Page images


much in earnest was he that at times he laid aside the traditional dignity of the college president, a degree of condescension hard for us to appreciate, and met the students as man to man. Early in his administration, during one of the senior debates, of which he was umpire, a question was proposed principally "to see what would happen "-this: "Are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments the Word of God?" Dr. Dwight at once accepted the challenge. He urged the skeptical debaters to put forth their strongest arguments regardless of his presence, as they would were they debating among themselves. After all had said their say, he took up their arguments as if he had been himself one of the debaters, making, by contemporaneous testimony, one of the most convincing efforts of his life. From Dwight's methods, indeed, dates the kind of orthodoxy that has characterized Yale even to the end of the century. It is an orthodoxy strong but tolerant, yielding genuine respect to the conclusions of science in its own field, but refusing authority beyond it and insisting on the essentials of faith-an attitude by no means rigid, yet in principle consistent.

The long administration of President Day (1817-46), though of large importance in confirming the policies inaugurated by Dr. Dwight, and thus settling


the future, was one of those periods of quiet growth which are often fruitful because they are free from stir. event was significant-the appointment in 1841 of Edward E. Salisbury to the professorship of Arabic and Sanskrit, for from it dates the beginning of a department of graduate instruction. The successorship fell to Dr. Dwight's nephew, Theodore Dwight Woolsey, a man whom it is hard to characterize, so rare a combination was he of simplicity, sincerity, and strength. Of all the college presidents who have left a lasting impress on generations of students by sanity, dignity, and force of character, Mark Hopkins, of Williams, is perhaps alone comparable with Woolsey. He brought to his administration (1846-71) unusual advantages. in lineage and early training. He came of the Autocrat's "Brahmin caste," but, through close intimacy with a father who was an able and high-minded man of business in New York, enjoyed from the beginning a practical guidance seldom the privilege of one who leads the scholar's life. After experience as a tutor at Yale, and studying theology, which, however, did not appeal to him as a profession, Woolsey chose the calling of teacher, and, to fit himself for it, went abroad to study in 1825. That was something scarcely any one then thought of doing, either from lack of means or from not regarding

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

it as worth while, the accepted standards of scholarship being still provincial. His final word from Europe is characteristic. "I should think my existence insupportable and a burden," he wrote to his father, "if I had not an aim to be useful in my day and generation;" adding, "I have endeavored to gain a minute and thorough knowledge of the Greek language, and to lay a foundation for an acquaintance, such as few in America possess, with classical literature, in order to teach it." These sentences epitomize the ideals stamped on the Yale policy by Woolsey "usefulness," thoroughness." As Professor of Greek (1831-46) he at once introduced the more exact standards of European scholarship, and at the same time enlarged its opportunities by adding new authors and editing needed editions of the tragedians As President, while insisting on thoroughness, he broadened the work of the senior year, introducing political economy and history. Through intense interest in the issues of the impending Civil War he was led to take up international law, on which he became so eminent an authority. Meanwhile he found time for the faithful performance of the smallest duties of the place, quietly doing its drudgery almost unnoticed,

sometimes writing as many as two thousand letters in a year with his own hand.

Spare and bent of form, with finely cut features and piercing eyes, Woolsey looked the type of quiet scholar; but, aroused on a moral issue, was capable of an indignation few cared to face. He was the embodiment of sincerity. So far did he carry his hatred of an affectation that he would not, on re-reading, substitute a "better-sounding" word for the one first chosen if the first clearly expressed his meaning. Yet he appreciated the rhythm of words as he loved nature, himself sharing the poet's gift, as those know who have been privileged to read the small collection of his verse printed privately for his closest friends. Stern as a disciplinarian, he was most kindly of heart. It would be a violation of confidence to tell how many thousands of dollars he loaned or gave to needy students, a large part of which was never returned. Of a legal rather than a theological cast of mind, in preaching he appealed to the great fundamental laws, as when, in his powerful sermon on "The Self-Propagating Power of Sin," he appealed to "facts as old as mankind and as lasting as the soul, facts which any heathen sage might notice and

[graphic][merged small]

which Christianity does not create." Of a singular modesty, he not only refused the place of Minister to England offered to him by President Hayes in recognition of his services as a publicist, but kept the offer itself a secret until the President himself disclosed it at a Yale Commencement.

The final form of the Yale education as developed under Woolsey, in accordance with a certain seriousness which had characterized it from the beginning, consisted principally of the ancient languages and mathematics, and secondarily of natural science (taught by text-book), some modern language, English literature, history, political economy, psychology, and international law. This form persisted until 1884, or for thirteen years after Woolsey's retirement. Its aim was to give training, discipline to the many, not to favor the aptitudes of the few, and its rigorous application accomplished its purpose. Under President Porter (1871-86), who was respected for his learning and loved for his kindliness, but who concealed under a mild manner great tenacity of purpose. the university departments in law, medicine, the fine arts, and graduate instruction were strengthened, and the sum of $600,000 raised for university purposes. But in these developments the university was of deliberate purpose kept apart from the college. Contributing to this was the independent natural growth of the Shef field School unhampered by tradition, either in government or method; for Sheffield received many students desiring a modern education, who, had they entered the academical department, must have doubled the pressure for radical change. The concessions of 1884 to the "optional" spirit, involving more and more of incidental change, resulted in another depart ure in 1893, by which one-half the courses were made optional as against one-third. Under this new opportunity of choice, the displacement of the ancient languages and mathematics by modern languages, English, the social sciences, and history has been rapid. A still further departure will mark Yale's entrance on her third century. The student from sophomore year on will have full liberty of choice among courses classified under three groups: Languages and literature,

both ancient and modern; mathematics and the physical sciences; philosophy, history, and the social sciences. But to preserve continuity, definiteness in the student's exercise of the right of choice, each must so elect his courses as to attain a certain grade of advanced instruction in his major subject of one group, and a required grade in a minor subject from each of the other two groups. It is under these restrictions that the exceptional student will hereafter be able to gain his A.B. degree in three years, emphasizing even in the concession the tradition that the training of the many comes first.

The modernized curriculum is but one sign of the new order. Its advent is no less marked by the co-ordination of the various departments, but especially by the new opportunities of the recently established departments of music and forestry. Yale's is indeed a busy university life of many interests and contacts, as reflected in the great bulletins which announce the club meetings and lecture courses of a single week. Of all this the bicentennial festival will take careful note, first recognizing how wisely the one ex-President still spared, the second Dwight, builded for the future. He divorced the office of President from that of instructor and made it essentially executive. He raised large sums for the necessary equipment in buildings and laboratories. He stimulated by the enthusiasm of discernment the growth of the university spirit. He initiated the movement by which $1,200,000 has been raised from 1,700 contributors for the bicentennial buildings, of which the auditorium may bear the honored name of Woolsey Hall, with the completion of the fund to $2,000,000 apparently assured. But the bicentennial programme itself will emphasize the past, from its incidental features to the lasting embodiment of its significance in a special publication of a series of volumes, perhaps twenty, by members of its faculty-a noteworthy record of research. The range is the widest possible, from Hadley's "Education of the American Citizen" and Sumner's "Sociology" to Chittenden's "Studies in Physiological Chemistry" and Lounsbury's Shakesperean Wars." At its head will be that unique collection of Americana, the Diary of President

Stiles," edited by Professor Dexter. Against the background of the historical addresses by Justice Brewer, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Gilman, Dr. Welch, President Northrop, and Mr. Thomas Thacher, will stand out the still cherished personalities of the men of light and leading who made the Yale that was-Thacher and Hadley, Dana, Loomis, Newton, Marsh, and Whitney. It all will recall the past: the collection of curious text-books running back to the beginning, to 1701, and starting with Ames's "Medulla Theologiæ;" the collection of paintings by Coloncl Trumbull and Samuel F. B. Morse of the class of 1810, the beginning of the Art School; the Greek Festival Hymn composed by Professor Goodell, and set to music by Professor Parker; the old "York Tune" once more, first sung at the Commencement of 1718; the quaint historical costumes of the students in the great torchlight parade; the pantomimes presenting dramatically this or that phase of Yale life to an audience of six thousand in the great quadrangle.

What is the substance behind these shadows of two centuries lived? What the outcome of Yale's evolution? "On a map of the world," says Lowell, "you may cover Judea with your thumb, Athens with a finger-tip, and neither of them figures in the Prices-Current; but they still lord it in the thought and action of every civilized man." Judea and Athens may have passed, but their traditions are perpetuated in living ideals. So with the contributions to national life of two centuries of Yale. Its traditions have grown into ideals. To certain of these Yale has

been consistently steadfast. To the great American tradition of democracy, knowing no favorite in the class-room, and ranking a man on the campus by what he is and not by what he has; to another great American tradition, the good of the majority, applying a curriculum not to favor the few but to develop and discipline the many; to the tradition of the humanities as opposed to the utilities, in teaching first what the cultured man ought to know, rather than what, under pressure of industrialism, he needs to know for his individual calling.

Can the university be true to the traditions of the college? The answer is the felicitous word with which President Eliot conferred on President Hadley the hood of his Harvard degree: "Prophet of her upward career." Under Hadley one thing is assured-modification of tradition will not mean impairment of ideal. To that already bears witness the intensity of his deliverance on the materialism of American life. Confident, then, of a high and strong leadership, the graduates and friends of Yale may, in the noble words of Stedman's "Commencement Ode," with confidence commit her to her third century:

Mother of Learning! thou whose torch
Starward uplifts, afar its light to bear,
Thine own revere thee, throned within thy

Rayed with thy shining hair.
The youngest know thee still more young-
The stateliest, statelier yet than prophet-bard
hath sung.

O mighty Mother, proudly set
Beside the far, inreaching sea,
None shall the trophied Past forget
Or doubt thy splendor yet to be!

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »