To the same.
I have been wanting to write you these many days, but I make it a rule not to write when I am sad, and my soul has been greatly troubled.
Since the death of Ellis Gray Loring
, no affliction has oppressed me so heavily as the death of Charles Sumner
I loved and reverenced him beyond any other man in public life.
He was my ideal of a hero, more than any of the great men in our national history.
In fact I almost worshipped him. I see no hopes of such another man to stem the overwhelming tide of corruption in this country.
But perhaps when a momentous crisis comes, the hour will bring forth the man. If so, it will be well for the nation and for the world; but for myself I can never, never again feel the implicit trust in any mortal man that I felt in Charles Sumner
A feeling akin to remorse renders my grief almost insupportable.
Certainly it was not my fault, that I could not view the last election in the light he did; but I wept bitterly when he wrote to me: “It makes the tears come to my eyes to find that you do not sympathize with me in the stand I have taken from motives the most conscientious that
have ever influenced my life.”
And now that he has gone, it seems as if it would kill me to think that my want of sympathy should ever have brought tears to his eyes.
Then I have not written to him for some months past.
I often wanted to, but his mind seemed full of the old vexed topic, and I knew, however tenderly and reverentially I might write, nothing would satisfy him but the acknowledgment that he had been entirely in the right; because he never for a moment ceased to believe himself so. It is true that President Grant
, since his second election, has done many things, and left still more undone, which tend to confirm Mr. Sumner
's estimate of him. But, as I again and again wrote to Mr. Sumner
, the question was not whether General Grant
was a fitting candidate for the presidency, but whether it was safe to restore power in our national councils to Democrats and rebels.
He believed that Democrats and rebels had met with a great change of heart; but I thought, and still think,.there was superabounding evidence that they were still essentially in the same state of mind as ever.
I thought then, and I think now, that artful politicians could not have so imposed upon Mr. Sumner
if it had not been for the state of his health.
If he had been in perfect physical health he would never have believed that Mr.
---had cultivated the growth of a conscience, after doing without one for half a century.
But the more I am convinced that his nervous system was in a shattered and excited state, the more keenly do I regret that I did not write to him frequently and affectionately.
I am aware that my letters could not have been of much consequence to him, but perhaps they might have soothed him a little.
It seems as if I had been ungrateful
to him for all his magnificent services to freedom and public morals.
In the anguish of my heart I cry out, “Enemies wrote to him, and friends did not!
And all the while he was dying by inches!”
Processions and flowers and panegyrics have become so much a matter of custom that they are generally distasteful to me, as are all things that degenerate into forms without significance.
But the homage to the memory of Charles Sumner
seems to be really spontaneous and almost universal.
It is a great consolation to me, not only because he richly deserved it, but because it is a good omen from the nation.
There has been nothing like it except the mourning for Abraham Lincoln
; and in both cases it was preeminently honesty of character to which the people paid spontaneous homage.
They reverenced the men because they trusted them.