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HON. CHARLES SUMNER.
His birth-notice of his father-early education-wins several lite
rary prizes--a close student of history_his youth-early associations-passage from Mr. Everett-remarks of Mr. Sumner on Boston-graduates at Harvard College-studies law_a diligent student-eloquent passage from Dr. Chalmers, on genius and industry-Mr. Sumner writes for the American Jurist--becomes its editor-admitted to the bar-practices in Boston--appointed reporter of the Circuit Court-lectures to the law students of Cambridge-edits an important law-book-his position as a lawyer.
CHARLES SUMNER was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 6th of February, 1811. His father, Charles Pinckney Sumner, was born in 1776; was graduated at Harvard College, and studied law under Hon. George Richards Minot, and Hon. Josiah Quincy. He was a man of learning and abilities, and possessed a noble, philanthropic spirit. It is said that the happiness of mankind was his controlling passion. A simple anecdote will illustrate this:
“Shortly after he left college, an incident occurred expressive of this character. He passed a winter in the West Indies. The vessel in which he was a passenger, happened to stop at the Island of Hayti, which was then rejoicing in its independence; and the officers and passengers, with other American citizens there, were invited to a public entertainment on the anniversary of the birthday of Washington, at which General Boyer, afterwards president of that republic, presided. Mr. Sumner, when called upon for a toast, gave the following: ‘Liberty, Equality, and Happiness, to all men;' which so much pleased Boyer, that he sent one of his aids-de-camp to invite the young American to take the seat of honor by his side at the feast."
In 1798, at the age of twenty-two, he delivered the poem before the Phi Beta Kappa of Harvard College, and in 1800, pronounced a eulogy on Washington, which was included in an octavo volume entitled “Eulogies and Orations on Washington," intended to embrace the best tributes to the memory of the “Father of his Country.” In 1825, he was appointed by Gov. Lincoln to the office of high sheriff of the county of Suffolk, Massachusetts—a station which he occupied till his decease in 1839.
Among other estimable qualities, Charles Pinckney Sumner was distinguished for his probity and conscientious integrity. It is stated, that more than one person remarked of him, that they would trust their whole fortunes to him, without bond or security of any kind.
With regard to his literary character, we may also mention that he possessed respectable poetical talents. Some of his toasts at public festivals were expressed in verse, and were very felicitous. As a specimen, take the following, given July 4, 1826. “The United States: One and indivisible.”
“ Firm like the oak may our blest Union rise,
No less distinguished for its strength and size;
Another toast, which he gave on the 4th of July, 1828, in honor of Governor Lincoln, who was a practical farmer, deserves to be repeated here:
“In China's realms, from earliest days till now,
The well-loved emperor annual holds the plow;
Mr. Sumner declined an invitation to become a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. His memory will long be venerated by the patriotic citizens of his noble, native State.
In early life the subject of our memoir manifested uncommon powers of intellect, and applied himself with indefatigable perseverance to the acquisition of useful knowledge, and to the improvement of his mind. His youthful years were thus profitably passed in collecting gems of wisdom and truth, and in laying the foundation of his future eminence as a scholar, and as an orator and statesman. He was carefully prepared for a collegiate course, at the Boston Latin School, where he acquired the reputation of a diligent and successful student. Indeed, so high were his literary attainments at this school that, at the end of his course, he won the prizes for English composition and Latin poetry, besides the Franklin medal.
It may here be stated that, among other studies which at this period engaged his attention, he was particularly delighted with history, a subject which he has ever since regarded with intense interest, and of which he has acquired a very accurate and extensive knowledge. It is said that while at the Boston Latin School, he would often rise before daylight to read Hume and Gibbon, and other celebrated historians. His mind was early replenished with the choicest passages and noblest expressions of ancient and modern writers, and these have been of eminent service to him while illustrating, defending, and enforcing the grand principles of justice and freedom.
As we shall yet have occasion to see, his speeches are full of classical allusions-of apt and beautiful comparisons and elucidations drawn from the sparkling fountains of antiquity. He also studied with much interest the manners and customs of different nations, and the chronology and mythology of the ancients.
The youth of Sumner was a pleasant season of rapid, intellectual development and progression in science and literature, and the remembrance of youthful associations has been delightful to him ever since, as it must be to those who have passed their early days in virtuous habits and correct mental discipline. In allusion to those tender associations of youth, which we all cherish to the evening of life, he some time since beautifully remarked :
“ We incline, by a natural emotion, to the spot where we were born, to the fields which witnessed the sports of childhood, to the seat of youthful studies, and to the institutions under which we have been trained. The finger of God writes all these things, in indelible colors, on the heart of man; so that, in the dread extremities of death, he reverts, in fondness, to early associations, and longs for a draught of cold water from the bucket in his father's well.”
In the same mingled strain of pathos and beau