being called before the Faculty for any impropriety, and only one instance in which the Parietal Board took him in hand; and that was more for a joke on his part than any thing serious. In the Junior year I had a room in the same entry with his,—the north entry of Stoughton Hall. Mine was in the second story, and his at the head of the stairs in the third story. Of course, I then saw more of him than at any previous time in the college course. We were often in each other's rooms. He was always engaged in his studies, or more frequently spending his time in general reading; indeed, his greatest pleasure seemed to be found in attending to his favorite studies,—works relating to the humanities or the arts. He was generally ready to play a game of chess, or take a turn at foils, in both which he was sure to come out first. Many a time have I known him to rush down to my room and begin a speech, in which he would introduce quotations from Virgil, Horace, and Juvenal. He had many parts of those authors at his tongue's end, and his quotations from them were always accurate; and, if they were quoted by others, he would detect the least inaccuracy. I recollect accompanying him to an ecclesiastical council (ex parte), held in the old court-house in Cambridge, and convened for the purpose of dismissing the Rev. Dr. Holmes. Mr. Samuel Hoar, a distinguished lawyer of Concord, was counsel for the party opposed to Dr. Holmes. Never having heard him in a set speech, Sumner and myself went for the purpose of hearing his plea, in which he quoted the familiar verse, “ Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.” But, instead of in illis, he said cum illis. Sumner was greatly disturbed by this slight lapse of the tongue or memory; and, turning to me, said, “ A man ought to be ashamed who quotes an author and does not quote correctly.” I heard him repeat the expression cum illis several times afterwards, intimating that he knew better than to use the wrong word in quoting from Latin or Greek. Sumner was a person of remarkable readiness and self-possession. As to the former, I have no doubt that even then, if called upon to make a speech when he least expected it, he would not have been disturbed as most other persons would have been, but would have acquitted himself creditably. I do not remember any instance of this, but I have no doubt he could have done it. As to the latter,—self-possession,—it seems to have been a trait which he inherited from his father, who, when Sheriff of Suffolk County, was called upon to read the riot act, on occasion of a riot in the Federal-Street Theatre. It is said he coolly went upon the stage, and read it amidst a shower of brick-bats. The son was like him in that respect. He seemed as much at home in declaiming on public declamation days as if speaking a piece in his own room. To me, and to many, public declamation days were a terror; and it always seemed a mystery to me how he could be so cool while I trembled like an aspen-leaf. From my first acquaintance with Sumner until I left Cambridge, in December, 1835, to assume the charge of a parish in the Episcopal Church, he was always careful to lead an exemplary and blameless life, full of kindly feelings and ready to say a pleasant word to all; and punctilious in all the proprieties which refined society is accustomed to observe. . . . I do not remember to
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.