Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/131

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121
SKETCH OF SEARS COOK WALKER.

of mental alienation appeared, and he was taken to the hospital at Mount Hope, near Baltimore. Thence he was removed in the following April to Trenton, N. J., where under the skillful care of Dr. Buttolph, the superintendent of the institution, his disordered brain gradually regained its normal tone. Visits of friends, correspondence on the subjects of his researches, and finally his books and papers were allowed him. While still at Trenton he computed the ephemeris of Neptune for the American Astronomical Ephemeris of 1855. In the fall of 1852 Mr. Walker left the asylum apparently cured, although much debilitated by his illness, and went to Cincinnati for a visit to his brother, Hon. Timothy Walker, intending to remain until the following spring. He took in hand certain labors for the Coast Survey and prepared to resume in full his former sphere of activity. He had fixed a time for returning to Washington and re-engaged his apartments in the city, but he was not destined to make the journey. An attack of fever was followed by other maladies, and Walker soon found himself engaged in a second severe struggle with disease. In this condition Hamlet's problem" To be, or not to be "forced itself upon his thought with all its puzzling considerations. The sound mind in a sound body can give but one reply to this problem, but coming as it did to Walker at a moment when Reason was not firm in her seat, it elicited the opposite response, and on January 30, 1853, he launched himself into the mysterious after-life. His remains were placed in Spring Grove Cemetery, near Cincinnati.

The character of Sears Walker was marked by a childlike simplicity which many persons could hardly realize was not assumed to cover shrewd designs. He was impulsive, but his impulses were always noble and generous. Highly magnanimous, he was always prompt to acknowledge an error, and to overlook not only mistakes but even lapses from honor and justice in others. Intelectually he had the ability of genius. He was unadapted and disinclined for participation in the world's affairs, and could not refrain sufficiently for his physical welfare from intellectual labor.

Although his fame was won in the abstruse field of mathematics, his linguistic attainments were of a high order. In college he was as conspicuous for his classical as for his mathematical ability. During his years of teaching his knowledge of the languages was in daily use, and throughout life the literatures of Greece, of Rome, and of Italy were a source of enjoyment to him. His powerfully retentive memory was stored with long passages from the poets of the past, Tasso being his especial favorite.