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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

Part 9 out of 13

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to one of the professors, was reported as saying in
substance: ``My old school friend by my side is, of all men,
the one I have most envied: he was able to buy a good
edition of Vergil; I was not.''

It would not have been at all difficult for him to secure
a remission of instruction fees at various American colleges
and universities; but the great difficulty was that he
could not secure the means necessary for his board, for
his clothing, for his traveling expenses, for his books, for
all the other things that go to make up the real cost of life
at a university. I can think of but one way, and that is,
as a rule, to charge instruction fees upon the great body
of the students, but both to remit instruction fees and to
give scholarships and fellowships to those who, in
competitive examinations and otherwise, show themselves
especially worthy of such privileges. This is in conformity
to the system of nature; it is the survival of the
fittest. This was the main reason which led me to insert
in the charter of Cornell University the provision by
which at present six hundred students from the State of
New York are selected by competitive examinations out of
the mass of scholars in the public schools, and to provide
that each of these best scholars shall have free instruction
for four years.

But this was only a part of the system. From the first
I have urged the fact above mentioned, namely, that while
remission of instruction fees is a step in the right direction,
it is not sufficient; and I have always desired to see
some university recognize the true and sound principle
of free instruction in universities by CONSECRATING ALL
LIVING EXPENSES OF A STUDENT. This plan I was enabled, in
considerable measure, to carry out by establishing the
competitive scholarships in each Assembly district; and
later, as will be seen in another chapter, I was enabled, by
a curious transformation of a calamity into a blessing, to
carry it still further by establishing endowed scholarships
and fellowships. These latter scholarships, each, as a
general rule, of two hundred and fifty dollars a year, were
awarded to those who passed the best examinations and
maintained the best standing in their classes; while the
fellowships, each of the value of from four to five hundred
dollars a year, were awarded to the seniors of our own or
other universities who had been found most worthy of
them. In the face of considerable opposition I set this
system in motion at Cornell; and its success leads me to
hope that it will be further developed, not only there, but
elsewhere. Besides this, I favored arrangements for
remitting instruction fees and giving aid to such students as
really showed promising talent, and who were at the time
needy. To this end a loan fund was created which has
been carefully managed and has aided many excellent
men through the university courses.[7] Free instruction,
carried out in accordance with the principle and plan
above sketched, will, I feel sure, prove of great value to
our country. Its effect is to give to the best and brightest
young men, no matter how poor, just the chance they
need; and not as a matter of charity, but as a matter of
wise policy. This is a system which I believe would be
fraught with blessings to our country, securing advanced
education to those who can profit by it, and strengthening
their country by means of it.

[7] It has since been greatly increased by the bequest of a
public-spirited New York merchant.

On the other hand, the system of gratuitous remission
of instruction fees to all students alike, whether rich or
poor, I believe to be injurious to the country, for the
following reasons: First, it generally cripples the insti-
tution which gives it. Two or three large institutions
which have thought themselves in possession of endowments
sufficient to warrant giving gratuitous instruction
have tried it, but as a rule have not been able to go on
with it, and have at last come to the principle of charging
moderate fees. Secondly, it simply makes a present of a
small sum to a large number of young men, most of whom
neither need nor appreciate it, and who would be better
for regarding their university instruction as something
worth paying for.

But my main objection to the system of indiscriminate
gratuitous instruction is that it does the country a positive
injury in drawing away from the farms, workshops,
and stores large numbers of young persons who would
better have been allowed to remain there; that it tends to
crowd what have been called ``the learned professions''
with men not really fitted for them; that it draws masses
of men whose good right arms would be of great value in
the rural districts, and makes them parasites in the cities.
The farmers and the artisans complain of the lack of
young men and women for their work; the professional
men complain that the cities are overstocked with young
men calling themselves lawyers, doctors, engineers, and
the like, but really unworthy to exercise either profession,
who live on the body politic as parasites more or less
hurtful. This has certainly become an evil in other
countries: every enlightened traveler knows that the ranks of
the anarchists in Russia are swollen by what are called
``fruits secs''--that is, by young men and young women
tempted away from manual labor and avocations for which
they are fit into ``professions'' for which they are unfit.
The more FIRST-RATE young men and young women our
universities and technical schools educate the better; but the
more young men and women of mediocre minds and weak
purpose whom they push into the ranks of poor lawyers,
poor doctors, poor engineers, and the like, the more injury
they do to the country.

As I now approach the end of life and look back over
the development of Cornell University, this at least seems
to me one piece of good fortune--namely, that I have
aided to establish there the principle of using our means,
so far as possible, not for indiscriminate gratuitous higher
education of men unfit to receive it; not, as President
Jordan has expressed it, in ``trying to put a five-thousand-
dollar education into a fifty-cent boy''; but in establishing
a system which draws out from the community, even from
its poorest and lowliest households, the best, brightest,
strongest young men and women, and develops their best
powers, thus adding to the greatest treasure which their
country can possess.



Still another new departure was in some respects
bolder than any of those already mentioned. For
some years before the organization of Cornell, I had
thought much upon the education of women, and had
gradually arrived at the conclusion that they might well be
admitted to some of the universities established for young
men. Yet, at the same time, Herbert Spencer's argument
as to the importance of avoiding everything like ``mandarinism''
--the attempt to force all educationalinstitutions
into the same mold--prevented my urging this admission
of women upon all universities alike. I recognized obstacles
to it in the older institutions which did not exist in the
newer; but I had come to believe that where no special
difficulties existed, women might well be admitted to
university privileges. To this view I had been led by my own
observation even in my boyhood. At Cortland Academy
I had seen young men and women assembled in the classrooms
without difficulty or embarrassment, and at Yale I
had seen that the two or three lecture-rooms which
admitted women were the most orderly and decent of all; but
perhaps the strongest influence in this matter was exercised
upon me by my mother. She was one of the most conservative
of women, a High-church Episcopalian, and generally
averse to modern reforms; but on my talking over
with her some of my plans for Cornell University, she
said: ``I am not so sure about your other ideas, but as to
the admission of women you are right. My main education
was derived partly from a boarding-school at Pittsfield
considered one of the best in New England, and partly
from Cortland Academy. In the boarding-school we had
only young women, but in the academy we had both young
men and young women; and I am sure that the results of
the academy were much better than those of the boarding-
school. The young men and young women learned to respect
each other, not merely for physical, but for intellectual
and moral qualities; so there came a healthful
emulation in study, the men becoming more manly and the
women more womanly; and never, so far as I have heard,
did any of the evil consequences follow which some of
your opponents are prophesying.''

A conference with Dr. Woolworth, a teacher of the very
largest experience, showed me that none of the evil results
which were prophesied had resulted. He solemnly assured
me that, during his long experiences as principal of two or
three large academies, and, as secretary of the Board of
Regents, in close contact with all the academies and high
schools of the State, he had never known of a serious scandal
arising between students of different sexes.

As I drafted the main features of the university charter
these statements were in my mind, but I knew well that it
would be premature to press the matter at the outset. It
would certainly have cost us the support of the more
conservative men in the legislature. All that I could do at
that time I did; and this was to keep out of the charter
anything which could embarrass us regarding the question
in the future, steadily avoiding in every clause relating to
students the word ``man,'' and as steadily using the word
``person.'' In conversations between Mr. Cornell and
myself on this subject, I found that we agreed; and in our
addresses at the opening of the university we both alluded
to it, he favoring it in general terms, and I developing
sundry arguments calculated to prepare the way for future
action upon it. At the close of the exercises Mr. John
McGraw, who was afterward so munificent toward us,
came to me and said: ``My old business partner, Henry
Sage, who sat next me during the exercises this morning,
turned to me during your allusion to Mr. Cornell with
tears in his eyes, and said: `John, we are scoundrels to
stand doing nothing while those men are killing themselves
to establish this university.' '' In the afternoon Mr. Sage
himself came to me and said: ``I believe you are right in
regard to admitting women, but you are evidently carrying
as many innovations just now as public opinion will
bear; when you are ready to move in the matter, let me

The following year came the first application of a young
woman for admission. Her case was strong, for she presented
a certificate showing that she had passed the best
examination for the State scholarship in Cortland County;
and on this I admitted her. Under the scholarship clause
in the charter I could not do otherwise. On reporting
the case to the trustees, they supported me unanimously,
though some of them reluctantly. The lady student
proved excellent from every point of view, and her
admission made a mere temporary ripple on the surface
of our affairs; but soon came a peculiar difficulty. The
only rooms for students in those days on the University
Hill were in the barracks filled with young men; and therefore
the young woman took rooms in town, coming up to
lectures two or three times a day. It was a hard struggle;
for the paths and roads leading to the university grounds,
four hundred feet above the valley, were not as in these
days, and the electric trolley had not been invented. She
bore the fatigue patiently until winter set in; then she
came to me, expressing regret at her inability to toil up the
icy steep, and left us. On my reporting this to the trustees,
Mr. Sage made his proposal. I had expected from him
a professorship or a fellowship; but to my amazement
he offered to erect and endow a separate college for young
women in the university, and for this purpose to give us
two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. A committee
of trustees having been appointed to examine and
report upon this proposal, I was made its chairman; and,
in company with Mr. Sage, visited various Western
institutions where experiments in the way of what was
called ``coeducation'' had been tried. At Oberlin College
in Ohio two serious doubts were removed from my mind.
The first of these was regarding the health of the young
women. I had feared that in the hard work and vigorous
competitions of the university they would lose their physical
strength; but here we found that, with wise precautions,
the health of the young women had been quite equal
to that of the young men. My other fear was that their
education with young men might cost some sacrifice of the
better general characteristics of both sexes; but on
studying the facts I became satisfied that the men had been
made more manly and the women more womanly. As to
the manliness there could be little doubt; for the best
of all tests had been applied only a few years before, when
Oberlin College had poured forth large numbers of its
young men, as volunteers, into the Union army. As to the
good effect upon women, it was easy to satisfy myself
when I met them, not only at the college, but in various
beautiful Western homes.

Very striking testimony was also given at the University
of Michigan. Ten years earlier I had known that institution
well, and my professorship there, which lasted six
years, had made me well acquainted with the character and
spirit of its students; but, since my day, women had been
admitted, and some of the results of this change surprised
me much. Formerly a professor's lecture- or recitation-
room had been decidedly a roughish place. The men had
often been slouchy and unkempt. Now all was quiet and
orderly, the dress of the students much neater; in fact, it
was the usual difference between assemblages of men alone
and of men and women together, or, as I afterward phrased
it, ``between the smoking-car and the car back of it.''
Perhaps the most convincing piece of testimony came from
an old janitor. As I met him I said: ``Well, J----, do the
students still make life a burden to you?'' ``Oh, no,'' he
answered; ``that is all gone by. They can't rush each
other up and down the staircases or have boxing-matches
in the lobbies any longer, for the girls are there.''

My report went fully into the matter, favored the admission
of women, and was adopted by the trustees unanimously--
a thing which surprised me somewhat, since two
of them, Judge Folger and Mr. Erastus Brooks, were
among the most conservative men I have ever known. The
general results were certainly fortunate; though one or
two minor consequences were, for a year or two, somewhat
disappointing. Two or three of the faculty and a
considerable number of the students were greatly opposed to
the admission of women, a main cause of this being the
fear that it would discredit the institution in the eyes of
members of other universities, and the number of the
whole student body was consequently somewhat diminished;
but that feeling died away, the numbers became
larger than ever, and the system proved a blessing, not
only to the university, but to the State at large. None of
the prophecies of evil so freely made by the opponents of
the measure have ever been fulfilled. Every arrangement
was made in Mr. Sage's building to guard the health of the
young women; and no one will say that the manliness of
men or the womanliness of women has ever suffered in
consequence of the meeting of the two sexes in classrooms,
laboratories, chapel, or elsewhere. From one evil
which was freely prophesied the university has been
singularly free. It was declared that a great deal of
``spooning'' would result. This has not been the case. Both
sexes seem to have been on their guard against it; and,
although pleasant receptions have, as a rule, taken place
weekly at Sage College, and visits to its residents have
been permitted at suitable times, no embarrassing attachments
have resulted.

The main difficulties arose from a cause which proved
very short-lived. Several of the young women who first
applied for admission held high ideas as to their rights.
To them Sage College was an offense. Its beautiful parlors,
conservatories, library, lecture-rooms, and lawns,
with its lady warden who served as guide, philosopher, and
friend, were all the result of a deep conspiracy against the
rights of women. Again and again a committee of them
came to me, insisting that young women should be treated
exactly like young men; that there should be no lady warden;
that every one of them should be free to go and come
from Sage College at every hour in the twenty-four, as
young men were free to go and come from their dormitories.
My answer was that the cases were not the same;
that when young women insisted on their right to come and
go at all times of the day and night, as they saw fit, without
permission, it was like their right to walk from the campus
to the beautiful point opposite us on the lake: the right they
undoubtedly had, but insurmountable obstacles were in the
way; and I showed them that a firm public opinion was
an invincible barrier to the liberties they claimed. Still,
they were allowed advisory powers in the management of
the college; the great majority made wise use of this
right, and all difficulty was gradually overcome.

Closely connected with the erection of Sage College was
the establishment of Sage Chapel. From the first I had
desired to have every working-day begun with a simple
religious service at which attendance should be voluntary,
and was glad to see that in the cheerless lecture-room
where this service was held there usually assembled a
goodly number of professors and students, in spite of the
early hour and long walk from town. But for Sunday
there was no provision; and one day, on my discussing the
matter with Mr. Sage, he said that he would be glad to
establish a chapel on the university grounds for the general
use of professors and students, if I saw no objection. This
proposal I heartily welcomed, but on two conditions: first,
that the chapel should never be delivered over to any one
sect; secondly, that students should be attracted, but not
coerced into it. To these conditions Mr. Sage agreed, and
the building was erected.

As it approached completion there came a proposal
which opened a new era in our university life. Mr. Dean
Sage, the eldest son of him who had given us the women's
college and the chapel, proposed to add an endowment for
a chaplaincy, and suggested that a clergyman of the Protestant
Episcopal Church be appointed to that office. This
would have been personally pleasing to me; for, though
my churchmanship was ``exceeding broad,'' I was still
attracted to the church in which I was brought up, and felt
nowhere else so much at home. But it seemed to me that
we had no right, under our charter, to give such prominence
to any single religious organization; and I therefore
proposed to the donor that the endowment be applied to a
preachership to be filled by leading divines of all
denominations. In making this proposal I had in view, not only
the unsectarian feature embodied in our charter, but my
observation of university chaplaincies generally. I had
noticed that, at various institutions, excellent clergymen,
good preachers, thorough scholars, charming men, when
settled as chaplains, had, as a rule, been unable to retain
their hold upon the great body of the students. The
reason was not far to seek. The average parish clergyman,
even though he be not a strong preacher or profound
scholar or brilliant talker, if he be at all fit for his
position, gradually wins the hearts of his congregation. He
has baptized their children, married their young men and
maidens, buried their dead, rejoiced with those who have
rejoiced, and wept with those who have wept. A strong
tie has thus grown up. But such a tie between a chaplain
and bodies of students shifting from year to year, is, in
the vast majority of cases, impossible. Hence it is that
even the most brilliant preachers settled in universities
have rapidly lost their prestige among the students. I
remembered well how, at Geneva and at Yale, my college-
mates joked at the peculiarities of clergymen connected
with the college, who, before I entered it, had been objects
of my veneration. I remembered that at Yale one of my
class was wont to arouse shouts of laughter by his droll
imitations of the prayers of the leading professors--
imitations in which their gestures, intonations, and bits of
rhetoric and oratory were most ludicrously caricatured. I
remembered, too, how a college pastor, a man greatly
revered, was really driven out of the university pulpit by
a squib in a students' paper, and how several of his
successors had finally retreated into professorships in the
Divinity School; and I felt that leading men coming from
week to week from the outside world would be taken at
the value which the outside world puts upon them, and
that they would bring in a fresh atmosphere. My expectations
were more than fulfilled. The preachership having
been established, I sent invitations to eminent clergymen
along the whole gamut of belief, from the Roman Catholic
bishop of the diocese to the most advanced Protestants.
The bishop answered me most courteously; but, to my
sincere regret, declined. One or two bishops of the
Protestant Episcopal Church also made some difficulties at
first, but gradually they were glad to accept; for it was
felt to be a privilege and a pleasure to preach to so large
a body of open-minded young men, and the course of sermons
has for years deepened and strengthened what is best
in university life. The whole system was indeed at first
attacked; and while we had formerly been charged with
godlessness, we were now charged with ``indifferentism''
--whatever that might mean. But I have had the pleasure
of living to see this system adopted at other leading
universities of our country, and it is evidently on its way to
become the prevailing system among all of them. I believe
that no pulpit in the United States has exercised a
more powerful influence for good. Strong men have been
called to it from all the leading religious bodies; and they,
knowing the character of their audience, have never
advocated sectarianism, but have presented the great
fundamental truths upon which all religion must be based.

The first of these university preachers was Phillips
Brooks, and he made a very deep impression. An interesting
material result of his first sermon was that Mr.
William Sage, the second son of our benefactor, came
forward at the close of the service, and authorized me to
secure a beautiful organ for the university chapel.[8] In
my addresses to students I urged them to attend for
various good reasons, and, if for none of these, because a
man is but poorly educated who does not keep himself
abreast of the religious thought of his country. Curious
was it to see Japanese students, some of them Buddhists,
very conscientious in their attendance, their eyes steadily
fixed upon the preacher.

[8] Sunday, June 13, 1875.

My selections for the preachership during the years of
my presidency were made with great care. So far as possible,
I kept out all ``sensational preaching.'' I had no
wish to make the chapel a place for amusement or for
ground and lofty tumbling by clerical performers, and the
result was that its ennobling influence was steadily maintained.

Some other pulpits in the university town were not so
well guarded. A revivalist, having been admitted to one
of them, attempted to make a sensation in various ways--
and one evening laid great stress on the declaration that
she was herself a brand plucked from the burning, and
that her parents were undoubtedly lost. A few minutes
afterward, one of the Cornell students present, thinking
doubtless, that his time would be better employed upon his
studies, arose and walked down the aisle to the door. At
this the preacher called out, ``There goes a young man
straight down to hell.'' Thereupon the student turned
instantly toward the preacher and asked quietly, ``Have
you any message to send to your father and mother?''

Our list of university preachers, both from our own and
other countries, as I look back upon it, is wonderful to me.
Becoming acquainted with them, I have learned to love
very many men whom I previously distrusted, and have
come to see more and more the force of the saying, ``The
man I don't like is the man I don't know.'' Many of
their arguments have not appealed to me, but some
from which I have entirely dissented, have suggested
trains of profitable thought; in fact, no services have ever
done more for me, and, judging from the numbers who
have thronged the chapel, there has been a constant good
influence upon the faculty and students.

In connection with the chapel may be mentioned the
development of various religious associations, the first of
these being the Young Men's Christian Association. Feeling
the importance of this, although never a member of it,
I entered heartily into its plan, and fitted up a hall for its
purposes. As this hall had to serve also, during certain
evenings in the week, for literary societies, I took pains
to secure a series of large and fine historical engravings
from England, France, and Germany, among them some
of a decidedly religious cast, brought together after a
decidedly Broad-church fashion. Of these, two, adjoining
each other, represented--the one, Luther discussing with
his associates his translation of the Bible, and the other,
St. Vincent de Paul comforting the poor and the afflicted;
and it was my hope that the juxtaposition of these two
pictures might suggest ideas of toleration in its best sense
to the young men and women who were to sit beneath
them. About the room, between these engravings, I placed
some bronze statuettes, obtained in Europe, representing
men who had done noble work in the world; so that it
was for some years one of the attractions of the university.

Some years later came a gift very advantageous to this
side of university life. A gentleman whom I had known
but slightly--Mr. Alfred S. Barnes of Brooklyn, a trustee
of the university--dropped in at my house one morning,
and seemed to have something on his mind. By and by he
very modestly asked what I thought of his putting up a
building for the religious purposes of the students. I
welcomed the idea joyfully; only expressing the hope that
it would not be tied up in any way, but open to all forms
of religious effort. In this idea he heartily concurred, and
the beautiful building which bears his honored name was
the result,--one of the most perfect for its purposes that
can be imagined,--and as he asked me to write an inscription
for the corner-stone, I placed on it the words: ``For
the Promotion of God's work among Men.'' This has
seemed, ever since, to be the key-note of the work done
in that building.

It has been, and is, a great pleasure to me to see young
men joining in religious effort; and I feel proud of the
fact that from this association at Cornell many strong and
earnest men have gone forth to good work as clergymen
in our own country and in others.

In the erection of the new group of buildings south of
the upper university quadrangle, as well as in building
the president's house hard by, an opportunity was offered
for the development of some minor ideas regarding the
evolution of university life at Cornell which I had deeply
at heart. During my life at Yale, as well as during visits
to various other American colleges, I had been painfully
impressed by the lack of any development of that which
may be called the commemorative or poetical element. In
the long row of barracks at Yale one longed for some
little bit of beauty, and hungered and thirsted for something
which connected the present with the past; but, with
the exception of the portraits in the Alumni Hall, there
was little more to feed the sense of beauty or to meet one 's
craving for commemoration of the past than in a cotton-
factory. One might frequent the buildings at Yale or
Harvard or Brown, as they then were, for years, and see
nothing of an architectural sort which had been put in
its place for any other reason than bare utility.

Hence came an effort to promote at Cornell some development
of a better kind. Among the first things I ordered
were portraits by competent artists of the leading non-
resident professors, Agassiz, Lowell, Curtis, and Goldwin
Smith. This example was, from time to time, followed
by the faculty and trustees, the former commemorating
by portraits some of their more eminent members, and the
latter ordering portraits of some of those who had connected
their names with the university by benefactions or
otherwise, such as Mr. Cornell, Senator Morrill, Mr. Sage,
Mr. McGraw, and others. The alumni and undergradu-
ates also added portraits of professors. This custom has
proved very satisfactory; and the line of portraits hanging
in the library cannot fail to have an ennobling influence
on many of those who, day after day, sit beneath them.

But the erection of these new buildings--Sage College,
Sage Chapel, Barnes Hall, and, finally, the university
library--afforded an opportunity to do something of a
different sort. There was a chance for some effort to
promote beauty of detail in construction, and, fortunately,
the forethought of Goldwin Smith helped us greatly in
this. On his arrival in Ithaca, just after the opening of
the university, he had seen that we especially needed
thoroughly trained artisans; and he had written to his
friend Auberon Herbert, asking him to select and send
from England a number of the best he could find. Nearly
all proved of value, and one of them gave himself to the
work in a way which won my heart. This was Robert
Richardson, a stone-carver. I at first employed him to
carve sundry capitals, corbels, and spandrels for the
president's house, which I was then building on the university
grounds; and this work was so beautifully done that, in
the erection of Sage College, another opportunity was
given him. Any one who, to-day, studies the capitals of
the various columns, especially those in the porch, in the
loggia of the northern tower, and in some of the front
windows, will feel that he put his heart into the work. He
wrought the flora of the region into these creations of
his, and most beautifully. But best of all was his work
in the chapel. The tracery of the windows, the capitals
of the columns, and the corbels supporting the beams of
the roof were masterpieces; and, in my opinion, no investment
of equal amount has proved to be of more value to
us, even for the moral and intellectual instruction of our
students, than these examples of a conscientious devotion
of genius and talent which he thus gave us.

The death of Mr. Cornell afforded an opportunity for
a further development in the same direction. It was felt
that his remains ought to rest on that beautiful site, in the
midst of the institution he loved so well; and I proposed
that a memorial chapel be erected, beneath which his
remains and those of other benefactors of the university
might rest, and that it should be made beautiful. This was
done. The stone vaulting, the tracery, and other decorative
work, planned by our professor of architecture, and
carried out as a labor of love by Richardson, were all that
I could desire. The trustees, entering heartily into the
plan, authorized me to make an arrangement with Story,
the American sculptor at Rome, to execute a reclining
statue of Mr. Cornell above the crypt where rest his
remains; and citizens of Ithaca also authorized me to
secure in London the memorial window beneath which the
statue is placed. Other memorials followed, in the shape
of statues, busts, and tablets, as others who had been loved
and lost were laid to rest in the chapel crypt, until the
little building has become a place of pilgrimage. In the
larger chapel, also, tablets and windows were erected from
time to time; and the mosaic and other decorations of the
memorial apse, recently erected as a place of repose for
the remains of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sage, are a beautiful
development of the same idea.

So, too, upon the grounds, some effort was made to
connect the present with the past. Here, as elsewhere in
our work, it seemed to me well to impress, upon the more
thinking students at least, the idea that all they saw
had not ``happened so,'' without the earnest agency of
human beings; but that it had been the result of the earnest
life-work of men and women, and that no life-work to
which a student might aspire could be more worthy. In
carrying out this idea upon the ``campus'' Goldwin Smith
took the lead by erecting the stone seat which has now
stood there for over thirty years. Other memorials
followed, among them a drinking-fountain, the stone bridge
across the Cascadilla, the memorial seat back of the
library, the entrance gateway, and the like; and, at the
lamented death of Richardson, another English stone
carver put his heart into some of the details of the newly
erected library.

Meanwhile, the grounds themselves became more and
more beautiful. There was indeed one sad mistake; and
I feel bound, in self-defense, to state that it was made
during an absence of mine in Europe: this was the
erection of the chemical laboratory upon the promontory
northwest of the upper quadrangle. That site afforded
one of the most beautiful views in our own or any other
country. A very eminent American man of letters, who
had traveled much in other countries, said to me, as we
stood upon it, ``I have traveled hundreds of miles in
Europe to obtain views not half so beautiful as this.'' It
was the place to which Mr. Cornell took the trustees at
their first meeting in Ithaca, when their view from it led
them to choose the upper site for the university buildings
rather than the lower. On this spot I remember once
seeing Phillips Brooks evidently overawed by the amazing
beauty of the scene spread out at his feet--the great
amphitheater to the south and southwest, the hills beyond,
and Cayuga Lake stretching to the north and northwest.
But though this part of the grounds has been covered by
a laboratory which might better have been placed elsewhere,
much is still left, and this has been treated so as to
add to the natural charm of the surroundings. With the
exception of the grounds of the State University of
Wisconsin and of the State University and Stanford
University in California, I know of none approaching in beauty
those of Cornell. I feel bound to say, however, that there
is a danger. Thus far, though mistakes have been made
here and there, little harm has been done which is irremediable.
But this may not always be the case. In my view,
one of the most important things to be done by the trustees
is to have a general plan most carefully decided upon
which shall be strictly conformed to in the erection of all
future buildings, no matter what their size or character
may be. This has been urged from time to time, but
deferred.[9] The experience of other universities in the
United States is most instructive in this respect. Nearly
every one of them has suffered greatly from the want
of some such general plan. One has but to visit almost
any one of them to see buildings of different materials and
styles--classical, Renaissance, Gothic, and nondescript
--thrown together in a way at times fairly ludicrous.
Thomas Jefferson, in founding the University of Virginia,
was wiser; and his beautiful plan was carried out so fully,
under his own eyes, that it has never been seriously
departed from. At Stanford University, thanks to the
wisdom of its founders, a most beautiful plan was adopted,
to which the buildings have been so conformed that
nothing could be more satisfactory; and recently another
noble Californian--Mrs. Hearst--has devoted a queenly
gift to securing a plan worthy of the University of
California. At the opening of Cornell, as I have already
said, a general plan was determined upon, with an upper
quadrangle of stone, plain but dignified, to be at some
future time architecturally enriched, and with a freer
treatment of buildings on other parts of the grounds; but
there is always danger, and I trust that I may be allowed
to remind my associates and successors in the board of
trustees, of the necessity, in the future development of the
university, for a satisfactory plan, suitable to the site, to
be steadily kept in mind.

[9] It has now--1904--been very intelligently developed.



Thus far I have dwelt especially upon the steady
development of the university in its general system of
instruction, its faculty, its equipment, and its daily life;
but it must not be supposed that all was plain sailing. On
the contrary, there were many difficulties, some
discouragements, and at times we passed through very deep
waters. There were periods when ruin stared us in the
face--when I feared that my next move must be to close
our doors and announce the suspension of instruction.
The most serious of these difficulties were financial. Mr.
Cornell had indeed endowed the institution munificently,
and others followed his example: the number of men
and women who came forward to do something for it
was astonishing. In addition to the great endowments
made by Mr. Cornell, Mr. Sage, Mr. McGraw, Mr. Sibley,
and others, which aggregated millions, there were smaller
gifts no less encouraging: Goldwin Smith's gift of his
services, of his library, and of various sums to increase
it, rejoiced us all; and many other evidences of confidence,
in the shape of large collections of books and material,
cheered us in that darkest period; and from that day to
this such gifts have continued.

Some of the minor gifts were especially inspiring,
as showing the breadth of interest in our work. One of
them warmed my heart when it was made, and for many
years afterward cheered me amid many cares. As Mr. Sage
and myself were one day looking over matters upon the
grounds, there came along, in his rough wagon, a plain
farmer from a distant part of the county, a hard-working
man of very small means, who had clearly something
upon his mind. Presently he said: ``I would very much
like to do something for the university if I could. I have
no money to give; but I have thought that possibly some
good elm-trees growing on my farm might be of use to
you, and if you wish them I will put them in the best
condition and bring them to you.'' This offer we gladly
accepted; the farmer brought the trees; they were carefully
planted; they have now, for over twenty years, given
an increasing and ever more beautiful shade to one of
the main university avenues; and in the line of them stands
a stone on which are engraved the words, ``Ostrander

But while all this encouraged us, there were things of a
very different sort. Could the university have been
developed gradually, normally, and in obedience to a policy
determined solely by its president, trustees, and faculty
all would have gone easily. But our charter made this
impossible. Many departments must be put into operation
speedily, each one of them demanding large outlay for
buildings, equipment, and instruction. From all parts of
the State came demands--some from friends, some from
enemies--urging us to do this, blaming us for not doing
that, and these utterances were echoed in various presses,
and rechoed from the State legislature. Every nerve had
to be strained to meet these demands. I remember well
that when a committee of the Johns Hopkins trustees, just
before the organization of that university, visited Cornell
and looked over our work, one of them said to me: ``We
at least have this in our favor: we can follow out our own
conceptions and convictions of what is best; we have no
need of obeying the injunctions of any legislature, the
beliefs of any religious body, or the clamors of any press;
we are free to do what we really believe best, as slowly,
and in such manner, as we see fit.'' As this was said a
feeling of deep envy came over me: our condition was the
very opposite of that. In getting ready for the opening
of the university in October, 1868, as required by our
charter, large sums had to be expended on the site now so
beautiful, but then so unpromising. Mr. Cornell's private
affairs, as also the constant demands upon him in locating
the university lands on the northern Mississippi, kept him
a large part of the time far from the university; and my
own university duties crowded every day. The president
of a university in those days tilled a very broad field. He
must give instruction, conduct examinations, preside over
the faculty, correspond with the trustees, address the
alumni in various parts of the country, respond to calls
for popular lectures, address the legislature from time
to time with reference to matters between the university
and the State and write for reviews and magazines; and
all this left little time for careful control of financial

In this condition of things Mr. Cornell had installed, as
``business manager,'' a gentleman supposed to be of wide
experience, who, in everything relating to the ordinary
financial management of the institution, was all-powerful.
But as months went on I became uneasy. Again and
again I urged that a careful examination be made of
our affairs, and that reports be laid before us which
we could clearly understand; but Mr. Cornell, always
optimistic, assured me that all was going well, and the
matter was deferred. Finally, I succeeded in impressing
upon my colleagues in the board the absolute necessity
of an investigation. It was made, and a condition of
things was revealed which at first seemed appalling. The
charter of the university made the board of trustees
personally liable for any debt over fifty thousand dollars, and
we now discovered that we were owing more than three
times that amount. At this Mr. Cornell made a characteristic
proposal. He said: ``I will pay half of this debt if
you can raise the other half.'' It seemed impossible. Our
friends had been called upon so constantly and for such
considerable sums that it seemed vain to ask them for
more. But we brought together at Albany a few of the
most devoted, and in fifteen minutes the whole amount was
subscribed: four members of the board of trustees agreed
to give each twenty thousand dollars; and this, with Mr.
Cornell's additional subscription; furnished the sum needed.

Then took place one of the things which led me later in
life, looking back over the history of the university, to
say that what had seemed to be our worst calamities
had generally proved to be our greatest blessings. Among
these I have been accustomed to name the monstrous
McGuire attack in the Assembly on Mr. Cornell, which
greatly disheartened me for the moment, but which eventually
led the investigation committee not only to show
to the world Mr. Cornell's complete honesty and self-
sacrifice, but to recommend the measures which finally
transferred the endowment fund from the State to the
trustees, thus strengthening the institution greatly. So
now a piece of good luck came out of this unexpected debt.
As soon as the subscription was made, Mr. George W.
Schuyler, treasurer of the university, in drawing up the
deed of gift, ended it with words to the following effect:
``And it is hereby agreed by the said Ezra Cornell, Henry
W. Sage, Hiram Sibley, John McGraw, and Andrew D.
White, that in case the said university shall ever be in
position to repay their said subscriptions, then and in that
case the said entire sum of one hundred and sixty thousand
university.'' A general laugh arose among the subscribers, Mr.
McGraw remarking that this was rather offhand dealing
with us; but all took it in good part and signed the agreement.
It is certain that not one of us then expected in his
lifetime to see the university able to repay the money; but,
within a few years, as our lands were sold at better prices
than we expected, the university was in condition to make
restitution. At first some of the trustees demurred to
investing so large a sum in fellowships and scholarships,
and my first effort to carry through a plan to this effect
failed; but at the next meeting I was successful; and so, in
this apparently calamitous revelation of debt began that
system of university fellowships and scholarships which
has done so much for the development of higher instruction
at Cornell.

So far as the university treasury was concerned,
matters thenceforth went on well. Never again did the
university incur any troublesome debt; from that day to this
its finances have been so managed as to excite the
admiration even of men connected with the most successful and
best managed corporations of our country. But financial
difficulties far more serious than the debt just referred
to arose in a different quarter. In assuming the
expenses of locating and managing the university lands,
protecting them, paying taxes upon them, and the like, Mr.
Cornell had taken upon himself a fearful load, and it
pressed upon him heavily. But this was not all. It was,
indeed, far from the worst; for, in his anxiety to bring
the university town into easy connection with the railway
system of the State, he had invested very largely in local
railways leading into Ithaca. Under these circumstances,
while he made heroic efforts and sacrifices, his relations
to the comptroller of the State, who still had in his charge
the land scrip of the university, became exceedingly
difficult. At the very crisis of this difficulty Mr. Cornell's
hard work proved too much for him, and he lay down to
die. The university affairs, so far as the land-grant fund
was concerned, seemed hopelessly entangled with his own
and with those of the State: it seemed altogether likely
that at his death the institution would be subjected to
years of litigation, to having its endowment tied up in the
courts, and to a suspension of its operations. Happily, we
had as our adviser Francis Miles Finch, since justice of
the Court of Appeals of the State, and now dean of the
Law School--a man of noble character, of wonderfully
varied gifts, an admirable legal adviser, devoted personally
to Mr. Cornell, and no less devoted to the university.

He set at work to disentangle the business relations of
Mr. Cornell with the university, and of both with the State.
Every member of the board, every member of Mr. Cornell's
family,--indeed, every member of the community,--
knew him to be honest, faithful, and capable. He labored
to excellent purpose, and in due time the principal financial
members of the board were brought together at Ithaca
to consider his solution of the problem. It was indeed
a dark day; we were still under the shadow of ``Black
Friday,'' the worst financial calamity in the history of
the nation. Mr. Finch showed us that the first thing
needful was to raise about two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, which could be tendered to the comptroller
of the State in cash, who, on receiving it, would
immediately turn over to the trustees the land scrip, which
it was all-important should be in our possession at the
death of Mr. Cornell. He next pointed out the measures
to be taken in separating the interests of the university
from Mr. Cornell's estate, and these were provided
for. The sum required for obtaining control of the land
scrip was immediately subscribed as a loan, virtually
without security, by members of the board then present;
though at that depressing financial period of the country
strong men went about with the best of securities, unable
to borrow money upon them. In a few days Mr. Cornell
was dead; but the university was safe. Mr. Finch's plan
worked well in every particular; and this, which appeared
likely to be a great calamity, resulted in the board of
trustees obtaining control of the landed endowment of
the institution, without which it must have failed. But
the weeks while these negotiations were going on were
gloomy indeed for me; rarely in my life have I been so
unhappy. That crisis of our fate was the winter of 1874.
The weather was cold and depressing, my family far off in
Syracuse. My main refuge then, as at sundry other times
of deep personal distress, was in work. In the little southwest
room of the president's house, hardly yet finished and
still unfurnished, I made my headquarters. Every morn-
ing a blazing fire was lighted on the hearth; every day I
devoted myself to university work and to study for my
lectures. Happily, my subject interested me deeply. It was
``The Age of Discovery''; and, surrounded with my books,
I worked on, forgetful, for the time, of the December
storms howling about the house, and of the still more fearful
storms beating against the university. Three new lectures
having been thus added to my course on the Renaissance
period, I delivered them to my class; and, just as I
was finishing the last of them, a messenger came to tell me
that Mr. Cornell was dying. Dismissing my students, I
hurried to his house, but was just too late; a few minutes
before my arrival his eyes had closed in death. But his
work was done--nobly done. As I gazed upon his dead
face on that 9th of December, 1874, I remember well
that my first feeling was that he was happily out of the
struggle; and that, wherever he might be, I could wish to
be still with him. But there was no time for unavailing
regrets. We laid him reverently and affectionately to
rest, in the midst of the scenes so dear to him, within the
sound of the university chimes he so loved to hear, and
pressed on with the work.

A few years later came another calamity, not, like the
others, touching the foundations and threatening the
existence of the university, yet hardly less crushing at the
time; indeed, with two exceptions, it was the most depressing
I have ever encountered. At the establishment of the
university in Ithaca, one of the charter trustees who
showed himself especially munificent to the new enterprise
was Mr. John McGraw. One morning, while I was in the
midst of the large collection of books sent by me from
Europe, endeavoring to bring them into some order before
the opening day, his daughter, Miss Jenny McGraw,
came in, and I had the pleasure of showing her some of
our more interesting treasures. She was a woman of kind
and thoughtful nature, had traveled in her own country
and abroad to good purpose, and was evidently deeply
interested. Next day her father met me and said: ``Well,
you are pressing us all into the service. Jenny came home
yesterday, and said very earnestly, `I wish that I could
do something to help on the university'; to which I
replied, `Very well. Do anything you like; I shall be glad
to see you join in the work.' '' The result was the gift
from her of the chime of bells which was rung at the
opening of the university, and which, with the additions
afterward made to it, have done beautiful service. On the
bells she thus gave were inscribed the verses of the ninety-
fifth chant of Tennyson's ``In Memoriam''; and some
weeks afterward I had the pleasure of placing in her
hands what she considered an ample return for her gift--
a friendly letter from Tennyson himself, containing some
of the stanzas written out in his own hand. So began her
interest in the university--an interest which never faltered.

A few years later she married one of our professors, an
old friend of mine, and her marriage proved exceedingly
happy; but, alas, its happiness was destined to be brief!
Less than two years after her wedding day she was
brought home from Europe to breathe her last in her
husband's cottage on the university grounds, and was
buried from the beautiful residence which she had built
hard by, and had stored with works of art in every field.

At the opening of her will it was found that, while she
had made ample provision for all who were near and dear
to her, and for a multitude of charities, she had left to the
university very nearly two millions of dollars, a portion
of which was to be used for a student hospital, and the
bulk of the remainder, amounting to more than a million
and a half, for the university library. Her husband
joined most heartily in her purpose, and all seemed ready
for carrying it out in a way which would have made
Cornell University, in that respect, unquestionably the
foremost on the American continent. As soon as this
munificent bequest was announced, I asked our leading
lawyer, Judge Douglas Boardman, whether our charter allowed
the university to take it, calling his attention to the
fact that, like most of its kind in the State of New York,
it restricted the amount of property which the university
could hold, and reminding him that we had already exceeded
the limit thus allowed. To this he answered that
the restriction was intended simply to prevent the endowment
of corporations beyond what the legislature might
think best for the commonwealth; that if the attorney-
general did not begin proceedings against us to prevent
our taking the property, no one else could; and that he
would certainly never trouble us.

In view of the fact that Judge Boardman had long
experience and was at the time judge of the Supreme Court
of the State, I banished all thought of difficulty; though
I could not but regret that, as he drew Mrs. Fiske's will,
and at the same time knew the restrictions of our charter,
he had not given us a hint, so that we could have had our
powers of holding property enlarged. It would have been
perfectly easy to have the restrictions removed, and, as
a matter of fact, the legislature shortly afterward removed
them entirely, without the slightest objection; but this
action was too late to enable us to take the McGraw-Fiske

About a fortnight after these assurances that we were
perfectly safe, Judge Boardman sent for me, and on meeting
him I found that he had discovered a decision of the
Court of Appeals--rendered a few years before--which
might prevent our accepting the bequest.

But there was still much hope of inducing the main heirs
to allow the purpose of Mrs. Fiske to be carried out. Without
imputing any evil intentions to any person, I fully
believe--indeed, I may say I KNOW--that, had the matter
been placed in my hands, this vast endowment would have
been saved to us; but it was not so to be. Personal
complications had arisen between the main heir and two of
our trustees which increased the embarrassments of the
situation. It is needless to go into them now; let all that
be buried; but it may at least be said that day and night I
labored to make some sort of arrangement between the
principal heir and the university, and finally took the
steamer for Europe in order to meet him and see if some
arrangement could be made. But personal bitterness had
entered too largely into the contest, and my efforts were
in vain. Though our legal advisers insisted that the
university was sure of winning the case, we lost it in every
court--first in the Supreme Court of the State, then in the
Court of Appeals, and finally in the Supreme Court of the
United States. To me all this was most distressing. The
creation of such a library would have been the
culmination of my work; I could then have sung my Nunc
dimittis. But the calamity was not without its
compensations. When the worst was known, Mr. Henry W. Sage,
a lifelong friend of Mr. McGraw and of Mrs. Fiske, came
to my house, evidently with the desire to console me. He
said: ``Don't allow this matter to prey upon you; Jenny
shall have her library; it shall yet be built and well
endowed.'' He was true to his promise. On the final
decision against us, he added to his previous large gifts to the
university a new donation of over six hundred thousand
dollars, half of which went to the erection of the present
library building, and the other half to an endowment fund.
Professor Fiske also joined munificently in enlarging the
library, adding various gifts which his practised eye
showed him were needed, and, among these, two collections,
one upon Dante and one in Romance literature, each
the best of its kind in the United States. Mr. William
Sage also added the noted library in German literature
of Professor Zarncke of Leipsic; and various others
contributed collections, larger or smaller, so that the library
has become, as a whole, one of the best in the country. As
I visit it, there often come back vividly to me remembrances
of my college days, when I was wont to enter the
Yale library and stand amazed in the midst of the sixty
thousand volumes which had been brought together during
one hundred and fifty years. They filled me with awe.
But Cornell University has now, within forty years from
its foundation, accumulated very nearly three hundred
thousand volumes, many among them of far greater value
than anything contained in the Yale library of my day;
and as I revise these lines comes news that the will of
Professor Fiske, who recently died at Frankfort-on-the-Main,
gives to the library all of his splendid collections in Italian
history and literature at Florence, with the addition of
nearly half a million of dollars.

Beside these financial and other troubles, another class
of difficulties beset us, which were, at times, almost as
vexatious. These were the continued attacks made by good
men in various parts of the State and Nation, who thought
they saw in Cornell a stronghold-first, of ideas in religion
antagonistic to their own; and secondly, of ideas in
education likely to injure their sectarian colleges. From
the day when our charter was under consideration at
Albany they never relented, and at times they were violent.
The reports of my inauguration speech were, in sundry
denominational newspapers, utterly distorted; far and
wide was spread the story that Mr. Cornell and myself
were attempting to establish an institution for the
propagation of ``atheism'' and ``infidelity.'' Certainly nothing
could have been further from the purpose of either of us.
He had aided, and loved to aid, every form of Christianity;
I was myself a member of a Christian church and a trustee
of a denominational college. Everything that we could do
in the way of reasoning with our assailants was in vain.
In talking with students from time to time, I learned that,
in many cases, their pastors had earnestly besought them
to go to any other institution rather than to Cornell;
reports of hostile sermons reached us; bitter diatribes
constantly appeared in denominational newspapers, and
especially virulent were various addresses given on public
occasions in the sectarian colleges which felt themselves
injured by the creation of an unsectarian institution on so
large a scale. Typical was the attack made by an eminent
divine who, having been installed as president over one
of the smaller colleges of the State, thought it his duty
to denounce me as an ``atheist,'' and to do this especially
in the city where I had formerly resided, and in the church
which some of my family attended. I took no notice of the
charge, and pursued the even tenor of my way; but the
press took it up, and it recoiled upon the man who made it.

Perhaps the most comical of these attacks was one made
by a clergyman of some repute before the Presbyterian
Synod at Auburn in western New York. This gentleman,
having attended one or two of the lectures by Agassiz
before our scientific students, immediately rushed off to
this meeting of his brethren, and insisted that the great
naturalist was ``preaching atheism and Darwinism'' at the
university. He seemed about to make a decided impression,
when there arose a very dear old friend of mine, the
Rev. Dr. Sherman Canfield, pastor of the First Presbyterian
Church in Syracuse, who, fortunately, was a scholar
abreast of current questions. Dr. Canfield quietly
remarked that he was amazed to learn that Agassiz had, in
so short a time, become an atheist, and not less astonished
to hear that he had been converted to Darwinism; that
up to that moment he had considered Agassiz a deeply
religious man, and also the foremost--possibly, indeed,
the last--great opponent of the Darwinian hypothesis. He
therefore suggested that the resolution denouncing Cornell
University brought in by his reverend brother be
laid on the table to await further investigation. It was
thus disposed of, and, in that region at least, it was never
heard of more. Pleasing is it to me to chronicle the fact
that, at Dr. Canfield's death, he left to the university a
very important part of his library.

From another denominational college came an attack
on Goldwin Smith. One of its professors published, in
the Protestant Episcopal ``Gospel Messenger,'' an attack
upon the university for calling into its faculty a
``Westminster Reviewer''; the fact being that Goldwin Smith
was at that time a member of the Church of England,
and had never written for the ``Westminster Review''
save in reply to one of its articles. So, too, when there
were sculptured on the stone seat which he had ordered
carved for the university grounds the words, ``Above all
nations is humanity,'' there came an outburst. Sundry
pastors, in their anxiety for the souls of the students, could
not tell whether this inscription savored more of atheism
or of pantheism. Its simple significance--that the claims
of humanity are above those of nationality--entirely
escaped them. Pulpit cushions were beaten in all parts of
the State against us, and solemn warnings were renewed
to students by their pastors to go anywhere for their
education rather than to Cornell. Curiously, this fact became
not only a gratuitous, but an effective, advertisement:
many of the brightest men who came to us in those days
confessed to me that these attacks first directed their
attention to us.

We also owed some munificent gifts to this same cause.
In two cases gentlemen came forward and made large
additions to our endowment as their way of showing
disbelief in these attacks or contempt for them.

Still, the attacks were vexatious even when impotent.
Ingenious was the scheme carried out by a zealous young
clergyman settled for a short time in Ithaca. Coming
one day into my private library, he told me that he was
very anxious to borrow some works showing the more
recent tendencies of liberal thought. I took him to one
of my book-cases, in which, by the side of the works of
Bossuet and Fnelon and Thomas Arnold and Robertson
of Brighton, he found those of Channing, Parker, Renan,
Strauss, and the men who, in the middle years of the last
century, were held to represent advanced thought. He
looked them over for some time, made some excuse for not
borrowing any of them just then, and I heard nothing
more from him until there came, in a denominational
newspaper, his eloquent denunciation of me for possessing
such books. Impressive, too, must have been the utterances
of an eminent ``revivalist'' who, in various Western
cities, loudly asserted that Mr. Cornell had died
lamenting his inability to base his university on atheism,
and that I had fled to Europe declaring that in America
an infidel university was, as yet, an impossibility.

For a long time I stood on the defensive, hoping that
the provisions made for the growth of religious life
among the students might show that we were not so
wicked as we were represented; but, as all this seemed
only to embitter our adversaries, I finally determined to
take the offensive, and having been invited to deliver a
lecture in the great hall of the Cooper Institute at New
York, took as my subject ``The Battle-fields of Science.''
In this my effort was to show how, in the supposed
interest of religion, earnest and excellent men, for many
ages and in many countries, had bitterly opposed various
advances in science and in education, and that such
opposition had resulted in most evil results, not only to science
and education, but to religion. This lecture was published
in full, next day, in the ``New York Tribune''; extracts
from it were widely copied; it was asked for by lecture
associations in many parts of the country; grew first into
two magazine articles, then into a little book which was
widely circulated at home, reprinted in England with a
preface by Tyndall, and circulated on the Continent in
translations, was then expanded into a series of articles in
the ``Popular Science Monthly,'' and finally wrought into
my book on ``The Warfare of Science with Theology.''
In each of these forms my argument provoked attack; but
all this eventually created a reaction in our favor, even in
quarters where it was least expected. One evidence of this
touched me deeply. I had been invited to repeat the
lecture at New Haven, and on arriving there found a
large audience of Yale professors and students; but, most
surprising of all, in the chair for the evening, no less a
personage than my revered instructor, Dr. Theodore
Dwight Woolsey, president of the university. He was of
a deeply religious nature; and certainly no man was ever
under all circumstances, more true to his convictions of
duty. To be welcomed by him was encouragement indeed.
He presented me cordially to the audience, and at the
close of my address made a brief speech, in which he
thoroughly supported my positions and bade me Godspeed.
Few things in my life have so encouraged me.

Attacks, of course, continued for a considerable time,
some of them violent; but, to my surprise and satisfaction,
when my articles were finally brought together in
book form, the opposition seemed to have exhausted itself.
There were even indications of approval in some quarters
where the articles composing it had previously been
attacked; and I received letters thoroughly in sympathy
with the work from a number of eminent Christian men,
including several doctors of divinity, and among these
two bishops, one of the Anglican and one of the American
Episcopal Church.

The final result was that slander against the university
for irreligion was confined almost entirely to very narrow
circles, of waning influence; and my hope is that,
as its formative ideas have been thus welcomed by various
leaders of thought, and have filtered down through the
press among the people at large, they have done something
to free the path of future laborers in the field of
science and education from such attacks as those which
Cornell was obliged to suffer.



To this work of pressing on the development of the
leading departments in the university, establishing
various courses of instruction, and warding off attacks as
best I could, was added the daily care of the regular and
steady administration of affairs, and in this my duty was
to coperate with the trustees, the faculty, and the
students. The trustees formed a body differently composed
from any organization for university government up to
that time. As a rule, such boards in the United States
were, in those days, self-perpetuating. A man once elected
into one of them was likely to remain a trustee during
his natural life; and the result had been much dry-rot and,
frequently, a very sleepy condition of things in American
collegiate and university administration. In drawing the
Cornell charter, we provided for a governing body by first
naming a certain number of high State officers--the
governor, lieutenant-governor, speaker, president of the State
Agricultural Society, and others; next, a certain number
of men of special fitness, who were to be elected by the
board itself; and, finally, a certain proportion elected by
the alumni from their own number. Beside these, the eldest
male lineal descendant of Mr. Cornell, and the president
of the university, were trustees ex officio. At the first
nomination of the charter trustees, Mr. Cornell proposed
that he should name half the number and I the other half.
This was done, and pains were taken to select men accustomed
to deal with large affairs. A very important provision
was also made limiting their term of office to five years.

During the first nine years the chairmanship of the
board was held by Mr. Cornell, but at his death Mr.
Henry W. Sage was elected to it, who, as long as he lived,
discharged its duties with the greatest conscientiousness
and ability. To the finances of the university he gave
that shrewd care which had enabled him to build up his
own immense business. Freely and without compensation,
he bestowed upon the institution labor for which any
great business corporation would have gladly paid him
a very large sum. For the immediate management, in
the intervals of the quarterly meetings of the board, an
executive committee of the trustees was created, which
also worked to excellent purpose.

The faculty, which was at first comparatively small,
was elected by the trustees upon my nomination. In
deciding on candidates, I put no trust in mere paper
testimonials, no matter from what source; but always saw
the candidates themselves, talked with them, and then
secured confidential communications regarding them from
those who knew them best. The results were good, and
to this hour I cherish toward the faculty, as toward the
trustees, a feeling of the deepest gratitude. Throughout
all the hard work of that period they supported me heartily
and devotedly; without their devotion and aid, my
whole administration would have been an utter failure.

To several of these I have alluded elsewhere; but one
should be especially mentioned to whom every member of
the faculty must feel a debt of gratitude--Professor Hiram
Corson. No one has done more to redress the balance
between the technical side and the humanities. His writings,
lectures, and readings have been a solace and an
inspiration to many of us, both in the faculty and
among the students. It was my remembrance of the effect
of his readings that caused me to urge, at a public address
at Yale in 1903, the establishment not only of professorships
but of readerships in English literature in all our
greater institutions, urging especially that the readers
thus called should every day present, with little if any note
or comment, the masterpieces of our literature. I can
think of no provision which would do more to humanize
the great body of students, especially in these days when
other branches are so largely supplanting classical studies,
than such a continuous presentation of the treasures of our
language by a thoroughly good reader. What is needed is
not more talk about literature, but the literature itself.
And here let me recall an especial service of Professor
Corson which may serve as a hint to men and women of
light and leading in the higher education of our country.
On sundry celebrations of Founder's Day, and on various
other commemorative occasions, he gave in the university
chapel recitals from Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson, and
other poets of the larger inspiration, while organ
interludes were given from the great masters of music.
Literature and music were thus made to do beautiful service as
yokefellows. It has been my lot to enjoy in various capitals
of the modern world many of the things which men
who have a deep feeling for art most rejoice in, but never
have I known anything more uplifting and ennobling than
these simple commemorations.

From one evil which has greatly injured many American
university faculties, especially in the middle and western
States, we were virtually free. This evil was the prevalence
of feuds between professors. Throughout a large
part of the nineteenth century they were a great affliction.
Twice the State University of Michigan was nearly
wrecked by them; for several years they nearly paralyzed
two or three of the New York colleges; and in one of
these a squabble between sundry professors and the
widow of a former president was almost fatal. Another
of the larger colleges in the same State lost a very eminent
president from the same cause; and still another,
which had done excellent work, was dragged down and
for years kept down by a feud between its two foremost
professors. In my day, at Yale, whenever there
was a sudden influx of students, and it was asked whence
they came, the answer always was, ``Another Western college
has burst up''; and the ``burst up'' had resulted,
almost without exception, from faculty quarrels.

In another chapter I have referred to one of these
explosions which, having blown out of a Western university
the president, the entire board of trustees, and all
the assistant professors and instructors, convulsed the
State for years. I have known gifted members of faculties,
term after term, substitute for their legitimate work
impassioned appeals to their religious denominations,
through synods or conferences, and to the public at large
through the press,--their quarrels at last entangling other
professors and large numbers of students.

In my ``Plan of Organization'' I called attention to this
evil, and laid down the principle that ``the presence of no
professor, however gifted, is so valuable as peace and
harmony.'' The trustees acquiesced in this view, and from
the first it was understood that, at any cost, quarrels must
be prevented. The result was that we never had any which
were serious, nor had we any in the board of trustees. One
of the most satisfactory of all my reflections is that I never
had any ill relations with any member of either body; that
there was never one of them whom I did not look upon as
a friend. My simple rule for the government of my own
conduct was that I had NO TIME for squabbling; that life
was not long enough for quarrels; and this became, I
think, the feeling among all of us who were engaged in the
founding and building of the university.

As regards the undergraduates, I initiated a system
which, so far as is known to me, was then new in American
institutions of learning. At the beginning of every year,
and also whenever any special occasion seemed to require
it, I summoned the whole body of students and addressed
them at length on the condition of the university, on their
relations to it, and on their duties to it as well as to
themselves; and in all these addresses endeavored to bring
home to them the idea that under our system of giving to
the graduates votes in the election of trustees, and to
representative alumni seats in the governing board, the whole
student body had become, in a new sense, part of the
institution, and were to be held, to a certain extent,
responsible for it. I think that all conversant with the history
of the university will agree that the results of thus taking
the students into the confidence of the governing
board were happy. These results were shown largely
among the undergraduates, and even more strongly
among the alumni. In all parts of the country alumni
associations were organized, and here again I found a
source of strength. These associations held reunions during
every winter, and at least one banquet, at which the
president of the university was invited to be present. So
far as possible, I attended these meetings, and made use
of them to strengthen the connection of the graduates with
their alma mater.

The administrative care of the university was very
engrossing. With study of the various interests combined
within its organization; with the attendance on meetings
of trustees, executive committee, and faculty, and
discussion of important questions in each of these bodies--
with the general oversight of great numbers of students
in many departments and courses; with the constant
necessity of keeping the legislature and the State informed
as to the reasons of every movement, of meeting hostile
forces pressing us on every side, of keeping in touch with
our graduates throughout the country, there was much
to be done. Trying also, at times, to a man never in
robust health was the duty of addressing various
assemblies of most dissimilar purposes. Within the space
of two or three years I find mention in my diaries of a
large number of addresses which, as president of the
university, I could not refuse to give; among these, those
before the legislature of the State, on Technical Education;
before committees of Congress, on Agriculture and
Technical Instruction; before the Johns Hopkins University,
on Education with Reference to Political Life; before
the National Teachers' Association at Washington, on the
Relation of the Universities to the State School Systems;
before the American Social Science Association of New
York, on Sundry Reforms in University Management; before
the National Association of Teachers at Detroit, on
the Relations of Universities to Colleges; before four
thousand people at Cleveland, on the Education of the
Freedmen; before the Adalbert College, on the Concentration
of Means for the Higher Education; before the
State Teachers' Association at Saratoga, on Education
and Democracy; at the Centennial banquet at Philadelphia,
on the American Universities; and before my
class at Yale University, on the Message of the
Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth; besides many public
lectures before colleges, schools, and special assemblies.
There seemed more danger of wearing out than of rusting
out, especially as some of these discourses provoked
attacks which must be answered. Time also was required
for my duties as president of the American Social Science
Association, which lasted several years, and of the American
Historical Society, which, though less engrossing,
imposed for a time much responsibility. Then, too, there
was another duty, constantly pressing, which I had
especially at heart. The day had not yet arrived when the
president of the university could be released from his
duties as a professor. I had, indeed, no wish for such
release; for, of all my duties, that of meeting my senior
students face to face in the lecture-room and interesting
them in the studies which most interested me, and which
seemed most likely to fit them to go forth and bring the
influence of the university to bear for good upon the country
at large, was that which I liked best. The usual routine
of administrative cares was almost hateful to me,
and I delegated minor details, as far as possible, to those
better fitted to take charge of them--especially to the vice-
president and registrar and secretary of the faculty. But
my lecture-room I loved. Of all occupations, I know of
none more satisfactory than that of a university professor
who feels that he is in right relations with his
students, that they welcome what he has to give them,
and that their hearts and minds are developed, day by
day, by the work which he most prizes. I may justly say
that this pleasure was mine at the University of Michigan
and at Cornell University. It was at times hard to
satisfy myself; for next to the pleasure of directing
younger minds is the satisfaction of fitting one's self to
do so. During my ordinary working-day there was little
time for keeping abreast with the latest and best in my
department; but there were odds and ends of time, day
and night, and especially during my frequent journeys by
rail and steamer to meet engagements at distant points,
when I always carried with me a collection of books which
seemed to me most fitted for my purpose; and as I had
trained myself to be a rapid reader, these excursions gave
me many opportunities.

But some of these journeys were not well suited to
study. During the first few years of the university,
being obliged to live in the barracks on the University Hill
under many difficulties, I could not have my family with
me, and from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning
was given to them at Syracuse. In summer the journey
by Cayuga Lake to the New York Central train gave me
excellent opportunity for reading and even for writing.
But in winter it was different. None of the railways now
connecting the university town with the outside world
had then been constructed, save that to the southward;
and, therefore, during those long winters there was at
least twice a week a dreary drive in wagon or sleigh
sometimes taking all the better hours of the day, in order
to reach the train from Binghamton to Syracuse. Coming
out of my lecture-room Friday evening or Saturday
morning, I was conveyed through nearly twenty-five miles
of mud and slush or sleet and snow. On one journey my
sleigh was upset three times in the drifts which made the
roads almost impassable, and it required nearly ten hours
to make the entire journey. The worst of it was that,
coming out of my heated lecture-room and taking an open
sleigh at Ithaca, or coming out of the heated cars and taking
it at Cortland, my throat became affected, and for
some years gave me serious trouble.

But my greater opportunities--those which kept me
from becoming a mere administrative machine--were
afforded by various vacations, longer or shorter. During the
summer vacation, mainly passed at Saratoga and the seaside,
there was time for consecutive studies with reference
to my work, my regular lectures, and occasional addresses.
But this was not all. At three different times I
was summoned from university work to public duties.
The first of these occasions was when I was appointed
by President Grant one of the commissioners to Santo
Domingo. This appointment came when I was thoroughly
worn out with university work, and it gave me a chance
of great value physically and intellectually. During four
months I was in a world of thought as different from
anything that I had before known as that wonderful island
in the Caribbean Sea is different in its climate from
the hills of central New York swept by the winds of
December. And I had to deal with men very different
from the trustees, faculty, and students of Cornell. This
episode certainly broadened my view as a professor, and
strengthened me for administrative duties.

The third of these long vacations was in 1879--80--81,
when President Hayes appointed me minister plenipotentiary
in Berlin. My stay at that post, and especially
my acquaintance with leaders in German thought and with
professors at many of the Continental universities, did
much for me in many ways.

It may be thought strange that I could thus absent
myself from the university, but these absences really enabled
me to maintain my connection with the institution. My
constitution, though elastic, was not robust; an uninterrupted
strain would have broken me, while variety of
occupation strengthened me. Throughout my whole life
I have found the best of all medicines to be travel and
change of scene. Another example of this was during my
stay of a year abroad as commissioner at the Paris
Exposition. During that stay I prepared several additions
to my course of general lectures, and during my official
stay in Berlin added largely to my course on German
history. But the change of work saved me: though minor
excursions were frequently given up to work with book
and pen, I returned from them refreshed and all the more
ready for administrative duties.

As to the effect of such absences upon the university,
I may say that it accorded with the theory which I held
tenaciously regarding the administration of the university
at that formative period. I had observed in various
American colleges that a fundamental and most injurious
error was made in relieving trustees and faculty from
responsibility, and concentrating all in the president. The
result, in many of these institutions, had been a sort of
atrophy,--the trustees and faculty being, whenever an
emergency arose, badly informed as to the affairs of their
institutions, and really incapable of managing them. This
state of things was the most serious drawback to President
Tappan's administration at the University of Michigan,
and was the real cause of the catastrophe which
finally led to his break with the regents of that university,
and his departure to Europe, never to return. Worse still
was the downfall of Union College, Schenectady, from
the position which it had held before the death of President
Nott. Under Drs. Nott and Tappan the tendency in
the institutions above named was to make the trustees
in all administrative matters mere ciphers, and to make
the faculty more and more incapable of administering
discipline or conducting current university business. That
system concentrated all knowledge of university affairs
and all power of every sort in the hands of the president,
and relieved trustees and faculty from everything except
nominal responsibility. From the very beginning I
determined to prevent this state of things at Cornell. Great
powers were indeed given me by the trustees, and I used
them; but in the whole course of my administration I
constantly sought to keep ample legislative powers in the
board of trustees and in the faculty. I felt that the
university, to be successful, should not depend on the life and
conduct of any one man; that every one of those called to
govern and to manage it, whether president or professor,
should feel that he had powers and responsibilities in its
daily administration. Therefore it was that I inserted in
the fundamental laws of the university a provision that
the confirmation by the trustees of all nominations of
professors should be by ballot; so that it might never be in
the power of the president or any other trustee unduly to
influence selections for such positions. I also exerted
myself to provide that in calling new professors they should
be nominated by the president, not of his own will, but
with the advice of the faculty and should be confirmed by
the trustees. I also provided that the elections of students
to fellowships and scholarships and the administration of
discipline should be decided by the faculty, and by ballot.
The especial importance of this latter point will not
escape those conversant with university management. I
insisted that the faculty should not be merely a committee
to register the decrees of the president, but that it should
have full legislative powers to discuss and to decide
university affairs. Nor did I allow it to become a body
merely advisory: I not only insisted that it should have
full legislative powers, but that it should be steadily
trained in the use of them. On my nomination the trustees
elected from the faculty three gentlemen who had shown
themselves especially fitted for administrative work to the
positions of vice-president, registrar, and secretary; and
thenceforth the institution was no longer dependent on any
one man. To the first of these positions was elected
Professor William Channing Russel; to the second, Professor
William Dexter Wilson; to the third, Professor George C.
Caldwell; and each discharged his duties admirably.

Of the last two of these I have already spoken, and here
some record should be made of the services rendered by
Dr. Russel. He was among those chosen for the instructing
body at the very beginning. Into all of his work he
brought a perfect loyalty to truth, with the trained
faculties of a lawyer in seeking it and the fearlessness of an
apostle in announcing it. As to his success in this latter
field, there may be given, among other testimonies, that of
an unwilling witness--a young scholar of great strength
of mind, who, though he had taken deep offense at sundry
acts of the professor and never forgiven them, yet, after a
year in the historical lecture-rooms of the University of
Berlin, said to me: ``I have attended here the lectures of
all the famous professors of history, and have heard few
who equal Professor Russel and none who surpass him in
ascertaining the really significant facts and in clearly
presenting them.''

In the vice-presidency of the faculty he also rendered
services of the greatest value. No one was more devoted
than he to the university or more loyal to his associates.
There was, indeed, some friction. His cousin, James
Russell Lowell, once asked me regarding this, and my reply
was that it reminded me of a character in the ``Biglow
Papers'' who ``had a dre'dful winnin' way to make folks
hate him.'' This was doubtless an overstatement, but it
contained truth; for at times there was perhaps lacking in
his handling of delicate questions something of the suaviter
in modo. His honest frankness was worthy of all
praise; but I once found it necessary to write him: ``I am
sorry that you have thought it best to send me so unsparing
a letter, but no matter; write me as many as you like;
they will never break our friendship; only do not write
others in the same strain.'' This brought back from him
one of the kindest epistles imaginable. Uncompromising
as his manner was, his services vastly outweighed all the
defects of his qualities; and among these services were
some of which the general public never dreamed. I could
tell of pathetic devotion and self-sacrifice on his part, not
only to the university, but to individual students. No
professor ever had a kindlier feeling toward any scholar in
need, sickness, or trouble. Those who knew him best loved
him most; and, in the hard, early days of the university,
he especially made good his title to the gratitude of every
Cornellian, not only by his university work, but by his
unostentatious devotion to every deserving student.

As to my professorial work, I found in due time
effective aid in various young men who had been members of
my classes. Of these were Charles Kendall Adams, who
afterward became my successor in the presidency of Cornell,
and George Lincoln Burr, who is now one of my successors
in the professorship of history.

Thus it was that from time to time I could be absent
with a feeling that all at the university was moving on
steadily and securely; with a feeling, indeed, that it was
something to have aided in creating an institution which
could move on steadily and securely, even when the hands
of those who had set it in motion had been removed.

There was, however, one temporary exception to the rule.
During my absence as minister at Berlin trouble arose in
the governing board so serious that I resigned my diplomatic
post before my term of service was ended, and hastened
back to my university duties. But no permanent
injury had been done; in fact, this experience, by
revealing weaknesses in sundry parts of our system, resulted
in permanent good.

Returning thus from Berlin, I threw myself into university
work more heartily than ever. It was still difficult,
for our lands had not as yet been sold to any extent, and
our income was sadly insufficient. The lands were steadily
increasing in value, and it was felt that it would be a great
error to dispose of them prematurely. The work of providing
ways and means to meet the constantly increasing
demands of the institution was therefore severe, and the
loss of the great library bequest to the university also
tried me sorely; but I labored on, and at last, thanks to
the admirable service of Mr. Sage in the management of
the lands, the university was enabled to realize, for the
first time, a large capital from them. Up to the year 1885
they had been a steady drain upon our resources; now
the sale of a fraction of them yielded a good revenue.
For the first time there was something like ease in the
university finances.

Twenty years had now elapsed since I had virtually
begun my duties as president by drafting the university
charter and by urging it upon the legislature. The four
years of work since my return from Berlin had tried me
severely; and more than that, I had made a pledge some
years before to the one who, of all in the world, had the
right to ask it, that at the close of twenty years of service
I would give up all administrative duties. To this pledge
I was faithful, but with the feeling that it was at the
sacrifice of much. The new endowment coming in from the
sale of lands offered opportunities which I had longed for
during many weary years; but I felt that it was best to
put the management into new hands. There were changes
needed which were far more difficult for me to make than
for a new-comer--especially changes in the faculty, which
involved the severing of ties very dear to me.

At the annual commencement of 1885, the twenty years
from the granting of our charter having arrived, I
presented my resignation with the declaration that it must
be accepted. It was accepted in such a way as to make
me very grateful to all connected with the institution:
trustees, faculty, and students were most kind to me. As
regards the first of these bodies, I cannot resist the
temptation to mention two evidences of their feeling
which touched me deeply. The first of these was the
proposal that I should continue as honorary president of
the university. This I declined. To hold such a position
would have been an injury to my successor; I knew well
that the time had come when he would be obliged to
grapple with questions which I had left unsettled from
a feeling that he would have a freer hand than I could have.
But another tender made me I accepted: this was that I
should nominate my successor. I did this, naming my old
student at the University of Michigan, who had succeeded
me there as professor of history--Charles Kendall Adams;
and so began a second and most prosperous administration.

In thus leaving the presidency of the university, it
seemed to me that the time had come for carrying out a
plan formed long before--the transfer to the university
of my historical and general library, which had become
one of the largest and, in its field, one of the best
private collections of books in the United States. The
trustees accepted it, providing a most noble room for it in
connection with the main university library and with the
historical lecture-rooms; setting apart, also, from their
resources, an ample sum, of which the income should be
used in maintaining the library, in providing a librarian,
in publishing a complete catalogue, and in making the
collection effective for historical instruction. My only
connection with the university thenceforward was that of
a trustee and member of its executive committee. In this
position it has been one of the greatest pleasures and
satisfactions of my life to note the large and steady
development of the institution during the two administrations
which have succeeded my own. At the close of the
administration of President Adams, who had especially
distinguished himself in developing the law department and
various other important university interests, in strengthening
the connection of the institution with the State, and
in calling several most competent professors, he was
succeeded by a gentleman whose acquaintance I had made
during my stay as minister to Germany, he being at that
time a student at the University of Berlin,--Dr. Jacob
Gould Schurman, whose remarkable powers and gifts have
more than met the great expectations I then formed
regarding him, and have developed the university to a yet
higher point, so that its number of students is now, as I
revise these lines, over three thousand. He, too, has been
called to important duties in the public service; and he
has just returned after a year of most valuable work as
president of the Commission of the United States to the
Philippine Islands, the university progressing during his
absence, and showing that it has a life of its own and is
not dependent even on the most gifted of presidents.

On laying down the duties of the university presidency,
it did not seem best to me to remain in its neighborhood
during the first year or two of the new administration.
Any one who has ever been in a position similar
to mine at that period will easily understand the reason.
It is the same which has led thoughtful men in the
churches to say that it is not well to have the old pastor
too near when the new pastor is beginning his duties.
Obedient to this idea of leaving my successor a free hand, my
wife and myself took a leisurely journey through England,
France, and Italy, renewing old acquaintances and making
new friends. Returning after a year, I settled down
again in the university, hoping to complete the book for
which I had been gathering materials and on which I had
been working steadily for some years, when there came the
greatest calamity of my life,--the loss of her who had been
my main support during thirty years,--and work became
for a time, an impossibility. Again I became a wanderer,
going, in 1888, first to Scotland, and thence, being ordered
by physicians to the East, went again through France and
Italy, and extended the journey through Egypt, Greece
and Turkey. Of the men and things which seemed most
noteworthy to me at that period I speak in other chapters.
From the East I made my way leisurely to Paris, with
considerable stops at Buda-Pesth, Vienna, Ulm, Munich
Frankfort-on-the-Main, Paris, London, taking notes in
libraries, besides collecting books and manuscripts.

Returning to the United States in the autumn of 1889,
and settling down again in my old house at Cornell, I was
invited to give courses of historical lectures at various
American universities, especially one upon the ``Causes
of the French Revolution,'' at Johns Hopkins, Columbian
University in Washington, the University of Pennsylvania,
Tulane University in New Orleans, and Stanford
University in California. Excursions to these institutions
opened a new epoch in my life; but of this I shall speak

During this period of something over fifteen years, I
have been frequently summoned from these duties, which
were especially agreeable to me--first, in 1892, as minister
to Russia; next, in 1896, as a member of the Venezuelan
Commission at Washington; and, in 1897, as ambassador
to Germany. I have found many men and things which
would seem likely to draw me away from my interest in
Cornell; but, after all, that which has for nearly forty
years held, and still holds, the deepest place in my
thoughts is the university which I aided to found.

Since resigning its presidency I have, in many ways,
kept in relations with it; and as I have, at various times,
returned from abroad and walked over its grounds,
visited its buildings, and lived among its faculty and
students, an enjoyment has been mine rarely vouchsafed
to mortals. It has been like revisiting the earth after
leaving it. The work to which I had devoted myself for
so many years, and with more earnestness than any other
which I have ever undertaken, though at times almost
with the energy of despair, I have now seen successful
beyond my dreams. Above all, as I have seen the crowd
of students coming and going, I have felt assured that the
work is good. It was with this feeling that, just before I
left the university for the embassy at Berlin, I erected at
the entrance of the university grounds a gateway, on
which I placed a paraphrase of a Latin inscription noted
by me, many years before, over the main portal of the
University of Padua, as follows:

``So enter that daily thou mayest become more learned
and thoughtful;
So depart that daily thou mayest become more useful
to thy country and to mankind.''

I often recall the saying of St. Philip Neri, who, in the
days of the Elizabethan persecutions, was wont to gaze
at the students passing out from the gates of the English
College at Rome, on their way to Great Britain,
and to say: ``I am feasting my eyes on those martyrs
yonder.'' My own feelings are like his, but happier: I
feast my eyes on those youths going forth from Cornell
University into this new twentieth century to see great
things that I shall never see, and to make the new time
better than the old.

During my life, which is now extending beyond the
allotted span of threescore and ten, I have been engaged
after the manner of my countrymen, in many sorts of
work, have become interested in many conditions of men
have joined in many efforts which I hope have been of
use; but, most of all, I have been interested in the founding
and maintaining of Cornell University, and by the part I
have taken in that, more than by any other work of my life
I hope to be judged.





While yet an undergraduate at Yale, my favorite
studies in history and some little attention to
international law led me to take special interest in the
diplomatic relations between modern states; but it never
occurred to me that I might have anything to do directly
with them.

Having returned to New Haven after my graduation,
intending to give myself especially to modern languages
as a preparation for travel and historical study abroad,
I saw one day, from my window in North College, my
friend Gilman, then of the class above mine, since
president of Johns Hopkins University and of the Carnegie
Institution, rushing along in great haste, and, on going out
to greet him, learned that he had been invited by Governor
Seymour of Connecticut, the newly appointed minister
to Russia, to go with him as an attach, and that, at his
suggestion, a similar invitation would be extended to me.

While in doubt on the matter, I took the train for New
York to consult my father, and, entering a car, by a happy
chance found the only vacant place at the side of the
governor. I had never seen him, except on the platform at my
graduation, three months before; but on my introducing
myself, he spoke kindly of my argument on that occasion,
which, as he was ``pro-slavery'' and I ``anti-slavery,'' I
had supposed he would detest; then talked pleasantly on
various subjects, and, on our separating at New York,
invited me so cordially to go to Russia with him that I then
and there decided to do so, and, on meeting my father,
announced my decision.

On the 10th of December, 1853, I sailed for England, with
Gilman, and in London awaited Governor Seymour, who,
at the last moment, had decided not to leave Washington
until the Senate had confirmed his nomination; but this
delay proved to be fortunate, for thereby opportunity was
afforded me to see some interesting men, and especially
Mr. Buchanan, who had previously been minister to Russia,
was afterward President of the United States, and
was at that time minister at the court of St. James. He
was one of the two or three best talkers I have ever known,
and my first knowledge of his qualities in this respect was
gained at a great dinner given in his honor by Mr. George
Peabody, the banker. A day or two before, our minister
in Spain, Mr. Soul, and his son had each fought a duel,
one with the French ambassador, the Marquis de Turgot,
and the other with the Duke of Alba, on account of a
supposed want of courtesy to Mrs. Soul; and the
conversation being directed somewhat by this event, I recall
Mr. Buchanan's reminiscences of duels which he had
known during his long public life as among the most
interesting I have ever heard on any subject.

Shortly after the arrival of Governor Seymour, we went
on to Paris, and there, placing myself in the family of a
French professor, I remained, while the rest of the party
went on to St. Petersburg; my idea being to hear lectures
on history and kindred subjects, thus to fit myself by
fluency in French for service in the attachship, and,
by other knowledge, for later duties.

After staying in France for nearly a year, having
received an earnest request from Governor Seymour to
come on to Russia before the beginning of the winter, I
left Paris about the middle of October and went by way of
Berlin. In those days there was no railroad beyond the

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