that their best passages became fixed in his memory, and were ever after available for use. His facility in remembering and quoting choice extracts—too great, perhaps—was thus early developed.
He stood among the best in forensics.
In history and belles lettres
he was also among the foremost.
An illustration of his industry in this department may here be given.
The students attending Professor Ticknor
's lectures were each provided with a printed syllabus of leading dates and events.
attended, in his Sophomore year, the French
course, beginning Jan. 21, and ending March 22, 1828.
After each lecture, he wrote out from brief memoranda full notes, to which he added an index, the whole filling a book of one hundred and fifty pages.1
The lectures are reported with such clearness and fulness, and such fidelity to the instructor's style, that they might be now read with advantage to a class.
, hearing of the notes, requested Sumner
's father to send them to him. On returning them, July 7, 1828, he wrote: ‘I return your son's notes, with many thanks.
They have gratified me very much, for I am always pleased when I find a student disposed to get as much out of me as he can. If your son continues as diligent as he has been, he will go far in the ways of reputation and success.’
The student was encouraged by the teacher's praise, and his taste for Continental literature was stimulated at this early period by the instructions of this accomplished scholar.
But while succeeding in these branches, he entirely failed in mathematics.
He had no faculty for the science, and he became disheartened and disgusted with the study.
The elective system had not then been introduced, and there was no escape from the prescribed course.
He is reported by one classmate to have said that he had not cut the leaves of some of the text-books in this department.2
His difficulty extended, of course, more or less, to applied mathematics under whatever name.
With downright frankness he said, one day, in the recitation-room, to the professor who was pursuing him with questions, ‘I don't know; you know I don't pretend to know any thing about mathematics.’
Quickly, but good-humoredly, the professor replied, getting the laugh on the pupil, ‘Sumner
Mathematics! mathematics! ’