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Percival, James Gates (15 September 1795–02 May 1856), poet, linguist, and geologist, was born in Kensington, Connecticut, the son of James Percival, a doctor, and Elizabeth Hart. Percival read widely as a child, a habit he sustained as an adult, and enjoyed from an early age almost total recall. His father, a well-respected and prosperous village physician, died of typhoid in 1807 when Percival was twelve years old, and Percival’s mother sent him away to a boarding school. He began to write poetry during this period, his most impressive effort being “The Commerciad,” a mock-heroic poem of more than 2,000 lines. In 1810 he entered Yale College, studied the natural sciences with ...