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distinguished in his own depart- reviving under alternations of fear ment; and to obtain such informa- and hope, until twelve o'clock at tion as might enable him more fully night, when the light of “Old Head” to aid in raising the scientific char. came in sight, and warned them that acter of his country, and in promo. they were rapidly drifting ashore, ting the usefulness and prosperity on a rocky and most dangerous of ihe college, to the interests of coast. About four o'clock, as the which he was entirely devoted. day dawned, the commander, CapEvery preparation was made which tain Williams, who had made every was thought necessary to secure the effort to encourage the men and attainment of his object; and, after preserve the ship, communicated the fullest inquiries, and taking the the dreadful certainty that no efforts best advice, he embarked at New could possibly save her, and in about York for Liverpool, in the Albion five minutes she struck—the breakpacket, where, to use his own lan- ers dashed furiously over her-she guage, in the last communication rapidly filled, and shortly after went received from him, every thing to pieces, within a few rods of the seemed to promise a quick, safe, land. The shore was rocky and preand agreeable passage.'
cipitous, rising to the height of one Among the various melancholy hundred and fifty feet, and those wrecks of packet-ships to England who in great numbers were collected that have from time to time spread on the brow, were prevented from consternation and grief over both rendering adequate assistance; and countries, seldom has one the opening light of day unveiled sioned wider and deeper sorrow the distressing and hopeless spectathan the loss of the packet-ship cle of the numerous ship's compaAlbion. On the 1st of April, 1822, ny clinging in agony to the shrouds nearly sixty passengers appeared on and broken parts of the ship, and the deck of this elegant ship, all plunging at short intervals into the animated with the prospect of a raging abyss. The surviving pashappy voyage, and left the harbor senger reports that he last saw our of New York, reciprocating with friend in the cabin when it was fast their friends the joyous shouts cus- filling with water-that he looked tomary on such occasions. On the deeply anxious, but was observing 22d of the same month, they all, the barometer, probably with the with the exception of nine persons, view of watching any indications it including but one passenger, met a might afford of abating violence in watery grave on the coast of Ire. the tempest. It is believed, thereland, near Kinsale. Their passage fore, that he met his fate below, be. had been pleasant until the 21st, ing drowned by the sudden influx of when the ship encountered and waters. “ If,” says Prof. Kingsweathered a severe gale; but the ley, we shrink from approaching brave captain and tempest-beaten the final scene, and check our imacrew, cheered all on board with the ginations, which would paint in too hope that in less than two days they vivid colors the last sufferings of our should reach their destined port. departed friend, what must have Early in the evening of that day been the horror, the agony which the packet "shipped a sea which rent his bosom, in actual view of a knocked her on her beams-ends, death so sudden, so unexpected, so swept her decks, and carried her awful ! But here, let us not inmainmast by the board.” The ship dulge too far our gloomy surmises. became unmanageable, and the un- Others may have been distracted happy inmates drifted along at the with fear, and wild with apprehenmercy of the waves, agonizing or sion, but he no doubt was calm and
collected. Others frantic with grief, friend, Professor Fisher;" for al. and mad with alarm and terror, though I cannot help keeping in amidst the rage of contending ele- mind his mournful fate whenever I ments, may have abandoned them. think of him, still a recurrence to selves to despair; but he no doubt our former intimacy affords recol. was undismayed, and knew where lections which I love to cherish. to place his confidence. We may Two circumstances conspired to indeed suppose that he thought of give me an opportunity to know his parents and his home, of the more of our friend at a certain infriends he had left behind, and the teresting period of his life, than was Institution so much the object of his probably known to any other indi. affection; that the idea of the sudden vidual. One was my connexion extinction of his earthly prospects, with him as one of the tutors of the and the loss of whatever his heart same class for two years, which unheld dear, now rushed upon his re. avoidably brought me into close collection, and filled him with un- contact with him, and which relaulterable anguish; yet those who tion, I may add, produced a high best knew him will most easily be- degree of intimacy and confidence lieve that the last feeling of his between us. Another was, that du. heart, as the billows closed around ring the same period, owing to his him, that his last aspiration as he excessive modesty, he afforded to sunk into the opening gulf was, very few persons an opportunity of • Father, not my will, but thine, be knowing any thing respecting his done.'
habits and feelings. You rememThe estimate formed of the char. ber, sir, that we were classmates acter of Professor Fisher in Prof. in college ; but this relation proKingsley's eulogy, and in the obitu. duced only a common acquaintance, ary notices of him at the same period while that of colleague tutors occa. in the public journals,* is substan- sioned the most unreserved confi. tially the same. The “Reminiscen- dence, which, since our separation ces,” which follow, were addressed four years ago, has been mainto a particular friend of Prof. Fisher tained by a frequent corresponby a classmate then residing at a dis- dence. To the public, Professor tance, whose long and intimate con. Kingsley has already communicated nexion with the deceased, had sug enough to justify the fame of our gested to him many recollections of friend, perhaps enough to satisfy incidents illustrative of his genius their curiosity ; but to your own and character. These were com- private circle, where he was admunicated to his surviving friends, mired so much and loved so well, I without any view to publication ; feel that no circumstance in his his. but familiar and personal incidents tory will seem too minute. of this kind, intended only for the The intellectual superiority of eye of friendship, often make us Mr. Fisher began to display itself better acquainted with the character at a very early period of his college to which they relate, than the most life. I well remember the first time labored panegyric. The letter pro
I ever observed it,-it was in the ceeds as follows.
parsing of a Greek verb. The
same emphatic manner, the same My dear Sir-I readily comply precision and accuracy that were with your request “to furnish some afterwards so characteristic of him, reminiscences of our dear departed were all conspicuous in his first re.
citation, and led me to mark him as * See particularly Am. Journ. Science,
a candidate for eminence. I retain V, 367; Christian Spectator, IV, 389, 432. an equally distinct remembrance of
his personal appearance at that time. small part of the time for other purHe was a little black-eyed boy of suits. fifteen, rather stooping in his pos- In the winter of Junior year, the ture, and of a figure diminutive class calculated a lunar eclipse. To even for his years. His features accommodate the lessons to the slow contemplated singly were rather or- pace at which the majority were dinary, but taken together, they cer. forced to advance, one or two of tainly bore no common impress, but the elements were given out for a rewere remarkable for that same citation, so that a week elapsed before thoughtful expression which was so the calculation and projection of the much observed in his later years. eclipse were completed. The deExalted as was the opinion which sign of conducting the class through his classmates formed of him during the calculation of the eclipse, was his first year, yet the extent of his announced and the first lesson given capacity was not fully understood out on Saturday noon: I was asuntil the latter part of Sophomore sured by a classmate that before year, when the class reached the sunset of the same day, Fisher had severest parts of the mathematical completed the calculation. The cecourse. It astonished us all to see lerity with which he performed nuwith what ease he traveled through merical calculations, is to be ascribed conic sections, and spherical geom. partly to the small size of his charetry and trigonometry; how com- acters, and the compactness of his pletely he supplied defective demon- work, a remark which applies equalstrations in the text-book, and how ly to his handwriting. His reasons he occasionally detected fallacies in for adopting such a style both of the author, and demonstrated the computation and penmanship, were incorrectness of his conclusions. digested at a very early period; the I may add that to most of his class- manner was in neither case the remates it seemed almost sublime, to sult of accident; every thing indeed see one of an age but a single re- of his was done by rule. In acmove from childhood, of a figure so cordance with a suggestion of Dr. disproportioned to the magnitude of Beattie, his practice was, to carry his subject, and of a mould so frail such letters as go above or below and delicate, march with such ease the line exactly to the middle of the and steadiness over those heights space, in which case the long let. which stood in this part of our path, ters of two contiguous lines would where some of us either worked our never interfere with each other. way with desperate toil, or halted at Upon considerations equally minute, the base in dismay. It was natural but rational and useful, were found. for the class to infer that recitations, ed all the peculiarities of his handwhich were so completely mastered writing; and to these were owing must have been prepared with un- the uncommon neatness, compactcommon labor; and this inference ness, and legibility, which distinwas the more likely to be made, on guished it. We seldom see any one account of his known habits of in- put so much on a page as he did, tense and assiduous application ; but and still his hand is remarkably leg. I was assured by his room-mate, ible. I never knew any one who that these lessons were mastered could commit to writing so much without the appearance of any ex- matter in the same time, although it traordinary exertion; that in fact he is not uncommon to see those who had got over them so long before the write with greater apparent velocity. others came up, that he gained no This furnishes an example of the
advantages he derived from reflect* The class read Webber's Mathematics. ing on the most minute circumstances that affected his progress in tention, in the earlier part of his knowledge, or his convenience and college life, was that of Swift, eshappiness.
pecially his prose works. The unOne who became acquainted with affected character of his style and the extent and variety of Mr. Fish. his wit, hit the taste of young Fisher's information, not only in the er; and I am inclined to think, that abstruse sciences but also on all so far as his style was formed on those topics which enter into the con- any model, it was formed on the versation of the learned and polite, writings of Swift. He was not inwould be apt to infer that his read. deed averse to a style more ornaing must have been immense. But mented than his own, when it suited the fact was that it was confined to the character of the subject, and of a comparatively small number of the writer ; but he believed that in books. He thought so much of the cases where others might embellish different estimate to be attached to with propriety and effect, he could different authors, and esteemed it so not do it without seeming affectation. much better to read one able work The idea that nothing but the greatwell than many works superficially, est plainness and simplicity of manthat he was never ashamed to say ner was suited to him, he carried so of many a commonplace produc- far, that I do not recollect that in the tion, “ I never read it;” and yet, if whole course of his speaking in pubthe conversation happened to turn lic while a student, he could ever be on that work, his companions would brought to make more than one gesbe surprised to find that he knew so ture. much of it. But the attention he • Many other incidents of his early gave to one able writer, frequently history might be recited, evincive of made him acquainted, in no small strong peculiarities of character, indegree, with the contents of other dicative however, for the most part, books to which that writer referred; of originality of thought, delicacy of and hence he embraced and fol- taste, and determination of purpose ; lowed the maxim, that “all human but it was not until the autumn of knowledge which is of any value, is 1815, when we entered upon our to be sought by the study of a few duties as tutors of the same class, out of all the vast multitude of au- that I consider my acquaintance thors.” But he did not consider with him as really commencing. that “ looking at” a book, or "look- As all the more finished productions, ing over” it, was reading it. With whether of nature or of art, exhibit him reading a book was to study it; new perfections as we inspect them to become thoroughly acquainted more closely, so I found that, ex. with all it contains ; to pause over
alted as were my ideas of the capa. its striking passages; to reflect on city of my colleague, they fell far its sentiments; to comment upon it short of the reality. I shall never in written notes; and to examine forget the impressions made by my many collateral works, especially first interview with him, after enreference books. To read Horace, tering upon this new employment. was to unlock the great storehouse His mind seemed too gigantic for its of all antiquity, of which Horace is frail tenement. He was just recov. the key. To read Pope's Satires, ering from an alarming indisposi(of which he was very fond,) was tion, the effects of which were still to investigate the spirit and man- visible in his altered features and ners of the age in which they were emaciated frame. He was also written.
greatly depressed in mind, and auBut the miscellany which com- gured very unfavorably of his sucmanded much of Mr. Fisher's at- cess in the station upon which he
had entered. His best friends, in to the tomb. The sorrowful emodeed, had their apprehensions re- tions awakened by that event, conspecting his power to maintain " the spiring with an imagination already post of dignity.” I need not say enfeebled and disturbed, either banhow completely he afterwards dissi. ished sleep entirely from his pillow, pated these apprehensions. The or agitated his slumbers with the new situation to which he felt him- most frightful images. I was in his self unequal, elicited appropriate room late in the evening in company talents; or I am inclined to attribute with a friend. Mr. F. hinted at his his success here, as in every other sufferings the preceding night, and enterprise, to the power he had of intimated a desire that one of us bringing his great mind to bear on should stay and keep him company. every emergency.
Another dis. We were both well acquainted with tressing apprehension that attended his habitual reserve on subjects of him at this time was, the fear of this kind, and knew that such a repermanent delirium. This I re- quest could be elicited only by very garded, at first, as the offspring of uncommon sufferings. Accordingly his infirm state of health, and was it was at once agreed that one of us disposed to treat it lightly, until I should remain. Mr. Fisher after. learned that a few months before, wards incidentally mentioned the his nervous system had become ex. sights that were presented to his ceedingly disordered. In alluding to imagination the preceding night. this state of mind, he observed, that They were truly awful, such as indi. he had often endeavored and longed cated a highly excited state of the to recover and apply to some useful nervous system, bordering on depurpose, a portion of that spirit rangement. Yet it was during this which then enabled him so rapidly very time that he prepared that esto invent and so easily to execute say on Musical Temperament which his airy schemes.
has been pronounced by the most This imperfect state of health, competent judges so able and proaccompanied by constant depression found. This was during the winter of spirits, continued with little abate- vacation of 1817. The whole piece ment through the whole period of was written in less than two weeks, his tutorship; yet invincibly attach- although the calculations, especially ed to study, he seemed incapable those from which the tables were any
remission; but beset as constructed, were extremely laborihe was by those distressing sensa- ous. My impression is that he told tions which accompany a chronic me that in making the tables alone, debility of the stomach, and haunted he filled his slate with figures more at night by feverish dreams, he was than a hundred times, and he always still, during the whole time, devour. carried on such computations with ing with incredible rapidity the more great compactness. I cannot cerrecondite works of mathematicians, tainly say to what extent these calcu. and diving into the profoundest_lations were prepared beforehand ; depths of the science of music. So but I witnessed the progress of the prevalent were the foregoing disor. composition of the article from day ders during the time that he was to day, and well recollect that it writing his essay on Musical Tem- was written and prepared for the perament, that his rest became ex. Connecticut Academy (to which ceedingly broken. I remember one body it was addressed) within the instance in particular. It was the period of two weeks. night but one after our revered and I always considered Mr. F.'s taste beloved President Dwight died, and for music, and fondness for its scibefore his remains were committed entific principles, as among the most