record of the previous meeting, which he had prepared.
It gives a humorous account of a ‘bore,’ who, by his presence, had unconsciously obstructed for a while a meeting of ‘The Nine;’ and notes the attitude of two members, who lay during the evening on the bed, ‘like Abelard and Eloisa on their monument.’
competed for the Bowdoin prize in his Senior year, the subject being, ‘The Present Character of the Inhabitants of New England
, as Resulting from the Civil, Literary, and Religious Institutions of the First Settlers.’
In June, he sent in his dissertation, signed, ‘A Son of New England
;’ and, in August, received the second prize of thirty dollars. The committee of award were John Pickering
, George Ticknor
, and Rev. John G. Palfrey
The tradition is that Sumner
's dissertation suffered in the comparison from its great length.
Its style, while well-formed, lacks the felicity of expression and fastidiousness in the choice of language which mark his compositions in mature life.
In method, it is manly and serious, never trivial, but wanting in condensation.
He was, as a living classmate remarks, too ‘full of matter.’
His citations and extracts show that he left nothing unread which could illustrate the subject, and that his reading in English literature was beyond that of most undergraduates.
On the whole, the dissertation, while creditable to his industry and thoughtfulness, does not foreshadow a distinguished career as a writer.
Although doing justice to the Puritans in many respects, he dwells with some impatience on their narrowness and religious eccentricities.1
Later in life, when dealing with the great issues of right and duty, he looked with a kindlier eye on even the rugged and imperfect features of their character.
Among the many tributes which grateful patriotism has paid to their memory in recent years, none is warmer and more sympathetic than his ‘Finger-Point
from Plymouth Rock
Two first prizes were given for dissertations on this subject,— one to his classmate Tower
, and the other to Benjamin R. Curtis
, who was then a member of the Law School, and afterwards became distinguished as a lawyer and judge.
In the case of Curtis
, more than in Sumner
's, the style of manhood agrees with that of