I. Appendix.

3 This letter is a reply to one from Stearns, then a student at the Andover Theological Seminary, in which he pressed the Christian faith on Sumner's attention, and began thus: ‘My knowledge of your candid temper, and the terms on which we have been long conversant with each other, encourage the belief that you will suffer me for once to address you with great plainness. The sentiments of friendship I have so long cherished towards you; the high respect I entertain for your character and talents; the extensive influence which I foresee you are to have in the community; and, more than these, the immortality to which we both are destined,—all forbid me to be silent.’

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