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,  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:— 
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  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.  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,  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  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.Mrs. Greenleaf added a postscript:—One morn I miss'd him at the customed court (scil. Law Library),I am almost tempted to murder the rest of Gray's “Elegy,” and apply the epitaph, mutatis mutandis.
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.Thus left his home to wander o'er the earth. . . 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.
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.
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  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.