‘Of all my classmates,’ said Sumner, in a tribute to Browne at the time of his death, in 1860, ‘I think he gave in college the largest promise of future eminence; mingled, however, with uncertainty whether the waywardness of genius might not betray him. None then imagined that the fiery nature, nursed upon the study of Byron, and delighting always to talk of his poetry and life, would be tamed to the modest ways which he afterwards adopted. The danger seemed to be, that, like his prototype, he would break loose from social life, and follow the bent of lawless ambition, or, at least, plunge with passion into the strifes of the world. His earnestness at this time bordered on violence, and in all his opinions he was a partisan. But he was already thinker as well as reader, and expressed himself with accuracy and sententious force. Voice harmonizes with character, and his was too apt to be ungentle and loud. They who have known him only latterly will be surprised at this glimpse of him in early life. A change so complete in sentiment, manner, and voice as took place in him, I have never known. It seemed like one of those instances in Christian story, where the man of violence is softened suddenly into a saintly character. I do not exaggerate in the least. So much have I been impressed by it at times, that I could hardly believe in his personal identity, and I have recalled the good Fra Cristoforo, in the exquisite romance of Manzoni, to prove that the simplest life of unostentatious goodness may succeed a youth hot with passion of all kinds.’1Stearns was the grandson of Rev. Jonathan French, of Andover, whose care for Sumner's father as a boy has already been mentioned. Formerly a clergyman in Newburyport, he is now the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Newark, N. J. He took high rank in college, and has fulfilled his early promise. Hopkinson received the highest honors in the class. He was as a student quite mature, and was older than most of his classmates. He practised law in Lowell, became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and was afterwards president of the Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation. He died in 1856. Tower practised law for a time, and then diverged from the profession. He removed to Pottsville, Pa., and has been identified with the management of railroads. Sumner was one of the youngest members of his class. With the advantage of the thorough discipline of the Latin School, he took rank among its best classical scholars. He excelled in translations, and entered into the spirit of the authors so sympathetically
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1 Works, Vol. V. pp. 236-239.
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