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[95] How he could accomplish all his tasks, and yet give so much time to miscellaneous visitors, was something of a mystery. It was, however, his midnight vigils which brought up the arrears. The newspaper men were generally very friendly to him. He held tightly the secrets of the Senate notwithstanding he had no respect for the system of closed doors; but as far as consistent with a senator's oath, he talked freely and instructively to all who came to him. After he had a house of his own, which was not till 1867, he explained to Dr. Howe a contre-temps by which a well-known scholar whom he had wished to see had been refused admission, and added:—

I am impatient and nervous, weary, fatigued, and unhappy, beginning the day weary and ending it weary. From the time I take my seat at the breakfast table interruptions begin; and such is the succession of visitors that during this vacation I have been detained daily at the table where I breakfasted till three o'clock P. M., without an opportunity of putting pen to paper or leaving the room. At dinner I try to be alone, unless with guests, and the domestic says to callers at this time that I am engaged. . . . I doubt if any one is as much beset by help-seeking visitors as myself, nor is anybody equally accessible. The President and members of the Cabinet receive at their offices during an hour or two. I begin with the morning and end at midnight, intermitting an hour for dinner. What my manner is to them, all this considered, I leave to the judgment of those who see me most. To some I am impatient, at times very inpatient, as they insist upon absorbing my time; but I doubt if anybody in Washington hears so many with greater patience or kindness. My duties now are onerous, and I need one hundred hours daily instead of twenty-four.

I had not heard of H.'s death. Such is my feeling about life that he seems to have obtained rest. I have a sense of relief for the persons thus preferred. He is taken beyond our trials, where ingratitude and falsehood will cease. Good-by! Again a Happy New Year!

There was at this time an enormous pressure for places in the home and foreign service of our government, and also for appointments and promotions in the army. These aspirants, as well as citizens who had business with the departments, often eminent in position and of disinterested patriotism, were unable to obtain access to them except through senators and representatives. Sumner, as the files of letters received by him show, bore his full share of this burden. He and his colleague were the medium of communication between Governor Andrew and the government.1

1 The files of the governor's office at the State House contain many letters from Sumner on public business.

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Charles Sumner (2)
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