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Sumner's Works

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i rom the Christian Union : Vico President Wilson has givea a touching account of one of his last conversations with Senator Suniner, in which the latter remarked that if only his works were finished trad the Civil Rights bill were passcd, no visitor could enter his door who would be more welcotne than death. Everybody knows what the Senator meant by the Civil Rights bill ; but it muy not be known to everybody that by his woiks he meant a complete and most carefully prepared edition of his writingt, in 12 volumes, on which hehad been ngtiged for several years, and whioh at the time of his death had reached, in publication, the eighth volume. His last literary occupation was in revising some of the proof-aheets of the ninth. Th ree years ago Mr. Sumner êxplained to the present writer the method he was pursuug in supervising this re-print. He had Sxed upon a standard of absolute accuraoy, both in the substance and in the forni of his writiugs ; and in order to attain ;his he had secured the oo-operation of Mr. Nichols, of Cambridge, a scholar of whose immense acquirements and almost infallible precisión he always spoke with enthusiasru. Mr. Sumner's plan was to arrange the materials for each volume in chronological order, and then to revise each piece with the utmost attentiou. - The copy was then placed in the hands of the printer, ' who delivered the proot' to Mr. Nichols. Under his eye, each sentenee was subjeoted to au ordeal ef critical lire. The propriety of every word was considerad ; the correctness of every statement was tested ; every quotation was verified ; and so far as possible the unpitying objections of all future faultfinders were antioipated. After each batch of proof-sheets had thus undergone Mr. Nichol's pitiless handling, it was sent on to Mr. Sumner for consideration ; and he, in the midst of his books, finally decided upon each point which Mr. Nichols had raised. The proof-sheets, thus gashed and bluckened with innumerable excisions and amendments, went back to the printer ; and when he had executed the changes required, the new proofs passed under the eyes of an accouiplished professional proof-reader, and at last under those of Mr. Nichols once more. After all this, Mr. Sumner was satisfied that his writings would be given to the world as free trom faults of every sort - historical literary, grammatical, and typographical - as the most scrupulous scholarship and the most unrelaxing industry could secure. To some persons all this labor would have been vexatious and even intolerable. To him it was a positiva delight. He had the true scholar's love of perfection in intellectual workman.-hip, and this nice microscopio finish of his productions gratified his artistic taste and ambition. It was even a relief to him froni the heavy tasks of public life, and froni the harsh commotions of politics. We were often with him in his study late at night and in the early morning, during the tremendous battles of the Santo Domingo discussion three years ago ; and he told us that he found it an exquisita solace to come away from the hot wranglings of the Senate and to bury himself in the serene occupation of proof-reading, in chasing down a quotation, or in following a tact to its lair. It was a comfort to him also to pass thus from the furious denunciations of his living con temporaries back nto the writings which recalled to him the equally furious denunciations of his dead contemporaries, and to reflect that the foriner would probably very soon seem as harmless and as unimportant as did the atter. His regret at leaving this marvelous literary task unfinished, was a genuine and a bitter one. Such sorrow aelongs ouly to uncommon souls, but it s none the less acute. When Henry Thomas Buclde met death at Damascus, ie had but one exclamation, but it was 'uil of agony - " O, my book, I shall never finish my book !" For both it was a disappointment as keen as the heart can know.


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