tea, when we were gathered in Mrs. Howe's parlor, Sumner took up from a table an engraved portrait of Wellington, and observed that it was “too young.”
Some one questioned that.
“ Why,” exclaimed Sumner, “I know his age perfectly; I've read a hundred lives of him.”
We understood, of course, that he meant only whatever lives had fallen in his way. Most people would be likely to read only one,—which none of us had done.
I remember that it was his habit to study and prepare lectures at the Law School until eleven o'clock at night, and that it was Mrs. Howe's habit to “ sit up” for him in order to have an hour's talk.
She had what may be called an enthusiasm for him. I fancy the entertainment between them was almost wholly intellectual, as Mrs. Howe had a man's brain; but intellectual sympathy, you know, is very sure ground for friendship.1
My impression at that time was that he was very good tempered, and that he was fond of youngsters,—at all events as listeners.
William Story was his favorite, as he well might be; for he was very jolly and amusing, and at the same time respectful.
He had a warm sympathy and fellowship with the “boys,” and assumed no professional airs.
At the period referred to I and in fact all the parties boarding at Mrs. Howe's were undergraduates, and even that did not put us beneath his penchant for student life.
The only distinct recollection I have of the incidents in our prandial exercises and meetings is of the fiery discussions over the then pending question in Congress, concerning the “ Right of Petition,” in which John Quincy Adams was contending with the Southern politicians; beginning, I think, in some interference by the Post-office authorities with the transmission of “incendiary matter ” through the mails.
I forget just how we were divided, or who formed the other side; but remember how Sumner used to hurl his thunders against the opponents of Free Mails and Free Petitions, and how enthusiastically Mrs. Howe used to back him up when she thought the youngsters were becoming too much excited on the other side.
wrote, Feb. 5, 1835, to Sumner
, who had taken much interest in his son:—
‘I hope you will allure William occasionally to your room to keep him on correct ground, for he has infinite confidence in your kindness and judgment on such subjects.
He has written me respecting the late rebellion2 in a very manly and just tone.
A word from you will do more than an hour of my preaching.’