course, I have seen him frequently in society; never did I like him till I enjoyed his kindness at breakfast. As a converser Rogers is unique. The world, or report, has not given him credit enough for his great and peculiar powers in this line. He is terse, epigrammatic, dry, infinitely to the point, full of wisdom, of sarcasm, and cold humor. He says the most ill-natured things, and does the best. He came up to me at Miss Martineau's, where there was a little party of very clever people, and said: ‘Mr. Sumner, it is a great piece of benevolence in you to come here.’ Determined not to be drawn into a slur upon my host, I replied: ‘Yes, Mr. Rogers, of benevolence to myself.’ As we were coming away, Rogers, Harness, Babbage, and myself were walking together down the narrow street in which Miss M. lives, when the poet said: ‘Who but the Martineau could have drawn us into such a hole?’ And yet I doubt not he has a sincere liking for Miss M.; for I have met her at his house, and he afterwards spoke of her with the greatest kindness. His various sayings that are reported about town, and his conversation as I had caught it at evening parties, had impressed me with a great admiration of his powers, but with a positive dislike. I love frankness and truth. But his society at breakfast has almost obliterated my first impressions. We were alone; and he showed all those wonderful paintings, and we talked till far into the afternoon. I have seldom enjoyed myself more; it was a luxury, in such rooms, to listen to such a man, before whom the society of the last quarter of a century had all passed,—he alone unchanged; to talk, with such a poet, of poetry and poets, of Wordsworth and Southey and Scott; and to hear his opinions, which were given with a childlike simplicity and frankness. I must confess his great kindness to me. He asked my acceptance of the new edition of his poems, and said: ‘I shall be happy to see any friend of yours, morning, noon, or night;’ and all his kindness was purely volunteer, for my acquaintance with him grew from simply meeting him in society. He inquired after Mrs. Newton1 with most friendly interest, and showed me a little present he had received from her, which he seemed to prize much. I shall write to her, to let her know the good friends she has left behind. Rogers is a friend of Wordsworth; but thinks he has written too much, and without sufficient limae labor. He says it takes him ten times as long to write a sentence of prose as it does Wordsworth one of poetry; and, in illustration, he showed me a thought in Wordsworth's last work,2—dedicated to Rogers,—on the saying of the monk who had sat before the beautiful pictures so long and seen so many changes, that he felt tempted to say, ‘We are the shadows, and they the substance.’3 This same story you will find in a note to the ‘Italy.’ Rogers wrote his note ten times over before he was satisfied with it; Wordsworth's verse was published almost as it first left his pen. Look at the two.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 16 : events at home.—Letters of friends.— December , 1837 , to March , 1839 .—Age 26 - 28 .
Chapter 17 : London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 18 : Stratford-on-avon.—Warwick.—London.—Characters of judges and lawyers.—authors.—society.— January , 1839 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 19 : Paris again.— March to April , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 20 : Italy .— May to September , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 21 : Germany .— October , 1839 , to March , 1840 .—Age, 28 - 29 .
Chapter 22 : England again, and the voyage home.— March 17 to May 3 , 1840 . —Age 29 .
Chapter 23 : return to his profession.— 1840 - 41 .—Age, 29 - 30 .
Chapter 24 : Slavery and the law of nations.— 1842 .—Age, 31 .
Chapter 25 : service for Crawford .—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.— 1843 .—Age, 32 .
Chapter 27 : services for education.—prison discipline.—Correspondence.— January to July , 1845 .—age, 34 .
Chapter 28 : the city Oration,— the true grandeur of nations. —an argument against war.— July 4 , 1845 .—Age 34 .
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