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1 Dr. Howe wrote to him at this time: ‘I know not where you may be, or what you may be about; but I know what you are not about. You are not seeking your own pleasure, or striving to advance your own interests: you are, I warrant me, on some errand of kindness,—some work for a friend, or for the public. You say that every thing has gone wrong, and that you have met nothing but rebuffs during the last fortnight. But, dear Sumner, there is not one of the rebuffs which you have met that I would not welcome for the value of the consciousness which you must have, that you have been following generous and kind impulses, and that your only motives were those of friendship and philanthropy. You ought to be the happiest man alive,—or, at least, of my acquaintance; for you are the most generous and disinterested. No matter what motives may be ascribed to you; no matter if your best friends do not duly appreciate them, you have secured what fate cannot take from you,—self-approval. You will think it strange, perhaps, but I must say I envy you for what you have been trying to do; and would that I had been employed for two weeks as you have been! I love you, Sumner, and am only vexed with you because you will not love yourself a little more. And now, good-night; and to-morrow, after you have coolly made those men at the State House see how great is the difference between generosity and selfishness, you must come and pass the night with us.’
3 Records of the Board of Education, March 25 and May 28, 1845.
4 The raising of the five thousand dollars by subscription is referred to in the ninth (1846) and tenth (1847) Annual Reports of the Board of Education. Sumner, while engaged in promoting it, was writing his oration on ‘The True Grandeur of Nations.’
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