The penmanship is elaborate in the early part, but less careful towards the end. The events are succinctly narrated, in good English
, and dates are given, with the year and often with the month and day. With a boy's humor he begins with this title: ‘A Chronological Compendium of English History, by Charles Sumner
This abstract, probably begun at his father's suggestion, was a discipline in composition and study, which prepared the way for larger acquisitions.
In 1826, when fifteen years old, he read Gibbon
's History, copying at the same time the extracts which pleased him. Some of these he re-copied into a commonplace-book, which he began in his Senior year in college.
His inquisitive mind sought knowledge as well in conversation as in books; and he plied with many questions travelled persons and his father's friends who had served as army officers in the unsettled territory of the West
This trait survived boyhood, and he always listened well to those who could tell him aught worthy of note that they had seen or heard.
As a boy he was little given to sports.
It is remembered that he was rarely seen playing with his mates.
He was not addicted to games.
Once he was sent, with his twin sister and his brother Albert, to a dancing-school, but while enjoying well enough the sight of others engaged in the pastime, he had no fancy for sharing in it himself, and soon ceased to attend.
Other boys of the same school met out of school hours, on playgrounds or at their father's houses, but he was seen chiefly at the school.
Swimming was the sport which he enjoyed most.
While thoughtful and somewhat reserved, he was in no respect severe or unsympathetic.
He was liked by his fellows, relished fun in a quiet way, and laughed heartily at a good story.
He was never vulgar or profane.
His aesthetic as well as his moral nature repelled indecency and irreverence.
Soon after he entered the Latin School, a classmate of rather diminutive size was attempting a juvenile oath, when Charles called the attention of the boys and turned the laugh on him, by saying, with a comical expression of face, ‘Hear little——. He says “damn.”
’ The rebuke sufficed.
His features were at this time strongly marked, and were less attractive than in later years.
He was slender and tall.
He did not carry himself easily, and, as the phrase is, did not know what to do with his limbs.
It was the habit of the boys