for his services,—a professional fee which it was rarely his good fortune to receive in a single case.
To Mr. Choate
's kindly interest he was doubtless indebted for the opportunity to earn it.1
In the winter of 1844-45, he was counsel before a legislative committee in a case of considerable interest,—the petition of the people of Chelsea
, then a town of three thousand inhabitants, for a railroad designed to connect that and neighboring communities with Boston
by a land route; the connection being then by a railroad with a terminus at East Boston
, and thence by ferry to the city proper.
His argument for the petitioners, in which he laid stress on the superior advantages of an avenue by land rather than by ferry, was carefully matured, as his notes, which are preserved, show.
The committee reported adversely;2
but the Eastern Railroad Corporation, then a remonstrant, a few years later adopted substantially the location which he urged.
In the spring of 1844 Sumner
undertook to edit the ‘Equity Reports’ of Francis Vesey, Jr.
, numbering twenty volumes, for a well-known law-publishing house in Boston
, who were then issuing a series of ‘English Chancery Reports.’
They had already engaged Mr. Perkins
, of Salem
, to furnish the notes for Brown
's ‘Reports;’ and they applied to Sumner
to annotate Vesey
, offering two thousand dollars. He was reluctant to enter upon the labor, recommending in his stead Mr. Perkins
, who, was however, too much preoccupied to undertake it.
After conferring with Mr. Perkins
as to the details and method of such work, he accepted the publishers' terms, and agreed to prepare a volume each fortnight,—the time beginning May 1, and lasting ten months. He entered upon his task April 10, fully persuaded that it would engross his time and tax his powers of endurance.
It proved, however, even severer than he anticipated, requiring incessant application, night as well as day, withdrawal from society, and abstinence from exercise and recreation of all kinds.3
He pleaded with his publishers for a month's delay beyond the time fixed by the contract; but they, insisting that time
was of the essence of the enterprise as well as of the contract, were inexorable: and so he bent to his task.