His letters to Judge Story
were read by other intimate friends, and his experiences became quite generally known in Boston
returning from Europe
reported his success in English society.
His speech at Newcastle
, which was read in a Boston newspaper, was much commended.
His social career abroad attracted attention at home, and his return was awaited with unusual interest.
The general opinion and expectation concerning him may be best gathered from the letters written to him at the time.
One cannot fail to notice, even beneath their assurances of confidence to the contrary, serious apprehensions that his rich draughts of foreign life would give him a distaste for professional work.
wrote, May 12, 1838:—
We feel a deep interest in you; your success delights us, your adventures and descriptions entertain us, and your feelings command our sympathies as much as if you were our brother.
We feel the same pride and concern for you as we should for “one of the family;” and when one of your nice long letters comes, we feel that we have got a treasure indeed.
Again, Aug. 22:—
A letter from you, dear Sumner, is before me,—a spring to exertion, a stimulus to ambition, and a source of real, unalloyed pleasure.
I am delighted to hear of your great advantages in English society. . . . You have a very catholic spirit, which most men want.
There is a heartiness in every thing which you do that seems to bear upon it the stamp of sterling.
Now, I am perfectly thankful that you are circulating in British society as you are; for I know that a few such men as you will do more towards opening the eyes and the hearts of the best portion of the English than any number of books. . . . Write to me as often as you can. You do not know how much good your letters do me; they excite me to renewed exertion.
Do you not feel that you are undergoing a sort of apotheosis?
Enjoy it, and profit by it; for it will be a source of happiness to you as long as you live.
Some of your friends are prophesying misery for you when you come home; but I do not. On the contrary, what real solid satisfaction would you have, if you were not coming home?
With such a field for ambition and usefulness as you have open before you here, can you fail to be happy?
Write to me soon.
I think, if you could see what an event it is here when your letters come, you would love to write to us. Adieu, my dear fellow: and God bless you!
Again, Jan. 6, 1839:—
This day, you are doubly remembered,—it being your birthday; the happiest, I doubt not, you have ever passed,—happy, I am sure, in the present;