Imágenes de páginas

order, accuracy, and fine tact, which he ever exhibited in his pecuniary and business engagements. Mr. Daggett might be called an instructor of the “old school ; " possessing much of that manual dexterity, as well as thorough enthusiasm in his pursuits, which have rendered the names of Corbet, Ezekiel Cheever, and master Moody, so famous in the records of elementary education. To a well-trained mind, and to a perfect acquaintance with all the minutiæ of his duties, Mr. Daggett united gentle affections, warm sensibilities, and winning manners. Mr. Cornelius ever looked back to this period in his life, with deep interest, associating the acquisition of habits of great importance to himself, with the faithful services and affectionate heart of his revered instructor. Mr. Daggett has within a few months been summoned to join his beloved pupil, as we doubt not, in " the general assembly and church of the first born."

In September, 1810, when a little more than sixteen years of age, Mr. Cornelius entered the sophomore class in Yale college. His father had preferred Columbia college, in the city of New York, as a place for the education of his son; but he wisely listened to the suggestions of a mutual friend, who thought it injudicious to expose a young man of so ardent temperament to the dangers of a great metropolis.

Of the history of his mind at college, or of his literary course, the notices must necessarily be brief. Having passed his life in the country, amidst interesting natural scenery, and possessing habits of great bodily activity, which led him frequently into the woods and fields, he early developed a strong predilection for mineralogy and the kindred sciences. This tendency was probably strengthened by those habits of orderly arrangement, which so strikingly characterize some of the departments of natural history, He saw in these studies much which

could gratify the taste which he had early formed for beauty of proportion, and skilful arrangement. He rambled many miles in the country around New Haven, with his steel, mineral tests, and stone-hammer, and returned with heavy loads of stone and ore. He was accustomed to mark all his specimens in mineralogy, many of which were valuable, with great care; and on a particular shelf he had written, in prominent letters, “ Handle not.” Some years before Mr. Cornelius united with the seminary, colonel Gibbs, of Newtown, near New York city, a very liberal benefactor to science, had established a small fund for premiums in natural history. From the avails of this fund, costly mineralogical specimens were awarded to the two members in a class who were most distinguished for their researches in mineralogy. “ Mr. Cornelius,” remarks a class-mate, “received the first premium during junior year, and I the second. In senior year, we again received the premiums in a reversed order. There was on neither occasion any feeling of rivalship between us; least of all, in senior year. On the last occasion, Cornelius coming directly from the mineralogical lecture to my room, remarked, “Well, well, I hope we have both got a better part, which shall never be taken away from us.'"

In reference to his intellectual character and pursuits, another class-mate makes the following observations. “I was not aware of Mr. Cornelius's extreme youth while in college ; at least so important a fact in his history, if known, made no permanent impression on my mind. I am induced to believe that to this circumstance must be attributed, principally, his character as a student while in the seminary. I do not recollect that he was deficient in any branch; but while he was distinguished in those studies which relate to natural history, he appeared not to have the same attachment to other pursuits. The native ardor of his mind, which was so early developed, previous to maturity of intellect and the stability of years, led him almost as a necessary consequence to the course which he pursued, especially while not influenced by the principles of religion. In our estimates of character, I think we do not always bring into view sufficiently the original structure of the mind. It would not, perhaps, be correct to state that the faculties of Mr. Cornelius's mind ripened late; in some respects the reverse was true, yet certain traits which early appeared, wanted the balance of opposite qualities. This circumstance incidentally turned his attention from those branches which demanded the severest mental discipline, to those which presented a more ample field for action and experiment, in which he ever delighted. And this, I conceive to be perfectly consistent with the fact, that he subsequently applied himself to other branches of study, and became conversant with literature to the extent which his other avocations would admit. Very few persons of his age are prepared, whatever may be their previous powers of mind, to make the highest attainments in the studies of college, unless piety has given stability of character, or some favorable circumstances have existed with respect to associates. It is my impression, that the studies to which he attached himself with special interest, gave a fixedness of character to his mind, and prepared him afterwards to pursue other branches with greater benefit. I am in some degree inclined to believe, that it is not so important by what branch of study the mind is, in its earliest years, disciplined, as that the energies should be directed to some one useful and interesting object of attention.”

There is no necessity of dissenting from these intelligent remarks. Complete justice, however, would hardly be done to the character of Mr. Cornelius, not to add, that the imperfect acquaintance which he obtained of some of the college studies was ever to him a matter of deep regret. He accordingly labored to remedy the defect so far as was in his power; and he always threw the whole force of his influence in favor of the most ample classical preparation for professional life. The studies of college are adapted to develope and invigorate all the faculties of the mind. They are framed with a wise regard to every exigency of active life. Ignorance of the ancient languages is an evil, which can never be remedied. The studies of natural history are attended with obvious advantages in respect to the health, the taste, the moral sensibilities, and in their reflex action, on the mind, but they can never be placed in the same rank with the languages and mathematics. They cultivate almost exclusively the powers of observation and of the external senses, not of meditative thought, and inward reflection.

The social character and general influence of Mr. Cornelius are thus described by one of his intimate friends. “During most of his college life, he was certainly a very thoughtless young man. Of prepossessing personal appearance, of a generous, frank, and sociable disposition, fond of company and amusement, his society was coveted by the inconsiderate and irreligious portion of his fellow-students. Among them he was a leader, primus inter pares, although not addicted, so far as I know, to what are termed vicious practices.”

In reference to the most important period in his life, when his mind was decisively turned to those great subjects which concerned him as an immortal and accountable being, the readers of this memoir will be gratified with the statements of different individuals. “It is a remarkable fact, though not rare in the history of revivals of religion, that there existed at this time in college, and especially in the senior class, some instances, as it afterwards appeared, of solemn reflection on religious truth, produced by causes having no connection with each other. A few individuals, during the preceding term, had been led to consult volumes on practical theology, and had advanced so far in their inquiries, as to introduce prayer in their rooms. They were deeply impressed with the importance of religion, during the vacation, or at a previous period, by the last warnings of a pious mother, and in various other ways; and yet, on their return to college, no communication was made on the subject, beyond the walls of private apartments. My room-mate and myself had been accustomed, for a season, to unite with each other in prayer, but further than this, had concealed our emotions in our own bosoms. Happening to be in a room opposite, near the commencement of the term, my class-mates said, "It is thought that Cornelius has become attentive to the subject of religion, and that that is the cause of the change in his countenance. The words came to me with great weight, though I made little or no reply. My room, in the appointment of Providence, was directly under that of Cornelius, and according to college-custom, we visited each other frequently. On the evening of the same day, if I remember correctly, after the students had generally retired for the night, with the exception of the occupants of the room above, from some indefinite motive, or light errand, I went to Cornelius's door, and on knocking, was admitted, though I was surprised to find that the door had been locked. After a few words had passed between us, he said, “We were about to unite in prayer, and I presume you will have no objection to join with us.' He then kneeled with his room-mate, and poured forth such a prayer as I had never heard before. The whole ardor of his soul was directed towards heaven, in supplications for blessings on ourselves and others. The next day he called at our room, and earnestly entreated us to commence with him immediately in seeking salvation.

« AnteriorContinuar »