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[72] Macaulay,1 who was also accused of an inordinate estimate of himself, has tersely said of vanity that it is ‘a defect rather than a vice; never admitted into the septenary catalogue of the mortal sins of Dante and the Church; often lodged by the side of high and strict virtue, often allied with an amiable and playful innocence,—a token of imperfection, a deduction from greatness, and no more.’

This quality or habit of Sumner, whatever he had of it, was harmless. It led him to no distorted view of men and things, to no underestimate of other mien's powers, to no disparagement of their work, and no disregard of their opinions and counsels. Jealousy and envy were no part of his nature. He praised generously, even lavishly, not only those younger than himself or inferior in position, but those also who were his peers in office or his rivals for fame. He recognized intellectual power and beneficent service in public men Who were separated from him by party lines, and in those of his own party with whom his relations were strained. In his long service on the committee on foreign relations, charged with subjects which he had studied far more than his associates, on which he might fairly think his own opinion the best, he was always considerate of their views; and when at the time of his final removal those who promoted it were seeking to find grounds of accusation against him, not one of them, even the least scrupulous, ventured to assert that he had failed in personal respect and consideration for his fellows in the committee room.2

Sumner's way of speaking of the things he had done, and of what others had said of them, had this extent, no more.3 After his death, Whittier thus wrote:—

1 Quarterly Review, July and Oct. 1876, p. 6.

2 John W. Forney, who as Secretary of the Senate had observed Sumner, wrote in his ‘Anecdotes of Public Men,’ vol. II. p. 256: ‘He had his faults; and one most dwelt upon by those who can find no other cause of censure is his alleged arrogance and dogmatism, and a certain self-sufficiency. Beyond a somewhat stubborn adherence to his opinions and a lofty defiance of adverse public sentiment, I have never known a more tolerant and generous man. That which some call arrogance and self-sufficiency was perhaps a consciousness of superior intelligence and a restive discontent under the success of notorious inferiority.’

3 E. P. Whipple, a critic of character, who knew Sumner well, has treated the charge of vanity imputed to him, noting his entire freedom from all envy and his greater interest in the achievements of others than in his own,—‘Recollections of Charles Sumner,’ Harper's Magazine, July, 1879, pp. 275, 276. The same charge is referred to by James Freeman Clarke in his estimate, ‘Memorial and Biographical Sketches,’ p. 96. It was dismissed as of little account by A. G. Thurman and E. R. Hoar in their tributes in Congress, April 27, 1874. Congressional Globe, pp. 3400, 3410.

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