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Mr. Frisbie was, at this time, remarkable for his attainments in classical learning, and for the taste and elegant fluency of language, which he displayed in rendering the Greek and Roman authors into English. His natural eloquence, indeed, early manifested itself, and added to his reputation as a scholar. He was truly respectable in every department of learning; and with his clear perception, discriminating judgment, and strong reasoning powers, he was capable of excelling in any of the sciences. But being richly endowed with imagination and sensibility, he was perhaps inclined to regard the works of the material world, to the beauty and grandeur of which he was so susceptible, rather as objects of taste, than as subjects of minute science. And in his estimate of the comparative importance of the different branches of knowledge, he appeared to place those, first in dignity and usefulness, which more immediately respect the mind, the means of moral and intellectual improvement, the social nature, duties and destination of man. In this preference, he concurred in opinion with the great British moralist, and exemplified in himself the truth of the sentiment, contained in the following passage from the Life of Milton. "The knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that
knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth, and to prove by events, the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and justice are virtues and excellencies of all times and of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance."
Few, I believe, ever acquired clearer ideas on the subjects of knowledge here recommended, or were better provided for action or conversation, for giving pleasure or being useful, and for all the great purposes of life, than Mr. Frisbie. To become thus accomplished, appeared to his mind to be the highest object of education. That honor alone was dear to him, which follows genius and virtue, employed in promoting human happiness. Pursuing with ardor and diligence the studies in which he delighted, while he treated none with neglect, he succeeded in gratifying his honorable ambition, and qualifying himself to be a benefactor and ornament to society.
Mr. Frisbie was determined to devote himself to the study of the law, and had his health allowed him to pursue a profession, for which he was so eminently fitted by his talents and education, he might have looked forward with confidence to the highest rewards of distinguished excellence. The first year after leaving college, he passed in the town of Concord, where he sustained the same high character he had already manifested. I have heard the most respectable individuals of that place bear testimony to the purity of his moral principles, and to the enlightening influence of his conversation and example. But the most particular information respecting Mr. Frisbie, during this period, I derived from one of his friends, residing in Concord at the time, capable of fully appreciating his excellence of mind and heart, and who listened to his conversation with all the interest which a similarity of taste inspires. His mind often took a delightful range in the regions of literature, taste, morals, and theology; and he appears to have been alike judicious in the topics he selected and in his observations and reflections, all tending to moral or intellectual improvement. When it is considered that he was not yet twenty years old, this is no ordinary praise. A single reflection subjoined to some slight notices of Mr. Frisbie's conversation,
by the intelligent friend whom I have mentioned, show the deep impression, which he made upon the minds and hearts of those who best knew him at this time. It appears so just, that I will not withhold it from you. August 1803. When I reflect on his youth, I am struck with astonishment at the knowledge he has acquired, at the maturity of his judgment, and the strength and perspicuity of his reasoning, at the purity and stability of his principles, at the grandeur, beauty, and excellence of his whole character. Beholding him, I cannot suppress an apprehension that he is not destined to remain long on earth. He appears to have been lent to our admiring view a short time, to serve as an example of piety without ostentation or enthusiasm, pure morality without self-sufficiency, and talents without vanity."
From Concord Mr. Frisbie went to pursue his legal studies at his native village, Ipswich. These, you know, he was compelled to relinquish, on account of the distressing state of his eyes. This was a severe trial to him, but he sustained it as became his christian faith. The most inviting prospect of usefulness, that now opened to him, was presented by his appointment to an office in the instruction and government of the University. His friends rejoiced in his acceptance of it; for
they believed him to be peculiarly fitted for such a station. Nor did he fail to fulfil their expectations; although from the painful weakness of his eyes, which sometimes could not endure the light of day, he often failed to satisfy himself. I need not speak to you of his integrity and faithfulness in the discharge of his various duties, and his enlightened zeal in studying to promote the true objects of education, and the solid interests of the College; nor need I speak of the confidence which the friends of learning and religion always felt, that his whole influence upon the University would be in aid of just views of education and discipline, and of correct principles, sobriety of manners, and christian morals.
During Mr. Frisbie's last sickness, which obliged him for so long a time to discontinue his College duties, I was favored with frequent visits from him, and saw him under circumstances the most interesting and impressive. There was every thing in his situation to bind his warm and generous affections to life; domestic happiness, admiring friends, duties in which he delighted, and the animating hope of promoting, by the performance of these duties, the advancement of moral truth and pure religion. At the same time, he felt with the deepest sensibility his accountableness to God. His