of mind can be fully analyzed and explained,—its causes lying more or less in psychological conditions which elude the detection of close observers, and even the consciousness of the person himself.
It is certain that, since his return from Europe
, he had not taken any genuine and sustained interest in the practice of his profession.
This was a grief to Story and Greenleaf
, who observed in him the change which they feared when he went abroad.
His sense of disappointment was not, under the circumstances, unnatural.
He saw how others, with none of his high enthusiasm in the study of the law, and none of his elevated views, but with sharper wits and better adaptation to the details of business, were distancing him in the professional race.
His willingness to accept the place of a reporter of decisions, and his subsequent undertaking to edit ‘Vesey
,’ show that clients were not requiring his time, or that he did not care to devote it to them.
He was aspiring; his nature sensitive and refined; his Imagination had fed upon historic ideals, and he had shared the intimacy of the best exemplars among living men. Two friends at his side, Longfellow
, were winning a deserved fame,—one in literature, and the other in philanthropy.
He knew how from childhood his time had been well spent; his days and even his nights passed in study and reflection, and in conversation with the wise and good.
He remembered the promises of youth, and, we may believe, felt keenly that as yet the performance of mature life had fallen far below them; and he did not see opening before him any path of great usefulness and honor.
He may have been too much inclined to think of his own success or failure,—a habit of mind not favorable to spiritual health, and apt to beset those who are free from conjugal and parental interests.
But whatever were the elements of this state of discontent and despondency, its existence was a grief to his intimate friends, to whom only he confided it. Some of them, like Dr. Howe
, feared that, notwithstanding his general health and vigor, it was the sign of a latent disease, like that which had stricken other members of his family.
This was, indeed, a critical period in his career.
wrote from Havana
, April 7, 1843, two months before his death:—
With you, too, dear Charley, I sympathize and mourn over your disappointment in the hope you had of getting the place which Mr. Peters has vacated.
It would have been a delightful office for you, and I had set my