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[469] shown in the history of our government. It stands alone. The secretary is alone. Like Jean Paul in German literature his just title will be, “The only one.” For years I have known secretaries of state, and often differed from then; but never before did I receive from one anything but kindness. Never before did a secretary of state sign a document libelling an associate in the public service, and publish it to the world. Never before did a secretary of state so entirely set at defiance every sentiment of friendship. It is impossible to explain this strange aberration except from the disturbing influence of San Domingo. But whatever its origin, its true character is beyond question.1

Hypocrisy and duplicity were never before attributed to Sumner, even by most unfriendly critics. His characteristics, his defects and limitations, as well as his excellencies, were thought to lie in a different direction,—in remarkable openness and sincerity, and in want of tact. What Fish meant in his offensive passage he never explained; but the allusion was supposed to be to Sumner's interview with Grant concerning San Domingo, during which the senator did not mislead the President, or fail to do what he said he would do. But even if Fish adopted the President's version of the conversation, it was not for him after twenty years of intimacy, in which he had professed to love Sumner ‘long and much,’2 to accept a construction which imputed insincerity and baseness. That is not the way of fairminded men, least of all of old friends, in interpreting each other's acts and words. Something is due to a friendship, even after it is broken. The common instincts of men enjoin reserve on divided friends as well as parted kinsmen; and this reserve Sumner kept. If he spoke, as he rarely did, of his old friend, now his slanderer, it was in strict self-defence, and in the tone of sorrow, not of anger. Fish, on the other hand, even after Sumner's death, accused him of gross neglect of official duty in the non-reporting of treaties; and when the accusation was disproved by the opening of the secret records of the Senate, he never withdrew his libel, or explained how he came to utter it. Sumner in his day, like all public men of strong natures dealing with vital questions, had his controversies, as with Winthrop, Adams, Seward, Fessenden, Trumbull, Edmunds; but they were all honorable men, and they respected the grave.

The new Congress (the Forty-second) met March 4, immediately on the expiration of the preceding one, and continued its session till May 27. The Republican caucus for arranging the committees met on the morning of March 9. The chairman,

1 Works,, vol. XIV. pp. 26.5-266.

2 Ante, p. 377.

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