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[209]

Of late, however, my plans for the future have become rather unsettled, and I have no course well marked out before me.

Closing his college course by delivering the oration second in rank at the Commencement, on ‘National Character elevated by National Affliction,’—which indicated the lively concern he even then felt in his country's highest interests, —Alden continued his studies during July and August, as was his wont even during his vacations, and returned to Cambridge in September to enter upon the duties of ‘Proctor and Assistant in Chemistry.’ While he held that appointment, his time was spent in assisting Professor Cooke in the lecture-room, in hearing recitations, in the instruction of private pupils, and in personal scientific investigations.

Although study was his life, and from his physical, mental, and moral constitution he was averse to war, still the holy cause of our country appealed to him with great power. If, however, he felt uneasy on this account in his position at Harvard, he concealed the fact from his friends until the last moment. Continuing faithful to every duty, as he had always been, few knew that occupations which would have been in ordinary times most in harmony with his tastes were now chafing his soul. At last he was compelled to relieve his burdened mind.

In a letter to a friend, of the date January 30, 1863, he says: ‘The question sometimes comes to me very seriously, especially when the American cause has met with reverses, or when I hear of friends and acquaintances who have laid their lives on the altar of patriotism, whether I ought to be here.’ This passage hints at what is believed to have had great influence upon his mind,—the patriotic death of many lamented classmates. When in charge of the Class-Book in the absence of the Secretary, from September, 1862, to June, 1863, he watched with well-grounded pride the swelling army and navy list; and when death took away one after another of those whose names were there recorded, he said to himself, ‘The places of these brothers must be filled. Is it not my turn now?’ In his biographies of his

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