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[128] classmate Browne's letter, of May 2, shows the latter's view of Sumner's probable future:—

In the concluding lines of your letter, which I received this morning, you seemed to see and lament the course which fortune and your stars appear to have marked out for you. I see no reason for lamentation, but rather much for congratulation and rejoicing. The course of events, or rather your own might and main, have opened to you the very path your feet were made to tread. Let me speak plainly what I plainly discern and feel. You are not rough-shod enough to travel in the stony and broken road of homely, harsh, every-day practice. You were neither made for it by the hand of Nature, nor have you wrought and fashioned yourself to it by that less cunning but still most potent artificer,—practice. All your inclinations (I do not see through a glass darkly) and all your habits set you on with a strong tendency toward a green eminence of fame and emolument in your profession; but you are not destined to reach it by travelling through the ordinary business of a young lawyer in the courts. You see that yourself, and you affect to be sad thereat. Instead of looking back with regret to the practice which you are to leave to other spirits touched less finely, and to far less fine issues, you should reserve both your eyes to look forward and see the reasons of rejoicing. By all means take up the offer of the judge, and never think of opening an office in the city. If, before the day of service upon your post, you have an offer from some established man with large business and a good library, then deliberate, then suffer yourself to institute comparisons between that and the station in the Law School; but not till then. If such a chance should occur, the judge would be one of the foremost to relinquish his hold on you.

A few weeks before Sumner's admission to the bar, the Ursuline Convent at Charlestown was burned, Aug. 11, by a mob. The authorities of Harvard College seriously apprehended a retaliatory attack by the Catholics upon the college buildings, and particularly upon the library, then kept in Harvard Hall. The students were absent upon their vacation; and Rev. Mr. Palfrey, Dean of the Divinity Faculty, undertook to collect a volunteer guard among the recent graduates. One of seventy men was gathered for one night, commanded by Franklin Dexter; and another of like number for the next night, commanded by David Lee Child and George W. Phillips,—and the two guards alternated. Sumner was a private in the second guard; and, armed with a musket, left his father's house at evening to do duty at Cambridge, while the alarm lasted. The story is told of him, that, as they were quartered in Harvard Hall for the night, he started the question whether the guard had been assembled and was acting under due corporate authority,—a legal inquiry,

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