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BIRTH-PREPARATION FOR COLLEGE-ADMISSION TO YALE
Elias CORNELIUS, the subject of the following sketch, was born at Somers, Westchester county, New York, on the 30th of July, 1794. His paternal ancestors came originally from Holland, and settled on Long Island. His father had commenced the study of medicine, under the superintendence of Dr. Samuel Latham, a physician of New York city, when the war with Great Britain commenced. In entire opposition to the wishes of all his relatives, he entered the service of his country, at the age of twenty years, in the capacity of surgeon's mate, in the second regiment of Rhode Island troops, then under the command of colonel Angell. He was soon after taken prisoner, and thrown into the old Provost prison, in New York, where he was confined for several years, and where he suffered almost incredible hardships. In March, 1778, he escaped, rejoined the army, and remained in the service of his country till 1781. He then commenced his professional business in Yorktown, about fifty miles from
the city of New York. While in the army he had become the subject of permanent religious impressions, which rendered him afterwards, in a spiritual sense, “the beloved physician.” He joined the Congregational church in Yorktown, and in 1787, was appointed to the office of deacon. He soon after removed his residence to the northwest part of the town of Somers, and in 1790, formed, in conjunction with several others, a church in Carmel, opposite Somers, the members of which were gathered from several contiguous towns. This was called the Red Mills society, or the church at Red Mills.
The medical practice of doctor Cornelius extended, for many years, over a large district, comprehending portions of Somers, Yorktown, Carmel, Phillipstown, and Fredericktown. Though he had not enjoyed the advantages of an early education, yet by industry and love of study, he had acquired much general, as well as professional knowledge. To all his duties he brought a large portion of energy and firmness.
His exertions in building a meeting-house, and in procuring and maintaining a preacher, were of the most prompt and liberal character. His first wife was a daughter of Dr. Brewer, by whom he had several children, all of whom died at an early age. Mrs. Cornelius soon followed her children to the grave. By his second marriage, doctor Cornelius had one son, and four daughters. The widow, and three of the daughters, are still living
In the early history of young Cornelius, nothing of special interest occurs. “I was very intimate in the family,” says a venerable clergyman, who then officiated at the Red Mills church, “and was conversant with the history of the education of that only son.
He was a very frank, active, and pleasant boy, full of vivacity, fond of the social circle and conversation ; but easily governed.
His turn of mind exposed him sometimes to acts of juvenile indiscretion ; but he was readily corrected, and brought to a sense of his faults. We foresaw that his social disposition might expose him to the influence of crafty and vicious company; and this circumstance sometimes discouraged his father. He was apprehensive that an education would only qualify him to do extensive mischief. But it was strongly represented to him, that these traits of character would prepare him for eminent usefulness, if they could be turned into the right channel.” As both his parents were pious, he was early and faithfully instructed in his duties to his Lord and Redeemer. Of the prayers and labors which were expended in his behalf, no marked fruits appeared for several years. He sometimes, however, manifested a warm interest in the intelligent and serious conversation of his superiors in age. His conscience, enlightened by perusal of the Bible, and by the living example of his friends, did not allow him to remain in quiet, while alienated from his Maker. At one time, in his early boyhood, his feelings were deeply interested in reading Lindley Murray's “Power of Religion," a book which records the happy experience of many dying believers in Jesus.
It was a signal favor of Providence to the church, that Mr. Cornelius had such a father, uniting, as he did, in his character, most of those qualities which could control the high spirits of his son, and at the same time implant in the bosom of that son the principles of the most affectionate and endearing filial attachment. He could have adopted no measures more intelligent and judicious, than those by which he was governed, in providing for him an elementary and academical education.
His preparatory studies for college were committed, in part, to the care of the Rev. Herman Daggett, afterwards. principal of the Foreign Mission School, at Cornwall, Ct..
To the instructions of this gentleman, Mr. Cornelius was greatly indebted for his skill in penmanship, and for the 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. 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 that great assembly of the wise and good in heaven, who have been redeemed from among men.
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 to be not judicious 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, our notices must necessarily be brief. Having passed his life in the country, amidst interesting natural scenery, and possessing habits of great physical 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