Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White
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ANDREW DICKSON WHITE
THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1904, 1905, by
THE CENTURY CO.
Published March, 1905
THE DE VINNE PRESS
MY OLD STUDENTS
THIS RECORD OF MY LIFE
WITH MOST KINDLY RECOLLECTIONS
AND BEST WISHES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I--ENVIRONMENT AND EDUCATION
CHAPTER I. BOYHOOD IN CENTRAL NEW YORK--1832-1850
The ``Military Tract'' of New York. A settlement on the
headwaters of the Susquehanna. Arrival of my grandfathers and
grandmothers. Growth of the new settlement. First recollections
of it. General character of my environment. My father and
mother. Cortland Academy. Its twofold effect upon me. First
schooling. Methods in primary studies. Physical education.
Removal to Syracuse. The Syracuse Academy. Joseph Allen
and Professor Root; their influence; moral side of the education
thus obtained. General education outside the school. Removal to
a ``classical school''; a catastrophe. James W. Hoyt and his
influence. My early love for classical studies. Discovery of
Scott's novels. ``The Gallery of British Artists.'' Effect of
sundry conventions, public meetings, and lectures. Am sent to
Geneva College; treatment of faculty by students. A ``Second
Adventist'' meeting; Howell and Clark; my first meeting with
Judge Folger. Philosophy of student dissipation at that place and
CHAPTER II. YALE AND EUROPE--1850-1857
My coup d'
reading. Influence of Emerson, Carlyle, and Ruskin. Yale in
1850. My disappointment at the instruction; character of
president and professors; perfunctory methods in lower-class
rooms; ``gerund-grinding'' vs. literature; James Hadley--his
abilities and influence, other professors; influence of President
Woolsey, Professors Porter, Silliman, and Dana; absence of
literary instruction; character of that period from a literary
point of view; influences from fellow-students. Importance of
political questions at that time. Sundry successes in essay
writing. Physical education at Yale; boating. Life abroad after
graduation; visit to Oxford; studies at the Sorbonne and
western and central France. Studies at St. Petersburg. Studies
at Berlin. Journey in Italy; meeting with James Russell Lowell
at Venice. Frieze, Fishburne, and studies in Rome. Excursions
through the south of France. Return to America. Influence of
Buckle, Lecky, and Draper. The atmosphere of Darwin and Spencer.
Educational environment at the University of Michigan.
PART II--POLITICAL LIFE
CHAPTER III. FROM JACKSON TO FILLMORE--1832-1851
Political division in my family; differences between my father
and grandfather; election of Andrew Jackson. First recollections
of American politics, Martin Van Buren. Campaign of 1840;
campaign songs and follies. Efforts by the Democrats; General
Crary of Michigan; Corwin's speech. The Ogle gold-spoon speech.
The Sub-Treasury Question. Election of General Harrison; his
death. Disappointment in President Tyler. Carelessness of
nominating conventions as to the second place upon the ticket.
Campaign of 1844. Clay, Birney, and Polk. Growth of
anti-slavery feeling. Senator Hale's lecture. Henry Clay's
proposal, The campaign of 1848; General Taylor vs. General Cass.
My recollections of them both. State Conventions at this period.
Governor Bouck; his civility to Bishop Hughes. Fernando
Wood; his method of breaking up a State Convention. Charles
O'Conor and John Van Buren; boyish adhesion to Martin Van Buren
against General Taylor; Taylor's election; his death. My
recollections of Millard Fillmore. The Fugitive Slave Law.
CHAPTER IV. EARLY MANHOOD--1851-1857
``Jerry'', his sudden fame. Speeches of Daniel Webster and Henry
Clay at Syracuse on the Fugitive Slave Law ; their prophecies.
The ``Jerry Rescue.'' Trials of the rescuers. My attendance at
one of them. Bishop Loguen's prayer and Gerrit Smith's speech.
Characteristics of Gerrit Smith. Effects of the rescue trials.
Main difficulty of the anti-slavery party. ``Fool reformers.''
Nominations of Scott and Pierce; their qualities.
Senator Douglas. Abolition of the Missouri Compromise. Growth
of ill feeling between North and South. Pro-slavery tendencies
at Yale. Stand against these taken by President Woolsey and
Leonard Bacon. My candidacy or editorship of the ``Yale Literary
Magazine.'' Opposition on account of my anti-Slavery ideas. My
election. Temptations to palter with my conscience; victory over
them. Professor Hadley's view of duty to the Fugitive Slave
Law. Lack of opportunity to present my ideas. My chance on
Commencement Day. ``Modern Oracles.'' Effect of my speech on
Governor Seymour. Invitation to his legation at St. Petersburg
after my graduation. Effect upon me of Governor Seymour's ideas
regarding Jefferson. Difficulties in discussing the slavery
question. My first discovery as to the value of political
criticism in newspapers. Return to America. Presidential
campaign of 1856. Nomination of Fr
with the Democratic nominee Mr Buchanan. My first vote.
Argument made for the ``American Party.'' Election of Buchanan.
My first visit to Washington. President Pierce at the White
House. Inauguration of the new President. Effect upon me of his
speech and of a first sight of the United States Senate.
Impression made by the Supreme Court. General impression made by
Washington. My first public lecture--``Civilization in Russia'';
its political bearing; attacks upon it and vindications of it.
Its later history.
CHAPTER V. THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD--1857-1864.
My arrival at the University of Michigan. Political side of
professorial life. General purpose of my lectures in the
university and throughout the State. My articles in the
``Atlantic Monthly.'' President Buchanan, John Brown Stephen A.
Douglas, and others. The Chicago Convention. Nomination of
Lincoln. Disappointment of my New York friends. Speeches by
Carl Schurz. Election of Lincoln. Beginnings of Civil War. My
advice to students. Reverses; Bull Run. George Sumner's view.
Preparation for the conflict. Depth of feeling. Pouring out of
my students into the army. Kirby Smith. Conduct of the British
Government. Break in my health. Thurlow Weed's advice to me.
My work in London. Discouragements there. My published answer
to Dr. Russell. Experiences in Ireland and France. My horror of
the French Emperor. Effort to influence opinion in Germany.
William Walton Murphy; his interview with Baron Rothschild.
Fourth of July celebration at Heidelberg in 1863. Turning of the
contest in favor of the United States. My election to the Senate
of the State of New York.
CHAPTER VI. SENATORSHIP AT ALBANY--1864-1865
My arrival at Albany as State Senator. My unfitness. Efforts to
become acquainted with State questions. New acquaintances.
Governor Horatio Seymour, Charles James Folger, Ezra Cornell, and
others on the Republican side; Henry C. Murphy and Thomas C.
Fields on the Democratic side. Daniel Manning. Position
assigned me on committees. My maiden speech. Relations with
Governor Seymour. My chairmanship of the Committee on Education.
The Morrill Act of 1862. Mr. Cornell and myself at loggerheads
Codification of the Educational Laws. State Normal School Bill.
Special Committee on the New York Health Department. Revelations
made to the Committee. The Ward's Island matter. Last great
effort of the State in behalf of the Union. The Bounty Bill.
Opposition of Horace Greeley to it. Embarrassment caused by him
at that period. Senator Allaben's speech against the Bounty
Bill. His reference to French Assignats; my answer; results;
later development of this speech into a political pamphlet on
``Paper Money Inflation in France.'' Baltimore Convention of
1864; its curious characteristics; impression made upon me by it.
Breckinridge, Curtis, and Raymond. Renomination of Lincoln; my
meeting him at the White House. Sundry peculiarities then
revealed by him. His election.
CHAPTER VII. SENATORSHIP AT ALBANY--1865-1867
My second year in the State Senate. Struggle for the Charter of
Cornell University. News of Lee's surrender. Assassination of
Lincoln. Service over his remains at the Capitol in Albany. My
address. Question of my renomination. Elements against me; the
Tammany influence; sundry priests in New York, and clergymen
throughout the State. Senatorial convention; David J. Mitchell;
my renomination and election. My third year of service, 1866.
Speech on the Health Department in New York; monstrous iniquities
in that Department; success in replacing it with a better system.
My Phi Beta Kappa address at Yale; its purpose. My election to a
Professorship at Yale; reasons for declining it. State Senate
sits as Court to try a judge; his offense; pathetic
complications; his removal from office. Arrival of President
Johnson, Secretary Seward, General Grant, and Admiral Farragut in
Albany; their reception by the Governor and Senate; impressions
made on me thereby; part taken by Governor Fenton and Secretary
Seward; Judge Folger's remark to me. Ingratitude of the State
thus far to its two greatest Governors, DeWitt Clinton and
CHAPTER VIII. ROSCOE CONKLING AND JUDGE FOLGER--1867-1868
Fourth year in the State Senate, 1867. Election of a United
States Senator; feeling throughout the State regarding Senators
Morgan and Harris; Mr. Cornell's expression of it. The
candidates; characteristics of Senator Harris, of Judge Davis, of
Roscoe Conkling. Services and characteristics of the latter
which led me to support him; hostility of Tammany henchmen
to us both. The legislative caucus. Presentation of candidates;
my presentation of Mr. Conkling; reception by the audience of my
main argument; Mr. Conkling elected. Difficulties between Judge
Folger and myself; question as to testimony in criminal cases;
Judge Folger's view of it; his vexation at my obtaining a
majority against him. Calling of the Constitutional Convention,
Judge Folger's candidacy for its Presidency; curious reason for
Horace Greeley's opposition to him. Another cause of separation
between Judge Folger and myself. Defeat of the Sodus Canal Bill.
Constitutional Convention eminent men in it; Greeley's position
in it; his agency in bringing the Convention into disrepute; his
later regret at his success; the new Constitution voted down.
Visit to Agassiz at Nahant. A day with Longfellow. His
remark regarding Mr. Greeley. Meeting with Judge Rockwood Hoar
at Harvard. Boylston prize competition; the successful
contestant; Judge Hoar's remark regarding one of the speakers.
My part in sundry political meetings. Visit to Senator Conkling.
Rebuff at one of my meetings; its effect upon me.
CHAPTER IX. GENERAL GRANT AND SANTO DOMINGO--1868-1871
Distraction from politics by Cornell University work during two
or three years following my senatorial term. Visits to
scientific and technical schools in Europe. The second political
campaign of General Grant. My visit to Auburn; Mr. Seward's
speech; its unfortunate characteristics; Mr. Cornell's remark on
my proposal to call Mr. Seward as a commencement orator. Great
services of Seward. State Judiciary Convention of 1870; my part
in it; nomination of Judge Andrews and Judge Folger; my part in
the latter; its effect on my relations with Folger. Closer
acquaintance with General Grant. Visit to Dr. Henry Field at
Stockbridge; Burton Harrison's account of the collapse of the
Confederacy and the flight of Jefferson Davis. Story told me by
William Preston Johnston throwing light on the Confederacy in its
last hours. Delegacy to the State Republican Convention of 1870.
Am named as Commissioner to Santo Domingo. First meeting with
Senator Charles Sumner. My acquaintance with Senator McDougal.
His strange characteristics. His famous plea for drunkenness.
My absence in the West Indies.
CHAPTER X. THE GREELEY CAMPAIGN--1872
First meeting with John Hay. Speech of Horace Greeley on his
return from the South; his discussion of national affairs; his
manner and surroundings; last hours and death of Samuel J. May.
The Prudence Crandall portrait. Addresses at the Yale alumni
dinner. Dinner with Longfellow at Craigie House. The State
Convention of 1871; my chairmanship and presidency of it. My
speech; appointment of committees; anti-administration
demonstration; a stormy session; retirement of the
anti-administration forces; attacks in consequence; rally of old
friends to my support. Examples of the futility of such
attacks; Senator Carpenter, Governor Seward, Senator Conklin.
My efforts to interest Conkling in a reform of the civil service.
Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1872; ability
of sundry colored delegates; nomination of Grant and Wilson. Mr.
Greeley's death. Characteristics of General Grant as President.
Reflections on the campaign. Questions asked me by a leading
London journalist regarding the election. My first meeting with
Samuel J. Tilden; low ebb of his fortunes at that period. The
culmination of Tweed. Thomas Nast. Meeting of the Electoral
College at Albany; the ``Winged Victory'' and General Grant's
credentials. My first experience of ``Reconstruction'' in the
South; visit to the State Capitol of South Carolina; rulings of
the colored Speaker of the House, fulfilment of Thomas
Jefferson's inspired prophecy.
CHAPTER XI. GRANT, HAYES, AND GARFIELD--1871-1881
Sundry visits to Washington during General Grant's presidency.
Impression made by President Grant; visit to him in company with
Agassiz; characteristics shown by him at Long Branch; his dealing
with one newspaper correspondent and story regarding another.
His visit to me at Cornell; his remark regarding the annexation
of Santo Domingo, far-sighted reason assigned for it; his feeling
regarding a third presidential term. My journey with him upon
the Rhine. Walks and talks with him in Paris. Persons met at
Senator Conkling's. Story told by Senator Carpenter. The
``Greenback Craze''; its spirit; its strength. Wretched
character of the old banking system. Ability and force
of Mr. Conkling's speech at Ithaca. Its effect. My previous
relations with Garfield. Character and effect of his
speech at Ithaca; his final address to the students of the
University. Our midnight conversation. President Hayes;
impressions regarding him; attacks upon him; favorable judgment
upon him by observant foreigners, excellent impression made by
him upon me at this time and at a later period. The
assassination of General Garfield. Difficulties which thickened
about him toward the end of his career. Characteristics of
President Arthur. Ground taken in my public address at Ithaca at
the service in commemoration of Garfield.
CHAPTER XII. ARTHUR, CLEVELAND, AND BLAINE--1881-1884
President Arthur; course before his Presidency; qualities
revealed afterward; curious circumstances of his nomination.
Reform of the Civil Service. My article in the ``North American
Review.'' Renewal of my acquaintance with Mr. Evarts; his witty
stories. My efforts to interest Senator Platt in civil-service
reform; his slow progress in this respect. Wayne MacVeagh; Judge
Biddle's remark at his table on American feeling regarding
capital punishment. Great defeat of the Republican party in
1882. Judge Folger's unfortunate campaign. Election of Mr.
Cleveland. My address on ``The New Germany'' at New York.
Meeting with General McDowell, the injustice of popular judgment
upon him. Revelation of Tammany frauds. Grover Cleveland, his
early life; his visit to the University; impression made upon me
by him. Senator Morrill's visit; tribute paid him by the
University authorities. My address at Yale on ``The Message of
the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth.'' Addresses by Carl
Schurz and myself at the funeral of Edward Lasker. Election as a
delegate at large to the National Republican Convention at
Chicago, 1884. Difficulties regarding Mr. Blaine; vain efforts
to nominate another candidate; George William Curtis and his
characteristics; tyranny over the Convention by the gallery mob;
nomination of Blaine and Logan. Nomination of Mr. Cleveland by
the Democrats. Tyranny by the Chicago mob at that convention
also. Open letter to Theodore Roosevelt in favor of Mr. Blaine.
Private letter to Mr. Blaine in favor of a reform of the Civil
Service. His acceptance of its suggestions. Wretched character
of the campaign. Presidency of the Republican mass meeting at
Syracuse; experience with a Kentucky orator. Election of Mr.
CHAPTER XIII. HENDRICKS, JOHN SHERMAN, BANCROFT,
Renewal of my acquaintance with Mr. Cleveland at Washington.
Meeting with Mr. Blaine; his fascinating qualities; his
self-control. William Walter Phelps; his arguments regarding the
treatment of Congressional speakers by the press. Senator
Randall Gibson; meeting at his house with Vice-President
Hendricks; evident disappointment of the Vice-President; his view
of civil-service reform; defense of it by Senator Butler of South
Carolina; reminiscences of odd senators by Senator Jones of
Florida; Gibson's opinion of John Sherman. President Cleveland's
mode of treating office-beggars and the like; Senator Sawyer's
story; Secretary Fairchild's remark; Senators Sherman and Vance.
Secretary Bayard's criticism of applicants for office. Senator
Butler's remark on secession. Renewal of my acquaintance with
George Bancroft. Goldwin Smith in Washington; his favorable
opinion of American crowds. Chief Justice Waite. General
Sheridan; his account of the battle of Gravelotte; discussion
between Sheridan and Goldwin Smith regarding sundry points in
military history. General Schenck; his reminiscences of Corwin
Everett, and others. Resignation of my presidency at Cornell,
1885. President Cleveland's tender of an Interstate Railway
commissionership, my declination. Departure for Europe. Am
tendered nomination for Congress; my discussion of the matter in
London with President Porter of Yale and others; declination.
Visit to Washington under the administration of General Harrison,
January, 1891; presentation of proposals to him regarding
civil-service reform; his speech in reply.
CHAPTER XIV. MCKINLEY AND ROOSEVELT--1891-1904
Candidacy for the governorship of New York; Mr. Platt's relation
to it; my reluctance and opposition; decision of the Rochester
Convention in favor of Mr. Fassett; natural reasons for this.
Lectures at Stanford University. Visit to Mexico and California
with Mr. Andrew Carnegie and his party. President Harrison
tenders me the position of minister to Russia; my retention in
office by Mr. Cleveland. My stay in Italy 1894-1895. President
Cleveland appoints me upon the Venezuelan Boundary Commission,
December, 1895. Presidential campaign of 1896. My unexpected
part in it; nomination of Mr. Bryan by Democrats; publication of
my open letter to sundry Democrats, republication of my ``Paper
Money Inflation in France,'' and its circulation as a campaign
document; election of Mr. McKinley. My address before the State
Universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota; strongly favorable
impression made upon me by them; meeting with Mr. Ignatius
Donnelly, his public address to me in the State House of
Minnesota. My addresses at Harvard, Yale, and elsewhere. Am
appointed by President McKinley ambassador to Germany; question
of my asking sanction of Mr. Platt; how settled. Renomination of
McKinley with Mr. Roosevelt as Vice-President. I revisit
America; day with Mr. Roosevelt, visits to Washington; my
impressions of President McKinley; his conversation; his
coolness; tributes from his Cabinet; Secretary Hay's testimony,
Mr. McKinley's refusal to make speeches during his second
campaign; his reasons; his re
His assassination; receipt of the news in Germany and Great
Britain. My second visit to America; sadness, mournful
reflections at White House; conversations with President
Roosevelt; message given me by him for the Emperor; its playful
ending. The two rulers compared.
PART III--AS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR
CHAPTER XV. LIFE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN--1857-1864
Early ideals. Gradual changes in these. Attractions of
journalism then and now. New views of life opened to me at Paris
and Berlin. Dreams of aiding the beginnings of a better system
of university education in the United States. Shortcomings of
American instruction, especially regarding history, political
science, and literature, at that period. My article on
``German Instruction in General History'' in ``The New
Englander.'' Influence of Stanley's ``Life of Arnold.'' Turning
point in my life at the Yale Commencement of 1856; Dr. Wayland's
speech. Election to the professorship of history and English
literature at the University of Michigan; my first work in it;
sundry efforts toward reforms, text-books, social relations with
students; use of the Abb
lectures; President Tappan's advice on extemporaneous speaking;
publication of my syllabus; ensuing relations with Charles
Sumner. Growth and use of my private historical library.
Character of my students. Necessity for hard work.
CHAPTER XVI. UNIVERSITY LIFE IN THE WEST--
Some difficulties; youthfulness; struggle against various
combinations, my victory; an enemy made a friend. Lectures
throughout Michigan; main purpose in these; a storm aroused;
vigorous attack upon my politico-economical views; happy results;
revenge upon my assailant; discussion in a County Court House.
Breadth and strength then given to my ideas regarding university
education. President Tappan. Henry Simmons Frieze. Brunnow.
Chief Justice Cooley. Judge Campbell. Distinguishing feature of
the University of Michigan in those days. Dr. Tappan's good
sense in administration; one typical example. Unworthy treatment
of him by the Legislature; some causes of this. Opposition to
the State University by the small sectarian colleges. Dr.
Tappan's prophecy to sundry demagogues; its fulfilment. Sundry
defects of his qualities; the ``Winchell War,'' ``Armed
Neutrality.'' Retirement of President Tappan; its painful
circumstances; amends made later by the citizens of Michigan.
The little city of Ann Arbor; origin of its name. Recreations,
tree planting on the campus; results of this. Exodus of students
into the Civil War. Lectures continued after my resignation. My
affectionate relations with the institution.
PART IV--AS UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
CHAPTER XVII. EVOLUTION OF ``THE CORNELL IDEA''--
Development of my ideas on university organization at Hobart
College, at Yale, and abroad. Their further evolution at the
University of Michigan. President Tappan's influence. My plan
of a university at Syracuse. Discussions with George William
Curtis. Proposal to Gerrit Smith; its failure. A new
CHAPTER XVIII. EZRA CORNELL--1864-1874
Ezra Cornell. My first impressions regarding him. His public
library. Temporary estrangement between us; regarding the Land
Grant Fund. Our conversation regarding his intended gift. The
State Agricultural College and the ``People's College''; his
final proposal. Drafting of the Cornell University Charter. His
foresight. His views of university education. Struggle for the
charter in the Legislature; our efforts to overcome the coalition
against us; bitter attacks on him; final struggle in the
Assembly, Senate, and before the Board of Regents. Mr. Cornell's
location of the endowment lands. He nominates me to the
University Presidency. His constant liberality and labors. His
previous life; growth of his fortune; his noble use of it; sundry
original ways of his; his enjoyment of the university in its
early days; his mixture of idealism and common sense. First
celebration of Founder's Day. His resistance to unreason.
Bitter attacks upon him in sundry newspapers and in the
Legislature; the investigation; his triumph. His minor
characteristics; the motto ``True and Firm'' on his house. His
last days and hours. His political ideas. His quaint sayings;
intellectual and moral characteristics; equanimity; religious
CHAPTER XIX. ORGANIZATION OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY--
Virtual Presidency of Cornell during two years before my actual
election. Division of labor between Mr. Cornell and myself. My
success in thwarting efforts to scatter the Land Grant Fund, and
in impressing three points on the Legislature. Support given by
Horace Greeley to the third of these. Judge Folger's opposition.
Sudden death of Dr. Willard and its effects. Our compromise with
Judge Folger. The founding of Willard Asylum. Continued
opposition to us. Election to the Presidency of the University.
Pressure of my own business. Presentation of my ``Plan of
Organization.'' Selection of Professors; difficulty of such
selection in those days as compared with these; system suggested;
system adopted. Resident and non- resident professorships.
Erection of university buildings; difficulty arising from a
requirement of our charter; general building plan adopted.
My visit to European technical institutions; choice of foreign
professors; purchases of books, apparatus, etc.
CHAPTER XX. THE FIRST YEARS OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY--
Formal opening of the University October 7, 1868. Difficulties,
mishaps, calamities, obstacles. Effect of these on Mr. Cornell
and myself. Opening ceremonies of the morning; Mr. Cornell's
speech and my own; effect of Mr. Cornell's broken health upon me.
The first ringing of the chime; effect of George W. Curtis's
oration; my realization of our difficulties; Mr. Cornell's
physical condition; inadequacy of our resources; impossibility of
selling lands; our necessary unreadiness; haste compelled by our
charter. Mr. Cornell's letter to the ``New York Tribune''
regarding student labor. Dreamers and schemers. Efforts by
``hack'' politicians. Attacks by the press, denominational and
secular. Friction in the University machinery. Difficulty of
the students in choosing courses; improvement in these days
consequent upon improvement of schools. My reprint of John
Foster's ``Essay on Decision of Character''; its good effects.
Compensations; character of the students; few infractions of
discipline; causes of this; effects of liberty of choice between
courses of study. My success in preventing the use of the
faculty as policemen; the Campus Bridge case. Sundry trials of
students by the faculty; the Dundee Lecture case; the ``Mock
Programme'' case; a suspension of class officers; revelation in
all this of a spirit of justice among students. Athletics and
their effects. Boating; General Grant's remark to me on the
Springfield regatta; Cornell's double success at Saratoga; letter
from a Princeton graduate. General improvement in American
university students during the second half of the nineteenth
CHAPTER XXI. DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS AT CORNELL--
Questions regarding courses of instruction. Evils of the old
system of assigning them entirely to resident professors.
Literary instruction at Yale; George William Curtis and John
Lord. Our general scheme. The Arts Course; clinching it into
our system; purchase of the Anthon Library; charges against us on
this score; our vindication. The courses in literature, science
and philosophy; influence of one of Herbert Spencer's ideas upon
the formation of all these; influence of my own experience.
Professor Wilder; his services against fustian and ``tall talk.''
The course in literature; use made of it in promoting the general
culture of students. Technical departments; Civil Engineering;
incidental question of creed in electing a professor to it.
Department of Agriculture; its difficulties; three professors who
tided it through. Department of Mechanic Arts; its peculiar
difficulties and dangers; Mr. Cornell's view regarding college
shop work for bread winning; necessity for practical work in
connection with theoretical; mode of bringing about this
connection. Mr. Sibley's gift. Delay in recognition of our
success. Department of Architecture; origin of my ideas on this
subject; the Trustees accept my architectural library and
establish the Department.
CHAPTER XXII. FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF UNIVERSITY
Establishment of Laboratories. Governor Cleveland's visit.
Department of Electrical Engineering; its origin. Department of
Political Science and History. Influence of my legislative
experience upon it; my report on the Paris Exposition, and
address at Johns Hopkins; a beginning made; excellent work done
by Frank Sanborn. Provision for Political Economy; presentation
of both sides of controverted questions. Instruction in History;
my own part in it; its growth; George Lincoln Burr called into
it; lectures by Goldwin Smith, Freeman, Froude, and others.
Instruction in American History; calling of George W. Greene and
Theodore Dwight as Non-Resident, and finally of Moses Coit Tyler
as Resident Professor. Difficulties in some of these
Departments. Reaction, ``The Oscillatory Law of Human
Progress.'' ``Joe'' Sheldon's ``Professorship of Horse Sense''
needed. First gift of a building--McGraw Hall. Curious passage
in a speech at the laying of its corner-stone. Military
Instruction; peculiar clause regarding it in our Charter; our
broad construction of it; my reasons for this. The Conferring of
Degrees; abuse at sundry American institutions in conferring
honorary degrees why Cornell University confers none. Regular
Degrees; theory originally proposed; theory adopted; recent
change in practice.
CHAPTER XXIII. ``CO-EDUCATION'' AND AN UNSECTARIAN
Admission of women. The Cortland Free Scholarship; the Sage
gift; difficulties and success. Establishment of Sage Chapel;
condition named by me for its acceptance; character of the
building. Establishment of a preachership; my suggestions
regarding it accepted; Phillips Brooks preaches the first sermon,
1875; results of this system. Establishment of Barnes Hall;
its origin and development; services it has rendered.
Development of sundry minor ideas in building up the University;
efforts to develop a recognition of historical and commemorative
features; portraits, tablets, memorial windows, etc. The
beautiful work of Robert Richardson. The Memorial Chapel.
Efforts to preserve the beauty of the grounds and original plan
of buildings; constant necessity for such efforts; dangers
threatening the original plan.
CHAPTER XXIV. ROCKS, STORMS, AND PERIL--1868-1874
Difficulties and discouragements. Very serious character of some
of these. Financial difficulties; our approach, at times, to
ruin. Splendid gifts; their continuance, the ``Ostrander Elms'';
encouragement thus given. Difficulties arising from our Charter;
short time allowed us for opening the University, general plans
laid down for us. Advice, comments, etc., from friends and
enemies; remark of the Johns Hopkins trustees as to their freedom
from oppressive supervision and control; my envy of them. Large
expenditure demanded. Mr. Cornell's burdens. Installation of a
``Business Manager.'' My suspicion as to our finances. Mr.
Cornell's optimism. Discovery of a large debt; Mr. Cornell's
noble proposal; the debt cleared in fifteen minutes by four men.
Ultimate result of this subscription; worst calamities to Cornell
its greatest blessings; example of this in the founding of
fellowships and scholarships. Successful financial management
ever since. Financial difficulties arising from the burden of
the University lands on Mr. Cornell, and from his promotion of
local railways; his good reasons for undertaking these.
Entanglement of the University affairs with those of the State
and of Mr. Cornell. Narrow escape of the institution from a
fatal result. Judge Finch as an adviser; his extrication of the
University and of Mr. Cornell's family; interwoven interests
disentangled. Death of Mr. Cornell, December, 1875. My
depression at this period; refuge in historical work. Another
calamity. Munificence of John McGraw; interest shown in the
institution by his daughter; her relations to the University; her
death; her bequest; my misgivings as to our Charter; personal
complications between the McGraw heirs and some of our trustees;
efforts to bring about a settlement thwarted; ill success of the
University in the ensuing litigation. Disappointment at this
prodigious loss. Compensations for it. Splendid gifts from Mr.
Henry W. Sage, Messrs. Dean and Wm. H. Sage, and others.
Continuance of sectarian attacks; virulent outbursts; we stand on
the defensive. I finally take the offensive in a lecture on
``The Battle-fields of Science''; its purpose, its reception when
repeated and when published; kindness of President Woolsey in the
matter. Gradual expansion of the lecture into a history of ``The
Warfare of Science with Theology''; filtration of the ideas it
represents into public opinion; effect of this in smoothing the
way for the University.
CHAPTER XXV. CONCLUDING YEARS--1881-1885
Evolution of the University administration. The Trustees; new
method of selecting them; Alumni trustees. The Executive
Committee. The Faculty method of its selection; its harmony.
The Students; system of taking them into our confidence. Alumni
associations. Engrossing nature of the administration.
Collateral duties. Addresses to the Legislature, to
associations, to other institutions of learning. Duties as
Professor. Delegation of sundry administrative details.
Inaccessibility of the University in those days; difficulties in
winter. Am appointed Commissioner to Santo Domingo in 1870;
to a commissionership at the Paris Exposition in 1877, and as
Minister to Germany in 1879-1881. Test of the University
organization during these absences; opportunity thus given the
University Faculty to take responsibility in University
government. Ill results, in sundry other institutions, of
holding the President alone responsible. General good results of
our system. Difficulties finally arising. My return. The four
years of my presidency afterward. Resignation in 1885. Kindness
of trustees and students. Am requested to name my successor, and
I nominate Charles Kendall Adams. Transfer of my historical
library to the University. Two visits to Europe; reasons for
them. Lectures at various universities after my return.
Resumption of diplomatic duties. Continued relations to the
University. My feelings toward it on nearing the end of life.
PART V--IN THE DIPLOMATIC SERVICE
CHAPTER XXVI. AS ATTACH
My first studies in History and International Law. Am appointed
reminiscences. Arrival in St. Petersburg. Duty of an
American Minister and his suite. Good feeling established
between Russia and the United States. The Emperor Nicholas; his
death; his funeral. Reception of the Diplomatic Corps at the
Winter Palace by Alexander II; his speech; feeling shown by him
toward Austria. Count Nesselrode; his kindness to me. Visits of
sundry Americans to St. Petersburg. Curious discovery at the
Winter Palace among the machines left by Peter the Great.
American sympathizers with Russia in the Crimean War.
Difficulties thus caused for the Minister. Examples of very
original Americans; the Kentucky Colonel; the New York Election
Manager; performance of the latter at a dinner party and display
at the Post House. Feeling of the Government toward the United
States; example of this at the Kazan Cathedral. Household
troubles of the Minister. Baird the Ironmaster; his yacht race
with the Grand Duke Alexander; interesting scenes at his table.
The traveler Atkinson and Siberia.
CHAPTER XXVII. AS ATTACH
Blockade of the Neva by the allied fleet. A great opportunity
lost. Russian caricatures during the Crimean War. Visit to
Moscow. Curious features in the Kremlin, the statue of Napoleon;
the Crown, Sceptre, and Constitution of Poland. Evidences of
official stupidity. Journey from St. Petersburg to Warsaw.
Contest with the officials at the frontier; my victory.
Journey across the continent; scene in a railway carriage between
Strasburg and Paris. Delivery of my despatches in Paris. Baron
Seebach. The French Exposition of 1855. Arrival of Horace
Greeley; comical features in his Parisian life; his arrest and
imprisonment; his efforts to learn French in prison and after his
release, especially at the Cr
Scenes at the Exposition. Journey through Switzerland.
Experience at the Hospice of the Great St. Bernard, Fanny Kemble
Butler; kind treatment by the monks. My arrival in Berlin as
CHAPTER XXVIII. AS COMMISSIONER TO SANTO DOMINGO--1871
Propositions for the annexation of Santo Domingo to the United
States. I am appointed one of three Commissioners to visit the
island. Position taken by Senator Sumner; my relations with him;
my efforts to reconcile him with the Grant Administration; effort
of Gerrit Smith. Speeches of Senator Schurz. Conversations with
Admiral Porter, Benjamin F. Butler, and others. Discussions with
President Grant; his charge to me. Enlistment of scientific
experts. Direction of them. Our residence at Santo Domingo
city. President Baez; his conversations. Condition of the
Republic; its denudation. Anxiety of the clergy for connection
with the United States. My negotiation with the Papal Nuncio and
Vicar Apostolic; his earnest desire for annexation. Reasons for
this. My expedition across the island. Mishaps. Interview with
guerrilla general in the mountains. His gift. Vain efforts at
diplomacy. Our official inquiries regarding earthquakes; pious
view taken by the Vicar of Cotuy. Visit to Vega. Aid given me
by the French Vicar. Arrival at Puerto Plata. My stay at the
Vice-President's house; a tropical catastrophe; public dinner and
speech under difficulties. Journey in the Nantasket to
Port-au-Prince. Scenes in the Haitian capital; evidences of
revolution; unlimited paper money; effect of these experiences on
Frederick Douglass. Visit to Jamaica; interview with President
Geffrard. Experience of the Commission with a newspaper reporter.
Landing at Charleston. Journey to Washington. Refusal of dinner
to Douglass on the Potomac steamer. Discovery regarding an
assertion in Mr. Sumner's speech on Santo Domingo; his injustice.
Difference of opinion in drawing up our report; we present no
recommendation but simply a statement of facts. Reasons why the
annexation was not accomplished.
CHAPTER XXIX. AS COMMISSIONER TO THE PARIS EXPOSITION--1878
Previous experience on the Educational Jury at the Philadelphia
Exposition. Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil; curious revelation of
his character at Booth's Theater; my after acquaintance with him.
Don Juan Marin, his fine characteristics; his lesson to an
American crowd. Levasseur of the French Institute. Millet.
Gardner Hubbard. My honorary commissionership to the Paris
Exposition. Previous troubles of our Commissioner-General at the
Vienna Exposition. Necessity of avoiding these at Paris.
Membership of the upper jury. Meissonier. Tresca. Jules Simon.
Wischniegradsky. Difficulty regarding the Edison exhibit. My
social life in Paris. The sculptor Story and Judge Daly. A
Swiss-American juryman's efforts to secure the Legion of Honor.
A Fourth of July jubilation; light thrown by it on the
``Temperance Question.'' Henri Martin. Jules Simon pilots me in
Paris. Sainte-Clair Deville. Pasteur. Desjardins. Drouyn de
Lhuys. The reform school at Mettray. My visit to Thiers; his
relations to France as historian and statesman. Duruy; his
remark on rapid changes in French Ministries. Convention on
copyright. Victor Hugo. Louis Blanc, his opinion of Thiers.
Troubles of the American Minister; a socially ambitious American
lady; vexatious plague thus revealed.
CHAPTER XXX. AS MINISTER TO GERMANY--1879-1881
Am appointed by President Hayes. Receiving instructions in
Washington. Mr. Secretary Evarts. Interesting stay in London.
The Lord Mayor at Guildhall. Speeches by Beaconsfield and
others. An animated automaton. An evening drive with Browning.
Arrival in Berlin. Golden wedding festivities of the Emperor
William I. Audiences with various members of the imperial
family. Wedding ceremonies of Prince William, now Emperor
William II. Usual topic of the American representative on
presenting his Letter of Credence from the President to the
Prussian monarch. Prince Bismarck; his greeting; questions
regarding German-Americans. Other difficulties. Baron von
complicated marriages. Imperial relations. Superintendence
of consuls. Transmission of important facts to the State
Department. Care for personal interests of Americans. Fugitives
from justice. The selling of sham American diplomas; effective
means taken to stop this. Presentations at court; troublesome
applications; pleasure of aiding legitimate American efforts and
ambitions; discriminations. Curious letters demanding aid or
information. Claims to inheritances. Sundry odd applications.
The ``autograph bed-quilt.'' Associations with the diplomatic
corps. Count Delaunay. Lord Odo Russell. The Methuen episode.
Count de St. Vallier, embarrassing mishap at Nice due to him.
The Turkish and Russian ambassadors. Distressing
Russian-American marriage case. Baron Nothomb, his reminiscences
of Talleyrand. The Saxon representative and the troubles of
American lady students at Leipsic. Quaint discussions of general
politics by sundry diplomatists. The Japanese and Chinese
representatives. Curious experience with a member of the Chinese
Legation at a court reception. Sundry German public men.
CHAPTER XXXI. MEN OF NOTE IN BERLIN AND ELSEWHERE--
My relations with professors at the Berlin University. Lepsius,
Curtius, Gneist, Von Sybel, Droysen. Hermann Grimm and his wife.
Treitschke. Statements of Du Bois-Reymond regarding the
expulsion of the Huguenots from France. Helmholtz and Hoffmann;
a Scotch experience of the latter. Acquaintance with professors
at other universities. Literary men of Berlin. Auerbach. His
story of unveiling the Spinoza statue. Rodenberg. Berlin
artists. Knaus; curious beginning of my acquaintance with him.
Carl Becker. Anton von Werner; his statement regarding his
painting the ``Proclamation of the Empire at Versailles.'' Adolf
Menzel; visit to his studio; his quaint discussions of his own
pictures. Pilgrimage to Oberammergau, impressions, my
acquaintance with the ``Christus'' and the ``Judas''; popular
prejudice against the latter. Excursion to France. Talks with
Talk with M. de Lesseps. The salon of Madame Edmond Adam.
Sainte-Beuve. Visit to Nice. Young Leland Stanford. Visit to
Florence. Ubaldino Peruzzi. Professor Villari. A reproof from
a Harvard professor. Minghetti. Emperor Frederick III; his
visit to the American Fisheries Exposition; the Americans win the
prize. Interest of the Prince in everything American. Kindness
and heartiness of the Emperor William I; his interest in
Bancroft; my final interview with him. Farewell dinner to me by
my Berlin friends.
CHAPTER XXXII. MY RECOLLECTIONS OF BISMARCK--1879-1881
My first sight of him. First interview with him. His feeling
toward German-Americans. His conversation on American questions.
A family dinner at his house. His discussion of various
subjects; his opinions of Thiers and others, conversation on
travel; his opinions of England and Englishmen; curious
reminiscences of his own life; kindly recollections of Bancroft,
Bayard Taylor, and Motley. Visit to him with William D. Kelly;
our walk and talk in the garden. Bismarck's view of financial
questions. Mr. Kelly's letter to the American papers; its effect
in Germany. Bismarck's diplomatic dinners; part taken in them by
the Reichshunde. The Rudhardt episode. Scene in the Prussian
House of Lords. Bismarck's treatment of Lasker; his rejection of
our Congressional Resolutions. Usual absence of Bismarck from
Court. Reasons for it. Festivities at the marriage of the
present Emperor William. A Fackeltanz. Bismarck's fits of
despondency; remark by Gneist. Gneist's story illustrating
Bismarck's drinking habits. Difficulties in German-American
``military cases'' after Baron von B
crisis. Bismarck's mingled severity and kindness. His
unyielding attitude toward Russia. Question between us regarding
German interference in South America. My citations from
Washington's Farewell Address and John Quincy Adams's despatches.
Bismarck's appearance in Parliament. His mode of speaking.
Contrast of his speeches with those of Moltke and Windthorst.
Beauty of his family life. My last view of him.
LIST OF PORTRAITS
OF THE AUTHOR
ITHACA, 1905 Photograph by Robinson, Ithaca
SARATOGA, 1842 From a daguerreotype
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, 1878 Photograph by Sarony, New York
THE HAGUE, 1899 Photograph by Zimmermans, The Hague
OXFORD, 1902 Photograph by Robinson, Ithaca
ANDREW DICKSON WHITE
ENVIRONMENT AND EDUCATION
ANDREW DICKSON WHITE
BOYHOOD IN CENTRAL NEW YORK--1832-1850
At the close of the Revolution which separated the
colonies from the mother country, the legislature of
New York set apart nearly two million acres of land, in the
heart of the State, as bounty to be divided among her soldiers
who had taken part in the war; and this ``Military
Tract,'' having been duly divided into townships, an ill-
inspired official, in lack of names for so many divisions,
sprinkled over the whole region the contents of his classical
dictionary. Thus it was that there fell to a beautiful
valley upon the headwaters of the Susquehanna the
name of ``Homer.'' Fortunately the surveyor-general
left to the mountains, lakes, and rivers the names the
Indians had given them, and so there was still some poetical
element remaining in the midst of that unfortunate
nomenclature. The counties, too, as a rule, took Indian
names, so that the town of Homer, with its neighbors,
Tully, Pompey, Fabius, Lysander, and the rest, were embedded
in the county of Onondaga, in the neighborhood
of lakes Otisco and Skaneateles, and of the rivers Tioughnioga
Hither came, toward the close of the eighteenth century,
a body of sturdy New Englanders, and, among them, my
grandfathers and grandmothers. Those on my father's
side: Asa White and Clara Keep, from Munson, Massa-
chusetts; those on my mother's side, Andrew Dickson,
from Middlefield, Massachusetts, and Ruth Hall from
Guilford, Connecticut. They were all of ``good stock.''
When I was ten years old I saw my great-grandfather at
Middlefield, eighty-two years of age, sturdy and vigorous;
he had mowed a broad field the day before, and he walked
four miles to church the day after. He had done his duty
manfully during the war, had been a member of the
``Great and General Court'' of Massachusetts, and had
held various other offices, which showed that he enjoyed
the confidence of his fellow-citizens. As to the other side
of the house, there was a tradition that we came from
Peregrine White of the Mayflower; but I have never had
time to find whether my doubts on the subject were well
founded or not. Enough for me to know that my yeomen
ancestors did their duty in war and peace, were honest,
straightforward, God-fearing men and women, who
owned their own lands, and never knew what it was to
cringe before any human being.
These New Englanders literally made the New York
wilderness to blossom as the rose; and Homer, at my
birth in 1832, about forty years after the first settlers
came, was, in its way, one of the prettiest villages
imaginable. In the heart of it was the ``Green,'' and along
the middle of this a line of church edifices, and the academy.
In front of the green, parallel to the river, ran,
north and south, the broad main street, beautifully shaded
with maples, and on either side of this, in the middle of
the village, were stores, shops, and the main taverns; while
north and south of these were large and pleasant dwellings,
each in its own garden or grove or orchard, and
separated from the street by light palings,--all, without
exception, neat, trim, and tidy.
My first recollections are of a big, comfortable house
of brick, in what is now called ``colonial style,'' with a
``stoop,'' long and broad, on its southern side, which in
summer was shaded with honeysuckles. Spreading out
southward from this was a spacious garden filled with
old-fashioned flowers, and in this I learned to walk. To
this hour the perfume of a pink brings the whole scene
before me, and proves the justice of Oliver Wendell
Holmes's saying that we remember past scenes more vividly
by the sense of smell than by the sense of sight.
I can claim no merit for clambering out of poverty.
My childhood was happy; my surroundings wholesome;
I was brought up neither in poverty nor riches; my parents
were what were called ``well-to-do-people''; everything
about me was good and substantial; but our mode
of life was frugal; waste or extravagance or pretense was
not permitted for a moment. My paternal grandfather
had been, in the early years of the century, the richest
man in the township; but some time before my birth he
had become one of the poorest; for a fire had consumed
his mills, there was no insurance, and his health gave way.
On my father, Horace White, had fallen, therefore, the
main care of his father's family. It was to the young
man, apparently, a great calamity:--that which grieved
him most being that it took him--a boy not far in his
teens--out of school. But he met the emergency
manfully, was soon known far and wide for his energy,
ability, and integrity, and long before he had reached
middle age was considered one of the leading men of business
in the county.
My mother had a more serene career. In another part
of these Reminiscences, saying something of my religious
and political development, I shall speak again of her and
of her parents. Suffice it here that her father prospered
as a man of business, was known as ``Colonel,'' and also
as ``Squire'' Dickson, and represented his county in the
State legislature. He died when I was about three years
old, and I vaguely remember being brought to him as he
lay upon his death-bed. On one account, above all others,
I have long looked back to him with pride. For the first
public care of the early settlers had been a church, and
the second a school. This school had been speedily
developed into Cortland Academy, which soon became fa-
mous throughout all that region, and, as a boy of five or
six years of age, I was very proud to read on the corner-
stone of the Academy building my grandfather's name
among those of the original founders.
Not unlikely there thus came into my blood the strain
which has led me ever since to feel that the building up of
goodly institutions is more honorable than any other
work,--an idea which was at the bottom of my efforts in
developing the University of Michigan, and in founding
To Cortland Academy students came from far and
near; and it soon began sending young men into the foremost
places of State and Church. At an early day, too,
it began receiving young women and sending them forth
to become the best of matrons. As my family left the
place when I was seven years old I was never within
its walls as a student, but it acted powerfully on my
education in two ways,--it gave my mother the best of
her education, and it gave to me a respect for scholarship.
The library and collections, though small, suggested
pursuits better than the scramble for place or pelf; the
public exercises, two or three times a year, led my
thoughts, no matter how vaguely, into higher regions, and
I shall never forget the awe which came over me when
as a child, I saw Principal Woolworth, with his best
students around him on the green, making astronomical
observations through a small telescope.
Thus began my education into that great truth, so
imperfectly understood, as yet, in our country, that stores,
shops, hotels, facilities for travel and traffic are not the
highest things in civilization.
This idea was strengthened in the family. Devoted as
my father was to business, he always showed the greatest
respect for men of thought. I have known him, even
when most absorbed in his pursuits, to watch occasions
for walking homeward with a clergyman or teacher,
whose conversation he especially prized. There was scant
respect in the family for the petty politicians of the
region; but there was great respect for the instructors
of the academy, and for any college professor who happened
to be traveling through the town. I am now in my
sixty-eighth year, and I write these lines from the American
Embassy in Berlin. It is my duty here, as it has
been at other European capitals, to meet various high
officials; but that old feeling, engendered in my childhood,
continues, and I bow to the representatives of
the universities,--to the leaders in science, literature, and
art, with a feeling of awe and respect far greater than
to their so-called superiors,--princelings and high military
or civil officials.
Influences of a more direct sort came from a primary
school. To this I was taken, when about three years old,
for a reason which may strike the present generation
as curious. The colored servant who had charge of me
wished to learn to read--so she slipped into the school and
took me with her. As a result, though my memory runs
back distinctly to events near the beginning of my fourth
year, it holds not the faintest recollection of a time when
I could not read easily. The only studies which I recall
with distinctness, as carried on before my seventh year,
are arithmetic and geography. As to the former, the
multiplication-table was chanted in chorus by the whole
body of children, a rhythmical and varied movement of
the arms being carried on at the same time. These exercises
gave us pleasure and fastened the tables in our
minds. As to geography, that gave pleasure in another
way. The books contained pictures which stimulated my
imagination and prompted me to read the adjacent text.
There was no over-pressure. Mental recreation and
information were obtained in a loose way from ``Rollo
Books,'' ``Peter Parley Books,'' ``Sanford and Merton,''
the ``Children's Magazine,'' and the like. I now
think it a pity that I was not allowed to read, instead of
these, the novels of Scott and Cooper, which I discovered
later. I devoutly thank Heaven that no such thing as
a sensation newspaper was ever brought into the house,--
even if there were one at that time,--which I doubt. As
to physical recreation, there was plenty during the summer
in the fields and woods, and during the winter in
coasting, building huts in the deep snow, and in storming
or defending the snow forts on the village green. One
of these childish sports had a historical connection with
a period which now seems very far away. If any old
settler happened to pass during our snow-balling or
our shooting with bows and arrows, he was sure to look
on with interest, and, at some good shot, to cry out,--
``SHOOT BURGOYNE!''--thus recalling his remembrances
of the sharpshooters who brought about the great
surrender at Saratoga.
In my seventh year my father was called to take charge
of the new bank established at Syracuse, thirty miles
distant, and there the family soon joined him. I remember
that coming through the Indian Reservation, on the road
between the two villages, I was greatly impressed by the
bowers and other decorations which had been used
shortly before at the installation of a new Indian chief.
It was the headquarters of the Onondagas,--formerly the
great central tribe of the Iroquois,--the warlike confederacy
of the Six Nations; and as, in a general way, the
story was told me on that beautiful day in September a
new world of romance was opened to me, so that Indian
stories, and especially Cooper's novels, when I was
allowed to read them, took on a new reality.
Syracuse, which is now a city of one hundred and
twenty thousand inhabitants, was then a straggling
village of about five thousand. After much time lost in
sundry poor ``select schools'' I was sent to one of the
public schools which was very good, and thence, when
about twelve years old, to the preparatory department
of the Syracuse Academy.
There, by good luck, was Joseph A. Allen, the best
teacher of English branches I have ever known. He had
no rules and no system; or, rather, his rule was to have
no rules, and his system was to have no system. To
genius. He seemed to divine the character and enter into
the purpose of every boy. Work under him was a pleasure.
His methods were very simple. Great attention
was given to reading aloud from a book made up of
selections from the best authors, and to recitals from these.
Thus I stored up not only some of the best things in
the older English writers, but inspiring poems of Bryant,
Whittier, Longfellow, and other moderns. My only regret
is that more of this was not given us. I recall, among
treasures thus gained, which have been precious to me
ever since, in many a weary or sleepless hour on land
and sea, extracts from Shakspere, parts of Milton's
``Samson Agonistes,'' and of his sonnets; Gray's
``Elegy,'' Byron's ``Ode to the Ocean,'' Campbell's
``What's Hallowed Ground?'' Goldsmith's ``Deserted
Village,'' Longfellow's ``Psalm of Life,'' Irving's ``Voyage
to Europe,'' and parts of Webster's ``Reply to Hayne.''
At this school the wretched bugbear of English spelling
was dealt with by a method which, so long as our present
monstrous orthography continues, seems to me the
best possible. During the last half-hour of every day,
each scholar was required to have before him a copy-
book, of which each page was divided into two columns.
At the head of the first column was the word ``Spelling'';
at the head of the second column was the word ``Corrected.''
The teacher then gave out to the school about
twenty of the more important words in the reading-
lesson of the day, and, as he thus dictated each word, each
scholar wrote it in the column headed ``Spelling.'' When
all the words were thus written, the first scholar was asked
to spell from his book the first word; if misspelled, it
was passed to the next, and so on until it was spelled
correctly; whereupon all who had made a mistake in writing
it made the proper correction on the opposite column.
The result of this was that the greater part of us learned
orthography PRACTICALLY. For the practical use of spelling
comes in writing.
The only mistake in Mr. Allen's teaching was too much
attention to English grammar. The order ought to be,
literature first, and grammar afterward. Perhaps there
is no more tiresome trifling in the world for boys and
girls than rote recitations and parsing from one of the
usual grammatical text-books.
As to mathematics, arithmetic was, perhaps, pushed
too far into puzzles; but geometry was made fascinating
by showing its real applications and the beauty of its
reasoning. It is the only mathematical study I ever loved.
In natural science, though most of the apparatus of
schools nowadays was wanting, Mr. Allen's instruction
was far beyond his time. Never shall I forget my excited
interest when, occasionally, the village surgeon came
in, and the whole school was assembled to see him dissect
the eye or ear or heart of an ox. Physics, as then
understood, was studied in a text-book, but there was
illustration by simple apparatus, which fastened firmly
in my mind the main facts and principles.
The best impulse by this means came from the principal
of the academy, Mr. Oren Root,--one of the pioneers
of American science, whose modesty alone stood in
the way of his fame. I was too young to take direct
instruction from him, but the experiments which I saw him
perform led me, with one or two of my mates, to construct
an excellent electrical machine and subsidiary apparatus;
and with these, a small galvanic battery and an extemporized
orrery, I diluted Professor Root's lectures with the
teachings of my little books on natural philosophy and
astronomy to meet the capacities of the younger boys in
Salient among my recollections of this period are the
cries and wailing of a newly-born babe in the rooms at
the academy occupied by the principal, and adjacent to
our big school-room. Several decades of years later I had
the honor of speaking on the platform of Cooper Institute
in company with this babe, who, as I write, is, I believe,
the very energetic Secretary of War in the Cabinet
of President McKinley.
Unfortunately for me, Mr. Root was soon afterward
called away to a professorship at Hamilton College, and
so, though living in the best of all regions for geological
study, I was never properly grounded in that science, and
as to botany, I am to this hour utterly ignorant of its
simplest facts and principles. I count this as one of the
mistakes in my education,--resulting in the loss of much
valuable knowledge and high pleasure.
As to physical development, every reasonable encouragement
was given to play. Mr. Allen himself came frequently
to the play-grounds. He was an excellent musician
and a most helpful influence was exerted by singing,
which was a daily exercise of the school. I then began
taking lessons regularly in music and became proficient
enough to play the organ occasionally in church; the best
result of this training being that it gave my life one of its
deepest, purest, and most lasting pleasures.
On the moral side, Mr. Allen influenced many of
us by liberalizing and broadening our horizon. He was
a disciple of Channing and an abolitionist, and, though he
never made the slightest attempt to proselyte any of his
scholars, the very atmosphere of the school made sectarian
As to my general education outside the school I browsed
about as best I could. My passion in those days was for
machinery, and, above all, for steam machinery. The
stationary and locomotive engines upon the newly-
established railways toward Albany on the east and Buffalo
on the west especially aroused my attention, and I came to
know every locomotive, its history, character, and capabilities,
as well as every stationary engine in the whole region.
My holiday excursions, when not employed in boating
or skating on the Onondaga Creek, or upon the lake,
were usually devoted to visiting workshops, where the
engine drivers and stokers seemed glad to talk with a
youngster who took an interest in their business. Especially
interested was I in a rotary engine on ``Barker's
centrifugal principle,'' with which the inventor had prom-
ised to propel locomotives at the rate of a hundred miles
an hour, but which had been degraded to grinding bark in
a tannery. I felt its disgrace keenly, as a piece of gross
injustice; but having obtained a small brass model, fitted
to it a tin boiler and placed it on a little stern-wheel boat,
I speedily discovered the secret of the indignity which
had overtaken the machine, for no boat could carry a
boiler large enough to supply steam for it.
So, too, I knew every water-wheel in that part of the
county, whether overshot, undershot, breast, or turbine.
Everything in the nature of a motor had an especial
fascination for me, and for the men in control of such power
I entertained a respect which approached awe.
Among all these, my especial reverence was given to the
locomotive engineers; in my youthful mind they took on
a heroic character. Often during the night watches I
thought of them as braving storm and peril, responsible
for priceless freights of human lives. Their firm, keen
faces come back to me vividly through the mists of sixty
years, and to this day I look up to their successors at the
throttle with respectful admiration.
After Professor Root's departure the Syracuse Academy
greatly declined, Mr. Allen being the only strong
man left among its teachers, and, as I was to go
to college, I was removed to a ``classical school.'' This
school was not at first very successful. Its teacher was
a good scholar but careless. Under him I repeated the
grammatical forms and rules in Latin and Greek, glibly,
term after term, without really understanding their
value. His great mistake, which seems to me a not
infrequent one, was taking it for granted that repeating
rules and forms means understanding them and their
application. But a catastrophe came. I had been promoted
beyond my deserts from a lower into an upper Latin class,
and at a public examination the Rev. Samuel Joseph
May, who was present, asked me a question, to which I
made an answer revealing utter ignorance of one of the
simplest principles of Latin grammar. He was discon-
certed at the result, I still more so, and our preceptor most
of all. That evening my father very solemnly asked me
about it. I was mortified beyond expression, did not
sleep at all that night, and of my own accord, began
reviewing my Andrews and Stoddard thoroughly and
vigorously. But this did not save the preceptor. A
successor was called, a man who afterward became an
eminent Presbyterian divine and professor in a Southern
university, James W. Hoyt, one of the best and truest
of men, and his manly, moral influence over his scholars
was remarkable. Many of them have reached positions of
usefulness, and I think they will agree that his influence
upon their lives was most happy. The only drawback
was that he was still very young, not yet through his
senior year in Union College, and his methods in classical
teaching were imperfect. He loved his classics and taught
his better students to love them, but he was neither
thorough in grammar, nor sure in translation, and this I
afterward found to my sorrow. My friend and schoolmate
of that time, W. O. S., published a few years since,
in the ``St. Nicholas Magazine,'' an account of this school.
It was somewhat idealized, but we doubtless agree in
thinking that the lack of grammatical drill was more than
made up by the love of manliness, and the dislike of
meanness, which was in those days our very atmosphere.
Probably the best thing for my mental training was that
Mr. Hoyt interested me in my Virgil, Horace, and Xenophon,
and required me to write out my translations in the
best English at my command.
But to all his pupils he did not prove so helpful. One
of them, though he has since become an energetic man
of business on the Pacific Coast, was certainly not helped
into his present position by his Latin; for of all the
translations I have ever heard or read of, one of his was the
worst. Being called to construe the first line of the
Aeneid, he proceeded as follows:
``Arma,--arms; virumque,--and a man; cano,--and a
dog.'' There was a roar, and Mr. Hoyt, though evidently
saddened, kept his temper. He did not, like the great
and good Arnold of Rugby, under similar provocation,
knock the offender down with the text-book.
Still another agency in my development was the debating
club, so inevitable in an American village. Its
discussions were sometimes pretentious and always crude,
but something was gained thereby. I remember that one
of the subjects was stated as follows: ``Which has done
most harm, intemperance or fanaticism.'' The debate
was without any striking feature until my schoolmate,
W. O. S., brought up heavy artillery on the side of the
anti-fanatics: namely, a statement of the ruin wrought
by Mohammedanism in the East, and, above all, the
destruction of the great Alexandrian library by Caliph
Omar; and with such eloquence that all the argumentation
which any of us had learned in the temperance meetings
On another occasion we debated the question: ``Was
the British Government justified in its treatment of
Napoleon Bonaparte?'' Much historical lore had been
brought to bear on the question, when an impassioned
young orator wound up a bitter diatribe against the great
emperor as follows: ``The British Government WAS justified,
and if for no other reason, by the Emperor Napoleon's
murder of the `Duck de Engine' '' (Duc d'Enghien).
As to education outside of the school very important
to me had been the discovery, when I was about ten years
old, of `` `The Monastery,' by the author of `Waverley.' ''
Who the ``author of `Waverley' '' was I neither knew nor
cared, but read the book three times, end over end, in a
sort of fascination. Unfortunately, novels and romances
were kept under lock and key, as unfit reading for children,
and it was some years before I reveled in Scott's
other novels. That they would have been thoroughly
good and wholesome reading for me I know, and about
my sixteenth year they opened a new world to me and
gave healthful play to my imagination. I also read and
re-read Bunyan's ``Pilgrim's Progress,'' and, with plea-
sure even more intense, the earlier works of Dickens,
which were then appearing.
My only regret, as regards that time, is that, between the
rather trashy ``boys' books'' on one side and the rather
severe books in the family library on the other, I read
far less of really good literature than I ought to have
done. My reading was absolutely without a guide, hence
fitful and scrappy; parts of Rollin's ``Ancient History''
and Lander's ``Travels in Africa'' being mixed up with
``Robinson Crusoe'' and ``The Scottish Chiefs.'' Reflection
on my experience has convinced me that some
kindly guidance in the reading of a fairly scholarly boy
is of the utmost importance, and never more so than now,
when books are so many and attractive. I should lay
much stress, also, on the hearing of good literature well
read, and the interspersing of such reading with some
remarks by the reader, pointing out the main beauties
of the pieces thus presented.
About my tenth year occurred an event, apparently
trivial, but really very important in my mental
development during many years afterward. My father
brought home one day, as a gift to my mother, a
handsome quarto called ``The Gallery of British Artists.''
It contained engravings from pictures by Turner, Stanfield,
Cattermole, and others, mainly representing scenes
from Shakspere, Scott, Burns, picturesque architecture,
and beautiful views in various parts of Europe. Of this
book I never tired. It aroused in me an intense desire
to know more of the subjects represented, and this desire
has led me since to visit and to study every cathedral,
church, and town hall of any historical or architectural
significance in Europe, outside the Spanish peninsula.
But, far more important, it gave an especial zest to nearly
all Scott's novels, and especially to the one which I have
always thought the most fascinating, ``Quentin Durward.''
This novel led me later, not merely to visit Liege,
chronicles and histories of that period, to become deeply
interested in historical studies, and to learn how great
principles lie hidden beneath the surface of events. The
first of these principles I ever clearly discerned was
during my reading of ``Quentin Durward'' and ``Anne of
Geierstein,'' when there was revealed to me the secret
of the centralization of power in Europe, and of the
triumph of monarchy over feudalism.
In my sixteenth and seventeenth years another element
entered into my education. Syracuse, as the central city
of the State, was the scene of many conventions and public
meetings. That was a time of very deep earnestness in
political matters. The last great efforts were making,
by the more radical, peaceably to prevent the extension
of slavery, and, by the more conservative, peaceably to
preserve the Union. The former of these efforts interested
me most. There were at Syracuse frequent public debates
between the various groups of the anti-slavery
party represented by such men as Gerrit Smith, Wendell
Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, John Parker Hale,
Samuel Joseph May, and Frederick Douglass. They took
strong hold upon me and gave me a higher idea of a man's
best work in life. That was the bloom period of the old
popular lecture. It was the time when lectures were
expected to build character and increase knowledge; the
sensation and buffoon business which destroyed the system
had not yet come in. I feel to this hour the good
influence of lectures then heard, in the old City Hall at
Syracuse, from such men as President Mark Hopkins,
Bishop Alonzo Potter, Senator Hale of New Hampshire,
Emerson, Ware, Whipple, and many others.
As to recreative reading at this period, the author who
exercised the strongest influence over me was Charles
Kingsley. His novels ``Alton Locke'' and ``Yeast''
interested me greatly in efforts for doing away with old
abuses in Europe, and his ``Two Years After'' increased
my hatred for negro slavery in America. His ``Westward
Ho!'' extended my knowledge of the Elizabethan
period and increased my manliness. Of this period, too,
was my reading of Lowell's Poems, many of which I
greatly enjoyed. His ``Biglow Papers'' were a perpetual
delight; the dialect was familiar to me since, in the
little New England town transplanted into the heart of
central New York, in which I was born, the less educated
people used it, and the dry and droll Yankee expressions
of our ``help'' and ``hired man'' were a source of
constant amusement in the family.
In my seventeenth year came a trial. My father had
taken a leading part in establishing a parish school for
St. Paul's church in Syracuse, in accordance with the
High Church views of our rector, Dr. Gregory, and there
was finally called to the mastership a young candidate
for orders, a brilliant scholar and charming man, who has
since become an eminent bishop of the Protestant Episcopal
Church. To him was intrusted my final preparation
for college. I had always intended to enter one
of the larger New England universities, but my teacher
was naturally in favor of his Alma Mater, and the influence
of our bishop, Dr. de Lancey, being also thrown
powerfully into the scale, my father insisted on placing
me at a small Protestant Episcopal college in western
New York. I went most reluctantly. There were in the
faculty several excellent men, one of whom afterward
became a colleague of my own in Cornell University, and
proved of the greatest value to it. Unfortunately, we of
the lower college classes could have very little instruction
from him; still there was good instruction from
others; the tutor in Greek, James Morrison Clarke, was
one of the best scholars I have ever known.
It was in the autumn of 1849 that I went into residence
at the little college and was assigned a very unprepossessing
room in a very ugly barrack. Entering my new
quarters I soon discovered about me various cabalistic
signs, some of them evidently made by heating large iron
keys, and pressing them against the woodwork. On
inquiring I found that the room had been occupied some
years before by no less a personage than Philip Spencer,
a member of the famous Spencer family of Albany, who,
having passed some years at this little college, and never
having been able to get out of the freshman class, had
gone to another institution of about the same grade, had
there founded a Greek letter fraternity which is now
widely spread among American universities, and then,
through the influence of his father, who was Secretary
of War, had been placed as a midshipman under
Commodore McKenzie on the brig-of-war Somers. On the
coast of Africa a mutiny was discovered, and as, on
examination, young Spencer was found at the head of it,
and papers discovered in his cabin revealed the plan of
seizing the ship and using it in a career of piracy, the
young man, in spite of his connection with a member of
the Cabinet, was hanged at the yard-arm with two of his
The most curious relic of him at the college was
preserved in the library of the Hermean Society. It was a
copy of ``The Pirates' Own Book'': a glorification of the
exploits of ``Blackbeard'' and other great freebooters,
profusely adorned with illustrations of their joys and
triumphs. This volume bore on the fly-leaf the words,
``Presented to the Hermean Society by Philip Spencer,'' and
was in those days shown as a great curiosity.
The college was at its lowest ebb; of discipline there
was none; there were about forty students, the majority
of them, sons of wealthy churchmen, showing no inclination
to work and much tendency to dissipation. The
authorities of the college could not afford to expel or even
offend a student. for its endowment was so small that it
must have all the instruction fees possible, and must keep
on good terms with the wealthy fathers of its scapegrace
students. The scapegraces soon found this out, and the
result was a little pandemonium. Only about a dozen
of our number studied at all; the rest, by translations,
promptings, and evasions escaped without labor. I have
had to do since, as student, professor, or lecturer, with
some half-dozen large universities at home and abroad,
and in all of these together have not seen so much
carousing and wild dissipation as I then saw in this little
``Church college'' of which the especial boast was that,
owing to the small number of its students, it was ``able
to exercise a direct Christian influence upon every young
man committed to its care.''
The evidences of this Christian influence were not clear.
The president of the college, Dr. Benjamin Hale, was a
clergyman of the highest character; a good scholar, an
excellent preacher, and a wise administrator; but his
stature was very small, his girth very large, and his hair
very yellow. When, then, on the thirteenth day of the
month, there was read at chapel from the Psalter the
words, ``And there was little Benjamin, their ruler,''
very irreverent demonstrations were often made by the
students, presumably engaged in worship; demonstrations
so mortifying, indeed, that at last the president frequently
substituted for the regular Psalms of the day one of the
beautiful ``Selections'' of Psalms which the American
Episcopal Church has so wisely incorporated into its
But this was by no means the worst indignity which
these youth ``under direct Christian influence''
perpetrated upon their reverend instructors. It was my
privilege to behold a professor, an excellent clergyman,
seeking to quell hideous riot in a student's room, buried under
a heap of carpets, mattresses, counterpanes, and blankets;
to see another clerical professor forced to retire through
the panel of a door under a shower of lexicons, boots, and
brushes, and to see even the president himself, on one
occasion, obliged to leave his lecture-room by a ladder from
a window, and, on another, kept at bay by a shower of
One favorite occupation was rolling cannon-balls along
the corridors at midnight, with frightful din and much
damage: a tutor, having one night been successful
in catching and confiscating two of these, pounced from
his door the next night upon a third; but this having
been heated nearly to redness and launched from a shovel,
the result was that he wore bandages upon his hands for
Most ingenious were the methods for ``training freshmen,''--
one of the mildest being the administration of
soot and water by a hose-pipe thrust through the broken
panel of a door. Among general freaks I remember seeing
a horse turned into the chapel, and a stuffed wolf,
dressed in a surplice, placed upon the roof of that sacred
But the most elaborate thing of the kind I ever saw
was the breaking up of a ``Second Adventist'' meeting
by a score of student roysterers. An itinerant fanatic had
taken an old wooden meeting-house in the lower part
of the town, had set up on either side of the pulpit large
canvas representations of the man of brass with feet of
clay, and other portentous characters of the prophecies,
and then challenged the clergy to meet him in public
debate. At the appointed time a body of college youth
appeared, most sober in habit and demure in manner,
having at their head ``Bill'' Howell of Black Rock and
``Tom'' Clark of Manlius, the two wildest miscreants in
the sophomore class, each over six feet tall, the latter
dressed as a respectable farmer, and the former as a
country clergyman, wearing a dress-coat, a white cravat,
a tall black hat wrapped in crape, leaning on a heavy,
ivory-knobbed cane, and carrying ostentatiously a Greek
Testament. These disguised malefactors, having taken
their seats in the gallery directly facing the pulpit, the
lecturer expressed his ``satisfaction at seeing clergymen
present,'' and began his demonstrations. For about five
minutes all went well; then ``Bill'' Howell solemnly arose
and, in a snuffling voice, asked permission to submit a few
texts from scripture. Permission being granted, he put
on a huge pair of goggles, solemnly opened his Greek
Testament, read emphatically the first passage which attracted
his attention and impressively asked the lecturer what
he had to say to it. At this, the lecturer, greatly puzzled,
asked what the reverend gentleman was reading. Upon
this Howell read in New Testament Greek another utterly
irrelevant passage. In reply the lecturer said, rather
roughly, ``If you will speak English I will answer you.''
At this Howell said with the most humble suavity, ``Do
I understand that the distinguished gentleman does not
recognize what I have been reading?'' The preacher
answered, ``I don't understand any such gibberish;
speak English.'' Thereupon Howell threw back his long
black hair and launched forth into eloquent denunciation
as follows: ``Sir, is it possible that you come here to
interpret to us the Holy Bible and do not recognize the
language in which that blessed book was written? Sir,
do you dare to call the very words of the Almighty
`gibberish?' '' At this all was let loose; some students put
asafetida on the stove; others threw pigeon-shot against
the ceiling and windows, making a most appalling din,
and one wretch put in deadly work with a syringe thrust
through the canvas representation of the man of brass
with feet of clay. But, alas, Constable John Dey had
recognized Howell and Clark, even amid their disguises.
He had dealt with them too often before. The next
tableau showed them, with their tall hats crushed over their
heads, belaboring John Dey and his myrmidons, and presently,
with half a dozen other ingenuous youth, they were
haled to the office of justice. The young judge who
officiated on this occasion was none other than a personage
who will be mentioned with great respect more than
once in these reminiscences,--Charles James Folger,--
afterward my colleague in the State Senate, Chief Justice
of the State and Secretary of the Treasury of the United
States. He had met Howell often, for they were members
of the same Greek letter fraternity,--the thrice illustrious
Sigma Phi,--and, only a few days before, Howell had
presented me to him; but there was no fraternal bond
visible now; justice was sternly implacable, and good
round fines were imposed upon all the culprits caught.
The philosophy of all this waywardness and dissipation
was very simple. There was no other outlet for the animal
spirits of these youth. Athletics were unknown; there
was no gymnasium, no ball-playing, and, though the college
was situated on the shore of one of the most beautiful
lakes in the world, no boating. As regards my own personal
relation to this condition of things I have pictured, it
was more that of a good-natured spectator than of an active
accomplice. My nearest friends were in the thick of
it, but my tastes kept me out of most of it. I was fond of
books, and, in the little student's library in my college
building I reveled. Moreover, I then began to accumulate
for myself the library which has since grown to such large
proportions. Still the whole life of the place became more
and more unsatisfactory to me, and I determined, at any
cost, to escape from it and find some seat of learning where
there was less frolic and more study.
YALE AND EUROPE--1850-1857
At the close of my year at the little Western New York
College I felt that it was enough time wasted, and,
anxious to try for something better, urged upon my father
my desire to go to one of the larger New England universities.
But to this he would not listen. He was assured by
the authorities of the little college that I had been doing
well, and his churchmanship, as well as his respect for the
bishop, led him to do what was very unusual with him--to
refuse my request. Up to this period he had allowed me to
take my own course; but now he was determined that I
should take his. He was one of the kindest of men, but he
had stern ideas as to proper subordination, and these he
felt it his duty to maintain. I was obliged to make a coup
censure of family and friends, in the early autumn of 1850 I
deliberately left the college, and took refuge with my old
instructor P----, who had prepared me for college at
Syracuse, and who was now principal of the academy at
Moravia, near the head of Owasco Lake, some fifty miles
distant. To thus defy the wishes of those dearest to me
was a serious matter. My father at first took it deeply to
heart. His letters were very severe. He thought my
career wrecked, avowed that he had lost all interest in it,
and declared that he would rather have received news of
my death than of such a disgrace. But I knew that my dear
mother was on my side. Her letters remained as affectionate
as ever; and I determined to atone for my disobe-
dience by severe and systematic work. I began to study
more earnestly than ever before, reviewed my mathematics
and classics vigorously, and began a course of reading
which has had great influence on all my life since.
Among my books was D'Aubigne's ``History of the Reformation.''
Its deficiencies were not of a sort to harm me,
its vigor and enthusiasm gave me a great impulse. I not
only read but studied it, and followed it with every other
book on the subject that I could find. No reading ever did
a man more good. It not only strengthened and deepened
my better purposes, but it continued powerfully the impulse
given me by the historical novels of Scott, and led
directly to my devoting myself to the study and teaching
of modern history. Of other books which influenced me
about this period, Emerson's ``Representative Men'' was
one; another was Carlyle's ``Past and Present,'' in which
the old Abbot of Bury became one of my ideals; still
another was Buskin's ``Seven Lamps of Architecture'';
and to such a degree that this art has given to my life some
of its greatest pleasures. Ruskin was then at his best.
He had not yet been swept from his bearings by popular
applause, or intoxicated by his own verbosity. In later
years he lost all influence over me, for, in spite of his
wonderful style, he became trivial, whimsical, peevish,
goody-goody;--talking to grown men and women as a
dyspeptic Sunday-school teacher might lay down the
law to classes of little girls. As regards this later
period, Max Nordau is undoubtedly right in speaking of
Ruskin's mind as ``turbid and fallacious''; but the time
of which I speak was his best, and his influence upon
me was good. I remember especially that his ``Lamp
of Power'' made a very deep impression upon me. Carlyle,
too, was at his best. He was the simple, strong
preacher;--with nothing of the spoiled cynic he afterward
The stay of three months with my friend--the future
bishop--in the little country town, was also good for me
physically. In our hours of recreation we roamed through
the neighboring woods, shooting squirrels and pigeons
with excellent effect on my health. Meantime I kept up
my correspondence with all the members of the family
save my father;--from him there was no sign. But at last
came a piece of good news. He was very fond of music,
and on the arrival of Jenny Lind in the United States he
went to New York to attend her concerts. During one of
these my mother turned suddenly toward him and said:
``What a pity that the boy cannot hear this; how he would
enjoy it!'' My father answered, ``Tell him to come
home and see us.'' My mother, of course, was not slow in
writing me, and a few days later my father cordially
greeted my home-coming, and all difficulties seemed over.
Shortly after Christmas he started with me for Yale; but
there soon appeared a lion in the path. Our route lay
through Hartford, the seat of Trinity College, and to my
consternation I found at the last moment that he had
letters from our rector and others to the president and
professors of that institution. Still more alarming, we
had hardly entered the train when my father discovered
a Trinity student on board. Of course, the youth spoke
in the highest terms of his college and of his faculty, and
more and more my father was pleased with the idea of
staying a day or two at Hartford, taking a look at Trinity,
and presenting our letters of introduction. During a
considerably extended career in the diplomatic service I have
had various occasions to exercise tact, care, and discretion,
but I do not think that my efforts on all these together
equaled those which I then put forth to avoid stopping
at Hartford. At last my father asked me, rather severely,
why I cared so much about going to New Haven, and I
framed an answer offhand to meet the case, saying that
Yale had an infinitely finer library than Trinity. Thereupon
he said, ``My boy, if you will go to Trinity College
I will give you the best private library in the United
States.'' I said, ``No, I am going to New Haven; I started
for New Haven, and I will go there.'' I had never braved
him before. He said not a word. We passed quietly
through Hartford, and a day or two later I was entered
It was a happy change. I respected the institution, for
its discipline, though at times harsh, was, on the whole,
just, and thereby came a great gain to my own self-respect.
But as to the education given, never was a man more
disappointed at first. The president and professors were
men of high character and attainments; but to the lower
classes the instruction was given almost entirely by tutors,
who took up teaching for bread-winning while going
through the divinity school. Naturally most of the
work done under these was perfunctory. There was too
much reciting by rote and too little real intercourse
between teacher and taught. The instructor sat in a box,
heard students' translations without indicating anything
better, and their answers to questions with very few
suggestions or remarks. The first text-book in Greek was
Xenophon's ``Memorabilia,'' and one of the first men
called up was my classmate Delano Goddard. He made an
excellent translation,--clean, clear, in thoroughly good
English; but he elicited no attention from the instructor,
and was then put through sundry grammatical puzzles,
among which he floundered until stopped by the word,
``Sufficient.'' Soon afterward another was called up who
rattled off glibly a translation without one particle of
literary merit, and was then plied with the usual grammatical
questions. Being asked to ``synopsize'' the Greek verb,
he went through the various moods and tenses, in all sorts
of ways and in all possible combinations, his tongue
rattling like the clapper of a mill. When he sat down my
next neighbor said to me, ``that man will be our
valedictorian.'' This disgusted me. If that was the style of
classical scholarship at Yale, I knew that there was nothing
in it for me. It turned out as my friend said. That
glib reciter did become the valedictorian of the class, but
stepped from the commencement stage into nothingness,
and was never heard of more. Goddard became the
editor of one of the most important metropolitan news-
papers of the United States, and, before his early death,
distinguished himself as a writer on political and historical
Nor was it any better in Latin. We were reading, during
that term the ``De Senectute'' of Cicero,--a beautiful
book; but to our tutor it was neither more nor less than
a series of pegs on which to hang Zumpt's rules for the
subjunctive mood. The translation was hurried through,
as of little account. Then came questions regarding the
subjunctives;--questions to which very few members of
the class gave any real attention. The best Latin scholar
in the class, G. W. S----, since so distinguished as the
London correspondent of the ``New York Tribune,'' and,
at present, as the New York correspondent of the London
``Times,'' having one day announced to some of us,--with
a very round expletive,--that he would answer no more
such foolish questions, the tutor soon discovered his
recalcitrancy, and thenceforward plied him with such
questions and nothing else. S---- always answered that he
was not prepared on them; with the result that at the
Junior Exhibition he received no place on the programme.
In the junior year matters improved somewhat; but,
though the professors were most of them really distinguished
men, and one at least, James Hadley, a scholar
who, at Berlin or Leipsic, would have drawn throngs of
students from all Christendom, they were fettered by a
system which made everything of gerund-grinding and
nothing of literature.
The worst feature of the junior year was the fact that
through two terms, during five hours each week, ``recitations''
were heard by a tutor in ``Olmsted's Natural Philosophy.''
The text-book was simply repeated by rote. Not
one student in fifty took the least interest in it; and
the man who could give the words of the text most glibly
secured the best marks. One exceedingly unfortunate
result of this kind of instruction was that it so disgusted
the class with the whole subject, that the really excellent
lectures of Professor Olmsted, illustrated by probably
the best apparatus then possessed by any American
university, were voted a bore. Almost as bad was the
historical instruction given by Professor James Hadley. It
consisted simply in hearing the student repeat from memory
the dates from ``P
so gifted as Hadley could have allowed any part of his
work to be so worthless, it is hard to understand. And,
worse remained behind. He had charge of the class in
Thucydides; but with every gift for making it a means
of great good to us, he taught it in the perfunctory way of
that period;--calling on each student to construe a few
lines, asking a few grammatical questions, and then, with
hardly ever a note or comment, allowing him to sit down.
Two or three times during a term something would occur
to draw Hadley out, and then it delighted us all to hear
him. I recall, to this hour, with the utmost pleasure, some
of his remarks which threw bright light into the general
subject; but alas! they were few and far between.
The same thing must be said of Professor Thatcher's
instruction in Tacitus. It was always the same mechanical
sort of thing, with, occasionally, a few remarks which
really aroused interest.
In the senior year the influence of President Woolsey
and Professor Porter was strong for good. Though the
``Yale system'' fettered them somewhat, their personality
often broke through it. Yet it amazes me to remember
that during a considerable portion of our senior year no
less a man than Woolsey gave instruction in history by
hearing men recite the words of a text-book;--and that
text-book the Rev. John Lord's little, popular treatise
on the ``Modern History of Europe!'' Far better was
Woolsey's instruction in Guizot. That was stimulating.
It not only gave some knowledge of history, but suggested
thought upon it. In this he was at his best. He had not
at that time begun his new career as a professor of
International Law, and that subject was treated by a kindly
old governor of the State, in a brief course of instruction,
which was, on the whole, rather inadequate. Professor
Porter's instruction in philosophy opened our eyes and
led us to do some thinking for ourselves. In political
economy, during the senior year, President Woolsey heard the
senior class ``recite'' from Wayland's small treatise,
which was simply an abridged presentation of the Manchester
view, the most valuable part of this instruction
being the remarks by Woolsey himself, who discussed
controverted questions briefly but well. He also delivered,
during one term, a course of lectures upon the historical
relations between the German States, which had some
interest, but, not being connected with our previous
instruction, took little hold upon us. As to natural science,
we had in chemistry and geology, doubtless, the best
courses then offered in the United States. The first was
given by Benjamin Silliman, the elder, an American pioneer
in science, and a really great character; the second,
by James Dwight Dana, and in his lecture-room one felt
himself in the hands of a master. I cannot forgive myself
for having yielded to the general indifference of the
class toward all this instruction. It was listlessly heard,
and grievously neglected. The fault was mainly our own;
--but it was partly due to ``The System,'' which led
students to neglect all studies which did not tell upon
``marks'' and ``standing.''
Strange to say, there was not, during my whole course
at Yale, a lecture upon any period, subject, or person in
literature, ancient or modern:--our only resource, in this
field, being the popular lecture courses in the town each
winter, which generally contained one or two presentations
of literary subjects. Of these, that which made the
greatest impression upon me was by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Sundry lectures in my junior year, by Whipple, and
at a later period by George William Curtis, also influenced
me. It was one of the golden periods of English literature,
the climax of the Victorian epoch;--the period of
Wordsworth, Tennyson, and the Brownings, of Thackeray
and Dickens, of Macaulay and Carlyle on one side
of the Atlantic, and of Emerson, Irving, Hawthorne, Ban-
croft, Prescott, Motley, Lowell, Longfellow, Horace
Bushnell, and their compeers on the other. Hence came strong
influences; but in dealing with them we were left to ourselves.
Very important in shaping my intellectual development
at this time were my fellow-students. The class of 1853
was a very large one for that day, and embraced far more
than the usual proportion of active-minded men. Walks
and talks with these were of great value to me; thence
came some of my best impulses and suggestions to reading
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