Everything that calls up the image or reviews the life of Charles Sumner to me is a satisfaction,—a good image and a superb life! My first remembered impression of him, deep and vivid, distinctly recalled, was received as He sat and talked one evening at the Asylum for the Blind with Dr. Howe, Professor Felton, and a few others. After that I lost no opportunity of meeting him, putting myself within reach of his force, or hearing him speak. It is not easy to say whether it Was sympathy with his intense moral convictions and public courage, or the inspiration of his personal power, learning, and accomplishments, that made up the larger elements in this rare attraction.Sumner always found a welcome with the family of W. H. Prescott,1 who had removed, in 1845, from the family home in Bedford Street to a house which he had purchased in Beacon Street. He also made visits to the historian at his country home at Pepperell. To Longfellow and Prescott Sumner always brought foreign visitors who came to him with letters of introduction. Agassiz came to this country in the autumn of 1846, bearing letters to Sumner from two English friends. This was the beginning of Sumner's intimacy with the celebrated naturalist, which in time became as dear to him as the earlier friendships. Sumner's friendship with his early partner was kept up, and their law offices were still connected,2 but the bond between them was sorely strained. Hillard, who really loved him, had come under the fascination of the Ticknors; and no family in Boston was so antipathetic to the antislavery cause as this one. As a young man he had allied himself with the advanced opponents of slavery; but genuine as he was in friendship, He had not in him the stuff of which reformers are made. More and more he lapsed into the society about him, accepting its tone and opinions; and it became evident in 1846-1847 that the two friends, pursuing divergent paths, could not long maintain their intimate fellowship. There was, however, no scene or open breach; and as Hillard left for Europe in 1847, he confided to his old friend his will and papers, and Sumner gave him letters to English
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Longfellow in his diary, May 20, 1846, gives an account of one of the dinners at Prescott's where Sumner was present. Sumner was at this time calling at Ticknor's, where Lyell was then a guest; but this was about the end of his connection with that house.
2 George Griggs took Hillard's office, the outer one, when the latter left for Europe, and afterwards shared it with Henry T. Parker, for many years residing in London, where he died in 1890. Hillard on his return took another room in the same building, No. 4 Court Street.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.