you are not conscious of it. . . In the mean time I will do you the justice to say that in your future career (which may be a very triumphant one, for you have very many of the elements of popular enthusiasm and democratic energy with you) you will never do anything mean or cowardly or cruel.
You will be a Barnave or a Vergniaud, and not a Robespierre.
You will do much injury that is inseparable from your cause, but will never cease to be the object of the affection, if you excite the deep regret, of your friends.
Never forget that in the opposing party—for I shall be steadily and sternly opposed to you—there is one whose heart beats warmly for his early friend.
He wrote Jan. 19, 1849, regretting that Sumner
had been hurt by his comments on the latter's relation to reforms:—
Again, August 31:—
Well, what are you doing?
What eloquent speech are you writing; on what charitable work intent?
I have recently talked a great deal with your collaborateur, John Van Buren.
He is a very able man. I think he is destined to rule our fierce Democracy in New York.
His cool, human, sarcastic oratory cuts like a Damask sabre.
But he is very different from you. I do not perceive in him the slightest real sympathy with human nature and its struggles and progress.
All is hard and selfish.
Yet his success will not be the less on this account.
He can use the vernacular of the patriots and lead them; rise by them, while he is only pugnacious and wilful and self-interested.
You mean what you say, for though I never agree with you, I always admire you; and then I like to tease you a little with friendly criticism and “affectionate carping.”
Again, in September, 1849:—
I envy your enthusiasm and warm-heartedness.
I envy even its errors, and almost wish for the generous illusion which in your case, as in Titania and Nick Bottom, leads you to invest American and European patriots with qualities the very reverse of those apparent to common-sense.
God bless you!