was kindly to old friends who did not follow him at this time; but it was a grief to him that he could not draw George William Curtis
to his side.
One evening in the spring of 1872, when Curtis
was at his house and was about leaving, Sumner
said to him, as if pleading for his support: ‘When Brooks
struck me down, Douglas
stood by; now when Grant
strikes, you stand by.’
The tears fell as he spoke these friendly but reproachful words.1 Henderson
, former senator from Missouri
, was witness of the scene.2
's relations with his colleague Wilson
were strained at this time, though with no open breach.
He felt the need of the latter's sympathy and support, and knew well enough how much he was weakened in his position by the divided representation of the State
was at heart no believer in General Grant
as a civilian, but he was anxious for party unity, and was at the time aspiring to the second place in the national service.
Though not sympathetic with all of Sumner
's ideas, he had profound faith in the rectitude of his purposes and a genuine affection for him. He had done more than any man in 1851 to place Sumner
in the Senate, and four years later the senior senator welcomed the junior to his side.
Though greatly unlike each other in training, manners, and ways of living, they had been in general accord on public measures, and their relations had been singularly free from personal questions.
Their different courses at this time, though embarrassing, were not likely to lead to any permanent estrangement.
Shortly after the close of the French
arms debate they had a free conversation with each other, in which Sumner
told his colleague that their political paths would shortly diverge, but he hoped they would still remain friends; and he begged him to intercede with Grant
to withdraw as a candidate for the sake of harmony.
Two days later Wilson
a pathetic letter, reciprocating the hope for continued relations of friendship, and expressing pain at Sumner
's separation from the party,—an event which he had feared for months, and done his best to avert.
He referred to his own many hours of sadness as he contemplated the calamity, during which he had almost wished himself out of public life, and added that there had been no time for twenty years when he