Page images



T'rom an early painting. the solar comets-a theory which was century the President was Yale even more received with applause by the Royal than Napoleon was the State. He it was Society, and held its own for many years who determined the character of the colin the scientific world. His successor, lege, in which there were only two profesafter an interregnum, President Ezra sional chairs, one in Divinity and one in Stiles (1777 to 1795), while lacking Dr. Natural Philosophy and Mathematics, the Clap's force, was even more versatile. other instructors being young tutors and Remarkable as a linguist, delivering the the curriculum being still mediaval. This address at Yale's “ splendid commence- included originally, to summarize in a senment " of 1781, in Hebrew, Chaldee, and tence Professor Schwab's careful study in Arabic, he “ kept abreast " of science, was the Educational Review," Hebrew, Latin, the lifelong friend of Benjamin Franklin and Greek in languages; elementary (who received an M.A. at Yale, and sent mathematics, extended finally to include to New Haven the first printing-press ever surveying and astronomy: theology, logic, set up in the town), worked an electric metaphysics, and " disputation "five times machine (Dr. Franklin's gift), could teach a week in forensic or syllogistic form. mathematics, natural philosophy, and The first text-books were the Old and astronomy as readily as Hebrew or the New Testaments and Virgil. Later, ology, and cherished the hope that after Cicero and Horace were introduced, but death he would be permitted to visit not a single Greek classic. No wonder, Saturn and study his rings.

when Dr. Dwight was a tutor, just before These trivial personalities have a true the Revolution, the · scholars," as they significance, and are not merely curious were then called, petitioned that he be bits of gossip about forgotten worthies. permitted to instruct them in belles-lettres. For down to the end of the eighteenth Books were rare, and constituted the one “ tool” of education. The birth of Yale already a national character, that the dates from a little pile of books raised by enthusiasm of the Revolution found exa few ministers in Branford. The first

The first pression in a noteworthy departure—the act of solicitation by Jeremiah Duminer, first serious attempt to create a distinctive the Connecticut agent in London, was the American literature. Its note, as Pro request for gifts of books. It was re- fessor Barrett Wendeil says, was “national sponded to (among others) by Sir Isaac independence." The conspicuous trio of Newton and Elihu Yale, whose later gift the “Hartford wits," as the school came of £562 12s. in East India goods (in to be called, were Timothy Dwight, John recognition of which the college received Trumbull, and Joel Barlow, Yale graduates his name) included a collection of books. of the same period and more or less closely Bishop Berkeley's gift of a house and lot associated. As a school they are forgotten, in Newport (which brings in about $125 largely because, in Professor Wendell's a year, having been unwisely leased for a judgment, “their America still lacked a term of 999 years), also included books, national experience ripe for expression in a peculiarly interesting gift as showing a form which should be distinctive.” As that the expulsion of Rector Cutler for forerunners and types they still have seceding to the Episcopal Church (1722) significance. Dwight's too theological did not alienate the Bishop's interest in muse was best adapted to hymn-writing the Congregational college. Indeed, one "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” has lasted of the most useful of President Clap's and will last. Trumbull's “McFingal," minor services was his catalogue of the after “Hudibras," aimed at unpatriotic college library, then (1743) containing follies of the times, and, having a great about 2,600 volumes. It may perhaps vogue, contains lines still familiar, as even be said that literature was the one

No man e'er felt the halter draw recognized sphere of purely intellectual With good opinion of the law. effort.

Trumbull's “ Progress of Dullness,” too, It was not strange, then, Yale having has interest in this connection, for it sati



Showing the first building.



EZRA STILES rized the Yale curriculum, as when it of literary initiative proved disappointing, describes students who

the inspiration of patriotism of which it Read ancient authors o'er in vain, was born finds present recognition in the

Nor taste one beauty they contain. Memorial Gateway erected by the class Barlow's “Columbiad " was intense, like of 1896 to the Yale dead of the Spanish his career. Barlow was a type of the war. It stands, as President Hadley more adventurous Americans of the Revo- pointed out at its dedication, for the perlutionary period, who found peace prosaic. sistence of a noble type, the type of Major An ex-war chaplain and ex-psalmodist, Theodore Winthrop, the writer of gifts Barlow drifted to France and became and charm who, far in advance of his prominent as a Girondist ; then to London men, fell gallantly in the charge at Great and held his own in a circle of wits of Bethel, and the type of Nathan Halewhom Priestley, West, Copley, and Horne the one of the class of 1848, the other of Tooke are best remembered. Tiring of the class of 1769. bohemianism, he made a fortune in specu- The passing of the special literary lation and was persuaded to accept the movement at Yale marked the beginning place of Minister to France at a critical of the scientific movement, one more in period (1811). Going to Poland by invi- accord with Yale's real genius. In 1802 tation to meet Napoleon and negotiate a Benjamin Silliman was chosen to fill the treaty, he lost his life from exposure dur- professorship of chemistry, mineralogy, ing the retreat from Moscow.

and geology, just established--a chair he Despite the cleverness, wit, and force held for fifty years. During that halfthat went into the making of America's century it is probably no exaggeration to first school of literature, Yale has remained, say that Yale was the “scientific center" as Bulwer said of London, leonum arida of America. Silliman popularized scinutrix. The occasional literary celebrity ence somewhat as Gough popularized on her honor roll-Fenimore Cooper temperance, or Phillips the slavery ques(whom the faculty did not permit to grad- tion, delivering the first Lowell Institute uate), N. P. Willis, Donald G. Mitchell, course at Boston, and being widely in Edmund C. Stedman, and Edmund Row- demand for years as a “ platform attrac. land Sill--are sporadic cases of finding tion." For this work he had an excepone's self, not products of a favoring envi- tional aptitude. To a fine presence and ronment. But though Yale's first promise pleasing address was added a sense of

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


A compendious History of Yale-College, and a general Account of the Course of Studies pursued by the Students

[ocr errors][merged small]

From an old print by Daniel Bowen. humor, as when he used to tell his classes it. In this way he frequently made a how he took Yale's original collection of failure more instructive than a success.” minerals to Philadelphia in a candle-box, But Silliman was far more than a success“to my distinguished friend Dr. Hare, ful lecturer. His indomitable enthusiasm who acted as my Adam, and named my as editor maintained, in the face of great animals for me." He could " work with discouragement, the "American Journal of his hands and talk with his mouth at the Science,” the authority of his name secursame time, a trick,” adds the Hon. Fred- ing for its columns constant contributions erick J. Kingsbury, one of his students, from leading scientists abroad. Most of “ which any one who has not tried it will all, to the group of his special students, find not to be so easy as it looks. If most prominent of whom was his son-inanything with an experiment went wrong, law, the late Professor Dana, the eminent instead of staring at it in blank astonish- geologist, is to be traced the origin of what ment, as I have seen men do, he would is now the Sheffield School (established without a break go right on telling how in 1847 and endowed by Joseph E. Shefand why the thing had failed and all about field in 1859), the pioneer school of special scientific study in America. Yale's in the Revolutionary army he wrote patriscientific prestige, dating with Silliman to otic songs of wide popularity. Later he the opening of the nineteenth century, was proved himself a good man of business, upheld to its end; for in Marsh, the and made so marked a success in the paleontologist, Yale's name stands asso- Legislature that he was urged to enter ciated with the discovery of unique evi- Congress, Still later, as a quiet country dence for the doctrine of evolution—the pastor on Greenfield Hill (back of Bridgefamed horses with toes, examination of port) he established a famous academy in which led Huxley himself to revise his which young women received the same conclusions on the genealogy of the horse. instruction in the same branches as young

The scientific movement under Silliman men--a recognition of the “higher eduwas simply a conspicuous phase of the cation ” for women antedating the ninegeneral modern movement at Yale under teenth century. Dwight then initiated a Timothy Dwight, who was President from régime of progress as President of Yale. 1795 to 1817. The Dwight of tradition He abolished “fagging," the services is associated with a certain “Systematic freshmen were required to render upper Theology," an elucidation of the Calvin- classmen—a relic of undemocratic times ism of his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards, before the Revolution when the names of a popular work in Scotland, as Ian Mac- students were entered in the catalogue laren loves to testify. But it was the according to the social precedence of their untraditional Dwight who, led by his families. He enlarged the curriculum appreciation of the discoveries of Lavoisier by adding English literature and rhetoric. and Sir Humphry Davy, established the He substituted professorships for the syschair to which he chose Silliman because tem of almost exclusive teaching by tutors. he was a young man of promise, provid- He founded the medical school, and took ing for his first scientific education and initial steps toward founding schools of later sending him to Europe to become a theology and law, thus anticipating the thorough specialist, quite in the modern university. He helped notably by his manner. The act was representative. forcible sermons in checking the drift Dwight was receptive to new ideas, ver- among educated young men toward what satile, quick of wit, a practical man in is loosely called "French Deism,” seductouch with men and affairs, no less than tively associated with notions of liberty the preacher and orator. While chaplain and with leadership in public life. So

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »