IMPEACHMENT IS DEAD! LONG LIVE IMPEACHMENT
WHEN on November 21st the Representatives and Senators returned once more to Washington, Charles Sumner, of course, came with them, but Mrs. Sumner did not accompany him. After a few weeks in their Boston home in Hancock Street she had gone on to Lenox,--not to return. Less than a year of Charles Sumner had been more than adequate.1 Perhaps she had tired of his bland, complacent smile; perhaps his enthusiastic self- esteem had wearied her; perhaps she grew fatigued from hearing of his early social conquests in England.2 Or it may be that his "luxuriant platform manner,"3 his lack of any emotional qualities,4 and his pedantry had bored her. "These people forget that I am a cistern and require time to fill up,"5 he once had said,--perhaps she couldn't wait, or it may be that just the continuous observation of that humorless face that had so tempted Preston Brooks, was too much for Mrs. Sumner. Whatever the reasons were, she had had enough. Would that the United States had had a similar discernment!
And so Sumner and his fellow statesmen now returned. Were it not for the harm they wrought, one would be tempted to laugh at their complacent self-esteem and their unfounded pretensions to patriotism, philanthropy and statesmanship. "Great leaders like Sumner and Conkling," however, as Henry Adams has well written, "could not be burlesqued . . . their egotism and factiousness were no laughing matter."6
Johnson's enemies had sat all summer to fill twelve hundred octavo pages full of that which they called testimony. With tireless effort to find something with which they could besmirch and then impeach him, ninety-five witnesses had been examined.7 Once more their dragnets had been spread. Prisons were ransacked, the household of the President was investigated and his