It is too much in fashion to depreciate the abilities and to misrepresent the actions of Napoleon. All the criminalities and missteps of a life of great temptation and power have been raked up against him, while the innumerable benefits he conferred upon his country, and the glorious actions he performed, have all been forgotten. . . . Yet this man, who could lead an army on to victory, organize the government of a great nation, form and digest the Code Napoleon,—this man, whose works are not written upon leaves which can be scattered by the winds, but indelibly stamped on the whole face of Europe and of the age in which he lived,—this man has been denied the possession of high intellectual powers!At the Commencement, Aug. 25, 1830, twenty-four of the forty-eight members of his class were awarded parts. The highest honors were borne by Hopkinson, Stearns, Tower, and Andrews. Sumner's was an inferior part, not equal to his general ability or merits as a scholar, nor what his classmates thought he deserved, but all that his standing in the regular course strictly admitted. He was one of four in a conference on ‘The Roman Ceremonies, the System of the Druids, the Religion of the Hindoos, and the Superstition of the American Indians.’ The different systems were set forth in their order by ‘John Bryant, of Boston, Isaac A. Jewett, of Columbus, Ohio, John B. Kerr, of Talbot County, Md., and Charles Sumner, of Boston.’ Sumner treated with sympathy and respect the religious belief of the Indians. He wrote on his manuscript that the programme had miscalled the part, which should have been ‘The Religious Notions of the North American Indians.’ He seems to have been somewhat sensitive about his part. Anticipating his place on the programme, he had proposed to decline in advance any share in the public exercises of Commencement. His father interfered with an earnest protest against this course. ‘You have gained,’ he wrote to his son, May 16, 1830, ‘credit by the parts you have performed; and I do not doubt you could sustain your reputation amid any competition. You have never been associated with any but honorable compeers on exhibition days, and the esteem in which the Faculty hold you is to me a source of satisfaction.’ The next day, his father wrote to President Quincy,
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