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A Collection of the Verse and Prose of Williams College






The present work owes its existence to a conviction on the part of its
editors that much material published by past Williams undergraduates
in past and present literary periodicals of the college, deserves a
resurrection from the threatening oblivion of musty library shelves.
That this conviction has been justified by the quality of the verse
and prose herein published, the editors believe; and they therefore
submit this volume to the public without undue fear as to its
reception, adding only the caution that its readers remember always
the tender age of the writers of these pages.

The purpose of the editors was to collect material which might be
adjudged to possess real literary merit; but in some cases in which
the historical interest attaching to the production, either by reason
of its subject or by reason of the fame attained in later years by its
author, is obvious, this rule has been waived. Among such exceptions
may be cited that of the Resolutions addressed to President Adams by
the students, and copied herein from the pages of the _Vidette_. The
matter has been arranged in the order of class seniority, with two
exceptions. It has seemed fitting to the editors to begin the work
with that immortal song, "The Mountains"; the second exception is that
of the series of biographical sketches entitled "Nine Williams
Alumni," which for obvious reasons were published as a whole.

The editors burrowed through all files of the college publications
which the college library contains, files which are reasonably
complete. In such a mass of material, some ninety volumes, it will be
astounding indeed if some creditable work has not been passed
inadvertently over. If such a mistake has occurred it is at least
pardonable. The editors fear only the presence of some unworthy matter
in this volume, a sin of commission and hence vastly more heinous.

In going over the works of their academic ancestors the editors have
been struck by several very interesting facts. The literary quality of
the poetry, as all will recognize, has made a steady advance, until
the last six years of the _Lit_. have seen the magazine second to
none, for verse at least, in the intercollegiate press. Dutton,
Westermann, Gibson, Holley, all of the same collegiate generation--they
are names which are widely known and which have brought the college
renown of a nature which, ordinarily, she is apt to obtain rather by
athletic than by intellectual means. It is striking, too, to notice
how the college poetry has changed during the seventy years of its
existence, as the present compilers have known it. There are specimens
of the "poetry" of the early days included herein, which find a place,
as is intimated elsewhere, not so much for their intrinsic merit as
for the interest attaching to them in other directions; and as for the
prose of the _Quarterly_ and the _Vidette_, it was, indeed, like the
essays of the college press to-day, carefully written and with a
degree of that indescribable something called "style"; but so
philosophical, heavy, and devoid of any human interest that we cannot
imagine the average student going through the magazine at a sitting as
(despite all reports to the contrary) is done with the college papers

An interesting light on the alteration in undergraduate problems that
has gradually come about is furnished by a reading of Mr. Mabie's
essay included herein. At the time of its production Mr. Mabie saw the
need of a greater degree of organization among the students, in order
that the college might thereby become more of a community. How
directly opposed the present-day cry is! Student organization has
to-day so spread and so wound itself about the very life of the
college, that it threatens to hide the intellectual aims for which the
college exists. The editors venture to express the opinion that, had
Mr. Mabie written when they are writing, his essay would perhaps have
had a different tone.

The college has indeed much to be proud of in its literature and
journalism--for it has been enriched with names like Bryant, Prime,
Franklin Carter, Mabie, Stoddard, Scudder, Alden, Gladden, G.L.
Raymond, L.W. Spring, G. Stanley Hall, H.L. Nelson, G.E. MacLean,
Cuthbert Hall, Isaac Henderson, Bliss Perry, F.J. Mather, Rollo Ogden:
many of them are represented here; and we are glad for the college
that their fame had its beginnings, even if often modest, in our
student publications.

For the purpose of embodying the literary history of the college as
completely as possible in one volume, the compilers have added an
appendix containing the names of the editors of the _Literary Monthly_
for the twenty-six years of its existence. For the same purpose, they
quote below a chronological sketch of the various publications, which
appeared in the _Gulielmensian_ of the class of 1908. The present
editors cannot vouch for all the facts there set forth.

"So far as is known, the earliest periodical published by Williams
undergraduates was _The Adelphi_, a bi-weekly, of which the first
issue appeared August 18, 1831, and the last June 21, 1832. After
twelve years _The Williams Monthly Miscellany_ was started in July,
1844, and continued until September, 1845. After another lapse of
several years, _The Williams Quarterly Magazine_ was founded in July,
1853, and continued publication until June, 1872. Meantime, April 13,
1867, _The Williams Vidette_ had been started, and in 1872, the older
_Quarterly_ was merged into it. The _Vidette_ was published
fortnightly until June, 1874, when it, together with _The Williams
Review_, a tri-weekly, started in June, 1870, was united to form the
fortnightly _Williams Athenoeum_, the first issue of which appeared
October 10, 1874. In May, 1881, another fortnightly, _The Argo_, was
started, which, with _The Athenoeum_, appeared in alternate weeks
until April, 1885, when the two gave place simultaneously to _The
Williams Literary Monthly_ and _The Fortnight_. Two years later,
April, 1887, _The Fortnight_ was reorganized into _The Williams
Weekly_. In 1904 _The Williams Weekly_ became _The Williams Record_.

"Volume I of the _Gulielmensian_ appeared in the early spring of

To these must be added two more, whose existences have begun since the
above was published. A humorous monthly, _The Purple Cow_, first saw
the light in the fall of 1907 and has since prospered. Two volumes
have appeared of _Coffee Club Papers_, containing productions read
before the meetings of that body. The first volume bears the date of
1909 and the second of 1910. Every class on its graduation publishes
its _Class Book_ and these sometimes attain a degree of literary
merit; hence any review of the literary interests of the college would
be incomplete without at least mention of them.

* * * * *

And now the editors have done their task. It has been pleasant work;
may the results prove as pleasant to those before whose literary
palates they are spread. It remains only to thank the alumni for their
loyal financial support through the subscription blanks sent out in
June, and the library staff of the college for the generosity with
which more than the ordinary facilities of the library have been


_Williamstown, Massachusetts, November 1, 1910_.




O, proudly rise the monarchs of our mountain land,
With their kingly forest robes, to the sky,
Where Alma Mater dwelleth with her chosen band,
Where the peaceful river floweth gently by.

The mountains! the mountains! we greet them with a song!
Whose echoes, rebounding their woodland heights along,
Shall mingle with anthems that winds and fountains sing,
Till hill and valley gaily, gaily ring.

The snows of winter crown them with a crystal crown,
And the silver clouds of summer round them cling;
The autumn's scarlet mantle flows in richness down;
And they revel in the garniture of spring. _Chorus_.

O, mightily they battle with the storm-king's pow'r;
And, conquerors, shall triumph here for aye;
Yet quietly their shadows fall at evening hour,
While the gentle breezes round them softly play. _Chorus_.

Beneath their peaceful shadows may old Williams stand,
Till suns and mountains never more shall be,
The glory and the honor of our mountain land,
And the dwelling of the gallant and the free. _Chorus_.

_Quarterly_, 1859.


From the _Hampshire Gazette_, Northampton, Mass., July 25, 1798

Sir,--Though members of an infant Institution and of little
comparative weight in the scale of the Union, we feel for the interest
of our country. It becomes every patriotic youth in whose breast there
yet remains a single principle of honour, to come forward calmly,
boldly, and rationally to defend his country. When we behold, Sir, a
great and powerful nation exerting all its energy to undermine the
vast fabrics of Religion and Government, when we behold them
inculcating the disbelief of a Deity, of future rewards and
punishments; when we behold them discarding every moral principle and
dissolving every tie which connects men together in Society, which
sweetens life and renders it worthy enjoying; when we behold them
brutalizing man that they may govern him,--as friends to Humanity; as
sharers in the happiness of our fellow-men, as Citizens of the world,
our feelings are deeply affected. We commiserate the fate of our
European Brethren; we weep over the awful calamities of anarchy and

But when we behold this Nation, not contented with its vast European
dominions, but endeavouring to extend its Colossean empire across the
Atlantic, every passion is roused; our souls are fired with
indignation. We see that their object is universal domination; we see
that nothing less than the whole world, nothing less than the
universal degradation of man, will satisfy these merciless destroyers.
But be assured, Sir, we will oppose them with all our youthful energy
and risk our lives in defence of our country.

Untaught in the school of adulation, or the courts of sycophants, we
speak forth the pure sentiments of Independence. We give you our
warmest approbation. We behold with true patriotic pride the dignified
conduct of our Chief Magistrate at this alarming crisis. We are highly
pleased with the moderation, candor, and firmness which have uniformly
characterized your administration. Though measures decisive and
energetic will ever meet with censure from the unprincipled, the
disaffected, and the factious, yet virtue must eternally triumph. It
is this alone that can stand the test of calumny; and you have this
consolation, that the disapprobation of the wicked is solid praise.

At this eventful period our eyes are fixed upon you, Sir, as our
political Father, and under Providence we rely on your wisdom and
patriotism, with the co-operation of our national Council, to
perpetuate our prosperity; and we solemnly engage, that, while our
Government is thus purely and virtuously administered, we will give it
our whole Support.

These, Sir, are the unanimous sentiments of the Members of Williams
College, who, though convinced of the evils of War, yet despise peace
when put into competition with National Freedom and Sovereignty.

Signed by a Committee in behalf of one hundred and thirty Students of
Williams College--



WILLIAMS COLLEGE, June 19, 1798.


From the Italian of T. Grossi by


Swallow from beyond the sea!
That, with every dawning day,
Sitting on the balcony
Utterest that plaintive lay!
What is it that thou tellest me,
Swallow from beyond the sea?

Haply thou, for him who went
From thee and forgot his mate,
Dost lament to my lament,
Widowed, lonely, desolate.
Ever then, lament with me,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

Happier yet art thou than I,--
Thee thy trusty wings may bear,
Over lake and cliff to fly,
Filling with thy cries the air,
Calling him continually,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

Could I too!--but I must pine,
In this dungeon close and low,
Where the sun can never shine,
Where the breeze can never blow,
Whence my voice scarce reaches thee,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

Now September days are near,
Thou to distant lands will fly,
In another hemisphere;
Other streams shall hear thy cry,
Other hills shall answer thee,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

Then shall I when daylight glows,
Waking to the sense of pain,
'Midst the wintry frosts and snows,
Think I hear thy notes again--
Notes that seem to grieve for me,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

Planted here upon the ground,
Thou shalt find a cross in spring;
There, as evening gathers 'round,
Swallow, come and rest thy wing.
Chant a strain of peace to me,
Swallow from beyond the sea!

_Vidette_, 1871.




Oh fortunate Antonius! o'er whose head
Calm days have flown and closed the sixtieth year,
Back on this flight he looks and feels no dread
To think that Lethe's waters flow so near.
There is no day of all the train that gives
A pang; no moment that he would forget.
A good man's span is doubled; twice he lives
Who, viewing his past life, enjoys it yet.

_Quarterly_, 1865.



"Horace,"[1] Ode 30, Book III.

E.C. BENEDICT '21[2]

I've a monument reared more enduring than brass,
Which is higher than pyramids built by the kings,
Through the rains and the tempests, unharmed, it shall pass,
And the wear the corrosion of centuries brings.
For, not all shall I die, but my greater part still
Shall survive from the grave, and my fame shall increase
Long as virgin and priest on the Capitol Hill
Shall ascend to their altars in silence and peace.
Where once Daunus of deserts and rustics was king,
Where swift Aufidus roars, in my praise shall be told
That, though humble in birth, I was foremost to bring
Into Italy's songs the Greek music of old.
Then, Melpomene, take to thyself all the pride
Of the glory thy merits so justly declare,
And now freely of Delphian laurel provide
A fresh coronal wreath to encircle thy hair.

_Athenoeum_, 1875.

[Footnote 1: The Melpomene of Horace was, I suppose, the Greek muse of
singing, not the muse of tragedy, nor a general muse.]

[Footnote 2: Died 1880.]



"Thou silent, pallid dream, in marble stone!
No rare, sweet phantasie which my divine
And all unearthly-mingled soul has thrown
Around a glowing form, art thou, where shine,
As garlands wove about a kindled shrine,
The beauties of a godlike art and more
Etherial thought fashioned to high design,
But a remembrance of that unknown shore
Where youth and love eterne on spirit pinions soar.

"O'er the hushed vales and gulfy hills of Greece
Night brooded on her darkly jewelled wing,
Binding in drowsy chains of dewy peace
Sweet birds, white flocks and every living thing,
And lapsing streams which to the forest sing.
Beneath that pillared fane which guards the place
Where spirits twain sleep in the charmed ring,
I slept after the banquet, and the rays
Of a past heaven flashed on my soul's astonished gaze.

"The emerald isles that sail a silver sea,
Caverned by plumy groves of sunny palm,
Broke on my startled vision suddenly;
When as but quickly parted, sweet and calm,
That long forgot yet ever haunting psalm
Floated from lips that flew to greet me home.
A meteor flamed; I woke in rude alarm;
Above me orbed the temple's sullen dome;
Around me swam the early morning's starless gloom.

"Of that fair dream thou art the memory,
My genius, in its wildest fancy, bound
And petrified to immortality!
A holy presence seems to hover round
The deep, perpetual loveliness, as crowned
With angel radiance, and plumed for flight,
Thy pinioned sandals spurn the flowerless ground,
Striving to gain that far Olympian height
Towards which in rapturous awe upturns thy longing sight.

"Why are thy parted lips so dumb and cold?
Else with my eager arms about thee thrown
And folded in thy soft embrace, had rolled
The Lethean tide of love, in which, unknown
And all unheeded in their state, had flown
The future and the past, merged in that sea
The present, whose far deeps are felt alone
By the pale diver, reaching breathlessly
Through pearled and coral caves concealed from mortal eye.

"Oh, shape divine! Such madd'ning grace must have
A soul, a consciousness of love and life
Though tombed in pallor, with no epitaph
But silence! What mighty spell with power rife
Can wake thee into Being's passion strife?
Yet if there be such, let it rest unsought;
For every boon thou couldst from breath derive
I would not wrest from thee that higher lot,
The need of deathlessness, thou pale, embodied thought!

"Great poet souls and people yet unborn
Shall lay their speechless homage at thy feet,
And still thy life be in its rosy dawn,
Whose eve eternity alone shall greet.
While I, to whom thy changeless smile were sweet
As heaven, long mingled with earth's vilest mould,
Shall be forgot! What wealth of fame can mete
The loss of love? None, none! Thy fate is cold,
But oh, what starry treasures might it not unfold!"

He ceased. A lambent halo seemed to play
About her head, as lightnings round the moon;
Her marble tresses streamed in golden spray--
A tremor throbbed along her limbs of stone,
And sky-hued veins with life's warm pulses shone.
One thought of wordless love beamed from her eyes,
Then, gently floating from her shining throne
'Mid blushing smiles half drowned in tearful sighs,
She faded slowly heavenward through the sunset skies.

_Quarterly_, 1853.

[Footnote 1: Died 1900.]



Master of human destinies am I;
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late,
I knock unbidden once on every gate.
If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise before
I turn away; it is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury, and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore;
I answer not, and I return no more.

The date of first appearance of this sonnet is not known to the
editors. It is extracted here from Professor A.L. Perry's
_Williamstown and Williams College_, (1899), and of it Dr. Perry
remarks "Ingalls also wrote a notable sonnet on 'Opportunity,' which
will no doubt survive, for it has a fine form and considerable
literary merit, though godless in every line."



Old Autumn thou art here! upon the Earth
And in the heavens, the signs of death are hung;
For o'er the Earth's brown breast stalks pale decay,
And 'mong the lowering clouds the wild winds wail,
And, sighing sadly, chant the solemn dirge
O'er summer's fairest flowers, all faded now.
The Winter god, descending from the skies,
Has reached the mountain tops, and decked their brows
With glittering frosty crowns, and breathed his breath
Among the trumpet pines, that herald forth
His coming.

Before the driving blast
The mountain oak bows down his hoary head,
And flings his withered locks to the rough gales
That fiercely roar among the branches bare,
Uplifted to the dark unpitying heavens.
The skies have put their mourning garments on
And hung their funeral drapery on the clouds.
Dead Nature soon will wear her shroud of snow
And lie entombed in Winter's icy grave.

Thus passes life. As hoary age comes on
The joys of youth--bright beauties of the spring,
Grow dim and faded, and the long dark night
Of Death's chill Winter comes. But as the spring
Rebuilds the ruined wrecks of Winter's waste,
And cheers the gloomy earth with joyous light,
So o'er the tomb, the Star of Hope shall rise,
And usher in an ever during day.

_Quarterly_, 1854.

[Footnote 1: Died 1881.]



We lie beneath the forest shade
Whose sunny tremors dapple us;
She is a proud-eyed Grecian maid
And I am Sardanapalus;
A king uncrowned whose sole allegiance
Resides in dusky forest regions.

How cool and liquid seems the sky;
How blue and still the distance is!
White fleets of cloud at anchor lie
And mute are all existences,
Save here and there a bird that launches
A shaft of song among the branches.

Within this alien realm of shade
We keep a sylvan Passover;
We happy twain, a wayward maid,
A careless, gay philosopher;
But unto me she seems a Venus
And Paphian grasses nod between us.

Her drooping eyelids half conceal
A vague, uncertain mystery;
Her tender glances half reveal
A sad, impassioned history;
A tale of hopes and fears unspoken
Of thoughts that die and leave no token.

"Oh braid a wreath of budding sprays
And crown me queen," the maiden says;
"Queen of the shadowy woodland ways,
And wandering winds, whose cadences
Are unto thee that tale repeating
Which I must perish while secreting!"

I wove a wreath of leaves and buds
And flowers with golden chalices,
And crowned her queen of summer woods
And dreamy forest palaces;
Queen of that realm whose tender story
Makes life a splendor, death a glory.

_Quarterly_, 1856.



A lonely island in the South, it shows
Its frosted brow, and waves its shaggy woods,
And sullenly above the billow broods.
Here he that shook the frighted world arose.
'Twas here he gained the strength the wing to plume,
To swoop upon the Arno's classic plains,
And drink the noblest blood of Europe's veins--
His eye but glanced and nations felt their doom!
Alas! "how art thou fall'n, oh Lucifer,
Son of the morning!" thou who wast the scourge
And glory of the earth--whose nod could urge.
Proud armies deathward at the trump of war!
And did'st thou die on lone Helena's isle?
And art thou nought but dust and ashes vile?

_Quarterly_, 1857.



From one who belonged in a remote antiquity to the fraternity of
college editors, a contribution to this centennial number[1] has been
solicited. Perhaps I can do no better than to recall a few impressions
of my own life in college. Every year, at the banquet, I observe that
I am pushed a little nearer to the border where the almond tree
flourishes, and I shall soon have a right to be reminiscent and
garrulous. At the next centennial I shall not be called on; this is my
last chance.

I came to college in the fall of 1856. My class had been in college
for a year, so that the vicissitudes of a freshman are no part of my
memory. I shall never forget that evening when I first entered
Williamstown, riding on the top of the North Adams stage. The
September rains had been abundant, and the meadows and slopes were at
their greenest; the atmosphere was as nearly transparent as we are apt
to see it; the sun was just sinking behind the Taconics, and the
shadows were creeping up the eastern slopes of Williams and Prospect;
as we paused on the little hill beyond Blackinton the outline of the
Saddle was defined against a sky as rich and deep as ever looked down
at sunset on Naples or Palermo. I thought then that I had never seen a
lovelier valley, and I have had no occasion to revise that judgment.
To a boy who had seen few mountains that hour was a revelation. On the
side of the picturesque, the old way of transportation was better than
the new. The boy who is dumped with his trunks at the station near the
factory on the flat gets no such abundant entrance into Williamstown
as was vouchsafed to the boy who rode in triumphantly on the top of
Jim Bridges' stage.

The wide old street was as hospitable then as now; if the elms were
something less paternal in their benediction their stature was fair
and their shade was ample; but the aspect of the street--how greatly
changed since then! There were two or three fine old colonial houses,
which are standing now and are not likely to be improved upon; but
most of the dwellings were of the orthodox New England village
pattern, built, I suppose, to square with the theology of the Shorter
Catechism, or perhaps with the measurements of the New Jerusalem, the
length and breadth and height of which are equal. The front yards were
all enclosed with fences, none of which were useful and few of which
were ornamental. The broad-shouldered old white Congregational
meeting-house stood at the top of the street in Field Park; it was the
goal of restless Sophomores for several hours every Sunday, and it was
also the goal of all ambitious contestants for college honors. Griffin
Hall was then chapel, museum, laboratories, and recitation-rooms;
East, South, and West Colleges, with Kellogg Hall, on the West
lawn,--"factories of the muses," in Lowell's expressive phrase,--stood
forth in their naked practicality much as they stand to-day. Lawrence
Hall library, in its earlier, wingless character of colossal ink-pot,
Jackson Hall[2] and the little magnetic observatory, still standing,
completed the catalogue of the college buildings.

The faculty of that day can be recalled without difficulty: President
Hopkins, whose clear and venerable name no eulogy of mine shall here
disfigure; his stern-faced but great-hearted brother Albert; Emmons
the geologist; Griffin, Tatlock, Lincoln, and Chadbourne, who
succeeded Hopkins in the presidency; Bascom, the only survivor to-day,
and Perry, the best-known of them all. I have taken no pains to
refresh my memory of the faculty of 1856, but I am confident that here
are no omissions. It will be somewhat less easy for undergraduates
to-day, writing so many eventful years after their entrance, to recall
the names of their teachers. One only of our memorable nine is now in
service, and long may he serve the community! All these were ranked as
professors; there had been tutors and instructors before our days, but
none in our time.

The _Gul_ of those days was a four-page sheet containing in briefest
form the membership and official lists of the various fraternities and
associations; it sold for ten cents a copy. The only other college
publication was the _Quarterly_, a solid magazine of about one hundred
pages. None of the fraternities then existing, I think, possessed a
chapter-house; their rooms were in more or less obscure quarters, over
stores or in private houses. There was quite as much rivalry between
them then as now, and poorer spirit. There was also an Anti-Secret
Confederation, of which General Garfield in his time was the leader;
it mixed freely in college politics and was no less clannish than the
other fraternities. The absence of chapter-houses and the less fully
developed social life of the fraternities left room for a stronger
class feeling and perhaps a more sympathetic college spirit than
exists to-day. The smallness of the classes and the absence of the
electives, too, aided the cultivation of class feeling; the classes
ranged from forty-five to sixty, and the whole class was held solidly
together during the whole course, all reciting in the same room three
times a day from the beginning of freshman year to the end of senior.

College singing was hearty and spirited, but our repertoire was
limited. I recall many evenings of blameless hilarity on the benches
under the trees in front of East College. For more ambitious musical
performance we had our "Mendelssohn Society," whose concerts were not
probably so classical as we then esteemed them, but whose rehearsals
gave us not a little pleasure. Athletics had hardly a name to live.
Now and then a football was mysteriously dropped into the West College
yard, and kicked about in a very promiscuous fashion; the freshmen and
sophomores generally had a match of what was by courtesy called
base-ball. The only intercollegiate contest of which I had any
recollection, and as it seems the first ever to take place, was a ball
game at Pittsfield between Williams and Amherst. Amherst was the
challenging party, and the college by vote selected its team with much
care and went forth to the contest with strong hopes. The game was not
lacking in excitement. It was none of your new-fangled, umpire-ridden
matches: the modern type of base-ball had not, of course, been
invented. Foul balls were unknown, the sphere could be knocked toward
any quarter of the earth or sky; runners between bases could be pelted
with it by any of the outfielders. I think that the score stood
something like 60 to 40, and it was not in favor of Williams. It was a
melancholy company that trailed homeward after this contest past the
Lanesboro pond; but since then I understand that times have changed.

[Dr. Gladden has embodied his college reminiscences more fully in his
recent volume _Recollections_, wherein is told also the story of "The
Mountains." (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1909.)]

_Literary Monthly_, 1893.

[Footnote 1: October, 1893.]

[Footnote 2: Demolished in 1908.]




Ye guardian mountains of the western world,
Enthroned like monarchs of primeval days!
Ye that hold lofty converse with the stars,
And bind your shaggy brows with clustering clouds
As if with wreaths of laurel! ye that count
Your years by thousands, and your bosoms robe
With all the pageantry of Autumn's gold,
And lull your sleep of ages with the wild
And murmurous drone of woodland waterfalls,
And multitudinous song of windy groves!

What spell hath bound ye now? what lethargy
O'ercomes your ancient power? that undisturbed
Ye slumber on, as if ye heeded not
The piercing shriek from yonder fuming car,
Which saith that even here presumptuous man
Has dared intrude upon the green domain,
Which ye inherited when Time was born.
Awake! arise! are ye forever dumb?
Let Greylock, most majestic of your band,
Stand up and shout aloud to Audubon,
Until from peak to peak the sound rolls round,
Until yon mountain that o'erlooks the west
Takes up the cry, of vengeance upon him
Whose strange devices break your long repose.

In vain! ye are indeed forever dumb,
Obedient to the will of Destiny,
Who sits enthroned among the stars of heaven,
And unto man's inquiring vision points
Toward the westering sun forevermore.
Such is the law that rules the universe;--
Planets and systems, e'en the sun himself,
Around one common point progressive move.
And thus a few millenniums more shall man
Proclaim the march of mind, and when ye pass
Into oblivion with your weight of years,
When galaxies and suns are quenched in gloom,
Th' unshackled soul of man, itself a star
Lit by the smile of God, shall wing through space,
The destined heir to immortality.

_Quarterly_, 1859.



Ye golden bells, that toss your heaven-born fragrance
On air around,
And know to make the most harmonious music
Without a sound!

Ye fragile flowers, whose delicate, dear tendrils
Upward do climb,
Reveal to us the sweet, mysterious secret
Of love sublime!

Entwining with your gentle cunning fingers
The ragged tree,
Ye leave behind ye crowns and chaplets wondrous,
Of jewelry!

Not pearls nor diamonds of a radiance peerless,
Not amethyst.
When softly swaying on the human bosom,
Or flexile wrist,

Can add to life and beauty lustrous splendor,
With grace divine,
As when ye wreathe on gnarled oak and holly
Your trailing vine!

Oh, love of God! in gracious ways unnumbered,
With gentlest touch,
Thou teachest men and pitifully showest
Of patience much!

We pray, dear Father, teach thine erring children
This lesson meet--
To climb through fragile, earth born, human tendrils
To life complete.

_Quarterly_, 1871.



According to common opinion Americans are the nation most addicted to
speechmaking. Laboulaye makes a good point by representing the son of
a leading character in "Paris in America" discovered by his father
before a large audience, in the full tide of political speech, and
maintaining afterwards to the old gentleman that it is the common
practice among all the boys to make a speech on every possible
occasion, that they may thus fit themselves for public life.

In New York, which tends rapidly to become the center of activity for
most of the important influences of our country, there are every year
many dinners, anniversaries, and assemblies, at which oratory of an
ephemeral nature finds expression and attention. All the
nationalities, all the religious and literary societies, all the
clubs, all the distinguished foreigners, and all the leading and
following colleges, must have a dinner, and every dinner must have at
least a dozen speeches. Most of these speeches are more eloquent to
the opinion of their authors than to the minds of their hearers.

It certainly is one of the best moral illustrations of the first law
of motion that in spite of all the heroism necessary to endure such a
volume of speech, the patient public seems (if we may judge from the
increase in volume) every year more and more willing to sit at the
tables and listen to this flow of sound. Perhaps this patience is only
apparent, for competition for an opportunity to speak is said to be
lively. Possibly every one of the thousands who listen is secretly
comparing the eloquence of the speaker with his own skilful ability,
and not quite calmly biding the time when he shall enrapture, where
the present speaker wearies and annoys.

Yet not every speech made on those occasions is dull. Now and then the
happy mingling of fun and sense really lifts the company out of the
tiresome monotony. Were it not for these addresses beautiful and rare,
we can believe that dinner speeches would be abandoned, or exchanged
for a single oration from one competent to delight.

For the distinguishing mark of the dinner speech should be that it
amuse not in the rough, coarse way of the demagogue, but in the
subtle, fine way of the man of culture.

The dinner speeches with which the readers of this paper are perhaps
most familiar, those made when the alumni of a noble college gather
around the table of their alma mater, ought to be characterized by the
broad sympathy, the quick insight, the flexible grace and the genial
humor of the thoroughly educated man. Although to make fine dinner
speeches can never be an aim worthy of an earnest man, yet to have the
power and culture from which such a speech usually comes, is the
highest aim in a literary regard that any man can have. It is a
short-sighted and one-sighted earnestness that despises the wit and
banter of society, and affects the isolation and grandeur of pure
thought. The mountain summit is too far removed from the walks of men
to make it possible for the recluse to wield all the influence that
his powers may entitle him to exert. The metaphysician less than the
poet, the country minister less than the successful lawyer, is the
autocrat of the dinner-table.

Because Williams and Yale have produced great and useful men, it does
not follow that their commencement dinners are always marked by the
finest flow of wit and wisdom, nor that pioneers in civilization who
bring great honor to their alma mater should always and everywhere
speak for her. Dinner-speaking is a fine art, not one for which men
need absolutely European travel and study, but one which is never
mastered except by those who love and perhaps know how to reach all
the beautiful thoughts of every age and clime. It is the cultured
gentleman of social experience, who may or may not be a man of great
ability, but who knows how to weave the poetic and humorous and
commonplace into beautiful or grotesque forms, that delights and
surprises a dinner company. Social experience and good abilities will
not alone make the successful speaker. Underneath and back of all must
be the gentleman. A lawyer, though of splendid position, can ill
afford to say at the festal table of his alma mater, "Harvard takes
great poets and historians to fill her vacant professorships; my
college takes boys, who have proved their qualifications by getting
their windows broken." Those who go deeper than the surface will
perhaps surmise that Harvard has had better material to work upon than
some colleges; not perhaps material of finer abilities, but material
that has been more under the influence of sweetness and light.
Possibly her graduates are as superior at making dinner speeches as
are her trustees in choosing professors.

A gentleman must make the happy dinner-speech, for only he can
perceive the proprieties of the situation. He will neither improve the
occasion to give the corporation advice as to the management of the
college, nor try to point out to a company of Unitarians the superior
advantages of the orthodox faith, nor exhibit to invited guests the
rags of his alma mater's poverty. He may, perhaps, avoid the
commonplace by so doing, but he will certainly transgress the rules of
propriety. The commonplace at a dinner, repeated every year under so
nearly similar conditions, cannot be avoided, but can be transformed
by the art of the master.

What could be more difficult than the duty of presiding at the dinner
of the New England Society and rehearsing the threadbare story of the
landing of the Pilgrims and dilating upon it in such a way as to
entertain New Englanders, who ever since their childhood have heard
the declamations of Webster, Everett, Winthrop, and the rest, about
that heroic band? Yet by a mixture of shrewd wit and eloquence Mr.
Choate, a Harvard graduate, went over again, last year, at the
sixty-fourth anniversary of the society, the main facts of the
history, and dwelt upon the relations of New Englanders to New York,
making a speech that, printed, fills ten octavo pages but which the
audience found charming from beginning to end.

This, like every other fine art, has something cosmopolitan in it. It
eschews the local and narrow, refuses to belong to any sect or party,
and appeals by the widest culture to men of culture. The dinner
speeches of our own Bryant are thus liberal and catholic. So were
those of Mr. Everett in the main, though one discovered the superb
actor now and then arranging his robe or making use of his splendid
presence and reputation to draw attention to himself. Of course, when
such a man comes as a guest into a company somewhat foreign in thought
and life to his own belongings, he can neglect the rules that good
breeding imposes on those who compose the homogeneous circles and
become narrow. But he must be narrow by praising not his own methods
but the unexpected excellence of life found among his hosts--thus,
while apparently dwarfing himself, he throws the dignity of his own
reputation and history over that which he eulogizes and really
exhibits the truest catholicity of spirit. To do this and perfectly
conceal the satisfaction that one has, because he can do it, was
perhaps difficult for Everett. Most men who heard him pardoned the
failure. It was easier for Dickens. His life was in some sense less
splendid but more real.

The amusement and good feeling which it is always the aim of the
dinner speaker to create, were largely the aim of Dickens' life. The
humor, the knowledge of human nature, that he always had at command,
were employed in his writings and daily thoughts to enliven and cheer
men. No wonder then that his speeches are models of breadth and
sweetness and appositeness, and that good judges regarded him when
living as in this department of expression unrivalled.

He who is so guided by the love of letters engrafted on the love of
man as to give constant and ample expression to these motives, will be
neither a reformer without grace nor a scholar without manliness. Give
to such a man a flow of animal spirits and a dash of wit, and he
should be not unapt to entertain even when poised on the dangerous
wing of an after-dinner speech.

_Review_, 1870.



A very interesting and significant feature of university life in the
early days was the great part played by students in the scholastic
community. They were not only included in the group described by the
word "faculty," but they were charged with administrative and
executive functions. The movement toward self-government, which has
already borne fruit in many of our colleges, is in no sense a modern
influence; it is a return to a condition widely prevalent in the early
history of university organization. Not only did the students share,
through various deliberative bodies, in the determination of the
gravest questions of academic policy, but, in many cases, the
executive head of the university was not only chosen by them but was
often one of their number. The rector of the Italian universities was
in most instances a student, often under twenty-five years of age. The
rector of the University of Paris, who was charged with the gravest
administrative functions, took precedence of the archbishop, and sat
at times in the royal councils with princes and nobles, was originally
elected by the student communities, and was often a very young man;
and yet Paris was essentially a university of professors. Bologna,
which was a university of students, was governed directly by the
general assembly of undergraduates. Whether governed by students or by
masters,--alumni as we should say,--these historic institutions were
essentially democratic, and the student seems on the whole to have
been the most important figure; not only because at the beginning he
formed the constituency for the popular teacher, but because later
when these throngs of students formally organized he had the largest
share of privileges and for a long time the controlling voice in the
management of affairs.

"Universities," said Professor Croisat at the centenary of the
University of Montpellier in 1889, "do not come into the world with a
clatter. What we know least about in all our history is the precise
moment when it (Montpellier) began." It is impossible, in many
instances, to fix the date of organization of many of the foremost of
the older institutions; they were not made, they grew. There was a
deep necessity for their existence in the intellectual and spiritual
condition of the times, and they sprang into being here and there, in
Italy, France, Spain, and England, in response to that need. They were
notable, at the beginning, not for academic calm, but for turbulence
and vitality; for they were not universities of science, they were
universities of persons. The differences of scholastic rank were not
very sharply defined. In early days, whenever the university body was
formally addressed by Pope or Emperor, the students were named in the
same sentence as the masters.

It is unnecessary to recall here the changes in condition which have
separated the student class sharply from the teaching body and
divorced it almost entirely from governmental functions. What is
significant for the purpose of this article is an apparent disposition
in many quarters to recede from the extreme position of entire
exclusion of the student body and a tendency to move in the other
direction. That tendency may become very marked and lead to a very
radical change of policy in the government of colleges, a change so
radical as to be revolutionary in its effect. It is certain that the
government of colleges, like that of states, must from time to time
undergo marked modifications if it is to remain vitally representative
of, and harmonious with, the growing and changing life of the college.
In healthy institutional life there is free play and interaction of
all the forces that go to make up the organic life, and a certain
flexibility is involved in all growth. The student community, is,
after all, in most institutions the prime object of interest. A few
foundations exist for the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake,
instruction being incidental; in most institutions, however,
instruction is the foremost and absorbing function, and the student's
welfare is, therefore, the controlling factor. In western colleges,
where the edge of hunger for knowledge has not yet been dulled by
opportunity, it is not an unknown thing for a committee of students to
wait on a president or chancellor and announce the failure of some
professor to prepare himself for recitations by fresh study of his
subject. It would be well if students in eastern colleges would
sometimes put on a similar boldness; they would help heads of colleges
out of very trying difficulties with well-meaning but incompetent or
indolent professors. Undergraduate popularity is often illusive and
unstable, but undergraduate perception of incompetency is often very
keen and discriminating.

But whether admitted to, or excluded from the government of the
college, the student community plays a part not always recognized in
its educational influence and work, and many men receive more
influential impressions from the atmosphere in which they live and the
men with whom they associate during their college career than from
their instructors. Nothing is so pervasive as an atmospheric
influence, and, in its way, nothing is so important. It is significant
that foreign students rarely speak of Oxford without commenting on its
atmosphere; something in the air of the old town which, although
intangible in its operation, is a positive factor in the educational
result. Specific courses of instruction are less numerous than in many
other places, and such instruction as is offered is often defective in
methods and spirit; but the life of the place is adjusted to
intellectual work; the library facilities are great, the traditions
which seem to be part of the very structure of the colleges are
liberalizing and make for generous culture. In such an air it is easy
to study by one's own impetus and to develop in ourselves the passion
for perfection. Culture is so different from training or favoring the
acquirement of knowledge that it is so often totally lacking in men
who have carried both processes to great length; it is indeed rarely
conveyed, though it may be greatly aided, by definite instruction. It
cannot be said of the great mass of college graduates that they are
men of culture. Culture comes, in a sense, by indirection, a man
absorbs it and furnishes the conditions for its growth, but he cannot
receive it directly from his teachers. There are, in every college,
teachers, who stimulate culture in students not so much by reason of
their scholarship as by reason of their attitude toward what they
know. For culture is always a personal quality; a ripeness which comes
from the generous enrichment of a man's nature by contact with the
best things. In certain atmospheres men ripen, as in certain others
they remain hard and unaffected.

The atmospheric quality of a college is determined largely by the
character and traditions of undergraduate life. If that life has
generous ideals, sound impulses, and traditions which appeal to the
imagination, the atmosphere will do as much for many men as the formal
instruction they receive. It will inspire self-respect, firm
ambitions, and general dignity and nobleness of nature. Men will be
drawn together by the sympathy of aspiration, rather than by mere
congeniality of habit, and their daily association will have an
educational influence of the most lasting kind. It is this association
which often leaves its mark on men who have failed to make right use
of the opportunities for specific instruction which surround them. A
college education is complete, so far as any provisional education is
complete, only when the student receives the strong impress of both
teachers and associates; when instruction is competent and vital, and
undergraduate life is wholesome, generous, and aspiring.

It is a significant fact that when a group of men develop creative
gifts in later life it will generally be found that their
undergraduate life together discovered strong sympathetic aspirations
which bound them together and gave their intercourse a very
stimulating quality. The action and reaction upon each other of a
group of young men of generous aims are peculiarly delicate and
influential, affecting the very sources of individual strength and

Such influences are intermittent and irregular; it would be a great
gain if they could become continuous and, in a flexible sense,
organic. Student life has been, at times, highly organized and
penetrated by intellectual impulses. Colleges differ greatly in this
respect, but in American institutions the student life of to-day does
not anywhere near realize its rich possibilities. Its interest in
athletics is so great that in this single field it may be said to be
fairly well organized and fairly effective in securing the end for
which it works; but in no other field is a similar activity
discoverable, unless it be in that of journalism. One of the most
interesting features of the intellectual and moral revival now going
on in France is the notable change that has come over student life, a
change shown in a revival of song, of old student customs, of
solidarity of feeling, and of a generous enthusiasm for the common
traditions and views. May not American students learn something from
this contemporary illustration of the possibilities of organized
student life?

_Literary Monthly_, 1893.




There are themes which no man can cope with. There are times when
those ordinarily confident shrink back at the thought of grappling
with the mighty issues that lie before them. There are minds of a
structure so singularly complex and unique, that one leaves the study
of them impressed only with a deep, abiding sense of his inability to
fathom them. We have in our midst one such, the penetration of whose
manifestations and phenomena is well calculated to baffle the most
zealous investigator. Reared among the rugged hill-sides and verdant
vales of Williamstown, his character and oratory bear the evident
impress of his nurturing. If to Elihu Burritt belongs the title of
"The Learned Blacksmith," not less to William Pratt is due that of
"The Eloquent Wood-sawyer." Though he cannot, like Elihu, claim a
knowledge of eight languages, he can at least use the one of which he
is master, in a manner at once astounding and gratifying. No son of
Williams needs to be told who he is; yet for the benefit of those
unacquainted with his genius and oratorical ability, we will endeavor
briefly to sketch his early career before enlarging upon the grander
triumphs of his later years.

The subject of the present article was born not far from the year
1810. Whether or no any comet or other unusual heavenly phenomenon
heralded his entrance upon the scenes of earth, is not recorded. If,
however, the astronomical appearances which are said to accompany the
birth of the mighty ones of the sons of earth are gauged with any
degree of fairness, there should have been at least six large comets
and any number of meteors distinctly visible. His early life glided by
gently as the placid Hoosick, by which he frolicked. Several desperate
attempts were made by various misguided individuals to educate him.
From all these, however, he escaped unscathed, with the wings of his
genius unfettered. At what precise period he began to exhibit symptoms
of that highly original and forcible eloquence which he now possesses,
we are unable to state. We presume that his first efforts were
co-existent with the commencement of his career as a wood-sawyer.
Certainly, at present, he is rarely filled with the divine afflatus
except when plying his saw. He is unlike Shakespeare, as he often
repeats. One utterance--"Ottah"--the coinage of his own brain, seems
to be the attempt of his daring and unschooled genius to strike out
not only into new lines of thought, but even to find a mystic mode of
expression. This term is evidently a portion of a language wholly
differing from our own. It is at once a noun, adjective, and verb,
and, in the full flood of his eloquence, it changes from the one to
the other with astounding rapidity.

The extreme versatility of his genius renders it peculiarly difficult
to give any adequate idea of his oratory. He is equally bold in the
expression of his sentiments on any subject. Perhaps for convenience
in consideration we may roughly divide his oratory into wood-pile and
conversational eloquence.

Specimens of his genuine wood-pile eloquence, though by no means
uncommon, are yet not easily accessible to the biographical compiler.
Very few of his sayings have ever found their way into print, and when
thus presented they are of necessity shorn of much of their strength,
and deprived of the impressiveness which they derive from the orator's
gesticulation and delivery. We will, however, endeavor to present our
readers with a few, selected at random, from discourses on various
occasions and subjects.

It is morning. A group of students, just before going into recitation,
cluster around Bill in the hope of getting a speech from him. He
remains deaf to their entreaties till the bell sounds, when with
uplifted hand and glaring eye he thus addresses them, in a voice
audible for about half a mile.

"Go in and take your secretary, persecuting yourself with the
dandelions and robes of righteousness. All the life, all the music,
and the blood and electricity rolling over the mountains with the
elements of pietude spread all over the fundament. Ottah!! R-R-R-Rose
Ottah! Rack-a-tack."

As might be surmised from a perusal of this effort, his peroration is
rarely in keeping with the main portion of his oration. In fact, the
close of all his speeches may be said to be very similar, being
invariably "Ottah," or some variation of it.

Occasionally the exuberance of his genius leads him into the error of
crowding together metaphors to the detriment of perspicuity. When, for
example, he says:

"The waters of heaven descending on the breast-bones of the women; and
the youthful Moses, sitting on the back-bone of eternity, sucking the
pap of time," we feel that there is a redundancy in the expression.

Some specimens of his remarkable verbal and figurative power in
conversation are forcible in the extreme. It is said, with what truth
we know not, that on one occasion the venerable head of this
institution ventured to "tackle" him in a religious argument. Bill,
after listening with a deference which was evidently a tribute of
respect to the Doctor's position rather than an acknowledgment of the
cogency of his reasoning, settled the question by an interrogatory:
"Dr. Hopkins, do you suppose I'm goin' to believe that when I die I'll
go up and sit on one of those clouds with my legs hangin' over?"

We infer from the above that his religious belief is somewhat vague.

Soon after the marriage of Charles, Bill's son, the heir apparent of
the Pratt estates, Bill was asked how Charles' wife was getting along,
whereupon he was pleased to remark that he believed she was "under
conviction." Since then the conviction has become a certainty, and
Bill is a grandfather. Commenting on the appearance of his grandchild,
he has been heard to say: "She's a pretty child. I say she looks like
Charles. Charles says she looks like me."

There are few scenes that abide longer in the student's recollection
than those in which Bill is the central figure. It not infrequently
happens that, when a number of lovers of fun are gathered around him
as he vigorously brandishes axe or saw, one of them, willing, for the
sake of drawing him out, to make a martyr of himself for the public
good, addresses him. On such occasions a conversation, something as
follows, occurs:

Student--"Bill, what do you think of the constitutionality of the
configuration, esthetically considered?"

No reply is elicited from Bill, but a scornful "Ottah," as he puts on
a new stick and continues his work.

Student, (not discouraged)--"Really, Bill, I should like your opinion
on that point."

Bill, (having finished his stick)--"You ain't no kind of a man. You
hain't got no elements, no justice of earth. When I see these young
men and the monument of liberty imported from Long Island for the
benefit of the rising generation, Ottah! Rolling Ottah!! Rang Dang! Du

Of course a rebuke so scathing and sudden as this, never fails to
annihilate its object. Being assured by the rapturous applause which
ever succeeds his efforts, that he has made a good hit, Bill suddenly
becomes as impenetrable as Gibraltar, and saws vigorously.

If, at a time like this, "the Professor," _alias_ "Niobe," having
snatched a few moments from his professional perambulations in search
of "_Coffee_," steps forward, signalizing his debut with the
interrogatory: "Do ye think I'm a common laborin' man?" naught is
wanting to complete the student's bliss.

"The Professor" is by no means as varied in his accomplishments as
Bill, his only quotable utterances being the one already given and
another, supposed to be severely sarcastic: "How lang has he been
_so_?" He, however, has, in the recesses of his brain, a dim idea that
Bill is weak, viewed from an intellectual standpoint, while Bill has
an equally indistinct belief that "the Professor" has very little
furniture in his upper story. How far either of them is wrong our
space does not permit us to say. Both have a supreme contempt for
students, regarding them as effeminate cumberers of the ground. In the
presence of Bill, "the Professor" does not appear to advantage. Being
entirely unable to compete with him in a war of words, he is usually
forced to betake himself to dancing; which, compared with oratory, is

Occasionally the adversities of life seem to press upon Bill with
peculiar force, rendering him extremely dejected. At such times,
though his flow of language does not forsake him, he is without that
cheerful aspect and spontaneous expression ordinarily so
characteristic. No longer does he cause the campus to ring with his
hearty vociferation, but he grumbles very like an ordinary mortal:

"I tell yer now I don't believe no man ever got rich sawin' wood. I
tell yer it's hard work to saw wood all day and car' it up two pa'r
stairs on yer back. I've sawed wood mor'n thirty years. You ask Mist'r
Tatlock, if yer don't believe it. Mist'r Tatlock's nice man. There
ain't no temptations about him. I sawed last night till twel' o'clock,
an' it's hard work. Say, that feller up in that room gin eight dollars
for that cord o' wood, an' it ain't good for nothin'. It's all full o'
the Ottahs in the lucination of the veins."

In the fall, Bill, for a season, abandons wood-sawing for the lighter
and more refined occupation of stove-blacking. While engaged in this
profession he never fails to assert his profound and lasting
conviction that, like sawing, it does not offer a broad and easy road
to opulence. His execution of whatever work is given him in this line
is at once artistic and masterly, showing that excellence in oratory
is not incompatible with an aptitude for the fine arts. His outfit is
eminently complete and choice. In order that he may fail in no portion
of his work, he usually carries with him a stock consisting of:

1. About 35 brooms, carried in a large sack. These are useful in
putting on the finishing touches, and ensuring an unapproachable

2. Brushes of various kinds, comprising shoe-brushes, hat-brushes,
clothes-brushes, hair-brushes, tooth-brushes, nail-brushes,
shaving-brushes, and sometimes, a stove-brush. These are useful in
many respects, the shoe-brushes and hair-brushes being instrumental in
doing the heavy and plain work, while the shaving-brushes and
tooth-brushes are extremely handy in doing justice to the filagree
work and ornamental portion.

3. A platform, or dais, on which to place the stove.

4. A stick, curiously carved, to beat out of pipes.

5. Cloths, of various sizes and patterns, to wipe the poker and the
legs of the stove.

6. Oil-cloths, for emergencies.

7. One large bottle or jug with a stick in it, and two smaller ones,
all filled with mysterious decoctions whose composition and properties
are known to Bill alone.

8. A sponge.

9. Small boxes containing a dingy powder.

10. A wheel-barrow, on which Bill vainly attempts to carry the rest of
his goods.

We have been thus minute in describing his equipment, knowing him to
be at the head of his profession, and hoping that any youth aspiring
to celebrity in it, who may chance upon these pages, will profit
therefrom. We regret to be obliged to state that there are some so
utterly out of sympathy with the cause of art, as to assert that the
greater portion of Bill's utensils are useless; and that by much
puttering he loses time without improving his work. These persons we
are inclined to class among those zealous but unthinking lovers of
simplicity, whose misdirected reformatory efforts in other departments
of life are so well known. As might be expected, Bill treats these
sacrilegious innovators with the contempt they so justly merit. Were
an officious stranger to try to convince an artist that one color
would answer all his purposes as well as a greater number, would the
suggestion of the untutored interloper cause the artist to waver in
the sternness of his faith? And shall the subject of this sketch
revolutionize his mode of stove-blacking at the promptings of an
untaught spectator?

It would be by no means surprising if such nicety of execution as that
to which we have alluded tended to draw his attention from rhetorical
themes. Yet, spite of this apparently necessary result, some of his
grandest and most startling flights of oratory have had their
inspiration from incidents connected with stove-nigrification. Bill
has, as it were, soared on the legs of the stove, like Perseus on
Mercury's sandals, to unexplored realms of space and thought. At such
moments the stove-pipe becomes to him a magic telescope, through which
he peers far into the unfathomable depths.

There are times when, through the influence of passion, he for a
little time lays aside his oratorical embellishments. We remember one
such occasion. He had just finished sawing a pile of wood, when a
student, who was looking from a window, told him there was one stick
which he had not sawed, and taunted him with intending to purloin it.
Instantly his countenance became livid with rage, his lips separated,
showing a fine dental formation, and he exclaimed in pure

"You're a liar. You lie."

The student, perceiving from Bill's descent to the vernacular of
common men that his ire was roused, abjectly and unqualifiedly

"Well," said the orator, threateningly, "you'd better take that back.
I've sawed wood more'n thirty year, an' no man ever 'cused me o'
stealin'." Then gradually becoming good-natured, he added,
"Crucifixin' yourself in the observatories of life in the gray dawn
over your jewelry. No sir, I never stole nothin'. _You_ do. You'd
steal if you wan't afraid to. Ottah!"

We regret to be obliged to chronicle one incident that would seem to
indicate something of malevolence. The impartial historian, however,
must not shrink from the full performance of his duty.

Another of the notables of this region, of sable lineage, called, on
account of a peculiar propensity to split two-inch planks with his
head, "Abe Bunter," not long since honored the students of this
institution with a series of calls for the purpose of soliciting money
to purchase for himself a bovine, to replace one providentially taken
from him. His success may he inferred from a remark let fall by Bill,
accompanied by a demoniac chuckle:

"Say, old Abe Bunter's round with an inscription, an' he hain't got a

Like all great men, Bill has his eccentricities. Fresh meat, and,
indeed, meat of any kind except pork, he abominates. Beefsteak,
especially, is an object of indescribable aversion. Untold wealth
would not suffice to induce him to partake of it. This repugnance is
due partly to a fear of being choked with bones, and partly to a scorn
of its tenderness. The physical weaknesses of students he attributes
entirely to their consuming so much of it. Viewed from his standpoint,
perhaps students are effeminate, for he possesses the strength of
brass, and an amount of endurance astonishing to contemplate.

His ordinary working-hours are from six in the morning till six at
night; but, when business presses, he rises, like the virtuous woman,
while it is yet night, and brings down on his devoted head the
anathemas of various students by commencing his day's sawing under
their windows at the moderately early hour of one A.M. He is a living
proof of the utter and irreclaimable falsity of the idiotic doggerel:

"Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Last summer, however, during the heated term, he was obliged to come
down to the limit of ordinary mortals, as he feared that the influence
of the sun's rays would bring about a degeneration of the Ottah and
Verdigres in the brain, and result in an explosion of the blood-veins.
By careful sanitary precautions he was enabled to avoid this fearful
malady and preserve his physical well-being.

He can, and will, for the comparatively slight sum of twenty-five
cents, hold his breath for five minutes. He, himself, asserts that he
can do it for seven minutes, but that the doctor advised him against
doing so, as it might produce a fusion of the Ottahs.

His costume is at once serviceable and unique. It usually consists of
from two to five shirts, and three pairs of pantaloons. He never was
known to wear the same hat or pair of boots all day. Occasionally he
dons a vest, and, at rare times, a coat. In stature he is below the
medium height; nevertheless, his appearance is eminently imposing and
prepossessing. His countenance is rather oblong, and wears an
expression that is a singular mixture of profound gravity and fearful
earnestness. His eyes resemble those of some species of fish, and are
set under curiously wrinkled brows that nearly conceal them.... Such
is Bill Pratt, honest, cheerful, and industrious, the maligner of no
man. His sturdy figure long holds a place in the memory of every
student; his photograph decorates every student's album. Without him
our college would be incomplete. Esteemed by all for his unfailing
integrity and industry, laughed at by all for his oddities, he remains
ever the same. We trust that the day is far distant when he will be
among us no more, and when the college walls shall cease to echo his
chaotic and ungovernable eloquence.

_Quarterly_, 1869.



Fair Phrygian Attis, loved of Cybele,
Fired with the service of her awful shrine,
Had wandered far before his restless soul
Along the gleaming sand-line of the beach.
At last he came to a deep shaded nook,
Where giant trees thick wreathed with twisting vines
Clomb the steep hills on every side but one,
And rimmed the sky with a green fringe of leaves.

But toward the south wide open to the shore
It seemed a lap, wherein the sun and sea
Together lay warm in each other's smiles.
Down the steep sides a little babbling brook
Leapt with low laughter, fleeing from itself,
Then, wid'ning out into a lucid pool,
Crept slowly seaward through low banks of fern.
Here, stretching his bare limbs upon the sward,
He watched the water falling down the rocks.

His jetty hair, curled loosely on his head,
Fell down upon his shoulders glistening white,
The rounded symmetry of breast and limb,
And the rich color of his sensuous lips
Almost belied the down upon his cheek.
No uncouth garments hid his perfect form,
Nor marred its grace, but, naked like the gods,
The ruddy sunlight bathed him in its glow.

So, as the day sank down the golden west,
And the long index shadows toward the east
Seemed telling of the morn that was to rise,
A band of nymphs came past him where he lay
Half-hidden in the grass, and to the pool
Rushed with sweet rivalry and little screams
To feel the water cold around their limbs.
They saw him not, nor dreamed that mortal eyes
In that lone glen were looking on their play.

Soon they passed on, save one who near the bank
Had lain to rest till sleep stole eyes and ears.
Then Attis rose and would have sought the shrine
But when he saw the sleeper he stood still.
He was too young to know the power of love
When mighty Cybele from his far home--
His home, which lay beyond the heaving sea,
And which to think of even yet would bring
The bitter tears into his dark-lashed eyes,--
Had brought him as a priest into her fane,
And bound him by an oath of dreaded wrath
To be hers only, hers forevermore.

But years had passed since then, he was a man,
And man's strong passion drove into his cheek
The ruby symbol of its first felt power,
As leaning o'er he gazed upon the nymph.
She moved a little under the hot glance
That burned from Attis' eyes upon her face,
And seemed about to wake. Quick he drew back,
Walking away a few steps towards the beach,
Then turned to take one last look ere he went;
She had not woke, her head lay on her arms,
And her face looking toward him seemed to smile.

He could not go, he dared not longer stay,
But stood and wished, and feared, and let his wish
Conquer his fear; returning step by step
Again he bent above her. Then, at last,
The wrath of scorner Cybele forgot,
He thought of nothing but his newfelt love.

Sudden she raised the lids, and her full eyes
Looked straight upon him. Attis laid his hand
Upon her arm to stay the flight he feared,
Saying, "Fear not, 'tis only Attis, I,
And 'tis my love that holds me here by thee."

She smiled back on him and her hand in his
Thrilled with a touch that maddened through his veins;
He bent down over her and all his soul
Slid through his lips in one long burning kiss
Which lovers only know.

Lo, Cybele,
Her chariot, lion-drawn, grinding the sands,
Stood awfully before them. Not a word
Came from her lips, but her great angry eyes
Dark with the wrath and vengeance of the gods
Gloomed forth a hate no mortal could endure;
Pale Attis looked in them but once, and then
In frenzied madness fled along the shore.

_Quarterly_, 1871.



My other self, my bosom friend,
Thy faithful arm in mine enwinding,
Let us fare forth amid the trees,
Each in the other comfort finding.
For though our boyhood be so near,
Yet have we tasted grief and fear.

I feel upon my heart the weight
Of things unknown, the dread of living,
And thou, dear friend, canst strengthen me
By thy heart's wondrous gift of giving;
So, when life's strangeness frighteneth me,
In perfect trust I turn to thee.

Thou dost not scorn my foolish fear,
Nor e'er upbraid my dreamy thinking;
Thou dost not brand me with contempt
Because of all my frequent shrinking.
Thou art a tower of strength to me,
So let me walk awhile with thee.

Not all our hours are hours of dread:
We know the hours of splendid hoping;
When life's ongoing ways shine clear,
And vision takes the place of groping;
In those Great Hours I seek for thee
To walk amid the trees with me.

How hath God made our lives as one,
Knitting our fortunes up together
In comradeship that welcometh
The clearing or the lowering weather--
The joy or pain--heart answering heart!
Are we not friends till Death us part?

Then mount with me the rugged hill
And let our thoughts go seaward soaring,
Until in fancy's ear there sound
The chime of surf, the tempest's roaring;
And, by the sun-glint on the sea,
We trace the years that are to be.

My other self, why bound by death
The compass of our friendship's reaching?
Why doubt the promptings of our hearts,
Or falsify our spirits' teaching?
Must not the friends beneath the sod
Still walk amid the trees of God?


_Literary Monthly_, 1909

[Footnote 1: Died 1908.]




Sweetly the June-time twilights wane
Over the hills of fair Lorraine,

Sweetly the mellow moonbeams fall
O'er rose-wreathed cottage and ivied wall.

But never dawned a brighter eve,
Than the holy night of St. Genevieve.

And never moonlight fairer fell,
Over the banks of the blue Moselle.

Richly the silver splendor shines,
Spangles with sheen the clustered vines,

And rests, in benediction fair,
On midnight tresses and golden hair.

Golden hair and midnight tress,
Mingle in tender lovingness,

While the evening breezes breathe upon
Marie and Jean,--and their hearts are one!

"The spell of silence lifts at last,
Marie, the saint's sweet day is past!

"Her vesper chimes have died away,
Where shall we be on Christmas day?"

With answering throb heart thrilled to heart,
Hand met hand with sudden start.

For in each soul shone the blessed thought,
The vision fair of a little cot,

Nestled beneath the lilac spray,
Waiting the blissful bridal day!

Low bowed in tearful silence there,
Their hearts rose up in solemn prayer,

And still the mellow lustre fell
Over the banks of the blue Moselle.

And still the moonlight shone upon
Marie and Jean,--and their hearts were one!


Six red moons have rolled away,
And the sun is shining on Christmas day.

Over the hills of fair Lorraine--
Heaps of ashes and rows of slain.

Where merrily rang the light guitar,
The angry trump of the red hussar

Flings on the midnight's shrinking breath,
The direful notes of the Dance of Death!

Underneath the clustered vines,
The sentry's glittering saber shines.

Over the banks of the blue Moselle,
Rain of rocket and storm of shell!

Where to-day is the forehead fair,
Crowned with masses of midnight hair?

A summer's twilight saw him fall,
Dead on Verdun's leaguered wall.

Where, alas! is the little cot?
Ask the blackened walls of Gravelotte!

Under the lilac broods alone
A maid whose heart is turned to stone.

Who sits, with folded fingers, dumb,
And meekly prays that her time may come!

Yet see! the Death-god's baleful star!
And War's black eagle screams afar!

And lo! the Christmas shadows wane
Over the hills of sad Lorraine.

_Quarterly_, 1873.



And thou didst idly dream,
Or, careless of thy action, think,
To cast a veil o'er all the past
And weld anew the broken link?
Vain thought to weave anew the bond
That thou didst ruthless sever;
Know friendship often turns to love,
But love to friendship never.

And love ne'er dies but when some hand
Too careless of their mimic strife,
Slow cleaves its tendrils from their hold,
And hurls them down bereft of life.
And love once fled can ne'er return,
Nor in its stead can friendship stand,
Nor twine again the tendrils frail,
Nor e'er unites the broken band.

_Athenoeum_, 1875.



An early memory of my earliest youth.

There came into the village I called home
A traveller, worn and faint. His garments held
The alien dust of many a weary march;
None but a child would e'er have thought the man
A thing to look at twice, much less adore.
But unto me, child that I was, the look
In his large pleading eyes seemed so divine,
The massive brow so free from thought of earth,
The curves of his sad mouth so tremulous
With more than woman's love and tenderness,
And in each word and act such gentleness,
That the quaint thought possessed and held my mind,
That by some strange hap an angel soul,
As penance for some small offense in heaven
Had been compelled to traverse in this wise
Our darkened world. And not alone his look
Which made his rusty vesture fine, nor yet
Alone the birds which fluttered round him as
He were a friend, led to the same belief--
But he with other men had naught in common.
They called him fool and idiot, jibed at him
And at his rags, and mocked his lofty air
So far above his low condition.
And yet unto their jeers he never word
Replied, nor ever seemed to know that they
About him crawled; but fixing his great eyes
Upon the sunset slopes, while mirrored in
His face was seen the battle in his heart
Of hopes and fears, he rather breathed than spoke
Such words as these, except that his had soul:
"At length, O weary heart, it seemeth me
The rest is near. The air seems full of promise;
My eyes are fixed on what they cannot see;
My ears are filled with whispers not quite heard.
All things seem waiting as to hear good news.
The western breeze hath messages for me;
The western hills lean down and beckon me.
It must be, sure, because, it _must_ be so,
That just beyond those hills, O heart, there doth
Await us both the rest we long have sought."
They told him that the world was round, and so
It could not be that all this journeying
Should e'er do more than bring him back to us,
If he through weary years should persevere.
"I know," he quick replied, "the world is round
To railroads and canals, and yet I do
Believe," and, voicing o'er his hopeful creed,
And striding on, he soon was lost to view.

We heard of him as passing through the towns
To west of us; but soon he was forgot
By all except myself and one poor maid
Whom much love led astray. And soon she paid
The debt of Nature, not as doth befit
Such payment dread, but, maddened by cold looks,
She, sporting with dank grasses in a pool,
Gave back to God the life His creatures scorned,
And breathed in death moist prayers to heaven.

Since then hath any mention of the man
Reached me. Nor have I ought on which to rely
Except a dim remembrance. Yet in me
A fixed belief hath taken root, and grows
With growing years,--that, far beyond those hills
I' the west, upon high plains, among his peers,
The fool hath long been deemed philosopher.

_Athenoeum_, 1876.



Like some fair girl who hastes to meet her swain,
Yet hesitates each step with maiden fear,
So the still stream glides downward to the main,
Pausing at times in fern-set pools,--and here,
Where bend the willow branches to the clear
Deep pool beneath, and where the forest hoar
Seems whispering old tales of magic lore,
They say by night the fairies dance in glee,
And on the moss beside the curving shore
The Queen of Elfland holds her revelry.

From beds in purple buds where they have lain
Until the mystic midnight time drew near,
To chimes of hare-bells and the far-off strain
Of forest melodies, the elves appear
In all the gorgeousness of goblin gear.
With brilliant dress the golden-beetle wore,
With scarlet plumes the humming-bird once bore,
They come in troops from every flower and tree,
And 'round the fairy throne in concourse pour,--
The Queen of Elfland holds her revelry.

Yet mortal eyes see not the goblin train
Whose bells sound faintly on the passer's ear,--
Who dares attempt a secret sight to gain
Feels the sharp prick of many an elfin spear,
And hears, too late, the low, malicious jeer,
As long thorn-javelins his body gore,
Until, defeated, breathless, bruised, and sore,
He turns him from the haunted ground to flee,
And murmurs low, as grace he doth implore,
"The Queen of Elfland holds her revelry!"


Sweet mortal maid, that fairy world of yore
Has vanished, with the midnights that are o'er;
Yet come and sit beside the stream with me,
That I, beholding thee, may say, "Once more
The Queen of Elfland holds her revelry."

_Argo_, 1882.




When the forest flames in crimson and gold,
While the sinking sun seems a molten mass,
And a beautiful blaze is all the wold,

The sumach flashes, a banner unrolled,
And yellow-clad boughs glow like burnished brass,
When the forest flames in crimson and gold.

What secrets the listening leaves are told,
As strollers along worn wood-paths pass,
And a beautiful blaze is all the wold!

In the gay, glad light grow wooers bold,
For there's brightness e'en in the dark morass,
When the forest flames in crimson and gold.

And when she is gently coaxed and cajoled,
The hues find mirrors in cheeks of the lass,
And a beautiful blaze is all the wold.

But still is there one who remains e'er cold
In the glow of the Indian summer; alas!
When the forest flames in crimson and gold,
And a beautiful blaze is all the wold.

_Athenoeum_, 1883.



O'er the deep sighing sea,
Mirrored as dreams of thee,
Stars watches keep.
Wavelets laugh soft and free,
Calling my love to me;
The world's asleep.

Far from the day's dull care,
Into the moonlight fair,
Our boat shall speed;
Songs floating on the air,
Haste we with music rare,
Where Love would lead.

Life's but a transient dream;
All things that are or seem,
Breathe but a day.
Come, eyes that on me beam,
Leave what ye sorrow deem,
While yet ye may.

_Fortnight_, 1886.



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