« ПредишнаНапред »
Florida, whither his commencing illness had carried him, and was laid by the side of Francis. Two of the brothers, Denison and Alexander Fisher, were members of the same class of 1844, and both appear as orators on the list of appointments for Commencement. Denison, second to none in the hopes with which he inspired his friends, and having passed through college without strain upon his constitution, seemed to have a career of eminence before him as a natural philosopher, when he, too, in 1846, was placed by the side of his brothers. The feeblest of them all, Fisher, with great care, prolonged his life until 1853. He had repaired to a southern climate and taught chemistry in the University of Alabama. Returning to New Haven he engaged in chemical studies in the analytical laboratory, and published an introduction to his science; but the malady only delayed its visit, and his monument records that death again desolated this family in 1853. But Prof. Olmsted, some time before these successive strokes fell on him, had known what the cup of sorrow was. In 1829 his wife died, and the husband, with five little children between the
of five and ten, followed her body to the tomb. Several years afterwards he contracted a second marriage. Three children survived him. His only brother, also, is still living, a respected citizen of New Haven.
The bereavements of which we have spoken brightened, it is believed, that crown of religious principle, which he began to wear in his youth. We have already said that there was a time during his residence at New London as a preceptor, when his mind, well instructed before in the Gospel, became more open to the influences of religious truth, and when he consecrated himself in love and obedience to the service of God. The purpose he then formed of preaching the Gospel was abandoned, but it was because Divine Providence pointed out to him unexpectedly another path of useful service, and not because his heart had veered, or his desire of doing good had cooled. He was ever, so far as I am able to judge, a consistent, exemplary Christian, one who did his duties as in sight of God and under the power of the motives which the Christian system furnishes, one who was habitually and not now and then a Christian, one who made religion a companion of his joys and sorrows, mingled it with all his pursuits, who was not simply a philosopher and a Christian, but a Christian philosopher, one who was fitted by it for the discharge of his earthly relations, was bettered by it, was sustained by it in sorrows, met pain and death with composure and resignation through the strength which it imparted. He was one who felt a warm interest in the progress of true religion, both at home and elsewhere, who rejoiced especially whenever in college, by the grace of God, any of the students seemed to become thoughtful, penitent, and devout; one who took occasion to bear testimony for God before his pupils in the lecture room and elsewhere, and whose voice was heard in counsel and prayer at the meetings of the church. He was one whose self-control sprang, as we believe, from religious principle, and who, living habitually in the fear of God, sought to correct the evil in himself, and opposed temptation by a reference to the Divine will. He was one, finally, who brought religion into the family, trained up his children by the Bible, wished their spiritual prosperity more than any other good which could pertain to them. On this subject, in the year 1834, at a time when he was obliged to throw up his duties after a severe attack of sciatica, and go to the Virginia springs, he made the following entry in a private journal which I am allowed to extract: “I pray
God to take these lambs in his arms and save them from the wolves that may prowl around them, should they be deprived of their father's restraining counsel and authority. As they successively leave the paternal roof, where such constant watchfulness has been exerted to preserve them from bad principles and vicious practices, and to train them up in the paths of virtue, I feel that nothing but a change of heart can furnish any certain security against the dangers that environ them. My constant prayer to God is, and will be while I live, that they may be the subjects of renewing and sanctifying grace, and should I return to them no more, my last counsel would be, little children, love one another; be dutiful and respectful to your mother; and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you.
Another extract, written at some time after the death of the last of his four sons, will show his family affections mingled with a tender strain of pious feeling.
“Of the happy group alive in 1838, how many has the grave swallowed up, or rather, as I humbly hope, how many have reached heaven! There may we all be gathered in, and 0, what will be our emotion when we look around on each other, and feel that our union is for ever.”
A passage of as early a date as 1826, shows his self-control and watchfulness.
“If an examination of myse!f encourages me to believe that I have gained something in the art of self-control, yet candor obliges me to admit that these attainments are small, and that I must strive, and watch and pray against besetting sins and temptations.” Then, after speaking of the necessity of restraining himself in the matter of food, especially of avoiding that sin so common to studious men, of eating what would disagree with him, he goes on to say:
“If I would acquit myself well in my public labors I must acquire and maintain complete self-possession, neglecting the fear and the praise of man, and striving mainly to approve myself to my own conscience and to God."
Such are a few of the indications of a religious principle governing his life and moulding his character. He showed, it is believed, the same principle in bearing the pains and illness with which he was not seldom visited. His constitution was by no means a strong one; a chronic debility of the stomach was his principal complaint. In 1834, occurred the very painful and prolonged attack of sciatica, to which we have already adverted, He was generally able, by the aid of a resolute will, to be punctual and steady in his duties, notwithstanding his infirmities; often have I seen him discharging them when his countenance showed that he was far from well. His last ill. ness began before the winter term was half ended; he completed with difficulty his lectures to the Seniors on the first of March ; and felt still more unwell afterward. I recollect hearing him say on the last day of the term that he had been suffering much, and thought that he had the gout in the stomach. During the vacation the illness grew upon him, the paroxysms of pain became intense and almost insupportable; for a long time he was able to take almost no nourishment, and even water was rejected. On the last day of April, nearly a fortnight before his death, the following entry was made in his journal, and was the last thing, I believe, that he ever wrote.
“Being now exercised with great pain, appearing in occasional paroxysms, which threaten the immediate extinction of life, I desire to record my gratitude to God for all....... [his] mercies to myself and my family. In view of the uncertain issue of this sickness, I desire humbly to cast myself upon God, humbly to implore his forgiveness of my sins through Jesus Christ, and to express a cheerful hope that should I be called away, it will be to my heavenly Father's house, where are many mansions, and where, as I humbly trust, the deceased members of my family are already gathered: in a certain
. sense and under the great Captain, having prepared the way.”
The hand that wrote these words, and with some difficulty, as the writing shows, was soon unable to write more. The body, amid sharp pains, and nearly without aliment, clung to the earth, while the soul, having overcome the dread of death, and being sustained by Christian hope, was longing for release from its prison. Rest came at length, early on Friday morning, May 13th. The funeral services were held at the house the day after. As a touching close, the Senior Class, each member of it in turn, threw the earth into the grave.
I cannot close this tribute to my deceased friend and colleague, without a word to the students who hear me, and espe
, cially to those who have been under his instructions. My friends, a life like Professor Olmsted's is full of encouragement to those who are entering life, for it shows that a man with a steady will and sound principles makes himself what he is, that it is not patronage, nor favoring circumstances, which determine his position and usefulness, but the character which he has acquired, and the abilities which he has improved by his own painstaking. It is true Divine Providence by illness, or in some other way, can bafile us and defeat our plans; but with this limitation, you may determine to be a useful man, as you may to be a good man and an honorable. Nay, you may determine to be a successful man, if you rightly measure your powers, use your resources to advantage, stand up against difficulties resolutely, and put trust in God. His success in life was due to his character, under God's smile. Follow him, and true success will attend on you also. .
PROF. OLMSTED'S PRINCIPAL PUBLICATIONS.
1817. Thoughts on the Clerical Profession, in four Numbers. - Religious Intelli
Vol. 1. Memoir of President Dwight.-Port Folio. 1819. On the Diamond.—Raleigh Star. 1820. Two Notices in the Am. Jour. of Science, Vol. 2. 1822. Catalogue of Rocks and Minerals of North Carolina. Am. Jour. of Science,
Vol. 5. 1824. On the Preparation of Mortar.—Proc. of N. C. Board of Agriculture.
Essays on the advantage of a Geological Survey of the State of North
Carolina.—Raleigh Register. 1825. On the Gold Mines of North Carolina.— Am. Jour. of Science, Vol. 9.
Reports on the Geology of North Carolina., 2 parts, 8vo. 1826. On the present state of Chemical Science.- Am. Jour. of Science, Vols. 11
and 12. 1827. Oration before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Yale College. 8vo.
Review of Dick's Christian Philosopher.-Monthly Christian Spectator,
Vol. 9. 1829. On Hail Storms.— Am. Jour. of Science, Vol. 18. 1830. Review of Davy's Salmonia. - Quarterly Christian Spectator, Vol. 11.
Review of the Scientific Life and Labors of Sir H. Davy.-Am. Jour, of
Science, Vol. 17. 1831. Elements of Natural Philosophy, Vol. 1. 8vo. 1832. Memoir of Eli Whitney.- Am. Jour. of Science, Vol. 21.
Elements of Natural Philosophy, Vol. 2. 8vo.
School Philosophy. 12mo. 1833-9. On the Meteoric Shower of November, 1833, &c.-- Am. Jour. of Science,
Vol. 25, &c. 1835-6. On the Zodiacal Light and Meteors.-Am. Jour. of Science, Vols. 27, 29. 1835-7. On the Aurora Borealis.-Am. Jour. of Science, Vols. 29, 32. 1837. Observations on the use of Anthracite Coal.-- American Almanac, Vol. 8.