Chapter 4: College Life.—September, 1826, to September, 1830.—age, 15-19.
began his studies as a Freshman at Harvard College, Sept. 1, 1826.1
Its undergraduates, now increased to more than eight hundred, numbered at that period not quite two hundred. Rev. John T. Kirkland
was the president.
Among the professors were Edward T. Channing
in rhetoric, George Ticknor
in French and Spanish literature, John S. Popkin
, George Otis
in Latin, Levi Hedge
in logic and metaphysics, and John Farrar
in mathematics and natural philosophy.
was the instructor in French and Spanish, and Charles Follen
in German and the civil law. Of the corps of teachers then in service, none survive.
In 1829, Josiah Quincy
succeeded Dr. Kirkland
in the presidency of the college.
occupied, in his Freshman year, the room numbered 17 Hollis Hall; in his Sophomore and Junior years, 12 Stoughton
; and in his Senior, 23 Holworthy.
This last room, of which the ceiling has since been raised, is situated in the fourth story, and contains two dormitories and one study-room.
Holworthy had superior accommodations, and was at that time reserved chiefly for Seniors.
The classmates with whom he associated most were John W. Browne
, of Salem
, his chum in the Sophomore and Senior years; Jonathan F. Stearns
, of Bedford
, his chum in the Freshman year; Thomas Hopkinson
, of New Sharon, Me.
; and Charlemagne Tower
, of Paris, N. Y.
Of these, only Stearns
studied law, opening an office in Salem
, and afterwards removing to Boston
His mind and character were of an original cast, and he made a strong impression on the friends who knew
was in closer intimacy with him at this period than with any other companion, and felt the spell of his peculiar character and temperament.
‘Of all my classmates,’ said Sumner, in a tribute to Browne at the time of his death, in 1860, ‘I think he gave in college the largest promise of future eminence; mingled, however, with uncertainty whether the waywardness of genius might not betray him. None then imagined that the fiery nature, nursed upon the study of Byron, and delighting always to talk of his poetry and life, would be tamed to the modest ways which he afterwards adopted.
The danger seemed to be, that, like his prototype, he would break loose from social life, and follow the bent of lawless ambition, or, at least, plunge with passion into the strifes of the world.
His earnestness at this time bordered on violence, and in all his opinions he was a partisan.
But he was already thinker as well as reader, and expressed himself with accuracy and sententious force.
Voice harmonizes with character, and his was too apt to be ungentle and loud.
They who have known him only latterly will be surprised at this glimpse of him in early life.
A change so complete in sentiment, manner, and voice as took place in him, I have never known.
It seemed like one of those instances in Christian story, where the man of violence is softened suddenly into a saintly character.
I do not exaggerate in the least.
So much have I been impressed by it at times, that I could hardly believe in his personal identity, and I have recalled the good Fra Cristoforo, in the exquisite romance of Manzoni, to prove that the simplest life of unostentatious goodness may succeed a youth hot with passion of all kinds.’3
was the grandson of Rev. Jonathan French
, of Andover
, whose care for Sumner
's father as a boy has already been mentioned.
Formerly a clergyman in Newburyport
, he is now the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Newark, N. J.
He took high rank in college, and has fulfilled his early promise.
received the highest honors in the class.
He was as a student quite mature, and was older than most of his classmates.
He practised law in Lowell
, became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and was afterwards president of the Boston and Worcester Railroad Corporation.
He died in 1856.
practised law for a time, and then diverged from the profession.
He removed to Pottsville, Pa.
, and has been identified with the management of railroads.
was one of the youngest members of his class.
With the advantage of the thorough discipline of the Latin School, he took rank among its best classical scholars.
He excelled in translations, and entered into the spirit of the authors so sympathetically
that their best passages became fixed in his memory, and were ever after available for use. His facility in remembering and quoting choice extracts—too great, perhaps—was thus early developed.
He stood among the best in forensics.
In history and belles lettres
he was also among the foremost.
An illustration of his industry in this department may here be given.
The students attending Professor Ticknor
's lectures were each provided with a printed syllabus of leading dates and events.
attended, in his Sophomore year, the French
course, beginning Jan. 21, and ending March 22, 1828.
After each lecture, he wrote out from brief memoranda full notes, to which he added an index, the whole filling a book of one hundred and fifty pages.4
The lectures are reported with such clearness and fulness, and such fidelity to the instructor's style, that they might be now read with advantage to a class.
, hearing of the notes, requested Sumner
's father to send them to him. On returning them, July 7, 1828, he wrote: ‘I return your son's notes, with many thanks.
They have gratified me very much, for I am always pleased when I find a student disposed to get as much out of me as he can. If your son continues as diligent as he has been, he will go far in the ways of reputation and success.’
The student was encouraged by the teacher's praise, and his taste for Continental literature was stimulated at this early period by the instructions of this accomplished scholar.
But while succeeding in these branches, he entirely failed in mathematics.
He had no faculty for the science, and he became disheartened and disgusted with the study.
The elective system had not then been introduced, and there was no escape from the prescribed course.
He is reported by one classmate to have said that he had not cut the leaves of some of the text-books in this department.5
His difficulty extended, of course, more or less, to applied mathematics under whatever name.
With downright frankness he said, one day, in the recitation-room, to the professor who was pursuing him with questions, ‘I don't know; you know I don't pretend to know any thing about mathematics.’
Quickly, but good-humoredly, the professor replied, getting the laugh on the pupil, ‘Sumner
Don't you know the difference?
This is not mathematics
. This is physics
His failure in mathematics lowered very much his general standing, and excluded any hope of successful competition for the higher parts.
If, when entering college, he aspired, as there is reason to believe, to high rank in his class, he soon gave up any ambition of this kind.
He studied well such text-books as he liked, neglecting the rest.
If he did not outrank others in the appointed studies, he had no rival in his devotion to miscellaneous literature.
He delighted in Scott
's novels, but most of all in Shakspeare
, from whom he was perpetually quoting in conversation and letters.
No student of his class, when he left college, had read as widely.
His memory, both of thought and language, was remarkable; and he imitated with ease an author's style.
Most of Sumner
's classmates do not appear to have anticipated for him more than ordinary success in life; but those who knew him best were impressed with his love of books, and with something in his tone and manner which gave assurance that he would ‘make his mark in the world.’
This feeling grew stronger near the end of his college course, and particularly after the announcement of his successful competition for a Bowdoin prize.
Early in his Senior6
year he provided himself with a common-place-book.
He copied into it extracts from authors and condensed statements of their narrations or opinions.
The larger number are from the ‘Retrospective Review,’ a London magazine, first issued in 1820, and devoted chiefly to early English literature.
Some are from Sir John Beaumont
's Elegy on the ‘Lady Marquesse
,’ printed in Chalmers
's ‘English Poets;’ Massinger's ‘Fatal Dowry;’ Marston
's ‘Antonio and Mellida,’ and ‘What You Will;’ Sir Thomas Browne
's ‘Vulgar and Common Errors;’ Butler
's ‘Reminiscences;’ Southey
's ‘Book of the Church
's ‘Stories taken from Scottish History,’ and his ‘Life of Swift
;’ and Bulwer
's ‘Paul Clifford
He enjoyed at this time the old English writers, particularly the dramatists.
He wrote in his commonplace-book brief sketches (drawing the material chiefly from the ‘Retrospective Review’) of Owen Feltham
, John Marston
, James Howell
, Thomas Fuller
, Sir John Suckling
, and Robert South.
The notice of the autobiography of Jerome Cardan
, in the ‘Retrospective Review,’ specially interested him. Some of the extracts from these authors reappear in his subsequent writings and speeches.
One from Beaumont
, copied March 16, 1830, was applied to the Mt. Auburn Cemetery
, in his tribute to Judge Story
One from Marston
O, a faire cause stands firme and will abide.
Legions of angels fight upon her side!—
was introduced, Aug. 22, 1848, in his speech in Faneuil Hall.8
On March 8, 1830, he wrote thus of the ‘Old English Writers:’—
I admire the old English authors.
In them is to be found the pure well of English undefiled.
There is a richness of expression with them to which we moderns are strangers; but, above all, there is a force and directness which constitute their chief merit.
They are copious without being diffuse, and concise without being obscure.
They had not then learned—or, if they had learned, they had not practised—the art of wire-drawing a sentence into a page, and a page into a book.
Learning was then confined to fewer than at present, and consequently there must have been fewer authors.
There were then no would-be authors, who sprung up like mushrooms, and died as soon.
Few attempted to play the part who were not competent to its performance.
They did not write till the spirit within forced them to; and when they did, they wrote with all that energy and expansion of thought which sincerity and earnestness could not fail to give.
Their illustrations and figures are most striking; there is a simplicity, a grandeur, and, withal, a pertinency, about them which we look for in vain amongst the “ exquisites ” of our “degenerate days.”
Their works are not scattered over with flowers, which only serve to deck and adorn them without adding to their strength or clearness.
Their figures rather resemble pillars, which are at once ornaments and supports of the fabric to which they are attached.
Witness the beauty and strength of Shakspeare's allusions, and also those of Jeremy Taylor and Bacon.
The latter of these comes among the last of those who can be numbered in that iron phalanx which we denominate the “old English writers.”
How can we account for this great superiority that they possessed over us in point of real strength and beauty?
It was because they depended more upon their own resources; because they thought.
Yet many of their works are most curious examples of pedantry, which none of the dullest dogs of our dull days could hope to equal even in this particular.
Who has ever produced a work more pedantic and yet more pregnant with sound thought and beautiful allusion than Burton?
His “ Anatomy of Melancholy” is a perfect
mass of pedantry, yet the genius of the author shines like a bright star through the night which would have obscured a luminary of less magnitude.
On Jan. 15, 1830, he copied several extracts from Carlyle
's article on Burns
, in the ‘Edinburgh Review
Not knowing its author, he prefaced his extracts with a note, that in the number ‘is a most elegant article on the life and character of Robert Burns
, the Scotch poet.
It is written with a great deal of force and beauty of imagery, and shows a masterly knowledge of the character it is describing.’
allowed himself but little recreation, much preferring his room and his books.
He took no part in the sports of the Delta
Cards and chess he played, but not often.
Unlike most students with his opportunities, he did not go into society.
He seldom took walks during term-time, except, on Saturday, to visit the family in Boston
A classmate (Dr. Jonathan W. Bemis
) recalls an excursion made with him in the Freshman year, contrary to the regulations, to the Brighton cattle-fair.
The fathers of the two, who also had been classmates, happened to be there together, and met their sons.
This colloquy occurred:—
‘Why, Charles,’ said Sumner
's father, ‘how came you here?’
‘I thought,’ Charles replied, ‘that we could leave without detriment to our studies, and could see how things were going on.’
The fathers advised the sons to return speedily.
's father took young Bemis
aside for the moment, and inquired, ‘How is Charles in mathematics?’
‘Very good indeed, sir,’ said young Bemis
, unwilling to compromise his classmate.
‘I'm glad of it,’ said Mr. Sumner
. ‘He then is doing better than I did; for I let drop the links and lost the chain, and have never been able to take it up again.’
escaped the moral dangers which beset a student's life.
He was never profane, and rarely indulged in expletives of any kind.
He was kindly to all, and took the best view of the conduct and purposes of others.
He was very social, enjoyed pleasantry and good cheer, and was a favorite in his class.10
He had none of the coarseness and indifference to the feelings of others which boys are apt to have, and was quick to beg pardon when he found that he had unconsciously wounded them.
He always relished a happy quotation from an author, suggested by some incident or remark.
When the conversation turned one day on Zerah Colburn
's precocious powers as a mathematician.
he repeated with zest the couplet,—
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
He lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.
As muscular youths delight in a wrestle, he enjoyed the intellectual exercise of a debate with his friends upon vexed questions in literature and history, and sometimes pressed his view aggressively.
Three of his letters while in college are preserved.
They were written in the winter of 1829-30, to his classmate, Stearns
, then teaching a school at Weymouth
Two of them relate in a light mood the incidents and gossip of college life; the affairs of the Hasty-Pudding Club
; its annual meeting, with the oration and poem; its new catalogue, prepared by a committee of which he was a member; the election of Wendell Phillips
as its presi dent; the meetings of ‘The Nine;’ the issue of the new magazine, ‘The Collegian;’ the examination in mathematics; the love-affairs of students; and a trial in which he had heard Samuel Hoar
make ‘a most excellent and ingenious plea.’
The letter of Dec. 12, 1829, begins with a sentence filling nearly a page,—a parody on the style of Dr. Thomas Brown
's ‘Philosophy of the Human Mind
,’ an abridgment of which, by Professor Hedge
, was a text-book for the Senior Class
,—and it closes thus:—
The third, beginning with an extract from Shakspeare
, contains a full narrative of the suicide of a student, who shot himself ‘about a third of a mile from the colleges, on the Craigie Road
, about where the bushes are.’
It moralizes on the evil courses and fatalistic notions of the young man, and the rather heroic style which he affected in the fatal deed.
‘There is more of the old Roman
in his end than in that of any suicide since the days of Cato
How differently is he now regarded from what he would have been, if he had lived in those days when self-murder was admired and considered the most noble exit from the earthly stage!’
These three letters of Sumner
, the earliest preserved, do not distinguish his correspondence from that of most undergraduates.
The frequent quotations which appear in them are alone suggestive of a habit of his life.
His pertinacity in his opinions and purposes was then a prominent feature of his character.
His classmate, Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Emery
Sumner was not in the habit of changing his opinions or purposes.
He adhered to them as long as he could.
If he had an idea that A and B stood the highest of any in the class, nothing could change his opinion except their having the third or fourth part at Commencement.
If he appointed a certain evening to go into Boston, he would go even in a violent snow-storm.
Being a lover of truth, if he conceived he had reached the truth on any subject,—e. g. the slavery question,—he would not yield to the exigency of the times, or to any authority, however high.
His persistency in whatever he undertook was immovable.
It is well illustrated by an incident which occurred, I believe, in the Sophomore year.
The incident related by Dr. Emery
was this: The college rules at this time prescribed an undergraduate's uniform dress; and, as one of the details, a waistcoat of ‘black-mixed, or black; or, when of cotton or linen fabric, of white.’
wore a buff-colored waistcoat, which encountered the observation of the ‘Parietal Board.’
He maintained that it was white, or nearly enough so to comply with the rule.
He persisted in his position, and was summoned several times to appear for disobedience; but to no purpose.
The Board, wearied with the controversy,
at length yielded.
Other classmates do not recall the incident; but Dr. Emery
is corroborated by a memorandum on Sumner
's college-bill for the first term of his Junior year, —‘admonition for illegal dress.’
He, however, in general conformed gracefully to the college regime
, and rarely encountered the criticism of the administration.
He was regular in attendance on recitations; and during his first year he was observant of the rule which required the students to be present at daily worship in the chapel, though afterwards somewhat negligent in this respect.
His college bills did not exceed the average bills of his class.
Including instruction, board in commons, rent and care of room, fuel, use of class-books, and other fees, they amounted for the four years to less than eight hundred dollars, which is now quite a moderate expenditure for a single year.
These were carefully filed at the time, and preserved by him.
In his Sophomore year (May 13, 1828), eighteen members of the class received deturs
; but his name is not among them.
At the Junior exhibition
(April 28, 1829), Frost
, and Sumner
were assigned parts in a Greek dialogue, respectively as mathematician, linguist, and orator.
was reluctant to take his-part, but yielded to the entreaty of his father, who was anxious that he should have the good opinion of Mr. Quincy
, recently elected President
of the College
dialogues are ordinarily mere spectacles on such occasions; the language unintelligible to most of the audience, and the thought little regarded by those who sustain the characters: and this one was no exception to the rule.
, in maintaining the superior claims of the orator, was unconsciously somewhat prophetic of his future.
His English translation of the dialogue gives the following as the reply with which he concluded: ‘You may both despise my profession, but I will yet pursue it. Demosthenes
, examples of former days, will be like stars to point out the pathway to glory; and their glory will always be the object of my desire.’
At the Senior exhibition
(May 4, 1830), Bryant
, and Sumner
had parts in a conference; namely, ‘A Comparative Estimate of Alexander
, and Bonaparte
as Statesmen and Warriors.’
's part is well written and spirited.
While admitting the selfish ambition of the French
emperor, and his subversion of the liberties of his country, he
insisted that he had exhibited high intellectual power, and had rendered most important services to France
Some years later, his view of Napoleon
corresponded more with that which Rev. Dr. William E. Channing
set forth in papers published in 1827, 1828.
In his part he said,—
It is too much in fashion to depreciate the abilities and to misrepresent the actions of Napoleon.
All the criminalities and missteps of a life of great temptation and power have been raked up against him, while the innumerable benefits he conferred upon his country, and the glorious actions he performed, have all been forgotten. . . . Yet this man, who could lead an army on to victory, organize the government of a great nation, form and digest the Code Napoleon,—this man, whose works are not written upon leaves which can be scattered by the winds, but indelibly stamped on the whole face of Europe and of the age in which he lived,—this man has been denied the possession of high intellectual powers!
At the Commencement, Aug. 25, 1830, twenty-four of the forty-eight members of his class were awarded parts.
The highest honors were borne by Hopkinson
, and Andrews
's was an inferior part, not equal to his general ability or merits as a scholar, nor what his classmates thought he deserved, but all that his standing in the regular course strictly admitted.
He was one of four in a conference on ‘The Roman Ceremonies, the System of the Druids, the Religion of the Hindoos, and the Superstition of the American Indians
The different systems were set forth in their order by ‘John Bryant
, of Boston
, Isaac A. Jewett
, of Columbus, Ohio
, John B. Kerr
, of Talbot County, Md.
, and Charles Sumner
, of Boston
treated with sympathy and respect the religious belief of the Indians.
He wrote on his manuscript that the programme had miscalled the part, which should have been ‘The Religious Notions of the North American Indians
He seems to have been somewhat sensitive about his part.
Anticipating his place on the programme, he had proposed to decline in advance any share in the public exercises of Commencement.
His father interfered with an earnest protest against this course.
‘You have gained,’ he wrote to his son, May 16, 1830, ‘credit by the parts you have performed; and I do not doubt you could sustain your reputation amid any competition.
You have never been associated with any but honorable compeers on exhibition days, and the esteem in which the Faculty hold you is to me a source of satisfaction.’
The next day, his father wrote to President Quincy
expressing the hope that conferences which were usually assigned to students ranking from twenty to thirty in the scale would be hereafter discontinued, for want of time, and as the less interesting performances.
Sixteen of the forty-eight members of Sumner
's class were elected into the Phi Beta Kappa Society
, half in the Junior
and half in the Senior year.
The elections required a unanimous vote, and were made by the undergraduates already admitted.
A student's rank in his class was considered to give the best title.
though the preference was sometimes accorded, on account of general merits, to a student whose rank was somewhat below that of another classmate.
was not one of the sixteen.13
With his admitted superiority in general literature and the favor which he enjoyed among the students, it is fair to infer that he was not near enough in marks to the first third of his class to justify his election into the society.
His place was probably within the first half, but not within the first third.
The scales which determined the rank of the students at that time do not now exist.
belonged to the ‘Hasty-Pudding Club,’—one of the oldest and the most popular of the college clubs.
He was initiated, Dec. 18, 1828.
He served as a judge in one of its moot courts, held March 19, 1829.
On his motion, its first catalogue of past and present members was made and printed; and he was one of the committee appointed to prepare it. He was, when a Senator, accustomed to send books to its library.
Some of his class, in their Senior year, formed a private society for mutual improvement, keeping even its existence a secret, and calling it ‘The Nine,’ from their number.
They were Hopkinson
, and McBurney
They met in each other's rooms, read essays, and each in turn made up a record, generally of an amusing kind, to be read at the next meeting.
On Nov. 2, 1829, Sumner
read, in 22 Holworthy,14
an essay on the English Universities
, which he had just published in a newspaper, with the signature of ‘Amicus.’15
It is a historical account of their origin and methods of administration and instruction.
On the evening of March 1, 1830, he read the
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.’
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.16
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
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
The former had been one year out of college, and was advanced in his legal course,—a decided advantage at a period of study when intellectual powers develop rapidly.
The fortunate competitors were required to read their dissertations in the chapel before the students and officers.
read his in the usual indifferent way, very rapidly, and omitting the greater part.
He invested his prize-money in books, among which were Byron
's Poems, the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ Burton
's ‘Anatomy of Melancholy,’ Hazlitt
's ‘Select British Poets,’ and Harvey
The last two were kept during life on his desk or table, ready for use; and the Shakspeare was found open on the day of his death, as he had left it, with his mark between the leaves, at the Third Part of Henry VI., pp. 446, 447. His pencil had noted the passage,—
Would I were dead!
if God's good will were so:
For what is in this world, but grief and woe?
Some of Sumner
's classmates have, since his death, sketched his character as a student.
At an immature period of life one's individuality is only partially developed, and any portrait retained in the mind becomes dim after an interval of nearly half a century.
The subsequent career, too, will to some extent tinge the coloring.
There is, however, a substantial identity in the outlines as drawn by his classmates.
Hon. Samuel T. Worcester
, of Nashua, N. H.
Though reasonably attentive to his college studies, and rarely absent from the recitations, I do not think that, as an undergraduate, he was distinguished for close application to his college studies.
Having been much better fitted for college, especially in Latin and Greek, than the majority of his class, he continued to maintain a very high rank in both the ancient and modern languages through his whole collegiate course.
He stood, also, very well in elocution, English composition, and the rest of his rhetorical pursuits.
In the last year of his college course, he failed in all the more abstruse and difficult mathematics.
His memory was uncommonly retentive; and it was sometimes said of him that he committed to memory, so as to be able to repeat by rote, some of the more difficult problems in mathematics with but little apprehension of their import.
Morally, so far as I have ever heard, his character while a member of college was without reproach.
At the time of entering college, he was quite tall of his age, and rather thin and slender for a youth of his height.
In manner he was somewhat awkward, and at times seemed diffident.
He grew taller as he grew older; and upon graduating, though not then arrived at his full height, he was among the tallest of his class.
Socially, as I remember him, he was amiable and gentlemanly in
his intercourse with his classmates, and uniformly respectful to the College Faculty.
Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Emery
, of Newburyport
The classes in college at that time, as I suppose is the case still, were divided into divisions alphabetically.
Of course, as I was nearer the beginning of the alphabet, I was not in Sumner's sections, except when, for sake of variety, two sections would for a time recite together; and then I could not help noticing that he acquitted himself among the best in his class, especially in construing, reading, and translating Greek and Latin.
In mathematics, his recitations were not up to mediocrity.
He was so well prepared for college at the Boston Latin School, that the lessons in the classical department were mere boy's play to him; and he would have a perfect lesson with half the study, apparently at least, which most of the class would expend upon it. While he hardly attained average rank in mathematical studies, he was not exceeded in the Greek and Latin classics, in themes and forensics, and in English literature generally, by any in his class.
In the Junior and Senior years, public declamations were attended in the chapel, when any of the classes could be present.
In his declamations I always noticed a great degree of earnestness, with an entire freedom from any effort to make a dash. I looked upon him as one of the best declaimers in the class.
It was the same type of subdued eloquence, inseparable from the man, which he has often put forth on real and important actions in his public life.
Sumner had been accustomed to literary society from his youth, and was brought up among books; so that study was with him a kind of second nature.
He never studied, as many young men do, for college honors, but for love of study and for cultivating his mind,—well disciplined and refined at that early age. He was by no means what, in our college days, was denominated a dig,—one who has to study from morning till night and bring nothing to pass.
He could abstract his mind so as to accomplish in a short time what others would employ hours upon.
Sumner, having always lived in Boston, and knowing all the boys in the Latin School for a succession of years, had friends in all the classes in college, and his circle of acquaintance was therefore much larger than that of other students who prepared for college in schools remote from the capital.
His intercourse with the other classes was as intimate almost as with his own. He was cordial to all, having a kind word for all, and ready for a joke with any one whom he chanced to meet: e. g., he met a classmate the morning after the parts had been announced for exhibition, and congratulated him thus: “Good morning, I am happy to meet with a man of parts.”
He was more dignified than most young students, but genial at all times; and would perpetrate a joke with as much gusto as any others of his class.
His good taste, if nothing else, kept him from the company of fast young men, from any bad habits, and generally from a disregard of the college rules and the strict proprieties expected of students.
I do not remember a single instance of his
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
have seen him since the morning of the day on which he delivered his Phi Beta Kappa oration, in 1846.
I have always regarded him as a true man, high-minded, who would never stoop to any meanness for any purpose whatever.
Till he entered upon public life, I never knew that he had an enemy, being kind and cordial to all, both high and low alike, and free from all fawning to gain the favor of any. His greatness was not, in my opinion, the result of ambition to become known and distinguished above most other men, but to do his duty faithfully in whatever he took in hand, seeking the right and pursuing it without regard to public opinion.
He was thoroughly equipped for the station which he reached; and the world knows how well he acquitted himself.
In his vacations, Sumner
saw something of country life, walking once to Hanover
, with his friend William H. Simmons
, and occasionally passing a few days with his father's uncle, William Sumner
, who lived on what is now River Street, in Hyde Park
, then a part of Dorchester
This relative died in 1836, at the age of eighty-seven.
The Neponset River
flows just in the rear of his house.
Near by were then forests and pastures, where now are streets and dwelling-houses.
rowed on the river, strolled over the fields, took long walks to Scots' Woods, the seashore at Squantum
, and once, at least, made the ascent of Blue Hill
He joined the farmers when, with their hay-carts, they went for the salt hay they had cut on the marshes of the Neponset
He seems to have had a boy's passion for a gun, and urged his uncle to let him have one.
The tradition that he succeeded in his appeal is confirmed by a sketch which he made of himself at the time, and which is preserved in one of his school-books.
It is marked with his initials and the date of January, 1828.
He is accompanied by a dog, and the birds are flying from a tree, all safe from the shot of his flint-lock gun, which he has just fired.
‘Charles's first attempt.
Ha! ha! ha!’
is written at the foot of it.
In those days it was the fashion for parents to give children formal advice more than now. His father wrote to him, during the vacation following his Junior year, hoping that his behavior would be in every way respectful to Mr. William Sumner
, on account of his age and character,—advice which was hardly needed.
He says, in his letter: ‘Charles, upon your discretion and good deportment the happiness of my life will in no trifling degree depend.
If any persons entertain a favorable opinion of you, I hope you will never disappoint them.’
In his Junior year, in company with four classmates, Frost
, and Munroe
, of whom only the last survives, he made a pedestrian trip to Lake Champlain
This was his first absence from Boston
and its suburbs.
He kept a journal of the excursion, from which the following account is abridged:
The party left Cambridge
, July 14, 1829, at four P. M., ‘with knapsacks on their backs and umbrellas in their hands, and in high spirits,’ and walked on ‘singing and laughing, and attracting considerable attention.’
Refreshing themselves in the early evening, at Lincoln
, with ‘a hearty supper of brown-bread and milk,’ they passed their first night at a small inn in Concord
Rising before four the next morning (15th), they went through Sudbury
, and Bolton
, and lodged that night at Sterling
, enduring severe heat during the day. From Sterling
, which they left before five A. M. (16th), they walked up the steep hill to the village of Princeton
, where they enjoyed breakfast at a well-kept hotel.
Then, giving up the ascent of Mt. Wachusett on account of the weather, they kept on their way through a hilly and uncultivated country; and picking raspberries which served for luncheon and dinner, and refreshed once by a shower, they arrived at Barre
miles from Boston
, ‘single-file, umbrellas up, and singing.’
‘We usually stopped to talk with the farmers whom we passed, asked them about the hay, and heard some of the stories which they had to tell about pieces of land which they owned.
One of them told us that he was the son of the first man who was born in Princeton
In this manner we passed through the towns, gaining information about the state of the country, and health and strength by our exercise.
Most of the persons whom we passed, and with whom we stopped, seemed to think that we were doing wonders.
They frequently said that they should like to take the same route, in the same way, but thought they could not go on at the rate we did. Barre
, where we are now waiting for our supper, is a very pretty village.
The town is famous for its dairies, making more butter and cheese than any other in the State
Passing the night at Dana
, which they reached after an evening walk, they rose as usual, at four A. M. (17th), and walked through Greenwich
, ‘a very pretty and pleasant town, situated on a plain,’ observing Mt. Pomroy and Mt. Liz; thence to Enfield
, and arrived at Amherst
‘after a most toilsome journey
through the hottest part of the day.’
‘The people in most of the towns through which we passed were perfectly astonished, and utterly at a loss what to make of us. At Barre
we were taken for United States
officers, and at Dana
we were asked if we were on a “peddling-voyage.”
In another place we were taken for factory-boys.’
The sight of Amherst
and its college buildings, and the students, who were not yet relieved from their tasks, was grateful to the weary Harvard lads.
Fatigued more than before by the heat and the hilly roads, they still, before resting, sought the chapel, to attend evening prayers.
Next, they visited the recitation-rooms, the libraries, the Mt.-Pleasant School, and the chapel tower, where they enjoyed ‘a very fine view of the whole country round about.’
The journal describes the college buildings and the scenery.
The next morning (18th), waked by the college bell at five, they attended prayers, which were conducted by the President
, in the chapel.
After the devotions, Sumner
set out, leaving their comrades to follow.
Here the journal records a hazardous adventure of the advanced party:—
It was our determination to visit Mt. Holyoke.
On our arrival at the bottom of the hill, we went into a poor house and got a cheap breakfast.
We then started to ascend the mountain by an old and at present unfrequented path.
After going some ways, we came to a place where there were two roads.
It was our ill luck to choose the one which proved to be only a woodcutter's track.
After we had followed it for some time, we arrived at the end. Then, not wishing to turn back and tread the ground over again, we pushed right into the brush and wood, aiming directly for the summit.
We proceeded with considerable difficulty through these impediments, till we arrived at the upper part, which was an almost perpendicular ascent to the summit.
This part we made great exertions to ascend, now catching hold of the loose rocks and now of the trees, and every moment fearing lest we should tumble over the precipice.
Our situation was indeed very precarious.
The least slip would have been sufficient to place our lives in imminent jeopardy, and expose us to almost certain destruction.
After a hard struggle and many desponding thoughts, we at last arrived at the top, where Frost and a couple of Amherst students had already been some time.
Here we passed a considerable time in looking upon the surrounding country.
The prospect was most beautiful, embracing a view of the Connecticut, winding its way through the most delightful fields, without a fence on the road or in the fields; but all presenting the appearance of one extensive field.
Our descent from the mountain was not so unfortunate as our ascent.
There was a road, consisting, part of the way, of steps, which made it very easy.
On our arrival at the bottom, we bathed in the Connecticut, which runs at its base.
Crossing the river by ‘the first ferry in which horses and teams were carried over’ that Sumner
had ever seen, ‘the boat being moved by two horses on deck,’ the travellers entered Northampton
, where they admired the fine houses on its main street, visited the Round-Hill School, and took supper at the Coffee House
Then they pressed on to Hatfield
, where they were to lodge.
Here their attention was attracted by a house with large pillars on both sides, and apparently built of marble.
At this place, for the sake of ‘a better road and easier travelling,’ they changed their original purpose of striking directly across the mountains, and decided to go northward, following the river further up. On Sunday morning (19th), they walked before breakfast some six or seven miles, in a rain, to Deerfield
, whose ‘brick meeting-house and a long street shaded by elms’ were observed.
The traditions of Indian warfare in the vicinity of Bloody Brook
‘We are now at Deerfield
, and in the neighborhood of a spot famous for a massacre by the Indians.
In fact, all these towns have been the scene of bloody battles between the Indians and the first settlers.’
, in the afternoon, went on to Greenfield
, riding about ‘half a mile in a wagon;’ his first ride since he left Boston
The next morning (20th), the party journeyed on ‘a most delightful road, with a brook running by its side, and through a beautiful wood’ to Coleraine
, where they paused for breakfast.
They met, near the border-line of Massachusetts
, a farmer from Milton
, who entertained them with ‘beer and milk,’ and they eat raspberries on the very spot where the two States divide.
Thence they proceeded through an uncleared, rocky, and hilly country, with no habitations but a few log huts.
After ‘a fine country supper of brown-bread and milk, at a small village secluded among the mountains’ which they reached about dusk, they went on to the next public house, five miles off.
We were told, beforehand, that the whole road was through a perfect forest, without a single house on the way. This we found to be too true.
It was beginning to be dark when we started, and we had proceeded scarcely a mile before we found ourselves enveloped in total darkness.
The forest through which we were passing was one of great extent, stretching over all the neighboring country.
It was infested by wolves, bears, and wildcats.
The road had been made through it but in the preceding spring, and had not yet been thrown open.
One step would be upon a smooth and slippery rock, and another into a deep slough.
Stumps of trees were in the middle of the road, and the high woods by the side shut out the small light that the
moon would otherwise have afforded.
Every step was made upon an uncertainty.
After the longest five miles that I ever went, I arrived at the tavern, which happened to be immediately at the end of the road.
This forest was in Readsboro.
It was thirty-three miles that I went to-day.
Early the next morning (21st), after a walk ‘through another forest of eight miles, with but one house in the whole distance,’ they breakfasted at a tavern in the neighborhood of which a wolf had been shot the week previous.
Here, as before, the young men excited the curiosity of the people.
‘At one of the houses we passed we were taken for play-actors, on their way to Bennington
The reason assigned for this belief was that we had “pale faces.”
One of our company, being taken for a pedler, was asked “what trinkets he had to sell.”
’ They passed over the summit of the Green Mountains
, ‘about the highest eminence’ on which Sumner
had ever stood, with a view extending ‘from sixty to one hundred miles,’ and descended the long hill, two or three miles in length, to Bennington
, where, after taking a view of the iron-works and the unattractive streets, they set off for the Revolutionary battle-field, six miles distant. ‘Here Munroe
left us, not being able to keep up.’
They passed the night on the very site of the battle between the English
and the colonists, in the house of Mr. Barnet
, who cordially welcomed the visitors and refused compensation for their entertainment.
‘It was not to visit the iron-works or to see the condition of the village, that we were induced to come in this direction.
We came to visit a spot hallowed in American history,—to tread that field sacred to liberty, where the cause of the colonies first began to brighten.
We came upon a pilgrimage, not to the shrine of a prophet, but to one of the shrines of our country's glory.’20
Very early the next morning (22d), their host explained to them, on the ground, the positions and movements of the hostile forces; and these Sumner
recorded with particularity.
Leaving the house of Mr. Barnet
, as early as six in the morning, the party breakfasted, after a walk of six miles, at Whitecreek, in New York.
‘For three successive nights we have slept in three different States, Massachusetts, Vermont
, and New York; as well as for three successive mornings we have breakfasted in these three States.’
A few miles further, Penniman
took the stage for Saratoga
, as he had previously
It was Frost
's purpose to continue the journey on foot, but ‘the sight of the stage had such an effect upon him that he, too, immediately jumped aboard and rode off for the Springs
and myself are thus left alone to perform the excursion to the Lakes
The two passed through Cambridge
and Union Village, to Fort Miller
, on the Hudson River
, where they arrived at a late hour in the evening.
It was here that we first saw the Champlain canal, which communicates with Lake Champlain and Albany.
This is one of the vast undertakings which have given New York such a superiority in point of enterprise and wealth over her sister States.
By means of this, the immense expenses of teaming formerly incurred in carrying the productions of the northern part of the State to the southern marts have been avoided.
It is, as it were, a new road to wealth.
Yet it was astonishing to see how some of the people were prejudiced against it. . . . Every great undertaking always finds opponents; and the New York canals are not free from this common lot. The perseverance displayed by Clinton, in the planning and making these canals, cannot be too much admired. . . . After all the opposition he met with, he at length succeeded, and he has left behind him a more durable monument than a sculptured bust or marble tomb,—the gratitude of his country.
No one in the most distant ages could look upon these canals without calling to his remembrance the name of their designer and executor.
Alexander wished for a Homer to celebrate his actions.
Clinton will need none; his works will speak for themselves.
Boston Patriot and Mercantile Advertiser, Dec. 3, 1829.
The next day (23d) they walked to Fort Edward
and Sandy Hill
,—‘rightly so called,’—going over localities associated with the ill-fated Jane McCrea
, resting at Fort Ann
, and arrived at Whitehall
, ‘the southern extremity of Lake Champlain
,’ after a day's journey of thirty-one miles, and tiresome travelling through a hilly and rough country.
is by far the most business-like place we have seen since we left Boston
Most of the houses are built of brick or stone, which gives it much of a city-like appearance.
Besides, the continual passing and repassing of the canal-boats adds to the bustle.
We can also discern the masts of vessels lying at the wharves.
The situation at the foot of the lake made it a good place for embarkation of troops destined for Canada
This advantage of situation however, it is hoped will no longer be valuable for that purpose, but rather for the cultivation of the mild arts of peace, for the advancement of trade, and the means it affords for a
quick and easy communication between the Canadas and the United States
At this point, the plan of the travellers was to take the steamer for Ticonderoga
The next morning (24th), as the steamer Congress
was not to leave till one in the afternoon, they indulged in a sleep longer than usual; ‘it being the first time that we have not risen before, or at least with, the sun since we started.’
‘Our pedestrian journey, most probably, with the exception of some few miles, ends at this place.
It is now nine days since we left home, and in that time we have travelled between two and three hundred miles on foot.’
Arriving by the steamer at a landing on the Vermont
side of the lake, and being ferried across to a place a mile above Fort Ticonderoga
, they inspected the remains of the fortifications.
is now in ruins; but there are still sufficient remains to convince us of its former strength.
Situated as it is on a promontory, it has complete command over that part of the lake; and, were it not for Mt. Defiance
, which overlooks it, would rightly be deemed impregnable.
The sides toward the water are of massive rock, partly the work of Nature and partly of art. In fact, the whole fortress is built upon a rock.
The walls of the buildings connected with the fort still remain, and present quite a castellated appearance.
There are also several cellars and magazines under ground.
The form of the fort we could not distinctly discern, as several parts of it were entirely wanting.
Its great extent, however, was very evident.’
Thence they walked about three miles to the hotel at the foot of Lake George
, and visited both the Lower
and the Greater Falls
The last ‘were a most splendid sight.
The water came dashing over the rocks in a complete foam, and making a roaring noise.
From this I can have a pretty good idea of a cataract.’
The next day (25th), Sumner
alone ascended Mt. Defiance
, to obtain a view of the fortress beneath.
The adventure cost him a severe effort.
He wondered how field-pieces were ever carried up its sides to surprise General St. Clair
He was unable to trace the British
works on the summit; but enjoyed the fine view.
The two classmates embarked at one in the afternoon.
‘The scenery all the way through Lake George
was most beautiful, and the number of islands with which the water was interspersed very much heightened it.’
Arriving at Caldwell
at six in the evening, they at once walked to Glen's Falls
, seeing, on their way, the remains of the forts William Henry
over a level plain, frequently the battle-field of contending armies, and the scene of the alternate triumphs of the English
;’ skirting ‘Bloody Pond
, the place where the dead bodies of all who were slain in the battle between Dieskau
were buried,’ and lodging at ‘a country tavern, situated almost immediately upon one of the battle-fields, under a hill, which we were told was called French Hill
from the circumstance of the French
being posted there.’
The next morning (26th) they rose before four, and walked over ground they had in part traversed on their way up, going by Glen's Falls
to Sandy Hill
, where they attended the Presbyterian Church in the forenoon.
Resuming in the afternoon their journey, they pressed on to Schuylerville, fifteen miles distant, and ‘stopped under the very tree to which Miss McCrea
was tied when she was shot,’ and drank from the neighboring spring.
Thence they passed through the village of Fort Edward
, finishing the day's journey (Babcock
being lame) with a pleasant ride on a canal-boat.
The next morning (27th) they left Schuylerville, where they had lodged at a hotel opposite Fort Hardy.
went directly to Saratoga Springs
; but Sumner
, persevering in sightseeing, repaired alone to the scenes of Burgoyne
's retreat and surrender, and visited the fort, the battle-field, the house occupied by Burgoyne
as Headquarters, the room where Frazier
died, and the place where he was reputed to have been buried.
Thence, in the heat of the day, he walked to the Springs
, where, joining Babcock
, he took lodgings at Montgomery Hall, instead of Congress Hall, which was then chief among the hotels.
The next morning (28th), he subscribed for a day at the Reading Room
on the 29th, at four in the morning, they walked to Ballston
, where Babcock
took the stage for Schenectady
, on his way to Utica
, now left alone, still persevered, ‘arriving at the Erie Canal
, about two o'clock, just at the famous aqueduct over the Mohawk
;’ thence walking on the tow-path, passing Cohoes Falls, numerous locks, and the junction of the Erie
and Champlain Canals
, and reaching Troy
about six P. M., and (still following the canal) Albany
about sundown, —making thirty-seven miles on foot during the day. Lodging for the night at the Eagle Tavern
, the next morning (30th) he took a view quite early of the State House
, ‘a building far inferior to our Massachusetts
one, and in my opinion unworthy of so great a State as New York;’ observing also the great number
of spires in the city, and ‘the vast number of canal and steamboats.’
At seven A. M. he left by the steamboat, and was landed at Catskill
in three hours. The rain and bad condition of the road prevented a walk to the mountain, and in the afternoon he took the stage,—the first time he had travelled on a coach since he left home,—and arrived after dark at the Catskill House
,— the passengers all walking for the last three miles, and reaching an elevation ‘about three thousand feet above the level of the Hudson
The next morning (31st) he ‘arose before sunrise, in order to have a view from such a height.’
The prospect was soon overclouded, and a storm set in. Disappointed, he took the coach, which ran in connection with the boat.
‘My excursion to the mountain has been almost entirely fruitless.
Of the two great objects of coming,—the prospects and the falls,—the former I saw very little of, and of the latter nothing.
So that all I have gained is to say I have been on the Catskill Mountain
, and seen the clouds at my feet.’
Taking the steamer at ten A. M., he arrived in four hours at West Point
,—a distance of seventy or eighty miles. ‘The scenery before reaching West Point
is sublime, consisting of rough cliffs and mountains.’
Here he presented to Colonel Sylvanus Thayer
, then commanding at this military station and academy, his father's letter of introduction.
This letter, dated July 14, 1829, contains the following:—
About twenty years ago, it was my happiness to have some conversation with you in Boston. . . . I am desirous that my son, Charles Sumner, the bearer of this, should have the honor of touching your hand.
His own reading and my conversation have taught him to respect you. He is about to commence a pedestrian tour from Boston to the Springs, to view the battlegrounds of Bennington and Saratoga, and on his way home by the steamboat to touch at West Point.
He is a student at Harvard College, and sets out with two of his classmates, one of whom, Mr. Frost, will probably accompany him to West Point.
I request you, if convenient and consistent with your regulations, to let these young men have a foothold on your ground during the few hours they may be inclined to stay.
It was once my son's wish to become a member of your institution; but I perceived it to be a hopeless undertaking to procure his admission, and he must now content himself with barely taking a transient view of that of which he once had a desire to make a part.
He is now a tall stripling, somewhat deficient in strength and consistency.
Had he been under your orders for the three years past that he has spent under merely literary men, he would, perhaps, now have been as strong as a soldier of Bonaparte on the bridge of Lodi.
The journal says:—
I visited Colonel Thayer, and presented the letter I had to him. He received me very kindly, showed me the rooms of his house, which were very neatly furnished, and also his library, and presented me with a map of West Point.
I left him for a little while, and visited the ruins of Fort Putnam,— that impregnable fortress.
There are a number of the old cells still remaining, and also loop-holes for the musketry.
It is to my eye the strongest of any of the fortresses I have visited.
On my return, Colonel Thayer conducted me around, showed me the library and the drawing-room, and then invited me home to drink tea. This I accepted.
We talked about Arnold and about fortifications, and particularly those round Boston.
He explained to me the meaning of defilading. About seven, I left him in order to view the parade, and then immediately to take the boat for New York, which was expected shortly to arrive.
The parade was the finest military show, without exception, I ever beheld.
The extreme nicety and regularity of the movements was astonishing.
Every hand moved at the same moment, and every arm made the same angle.
Here the preserved sheets of the journal end. There were probably others which were mislaid.
It is only known further that at New York he visited, at his father's request, the grave of Major Job Sumner
, in St. Paul
's Churchyard, and wrote a description and drew a sketch of the memorial stone.
The notes of this excursion on foot show how simple were Sumner
's tastes and mode of living in his early life.
He enjoyed the primitive fare of the farm-house and of the obscure inn. He made no complaint of his food or of the hardships of a traveller on foot.
He observed every thing as he went,—farms, fences, crops, style of buildings, landscapes, canals, and trade.
But his journal was the fullest and his interest the greatest when he visited places which were associated with events, whether purely local or connected with Indian hostilities, the Revolutionary period, or the earlier wars of France
He sought these with enthusiasm, carefully studied their topography, and recalled, in connection with them, all that tradition and history had narrated.
One sees even in these early adventures the same ardor with which, nine years later, he trod scenes memorable in the world's history.
His perseverance was also thus early tested.
His companions, wearied with the toils of a journey on foot, left him, one after the other; but he adhered to his original plan until it was fully accomplished.
Here, too, was developed a characteristic
which he always retained: what he undertook, he would not give up.
Many years after, he made a public allusion to this journey.
At a dinner of the Hampshire County
Agricultural Society, at Northampton
, Oct. 14, 1862, he said, as he began his remarks:21
I cannot forget the first time that I looked upon this beautiful valley, where river, meadow, and hill contribute to the charm.
It was while a youth in college.
With several of my classmates I made a pedestrian excursion through Massachusetts.
Starting from Cambridge, we passed, by way of Sterling and Barre, to Amherst, where, arriving weary and footsore, we refreshed ourselves at the evening prayer in the college chapel.
From Amherst we walked to Northampton, and then, ascending Mount Holyoke, saw the valley of the Connecticut spread out before us, with river of silver winding through meadows of gold.
It was a scene of enchantment, and time has not weakened the impression it made.
From Northampton we walked to Deerfield, sleeping near Bloody Brook, and then to Greenfield, where we turned off by Coleraine through dark woods and over hills to Bennington in Vermont.
The whole excursion was deeply interesting, but no part more so than your valley.
Since then I have been a traveller at home and abroad, but I know no similar scene of greater beauty.
I have seen the meadows of Lombardy, and those historic rivers, the Rhine and the Arno, and that stream of Charente, which Henry the Fourth called the most beautiful of France,—also those Scottish rivers so famous in legend and song, and the exquisite fields and sparkling waters of Lower Austria; but my youthful joy in the landscape which I witnessed from the neighboring hill-top has never been surpassed in any kindred scene.
Other places are richer in the associations of history; but you have enough already in what Nature has done, without waiting for any further illustration.