Chapter 9: going to Europe.—December, 1837.—Age, 26.
From his boyhood Sumner
had longed to visit Europe
, and with his reading of history this desire grew into a passion.
The want of the necessary funds compelled him to postpone its gratification until he had in part earned them, and won friends who would advance the rest.
A circumstance gleaned from the letters of Browne
, which occurred during his last year in the Law School, is significant of his earnestness in this direction.
He nearly completed, at that time, a negotiation by which a gentleman was to defray his expenses for a year's travelling abroad, in consideration of certain personal services to be rendered at home.
Its details are not preserved; but the two classmates, who did not hear of the proposed arrangement until it had fallen through, upbraided him in a friendly way for proposing to assume an obligation which they thought would compromise his personal independence.
This strong desire, increasing with his studies, became a definite purpose at the beginning of 1837.
He fixed first upon October in that year as the time of sailing; but a pressure of engagements compelled him to postpone it for two months.
His purpose differed from that of an ordinary tourist, who seeks only relaxation from business, relief from the ennui
of an idle life, and a view, grateful to the eye, of scenery, costumes, galleries, spectacles.
He desired to see society in all its forms; to converse with men of all characters and representatives of all professions; to study institutions and laws, and to acquaint himself with courts and parliaments.1
He had read many books, and wished to see the men who wrote them, and the men whose deeds they commemorated.
The poem, the speech, the history, the judicial opinion, and the treatise would, he felt,