(June 20, 1837). Being an only child for nearly ten years may have tended to make him sober-minded and serious beyond his years.
His mother wished him to be a minister, and he was offered a scholarship in Tufts College when he was about twenty, but he declined, as he did not feel that he was fitted for that profession.
But some very precocious religious meditations, written at the age of eight, show that, for a time, at least, his mother had very fertile ground to work upon.
He had a fondness for standing on the church steps near his home and preaching, with any book he could get hold of for a Bible.
One day, when he was much younger than eight, he took his father's new dictionary to preach from, but, becoming interested in something else, he left the book on the steps, where he forgot all about it. A long rain followed, much to the damage of the dictionary.
He could be as mischievous as other children, and once gave the teacher of the first school he attended so much trouble that she shut him up in the kindling closet, and, forgetting all about him, was locking up to go home for the night, when his mother came to look for him, as it was past the hour for his return.
The frightened teacher hastened to open the door, and there he lay, fast asleep.
His first public speech before any considerable audience was on the occasion of his first attendance at church.
As he became restless, he was allowed to stand up on the pew seat, and was given his mother's fan. Soon, loud enough to be plainly heard, and holding up the fan, he said: ‘See, mamma, I make it into two pieces!’
When very small, he was taken on a long drive to visit relatives in Vermont
Seeing a squirrel run across the road, he was sure it must be a bear, and wanted his father to get him a gun to shoot it with.
When older grown he was very fond of a gun, and of shooting at a target, and became a very good marksman.
As a young man he was athletic.
He attended the gymnasium of Dr. Winship
, and was once able to lift a weight of 1,000 pounds,