previous next

[351] 1857; spent a year in the Law School at Cambridge; but afterwards left that department of the University for the Scientific School, where he obtained a degree in Mathematics in 1861.

At this period the first trait which impressed a stranger on meeting him was his distinguished physical aspect. Those present at the College Regatta at Springfield, in 1855, will remember the admiration excited by the picked crew of the Harvard four-oar, the ‘Y. Y.’ composed of John and Langdon Erving, Alexander Agassiz, and Stephen Perkins. Three of these young men, including Stephen, were over six feet in height, and all were in the finest condition, according to the standard of training in those early days. Discouraged at the very first stroke pulled, by the breaking of the ‘stretcher’ of the strokeoar, they yet rowed a stern-race with perseverance so admirable, that they lacked but three or four seconds of victory, being then beaten only by the six-oar of their own University. To this result, as I am since told by one of the crew, the peculiar imperturbability of Perkins's temperament greatly contributed. He had an aversion to ‘spurts,’ and believed in a certain total of effort, to which it made no sort of difference whether his opponents were in sight or out of sight. This coolness of habit characterized his whole physical nature. He was not light, agile, nor adroit; but to whatever undertaking he addressed his rather indolent strength, that work was done.

And his beauty of face was as characteristic as that of his figure. The highest point attained, twenty years since, by American miniature-painting, in the judgment of many connoisseurs both in this country and in Europe, was a likeness of Stephen Perkins taken by Staigg about 1843. None who have ever seen it can forget the charm of those dark-blue eyes, that fresh complexion, and that open smile,—traits of boyish beauty which he always retained.

But the peculiar charm of this stately mien lay, after all, in something undefinable, a certain type of temperament, a sensation of tranquil strength, of indefinite resources, of reserved power. What he accomplished seemed far less than the victories

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.
Springfield (Massachusetts, 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.
Stephen Perkins (3)
Staigg (1)
Langdon Erving (1)
Alexander Agassiz (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.
1861 AD (1)
1857 AD (1)
1855 AD (1)
1843 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: