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CHAPTER II.

Commences the study of Medicine.-Attends school in Wrentham Is attacked by sickness, and goes home.-Relinquishes the study of Medicine.-Returns to school. His father dies.-Notice of him.-Opens a school in the neighborhood of Rochester.-Again goes to school at Wrentham.-Attempts speaking on the stage. Obstacles to his success.-Means employed to overcome them.-Enters Rhode-Island College as a Sophomore in 1793.—Incidents of College life.-Pecuniary difficulties and unexpected relief.-—Graduates in 1796.-Oration at Commencement, with the Valedictory Addresses.

AFTER his disappointment respecting the voyage, Burges determined to commence the study of Medicine. For this purpose, he borrowed from Doctor James Foster, the family physician, Chesselden's Anatomy, Boerhaave's and Cullen's Theory, and other medical works of celebrity. Then he read when others slept, and in this progress was prepared, as he thought, to ride with a country doctor. At this period, he was twentyone years of age. He had served out his apprenticeship, and was free; and had, as far as his limited means would permit, the promised aid of his father. Again a new scene was opening, and more cheering encouragement for professional learning.

Doctor Foster advised that he should study Greek and Latin, before commencing a regular course of Medicine. Accordingly, he resolved to go to the Academy of Doctor Williams, at Wrentham, in Massachusetts; where a son of one of the neighbors was then fitting for college. In April, 1791, having just passed the age of twenty-one, he left home, in company with Silas Holbrook, who had been teaching school in Rochester during the preceding winter, for the residence of Doctor Williams. At the Academy but a short time, he was seized with a bilious fever, which brought him to the brink of the grave. After many weeks, he so far recovered as to walk to the street

door. By this he took cold, and was seized with a violent pleurisy. The pain was so excruciating, that death would have been welcomed, as a relief from the agony of suffering. His restoration to health was gradual, and in September he was able to ride home, a distance of forty miles, with his sister, who nursed him in sickness. Every one of his acquaintance predicted that here would terminate his classical career. Their predictions were not verified. He had lost, to human calculation, six months; yet gained a more full persuasion, that there was a Providence which shaped his purposes, "rough hew them how he would."

The eager desire of Burges to become a physician, and to acquire wealth, had vanished; and rather than relinquish study, he resolved, by God's blessing, cost as many years as it might, to obtain a collegiate education. His sickness obliged him to expend more than the amount of school bills for a whole year.

Doctor Whittaker of Bellingham, his physician, was an excellent man. He had watched over the ambitious youth, with paternal tenderness, during his stupor and delirium, which continued for many weeks. Knowing the limited resources of his patient, he would receive no compensation for his valuable professional services.

The succeeding October, Tristam returned to the academy of Doctor Williams, with confirmed health, and a renewed desire for classical knowledge. He had been there but a month, when intelligence was received of the dangerous illness of his father. He reached home in season to receive the blessing of that father, and to follow him to the grave.

Mr. Burges was a man of original mind, and could it have been cultivated by study, few would have surpassed him in the excellencies of utterance. He would have continued in the army, had his health been preserved, until the restoration of peace; and his name might have been numbered among the distinguished men who achieved the Revolution.

Mrs. Burges survived her husband many years, and died in 1831. At the time of her husband's decease, his estate was free from debt; and although it comprised a considerable number

of acres, it was not of great value. Tristam immediately sold his share of the farm to his eldest brother. The proceeds, with rigid economy, and by instructing a school three or four months in the year, fitted him, so much as he was fitted, for college; and enabled him to complete the whole term, including the Commencement expences.

During the next winter, he kept a school in the neighborhood of Rochester, and the young men who, the year before, joined in his sports, were now among his pupils. He seemed to be admirably fitted for a schoolmaster. This was a first attempt at that most useful, unpretending, yet thankless employment. Except the short period spent at the academy of Doctor Williams, he had been at school, in all his life, not more than three months. And, notwithstanding all these disadvantages, so perfect was his control over his great, two-handed boys, or men, (for such they were,) that at noon day he used to play ball with them; and yet, they would have gone through fire and water at his bidding. At this game he was always the conqueror, as well as in their feats of wrestling.

Early in the spring of 1792, Tristam again returned to the academy at Wrentham, and continued there until the last of October. The hours of recreation, during this season, he devoted to improvement in speaking. His desire to excel in that department of study was earnest, and continually increasing. It was the usage of the school for each pupil, once a week, to declaim on the stage in the academy. The first time Burges attempted to speak, his success was indifferent enough. A young man, with whom he had formed an acquaintance, happened to be a fellow boarder. He was a fine scholar, and accomplished in the rules and practice of speaking; and, though kind in his disposition, yet he was honest and frank in his expressions concerning the faults and imperfections of his friend. After Burges had made his first attempt at speaking on the stage, and as they were going home together, the conversation turned upon his success. He had never been accustomed to read aloud, and whenever he commenced, he invariably hesitated, and often stammered. This imperfection was manifested

in his utterance when he went on the stage, or attempted to recite from memory. His companion finally observed—“ You must get somebody else to do your speaking for you."

To many a youth of sensibility, with but little energy of character, such advice would have opened an incurable wound, paralyzed all future effort, and rendered miserable him, who promised to be an ornament to his race. But not so with the youth to whom it was addressed. He possessed too much energy, ambition, and laudable perseverance, to be vanquished by such obstacles. And to that same advice may be traced the fountain of that eloquence which sprung up in his soul; for, from that moment, he resolved "to speak for himself.”

The house at which he resided was situated on the east side of the road, and was sheltered on the west by a thick wood of high pines, filled up with under-wood of live oak, growing then higher than the lowest bramble of the pines, and forming an almost impervious thicket. After many attempts, the student found a path, made by the cattle and sheep, leading towards the other side of this wilderness. Pursuing this path, he discovered a recess, as if cleared away for culture, of one hundred feet in diameter, with a few scattering trees left standing. Here, thought he, is my stage; encircling me, is the all-sustaining atmosphere; and these trees before me, are the mute auditors, which will not hiss, if I do stammer! This was his speaking place, and hither he usually retired once a day. No human being was there to aid or interrupt. The process was simple. In conversation, he could talk very fluently; it was only when he began "to speak," that he began to stammer, or hesitate, or use a bad tone. He therefore, commenced talking to the trees, studiously noting the movements of all the organs of utterance. In this manner, he proceeded in the study of the art of speaking, and conquered that habit of stammering and hesitating, which had attended him from his early years, and acquired to a considerable degree a natural style of speaking.

In that temple of nature, he acquired so much ability "to speak for himself," that at the last exhibition of the school, prior to his entering college, he was appointed to pronounce the valedictory

address. Such a mark of distinction was so unexpected, that it not only animated his bosom with gratitude, but inspired yet firmer resolves to pursue the walks of future eminence. That incident in the beginning of life was the original cause of others, which have contributed to unfold his character and intellect.The valedictory address received general commendation, both for its sentiments and style. Constant practice in every kind of composition, had given him unusual facility in that rare accomplishment. He could "write something about every thing."

In regard to speaking, Burges had received valuable instruction from one man; and that was communicated in a novel mode. This man was a blacksmith, who lived in the town of Middleborough, in Massachusetts. Burges taught a school in the neighborhood, two successive winters. The blacksmith often visited the family where he boarded, spent whole evenings in telling anecdotes in a manner indescribable. He was a large but very graceful man; and his gesticulation was perfect. When standing by his own forge, with collar open, shirt sleeves rolled up, and filled with the conception of the person and the events which he intended to communicate, in the movement of every finger there was emotion; each gesture was a part of the story, and in unison with all, there was a most expressive andunrivalled dignity of manner.

In September 1793, with a small sum of money in his pocket, Burges left Dr. Williams's school, for Providence; intending to enter Rhode-Island College, now Brown University. After a patient examination he was admitted, and continued the regular course of study, with commendable diligence. A college life is filled up with amusing incidents. The first night after the class met, in the first term, there was a grand festival (as it was then represented) of the whole class. Burges being warned to appear, although novel scenes were to be acted, yet he could not decline without exciting unpleasant remarks. There was a tremendous storm raging without, as within. In the midst of their jollity, as the table was covered with decanters, pitchers, glasses, wine and all kinds of fragments, the tutor's cane

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