Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

This amiable and affectionate daughter, had in life no thought but the happiness of her parents, committed no social action, but what was fraught with the warmth of filial piety. Loving as she was beloved, her loss has left a chasm among a large circle of young and afflicted companions. They regret that she has left them, but believing in the promise given to the righteous and the virtuous, they live in the consolation that she is received into those realms of bliss, the portion of the blessed.

HESSE, the next in birth, aged twenty, and THEODOSIA, the youngest daughter, aged seventeen, conclude the female sufferers; and while memory reverts to those two interesting females, what soul so hardened, or what tearfount so exhausted, that cannot feel their deprivation, and feeling, renew the flow of commiseration? Young and healthful, they promised a life of happiness to aged parents. Gay without levity, and bouyant with animation, they delighted the sphere of liveliness in which they so often shone. With minds young and vigorous, they were at that period of lite fitted to receive the impressions of knowledge and were anxious for cultivation. Respectful and obedient, they were loved by their elders; sociable and affectionate, they exacted a warm reciprocity from their companions, who in universal feeling mourn their loss, and cherish the recollection of their virtues.

"Though last not least," JULIAN, the youngest child, aged thirteen years, has sought the tomb with his parents and his sisters. Youths at this age do not always afford a subject for admiration-they may be mourned by their parents, and their loss felt by their immediate friends, but in this youth, I truly and sincerely declare, there were traits of character too prominent to be passed unnoticed. He was affectionate beyond the natural feelings of his age. Every noble and manly virtue had taken root in his breast, and, had his Maker spared him to have cherished them, they promised to expand into the most brilliant maturity. His brave and generous soul scorned to take advantage of his superiority, and magnanimous to a fault, he would rather be imposed upon than impose. Those of his associates who loved

1

and respected him, feel now but the deprivation of a companion, but when remembrance ripens with their years, and his virtues burst with that accumulated force upon their thoughts, they will then feel as we now feel the loss of an ornament to his country.

But what avails our lament? they cannot be redeemed to worldly happiness, which at best is but transient.. They have gone, and leave us on earth to exclaim in veritable acknowledgments,

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour;

The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

In human affliction, what soul hath never felt the mercy of his Creator? What mind that has not acknowledged the mystery of his wisdom? When the heart is bending beneath the oppression of its woes, who hath not seen manifest the interposition of a divine comfort from irrestible power of religion? Its seraphic influence brings to the wearied sufferers the balm of consolation, and like the dove of the patriarch, seeks its asylum in their ark of misery, until in a calm and unruffled hour it brings its olive branch of restoration. To this, then, let us recommend the afflicted survivers. Let us tell them that though their sea-tossed bodies have met with one common grave, yet their souls, immortal and celestial, have escaped the feeble barriers of their prison houses, and are translated to that sphere, where they will dwell in the presence of their God-the God of Abraham-the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, in peace everlasting.

II. WILLIAM D. PECK.

[Daily Advertiser. Boston.j

DIED at Cambridge on the 3d of October, 1822, WIDLIAM DANDRIDGE PECK, Esq. aged fifty-nine, Professor of natural history in Harvard University. Mr. Peck enjoined on his surviving friends, not to permit any ceremonious interment, or any of those public testimonies of respect, by which the members of that seminary are ad

customed, very properly, to express their regret, at the loss of an associate, and valued officer. Mr. Peck's injunction should not be considered as expressive of his disapprobation of a custom, highly important in such an institution; no such opportunity should be lost of impressing on the minds of youth, the value of a virtuous, and honourable, literary, and scientific life. To Mr. Peck's personal character alone, this dread, even of posthumous praise, is to be ascribed, and in the short account of his blameless life, which it may be permitted to one of his earliest friends to give, as a very feeble expression of tenderness and respect, the causes of this uncommon fear of exciting public attention, will be perceived. It is not however, from private feelings alone, that this brief sketch of Mr. Peck's biography is presented. The institution of which he was a member, and the state of which he was a distinguished citizen, have a claim to the just praise of his talents and knowledge which he was too diffident to permit to be noticed, and we have a right to make this sacrifice of private duty, for higher and more important objects.

There was nothing about Mr. Peck's life or character which could furnish the materials of a highly wrought picture; nothing which would address itself to the passions or to the imagination; it was simply the example of an unaided, retired individual, struggling during the greater period of his life against every discouragement, upborne by his genius, and love of study, and constantly adding new stores to a powerful mind capable of comprehending all that it received from reading and observation, and of analyzing, arranging and preserving it.

Mr. Peck was admitted Bachelor of Arts at Cambridge in 1782. He was destined for commercial pursuits, and passed a regular apprenticeship in the compting-house of the late Hon. Mr. Russell. His exactitude and industry acquired for him the confidence and lasting friendship of that distinguished merchant. Mr. Peck's father was a man of very great genius in the mechanic arts; he was the most scientific as well as the most successful naval architect, which the United States then produced,

The ships built by him were so superior to any then known, that he attracted the attention of congress, and was employed by them to build some of their ships of war. But his talents did not bring him the pecuniary reward, which all who recollect the superiority of his skill have admitted was his due, and disgusted with the world, he retired to a small farm at Kittery, and with a splenetic temper, resolved, that his models, founded, as his son always affirmed, on mathematical calculations, should never be possessed by a country, which had treated him with such ingratitude. The failure of the father's schemes defeated professor Peck's prospects as a merchant, and at an early age, he too, imbued, not a little, with his father's discontentment with the world, (a very pardonable error in a young man, who venerated his father's talents and virtues) retired to the same obscure village, to pass the whole of that period of life, which nature has designed should be the most active.

During nearly twenty years, professor Peck led the most ascetic and secluded life, seldom emerging from his hermitage; but his mind so far from being inactive, was assiduously and intensely devoted to the pursuits to which the bent of his genius and taste inclined him. At a time when he could find no companion, nor any sympathy in his studies, except from the venerable Dr. Cutler, of Hamilton, who was devoted to one branch of them, Botany. Mr. Peck made himself, under all the disadvantages of very narrow means, and the extreme difficulty of procuring books, an able and profound botanist and entomologist. But his studies were not confined to these two departments only; in zoology, ornithology, and icthyology, his knowledge was more extensive than that of any other individual in this part of the United States, perhaps in the nation.

One trait in his character ought here to be noticed; and the more so, because the opposite defect is the most prevailing one in our country. What he did know, or attempt to study, he studied profoundly, and if this knowledge failed in extent, it was in all cases, owing to want of health or means. To those who knew him well, before his removal from his obscurity to Cam

[ocr errors]

bridge, it appeared astonishing, how, with advantages so slender, and under discouragements so chilling, he could have acquired so much.

It was principally with a view to draw this learned and indefatigable labourer in natural history from his retreat, that the subscription for a professorship of natural history at Cambridge was commenced. This has once been denied; but the writer of this article, and one of his friends, having been the most active circulators of the subscription, and fully and entirely acquainted with its origin, know it to be true. Mr. Peck was elected by the subscribers the first professor, and it is due to his memory to say, that he resisted the first solicitations most feelingly, and with great zeal. He desired his friends to recollect the hermit life he had led, and that, at so advanced a period, after habits of seclusion had been so long rooted, it would be impossible for him to come forth into active life, and to give to his favourite pursuits all the interest, and the charms of eloquence, of which they are susceptible, but which he feared he was not qualified to do.

But his friends, who wished the country to do an act of justice to merit so long neglected, would not listen to his objections, and compelled him to accept the appointment. The board of visiters wished him to visit the scientific establishments of Europe, with which he complied. Having been with him, during a part of that tour, we are enabled to state confidently, that he was received by the men of science, in England and France, as a brother, and his merit was highly appreciated.

Mr. Peck inherited his father's taste for mechanical philosophy, and, as an artist, he was incomparable. His most delicate instruments, in all his pursuits, were the product of his own skill and handicraft. We shall never forget the astonishment of one of the first opticians of London, when Mr. Peck requested him to supply a glass which had been lost out of a microscope, made by himself, nor the warm friendship he discovered for him, when he was satisfied, that he was so able a self-instructed artist.

But professor Peck's knowledge and taste were not

« AnteriorContinuar »