The third, beginning with an extract from Shakspeare
, contains a full narrative of the suicide of a student, who shot himself ‘about a third of a mile from the colleges, on the Craigie Road
, about where the bushes are.’
It moralizes on the evil courses and fatalistic notions of the young man, and the rather heroic style which he affected in the fatal deed.
‘There is more of the old Roman
in his end than in that of any suicide since the days of Cato
How differently is he now regarded from what he would have been, if he had lived in those days when self-murder was admired and considered the most noble exit from the earthly stage!’
These three letters of Sumner
, the earliest preserved, do not distinguish his correspondence from that of most undergraduates.
The frequent quotations which appear in them are alone suggestive of a habit of his life.
His pertinacity in his opinions and purposes was then a prominent feature of his character.
His classmate, Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Emery
Sumner was not in the habit of changing his opinions or purposes.
He adhered to them as long as he could.
If he had an idea that A and B stood the highest of any in the class, nothing could change his opinion except their having the third or fourth part at Commencement.
If he appointed a certain evening to go into Boston, he would go even in a violent snow-storm.
Being a lover of truth, if he conceived he had reached the truth on any subject,—e. g. the slavery question,—he would not yield to the exigency of the times, or to any authority, however high.
His persistency in whatever he undertook was immovable.
It is well illustrated by an incident which occurred, I believe, in the Sophomore year.
The incident related by Dr. Emery
was this: The college rules at this time prescribed an undergraduate's uniform dress; and, as one of the details, a waistcoat of ‘black-mixed, or black; or, when of cotton or linen fabric, of white.’
wore a buff-colored waistcoat, which encountered the observation of the ‘Parietal Board.’
He maintained that it was white, or nearly enough so to comply with the rule.
He persisted in his position, and was summoned several times to appear for disobedience; but to no purpose.
The Board, wearied with the controversy,