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therefore, soon warmly attached to him, and taught her children to love him before they learned to do so for his own qualities, for the variety of his endowments and the extent of his accomplishments, as they were developed to the family in after years. My affection hurries
I pause, and ask myself why I speak of his great accomplishments. Can any human knowledge be all-comprehensive? The most eminent philosopher is of yesterday, and knows nothing. Newton felt that he had gathered but a few pebbles on the shores of a boundless ocean. The moment we attempt to thoroughly penetrate a subject, we learn that it probably has unfathomable depths. That which is known is the prelude to the infinite unknown. Every discovery gives us a glimpse of greater things to be discovered. In everything, from the grain of sand to the stars, the wise man finds mysteries before which his knowledge sinks into insignificance. It must be understood that the idea sought to be conveyed is that his attainments were vast only in relation to those of other men.
In his twelfth year he entered, as a pupil, the Staunton Academy, then under a head master of the name of Fuller, a man of much learning and of a plodding character. Here he remained four years and was quickly distinguished for his superior parts; was known
“As a sharp witted youth-
Turning the hours of sport and food to labour.” The common recreations of volatile youth, the games invented to kill time without improvement, he never enjoyed; but sought for higher gratification in science
and meditation. It soon became a common remark of his teachers and acquaintances, that he was “a boy of singularly gifted intellect.” He spoke at this time with peculiar vivacity and fluency, was already brilliant in his juvenile wit, and quick in the acquisition of knowledge. His liveliness too, was not the noisy accompaniment of emptiness, but the offspring of a rich imagination. It may not be out of place to mention here that at this time, and indeed throughout life, his health, like that of his mother, was delicate-at times alarmingly so. This may account in a measure for his neglect of sports and his studious habits. At the Academy he was obedient and industrious, and manifested in his every act a
a kind and affectionate disposition, which was combined with a rare uprightness and love of truth. Such was the sweetness of his temper, his amiability and readiness to oblige, his simplicity of character and thorough ingenuousness, that he won the affectionate confidence of all with whom he came in contact. His influence, as will be readily inferred, over his youthful companions was marked, and was solely due to his superior power, his firmness and moderation, and not to any bullying or self assertion. To the youngest and weakest he always acted as the kindest and humblest brother. Like the apostle of old, he was gentle towards all, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. Consequently the intimate connections formed in his boyhood were never relaxed or broken through life. On the contrary he was noticed for maintaining among men throughout life the ascendency which he acquired at school over his youthful companions. Possessing a clear judgment and a fund of common sense, he was always able to give his young companions sage counsel and to extricate them from the little difficulties of the daily course. Many a time he was seen, during this period, in the play grounds of the school, the centre of a circle of lads, with whom he conversed about their studies, thus lightening their labours and clearing away their difficulties. His frank and kindly manner, his tenacity of principle and feeling, his power of belief, the entire absence of cynicism, all of which he displayed at that early period, invited the confidence of all his companions. In their little griefs and sorrows his schoolfellows appealed to him, and such was his joyous, buoyant spirit that he never failed to soothe and comfort them. It is not surprising, then, that he exerted the most salutary influence in the Academy. At this school he obtained a good classical and mathematical education, and was considered so mature, both in character and attainments, that he was, in 1822, withdrawn, and matriculated at the University of New Jersey, Nassau Hall, Princeton, whither we will follow him in the next chapter.
In order to understand and fully appreciate the character of the promising boy introduced to the reader in the preceding chapter, it is expedient to follow him from the school in which he began to climb the hill of knowledge to the University of New Jersey, and to dwell briefly upon his career in that place.
This norther institution had long been a favourite with the southern people, and especially those of Virginia, as it still is. Many of the leading Southern States scholars and politicians of the past century and early part of the present were educated at Princeton. Among them was Archibald Alexander, an eminent author and divine ; his sons James and Joseph Addison Alexander, scarcely less distinguished; John Macpherson Berrian, U.S. Senator for Georgia; William Gaston and Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina ; Robert J. Breckenridge, of Kentucky; Charles Fenton Mercer and John Peyton, of Virginia, and many others. And our father himself was one of the Alumni, having been graduated M.A. in 1797, in the same class with Richard Rush, late minister Plenipotentiary from the
United States to England, and author of a well known book entitled “Memoranda of a residence at the Court of London from 1817 to 1825."
For these reasons it was selected rather than the college of “William and Mary” in Virginia, which
a declining state, probably owing to the unhealthy climate of Williamsburg; but of which institution our paternal grandfather John Rouse* Peyton, was a graduate. The course of study in the University of New Jersey is comprehensive, embracing Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and the modern languages, mathematics, natural and moral philosophy, ethics, etc. Notwithstanding his youth, my brother's scholastic attainments put him at once in an advanced position in the University, and during his second year he rose to the first distinction as a scholar. His diligence gave perfect satisfaction to his tutors, by whom he was both loved and respected. The noble features of his character, too—his open, affable, manly, and cheerful disposition and his active habits—made him a general favourite, not only with his teachers and fellow students, by whom he was regarded as a model, but by all his acquaintances, whether in the college or out of it. He seemed ever to have engraven upon his mind that sacred rule “ do all things to others, according as you wish that they should do unto you.” He was absolutely without any of the dissimulating in youth, which is the
* This name has been spelt in several ways, thus : Rous, Rouse, Rowse, or Rowze (as by Dr. Lodwick Rowze, author of “The Queenes Welles" London 1630), and Rowzée.