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excessive degree of self-abasement; if his animal nature chanced to be exuberant, he connected with it his religious aspirations, and gave thanks for a return to the early glow of Christian purpose. Bewildered by the vagrancy of his sensational nature, and by the painful incompleteness of his thinking powers, he stumbled toward the light, and while he did at last receive the reward of those that seek, he retained for a long while the signs of this disordered period.
There was however so simple a directness in his nature, that, despite these evil tendencies to which his untutored mind exposed him, he did make decided progress in Christian life, obeying those instinctive calls of duty which he could not miss understanding, and through this obedience gaining the power to comprehend those demands upon him which were more abstruse. Nor could his passionate attachment to free life in the open air fail to correct a good many mistakes which he might make over his air-tight stove. He struggled manfully with the tyranny which his nature had set up over him ; with the imperious will, venting itself in caprice; with the strong prejudices which seized him so readily, and with all the turbulent force of his passions; and if he wasted some of his blows on imaginary tyrants, the largest share went to real ones. The struggle was carried on with intermittent force even to the end of life, but his repeated victories over evil had rendered it so feeble that even in his youth he had received his reward in a spirit docile, calm and equable.
Coupled with this self-discipline, in its influence upon his character, was the real with which he tried to win others to the peace which he had obtained. As happens in the case of most young converts, he sealed the confession of his faith with an immediate endeavor after the spiritual good of others. A revival of religion began in college simultaneously with his own conversion, and there was great activity among the Christian students. David's friends were in the habit of meeting together for prayer and talk, in his room in West College; and David, impetuous yet timid, would resolutely shut down the disagreeable sensations in his mind, go into his neighbors' rooms, choosing those least familiar with such gatherings, and deliver an invitation to his meeting as frankly and innocently as if to an oyster supper. His letters contain disclosures of his interest in his classmates, and in those still more dear to him. He could not, perhaps, answer with wise care the objections which hesitating minds proposed, but he could meet them more effectively by his unassumed earnestness, and by the sincerity of his faith ; pleading personally with those whom he loved, and praying for them with ardent desire, he brought to bear upon them after all a more powerful and lively influence, it may be, than mere judicious counsel would have exerted, since in a large number of instances the objections which the intellect opposes are only the hiding-place of an unwilling heart, which is drawn from its refuge by the affectionate solicitations of a kindred spirit. Not that David's zeal was without knowledge, but that its force lay in its contagious fervor.
I have dwelt at some length upon this epoch in my brother's life, and its immediate results in his character and purpose, because it is so prominent as the beginning with him of positive growth. He did not, he could not suffer any violence in his individuality; but while before the force of his nature, so wide in its range, and yet so concentrated in all its movements, had thrown itself into the purpose of the moment, so that his progress was blind and vagrant, henceforth this same force, intensified by being hemmed in, was set steadily in one direction, from which it never swerved. He still gave himself
up with wonted eagerness to an undivided care for that which was actually before him, following his active impulses which called him in so many different directions; but these momentary purposes, hitherto his sole guides, now became subordinate to one comprehensive, ruling purpose, which forbade his life ever to become disjointed or capriciously vagrant. The fulness of his nature, supplying him with so many and such varied objects of interest, was not long held in by false or narrow opinions respecting duty; it overrode the captious criticisms of a disordered conscience. He kept his naturalness, and that, in turn, kept him.
He continued to make daily excursions to his rabbittraps, and to coast, while snow lasted, down the long hills; he wrote long, loose, hap-hazard letters, mingling incidents of college-life with earnest regrets of his own coldness of heart, affectionate expostulations, and eager inquiries after the small tribes of the barn-yard. In college he was known for his unaffected heartıness; he was singular enough to excite universal interest. It did men good to hear his peculiar laugh, so clear and above suspicion ; to be pounced upon, as they were walking gravely to prayers, by this frolicking boy, whose exuberance of spirits seemed to run over into oddness. No one could tell what he would do next. If others were walking soberly, he was most likely running backward and displaying his antics. As in his school-days, he was perpetually falling into half-serious quarrels which never weakened the lightest friendship; nothing seemed to delight him more than to confound some one by the appearance of a sudden revulsion of feeling. He had an incorrigible propensity for making people stare, and was led by it into all sorts of harmless jests. His roommate relates an example :
“We had been together but a few days, when an incident occurred which was characteristic of him in his earlier college-days, and, from what David told me, I should infer of his boyhood also. We were carrying up wood, and both of us in very lively mood, when suddenly he broke out into what seemed to me a most violent passion. He seemed uncontrollably vexed with me, and I thought he was about to tear himself in pieces. After he saw I was sufficiently astonished and alarmed, which was not a little, he burst out into a loud laugh. Nothing occurred equalling this trick in violence, but most of his succeeding odd fits were more a reality.”
Pleasant as residence at college was, there always remained the keener delight of going home in vacation. The ushering in of the holidays was attended by so much circumstance that an excitable mind was kept in constant motion. Examinations and exhibitions closed the last days of the term. Lucky students, who had contrived to anticipate the breaking-up, went off singly or in small squads, envied by the rest, like the raven from the ark; then the bustle of getting in readiness, and finally the morning of departure, when there was some anxiety lest the stout stage - driver should not have coaches enough for all. It was a picturesque sight when the college broke up at the end of the spring or summer term. The train from North Adams, the nearest railway station, - these were days when the Troy and Greenfield Railroad was only talked of, -- started at a very early hour, in order to connect with the trains on the Western Road, at Pittsfield. This was the usual mode of exit from the town, though slow stages did crawl west, north, and south, if any chose to use them. To take this train at North Adams, the stage-coaches had to leave Williamstown at a still earlier hour, and at the end of the term a margin was allowed for the inevitable confusion and delay attending such an hegira. Thus long before the sun rose, and while the dawn showed only the coldest light, one could see, up and down the street that ran through the town, little piles of trunks surrounded or surmounted by sleepy students. The stages would come slowly along, zigzagging to pick up one load after another on either side of the way, the driver pounding at the door of some house where he had been ordered to stop, but where no trunk was to be seen, and where, at the last moment, the half-clad student would tumble out, just in time but very cross. The students on the last hill by East College would be waiting impatiently and with some anxiety; then the clambering up and in, the sometimes surly, sometimes brisk salutations, until all were packed, and the stages would roll down the hill to the rendezvous at the foot, where the driver-in-chief, stout to the fullest requirements of stage-drivers, would go about among the stages, with a lantern in his hand, collecting the passage-money. It was a sleepy set that he used to carry over, but those who had their wits were well repaid for the loss of sleep by the sight of the kindling dawn, though the sun would hardly be risen by the end of the drive.