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A TRIUMPH OF RESOLUTION.
set them to reading his text books, and himself to committing their contents to memory. The task seemed hopeless; yet what cannot resolution compass ? Attention, sensibility to impressions, and retentiveness of memory were quickened. What a man gains by severe labour, he is apt to value and retain. Those of us who acquire information with ease, forget with greater ease, and then console our indolence by the complaint of bad memories. Nelson, for such was our blind friend's name, soon became the wonder of the college. A dispute arose one day in recitation between himself and the professor, concerning the construction of a sentence in Virgil. The Professor at length flatly ruled him wrong; himself giving what he considered the true rendering. With the color mounting to his temples, and in an agitated voice, Nelson replied, “Your reading would be right, sir, if the mark were a comma, but," turning his sightless orbs to the book he held in his hand, " in my Heyne's edition it is a colon.” Such was the accuracy with which he committed his tasks.
His degree is obtained, and with swelling hearts his class-mates go forth to the career which invite to fortune and renown. But what prizes are there for him? His spirit is one of almost fierce independence. He will not crouch and whine to beg; but manfully seek to gain bread for his sisters and himself, by teaching. The experiment is made and is successful. His reputation spreads and scholars flock to him. He is made professor in his own alma mater, and discharges its duties with honor to the college and himself, and does more to elevate the standard of classical scholarship in our seminaries of learning, than any
man of his time. The strong will conquered fate in the forms of obscurity, poverty, and blindness, and won for him repute, worldly comfort, and scholastic success.
I am now to speak of a person, who, although not totally blind, has struggled against such fearful odds, so long and so successfully, as to entitle him to a degree of admiration accorded to few of his literary contemporaries. At the age of seventeen, while in College, a missile, misdirected by the hand of a classmate, struck him in the eye, which caused its loss. The other was so far affected by sympathy as to endanger it. The service of the best oculists were invoked at home; and then, two or three years were passed in Europe in hope that relief might be found for the remaining orgán, but in vain. About the age twenty, he returned to his native land, having only a part of an eye, enough to serve him in walking, but not enough to enable him to read or write save by the use of a machine invented for the blind. His father was an eminent jurist, and he himself had been destined for the bar, but his infirmity closed his path to distinction in that profession. Bracing himself against despondency, and refusing to employ the language of idle regret, the cheap coin of sloth and imbecility, with admirable calmness and a beautiful submission to his lot, and the stern duties which it imposed, he sat him down to prepare for the vocation which he had selectedhistorical literature! Ten years of quiet, systematic study are spent on the great masters of the arttheir pages read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested. Meanwhile, his own theme is chosen. A momentous era in the world's story, a reign that vies
in interest in with any other on record, is to be treated. Archives are to be searched, masses of manuscripts -oficial documents, correspondence, etc., are to be canvassed, old chronicles to be consulted—reading without end to be done, and notes without end to be taken. Calm verdicts upon vexed questions are to be rendered ; character, life, and manners in a romantic age are to be drawn and colored with the skill and fidelity of the poet; the best powers of statesman and philosopher are to be exercised, and the results of inquiry, comparison, and meditation, are to be given to the world, in such a form that the hurrying throng shall pause to read the scroll. Vast work for one who must read through others' eyes, whilst his writing is hidden from his own imperfect vision.
Thus are other ten years spent, when at the age of forty, Mr.Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella is given to the public. Need I attempt to say how the work was performed ? The unparalleled popularity of its author among American historians, and the judgment of the world, which classes him with Macaulay, is a sufficient answer. Since then, we have received from his untiring industry, and pen of marvellous grace, Mexico, Peru, a collection of reviews, and even now, the first two volumes of Philip the Second.
What a monument are these eleven volumes to a man who as to literary labour is virtually blind! What stories do they not tell of faith and patience-of the strength which copes with misfortune, and masters it-of the resolution which is victorious over apparent impossibilities! What a clear starry light shines out from this brave man's study, to cheer us forward on our own dark paths !
May I be permitted to go farther, and to speak not only of the historian, but of the friend? As I have seen Mr. Prescott in the relations of private life, at table, in the drawing-room or the library; as I have heard his merry laugh and pleasant voice; as I have heard him contributing by his ample stores of knowledge, his genial humor and friendly nature, to the enlightenment and comfort of all around him; as I have noted the undimmed cheerfulness and serenity of his character, and the benignity of his disposition, free from all morbid egotism, and embittered depression : as I have marked how calmly and courageously he carried the heavy load of his privation; I have thought that the world had gained much in the partial eclipse of his sight. Not often is it that we are favored with such lay sermons-sermons which come home to our hearts and lives with telling power, when they preach to us in facts, and are quickened by the vital throb of reality. From association with him, I have always gone forth a more contented, cheerful
Of a townsman of Mr. Prescott, am I now to speak; of a young man, mighty in endurance, and withal admirable beyond praise for what he has done. I mean Francis Parkman, author of the History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac. Not blind, yet unable to fasten his gaze upon any object, and thus disabled from reading and writing; the victim of fearful paing
in eyes, head, and limbs, which for months together subjected him to a torture well-nigh as searching and exquisite as that of the rack, he has yet devoted himself to literary pursuits. Collecting his mind, and composing it under the pressure of the fiercest physical anguish, without halting or wavering he has pursued his labors.
The work he has given to the world is one of the most admirable specimens of historical composition produced in our country. Fresh, vigorous, and singularly graphic in style, its masterly grouping and picturesque treatment of a most interesting era in our annals must commend it to the warmest approval of the literary public; and coming as it does, from a man circumstanced as I have described, it seems to me one of the noblest trophies which valor has wrung from suffering. Nor satisfied with this, he has, still under the pressure of affliction, prosecuted his labors, and is now engaged upon a history of the French Empire in America. If conduct such as this does not glare out upon the world like the struggles and achievements of warriors, yet when the world comes to mature age, it will appreciate these triumphs over infirmity and agony, more than victories compassed by blood and fire.
And now am I brought to the last and most renowned of all my heroes; one whose name has become a household word throughout the nations of the