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[149] the ‘Boston Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.’1 During the summer, his correspondence with friends was left much in arrears. In August, he took for a few days the place of Hillard, who was with the Ticknors at Woods' Hole; but, with that exception, he did no service for clients for the first four months after his return.

With the beginning of September,—the time when the summer vacation closes in New England,—he resumed in earnest the daily work of his profession. He was from that time faithful to his office from nine in the morning till five or six in the afternoon,—allowing an interval for the family dinner from two to half-past 3. He usually passed the evening with friends; but, after a dinner or party, returned home to read till midnight, or often two hours later. During the years 1840 and 1841, he made no contribution to any magazine or newspaper. When he had been at home a year, he confessed in a letter: ‘It has been the least productive year of my life. I feel .that I have done very little,—made no advance in any sort of knowledge; nor laid up any materials for happiness.’ In the autumn of 1840, he carried through the press the third volume of his ‘Reports’ of Judge Story's Circuit Court opinions.2

Professional work awaited him as soon as he was ready to resume it. He had his share of the business of the office to which Hillard had solely attended in his absence. Professor Greenleaf and Mr. Fletcher gave him a place as junior in some causes in which they were engaged; and clients sometimes came to him under the impression that Judge Story would listen kindly to his arguments. He was retained in several patent causes,3 the chief of which related to the Phillips patent for friction matches.4 Professor Greenleaf, who had been employed to contest the validity of this patent, entrusted to Sumner after his return the direction and labor of the contestant's case, and early in 1842 himself withdrew from it. It embraced suits in law and equity in the Circuit Court, which lasted five years; and the pleadings and evidence were voluminous.

1 The next year, he declined a similar invitation from the same society.

2 Noticed in ‘Law Reporter,’ Feb., 1841, Vol. III. p. 403.

3 His appearance in cases is noted in ‘Law Reporter,’ Jan., 1841, Vol. III. p. 383; Dec., 1841, Vol. IV. p. 301; Boston Advertiser, Nov. 12, 15, and 16, and Dec. 23, 1841. In the patent case of Reed v. Robinson,—‘Law Reporter,’ Jan., 1842, Vol. IV. p. 342,—his elaborate brief did not convince Judge Story.

4 William Brooks v. Ezekiel Byam et al.

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