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Chapter 9: going to Europe.—December, 1837.—Age, 26.

From his boyhood Sumner had longed to visit Europe, and with his reading of history this desire grew into a passion. The want of the necessary funds compelled him to postpone its gratification until he had in part earned them, and won friends who would advance the rest. A circumstance gleaned from the letters of Browne and Hopkinson, which occurred during his last year in the Law School, is significant of his earnestness in this direction. He nearly completed, at that time, a negotiation by which a gentleman was to defray his expenses for a year's travelling abroad, in consideration of certain personal services to be rendered at home. Its details are not preserved; but the two classmates, who did not hear of the proposed arrangement until it had fallen through, upbraided him in a friendly way for proposing to assume an obligation which they thought would compromise his personal independence. This strong desire, increasing with his studies, became a definite purpose at the beginning of 1837. He fixed first upon October in that year as the time of sailing; but a pressure of engagements compelled him to postpone it for two months.

His purpose differed from that of an ordinary tourist, who seeks only relaxation from business, relief from the ennui of an idle life, and a view, grateful to the eye, of scenery, costumes, galleries, spectacles. He desired to see society in all its forms; to converse with men of all characters and representatives of all professions; to study institutions and laws, and to acquaint himself with courts and parliaments.1 He had read many books, and wished to see the men who wrote them, and the men whose deeds they commemorated. The poem, the speech, the history, the judicial opinion, and the treatise would, he felt, [197] after such communion, charm with a new interest or light up with a clearer intelligence. He had read foreign law, and he aspired to comprehend fully its doctrines and spirit by attending its schools and observing its administration, with the view of using such knowledge in efforts to improve our own. To his cherished ideal,—the jurist, whether serving as lawyer, judge, or teacher,—he had been loyal as well in practice as when a student; and it was his purpose, after the further studies and wider observations abroad which he deemed essential to its attainment, to return to his profession better equipped for all its duties. He craved the faculty of reading and speaking foreign languages, and sought the opportunity of learning them, not merely from the drill of professional teachers, but as well from the lips of those whose words, written or spoken, had taught mankind.

He had not striven for social consideration at home, and had no expectation of that which awaited him abroad. But for a tour of the kind which he had in mind letters of introduction were essential; and like Milton, two centuries before, he had friends to supply them who were not less kindly than those now best remembered for their good offices to the pilgrim poet.

Mr. Daveis commended him to Earl Fitzwilliam and Lord Jeffrey, both having volunteered to receive any of his friends whom he might be pleased to introduce to them, and also to Lord Denman and others, with whom he was on less familiar terms. Mr. Rand gave him letters to Lord Denman, Baron Parke, and Solicitor-General Rolfe; Judge Story to Mr. Justice Vaughan and John Stuart Wortley; John Neal to Mrs. Sarah Austin; Washington Allston to Wordsworth; Ralph Waldo Emerson to Carlyle; Professor Parker Cleaveland, of Bowdoin College, to Sir David Brewster; Dr. Channing to the Baron de Gerando. Dr. Lieber did his utmost to make his journey agreeable at the time and permanently improving, warmly certifying of his character and acquisitions to continental jurists and savans,—notably Mittermaier and the younger Thibaut, as well as to his English friends. Such letters are keys useful for opening doors; but there, as many by experience know, their service ends; after that, he who bears them must, by his manners and gifts, vindicate his title to continued hospitality.

In his letter to Earl Fitzwilliam, Mr. Daveis, after referring to Sumner's professional learning, said:— [198]

I cannot, of course, be understood to exhibit these titles to your lordship, except as marks of those merits by which he is distinguished in the estimation of those who have the best opportunity of appreciating his personal and intellectual qualities. But what they especially prize and cherish in his character, is that ardor and enthusiasm in whatever is connected with the learning of his profession and the elevation of its office, which leads him to aspire to an acquaintance with all that is ennobling in itself or congenial to it in excellence. His studies and pursuits will carry him to the Continent, and cause him to pass some portion of his time in Germany, where there is so much to attract those who seek the highest intellectual cultivation.

Dr. Lieber, who joined heartily in Sumner's plans, gave him elaborate advice, specifying in detail points to be regarded, which were, being here abbreviated, as follows:—

1. Plan your journey. 2. Spend money carefully. 3. Preserve newspapers, hand-bills, &c. 4. Concentrate your attention for lasting impressions. 5. Take views—as of Paris from Montmartre—from elevated places, steeples, hills, &c. 6. Keep steadily a journal; let it be the carte of the day. Never think that an impression is too vivid to be forgotten. Believe me, time is more powerful than senses or memory. 7. See every thing, including feasts, fairs, theatres. 8. Eat the dishes of the country. 9. Dress well, being specially careful as to linen. 10. Don't give introductions easily. 11. Draw diagrams of courts, buildings, &c. 12. Keep little books for addresses. 13. Write down first impressions of men and countries. 14. Note large and noble fabrics. 15. See the Vatican by torchlight. 16. [Names of various eminent persons in France, Germany, and other countries to be seen; including Mittermaier, the Thibauts, and Bunsen,—the last well worth knowing, and one of the best antiquarians in Rome.]

He also urged Sumner to keep in mind during his absence a work of a forensic character (iter forense), treating of courts, parliaments, popular meetings, with descriptions, incidents, and anecdotes.

With the exception of Dr. Lieber and Mr. Daveis, Sumner's friends did not encourage his proposed enterprise.2 Hillard, however, who knew how much his heart was in it, felt that he would be unhappy if defeated in his purpose, and bade him Godspeed. Judge Story and Professor Greenleaf feared—an apprehension well founded—that the foreign experiences he counted upon would wean him from his profession. President Quincy, in a parting interview, touched his sensitiveness by telling him rather bluntly that all that Europe would do for him would be [199] to spoil him, sending him home with a mustache and cane,—a remark meant in kindness, but, with Sumner's reverent regard for the President, disturbing him for months afterwards, whenever his memory recurred to his vacant law-office.3

Mrs. Waterston writes: —

I perfectly remember Sumner's deciding to go to Europe, and that my father opposed it. He feared “ Sumner would be spoiled.” I do not recall what Judge Story's opinion was; but Sumner went, and was not “ spoiled.” I remember his last visit to us previous to his departure, and his face as he took leave of my mother and the President (as he always called him),—his earnest face, partly bright with expectation, partly grave with regret, especially regret at going against the President's approval.

Sumner's professional savings—and he had no other resource except borrowing—were quite inadequate to meet the expense of his journey. He was to spend during his absence five thousand dollars, or nearly that sum, of which he had laid aside from his earnings hardly more than a third. Three friends—Judge Story, Richard Fletcher, and Samuel Lawrence4— generously proffered loans of one thousand dollars each, which he accepted. They were repaid, some time after his return, chiefly, as is supposed, by his mother from the family estate.

The journey to Europe was not then as now a rapid and even cheap excursion, which every year is taken by a horde of tourists. It was confined chiefly to merchants who had foreign connections in their business, scholars bound for a German university to complete their studies before entering on a professorship, and to sons of wealthy parents, who, having finished an academic course, began a life of elegant leisure with a foreign tour. No steamer, carrying passengers, had as yet crossed the Atlantic. A young man who went abroad at such a period, with narrow means, with a profession which he had served too briefly to retain a hold on clients during his absence, and against the counsels of friends, was indeed stirred by no common aspiration.

Early in November he made a farewell visit of a day to his valued friend, Mr. Daveis, at Portland; taking the boat on the evening of Tuesday, the seventh, and leaving that city on his return the next evening. He dined, while in Portland, with Mr. [200] Daveis, meeting at the dinner John Neal,5 and later in the afternoon Stephen Longfellow, the father of the poet.

After leave-takings with his teachers, Story and Greenleaf, and President Quincy, at Cambridge, his family at home, his intimate friends, and among these, last of all, Hillard,6—one of the kindest and most devoted that ever a man had,—he left Boston late in November, making before he sailed a quick visit to Washington, where he obtained his passport and was made bearer of despatches,—an appointment which then brought some advantages to a traveller. On the way he stopped at Burlington, N. J., to bid good-by to a friend,—a lady recently betrothed to Cleveland, one of the ‘Five,’—tarried a day in Philadelphia where he dined with Mr. Peters and spent the evening with Mr. Ingersoll, and passed a few hours in Baltimore with reference to some promised letters of introduction.

During his preparations for departure, and when about to embark, he received many letters from friends, expressing deep interest in his welfare, and full of benedictions.

Dr. Lieber, who addressed him as ‘Young man on the threshold of a great life,’ wrote from Columbia, S. C., Oct. 7,—

How I would enjoy an intense, deep, and vast life could I accompany you, and learn, admire, adore with you, and initiate you in the great temple of the beautiful and good!

And again, Oct. 17:—

Good-by, my dear friend. May God protect you on the deep and on the main! May he vouchsafe you good health, acute senses, a cheerful mind to observe and receive every thing that comes in your way! Keep an affectionate heart for your friends, and do not allow yourself to be torn every way by the many thousand different and interesting things. Keep steady and within bounds. I bless you as never friend blessed his friend.

Mr. Daveis wrote, Aug. 8:—

There will be a good many true hearts that will set up the Horatian strains over the ship that takes you in trust. I shall take pride and pleasure in giving you the best letters I can; and, besides the one to Lord Jeffrey, [201] one or two others at least. But the long and the short of it is that you will be your best letter yourself. You are quite wild with your anticipations, and it is enough to make anybody else so to read them.

And again, Nov. 2:—

And now, my dear friend, my heart goes with you. I could say, Ventorumque regat pater, Obstrictis aliis;7 but the right winds and auspices and influences with my most fervent wishes will certainly follow you in all your wanderings. Write to me soon after you arrive at Paris; and especially and fully from England, where our admiration and affections fully meet. I have commended you very cordially to Ticknor, and I authorize you to draw upon him in my name to an unlimited extent.

And now again, Farewell! Vive et Vale! Go, and God speed you! May you live to be an honor and blessing to your friends and society even more than you are now, and more than realize all our fondest wishes and anticipations. And so, Farewell! Always affectionately and faithfully yours.

Dr. Channing wrote:—

I need not speak to you of the usual perils of travelling. Local prejudice and illiberal notions are worn off; but there is danger of parting too with what is essentially, immutably good and true.

Prof. Andrews Norton, wrote, Nov. 6:—

You are, I trust, about to enjoy much and to learn much in Europe, to lay up for life a treasure of intellectual improvement and agreeable recollections. You carry with you the cordial good wishes of Mrs. Norton and myself. May God bless you, and make your life as honorable and useful as you now purpose it shall be!

Samuel Lawrence wrote, Dec. 6:—

And now, my dear friend, let me say you have many, many ardent friends here who are sincerely attached to you, and who will look forward with intense interest to your return home. In the mean time your letters will be looked for with great interest. Mrs. L. begs me to say your note (parting) she received, and will retain near her till we all meet. She regards you as a brother, as does your friend.

Judge Story wrote from Cambridge, Dec. 2:—

We miss you exceedingly, for we were accustomed to derive a great deal of comfort from your cheering presence. And already we begin to mourn over you as one lost for the present,—a sort of banished friend, whom we can ill spare at any time, and least of all just now. Depend upon it, the waves of the Atlantic, as they waft you to France and England, will carry our warmest, truest prayers, constant and fervid, for blessings on you. But no more of this, or I shall relapse into sober sadness. . . . I saw Hillard yesterday. He [202] seemed quite a lone man, and I am sure misses you exceedingly. Greenleaf is very well, and he and I talk you over constantly. ... Farewell, my dear sir! May God preserve and bless you, wherever you are, on the restless ocean or the solid land! Believe me most truly and affectionately your friend.

Professor Greenleaf wrote, Jan. 28, 1838:—

And so, my dear friend, you are gone. We had so often made this enterprise of yours the subject of mirth, that I never regarded it real till the morning when I found your good father in the very article of leave-taking. The next day, as usual, I ran upstairs and rushed into your room with “ How fare ye? ” on my tongue; but alas, the executor and the appraisers were there; your writing table was dissected, and the disjecta membra scattered on the floor, ready to be taken into the sanctum of Mr. Hillard, which they now adorn.

One morn I miss'd him at the customed court (scil. Law Library),
     Along the (side) walk, and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came,—nor at his known resort,
     Nor at the Albion, nor the Dane was he.

I am almost tempted to murder the rest of Gray's “Elegy,” and apply the epitaph, mutatis mutandis.

Thus left his home to wander o'er the earth
A youth, to fortune and to fame well known:
Fair Science frowned not on his generous birth,
And Jurisprudence mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty and his soul sincere,
Heaven did . . . coetera desunt.

. . . Here am I at the end of my paper, without saying any thing. But this is not composed for publication among the correspondence to be interlarded in your biography; nor is it written like one of Charles Lamb's conversations, by “ punch light,” for you know I am a tee-totaler. Wishing you with my whole heart the protecting care of Heaven during this pilgrimage, and its richest blessings for ever, yours affectionately.

Mrs. Greenleaf added a postscript:—

My dear friend,—I cannot refrain from thanking you for your kind note, though it rang the knell of your departure. We entirely reciprocate all the kind regards which you express. We only wish that you may preserve inviolate all the feelings with which you left us, and that your cup may be filled to the brim with untold happiness. It will be a long time ere we cease to listen for your wonted footsteps, and to turn instinctively, when the door of our parlor opens, to see you enter. Your affectionate friend.

Cleveland wrote from Philadelphia, Jan. 5:—

I got a very kind letter from you written from New York just before you sailed. I hope that you got a very kind one from me also, written about the same time. If you did not, I beg you to consider yourself as having received [203] one, which will do just as well. I thought much of you after you sailed. The winds were fair and fresh, and the skies were bright, and the prayers and blessings of many kind hearts went with you.

Felton wrote to Sumner's father a few weeks later:—

You judge rightly that any intelligence of Charles's welfare would be most acceptable to me, and I congratulate you from my heart on his safe arrival in France. He is now in the full enjoyment of eager and enlightened curiosity fully gratified, and if ever a young man merited such good fortune, by fine talents nobly employed, and generous feelings unceasingly cherished, that man is Charles Sumner. He has long been very dear to me; and no one of his numerous friends has sympathized more deeply in his honorable and brilliant career than I have, and no one will hear of his success and happiness in the exciting scenes he is now entering upon with livelier pleasure than I shall.

Hillard wrote Dec. 6, 1837:—

And now, my dear fellow, Farewell. May God bless you, and restore you to us with all your anticipations of enjoyment and improvement more than realized! May he be to you a pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day, and shield you from the perils of the land and the deep! If the good wishes of loving hearts were talismans of defence and protection, you would be well guarded indeed; for no one ever went away compassed about with a greater number. Once more, God bless you, and, Farewell.

At New York he passed an evening with Chancellor Kent, who gave him books for his voyage; and had pleasant interviews with William C. Russell,8 his classmate John O. Sargent, and other friends.

The night before he sailed, and early the next morning, he wrote many letters to relatives and friends, some of them covering several pages,—to his sister Julia, to young Frick, a law student in whose progress he had conceived an interest while the latter was an undergraduate, and himself an instructor in the Law School; to Mr. Daveis, Dr. Lieber, Professor Greenleaf, Longfellow, Cleveland, and Hillard. His luggage included a large number of books, copies of the ‘Jurist,’ of his Reports, and of the treatises of Judge Story, intended for presentation by himself or on behalf of the judge to English lawyers and judges.



To Dr. Francis Lieber, Columbia, S. C.

Boston, Oct. 21, 1837.
Your last letters of Oct. 7 and Oct. 16 (last by express mail) have quite touched my heart by their fulness and warmth. I owe you a deep debt—

The debt immense of endless gratitude

for your thorough interest in my travels,—a subject where my whole heart is. And yet our friendship is not to be measured by any reciprocity of obligation and performance. My heart throbs for you, and my mind thinks of your labors. What I can do to aid, encourage, and cheer you, I yearn to do. This you feel persuaded of, I know; and that is enough. I shall remember you at every step of my journey, and in your dear fatherland shall especially call you to my mind. Oh, that I spoke your tongue! My mortification and humiliation is great to think of my ignorance. In my own language—dear native English!—I am sometimes told that I excel; and how I shall be humbled by my inability to place myself en rapport with the minds which 1 shall meet! I shall write you in German from Germany. There, on the spot, with the mighty genius of your language hovering over me, I will master it. To that my nights and days must be devoted. The spirits of Goethe and Richter and Luther will cry in my ears, ‘trumpet-tongued.’ I would give Golconda or Potosi or all Mexico, if I had them, for your German tongue.

What I shall write abroad I know not. I shall keep a journal, probably a full one, and shall trust to circumstances to suggest and bring out a subject. I shall remember your suggestions; treasure them all. All your requests I shall remember, and let you know that I shall not forget you. Your good advice I shall ponder well.9 Laertes did not receive better instructions from old Polonius, when he was about going abroad, than you have given me. My heart is full on account of your kindness.

It is now Oct. 21, and I shall be more than a week longer in Boston. I shall leave my home Nov. 1. My business is not all closed yet, and I sometimes fear that I may lose another week; but I must tear away. Then for New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. You will hear from me often before I go, and I shall send longing, lingering looks behind. You will hear my lamentations across the sea, and also my rejoicings. How I shall leap with joy at the sight of Europe; how I shall sigh over my ignorance; how I shall long for some of my American friends to sympathize with [205] the deep sympathy of friendship and a common admiration! You will hear of me often.

Good-by for a few days.

As ever yours,

To Dr. Francis Lieber.

Boston, Nov. 19, 1837.
my dear Lieber,—‘Yet in Boston!’ you will exclaim. Ay; perverse fates and various cares have conspired to keep me in my durance for some days longer than I anticipated. In two days more, and my course is ended here. I have taken leave of all my friends, even of my dearest judge, and of those fair acquaintances10 whom I beheld under your auspices,—auspice Teucro. I have consummated all my professional business, and now only linger to arrange a few personal affairs, to equip myself for travel, and to scrawl a few letters and some writing to which I am bound before leaving. I am heart-sick of appointing the day on which I shall leave; for I have found that, in my eagerness to get away, I have constantly underrated the labor I was to perform. Monday after Monday has been fixed upon; and when the day has come, business, with its hydra-head, presented some unexpected impediment. But now the day is within my grasp,—a few hours, that may be counted soon, with their swift-running sands, are all that is left.

I yesterday talked with Fletcher11 about your ‘Political Ethics.’ We debated the question, whether a citizen should be obliged, under a penalty, to vote, as he is to serve on the jury. If voting be a duty and not a privilege, should not the duty be enforced by law? At our recent election two of our wealthiest citizens, whose position in society is mainly accorded on account of their wealth, declined voting. Their immense property was protected by the law, and yet they would not interfere or assist in the choice of the law-makers. I wish you would ponder this question for your book. I promised Mr. Fletcher that he should some day read a solution of it from your pen.

I lately fell in with John Neal, of Portland, and told him of your work. I described it so as to enlist his interest and that of my friend and host, Mr. Daveis, of Portland.

I shall hear of your success across the ocean, and perhaps may be able to send an echo back. But let me repeat, do not be over-hasty. Take time. You have a good plan and good materials, and do not mar both by too great anxiety to rush before the public.

As ever, faithfully,


To Dr. Francis Lieber.

New York, Dec. 7, 1837.
my dear Lieber,—I have returned from a flying visit to Washington, where I found the warm reflection of your friendship. Gilpin was very kind to me, and placed me at my ease in the little business which I had on hand. He carried me for a portion of an evening to the President, where I met Forsyth and Woodbury.12 The conversation turned upon Canadian affairs, and I was astonished by the ignorance which was displayed on this subject. But in a farewell letter, let me not consume your patience or my own by unfruitful politics.13 . . .

And now, my dear friend, we must part. The sea will soon receive me on its stormy bosom. To-morrow I embark for Havre, and I assure you it is with a palpitating heart that I think of it. Hope and joyous anticipations send a thrill through me; but a deep anxiety and sense of the importance of the step check the thrill of pleasure. I need say nothing to you, I believe, in justification of my course, as you enter with lively feelings into my ambition and desires. Believe me, that I know my position and duties; and though I trust Europe may improve me, and return me to my own dear country with a more thorough education and a higher standard of ambition and life, yet it cannot destroy any simplicity of character which I possess, or divert me from the duties of the world. If you find it so on my return, I wish you to show your continued friendship by acting as my mentor, and correcting my aberration. There will be many who will be willing to cry out during my absence, ‘Europe will spoil him.’ Let the future determine this. To my sight that future is full of promise and hope; but I will not seek to lift its veil. Farewell, my dear friend; your friendship has been to me a source of pride and pleasure, and I hope to enjoy it much more. Remember me cordially to your wife, whom I most highly regard; and may God bless you all.

Faithfully and affectionately yours,

To William Frederick Frick, Baltimore, Md.

Astor House, New York, Dec. 7, 1837.
my dear Frick,—I feel unwilling to leave the country, not to return perhaps until after the completion of your professional studies, without venturing to say a word to you of advice and encouragement, which you will [207] receive as from a friend, I trust. My conversation with you during the delightful afternoon at Mr. Donaldson's has interested me much in your course, and as you then appealed to me, I feel anxious to avail myself of the privilege afforded.

Let me suggest, then, that you should not hesitate to propose to yourself the highest standard of professional study and acquirement. Be not deterred by its apparent impracticability; but strive zealously, and you will be astonished at the progress you make. If you place a low standard at which to aim, you will not surely rise above it, even if you reach it; whereas, failing to reach a higher mark may be full of honor. In plain language, determine that you will master the whole compass of law; and do not shrink from the crabbed page of black-letter, the multitudinous volumes of reports, or even the gigantic abridgments. Keep the high standard in your mind's eye, and you will certainly reach some desirable point. I am led to make these suggestions from knowing, from my experience with law students, that the whisperings of their indolence and the suggestions of practitioners, with more business than knowledge, lead them to consider that all proper professional attainments may be stored up with very slight study. I know from observation that great learning is not necessary in order to make money at the bar; and that, indeed, the most ignorant are often among the wealthiest lawyers: but I would not dignify their pursuit with the name of a profession,—it is in nothing better than a trade. And I feel persuaded, from the honorable ambition which characterizes you, that you would not be content to tread in their humble track. Pursue the law, then, as a science; study it in books; and let the results of your studies ripen from meditation and conversation in your own mind. Make it a rule never to pass a phrase or sentence or proposition which you do not understand. If it is not intelligible,—so, indeed, that a clear idea is stamped upon your mind,—consult the references in the margin and other works which treat of the same subject; and do not hesitate, moreover, to confess your ignorance or inability to understand it, and seek assistance from some one more advanced in the pursuit. In this way, you will gradually—per intervalla ac spiramenta temporis—make advances and clear the way. You may seem to move slowly at first; but it is like the tardy labor of fixing the smooth rails on which the future steam-car is to bowl through the country. I would not have you understand that I am a devotee of authorities. There are few, I flatter myself, who are more disposed than I am to view the law as a coherent collection of principles rather than a bundle of cases. With me, cases are the exponents of principles; and I would have you read them in order to understand the principles of the law and the grounds of them. The best way, therefore, of reading them is in connection with some text-book, following the different references in the margin to their sources, and thus informing yourself of the reasons by which the principles are supported. The most important cases, in which some principle has been first evolved or first received a novel application, are called ‘leading cases,’ and all these should be read with great attention. These are the caskets of the law, containing the great fundamental principles which are applied in numerous subsequent cases of less impression. There are not many who can be [208] prevailed upon to study reports in this way; but all who have ever done it, within my knowledge, have reaped ample benefit therefrom. In this connection, let me renew my advice that you should diligently study the characters of reporters and judges. It may seem a hard task at first blush, but I assure you it is of comparatively easy accomplishment to familiarize yourself with the character of every reporter and of all the important judges in English history. To this end read legal biography, wherever you can lay your hands upon it,—Roscoe's ‘Lives,’ the collection in the ‘London Law Magazine,’ ‘American Jurist,’ &c. Study legal bibliography; acquaint yourself with the time of publication of every legal work, and the repute in which it has been held; examine its preface and look at the book itself, so that you may have it bodily before you whenever you see it referred to.

I hope you will not consider me as suggesting too much when I add, Study the Norman or Law French. A few hours a day for a few weeks will give you a competent knowledge of it. There is a dictionary of the language by Kelham, but it is very poor, and you must rely upon your good wits to assist you. At the beginning of the ‘Instructor Clericalis,’ you will find a list of the principal abbreviations which prevail in the black-letter. Commence studying Norman by reading Littleton in an old copy of Coke-Littleton. There the translation will serve for a dictionary. Then attempt ‘The Mirror’ or Britton, and a few pages of the ‘Year-Books.’ Do not consider that you will never have any use for this learning, and therefore that it is not worth the time it costs to obtain it. A few weeks will suffice to make you such a proficient in it that you will never again be obliged to study it. I assure you that I have found occasion for my scanty knowledge of this; and that, slight as it is, at two different times it has given me opportunities of no little value.

I need hardly add to these desultory recommendations that you cannot read history too much, particularly that of England and the United States. History is the record of human conduct and experience; and it is to this that jurisprudence is applied. Moreover, in the English history is to be found the gradual development of that portion of the common law which is called the Constitution,—for the British Constitution stands chiefly on the common law. The history of legislation in England contains the origin, also, of portions of the Constitution. History is of itself such a fascinating study that it can need to your mind no such feeble recommendation as mine.

But, above all, love and honor your profession. If you become attached to it, all that you read will make a lively impression on your mind, as the countenance of his mistress upon a lover. You cannot forget it. And here let me say that you can make yourself love the law, proverbially dry as it is, or any other study. Here is an opportunity for the exercise of the will. Determine that you will love it, and devote yourself to it as to a bride. Adopt the Horatian declaration,—

Quid verum atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum.

Epis. I. i. 11.

Among the old English ballads is one which I read a long time ago, the [209] name of which I have now forgotten; but it is of a knight who was compelled to make love to a hideous lump of deformity, without seemliness or knowledge. The knight did his devoir, and espoused his unwelcome bride; when lo! she suddenly, on the marriage eve, underwent an entire change, and appeared to his admiring gaze a queen of beauty and love. And such, my dear Frick, is the law,—harsh and forbidding at first; but let the suitor summon resolution, and determine that he will woo and win this tough jade, and the transformation at once takes place. Jurisprudence appears before him with untold attractions, and he wonders that he could have hesitated in the pursuit.

If you conclude to go to Cambridge,—and I think you would be much benefited by studying there,—I would advise you to go in April and continue till January. I will add to this long letter a couple of letters of introduction, which you may be pleased to present if you should make up your mind to go. They will give you at once the confidence and regard of the professors.

And now, pardon this most hasty scrawl, written after midnight, with a mind teeming rather with thoughts of travel and foreign lands than the law. Out of the fulness of the heart I have written, and only hope that you may read it with the pleasure with which it has been penned. If any thing I have assumed to say should be of any service to you, I shall be happy; if not, I shall still have the happiness of my humble effort to do some good, unsuccessful though it be.

In a short time, and I shall descend upon the sea. Let me bid you good-by, and believe me,

Faithfully and affectionately yours,

To Professor Simon Greenleaf, Cambridge.

Astor House, Dec. 7, 1837.
my dear friend,—My hours of terra firma are numbered. To-morrow, before this time, I shall be rocking on the water. Qualms of sea-sickness will be upon me; and more than these, the anxiety and regrets at leaving friends, kindred, and country. It is no slight affair to break away from business which is to give me my daily bread, and pass across the sea to untried countries, usages, and languages. And I feel now pressing with a mountain's weight the responsibility of my step. But I go abroad with the firmest determination to devote myself to self-improvement from the various sources of study, observation, and society; and to return an American. Gladly will I receive any of those accomplishments or modifications of character which justly proceed from an extended survey of the human family. I pray fervently that I may return with benefits on my head; and that the affectations of character and indifference to country, which are thought sometimes to proceed from travel, may not reach me. All this is in the unknown future, which I may not penetrate. To the candid judgment and criticism of my [210] friends I shall submit myself on my return; and I shall esteem it one of the highest duties of friendship to correct me, and to assist in bringing me back to the path of sense and simplicity, if it shall be found that I have departed from it. Do not let it be said, then, that I shall be spoiled by Europe; but rather suggest that I shall return with an increased love for my country, an admiration for its institutions, and added capacity for performing my duty in life. My standard of knowledge and character must be elevated, and my own ambition have higher objects. If this is not so, then shall I have seen Europe in vain, and my friends may regret their generous confidence in me.

My pen trembles in my hand as in that of a culprit who sees before him the awful tree, and counts the seconds which remain to him. I have a thousand things to say, but no time in which to express them; so with love to Mrs. Greenleaf, farewell, and believe me

Your affectionate friend,

To his sister Julia, aged ten years.

Astor House, Dec. 7, 1837.
my dear Julia,—I don't remember that I ever wrote you a letter. I feel confident, however, that your correspondence cannot be very extensive; and, therefore, I may flatter myself that what I write you will be read with attention, and I trust, also, deposited in your heart. Before trusting myself to the sea, let me say a few words to you, which shall be my good-by. I have often spoken to you of certain habits of personal care, which I will not here more particularly refer to than by asking you to remember all that I have told you. . . . I am very glad, my dear, to remember your cheerful countenance. I shall keep it in my mind, as I travel over the sea and land, and hope that when I return I may still find its pleasant smile ready to greet me. Try never to cry. But, above all things, do not be obstinate or passionate. If you find your temper mastering you, always stop till you can count sixty, before you say or do any thing. Let it be said of you that you are always amiable. Love your father and mother, and brothers and sisters, and all your friends; cultivate an affectionate disposition. If you find that you can do any thing which will add to the pleasure of your parents, or anybody else, be sure to do it. Consider every opportunity of adding to the pleasure of others as of the highest importance, and do not be unwilling to sacrifice some enjoyment of your own, even some dear plaything, if by doing so you can promote the happiness of others. If you follow this advice, you will never be selfish or ungenerous, and everybody will love you. . . .

Study all the lessons given you at school; and when at home, in the time when you are tired of play, read some good books which will help to improve the mind. . . . If you will let Horace read this letter, it will do the same, perhaps, as one addressed to him. Give my love to mother, and Mary, and the rest.

Your affectionate brother,


To George S. Hillard, Boston.

Astor House, Dec. 8, 1837.
my dear George,—It is now far past midnight, and I sail to-morrow forenoon. But I must devote a few moments to you. Your three letters have all been received, and have given me great pleasure. I have a fresh copy of ‘Wordsworth’ as my cabin companion, and I hope that I may be penetrated with his genius. Sea-sickness now stares me in the face, and the anxiety arising from the responsibility of my course quite overcomes me. I have in my letters to several of my friends alluded particularly to my feelings, and also defended my plan of travel; but to you I need start no such idea. Your mind goes with me; and your heart jumps in step with my own.

I passed a pleasant day in Philadelphia, where I dined with Peters and supped with Ingersoll, and met all the first lawyers; then a delightful homelike day in Burlington, where S. P. received me with sisterly regard, I may almost say; and the whole family made my stay very pleasant. In New York I have been exceedingly busy, for the day I have been there, in arranging my money affairs, and writing letters of all sorts.

Keep your courage up, my dear Hillard; have hope, and don't bate a jot of heart. The way is clear before you, and you will bowl along pleasantly and speedily. Be happy. Remember me affectionately to all my friends, and to your wife; and believe me

Ever affectionately yours,

To George S. Hillard.

On board Albany, Dec. 8, 1837.
my dear George,—We have left the wharf, and with a steamer by our side. A smacking breeze has sprung up, and we shall part this company soon; and then for the Atlantic! Farewell, then, my friends, my pursuits, my home, my country! Each bellying wave, on its rough crest, carries me away. The rocking vessel impedes my pen. And now, as my head begins slightly to reel, my imagination entertains the glorious prospects before me, —the time-honored sites and edifices of the Old World, her world-renowned men, her institutions handed down from distant generations, and her various languages replete with learning and genius. These may I enjoy in the spirit that becomes a Christian and an American!

My captain is Johnston, a brother of Miss Johnston, the friend of Mrs. Sparks, and a very good seaman-like fellow. Fellow-passengers are four in number,—one a young man about twenty, a brother of the captain who makes his first trip; another, Mr. Munroe,14 a commission merchant of Boston; and two others who I am told are French, though I have not yet been [212] able to distinguish them among the number of strangers who are going down to return in the steamboat. No ladies are aboard. Your father was kind enough to come to the wharf and see me off.

I have said farewell to you and all my friends; you know how my heart yearns to them all. Let them know that while I was leaving my native land I thought of them. I have them all before me; and my eyes are moist while I think of them. I cannot help it,—‘albeit unused to the melting mood.’

Again, Farewell,

To his brother George.

On board packet Albany, Friday, Dec. 8.
my dear George,—I have longed for a moment to write you, and seize the few moments before the steamboat will leave. We are under tow: but a smart breeze promises soon to relieve the steamer and bear us swiftly to the Atlantic. And now, at parting, bear with a brother's advice. You have talents and acquirements which are remarkable, and which with well-directed application will carry you to any reasonable point of human distinction. Follow commerce in a liberal and scientific spirit, and become one of the traffickers of the earth; or follow law, and become a thorough and liberal jurist and advocate, who sees and regards mankind as much as the special interests of his client. Follow, my dear boy, an honorable calling, which shall engross your time and give you position and fame, and besides enable you to benefit your fellow-men. Do not waste your time in driblets. Deem every moment precious,—far more so than the costliest stones. Make a rule, then, that you will pursue some regular studies at all seasons; and keep some good book constantly on hand to occupy every stray moment. And consider your evenings,—how full of precious time, with boundless opportunities of study! Do use them. I am no Puritan, and would not debar you from innocent pleasures; but there is a moderation to be observed. My head swims so with the motion of the vessel that I cannot write much longer. Preserve an affectionate heart for your family, friends, and society, and be not forward or vain. Believe that modesty and a retiring disposition are better recommendations than the contrary. The letter is called for to be carried up by the steamer; and so good-by, and believe me affectionately yours,

I wished much to write Mary, before sailing; but my engagements have been so numerous that I could not. Let her know this.

1 See letter to Mr. Daveis of Aug. 4, 1837, ante, p. 192.

2 He recalled, in a letter to Hillard of Dec. 11, 1838, that he had undertaken his plan of travel ‘contrary to the advice of dear friends.’

3 The President's remark is referred to in Sumner's letter to Hillard of Jan. 30, 1838.

4 Mr. Lawrence,—brother of Abbott Lawrence, who was at one time Minister to England,—is now a resident of Stockbridge, Mass.

5 Mr. Neal was through life a busy writer of poetry and prose. He was born Oct. 25, 1793, and died June 20. 1876. In early life, while in Europe, he lived for a time with Jeremy Bentham, an association which brought him into relations with the Benthamites, particularly the Austins. Mr. Neal, not long before his death, thus wrote with reference to Sumner's visit:‘He appeared with a right royal presence, his countenance characterized by a genuine warmth and great readiness; in a word, it was that of a highly bred, well-informed gentleman of a somewhat older school than I was in the way of meeting.’

6 Hillard gave him a portemonnaie with the inscription, ‘Coelum, non aninum mutant, qui trans mare current.’

7 Horace, I. Ode III. 3.

8 Professor Russell, of Cornell University, writes: ‘I saw him when on his way to Europe; he called at my office in New York, handsomely dressed,—I remember the effect of his fashionable drab overcoat,—erect, easy, conscious of his strength; and when after a short visit he hurried off “ to see,” as he said, “ my man of business,” I felt that he had left childish things behind.’

9 Ante, p. 198.

10 Richard Fletcher, ante, p. 162.

11 The Misses Appleton, afterwards Mrs. Longfellow and Mrs. Mackintosh.

12 Henry D. Gilpin, of Philadelphia, was then Solicitor of the Treasury; John Forsyth, of Georgia, and Levi Woodbury, of New Hampshire, were members of President Van Buren's Cabinet,—the former as Secretary of State, and the latter as Secretary of the Treasury.

13 The omitted part of this letter relates to Dr. Lieber's ‘Political Ethics,’ advising at length as to the revision of the manuscript and mode of publication, and giving an account of what Sumner had done to promote public interest in it, and assurance of a continued care for its success while in Europe.

14 John Munroe, afterwards a banker in Paris.

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