him quite the “lion” of society here.
But he was Charles Sumner all the same; and when he came home with my husband unexpectedly to dinner, and, from some domestic delinquency, the dinner consisted of only two mackerel and a Washington pie hastily procured at the last moment, I soon forgot even the feelings of a young housekeeper in the real delight of finding an old friend unchanged.
And in listening to his vivid descriptions we all forgot the simplicity of the entertainment.
I think very few people, unless they really knew him from first to last, understood his character, or did any justice to qualities many supposed did not exist.
His sweeter and gentler nature never had full development; but it was there, and those who loved him knew it. His almost childlike simplicity and incapability of understanding irony were incomprehensible to people in general.
A lady who knew him intimately at this period writes:—
Sumner was always a welcome guest with us,—my brother, Mr. Samuel Austin, having great interest in his conversation, great sympathy with his opinions, and great respect for his consistency and rectitude of character.
Years after, when under a social ban, as it were, I remember his saying that only two doors in Boston had always stood open to him,—Mr. Prescott's and my brother's. His conversation was rich and interesting, from his varied information, and the number of noteworthy people he had met; his sympathies were with what was highest and best; he was ever ready to do justice to the good qualities of his opponents, and was enthusiastically loyal to his friends; his manners were frank and manly, not polished
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I have seen a good deal of him in his after-life, and he was true to his early character.
Cordial, sincere, but fond of saying pleasant things to those whom he met, and remembering their personal history in a way that gratified those he talked with, he made friends easily and kept those who were best worth keeping.
He would monopolize the conversation now and then in a way which some might think egotistical and assuming.
But he had seen so much of great men and great people, that what might have seemed like vanity, and would have been in many men, was, perhaps, not more charged with that weakness than the everyday talk of those who have been chiefly conversant with ordinary people and petty affairs.
Fond as he was of being listened to, he was eminently courteous aud good-natured in conversation, and never put on airs as if he had nothing to learn; but, on the contrary, was rather fond of questioning others with a certain deference on matters which they had a right to know more of than he did. Any thing in the nature of a jest came very hard to him. He would look bewildered and almost distressed with the pleasantry that set a company laughing.
He knew a good deal outside of the subjects to which his chief study had been given.
He had much to say about art. He would discuss learnedly about old china; and I have heard him deliver a dinner-table lecture on book-binding, which sounded as if he had served an apprenticeship to the business.