previous next
[56] 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.’

Sumner 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.’2

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

1 Curiously enough, Macaulay's article on ‘Milton,’ published in 1825, is referred to in the dissertation, without its author being known, as ‘the apotheosis of the Puritans in the pages of one of the British journals.’

2 Speech at the Plymouth Festival, Aug. 1, 1853. Works, Vol. III. pp. 269-275.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New England (United States) (2)
Plymouth Rock (New York, United States) (1)
Finger Point (Texas, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Charles Sumner (3)
Benjamin R. Curtis (2)
Charlemagne Tower (1)
George Ticknor (1)
John Pickering (1)
John G. Palfrey (1)
Milton (1)
Macaulay (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 1st, 1853 AD (1)
1825 AD (1)
August (1)
June (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: