It was somewhere about 1832 I think, in the summer-time, that Charles Sumner led me—then a little girl—and my father over Harvard Library; and it has always been to me a beautiful memory,—the recollection of this slender, bright-eyed youth, with what seemed to me an adoring reverence for the hallowed spot, so that his voice was subdued and his touch rested tenderly on the dear books as he stood showing them to my father. When he came to Philadelphia in 1834, he had finished his course at the Law School, I think; but had almost put his eyes out with hard study, and was forced to come away for rest. He was then a great, tall, lank creature, quite heedless of the form and fashion of his garb, “ unsophisticated,” everybody said, and oblivious of the propriety of wearing a hat in a city, going about in a rather shabby fur cap; but the fastidiousness of fashionable ladies was utterly routed by the wonderful charm of his conversation, and he was carried about triumphantly, and introduced to all the distinguished people, young and old, who then made Philadelphia society so brilliant. No amount of lionizing, however, could then affect him. His simplicity, his perfect naturalness, was what struck every one, combined with his rare culture and his delicious youthful enthusiasm. My mother became very much interested in him, and thought his mother must be very proud of him. He was almost beside himself then over Fanny Kemble's acting; used to walk, he said, that winter to and from Boston, through snow and storm, to see her act. One of my sisters had a singular ability in imitating this gifted woman's acting and reading, and it was Charles Sumner's delight to insist on this rather shy lady's “performing” for him. His exclamation was, “By George, that's fine! By George, that's fine, Miss S.! Give it to us again: now, Miss S.! The ‘Do it’ point,—the ‘Do it’ point” (from Sheridan Knowles' “ Hunchback ” ).1 And striking his great hands together and heaving them about like Dominie Sampson, and striding up and down the room, he would keep repeating, “By George, that's fine!” Every one was sorry when he left town, and from that time his name was really a household word with us. There was a sweetness and tenderness of character about him, and an entire unworldliness that won all hearts, while his delightful culture completed the charm. My father was exceedingly fond of Mr. Sumner from his youth. He knew all about him, sometime before the visit to Philadelphia in 1834, from Judge Story; and believed with that dear friend that all possibilities for a legal and literary career of great brilliancy lay before this young man, so gifted, so fond of culture, so persevering in the study of his profession, so appreciative of, and so enthusiastic for, all that is good and fine.Shortly after Sumner's return from Washington, Judge Story pressed him to accept a connection with the Law School as instructor; but the offer was declined. An extract from his
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