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pearance, which were made a few years since, by the Rev. George Jones, of the United States Navy.
Still another wonder of the sky, the aurora borealis, interested Mr. Olmsted's mind deeply from this time onward, partly on account of the connection which, as it seemed to him, might exist between it and one or both of the phenomena already named, and partly because the displays of the aurora, a few years since, were of unusual brilliancy. The resumé of the facts attending auroral appearances prepared by him is printed in the eighth volume of the Smithsonian Contribations, and is, no doubt, one of the leading papers on that subject. The author, in a brief exposition of his theory, advances the idea that the aurora is of cosmical origin, and has a secular period of sixty-five years.
Not long after the shower of shooting stars, in 1833, Prof. Olmsted and his fellow observer, Prof. Loomis, then a Tutor in Yale College, had the honor of being the first in America to descry Halley's comet, on its expected and calculated return from its aphelion in 1835. Mr. Loomis, having occasion, in his work on the recent progress of astronomy, to mention the Clark telescope and its unfortunate position, speaks of this observation and the results which it was a means of bringing about, as follows: “On one occasion circumstances gave this telescope considerable celebrity. The return of Halley's comet, in 1835, was anticipated with great anxiety. The most eminent astronomers of Europe had carefully computed the time of its appearance; and the results of their computations had been spread before the public in all the popular journals. Expectation therefore was stimulated to an unwonted degree. The comet was first observed in this country by Professors Olmsted and Loomis, weeks before news arrived of its having been seen in Europe. This was the occasion of bringing prominently before the public the desirableness of having large telescopes, with all the instruments necessary for nice astronomical observations. It gave a new impulse to a plan which had been already conceived of establishing a permanent observatory at Cambridge upon a liberal scale,-a plan, howe ever, which required the momentun of another and more splendid comet for its completion. It kindled anew the astronomical spirit of Philadelphia, and excited a desire for instruments superior to those which they then possessed."
It may be added, with regard to Prof. Olmsted's relations to practical astronomy, that he was long desirous of having an Observatory established in connection with Yale College. His plan was to have two departments, one where the students could be initiated into the knowledge of the heavens, the other where scientific observers could make observations with superior instruments. Various ways were devised for attaining this end, in which he participated, but the great outlay of money necessary for this purpose, and the pressure i of more immediate wants, rendered such an undertaking on the part of the college unadvisable. Mr. Olmsted at length contented himself with the project of a small observatory, intended chiefly for instruction; he set on foot a subscription for this purpose and put down his own name for a handsome sum,
a but even this plan met with difficulties and fell through.
Having thus looked at Prof. Olmsted as a teacher and a man of science, let us notice some of the more distinctive points in his mind and character, and then close with viewing him in his relations to men and to God. While he was excelled by many, in inventiveness and originality, he had a sound, lucid, accurate, discriminating mind, capable of concentrating all its powers on a given subject, of pursuing it to the best advantage, of presenting it to others as it appeared to him, in a happy way, and of patient laboriousness until the task, however long, was finished. One of his most characteristic traits of mind was method, which will be found, I think, to have entered into all that he did in life, whether in the shape of orderly arrangement of a subject, and due adjustment of details under a general head; or in the shape of mapping out and projecting before his thought the work which he had to do, so that time was economized, and things followed one another in due series; or finally in the shape of chosing what he would do, and making his purposes harmonize and arrange themselves in due order. To this trait, perhaps, is to be ascribed, in connection with another soon to be mentioned, that his life, as one of his VOL. XVII.
friends lately remarked, has been a successful one; that is, that pursuing a settled, orderly plan, he has gained what he aimed at, and made the most of his time and powers that the circumstances of his education and position admitted. To this source, also, we may refer his fondness for common-place books, as handmaids in the classification and reduction of knowledge, the advantages of which he often set forth to his classes. His regularity and punctuality belong to the same category. Another striking trait both of his mind and character, was a certain settledness exhibited both in tenacity of opinion and fixity of purpose. In fact, the resistance which his enfeebled body at the last offered to the assaults of death seems to show that his powers of life, too, partook of the same character. I do not mean, when I impute to him qualities like these, to say that he could not change his opinion on proof offered, or turn from his purpose whatever opposed, but I mean to call him the tenacem propositi virum, who, as the poet whom he often quoted says, could not easily be shaken off from his solid mind. This trait appeared in persistency of resolution, perseverance, firm adherence to an opinion once formed fidelity in friendship, steadiness in habits of life, attachment to rules once adopted. This gave him power amid the fluctuations and uncertainties of other men. This with method enabled him to pursue an even, settled path, a life of rule, not marked by fitful occasional exertions succeeded by listlessness, but filled with steady endeavor and accomplishment.
Another, and the last which I shall mention of his distinctive traits, was a love of beauty. This, which is quite akin to regularity and proportion, appeared in him under various forms. He loved the beauties of nature, and looked at them, as for instance at the clouds, with the eye no less of fancy than of philosophy. He loved flowers and shrubs. Gardening and the laying out of grounds gave him great pleasure, and when he removed to the present residence of his family in York Square, the business of laying out the square and keeping it in order devolved upon him.
He was the chairman of the committee into whose hand the important work of rëarranging and beautifying the city cemetery was committed, and
who, under the active zeal of the lamented Aaron N. Skinner, finished their work in so successful a manner. He loved also the works of the pencil and of the chisel ; a good picture was to him a source of high delight. He loved poetry, especially that of the standard English classics of his youth, many of whose choice passages lived in his memory and were quoted by him with pleasure. He relished the beauties of prose composition, and was himself a successful writer,—if occasionally verging towards the ornate and rhetorical, yet easy, graceful, clear, and orderly.
Proceeding now to the man in his various important relations, we are able to look on Prof. Olmsted here with almost unqnalified respect and admiration. His temper was naturally an excellent one, and if he ever had unlovely feelings, as he must have had, he subdued them. In an intercourse of twenty-eight years with him as a college officer, amid the wearing and often worrying business of the Faculty, I do not remember that I ever saw him irritated or uncourteous, or unmindful of what was due to others. He often spoke, during the time that I knew him, of the great harmony and exemption from jealousies which prevailed in this board of which he was a member. If any credit is due to the body in this respect, I am sure that a full share of it is due to him. He was devoid of the petty selfishnesses which mar many characters otherwise deserving of respect. Here his public spirit deserves notico. He was willing to spend his time and strength for his fellow citizens and fellow men, in the hope of doing good. Thus, at one time, he gave many hours and valuable services to the cause of temperance. He was much in request for the meetings of teachers, as we have already had occasion to say, and was thus an important helper in the cause of common school education. About the year 1828, when the Franklin Institute was devised by Mr. James Brewster in order to bring science within the range of persons of ordinary education, he was one of the principal advisers and forwarders of this gentleman's projects. He was, again, a manly, independent man, not afraid to entertain and avow an opinion, to act for himself, or to rely on his own exertions. On his removal from North Carolina to New Haven, he found his salary wholly inadequate to maintain in comfort his large and expensive family. Difficulties which would have broken down some men, roused his energies ; he wrote text-books, he delivered lectures, he invented a stove with a new apparatus for radiating heat;-in such ways he at length removed from himself the burden which the poverty of the College had imposed on him. He was also an honest man and faithfulhonest to his convictions, without art or flattery, and faithful in friendships. Although devoid of professions, and not very demonstrative, he had an affectionate heart. It is a pleasure to me to remember that in the last visit I made him, six days before his death, he wished me, meaning it no doubt as his farewell message, to assure his colleagues that he loved them. Such a word from the chamber of death is to be laid up in the heart as a treasure.
His family affections were delightful, and, united with his sense of duty, made him an exemplary son, husband, father, and kinsman. His children revered him without fearing him; they were trained by him to exercise their powers of thinking, and he was thus within the house their chief teacher. Their characters rewarded his efforts; but, alas ! much more than the usual amount of affliction came upon him from a chastening God. Between the years 1844 and 1852, four sons, graduates of Yale College, blameless and exemplary in a Christian life, giving promise of usefulness, were snatched away by consumption, two of them in 1846, in which same year also his saintly mother, at the age of nearly ninety, fell asleep in Christ. His eldest son, Francis Allyn, found it necessary, soon after graduation in 1839, to go upon a voyage in quest of health. He visited the Southern seas, and on his return published a small volume on what he had seen, especially on the Sandwich Islands. But his voyage was of no permanent use. He died not long after receiving the degree of doctor of medicine, in 1844. The second son, John Howard, was kept from College for some years by ill health, so that he received his degree after his younger brothers in 1845. He died but a few months after taking his degree, in January, 1846, at Jacksonville, in