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Chapter 6
from A History of Amherst College by William S. Tyler 1830

Period of Reaction and Decline --- The Anti-Slavery Agitation and Rebellion of Students --- Threatened Bankruptcy --- Public Disfavor --- Resignation of President Humphrey.

The largest aggregate number of students that Amherst College enrolled on its catalogue at any time previous to 1870-71 was in the collegiate year 1836-37, when the number was two hundred and fifty-nine.  The next year, 1837-38, it had fallen to two hundred and six, and so it continued to decrease regularly, till in 1845-46 it was reduced to one hundred and eighteen, less than half the number nine years before.

The number entering college began to diminish some three years earlier.  The largest number was in 1833-34, when there were eighty-five freshmen, and the whole number of admissions was one hundred and six.  The next year, 1834-35, there were seventy freshmen, and the whole number of admissions was ninety-nine.  From this time, the number entering college continued to decrease, till in 1843-44 the freshmen numbered only thirty-two, and the whole number of new members was only forty-two.

Some of the causes which produced this remarkable decline are sufficiently obvious.  In the first place it was doubtless to some extent a natural reaction from the equally remarkable and almost equally rapid increase of numbers in the previous history of the college.  As the tide of prosperity had risen very fast and high, so it sank with corresponding rapidity to a proportionally low ebb.  The growth had been unprecedented, abnormal, and not altogether healthy.  The causes which produced it were in part temporary, and so far forth the effect could not be enduring.  These causes had not indeed ceased to operate, but they had lost in a measure their pristine power.  The first alarm, excited by the defection of Harvard College and the churches in that section, had in a measure subsided.  Zeal for orthodoxy and evangelical piety was no longer at a white heat.  The passion for missions and the education of ministers had somewhat cooled.  Revivals were less frequent in the churches.  The revivals which marked the twenty years between 1815 and 1835 had given birth to the college, and nourished it with a copious supply of young men recently converted and full of zeal for the work of the ministry and of missions.  As revivals grew less frequent and powerful, one of the principal sources of the prosperity of Amherst College began to fail.

The growth of the institution had unavoidably changed somewhat its relations to the community around it.  The people of the village were still friendly to the college, but they had ceased to regard it as their own offspring or foster-child; they could no longer welcome and cherish its two hundred and fifty students as pets or wards in their own families; the halcyon days of primitive and almost pastoral simplicity, when their apple-orchards and walnut-groves, their parlors and firesides, their homes and hearts were open to the members of the college generally, almost as if they were their own sons, had gone never to return.  Board was perhaps fifty per cent. higher than it was at the opening of the college.  The influx of wealthy students, by changing the tastes and habits of the community, had increased in a still greater percentage the incidental and unnecessary expenses.  The term-bilIs, including tuition and room-rent, which, at the first, were only ten or eleven dollars per term, had now risen to seventeen dollars, and the maximum of necessary college expenses, including board, fuel, and lights, which in 1834 was stated in the catalogue at ninety-six dollars a year, was estimated in 1837 at one hundred and fifty dollars.  This was still considerably less than at Harvard or Yale, but the difference was less than it formerly was, and the expenses at Amherst were now greater than they were at some of the other New England colleges.  Relatively the economy of an education at Amherst was considerably less than it had been, and economy is no small argument, especially with the class of students who flocked to Amherst in crowds in the earlier years of its history.

A still more important change had gradually come over the relations between the students and the faculty.  The circumstances under which the college originated made its officers and students more like one great family than they were in the older and larger institutions, more so probably than they were in any other college.  The government was truly a paternal government, and the students cherished a remarkably filial spirit toward the president and professors.  But when Amherst came soon to be the largest college in New England, with a single exception, when it contained more than two hundred and fifty students of all characters and habits, from all ranks and classes of the community, and from all parts of the United States, it was no longer practicable to maintain so familiar and confidential relations, it was no longer possible to administer the government in the same paternal way, it was no longer possible that the students should cherish just the same filial feeling and spirit toward the faculty.  The men who composed the faculty might be the same, it was the same president and the same leading older professors, under whose auspices the college had attained so soon to so large a growth, that were now administering the government and giving the instruction; yet they could not but draw the reins a little tighter, they could not exercise the same personal supervision, the same fatherly watch and care over two hundred students which they had extended to one hundred.  They were not the same students, they were not of the same age, class and condition in life; upon an average they were younger and richer and less religious when they entered now than they were ten or fifteen years earlier in the history of the college; but even if they had been the very same individual students, they could not come so near to their officers, nor stand in the same near and confidential relations, nor cherish quite the same feelings of personal regard and affection, as when they were fewer in number and were in some sense joint-founders of the institution.  There are evils, difficulties, and dangers inevitably connected with a large college, as there are with a large boarding school, which almost preclude the possibility of its realizing the ideal of a college, or doing in the best way its whole and proper work; and among these the wall of separation which rises up between faculty and the students is not the least.  Accidental circumstances about this time contributed to widen the breach.  One of these was the anti-slavery excitement.  This affected Amherst more than it did most of the Eastern colleges; for while it had an unusual number of Southern students between 1830 and 1840, it had also a larger proportion than most of the colleges of that class of students who were strongly, and some of them violently, opposed to slavery.  It was during this decennary, as our readers will remember, that the anti-slavery excitement, which temporarily subsided after the Missouri Compromise, broke out with fresh violence and agitated the whole country.  The "Liberator," started in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison for the express purpose of agitating this question, was established in 1831; the New England Anti-Slavery Society (afterwards the Massachusetts) in 1832, and the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  In 1834, George Thompson came over from England and his clarion-like voice rang through the land, and in 1835 Mr. Garrison was dragged through the streets of Boston by an infuriated mob and saved from a violent death only by incarceration in the city jail.

Such exciting scenes could not but deeply move the feelings of young men in our colleges and professional schools.  It was under such circumstances that a colonization society and an anti-slavery society were formed among the students at Amherst, the latter in the summer of 1833, and the former a short time previous, perhaps not more than two or three weeks.  Thus the college was divided as it were into two hostile camps, and the war raged as fiercely between these opposing forces in their classic halls as that between the Greeks and Trojans of which the young men read in the Iliad, and it lasted quite as long before it fully came to an end.  The faculty seeing that fellow-students, and even Christian brethren, were thus set in hostile array against each other, feeling that the college was not founded to be a school of moral or political reform, and fearing that its reputation as well as its peace and prosperity might thus be endangered, at length interposed, and endeavored to persuade the members of both societies to dissolve their organizations.  The members of the colonization society complied with this request.  The members of the anti-slavery society returned answer that they could not conscientiously dissolve the society by their own act, begged the privilege of at least holding the monthly concert of prayer for the slave, and, if they must needs disband, prayed the faculty to do the work themselves.  The faculty consented to their holding the monthly concert of prayer and the continued existence of the anti-slavery society on certain conditions, but after protracted deliberation and discussion the members of the society decided that they could not conscientiously either disband the society or comply with the conditions for its continued existence.  It only remained for the president, in behalf of the faculty, to say to them:  "As you cannot comply with the conditions, your society must cease to exist."

It cannot be doubted that the anti-slavery excitement impaired somewhat the confidence and affection of a large portion of the students (and those the most ardent and earnest students of the college) for the faculty, and especially alienated some of the most zealous of them from the president, who was the organ of communication, and was regarded as the author of the policy that was pursued.

But the opposition to the system of distinctive and honorary appointments in college, which sprang up about the same time, lasted longer and was still more unfortunate in its influence.  As early as 1834, the junior class, under the influence of the dissatisfaction attendant as usual on the appointments for the junior exhibition, petitioned the trustees at their annual meeting to abolish the system.  Upon this petition, the trustees voted, "That we think it inexpedient to make any alteration at present on the subject of said communication, but we recommmend that the faculty correspond with the other colleges on this subject and obtain such information as may be communicated for such improvement hereafter as occasion may require."  At their annual meeting in 1836, a petition was again presented, signed by nearly, if not quite, all the members of the three upper classes, asking for the abolition "of the present system of appointments in this institution," and suggesting, instead, that "such a division and arrangement be made that all may have parts assigned them, and alike enjoy the benefits arising from such performances," or that "each of the three literary societies in college should be permitted to have an annual exhibition."  The action of the trustees upon this petition is thus entered on their records:  "A petition having been presented to this board signed by numerous members of Amherst College, praying for the abolition of the system of appointments adopted in this college, Voted, that this board deem it inexpedient to make any change at present in the system provided for by the college laws on this subject."

Meanwhile the faculty began to be besieged by petitions from individual students asking to be excused from performing the parts assigned them on the ground of conscientious opposition to the system of honorary distinctions, and for a time the faculty granted these requests.  At length it became apparent that there was, if not a conspiracy, a set purpose on the part of many students, some of them perhaps really conscientious, but others manifestly only disappointed in their own appointments, or otherwise disaffected, to break down the system, and that if they would have any exhibitions or commencements, they must insist upon the performance of the parts assigned for public occasions with the same firmness and on the same principles as they required the recitation of lessons or the performance of any other assigned duty.  They therefore declined to excuse appointees simply on the ground of conscientious scruples without the assignment of some other reasons.

Among those who were excused in the summer of 1835 was one who had been appointed one of the prize speakers from the freshmen, and having requested to be excused "on grounds of conscience," his request was granted.  Two years later, the same student received an appointment for the junior exbibition.  Instead of performing the part assigned him, he sent in a paper to the faculty, in which he not only refused to perform, but expressed his refusal in disrespectful language, and after an ineffectual effort by the president to obtain a retraction, the faculty voted to require of him a written acknowledgment, under penalty, if he refused, of being removed from college.

The student refused to make the required acknowledgment, and was accordingly removed from college.

The entire class, with a single exception, now rallied to the support of their classmate and joined issue with the faculty by passing the following resolution and sending to Gorham's friends a letter to the same effect:

"Resolved by the junior class, June 24, 1837, that in our opinion William O. Gorham has made every concession which duty and justice require, and in refusing to concede more we heartily approve of his principles."

The next morning this resolution was found written or painted on the wall in front of the chapel, where it was read by all the students as they went in to morning prayers.  The faculty were soon called together to consult in this emergency.  They felt deeply that it was a solemn crisis for themselves and for the college.  They began their consultation by asking counsel of God in prayer.  After much anxious deliberation they came to the conclusion that such action by a class in college was subversive of all government, and that they must meet the issue with firmness or resign the helm into the hands of students.  They therefore "voted to require a confession of all the members of the junior class who have taken measures inconsistent with their obligations to obey the laws of college."  The confession is in the following words:

"It being an acknowledged principle that no student who is permitted to enjoy the privileges of a public literary institution, and who has promised obedience to its laws, has a right to do anything to weaken the hands of its faculty or in any way to nullify any of their disciplinary acts, I deeply regret that I did, without due consideration, vote for a resolution and sign a paper which tended to both these results; and I hereby promise to abstain from all similar interference in the government of Amherst College."

The class hesitated and delayed, and it seemed for a time as if the whole class would refuse to sign the paper and be sent away.  But by the interposition of Gorham's friends, who were also friends of the college, he was induced to sign the confession required of him with a trifling verbal alteration, and then his classmates promptly followed suit and signed the acknowledgment and promise required of them.

But the effect on the college was immediately disastrous.  From this time, class after class went out with more or less of the spirit of disaffection and spread it through the community.  Year after year too many of the graduates went forth, not to invite and attract students, but to turn them away by reporting that the government was arbitrary, the president stern, severe, unsympathizing, unprogressive, and even in his dotage,---although, as Dr. Hitchcock remarks, his subsequent history shows that he was as well qualified, physically, intellectually, and spiritually, as he had ever been for the place,---and the professors, some of them at least, incapable, unpopular, and unfit for the office, although the work of instruction was never more ably or faithfully, never so assiduously and laboriously performed as at this very time.

The president was the self-same man under whose wise and able administration the college had risen to such unexampled prosperity.  The professors were, for the most part, the same men under whose government and instruction the Institution had previously prospered, who, when the tide turned afterwards, were as popular as it often falls to the lot of faithful professors to be, and whose lives have become identified with the history of the college.  It is not necessary to mention their names.  The tutors of this period were some of the best scholars that have ever been graduated here.  Not a few of them have since become distinguished as educators, authors, men of science, eloquent preachers, and able jurists.  Six of them have been professors in this and other institutions, viz., Charles B. Adams, Thomas P. Field, John Humphrey, William A. Peabody, Roswell D. Hitchcock, and George B. Jewett.  It was during this period that the Græca Majora was dropped from the curriculum, and Homer, Demosthenes, and the tragic poets began to be read continuously as entire books instead of extracts, and the Greek and Latin languages were for the first time taught analytically in their relation to each other and their cognate tongues and in the light of comparative philology.  At this time, to wit, in 1837-38, the whole system of monitorial duties, excuses for absence, marks for merit and demerit, the merit roll, reports to parents, punishment of delinquents and honorary appointments, was revised, reformed, methodized, made at once more just and more efficient, and those principles and rules established which, not without amendment of course, but substantially, have regulated the practice of the college in this important matter ever since.  A circular letter was also prepared and sent to the parents of freshmen and other new students, which explained the temptations and dangers of college life, invited the co-operation of parents and friends, and thus contributed much towards a better understanding among all the parties concerned in the education and training of the college.  Such a letter continued to be sent with good effect for many years after the emergency out of which it sprang had passed away.  About the same time, a course of general lectures in the chapel on study, reading, literature, and college life was inaugurated, in which all the faculty in rotation bore a part, and which proved highly acceptable as well as useful to the students.  In short, necessity proved the mother of invention and sharpened the wits of the faculty to discover and apply many new ways and means of promoting the welfare of the students, and, if possible, the prosperity of the college.  These efforts, it is believed, were appreciated by the undergraduates, and they were quite contented and satisfied with the government and instruction of the college.  But the spirit of disaffection was still spreading among the alumni, infecting some of the older as well as the younger graduates, and extending through the community; and the number of students still continued to decrease.

At length the feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction began to find expression through the press.  The causes of the decline of the college were discussed in newspapers and pamphlets, and writers who were confessedly graduates and professedly friends of the institution, published to the world that the alumni were dissatisfied with the management of the college, and it never would prosper without a thorough reform, not to say a complete revolution.  Those were dark days for Amherst College---days of cruel trial and suffering for its officers.  The trial of living on a half-salary a few years later was nothing in comparison.  Some of them carried the sting of it to their dying day, and it still lingers in the memory of the survivors.

If the college had been rich and independent, it might have borne this trial.  Indeed, if the college had been independent, it would have been saved the greater part of the trial, for complaints would then have been in a great measure silenced, and disaffection nipped in the bud.  But "the destruction of the poor is their poverty."  Poverty increased the disaffection itself as well as sharpened the sting of it, and the disaffection, by diminishing the number of students, increased the poverty of the college.  For it had not at this time a single dollar of endowment, and no college, however large or prosperous, receives for tuition one-half of what it costs.  The two subscriptions which had already been raised, the one of thirty thousand and the other fifty thousand dollars, were immediately exhausted in the payment of debts and other unavoidable expenses.  The college was, therefore, actually running in debt at the time of its largest prosperity, and the debt went on increasing as the number of students continued to diminish, till the outgoes exceeded the income by fully four thousand dollars a year.

Application was made to the Legislature for pecuniary aid in three successive years, viz., 1837, 1838, and 1839.  In each instance a joint committee of both houses reported strongly in favor of the college, and recommended in 1837 a grant of twenty-five thousand dollars in ten annual instalments, in 1838 a grant of fifty thousand dollars, and in 1839 a reference to the next Legislature on the ground that there were then no funds in the treasury.

In 1837 and 1838 the bill failed, both years in the House, being rejected in the latter year by a vote of 154 nays to 132 yeas.  It is worthy of note, as illustrating the change of public sentiment in Hampshire County in comparison with former Legislatures, that only one negative vote was now cast in the whole county.  In 1839 the petition was referred to the next Legislature as recommended by the committee.

Despairing of aid from the state, the trustees soon conceived the project of raising one hundred thousand dollars by private subscription.  This was thought to be the smallest sum that would relieve the college of existing embarrassments and leave a balance for endowments sufficient to make the income equal to expenditures.  Rev. William Tyler, of South Hadley Falls, was first appointed an agent for obtaining subscriptions, and by his labors at different times during the years 1839 and 1840 some four or five thousand dollars were raised, chiefly in Amherst.  At the annual meeting of the trustees in the latter year, it being thought that the shortening of the winter vacation had operated unfavorably by keeping away that class of students who were necessitated to help themselves by teaching, the vacations were changed back again to six weeks in the winter, two in the spring, and four in the summer, the Commencement, however, being placed on the fourth Thursday of July instead of the fourth Wednesday of August.  But the number of students still continued to diminish.

In 1841 the eyes of all turned to Rev. Joseph Vaill, who had already proved himself a firm support and a successful agent of the college in more than one emergency, as the only person who could successfully perform the herculean labor of raising the money which was indispensable to its very existence.  He accepted the office of general agent to which he had been invited by the trustees at their annual meeting in 1841, with the same salary as the professors, was dismissed from his pastoral charge, removed to Amherst, and for nearly four years devoted himself to unwearied labors and plans for the external affairs and especially the pecuniary interests of the college.  In August, 1845, he was able to report subscriptions, conditional and unconditional, to the amount of sixty-seven thousand dollars, of which over fifty-one thousand dollars had been collected by himself and paid into the treasury.  By reckoning in ten thousand dollars, given during this time by David Sears, eleven thousand dollars known by him to have been bequeathed by will to the college during the same time, and fifteen thousand dollars which he had the written assurance of an individual's "full intention" to pay for the founding of a professorship, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars was made up, and this statement was so far satisfactory to the subscribers that the majority of those whose subscriptions had been conditioned on the raising of the entire sum of one hundred thousand dollars, now made them unconditional.

But deduct from the fifty-one thousand dollars which had been actually paid into the treasury by Mr. Vaill at the close of his agency in 1845, the debt which was reported to the Legislature as fifteen thousand dollars in 1838, the excess of the outgoes above the income in the interval of seven years at the rate of three or four thousand dollars a year, and the salary and expenses of the agent, which exceeded four thousand dollars, and it will be seen that very little remained for endowments or even to counterbalance a future excess of expenses.  And yet the annual expenses far exceeded the annual income, and the number of students still continued to diminish.  Things could not long go on in this way.  To raise money by subscription was only to throw it into a bottomless morass which must after all before long swallow up the institution.  This was palpable to all eyes, and was uttered from the lips of many.  The trustees felt it.  They chose a standing committee of retrenchment.  They reduced the number of tutors, formerly four, to one.  With their consent, they deducted one hundred dollars each from the salary of the President and the general agent, and two hundred from that of each of the professors.  But all this was quite inadequate.  The college still continued to flounder and sink deeper in the mire.  The general agent at length saw that the only adequate remedy was to bring the expenses within the revenue; and he laid before the faculty the suggestion, with an outline of the plan, which was adopted by them and ere long turned the tide in the opposite direction.

But before this remedy was tried or, perhaps, thought of, the clamor had become loud and distinct among the alumni and in the community for changes in the faculty, and a change of administration.  The first officer who was sacrificed was Professor Fowler, a gentleman of much learning and many accomplishments, but "unpopular," and, as the students said, who certainly had the means of testing his capacity in this respect, unable to maintain order in his lectures, recitations, and rhetorical exercises.  Under the double pressure of the clamor of graduates and the complaints of undergraduates, he resigned his professorship to the trustees, at a special meeting in December, 1842.

But this did not appease the clamor or meet the emergency.  A more shining mark was aimed at.  A more costly sacrifice was demanded.  And at a special meeting of the corporation in Worcester, in January, 1844, with the trustees all present, under the pressure of the emergency, and doubtless in anticipation of the event, President Humphrey, in a letter which shows his rare magnanimity and self-sacrificing devotion to the "beloved institution with which he had been so long connected," tendered his resignation, to take effect whenever his successor should be ready to enter upon the office.

The trustees, constrained by a felt necessity and doubtless with sorrowing hearts, accepted the resignation, and through a committee consisting of Mr. Calhoun, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Alden, returned the following answer:

"Resolved, as the unanimous sense of this board, That Dr. Humphrey retires from the presidency of the college with our sincere respect and affection, which have been steadily increasing from the commencement of our mutual intercourse; that we express to him our gratitude for his invaluable services as the head of this institution, our highest regard for his character as a successful teacher, a faithful pastor, and a single-hearted Christian; that our prayers will accompany him, that his rich intellectual resources and his humble piety may still be devoted for years to come, as they have been for years past, to the welfare of his fellow-men; and that we invoke upon him the continued favor and blessing of Heaven.

"Resolved, That one thousand dollars be presented to Dr. Humphrey on his retirement, in addition to his regular salary."

The first gleam of sunshine from without which had rested upon the college for several years, dawned upon it in the darkness and sorrow of this meeting at Worcester, in the donation of ten thousand dollars by Hon. David Sears of Boston, which was the beginning of his munificent "Foundation of Literature and Benevolence," and not only the largest donation, but the first donation of any considerable magnitude that had ever been given at once by a single individual.

But the college was not yet lifted out of the mire.  That was to be the result of many years of wise and patient self-denial and labor.  Two vacancies in the faculty had at length been created.  Now began the more difficult task of filling them.  At the same meeting in Worcester at which they had accepted the resignation of Dr. Humphrey, the trustees chose Prof. E. A. Park, of Andover, president, and reappointed Rev. J. B. Condit, of Portland, professor of rhetoric and oratory, together with the pastoral charge of the college church.  But both of these gentlemen declined their appointments.  At the next annual meeting in August, 1844, the trustees chose Rev. Prof. George Shepard, of Bangor, president, and Rev. Jonathan Leavitt, of Providence, professor of rhetoric and oratory, together with the pastoral charge of the college church.  Professor Shepard declined the presidency.  Rev. Mr. Leavitt so far accepted the professorship as to call a council to consider the question of his dismission; but the council declined to dismiss him simply because he did not press it, and it was generally understood that he did not press it because on visiting Amherst his heart failed him in view of the difficulties which beset the college.

At this meeting, Hon. William B. Banister and Hon. Alfred D. Foster resigned their places as members of the board.  Henry Edwards, Esq., of Boston was elected in the place of Mr. Banister.  At the urgent request of the board, Mr. Foster consented to withdraw his resignation.  But a correspondence with Rev. Mr. Vaill about this time, and his conversations at a later day with Professor Hitchcock, show that he had little hope that the college could be maintained as anything more than an academy.

At a special meeting of the corporation in Amherst in November, Rev. Aaron Warner was elected professor of rhetoric and oratory, with a salary of one thousand dollars.

At another special meeting at Amherst in December, the professors laid before the trustees the proposition, suggested probably by Mr. Vaill, that they would accept the income of the college, be the same more or less, in place of their salaries, and pay out of it also all the necessary running expenses of the college, on condition that they be allowed to regulate these expenses and run the college, and with the understanding that the agency for the solicitation of funds should cease, and with the expectation that Professor Hitchcock would be appointed president.  The trustees accepted the proposition of the faculty as modified and set forth by themselves, and on this basis they elected Rev. Edward Hitchcock, LL. D., president and professor of natural theology and geology.  In order to provide for the partial vacancy thus created in Professor Hitchcock's department, they at the same time elected Prof. Charles U. Shepard, of New Haven, professor of chemistry and natural history, "to take effect provided Professor Hitchcock accepts the presidency."

These appointments were all accepted, and on the 14th of April, 1845, the president-elect was inducted into his office, the retiring president, at the request of the trustees, performing the ceremony of induction and in due form handing over the keys to his successor, the former having previously delivered a farewell address, and the latter following with his inaugural.  It would have been the personal preference of Dr. Humphrey to continue in office till commencement, and thus at the close of the year and amid the concourse of alumni and friends usually convened on that occasion, to take leave of his "beloved college" and her sons, so many of whom loved and honored him as a father.  But it was thought by friends of the "new departure" that the delay might embarrass the financial arrangement, and perhaps affect unfavorably the incoming class.  And with characteristic magnanimity and self-abnegation, he hastened to put off the robes of office and with his own hands to put them upon his successor.  In his farewell address he says:  "The period having arrived, when, by the conditions of my resignation, I am to retire from the responsible post which I have occupied for twenty-two years, it was my wish silently to withdraw with many thanksgivings to God for his smiles upon the institution with which I have been so long connected, and fervent supplications for its future prosperity.  But having been kindly and somewhat earnestly requested, by the standing committee of the board, to prepare an address for the present occasion, I have allowed myself to be overruled, I hope not for the first time, by a sense of public duty.  It has been a maxim with me for more than forty years, that every man is bound to avail himself of all such opportunities for doing good as Providence may afford him, with but a subordinate regard to his own personal feelings or convenience."

He their proceeds to narrate concisely the history of the college from the beginning, especially its religious history, insisting with great earnestness and eloquence, as he did in his inaugural, on a truly Christian education in truly Christian colleges as the hope of the country, the church, and the world, and closes with devout aspirations, with almost apostolic benedictions on the college and its beloved church, its honored trustees and guardians, his respected and beloved associates in the immediate government and instruction, the beloved youth over whose morals, health, and education it had been his endeavor to watch with paternal solicitude, and the esteemed friend and brother to whom he resigned the chair, and with whom he had been so long and so happily associated.  There is an almost tragic pathos and sublimity in these valedictory words and last acts in the public life of this great and good man.  Few scenes in history, or the drama even, have in them more of the moral sublime.  The sympathizing spectators hardly knew whether to weep over the sad necessities which environed the close of his administration or to admire and rejoice in the moral grandeur and Christian heroism of the man.  And the feelings of the writer in narrating these events have been somewhat the same as those with which the disciples of Socrates listened to his last conversations, as Plato describes them in the Phaedon, "feelings not of pity, for they thought him more to be envied than pitied, nor yet of pleasure, such as they usually experienced when listening to his philosophical discourses, but a wonderful sort of emotion, a strange mixture of pleasure and grief, and a singular union and succession of smiles and tears."

 

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