a disappointed pursuer of office or rank; though the question might well be asked, whether, if solicitous of these things, I should not rather be tempted to regular and inoffensive service in party. I shrink again from dwelling upon myself; but I am tempted still further to say, that, at the time my “position was taken on the reform questions,” few persons of my age in this community could behold wider openings for himself than I could, and few had declined more various opportunities. I was connected by relations of amity and confidence with those whose influence would have been most important to one seeking personal advancement. I might go still further. I am not aware that I have ever visited any considerable place in our own country or abroad, where I have not been the mark of undeserved kindness and regard. At home I had often been solicited to take part in public affairs, and by members of different political parties. I had been thought of as a proper person for offices,—academic, professional, judicial, and diplomatic. The University, by its President, had invited me to two different professorships, one of which is now occupied by Dr. Walker. Overtures had been made to me to, accept an eminent professional position under a Democratic national Administration. I had been proposed by Judge Story, as he told me, without my knowledge, as the person whom he preferred as the successor to the late Judge Davis on the bench. A respectable place in the diplomatic service of the country had been open to me. But none of these had any lure for me. Surely, if mine were the ambition that has been suggested, I should not have neglected these advantages; most certainly I should not have renounced them in pursuit of a vulgar notoriety. I have little sympathy with office-seekers,—I might add with self-seekers in any Way. My own fixed purpose has always been to lead a life without office. This has been a cherished idea. I would teach, if I might so aspire, by example, that a useful and respectable career may be spent without dependence upon popular favor, and without the possession of what you have called “power.” In the expression of my opinions I have hoped to show a proper regard for those from whom I differ. Well aware that where freedom of thought exists, differences must ensue, I have always desired that these should be tempered by mutual kindness and forbearance, so that we might all at least “agree to disagree.” In this spirit, while willingly leaving to others to determine their course towards me, I have endeavored, on my part, to allow no debates of opinion to interfere with any pleasant personal relations; and though sometimes condemning or criticising the public conduct of men, I trust that I have never failed to do homage to their unquestioned virtues.Sumner had a quality and habit which may as well be taken into account here as later. The reader has gone far enough in this narrative to observe that he delighted to talk of the noted persons he had met, of the attentions he had received, and the good things said of him.1 When after his triumphs as an orator applause poured in on him. it delighted his ears; and he could not refrain from communicating it to others, not always his intimate friends. It pleased him to know the effect of his
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1 Ante, vol, II. p. 151.
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