Page images

He was

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 Ilaven, with his steel, mineral tests, and stone-hammer, and returned with heavy loads of stone and ore. 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, a very liberal benefactor to science, had established a small fund for premiums in natural history. From the avails of this fund, valuable 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, observed, • 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 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 partly 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.”

We are not inclined to dissent from these intelligent observations. We should fail, however, to do complete

justice to the character of Mr. Cornelius, not to remark 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 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, Mr. Cornelius was certainly a very thoughtless young man. possessing 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.”

We have now come 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. Our readers will be gratified with the statements of different individuals respecting this interesting event. “ It is a remarkable fact, though not solitary in the history of revivals of religion, that there existed at

Of pre

this time in college, and especially in the senior class, several 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 serious 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 rooms. My room-mate and myself had been accustomed, for a season, to unite with each other in prayer, but farther 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 of 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's, 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, perceiving that the occupants of the room above were up, 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. Our hearts were full before ; and this led to a free communication of our feelings. We now became earnest in our inquiries, and soon it was found that others were in a similar state of mind.”

Another individual writes as follows :—“ When the little college church awoke from its guilty slumbers, and as the result, the effusion of the Holy Spirit was earnestly sought and confidently expected, I well remember, that we selected Cornelius as likely to become a leading opposer of the work of God, and on that account, perhaps, he was made the subject of special prayer. A revival commenced, and to our inexpressible joy, he, if not the first, was one of the first awakened. He early disclosed to me the state of his mind. There was something about him, which excited the most lively interest in his case. His convictions were unusually deep and painful. Of the character of God, as a holy, righteous, and sovereign

, being, of the purity of his law, and the extent of his requirements, of the entire depravity of his own heart, and the sinfulness of his past life, he had very

clear perceptions. Of the truth of the declaration, the carnal mind is enmity against God,' he had most distressing proof in his own experience. He saw that he was in the hands of God, who was reasonable in his demands, and would be just in condemning the sinner. But his heart rose at times in fearful rebellion against his Maker. Like the bullock unaccustomed to the yoke,' he struggled and seemed determined not to submit; and I trembled lest the Spirit thus resisted, would let him alone.' The anguish of his soul was almost insupportable.”

From a letter of a third person, we have gathered the following statements. “I have a distinct recollection of

« PreviousContinue »