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‘ [48] Don't you know the difference? This is not mathematics. This is physics.’ His failure in mathematics lowered very much his general standing, and excluded any hope of successful competition for the higher parts. If, when entering college, he aspired, as there is reason to believe, to high rank in his class, he soon gave up any ambition of this kind. He studied well such text-books as he liked, neglecting the rest. If he did not outrank others in the appointed studies, he had no rival in his devotion to miscellaneous literature. He delighted in Scott's novels, but most of all in Shakspeare, from whom he was perpetually quoting in conversation and letters. No student of his class, when he left college, had read as widely. His memory, both of thought and language, was remarkable; and he imitated with ease an author's style. Most of Sumner's classmates do not appear to have anticipated for him more than ordinary success in life; but those who knew him best were impressed with his love of books, and with something in his tone and manner which gave assurance that he would ‘make his mark in the world.’ This feeling grew stronger near the end of his college course, and particularly after the announcement of his successful competition for a Bowdoin prize.

Early in his Senior1 year he provided himself with a common-place-book. He copied into it extracts from authors and condensed statements of their narrations or opinions. The larger number are from the ‘Retrospective Review,’ a London magazine, first issued in 1820, and devoted chiefly to early English literature. Some are from Sir John Beaumont's Elegy on the ‘Lady Marquesse of Winchester,’ printed in Chalmers's ‘English Poets;’ Massinger's ‘Fatal Dowry;’ Marston's ‘Antonio and Mellida,’ and ‘What You Will;’ Sir Thomas Browne's ‘Vulgar and Common Errors;’ Butler's ‘Reminiscences;’ Southey's ‘Book of the Church;’ Scott's ‘Stories taken from Scottish History,’ and his ‘Life of Swift;’ and Bulwer's ‘Paul Clifford.’ He enjoyed at this time the old English writers, particularly the dramatists. He wrote in his commonplace-book brief sketches (drawing the material chiefly from the ‘Retrospective Review’) of Owen Feltham, John Marston, James Howell, Thomas Fuller, Sir John Suckling, and Robert South.

1 In his Senior year (Sept. 26, 1829), he gave to the College library a copy of Homer, printed in 1531, the first of a series of contributions which ended with his bequest of one-half of his estate and his library and autographs.

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