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fresh impulse in his astronomical pursuits. From this visit he returned to New Haven as a resident graduate, and was for some time occupied, partly in preparing a treatise on practical astronomy, and partly in completing an article on the nebulæ, which was afterwards published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. This article, which Professor Olmsted reckons as its author's greatest achievement, makes about fifty pages quarto, and is regarded as one of the most valuable recent contributions which our country has furnished to astronomical science. At this period, owing to the immense amount of labor which he had assumed, and the constant exposures to the night air to which he subjected himself, his health became alarmingly impaired, and he reluctantly yielded to the importunity of Professor Olmsted to relax from his severe application to study. From this time, however, his health seems to have become an object of more solicitude with him, and he felt the importance of making his course of life, so far as possible, subservient to its establishment and preservation.
Early in the summer of 1840, he received an invitation from the Western Reserve College to a tutorship in that institution; and as, besides other advantages, the place was likely to offer some peculiar facilities for the prosecution of his astronomical researches, he was much inclined to accept the invitation. But while he was hesitating between this offer and a half-formed purpose to give up all literary and scientific pursuits for a year, and spend that time on a farm in Michigan, for the benefit of his healtb, a new proposal was made to him which seemed far more advantageous than either of his other plans, and which he determined without hesitation to accept. The proposal was that he should join the expedition under the government of the United States, for exploring the disputed boundary between Maine and Canada. Nothing could have been more accordant with his tastes and wishes, than this; for while it would secure to him a constant intercourse with kindred spirits, and furnish him with an opportunity to prosecute his favorite astronomical observations under a new and peculiar form, it would give him all the physical exercise he would need, and would be just the thing, as he imagined, to restore vigor to his enfeebled constitution. Accordingly, having received the appointment in due form, after a few days of hurried preparation, he set out for Portland on the 24th August with a view to join the expedition.
After an absence of about two months, during which he seems to have been actively employed, and to have acquitted himself with much credit, he returned to New-York, with his health in no wise benefitted by the hardships to which he had been subjected. Nevertheless, his interest in his astronomical pursuits had suffered no abatement; and he was especially concerned to complete the system of Practical Astronomy which he had undertaken at the instance of Professor Olmsted, and had left in an unfinished state at the time of his joining the expedition. Within a few days after his arrival at New-York, he made a short visit at New Haven, where he was cordially wel. comed to the hospitalities of Professor Olmsted's house, and had every thing done that Christian kindness could do, to render him comfortable. But the friends who had loved and cherished bim so long and so tenderly, and who had hoped so much from his eminently useful life, could no longer resist the conviction that he was laboring under an incurable disease, and that his earthly labors would soon be ended. In accordance with their recommendation as well as his own convictions, he determined to try the effect of a southern climate ; and with a view to this, immediately set out to visit his favorite aunt, Mrs. Turner, who still resided in Virginia.
Professor Olmsted gives a touching description of the scene of parting with his young friend, with the full expectation that the separation would be succeeded by no future meeting in this world. On his journey, he stopped a few days in New-York and Philadelphia, and in each place was occupied chiefly with his astronomical friends. On his arrival at Richmond he was not a little exhausted by the fatigue incident to his journey, and his friends, who received him with the fondest affection, the moment they beheld him, saw that he had come to them to die. Professor Olmsted received a letter from him dated the 19th of December, giving an account of his journey, and another from one of his friends dated the 27th, giving an account of his death. He was confined to his bed but a day or two, and in the act of being raised from his bed died without a struggle or a groan.
It will naturally be inquired what were the views and hopes of this young man in the prospect of death, and what evidence he left behind him that he had made provision for the coming world. The data which the memoir furnishes in relation to this subject are more scanty than we could have desired; and yet this seems to be owing not to any fault in his biographer, but rather to the cautious reserve with which he communicated his feelings. From his earliest childhood he manifested great tenderness of conscience, the utmost respect for parental authority, and an uncommon interest in the study of God's word; and his father early expressed the hope, as he himself did tremblingly towards the close of his life, that he might have experienced the renovating operations of the Holy Spirit while he was yet in his infancy. And during his whole life, so far as appears, his character was marked by the strictest regard to moral rectitude. In reply to a letter from his father, informing him of the hopeful conversion of his sister, he expressed a deep interest in the intelligence, seeming at the same time to recognize the fact that he was himself much less devoted to his highest interests than he ought to be. There are many passages in his writings that indicate his full conviction of the vanity of all human pursuits without reference to the interests of another life, and of the greatness and dignity of man as an accountable and immortal being. During the last few months of his life, his mind evidently became more intensely fixed on religious subjects, and Butler's Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion and his Bible seem to have been his constant companions. In his last conversation with Professor Olmsted, in which the Professor communicated to him honestly his impressions in regard to the fatal and rapidly approaching result of his malady, he expressed his determination to devote himself more earnestly and decidedly to his immortal interests, and then it was he remarked that he had sometimes ventured to hope that he had been the subject of an early renovation, though he added that his subsequent coldness in regard to religious things had led him greatly to doubt whether he could have experienced such a change. On his arrival in Richmond, at the house of his beloved and devoted aunt, Mrs. Turner, religion became still more the all-absorbing object of his thoughts; and perhaps no one could have been found more capable than this excellent relative of giving his last thoughts a right direction. In an account of his last days Mrs. Turner writes to a friend thus :-"A day or two after his arrival, he said to me, 'Aunt, it is gratifying to see my friends, as an expression of their kindness, but I am very desirous, and I feel it to be of great importance to me, to be left alone. I wish you would place here for my use Scott's Bible, Doddridge's Rise and Progress, and Alleine's Alarm.' I remarked, “My dear, you are very weak, and not able to read much : here is your Bible, where you know there is ample provision made for all you need.' He said, “I am sensible of that, and all I can do is to cast myself at the footstool of divine mercy, and I trust I shall not be cast away.' I immediately presented to his mind the case of the leper, mentioned in the seventh chapter of the second of Kings, which he appeared fully to comprehend and to feel. At another time, while reading to him the fourteenth chapter of John, he took the words from me and repeated them from memory. I remarked, 'I am rejoiced, my dear, that this passage is so familiar to you in this season of trial.' He said, 'I know it all, but I want to feel it more ;' and when I asked if these chapters had fastened on his mind from Sunday-school instruction, he replied, “No, but from reading them so much. He seemed to take a deep interest in my reading to him Mrs. Graham's Passage over Jordan,' which you know is a collection of portions of Scripture, adapted to these solemn circumstances with appropriate remarks. In this manner his thoughts were occupied, when he was suddenly taken from us."
The estimate which Professor Olmsted forms of the intellectual character of the subject of his memoir, seems to us to be fully sustained by the history of his life which precedes it. The crowning attribute of his mind seems to have been a versatility which enabled him successfully to adapt himself to any thing. His powers of observation, of reflection, of reasoning, of fancy, were all of the higher, if not of the very highest order; and though he will be remembered chiefly as an astronomer, he might have been, for aught that appears, equally distinguished as a mechanician, and in a high degree as a poet. His biographer institutes an interesting comparison between his powers and those of the lamented Professor Fisher; and concludes—and we think justly -that while the former had far more versatility than the latter, he would not, if he had lived to the same age, have been inferior to him in soundness and depth of intellect.
We sometimes see great vigor of mind associated with moral qualities which almost give us a disrelish for what is admirable in the intellect; but in the case of young Mason, the heart and the head seem to have been in delightful keeping. He was a gentle, docile, unpretending youth, full of affection to his friends and of gratitude to his benefactors; and while he accommodated himself most readily to the circumstances in which Providence placed him, he possessed an invincible perseverance to overcome any obstacles that might lie in his way. Tbose who knew him best seem to have given him the greatest amount of affection as well as of admiration.
We should forbear an inherent prying into the secrets of Providence; and yet one can hardly help asking wherefore it is that He, who orders all things according to the counsel of his will, sends here and there a great spirit upon the earth to exhibit its marvellous powers for a little season, and then to our view prematurely closes the present scene of its exercises and improvements. We may, perhaps, find a solution of this problem partly in the fact, that things out of the common course strike the mind with the greatest power; and that notwithstanding all the advantages of the general uniformity of the Divine government, some apparent variation from the track in which Providence ordinarily moves, may occasionally be necessary to arrest and direct the thoughts of men. The history of such a mind as that of Mason, is fitted to exalt our conceptions, more than the history of a thousand ordinary minds, of the grandeur that pertains to the human soul—the grandeur of its faculties—the grandeur of its destiny. In contemplating men of only a common intellectual stature, such as we meet with in our every-day intercourse, we are but little impressed with the greatness of the human spirit. But let us see the giant mind towering above all others with which it is associated, let us see the youth sinking into the profound of mathematical science ; or exploring other worlds by instruments of his own construction; or soaring away on an eagle's wing in fields of fancyand it must be no common degree of stupidity that will suppress in our minds the feeling of reverence for our own spirits, and the feeling of concern that they may fulfil their appointed end. If the mind, even in this early stage of its existence, can achieve so much; if, while subject to the influence of flesh and sense, it can make itself at home in the distant regions of innmensity ;-what will it not effect, as it shall expand under purer influences, and in brighter worlds, in the illimitable progress of its being? How vastly important that this great and immortal principle should receive a right direction ! and how foolish and guilty are they who trifle in any way with their own souls! And while the appearance of a youthful prodigy upon earth must impress us with the inherent dignity of the mind, his removal from the earth, if his powers have been rightly directed, is equally fitted to impress us with the grandeur and glory of heaven. For there are assembled a host of illus