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[73]
Safely his dearest friends may own
     The slight defects he never hid,
The surface-blemish in the stone
     Of the tall, stately pyramid.

What if he felt the natural pride
     Of power in noble use, too true
With thin humilities to hide
     The work he did, the lore he knew?

Was he not just? Was any wronged
     By that assured self-estimate?
He took but what to him belonged,
     Unenvious of another's state.

Well might he heed the words he spake,
     And scan with care the written page
Through which he still shall warm and wake
     The hearts of men from age to age.1

Sumner wrote to Whittier, April 11, 1849:—

I have copied from Mrs. Jameson all that relates to Saint Mark and the Christian slave.2 I commend it to you as a fit subject for a poem. Under your hands it may become a lesson to our people. You will remember Saint Mark as the tutelary saint of Venice. Though an Evangelist, he was not one of the Apostles, but was, I believe, an early convert of Saint Paul. I missed you the afternoon we were to go to Cambridge together. I was sorry to lose the opportunity of making you and Longfellow better acquainted. Come again.

To E. L. Pierce, Brown University, June 24, 1850:—

I agree with Professor Lincoln.3 I have always regretted that the P. B. K. Society prolonged to advanced life the ephemeral distinctions of college scholarship; nor can I walk in its procession without a feeling of pain at perceiving so many worthy persons excluded from its ranks. A society of the Alumni, generously comprehending all without regard to any gradations of college or worldly honor, would better serve the purposes of the present Society, at least among the graduates. I do not wish to express an opinion of the merits of the Society as an incentive to the undergraduates; but whatever these may be, I think their influence should not be extended beyond Commencement Day. I think President Wayland joins in these opinions, for I remember well his feelings as we walked together in the procession to hear Mr.

1 This poem of fifty-three verses touches many points of Sumner's character and life.

2 This was the suggestion of Whittier's ‘Legend of Saint Mark.’

3 A reply to a request for advice as to accepting an election as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

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