in company, and his laugh was loud and hearty.
But, whatever were his physical characteristics, there was a charm in his perfect simplicity and naturalness, his absolute sincerity of heart, his enthusiasm and scholarly ambition, his kindness to fellows-students, his respect for older people, his friendliness for all,— qualities which never fail to win interest and affection.
Many who knew him in early days, parted afterwards by divergent tastes or sharp political antagonisms, now recall the memory of this period only to speak pleasantly and even tenderly of him.
The beginning of his studies in the Law School marks a distinct transition in Sumner
's early life.
To the classmates who were nearest to him in sympathy he frankly confessed his ambition.
It had, while in college and the year after, been stirred by the great names of history; but, until he decided to study at the Law School, it was vague and unsettled.
Having chosen his profession, the jurist
became his ideal.
He aspired to know the law as a science, and not merely to follow it as a lucrative occupation.
Such names as those of Grotius
, Pothier, Mansfield
, and Blackstone
dwelt much in his thoughts.
Fascinated by Story
's learning and fame, he looked probably to the bench or the professor's chair as the highest reward of his unwearied toils.1
He entered on his chosen study with the greatest ardor and enthusiasm.
To a classmate he wrote of the law as ‘a noble profession, an immense field.’
He husbanded his time, and grudged every moment of diversion.
Early and late at his books, limiting personal associations to a narrow circle, abstaining from needful recreation even in vacations, chary of evenings spared for amusements, and only yielding to the attractions of some eminent actor, he devoted himself to his studies, not only during the day and evening, but prolonged them past midnight till two in the morning,—his usual hour of retiring.
Once, when poring over his books, he was startled by the janitor's tread and the breaking daylight.
He knew the place of each book in the library so well, that he could readily find it in the dark.
No monk ever kept his vigils with more absorbing devotion.
The tone of his letters changed perceptibly at this time; no longer light and sportive as before, they are altogether serious, and relate chiefly to his studies, with only brief references to the incidents of college life and tidings from classmates.