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[591] his return from Italy. He was still gaining strength, and strength which he felt he could rely upon. He wrote, August 16, to his brother: ‘If anybody cares to know how I am doing, you can say better and better, and that I mean to return in the autumn a well man.’ From Havre, late in the month, he made an excursion through Normandy and Brittany, taking in Trouville, Caen, Bayeux, St. Lo, Coutances, Granville, Avranches, Pontorson, Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, Dinan, and Rennes, and other places on return, travelling partly by private carriage and partly by diligence. His companion as far as Rennes, whose acquaintance he had made at Bains Frascati, was an English youth, since well known as poet and novelist, Mr. Hamilton Aide. Mr. Aide wrote in his journal:—

The longer I am with Charles Sumner the more I find to esteem and admire. . . . His mode of speech is too deliberate, and in his desire to be complete in his analysis or description he is sometimes lengthy; but what comes from him is always worth consideration, even when one feels most disposed to dissent from his views. ... Nothing needs encouragement more than the habit of exercising the thews and sinews of the mind as we do, or should do, those of the body. Mr. Sumner has the best trained mind in this respect I remember to have met. There is no class of subjects, even to the most trifling, he is not ready to hear about, to discuss, and to extract from it whatsoever it may have of value.

Mr. Aide was quite amused by Sumner's naive manner of appealing for frank opinions to interested parties,—as to the landlady at Avranches for advice as to whether it was best to remain there or go on to Pontorson. It is not likely, however, that Sumner put much value on the answers,—it being his way of making talk with the people of the country. He wrote to John Bigelow, August 22, from Bains Frascati:—

You are wise to make a hurried tour through Germany, and then return to France. In attempting to get both languages, you would lose both. See Germany physically, geographically, aesthetically as you can, and return to France, where you will keep among Frenchmen as much as possible. In travel you will do best alone, trusting to the society of the day and the opportunities of making acquaintances, from whom you may get some idea of foreign life and thought. Of course, always have a book with you as a companion should other society fail. But keep alone, always excepting the companionship of a friend, whose society might compensate for the loss of all that chance can throw in your way.

Sumner returned to Paris, where he passed three weeks, mostly engaged in collecting bric-a-brac, but making one day

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