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[164]

A friend who knew him intimately, and whose knowledge of life has been various, referring to this period, says: ‘Taking him as a whole, he was the most attractive young man I have ever known.’

At his office he was always found in the midst of manuscripts and heaps of law books, but never loath to break off his work for a talk with his friends. No one, whose life was so devoted to study, ever gave his time more freely to others, or guarded himself less from intrusion.

At Cambridge he kept up his visits at Judge Story's and Professor Greenleaf's. He as well as Felton, Longfellow, and Cleveland found genial society in the home of Prof. Andrews Norton, a learned divine whose scholarship was not confined to theology. He was a welcome guest at the house of Mrs. William Eliot, in whose son Samuel, a college student, he took a special interest.1 With Mrs. Howe, at whose house on the Appian Way he at times lodged, and with Mrs. Greenleaf, who took a maternal interest in him, his favorite theme of banter was the perfect woman he was some day to wed.

Samuel Lawrence writes:—

During this period Sumner was not in general society, and visited very few houses in Boston. He was an admirable talker, with off-hand, frank, natural manners, enthusiastic in his admiration of Judge Story, whose house at Cambridge he often visited, and devoted to law and literature; and I do not believe that political life had once been in his thoughts.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes writes:—

He had already a name for scholarship, especially for legal knowledge. He was an amiable, simple-hearted, blameless young man; pleasant, affable, cheerful, with little imagination, wit, or sense of humor. I remember Park Benjamin said of him, in his rather extravagant way, that, if one told Charles Sumner that the moon was made of green cheese, he would controvert the alleged fact in all sincerity, and give good reason why it could not be so.

A lady, afterwards the wife of one of his dearest friends, who knew him well at this time, as also after his return from Europe, writes:—

As a young man he had a fresh enthusiasm; though never brilliant socially, he interested one from his genuine and hearty engrossment in the discussion or narration, to which he brought always many and accurate facts. He was less at ease with women than with men, and I think understood them less. He had a very marked and dutiful respect towards elder men, whom

1 Mr. Eliot is the author of ‘The Liberty of Rome,’ and ‘History of Liberty.’

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