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Chapter 53: New home in Washington.—retaliation again.—a New York senator.—impeachment of the President.—sacredness of the public debt.—resumption of specie payments.—the national election of 1868.—fourth election to the senate.—the fifteenth amendment.—the senator's ‘works.’ 1867-1869.

As Sumner left for Washington in November, 1867, he bade a final adieu to the paternal home in Boston, 20 Hancock Street, where he had lived since its purchase by his father in 1830. During the last weeks he was engaged in sorting family papers and clearing the house for its new proprietor. This was not a cheery task; and as he went through it, his thoughts were on his recent domestic calamity. To Longfellow he said: ‘I have buried from this house my father, my mother, a brother and sister; and now I am leaving it, the deadest of them all.’1 From that time, when in the city, his lodgings were at the Coolidge House, Bowdoin Square,—two rooms of quite moderate size on the third floor in the rear. His breakfast was served there, but he dined at the Union Club or with friends. By the death of his mother, whose estate was equally divided between him and his sister Mrs. Hastings, his property, already about forty thousand dollars, chiefly derived from inheritance, was increased to one hundred thousand dollars. He bought a house in Washington in the spring of 1867 for thirty thousand dollars; he had fifty thousand dollars invested in securities and yielding an income, and the residue consisted of pictures, bric-a-brac, and. furniture. He made no considerable addition to his estate for the remainder of his life, except in the increased value of his house and his investments in pictures, partly paid for by his fees as a lecturer. [338]

The senator's house in Washington2 was for the remainder of his life to be his home. The site was then the most attractive in the city. It stood on a corner, well exposed to sunlight, looking out on Lafayette Park, and across the park to the Executive Mansion, convenient for reaching the departments and the foreign legations. Just before Christmas, 1867, he moved into it,—taking the step with some hesitation, partly related to his domestic trouble and partly to the expense of housekeeping, which he feared was beyond his means, but yielding to advice from Mr. Hooper, who was very desirous that he should occupy it. He wrote, December 13, to his friend J. B. Smith: ‘It is a large house for a solitary person. I am now in the midst of preparation. This is something of a job for one inexperienced in such things. I am to examine carpets to-day.’ Smith in Boston and Wormley in Washington, both of the race which he had served, assisted him in purchases of stores, the hire of servants, and other arrangements. Some furniture came from the old family house, and later arrived from Boston his personal souvenirs, marbles, bronzes, engravings, and books,—‘household companions,’ as he called them. Gradually the rooms became home-like; but it was some months before the furnishing was completed. The dinnig-room, library, and drawing-room were below, but he and his guests remained in this story only at meals or for a few moments after. His time was passed chiefly on the second floor, in a large room in the centre taken for his study, —opening into his bedroom at one end, whence the Executive Mansion was visible, and into the guest chamber at the other. The walls of each room—even the doors and the hall as well were covered with paintings, engravings, and photographs, many of them having a personal or historical interest. Bronzes and vases, with here and there a piece of sculpture, filled each nook and niche. In the study, tables, chairs, shelves, and floor were piled with books and documents, which it was necessary to disturb in order to find a seat for a visitor.3 In one corner, the [339] one farthest from his chamber, was his desk, above which, on a shelf, were kept five books,—Harvey's Shakespeare and Hazlitt's Select British Poets (both bought with college prize-money), Roget's Thesaurus, fickey's Constitution, and the Rules and Usages of the Senate. On his desk, always littered with papers, lay a Bible, the gift of Mr. Seward's daughter.4 In a movable bookcase within reach were Webster's and Worcester's dictionaries, Allibone's Dictionary of Authors, and Smith's Classical dictionaries. Near the door of his bedroom, against the wall, was his secretary's desk.

During his visit to Europe in 1858-1859 he had secured for himself a costly collection of books, often richly bound, missals, manuscripts and autographs of celebrated persons, and authors' copies of their own works with corrections by themselves for a new edition.5 Among these were Madame de Pompadour's copy of Cicero's Letters to Atticus; Milton's Pindar; Melancthon's Aulus Gellius; Erasmus's St. Luke, with original pen-and-ink designs by Holbein on the margins; Bunyan's Bible; Dryden's Greek exercise-book studied by the poet when a boy at the Westminster School; Voltaire's tragedy of Mahomet, with his corrections; Pope's Essay on Man, with his revision in ink for a new edition; a gift copy of Thomson's Spring, with verses in the author's handwriting on the titlepage; Dr. Parr's Hobbes;6 and books which had belonged to Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth, a doge of Venice, Ben Jonson, Wordsworth, Turgot, and Napoleon. With these were autographs of reformers, popes, kings, statesmen, poets; and choicest of all to Sumner was the Album kept at Geneva, 1608-1640, in which Milton had recorded his name, an extract from Comus, and a line of Horace.7 [340] Quaritch and other dealers in curiosities in London and Paris, as well as Sypher in New York, found in him a customer who rarely questioned their prices. He bought a large number of oil paintings, chiefly in Washington and Boston,—some well done and others quite indifferent, paying extravagant prices, and being easily imposed upon as to value and artist.8 He had a large number of engravings,—for these he had a better eye than for paintings,—many of them from the old French masters.9 His bronzes were from the well-known Paris house of Barbedienne. His fancy led him to clocks, vases, and porcelain. His gratification of his tastes in the way of rare books, autographs, and works of art must have cost him twenty thousand dollars, a fifth of all he had.

Lonely as he was, without wife or sister as companion, he nevertheless found satisfaction in his new mode of living. At the age of fifty-seven he was now for the first time dwelling in his own house, arranged just as he would have it. There came to him a sense of freedom as well as of proprietorship in his surroundings. He enjoyed the ample space, the opportunity to reciprocate hospitality, the companionship of pictures, books, and souvenirs which met his eye at every glance. He delighted to escort visitors, friends or strangers, through his rooms, pointing out his treasures, naming artist and period, reticent however as to cost and pedigree. If connoisseurs, they sympathized too much with his pride of possession to question the authenticity of any painting which was attributed to some famous Dutch or Italian artist. Among his callers to whom he showed his treasures were Dr. Holmes and Mr. Winthrop; but the larger number were undistinguished or quite young persons, who will ever recall his kindly welcome and his enthusiasm as he passed from one picture or old book or autograph to another.

A few friends occupied his guest chamber,—Dr. Palfrey, E. L. Pierce, Dr. S. G. Howe, G. W. Greene, J. B. Smith, and M. Milmore,—while [341] Emerson, Whittier, Agassiz, Bemis, G. W. Curtis, and James A. Hamilton received invitations which they were unable to accept. To Whittier he wrote: ‘It will be a delight and a solace to me if I know that you are under my roof.’ he kept aloof from parties, but he could now return the courtesies which he had been receiving as a bachelor.10 Members of the diplomatic corps were often at his round table. He was catholic in his relations with men, and his guests were of no one political class. Caleb Cushing was perhaps oftener with him than any one, and William Beach Lawrence, whenever he was in Washington, was invited. In February of his first winter in the house,

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